G is for Gateway

NB:  This post contains inappropriate and offensive language.

On the way home Brendon stared at the floor of the car and began to try and verbalise his feelings.

“No one understands me or how I feel. They don’t tell you everything Mum, you know.  It’s so hard for me when they don’t listen or understand and they start shouting.  I don’t belong and I feel awkward and it makes me angry.” 

“ We all understand that.” I said softly. “Mrs. Armitage certainly does because that’s her job.”

“NO! She might understand it a bit but SHE doesn’t have Aspergers or PDA nor do you.  How can anyone know how I feel?  Plus she’s in Mr. Fothergill’s pocket and has to do what he says anyway.  Sometimes I feel like killing myself. I fucking hate my life.”

I stopped the car.  The phrase ‘I want to kill myself’ are not words you want to hear coming from your troubled teenage son.  

“Brendon.  If you ever feel like that you must promise to talk to me. Remember you are deeply loved and cared for by your family and friends and people around you are just trying to help you. It’s going to take time.  You have to find a way of fitting into the rules of life ‘cos the world isn’t going to change for you.  I’ll always be here for you. Always.”

“And they go on about not swearing.  Like every kid swears.  It’s just a goddamn word.  They care more about that than they do about bullying or racism or drugs or starvation.  The worlds fucked up man.”

A valid point.  Sometimes I found the way he thought very refreshing and challenging.

“Yes, but it’s disrespectful and people find it offensive.  You should be mindful not to upset other people.  You're an articulate person; you don't need to swear to make your point.” 

We arrived home and I made him some scrambled eggs on toast and a glass of milk.  He only ever drank milk.

“I’m working from home today now but I have to go out for a few hours tonight to cover an event.  Are you OK with that?”

“Yo fam.  Don’t want your bossman givin’ ya da flip homie. That be peak.”  Brendon slipped into the chav talk of his peers.  He often did this just to take the piss out of people he referred to as ‘wanna be gangsters and wanna be black.’

He went willingly to bed and I moved to my study to try and actually do some work.  I emailed Colin to thank him for understanding and that I was at my desk and getting on with it.  Whilst my computer fired up, I went to try and phone Karl.  It was time that Daddy gave me a hand.  His phone went straight to his answer machine “Hi this is Rhodes, Karl Rhodes, please leave your name and number and I’ll get back to you ay-sap.”  Really?  He now said it on his voice message?
“Karl its Rhodes, Sophie Rhodes.  Governors meeting for your son tomorrow at 4.30pm.  I’d like you to be there.”

With Brendon asleep it was actually quite peaceful and easy to work from home and without all the distraction, I got way more done than usual.  I was kept entertained by Johnno with the occasional imessage:

John Smith: Frank say’s he’s busy and he doesn’t really like blondes.”

Sophie Rhodes: What a knob.  Ok, try Torres.

John Smith:  He’s just a baby.  Can you speak Spanish?

Sophie Rhodes:  He needs guidance.  I don’t want to talk to him, Johnno. DUH! 

I texted my best friend Karen to see if she wanted to come  out to the Gateway lounge later and enjoy the fruits of free wine and fodder.  She responded with  “I’ll be at yours for 6 and I’m gonna get pissed.”  Of course she was.  She was a nurse, so that was a given.

I worked like a demon until 3.30 pm when Bryony and her friend Amie came home from school.  She was surprised to see me back at the ranch  and gave me a big hug.  Bryony was as bonkers as I was and probably the one person in my family who was actually on the same page.

“It’s ok if Amie stays for tea right?”

“Sure.” I said giving Amie a hug. “I’m going out later but I’ll get you a Dominoes pizza if you like.  Your brothers in bed- he got sent home so be quiet-ish.”

“I heard. Didn’t he smash a finger scanner in the canteen?” Amie laughed at this.

“Not quite but...along those lines.  He’s a bit low so be careful round him.” 
I felt for Bryony.  Whilst she had a great bond with Brendon, an unbreakable connection, she was also subject to his wrath at any given moment.  It was important that I made her free time as fun and easy as possible.

The girls helped me get ready for the party which was annoying.  One was straightening my hair and the other was laying out various attire on my bed.  My whole wardrobe was coming out.  It was decided: Skinny black jeans, Irregular Choice shoes, a nice little top from French Connection, a pale pink silk scarf adorned with feathers and a fitted, black leather jacket.  

When I came downstairs Brendon was up and at his computer looking at a You Tube video with some American guy ranting on about something.

“Your pizza will be here in about 20 minutes.  Don’t be long on games, you’ve got to be in bed at a normal time tonight, OK?”

“What time will you be back?” 

“About 10pm.” I said.  I heard Karen arrive in a taxi and said my goodbye’s telling Bryony to call me straight away if there were any problems.

Seeing Karen was a welcome relief.  She was my oldest school friend and we reverted to stupid teenagers as soon as we met.  We caught up on each others lives in the cab on the way to the Gateway and I gave her a little notepad and pen and told her to listen out for anything when she was there.  She quite fancied herself as a secret gossip columnist.

