“He’s my son!” I exclaimed to my too noisy and too opinionated personal assistant, Shelly.
“You’re not related to him! He has a father already!”
I felt a tear threatened to fall. “So what! I love him like a son! His father is never around anyway!” I curled up in a ball on the sofa. “So why can’t he be my sooonnnnnn!”
Now monologuing, I added. “I was always alone as a child, you know?”
“You’re breaking into hysterics.”
“My parents were never around for me. I was all alone. So alone. So very alone.” I whispered. “Alone.”
“This conversation is better suited for that therapist you pay two hundred bucks an hour.”
“But all the money in the world couldn’t fill…” I placed my hand over my heart. “This void.”
“At least raise my pay to two hundred bucks an hour.”
“Sure, is it nice to be a multi-millionaire? Absolutely! But secretly, I think what I’ve always wanted… is a family.”
“You know I’m the one who writes my checks that you blindly sign… I’m raising my pay to three hundred bucks an hour.”
“But alas! I never wed. Never had offspring of my own. I was always missing that. But then, I met Amal. He was missing a father, I was missing a son and someone to spoil.”
“You could spoil me. Pay me three hundred dollars an hour?
“Shelly, please. We both know you deserve four hundred bucks an hour for dealing with me, but can you write checks at another time, I’m kind of going through something here.”
“Of course, Mr. Rogers.”
“Mr. Rogers…” I echoed, haunted. “That was my father’s name.” Then I burst into tears. “If he was ever around for meeeeee!”
“I don’t think him being absent changes his name.”
I sniffled. “It does if he changed it to avoid me. Shelly, where is the cookie dough ice cream?”
“You ate it all last night, Mr. Rogers.”
I burst into tears again. “God, Shelly! You’ve been working for me for three years! Can’t you just call me Mark? Or are you insistent on making me cry?”
“Might be the latter. It’s been a bitter three years.”
My jaw dropped and my upper lip trembled a bit.
“I’m kidding!” She added before I started crying again for the fifth time that day. It was a very emotional Thursday. My goldfish died. I’m gonna miss you, Richie. R.I.P. I’m gonna have to rewrite my will with you gone.
“You know.” Shelly began. “All I was trying to say before you got all stir-fry crazy on me is that you just need a few adoption papers and Amal could actually be your son.”
My eyes twinkled with hope. “Really?”
“Yes, really. Have you never realized this before? You went to law school.”
“And dropped out after two months! It was never my passion! I belong to the theatre! Shelly, you know this. You ghost-wrote my memoir.”
“You belong in an insane asylum.”
“Rude.” I scoffed.
In the middle of our conversation, my personal chef popped in and said. “Thanksgiving dinner will be ready in ten minutes, Mr. Rog--” Shelly glared at him, having just learned her own lesson. “Mark.” He finished. “Oh, and Amal has arrived.”
My eyes lit up. “Really? My son is here?!” I scrambled to the dining room to see him and tell him the good news about adoption.
“Oh, by the way, there is also another visitor.” The chef began to say, but I had already bolted past him.
“Amal!” I joyfully cried before instantly halting when I noticed the visitor my chef had mentioned.
Immediately, I recognized him despite only ever seeing one photo of him from eighteen years ago. “Khalid Kouri.” I said. “Amal’s biological father.” I felt my limbs go numb. A pit arising in my stomach and a lump forming in my throat. “What… what a surprise.” With hollow spirit, I told Amal. “You know, you really should have told the chef in advance to make an extra meal.”
Trying to explain, Amal began. “I didn’t know he was…”
His father cut him off. “I just showed up, unannounced… Amal didn’t know I was coming.” He glanced around, taking note of the remnants of Richie’s funeral. “Although, I can see I’ve picked the worst time. I’m so sorry for your loss.”
“Yes.” I replied. “Richie was the best goldfish a man could ask for. I even taught him to swim through a hoop underwater. He was…” I wiped away a tear. “So gifted.”
Transitioning from my tragic loss, Khalid said. “Well, Mr. Rogers, I would just like to thank you for looking after my son during my absence. However, if you don’t mind, I would like some alone time to talk to him.”
“O-of course.” I stuttered, a little heartbroken. “Umm, Shelly, we need to go look over my finances in my office.” I took her hand and rushed out.
In the hallway, Shelly reminded me. “You don’t have an office. This house used to, then you called it a ‘prison of the business world’ and turned it into a chocolate fountain room. Besides, we both know you hate math and can’t even do basic addition.”
“Shelly, please, now is not the time for your playful—yet slightly mean—banter.” I darted into the nearest bedroom and collapsed on the bed. “I’m going to lose my son!” I cried.
One by one, the tears I had tried to hold in fell. I didn’t want to make a scene in front of Amal. Shelly plopped down beside me. “You don’t know that.”
“Yes. I. Do! That’s his real father out there! I’m just some puppet that filled in the space for a little while. I bet they’re out there right now talking about how they’re going to move in together or start a father son mechanic shop and just leave me behind.”
“You don’t know that.”
“Yes. I. Do! You know why? Because if my father just suddenly showed up saying he wanted to have an actual relationship I would be thrilled! A little concerned about the restraining order he put on me, but thrilled.”
“I already told you, Danny DeVito is not your father and he had every right to place a restraining order on you. You went full blown stalker. Now, get up. Stop being so dramatic, and get your butt back to Thanksgiving dinner.”
“Okay first off, it is impossible for me not to be dramatic. I am a gay actor.”
“Fine! Then be double dramatic and treat this like some scandalous soap opera. Make your grand entrance or whatever, just go back downstairs. I want my turkey.”
I leapt up. “Finally! I can use my dual staircase!”
As I ascended from the dual staircase, wearing a black glitter suit with the perfect amount of glitter to remain classy and not trashy—a personal motto of mine—I noticed that the speculators to my wondrous descent had dwindled.
“Amal?” I called out as I reached the bottom. “Where did your real father go?”
“Real father?” He remarked. “Mark, Khalid maybe my biological father, but he sure as hell ain’t my real father. A real father would be there for his son. He would go to the science conventions with me. He would teach me how to shave. He would tell me to ask out the girl I liked then buy me a three hundred dollar microscope when she rejected me. Khalid didn’t do any of those things. You did.”
I almost started tearing up again, but then my body realized it was out of tears. “Someone get me some salty water so I can cry!” I ordered.
“Honestly, Mark, as troublesome as you can be as sometimes, do you really think I would ask Shelly for those adoption papers if I didn’t already think you were my dad?”
“That was your idea?”
I put a hand on his shoulder proudly beaming at him. “Do you know what this means?”
“We’re officially going to be a family?”
“No, Shelly can’t mock my lack of legal knowledge anymore.”
“Also the family stuff.” I added. “That shit’s important.”