Authors: R.L. Merrill
The Rock Season
The Rock Season
Copyright © 2015, Celie Bay Publications, LLC
All rights reserved.
No part of this book shall be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any mean, electronic, mechanical, magnetic, photographic including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without prior written permission of the publisher. No patent liability is assumed with respect to the use of the information contained herein. Although every precaution has been taken in the preparation of this book, the publisher and author assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. Neither is any liability assumed for damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein.
This work is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
Published By: Celie Bay Publications, LLC
Cover design by: Ellay Branton
Edited by: LTE Editing
Formatting by: Bob Houston eBook Formatting
The Rock Season is dedicated to my amazing concert buddies: my husband, my daughter, Christine, and Christina. Our adventures have provided cherished memories and I will always hold them close to my heart! I also want to dedicate this book to my dear friend up in Alaska, the real Maryland. I miss our hijinks and still treasure your friendship.
The Rock Season
“It’s going to be a short season! I think Judas Priest might be my last show for a while. Ahh, hold on.” I tried to change position so that the alien would stop tap dancing on my bladder. My BFF, Maryland, and I were ironing out the details for Sunday. Judas Priest was coming to town, essentially kicking off the summer concert season, and I was determined to go despite my ‘delicate condition.’ I let out a huff as I managed to move the little critter away from his/her dance floor. “I’m due in two months and at the rate the alien invader is growing, I won’t be getting around much after that show.”
Maryland groaned on the other end. “Damn kids! They just suck the life out of you, don’t they? Jenna! Get your sucker away from your sister’s hair or I’m taking it away! JENNA! Shit, Stevie, I gotta go. Serena now has sticky sucker goo in her hair. I’ll see you Sunday!”
“Love you, Fren!”
We made kissy noises at each other and hung up. I took a breath for courage and climbed belly first from the chair. Two more months until the alien emerged from its pod! I couldn’t wait to see her/him! Maryland was still pissed I wouldn’t find out the sex. I told her this was going to be the biggest surprise of my life and I loved surprises.
Ben came home from work late again. I’d already eaten. If I waited too long then I’d be up all night with heartburn. He didn’t seem concerned.
“Hey,” he called out. “I’ve got a conference call in 30 minutes, so I’m just going to eat and then I’ll be in my office.” He passed right through the room talking and never once looked at me.
I shook my head and decided I’d go finish my latest music blog and call it a night.
Writing was my favorite escape from my precarious situation. I was carrying the spawn of a man who didn’t want to be a father. The pregnancy was due to an epic birth control fail: birth control pills religiously taken should have been enough of a deterrent, but this man, who had no interest in procreation, had very determined swimmers! When I found out, I was petrified to tell him. He was a deal guy at a venture capital firm in Silicon Valley and worked insane hours. We’d been living together for about three months when the fail occurred. His reaction was a blank stare and a shrug.
“I told you I didn’t want kids, Stevie. What do you want from me?”
Stunned, I said, “I don’t know, maybe your love and support? This isn’t what I had in mind either, but that choice has been taken away from me.”
Another shrug. “You could get rid of it.”
True, Ben had never been a passionate guy, but we’d had a lot of fun together. I never in a million years would have dreamed he’d be so callous!
“That’s not an option for me.”
Another shrug from him. “Do what you want,” he said, turning away. “I’ll support you financially, but I don’t want a kid, Stevie. If you keep it, it’s on you.”
So that was it. He drew a line and that was it. After weeks of trying to keep it together, I made the decision to stay until the baby was born. I wasn’t in any shape to be packing and moving, nor did I have the energy for apartment hunting. Maryland offered to take me in. She was recently divorced with two girls, and I did consider it, but didn’t want to be a burden or crowd her. She thought I was crazy for waiting, warned me that the stress I was under was going to be harmful for the baby. I told her I appreciated the concern, but I didn’t want to leave without giving him a chance to change his mind.
As the pregnancy continued, Ben and I became increasingly more like strangers who became roommates. I not only decided to leave as soon as I was physically able, I was also over any desire for him to be part of the alien’s life. So I counted the days and tried to prepare myself for the momentous changes ahead.