We got there around 7pm and the place was already filling up.  I recognised some of the usual faces from other openings and suchlike. Local business men and women, magazine and newspaper journos, spies from other establishments etc.  The place was gorgeous with a simplistic rustic vibe, open brick and dark leather.  The bar swept through the middle in a gentle curve of rich oak and glass and was accessible from both sides.  Waiters wandered round with vol-au-vents and other pretentious finger foods and the bar was sparkling with shiny champagne glasses waiting to be filled.  I took out my camera and began taking some shots before it got too crowded.  The lighting was perfect and I was achieving some great pictures from the reflections in the huge, Italian designed faceted mirrors.  

“Champagnes out.’ Karen whispered in my ear.

“Go get, my friend.” I turned and watched her expertly slip through the gathering throng of merrymakers to lift the glasses.

I spied Simms, the owner, talking to Paul Hymes, director at Ferrari near the end of the bar.  I mooched over ready to get in and ask him some questions. I knew Paul as did most people in the city; noted for his Ferrari 458 Spider adorned with his ‘HYM3S’ private number plate and the fact he was a lecherous old sod.  

“Sophie darling.” he shmoozed as I approached.  He held out his arm to collect me into his space.  He smelt of Bollinger and Davidoff cool water. 

“Paul my darling.” I sang with as much pathetic gushiness as I could muster.   I tried not to visibly cringe as he ran his hand down my back.  Whilst I thought he was a prick I had to resist from saying so.  Firstly I would lose my job and secondly you never knew if there was chance of a Ferrari in the offing.  Having said that I doubted you would get one without having to shag him in the back seat of his.  We made small talk and enthused about the venue and Paul kept filling my glass as I tried to ask Simms about the bar and his forthcoming ideas. 

 Suddenly a group of promotion girls from the local radio came over dressed in black leather, with smoky eyes and tousled locks.  It was like an audition for Cat Woman.  Fortuitously, it took Paul’s attention away from me and I was able to slip away unnoticed and join my nearly plastered friend. I found her talking to some guys from the nearby vodka bar.  Though I’d joined the conversation late, I ascertained that they'd figured out she was a nurse ( ergo must be a naughty little minx then) and were telling tales of their mate getting his bollocks stuck in his flies and ending up at A&E. 

I checked my phone and read the following texts:

Colin Fray:  How’s it going Soph?

John Smith: Is Frank there? I told him you were going...

I replied to both and took the opportunity to text Karl.  He’d not called me back yet.

Karl - Please let me know that you’re coming tomorrow.  Really important and need your backup.

I clicked on my word game since I was only in the background of the current conversation.

The Voice: How do you know that the conversation would be frivolous?  We have yet to have one.

I noticed he’d played a storming word attached to another and scoring 33 points.  Bastard.

Sophistication: Well I can’t say you inspired to me to start one and yet it seems we are.

The rest of the night was fun and we chatted with lots of different people and for the first time in a long while I laughed and drank and felt some freedom.  My feet, however were starting to throb wildly.  NB: do not ever listen to teenagers again on what to wear.  Irregular choice heels should only be worn when going out to sit down – i.e. Dining.
I beckoned my party to a nearby table that had just been vacated. I fell into the seat and kicked off my heels placing my angry feet on the cool tiled floor.  It was then that I felt the buzz of my phone in my pocket.  I reached into the tight opening and fished it out. Twelve missed calls from Brendon.  

“Shit.”  I excused myself and forced my swollen feet back into the shoes from hell.  I felt like an ugly sister with a glass slipper as I teetered outside like a newly born deer so I’d be able to hear him.   He answered immediately.  I barely heard it ring.

“WHERE THE FUCK ARE YOU?”  He bellowed.

“Err, watch how you speak to me please!” I felt the cheer and easiness of the evening drain away like a plug had been pulled.


“I’m out working REMEMBER” I said sternly.

“But its 10.33pm” He replied


“You said you’d be back at 10 pm. You're 33 minutes late already and I’ve been looking for you since 10.”

“10...10.30...what does it matter.  I said around 10pm” 

“You SAID 10.  Can you please come home, NOW.”

“FINE!” I ended the call and made a mental note to self.  Do not be specific in future.  Be vague and remember that what you say will be taken literally.

I left Karen at the party with the vodka barons after explaining my dilemma.  She totally understood; she was his Godmother and because of me she’d never had kids.

Getting a taxi home was easy as it was midweek and I was home at just after 11pm. Every light in the house was on and Brendon was peering out from behind the curtains awaiting my arrival. 
“EVENTUALLY.”  His eyes were black and I felt his dark mood permeating the atmosphere like a deadly virus. 

“I’m back now, so leave it.” I warned. “Where’s Bryony?”

“She was in bed watching vampire shit.  I’ve been on my own for ages and wanting to go to bed.”

“Then go to bed, because I am.”  I kicked my shoes off at the bottom of the stairs and he violently kicked them out of his way as he stomped up them.

  He’d managed to assert his control and his demands had been met. Hopefully he would now sleep. 

 “Goodnight Brendon, love you.” I said as I passed by his door after checking on a sleeping Bryony.

“Night.” He mumbled begrudgingly.