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american gothic redux: met a pieman
by robert a. melos
9.1.03
writing

American Gothic is an ongoing series of vignettes giving the reader a glimpse into the lives of the people in a small New Jersey town. Don't miss the earlier entries, as they all tie together.


Chuck Crawford stood looking out the French doors that led to the large flagstone patio overlooking the back lawn of the Wilmont Estate. He remembered some of the things he and Toby, and he and Diane, used to do on those grounds a lifetime ago.

“Is Lola all settled in?” Toby Wilmont ask, entering the dining room.

Chuck turned to see his oldest friend in the world. Still a big man, he thought, referring to Toby’s broad shoulders and husky build. “Yeah, he’s getting used to leaving everything he felt was safe and coming with me to start a complete new life away from the bars, the twinks, the hustlers, and everything Hollywood,” Chuck answered.

“So how did Floyd take meeting his new daughter-in-law?” Toby purred, a hint of malice in his voice.

Chuck laughed. “How do you think dad handled it?”

“Considering you and Lola are both still alive, I gather there wasn’t a murder. Can I expect to see a cross burning on my lawn later this evening?” Toby opened the French doors and led Chuck out on to the patio.

Chuck shook his head. “Dad’s not that bad.”

“You didn’t stick around to fight for custody of your son after Diane died,” Toby said. His tone was harsh, but not accusing. “If mom and dad hadn’t been killed shortly after her death, they would’ve given Floyd a run for his money. As it was, I was barely 19, and back then being the town pansy, even an ex-high school football player pansy, didn’t give me credentials to raise a baby.”

Chuck sighed. “Toby, it was for the best. I would’ve made a lousy father at that point in my life. Hell I’ll probably still make a lousy father, but you and Scott seem to think I have to give it a try. Besides, Scott seems to have turned out okay, in spite of my father’s influences.”

Toby walked across the patio to a table covered with netting. He drew back the netting to reveal pies. Cream pies, meringues, blueberry, cherry and apple. He picked up a meringue and turned to face Chuck. “You mean he turned out okay because he’s half Wilmont and not as closed minded as you Crawford’s can be,” he said, before hurling the pie at Chuck.

Chuck watched the pie coming toward him in shock, awe, surprise, and glee. “You sonuv—“ he was interrupted by the pie splattering in his face.

“Welcome home, bro,” Toby said, fighting back the laughter as he watched Chuck wipe the meringue from his eyes. “I figured you needed a proper homecoming, and just knew Floyd wouldn’t approve of a food fight in his house.”

Chuck grinned and lunged for the table and the nearest pie. “Oh you’re in for it now,” he said. “Mm, cherry. You’re favorite if I remember correctly.” He let loose the pie and watched it land on Toby’s broad chest.

“You’re getting old, son. And your aim’s way off,” Toby said, reaching for an apple pie. “I’ll bet your mom didn’t make one like this.” He watched as the pie connected with Chuck’s face and chest.

Chuck licked his lips. “Nah, she used way more cinnamon.” He grabbed another meringue and tossed it at his friend, this time connecting with his target. He laughed as he watched Toby wipe the egg whites from his eyes.

The two men paused for a moment and then began grabbing pies and tossing them, successfully covering each other in desserts. When they were out of pies the stood breathing hard, and laughing even harder.

Lola stood watching the pie fight from his window above the patio. He watched Chuck and Toby embrace and shook his head. “What have I gotten myself into?” he muttered to himself.


ABOUT ROBERT A. MELOS

Robert is the author of the novels Cool Mint Blue, Melba Ridge, and the recently released The Adventures of Homosexual Man and Lesbian Lad; and the creator of the on-line comix Impure Thoughts found at his web site Inside R.A. Melos, as well as having been an on-line staff writer for QBliss where he had a monthly humor column, Maybe A Yip, Maybe A Yap. In his non-writing time, when he's not studying the metaphysical or creating a tarot deck, he sells real estate in Middlesex County New Jersey, hangs out with his dog Zeus, and spends time at the Pride Center of New Jersey in Highland Park, NJ, where he is on the Board of Trustees.

more about robert a. melos

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