Log:If You Could Only See
"I considered calling first but...I think it's harder to say no to a young man with no place else to go. I wish I could say something like, oh, Ms. Hellenbrand is a softie but no, she's not. She's a tough lady. An appeal to emotion has to aim high. And have the money handy so she knows you are good for it." Cash is driving the short jaunt from Thistleville to Jamaica Blvd. Hector's things are packed in the Buick. It's getting dark so Cash is perking up but he's still nervous. "And as a backup, I can write a check to a hotel or something. You are not sleeping anywhere but a bed tonight. I want to stay but...classes starting up again? I should, at least, make an appearance at home. I can leave later."
Hector studies him. "Maybe I better watch you go inside your house jut to be safe, and you call me when it's time for me to walk you over. we can unload my stuff in front of her house before we go over to your place." He is taking the never alone at night thing seriously.
Cash is dismissive. "Dude, I'm down the street. You can stand on the porch as see me enter and exit. When I was really little, that's what Vivi did. Stood on her porch to watch me walk over. You could see my window light before I covered it with egg cartons."
Onto Jamaica and soon, they are in Vivi's darkened driveway. The house is pretty dark too but her car, a modest mid 80s sedan, is there. Soon, the porch lights up and Vivian Hellenbrand appears with a dour expression. All crossed arms and lips pressed firm. As soon as Cash steps out, she's fussing and marching towards the car. "Cash Freeland, if you don't get in that house and call your mother I will slap the purple out of your hair. You do know you will need to bleach it again before the musical, right? -And- if you audition in Boston? Or Indiana? Natural colors out there and your curly--" Cash tries to cut across her and she simply raises a hand and gives Cash a withering glare. "Don't. Inside. Phone." Cash scampers into the house. Vivian remains, peering into the car and leveling her gaze at Hector. "You two running away again?"
Hector smiles "All right. I'll watch from the porch, Cashew." He gets out of the car and watches the scolding with amusement he tries to hide. By the time the music teacher turns back to him, he hass his perfect polite young man face in place. "No Ma'am. Running towards." He steps around the car so he can lower his voice. He meets her eyes, "He got in trouble when we were apart. We didn't realise how much until very recently. He can'r stay at my place. Not after what happened Easter Sunday. There is no way in hell i'm letting him be alone at night until I'm sure he's out of the woods. If you aren't comfortable with me watching over him in your house, I can get a hotel room. Our friends chipped in to help. I wouldn't have asked him if I didn't mean better or worse. I won't run away from anything again. I love him and I am going to protect him by any means necessary, even if that means from himself." He lifts his chin. Stubborn, resolute, defying the world with all the confidence of an eighteen year old on a holy mission.
Vivian's turn to dismiss Hector. "Oh? Any means? Hmph!" She looks him up and down. "I see he's been wearing some pretty bits of wire on his left hand. I know what that means. Means foolishness! Are you not the one who took him in and kicked him out and left me, his mother, and father with a mess of a child to put back together? I know we spoke about this before but..." He pauses and shakes her head. She is a hard woman to read. She might be out there in a floral robe and slippers but she carries herself like royalty. She seems angry but she doesn't raise her voice, nor does she lower it.
She looks him in the eye as she speaks. "He boo-hoo'd and cried so hard that first lesson back." Where another woman might soften, she becomes colder, her jaw setting. "I pet his head and listened. He didn't want to play anymore. Didn't have a song in his heart, he said. He left it with you." She rolls her eyes. "I said to him, 'Cash, this won't be the first time someone breaks your heart.' and he said it would be the only time. He was finished. And he looked at me a little like you are looking at me now. Freeland stubborn. I told him to channel that. Pour his heart into his music, his talents. And he did. I'm sure you can hear that he's improved. Technically, especially." She pauses and her dark eyes peer into the backseat of the car. "Cash must have mentioned I need a tenant since I stopped charging him." She holds out her hand, expectantly when Cash comes out of the house in a hurry. Vivian smoothly turns to face him.
"I'm going to go home and change and stuff. I'm not in trouble. You made it--nevermind. Can I leave my car?" Vivian nods and says, "We're discussing it, Cash. Go home." Cash pouts and heads down the street. Vivian turns to watch him go. "Hector? Look at me while he walks home. Money. Show me."
