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Drama Inspirational Contemporary

“Where’ve you been?”

Hudson heard a familiar voice from across the foyer. He looked from his mailbox to see his brother, Christopher, sitting on the floor.

Hudson said, “Hey Bro! Long time nose-y! You know… Concert with friends. You lost? Whaddya want?”

Christopher ignored his brother’s question. “How many concerts you been to?”

“Fifteen. I think. So far. ‘Bout one per week.” Puzzled, Hudson asked, “Why are you here?”

He started up the stairs. His brother followed.

Christopher asked, “Local bands?”

“We follow the tour.” ‘What’s he want?’

“How you afford flying around the country?”

“We drive. You’re lucky to find me home. ‘Bout to hit the road.”

Hudson opened his apartment and made a show of letting his brother enter first.

Christopher sounded skeptical. “That’s a lot of music.”

“They’re great. Play my favorites. You interviewing me for Entertainment Tonight? Where are the cameras?”   

Christopher pressed on. “What bands?”

“Call to Order.” Hudson shut the door.

“Always the same band? Never mix it up?”

“Love their music. The best.”

“Yeah, I get going once, maybe twice. But every week?”

“It’s what I do. Why d’you care, Chris? You come all this way to ask about my musical tastes?”

“But really? Call to Order? Should be ‘Cult to Order.’ Hudson, that’s not being a fan. Addiction’s a disease.”

Hudson offered his brother a chair at the kitchen table, paused and took it himself. Christopher paced.

Hudson prodded, “Funny coming from the ultimate cultist. The folks send you?”

“What are you talking about?”

Hudson started humming theme music from the TV series. “‘Mission Im-parentable…’ You drank the folk’s Kool-Aid long as I can remember.”

“You remember even five minutes ago? Calling the folks a cult?”

“Forever, Chris. Always a suck up. You don’t even…”

“They’re our parents, Hudson. Call them once in a while.”

“…see what they’ve done to you.”

“Caring for them doesn’t make me a cult member. It’s called family. Ever hear of it?”

Hudson said, “I’ve got real family. Personally selected. Not an accident of birth… They care about me. We love our music and our lives.”

“Some family. More like vagabond group-think. Driving around the country like a bum… You call that making something of your life?”

“You wouldn’t understand a healthy relationship if…”

“Right... Bunch of degenerates. Given the chance, they’d roll you into a ditch and leave you.”

Hudson frowned. “That what you’re hoping for?”

“Talking about your so-called family, Hudson. Loyal till you run out of gas.”

Hudson regrouped. “So, you don’t have problems? Come here to lecture…”

“Deal with them. Don’t celebrate them.”

“Listen to yourself, Chris. Should see what I see. Wish you could hear what we hear.”

“Heard them. Kind of trashy, but okay.”

“My point. You tune in going to work and think you know their music. You don’t know squat.”

“That may be. But then I have a job. Different priorities, ‘bro.’” Christopher said ‘bro’ as ironically as possible. 

“I don’t pretend problems don’t exist. Do you see them? Or is your capacity for denial so gargantuan…”

“Said the clueless one.”

“Talking to yourself again?”

Feeling pity, Christopher shook his head at his brother. Each wanted the last word. Ever thus.

Hudson broke the silence. “So, again, what is this? You harassing me for fun? Or what?”

“You need to see the folks.”

“Because?”

“Let’s see… You haven’t seen them in years…”

“You saying they missed me?”

“Of course. They want to see you.”

Hudson laughed. “Right. Because?”

“You need a crisis to make a gesture? To give them a little time?”

“There a crisis? Or not?”

Christopher stammered. “Mom’s sick. You need to come home with me.”

“Now?”

Christopher looked at the spare apartment. “You have more pressing business?”

“Yeah! Hello? How about a little notice? Ever listen? I’m leaving town for a concert.”

“The band you’ve seen a dozen times this year?”

“So…?”

“Buy the CD. Let’s go.”

“I already have a ticket. Can’t not go.”

“Sell it.”

Hudson shook his head. “Not likely. You have no idea what it took… How sick is she? Sniffles?  Or dying?”

“It’s not a cold.” Their eyes locked. “Don’t know how serious.”

“But it’s serious.”

“I only know it’s not a cold. She asked me to get you to her. She’s not calling you to dinner, Hudson. You really going to refuse?”        

Hudson pulled a bulging duffel bag from a closet. He rummaged through it doing a quick inventory. He ran into the bathroom and came back carrying his shaving kit.

“The concert’s in two days. I’ll drop by, after.”

“Are you high?”

“On life, man. Try it sometime.”

“Well, sober up.”

“You need to lighten up, Chris. You get anxious in an empty room.”

“Grow up! Don’t you get it? This isn’t a request. It’s an order.”

“You’re not my boss.”

“It’s not my order. I’m delivering a message. Don’t be a dope.”

“If it’s so important, why aren’t you with her now? Sure that’d please her more than seeing me.”

Christopher threw up his hands. “What if two days from now is too late?”

“Of course. Suddenly face time is important. You know what they did, Golden Boy. And you carried water.”

“Yeah, I know all about your Mickey Mouse crap. Suck it up. Get real. Get over it. They treated you like a prince.”

“Family doesn’t abandon...”