And what better way to blow off some steam than to go to a show with my BFF? Maryland and I had been concert junkies since we met in high school. We were in sophomore Honors English and had way too much fun heckling from the back row. Our first concert together was Aerosmith and from then on we were hooked! We tried to make it to as many shows as we could. Large venues, small all-ages shows, whatever we could get tickets to! She was a wild child in school, dated older guys, and had very little parental supervision. One of those older guys, Mike, swept her off her feet and into his apartment at the age of 17. She took her GED when she was old enough and that was the end of our school partnership. We lost touch while I was in college, but when I came back, we picked right up, despite her now being the mother of two small children. I was her escape from mommyhood, which was her full-time job.
I waddled into my room and sat in my comfy desk chair. It was a huge leather beast like you’d see in a college professor’s study and I loved it! Before the alien, I would sit cross-legged for hours and write.
My blog post this week was about the history of my love of Judas Priest. I even gave some background on their legal troubles in the ‘80’s. As a history teacher, I was a geek for stuff like that and the story always got to me. The band was sued by the families of two boys who committed suicide after listening to their music. There were so many things wrong with the whole situation. It fascinated me how society liked to blame their problems on whoever could fork over the most dough!
I finally turned in around ten and spent four hours tossing and turning before I finally got some sleep. Ben had long since moved into his office, sleeping on the futon to avoid the ruckus.
Mornings were my favorite time with the alien. She/he would do this rolling over/stretching move and the bigger I got, the more I could see elbows and occasionally even the outline of hands and feet. I stayed in bed as long as I could stand it, just feeling him/her move. When she/he eventually thunked my bladder, it was time to start moving.
I showered and dressed in one of my more professional looking maternity outfits for work and left my long, curly, red hair to air dry. I took a moment to look closely at myself in the mirror. My pale, freckled skin looked rosy. My hazel eyes might not have had a sparkle in a while, but thinking of the alien had me smiling to myself. I’d managed to only gain twenty pounds so far. At 5’8” I carried the alien with plenty of room in my torso and the weight was mostly right there. I’d been in pretty good shape from swimming regularly at the clubhouse before I got pregnant, and continuing that habit had given me a pretty darn sexy pregnant body, if I did say so myself. It was too bad I had no one to admire it
Ben was already gone when I got up most mornings, but today he was sitting at the table drinking coffee. “Good morning,” I said civilly. He closed his briefcase and clasped his fingers in front of him.
“Stevie, I wanted to ask you when you planned to move out.”
I turned from toasting my frozen waffle and raised an eyebrow at him. “I thought I would move after the baby was born. I’m not really physically up to packing or moving my things.” I poured myself some hot tea and waited for a reaction from him.
“I’ve hired a moving company to come in and pack up your things for you Saturday so that you can be here to supervise. That gives you a few days to finalize your plans.”
“You’re serious? You’re seriously throwing me out eight months pregnant?” He finally made eye contact and his expression was cold. “There’s not a future here for you. I assumed you would want to get settled before you deliver. I had my attorney put together a settlement for you. It should take care of you financially without any further ties between us.”
There were so many disturbing things about what he just said, I had no idea where to start. “When did you become such a heartless bastard, Ben? I know you didn’t want this...”
“That’s right, Stevie. I was clear from the beginning that I didn’t want this child. You decided to go ahead with your pregnancy. I assumed you would have moved out before now. You haven’t, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. You set this into motion, not me. I’m just trying to get some closure here, for both of us. You need to get on with your life.”
I was floored. He was right in that we needed closure. Maryland was right when she said I needed to get out of this place, but I always found reasons to stay. Now I couldn’t stand to be here one more second. I turned to leave the room and I heard something slap down on the table.
“Here are the documents from my attorney. Please sign them and leave them for me. I’m going out of town on business for the rest of the week. I won’t be back until Sunday.” I turned to look back as he stood, grabbed his briefcase, and left me with this closing gem:
“I’m really disappointed in how things turned out, Stevie. I care very much for you and wanted a future with you. Good-bye.” He walked out of the townhouse and that was the last time I saw him. I thought I was in too much shock to cry.
I was pretty numb from the last few months of cold-shouldering from him, but this was totally not what I thought would be our ending.
The alien took this moment to get the hiccups. I sat down for a minute, hoping they would quit. Soon I realized the rhythmic twitches in my belly were synchronizing with my sobs. I hadn’t let myself cry since the beginning of this mess.
