Chris Bottoms is glad to be home from undergoing the first of two surgeries that will free him from the ostomy bag he’s been wearing for more than a year. He’s anxious about the upcoming second surgery, but life is keeping him on his toes.
The bank hierarchy is clearly grooming Chris’s partner, Mickey O’Donovan, vice president of a megabank, for a promotion. That doesn’t help reconcile the family who turned their backs on Mickey for not going into the family business. To make matters worse, Chris's little brother's abusers are still out there, and that makes Chris angry. He and Mickey are raising Ted now. Between dealing with spiteful relatives and doing their best by a hurt ten-year-old boy, Chris and Mickey wonder how much more reality they can take.
Chris's second and final surgery can't come soon enough. Both men are looking forward its most important side-effect -- Chris will once again be able to enjoy prostate massage, but not until three months after the surgery.
“Where are Marge and Andy?” Chris said.
“In California on a house-hunting trip,” Ken said. “She’s determined to live in Beverly Hills.”
“She would be,” Angela said.
“Don’t be catty, Angela,” Ken said. “She can’t help it if she’s not quite as down-to-earth as you are.”
“Don’t get me wrong,” Angela said. “If that’s what turns her on, more power to her.”
“Chris told me what she said when you and she came over to see our house,” Mickey said.
“What was that?” she said. “I don’t really remember.”
“Something about living in Ortega Forest, which is across the tracks from the most desirable neighborhood in the city.”
“That’s our Marge,” she said. “Despite Andy’s success in life, she’s just a bit insecure, which makes her worry too much about keeping up appearances.”
“You mean like Hyacinth Bucket in the Britcom?” Chris said.
Recalling the Britcom brought a smile to Angela’s face. “She’s nowhere near that bad, but yes, she does worry too much about such things.”
The conversation became more general until their meal was finished. While their dessert was being served, Ken asked Mickey if they could have a private conversation.
“Sure, Ken. Let’s go into the library.”
“Don’t take too long,” Angela said. “The ice cream on your pie will be melting.”
“This won’t take long,” Ken said.
He and Mickey left the porch, carrying their wineglasses with them.
Angela sighed. “And I thought this was going to be a business free evening. How naïve of me.”
“Nothing we can do about it,” Chris said, “so we might as well enjoy our pie.”
“And Ted is sitting there in the swing waiting for a verdict. He has no reason to worry, because he always does a good job of it.”
Angela took a bite. “He surely does.” She raised her voice a notch. “Ted, this is delicious.”
Ted said, “Thank you,” and left the porch.
Angela watched Ted’s retreating figure. “Taking on the responsibility of raising a brother you’d never heard of must have been quite a challenge. You have my admiration and my sympathy.”
“I couldn’t have done it without Mickey’s support. When he and I were standing, literally, by my mother’s deathbed, she asked me to raise Ted; Mickey gave me two thumbs up without even batting an eyelash.”
“Good for him, and good for you -- couples are supposed to support each other. You do realize that Mickey’s going to go far with the bank, don’t you?”
“It’s obvious that he’s being groomed for bigger and better things, and it’s equally clear that we’ve been under, for want of a better word, scrutiny.” Chris said. “That being said, we have too much to do in the present to spend a lot of time worrying about the future.”
“That’s a very good attitude to have. As for scrutiny -- you’re correct, and I apologize for that. What employees of the bank do with their own time is none of the bank’s business, but Ken has a responsibility to the stockholders to make sure that high-level employees aren’t the kind of people who will publicly embarrass the bank. And before you ask, that has nothing to do with your sexual orientation. Ken’s predecessor had a bit of a scandal on his hands when a high-ranking officer and his wife were involved in a sex scandal. It seems they were members of a sex club and were into whips and chains, wife swapping, and who knows what else. They were the subjects of a huge exposé in the papers, and it took a while for that publicity to die down. Anyhow, because of that, the executive committee is more than a bit gun-shy. Now about that recipe -- you have my e-mail address, and I’d be very grateful to have the recipe. In all the years we’ve been married, Ken has never once mentioned spoon bread.”
“It’s funny how the most basic things can reawaken a childhood memory.”
“That’s true, which is why I’d like to make it for him.”
“No problem. I’ll send it to you before we go to bed.”
Their conversation was interrupted by Mickey and Ken returning from the library.
“My ice cream isn’t totally melted,” Ken said when he’d resumed his seat.
“I can get you another piece of pie with fresh ice cream, if you like,” Chris said.
“Don’t worry about it. It’ll be even more melted when it gets where it’s going.”