“My guess about your deep family bond? You have a car… Tell me you still have the car the folks gave you…”

A young woman drifted in from the bedroom and curled up on the futon. Though barefoot, wearing sweats and a Call to Order t-shirt, she looked great. Cat like, she studied the brothers.

Seeing Christopher’s look, Hudson turned. “Hey, Stormy.” She made a little wave. “That’s Loraine.”

“What does she want?”

“Nothing. She has more rights here, than you. Your permission’s not required.” They eyed each other. “Chris, meet Loraine.”

“You can call me Stormy.”

“Hi Loraine.”

She turned away to hide her smile.

The energy in the room had changed. Christopher sensed he’d lost momentum.

“Look, Hudson. I’m not going to hog-tie you and haul you to see them. Do what you want. But please remember this may be a one-time thing. No do-overs.”

Buying time, Hudson stretched. He looked at Loraine.

“Stormy… I gotta do something with him… my brother… you know, Chris. I’ll catch up with you at the show.”

Christopher looked at the door. “Look, never mind. Do your thing. This is a bad idea. Shouldn’t have come.”

Imitating a police siren, Hudson began hopping around and flailing his arms. Loraine cracked up.

Adopting a haughty attitude, Hudson straightened up and spoke stiffly. “Make up your mind, mister. I just said I’d go.”

Christopher rolled his eyes. “No. You’re right. Your being there won’t be productive.”

Loraine said, “I’ll go with you.”

Hudson balked. “No, Stormy… You’ll miss the concert.”

“But I’ll miss you more.”

“I don’t know… It might get ugly.”

“It won’t get ugly. I’ll be there.”

“Really? You’d do that?”

“Of course. In a heartbeat.”

Christopher kept shaking his head. “What’re you doing, Hud…? Think... You’re not going to a rave. You can’t invite a bunch of…” He caught both their looks. “Look, Mom’s…”

“Earth to Chris… What? Now you don’t want me to go? Have you lost it?”

He didn’t answer.

“What if we randomly showed up to Mom’s? Without your dragging us?”

“As if…”

“You can’t control everything. If you could, you’d be fixing Mom. Right?”

Christopher looked down.

Loraine said, “I don’t know what you guys are doing, but I’m going.” She rose and walked into the bedroom.

The brothers exchanged looks.

Christopher said, “What now?”

“See? You’ve created a monster.”

“You taking her?”

“That’s always been the plan. Only question is, where?”

Christopher sighed and went to the door. “I’ve got a drive ahead of me. Expect you’ll figure it out.”

Hudson nodded. “Thanks, man.”

“Hope to see you.”

He turned and left.

Hudson dialed his phone and waited. “Hello, Ma…? Yeah, Hudson. You okay…? You want company? Cool. We’re leaving directly... See you tonight.” He disconnected.

Loraine brought her roll-away into the living room. “Ready?”

“I owe you, Stormy. Can’t believe you’re doing this.”

She embraced him. “It’s what families do, right?”

They kissed and laughed. He took the handle of her bag and picked up his duffle. They walked out together. She shut the door behind them.

June 08, 2023 15:04

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11 comments

Graham Kinross
07:48 Jun 30, 2023

How much of this is based on your personal experiences? The details are really good.

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John K Adams
15:22 Jul 01, 2023

Good question. The particulars of my story are outside of my personal experience. But growing up with three siblings undoubtedly informed some of my characterizations. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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Graham Kinross
21:15 Jul 01, 2023

You’re welcome, John.

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Amanda Lieser
20:30 Jun 28, 2023

Hi John, What an interesting analysis of family for this one! I loved that this story had a title that was thematic without being dramatic. I am a sucker for a story based entirely in dialogue; partially because it’s some thing that I always want to do a little bit better each time I write. I loved the way that you managed to write the dialogue for this one. You did an amazing job of incorporating just enough action for us to understand how this exchange was really going down and I appreciated these characters had plenty of layers of depth t...

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John K Adams
22:49 Jun 28, 2023

Thank you so much, Amanda. It is so rewarding to receive such deep analysis on a story. And you liked it! Such comments are why Reedsy's format of writers supporting writers works so well. Thanks again. I will respond to your stories too.

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Michał Przywara
20:46 Jun 14, 2023

Good story with a delightfully uncomfortable exchange :) Based on the prompt, we're expecting Hudson to be the extremist screw up, the one who's throwing his life away for the sake of chasing celebrity. But *holy crap*, considering his birth family? I'm not surprised in the least. "This isn’t a request. It’s an order." This line says volumes about this family. There's clearly a lot of history here, and much of it sounds painful. And the very fact Hudson makes a point of preferring his chosen family vs his birth one cuts right to the co...

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John K Adams
21:55 Jun 14, 2023

Wow, Michal, thanks for the deep analysis of my story. I'm glad the complexity came through. And I'm glad you enjoyed it so much. Always love getting feedback, but rarely is it so well though out. Thanks!

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Mary Bendickson
18:30 Jun 08, 2023

You said it all. That's what families do. John writes good stories about that.

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John K Adams
19:18 Jun 08, 2023

Thanks, Mary. Having spent my life observing and participating in families... I picked up a few details.

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Mary Bendickson
19:32 Jun 08, 2023

Good job showing what an obsessive fan might be like,too.

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John K Adams
21:53 Jun 08, 2023

Thanks, again!

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