“Well, little alien. It’s really just you and me now. I’m sorry that jerk doesn’t get what a little miracle you’re going to be. Let’s call Auntie Maryland and tell her to get our room ready, shall we?”
Maryland didn’t say much. I knew she was pissed and I was grateful she was holding back the comments this time. When Ben first disowned the whole pregnancy gig, Maryland came unglued. She showed up and slammed the door open, getting right in his face.
“You cocksucker! How could you be such a cold-hearted prick? That’s your girlfriend! Your child!” I grabbed her by the arm and she tried to pull away from me.
Ben just walked into the other room and said, “Stevie, would you please escort her out?” She hadn’t been over since. I told her I would be staying over starting today after work, if she was still offering up her spare room. I’d start looking for a place of my own after the baby was born.
“It’s about fucking time,” she muttered.
We made our kissy noises and I hung up. I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to get through the day with my students. Thankfully, they had assemblies going on today, so I wouldn’t have to do any direct instruction, just supervision.
“McShane! Trade Counter!”
I pushed back from my desk in the tiny office at the back of the store and ducked out the door. I stretched out my back as I made my way towards the trade-in counter. There stood a young kid in a HALO shirt and the latest designer skinny jeans. He nodded to me as I took over for Schroeder, my best friend and business partner, who went back to playing his piano. Yes, he was named after the Peanuts character and was just as aloof. He had a Baby Grand in our music store, Vinyl Mine, and played off and on throughout the day. It added culture, he said.
“Uh, these are my grandma’s. She’s moving to an assisted living place and told me I could have whatever I wanted. I know people still buy these things. How much will you give me in cash?”
He had two milk crates full of vinyl from the 60’s and 70’s, including every album released by the Beatles in the US and a few from England. His collection definitely piqued my interest. There were also some Who and Stones, Velvet Underground, Eagles, even Elvis and Johnny Cash. He probably had several hundred dollars’ worth here and I told him so.
“Sweet! You can have them! I just want enough to get the new Xbox platform.” I stifled an eye roll and started writing out his slip.
“Some day kid, I hope you discover an appreciation for your grandmother’s things and the history they tell.”
The kid gave me a confused glance and snatched the slip from me. “Whatever.” As he walked to the front of the store, I saw Callie give him a bored look and hand him the cash.
“How much did you give him?”
I jumped at the sound of Schroeder’s voice. I hadn’t even heard the piano stop.
“Two fifty. It’s a fair price. I’m sure they’ll sell once I post them online for our collectors. There are some really rare ones in there and they’re in great condition.”
He nodded and frowned at me. I could tell he wanted to give me shit about it, but I had more important things to worry about. Like paying our bills.
“He’ll probably go over to Best Buy and buy a new gaming system. Kids,” Schroeder mumbled.
I snorted. “You called that one. Hey, I’m taking off at 6:00. I have a date with Hayley and I’m pretty sure she’s going to tell me she doesn’t want to see me anymore.”
Another look from him told me he was really fighting the urge to say something.
I ran my hand over my shaved dome and let out a breath I wasn’t aware I had been holding. I felt more and more like an old man these days, like I was carrying a heavy load up a lonely mountain road with no end in sight. At thirty-four, I should be settling down with a family or at least, an equally tempting possibility, still sowing my oats. Instead, I was trying to keep my store afloat and trying to help out my parents with my twin, teenaged, troublemaking brothers. I lived at home, I drove a beater, and I really, really needed something to happen. Something that was mine.
I trudged back to the office and dropped my heavy self back into the chair to contemplate my current situation. Two years ago I walked away from a lucrative Silicon Valley software company to live my dream of opening a music store. I earned an MBA from UC Berkeley, at my mother’s insistence, but hated the work I was doing. Things were getting a little rough at my company and I was offered a generous severance package. I used half of it to lease the building and get the store off the ground with Schroeder, the other half I added to my investments. The store was doing decent business, but not enough that Schroeder and I could afford to hire a huge staff. We had Callie, our assistant manager, during the weekday afternoon/evening shift, and Jessica and Jake on the weekends. That meant the two of us were here a lot. I didn’t mind it and he didn’t have anything else going on, but between the store and my family, I didn’t have a lot of time for anything else.