Andrew stayed in his bedroom with the door closed until the last minute.
His mother had called for him at least half an hour ago, maybe to double-check his hair, nails, and suit, and he ignored her. He would emerge, if he did at all, when there was no time left to think.
“I hope you’ll come to love him,” his mother had said. She watched too many television dramas. Her view of the world was simplistic and, frankly, annoying. That’s why she only spoke to her father, Bernard, once, one time, on the phone before dropping Andrew off on his doorstep and leaving him with a complete stranger. They mumbled at one another, and then the old guy showed him his cats, which was weird, then they drove in his cab to the zoo, as if Andrew was a kid, followed by a major freak-out on his grandfather Bernard’s part and a visit to White Spot which was the only decent part of the day. Ok, his grandfather turned out to be not awful and was closer to him now than almost anyone, but his mother had no way of knowing that would happen. People did idiotic things like that on TV, and the plot twisted and turned and everyone had a laugh and it all ended up neatly tied with a bow.
Even Andrew knew that’s not how the world worked. He would not come to love Randy. He didn’t hate him or anything, but Randy was not the sort of person Andrew could love. His mother was delusional. So was Randy, if he thought he could be an effing “father figure”. He’d tried that on, tried to tell Andrew what to do. No way.
Andrew thought about moving out, but he wasn’t finished high school. He could maybe move in with his grandfather, but had a feeling Bernard would tell him to tough it out for his mother’s sake. Sophie said something similar. “Be happy for your mom’s sake,” she’d said. Andrew tried, he really did.
He heard a knock on the bedroom door, softly at first, then more strident.
“Andrew?” His mother. “Bernard will be here in five minutes; are you ready or what?”
There was a full length mirror on the inside of the bedroom door. Andrew took all the old jeans and t-shirts off the hooks and threw them on the bed. This was the moment of truth.
There he stood, in a dark blue, single-breasted suit, with a ever-so-subtly ruffled purple shirt and navy bow tie. The shirt was a fine purple, soft yet striking, the tie was clip-on, and Andrew looked like a perfect fool. He had to wear this outfit, as one of Randy’s groomsmen. Honest to god, his mother, sometimes.
He was hard-pressed to decide which was worse, Randy joining the family, or his having to appear in public in a clown outfit chosen by a delusional mother who watched too much television and thought purple was ok.
Bernard’s old taxi backfired a lot. Andrew heard it and went to the window. It was time to go downstairs.