Hector says, “I understand fully the depth of the mistake I made in sending him back. I'm never making that mistake again. I know we can't legally marry. I also know that right now he needs to believe he has a future. I plan to give him one, one where I'm with him as long as we live. They tell me freelands are stubborn. I need for him to put all his stubborn into keeping his grades up, into getting ready to audition for college, into working towards a future together instead of into... what's tempting him away from that. When he forgave me, when he took me back despite the terrible thing I did to him, I knew I was commiting to forever. Right now? When he's tempted to try to... make him self feel like everyone else in a way that could destroy him? Right now, he needs that promise that I'll be there to be concrete."
He goes silent when cash comes out and is sent away again. He hadd Cash stop so he could deposit the check and get cash out. He has it already counted and rolled into a wad in his pocket. He hands it over, looking her in the eye, "I will die rather than leave him again. I will hold onto him like Janet held on to Tam Lin if that's what it takes to keep him on the path he needs to be on."”
Vivian doesn't say a word until she has the money in hand. She counts it and looks at Hector with that cool, steady look. "If I didn't know better, I would be scared that you had read my mind." She says and a little tension floats from her shoulders. "I was going to ask if you could keep him focused. That is..." She closes her eyes and exhales slowly. "All I want for Cash is to not waste God's gift to him. He loves music. It--It gave him a voice." Her lip quivers a little and when she opens her eyes, the chill isn't there. She is still firm in her words. She hasn't really relaxed her strong posture. The frost has melted. "He does talk about how long it took him to speak. He came to me at four. He barely said a word. He could talk. He simply didn't. He wrote notes sometimes but he was content to stay silent. Can't shut him up now, can you?" Then she smiles and slowly, the rest of her unwinds. "He started to speak more when he got to school. They worked with him best they could and it was passable. He was seven. A week or two after his birthday. He got his first guitar that year. He asked me if I would teach him how to sing. Oh, Hector, we started with You Are My Sunshine. Johnny Cash had a version and...I'm sure you know about that. So, he sang to me. And by the summer, he'd nearly caught up. By the next grade, he was a little ahead." She shakes her head.
"All I needed to know was that you understood how important music is to his life. It's weaved into his soul, son, and it gave him words when he couldn't find them. He has other talents but music means more than he knows. Now? He only gets tongue-tied when he's very, very happy. This isn't me threatening you about intentions or what I will do if...I needed to know if we had the same goal and God bless you because you do." She hands the money back. "Consider this a wedding gift, Hector. Sin no more, understand? He can't stay here with his father's business. We need to get that boy to college."
Hector smiles sheepishly, "I can't, whatever the rumors about my family suggest. "I know you love him like a son and you have every reason to be wary of me. I want what you want for him. I love music too. I want to write and play it for the rest of my life, referably with him." His smile warm, "I like talking with him. His mind is beautiful. he's sweet and kind and he needs someone who can watch his blind side.... It really was his singing that brought me to him. I heard him and followed it like a siren song and i just knew I wanted to make music with him. I wanted him in my life. I know how important music is to him. It's like breathing to us both." He is still looking her steadily in the eyes, "We are gong home when all this is over. We're going to college and we're going to keep making music. He will have sun and sand and friends and love. Always love. I love who he is. All of him." he looks down at the money, "Are you sure?"
Vivian eases up a little more. "I'm sure. I live lean. And...half of every fee I charged him is sitting in a trust." She admits with a sigh. "Well, every one since he was seven. I didn't know what the future held for him then. We were all worried and wringing our hands until he sang. And no, it wasn't an angel's voice. He worked for that singing voice. He's a natural with his hands. Piano and guitar came easy but I tended to that tenor and I have fed that falsetto and...my point is," She lets out a chuckle. "It's his way out, honey. I am very, very happy that he found someone who has an intimate understanding of this. And, he loves you, recklessly. Which is why I was concerned. Keep him on track. I know something is different about him recently. Late to lessons, I woke up at 2 AM and he was still on the air. I called in. Sure did. The two of you got back together around the same time and I was deeply concerned. Not so much anymore. So it isn't you that has him up all night." Her mouth sets into that firm line. "I have my suspicions. If he's using drugs..." She shakes her head. "I have a pot and kettle situation. He won't listen to me about it, even though it's behind me. You all think you know everything the moment you get a second digit in your age nowadays.
