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He Was Never Going To Be Mike Brady

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“Feel better?” Steve asked as they drove away.

“I need a drink. No, I want to get fucking stumbling, slurring, falling down drunk.”

“The doctor says …”

“The doctor says. The doctor says.” Billy mimicked.

“The doctor says one or two drinks are OK.” Steve ignored him as he usually did when he got like this.

“Fine, one or two drinks. Know where we can get any weed?”

“Jesus Christ, Billy.” Steve burst out laughing. “What are you eighteen again? No, I have no idea where to get weed. Or coke. Or any of that stuff. Not anymore.”

“When did we get old, Steve?”

Oh God, he’s not going to get soppy, is he?

“We aren’t old. We grew up. We got jobs. We have a life together. A good life at that. We have two goddam strange cats and a one-eyed dog.”

“We’re still old.”

“Fine we’re old. Where did you leave your walker? Do you need more Depends?”

“Very funny.” Billy reached over and poked him in the ribs.

“Not when I’m driving or we may not live to get old. And do up your fucking seatbelt. That chime is driving me around the bend.”

“OK, OK. There, all belted in. Happy?”

“Ecstatic.” He waited a few seconds. “Your Dad?”

“Yep. He’s dying.”

“Sorry.”

“Sure, sure. And I’m gonna cry in a minute.”

“Why did we come then, Billy.”

“Because Susan asked Max to let me know.”

“So that didn’t mean you had to do anything.”

“He thought I was going to ask for forgiveness. Imagine that. After everything he did I was the one who needed to be forgiven. All the fucking damage it’s taken me years of therapy to deal with and he lay there expecting me to apologise.”

“Did you hope for something else?” Steve knew full well he did even though he had never said.

“Remember ‘The Brady Bunch’?”

“What? Yeah, sort of I guess. Saw some reruns.”

“I used to sit and watch that as a kid, before Mom died, so I was maybe five or six. I wanted a dad like that.”

“Don’t really remember it that well.”

“Mike Brady. Yeah, like him.” Billy wasn’t paying any attention now, just staring out the side window as raindrops began to trickle down it. Then he suddenly came back from wherever he had been.

“But no one’s dad is like that; some are pricks and I ended up with one of them.”

Steve reached over and took his hand. Billy glanced at him and smiled before going back to watching the streetlights flick by. The drove like that until Steve knew it was all right to let go.