"And before you ask, he can sleep over here. And there is a whole bathroom between the bedrooms. If you are fucking, don't ever wake me up. In review, you are going to keep my boy in order and you can stay until graduation, free of charge. Don't tell Cash that part, alright? I mean to surprise him as a graduation gift with the trust so..shush. And, uh, while I think getting married is silly, in general. I appreciate your efforts. Welcome to Team Cash. You boys good to unload the vehicle? I'll carry something in now."
Hector grins at her, "He wants to be the next Jethro tull, but I want to be the first cash and Hector. We'll see. Whatever happens, I'm getting him through and out. I going to do my damnedest to help him keep his eyes on the goal." He looks sheephish, "Ashley noticed the same thing. asked me if I'd gotten him into hard drugs or something, but I swear I didn't." He studies he face, weighing, "Some of them went to a party at the end of February and apparently there was something really strong going around and he tried it. I didn't even realise something was wrong. I just thought he was... you know still trying to get used to everything with us back together." He lifts his chin, "He had a chance to take more recently, but he didn't. He came and got me instead and confessed what was going on. That thing Easter was him... trying not to take the other thing. Trust me, I don't want him doing that either. That's why I need to be here, so when he starts wanting what he shouldn't he'll have someone to help him stay clean. It's getting better and he knows he messed up. He listens to me and he really, really doesn't want to end up where that would take him." He studies her, the man he might grow into clear on his face, "I won't let go. I'll protect him to my dying breath." he flashes hera suddenly boyish smile, "I know commitment ceremony right out of High school is silly, but I mean to stay and it's something to hold on to to keep him moving forward. I'm in this for life with or without oaths, but I swear asking him was the right thing to do."
She listens to the tale, her face going harder and angrier until he says Cash listens to him. "He listens to you?" She snorts. "Cash does what Cash wants to do. We have been lucky. Me, his family, the ones who care about him, that he is a good kid and tends to stay out of trouble. He wasn't girl or boy crazy. He wasn't interested in much else besides music and that car. Until last year. That's why he has a lot of latitude with his family. Once he found his passion, he was easy to steer. As soon as he noticed that Spear Thistle and got the balls to ask him out...it was like something sparkly was dangling in front of him at all times. And when he disappeared. Lord. You were the one who called his parents, right? We knew he was alive because it was known that Spear had gotten a letter from him. But no one knew where he was. I would have guessed Seattle." She laughs, mirthlessly.
"Mm. He's coming back. With his backpack and shaving kit." She sighs and slowly shakes her head. "He likes to help people too, you know? Both of you are givers. He'll drain himself dry giving to others. Be careful that you don't do the same." She waves to the approaching Cash, who picks up speed.
"So he can..?" Cash begins to ask, eyes wide with hope. Vivian nods. "I don't look a gift horse in the mouth. He can pay and I need the money. Now, if you are hungry, I have lamb stew--" Cash has thrown his arms around Vivian in a hug. She's a sturdy woman but he still makes her stumble. For all of her fortitude and tough shell, she still smiles and rubs his back.
Hector nods grimly, "I was. I thought I wasn't ready to take care of my Mother when she wa that sick and him at the same time. I was wrong, but bythe time I realised it it was too late. He does listen to me though, and we suit each other better than I could possibly have imagined. I'll keep him on track or die trying. I give my word." He goes silent when Cash gets close and then he's grinning as cash hugs her like that. "It's going to be finne, Angel Love. It really is."
Cash sort of bounces back to Hector's side. "He's a nice kid, Vivi. I mean, you talked right?" Vivian quietly nods. "We had a nice conversation all about you, darlin'. We have an understanding and he's good to stay here until you finish up. I'll even coach his sorry ass for the musical. Since I'll be working with you anyway, /Warden/. So, break's over. Time to focus and work hard. Applications and audition tapes have been mailed. Now, Cash...and you too, Hector. I understand wanting to be close and you are grown. You can be grown here. But let nothing keep you from your plans. Now, take something inside, while we work out one more thing. Get that look of your face, it's not bad." Cash looks suspicious but leaves, taking an amp with him.
Vivian steps closer to Hector, eyes narrowed. "Cash can take care of himself." She says, firmly. "He's a young man but he isn't a child. Nothing about him requires extra care. He's sensitive, yes. He's very anxious and he gets overwhelmed. He shows it more than others, yes but he's not as crazy as he thinks he is. He's fine as long has he is focused. So, I'm going to need you to change that vocabulary, son. Cash doesn't need to be taken care of. He needs, like everyone else, an equal partner. You coddle him, he'll become dependent on you and you understand loss. He doesn't. Not yet. You were the biggest loss of his life. If something happens tomorrow or twenty five years from now, do you want him feeling like that again? Or do you want him to be strong? Just think on that. You are smart. Ain't /that/ smart though."
Hector curls an arm around his boyfriends waist, "I'd like that very much. The coaching. I give my word that I take music and our future plans, especially college very seriously." He kisses Cash's cheek, "It's going to be okay, Cshew."
Once Cash has gone with the amp he looks her in the eye agin, "He's not crazy or broken. I said I love all of him and I mean it. Everyone's a little different. The ways he are different make him beautiful. I'm a Thistle by blood if not by name. I may understand better than one might think. We look after each other. We cover what the other lacks. I'm a lot harder to... trick than he is, and he.... knows where I'm vulnerable too. I know he's strong. I know he's a grown man. I know I don't like when people... Right now he does need help. I'm going to support him. He's there for me when I need.... He has an equal partner. We're complimentary colours. We're melody and descant. We are better together, but we are both full people. I'm sorry I said what I said wrong." He gazes towards the house, eyes damp, "It was hell without him."
Vivian is less dismissive this time as she steps back. "He's a sweet boy. I just want what's best for him. I had never seen anyone cut him as deep as you did and--" She puts up a hand. "I ain't gonna bring it up again, alright? I know you are sorry and regretful and I know you love him. I do. This statement isn't about you." She takes a deep breath. "Melody and descant. That's pretty." She says this a bit dryly but there is a fondness in her eyes that is betraying her. "I think you are a good force in his life right now. He's been happy since you showed up. Singing all the time. I swear, I can almost see this little thought bubble over his head when he thinks of you. You are changing his life, right now. Moving his whole world. I want you to know that...what you do will affect him." Vivian seems to be working this out on her feet. She even paces a little. "You are smart. You can read people. You see them. Cash? He feels them. He doesn't know what it means most of the time but he knows when a person needs someone to lean on. He came to you because he knew that you needed him. He didn't know he knew. But he did. He...he came to me that same way. At four, I will swear on a stack of bibles he knew. Rejecting his blind empathy driven love once hurt. I'm afraid of what might happen if--forget it. I apologize. Do you want stew? Lamb."
Hector watches her pace, "I really do understand thegravity of what I did and what I do now. I want you to know I take it very, very seriously." He smiles a sweet smile, "I think that's why we do so well together. I see him; he feels me. I never want to be without him again and I'd rather die than leave him. Lamb would be lovely. I'm starving."
Vivian takes a deep breath and offers a hand. "Come here, I'll be nice to you for now." She steps closer and rubs Hector's back. From Vivian? This might be too much. She gives him a little side squeeze. "I never wanted children but you need a little mothering. I can see that much. So, in that house, I will take care of you best I know how. Outside of it? I have a reputation to maintain. I might even be meaner." She laughs but she isn't kidding. She is /hard/ on Cash at school. "How much you wanna bet, Cash is just standing there, waiting like a little puppy for us to come in? Let me feed you. Pay you back a little for seeing after my boy in San Francisco." One more squeeze before she takes his hand and coaxes Hector to follow. "Oh! I saw the curtain move. A spy." She smirks, then smiles.
Hector allows the mothering. He looks down, "I don't mind. Either one." He lets her lead him. Then he's laughing, "I can't blame him. We're both to important to him for him not to worry about how we get along. Thank you for letting me stay. It means the world."