Chapter XX: Back at the Red

“And I think it’s better you don’t come to the mansion for a while, not until everything settles a bit.”  Dilly said in a cold, detached voice. “For both our sakes.”

Harwood Clay had lived many, many years in this world and as a free minded artist he had experienced many things an average sim had not.  Yet he had never been broken up with on the phone, not until right now that is.  What surprised him most was the coldness Dilly had delivered the news with. She just told him he had started seeing someone else, a guy named Justin Kayes. And that was it. Their relationship was over.

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Harwood dropped the phone and absently looked into nothing. It just seemed so surreal. Worst of all was her casual comment about not coming to the mansion, which mean not seeing his infant son. It ached his heart in a way he hardly deemed possible.

It was true that things between the two of them weren’t great, he honestly couldn’t remember the last time they kissed, or even saw each other out of Dilly’s house, away from her mother and their son but he kind of thought she owed him more than a phone call.

And for how long should he stay away? How was he to live without Billy now? He had just gotten used to the little smile he would get when Harwood lifted him high in the air. He wanted to see him grow, learn to walk and talk… He wanted to be in his life…

 

After the initial shock wore off Harwood did what he always did when he felt hurt and alone. He went to the local hangout The Red Rendezvous and drank. Being back there reminded him of a promise he made to Betty Wills, the bartender, and Pattina Knack his former love interest and he agreed to perform there one night next week.

Some time ago, before he even met Dilly Harwood used to come to the Red almost every night and play his guitar there, people gathered and watched, some even threw him some money. It was good for business. Now the hangout had it’s own stage on the second floor and Harwood was to have his solo performance up there. He didn’t allow Betty to make a big deal of it, just a few flyers on the door, no add on the place’s website. He didn’t want to attract any attention to himself, he was after all still hiding from the world.

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And so Harwood performed. Under the dim lights  he played soft ballads about lost love, matching his current mood not caring if anyone listened or not.  Only when he was done did he notice Pattina had kept her promise and came to listen. She stopped dying her hair, he noticed. Yet she was still impeccably dressed, in green trousers and a leather jacket of the lighter shade of the same color. She gave him a small smile and he smiled back.

He would have come up to her as soon as his performance was done, he would have let her help him forget all about Dilly, he would have been lost in the passion he always had felt for her if her ex husband hadn’t showed up, still in his work scrubs. Pattina turned to him immediately and Harwood heard them talking in an not so friendly tone but from where he was standing he couldn’t make out the words. It didn’t matter. The magic was lost, it was the kind of drama he didn’t want to get involved in, not right now, not in the state he was so he turned and left back to his own peace and quiet, back to his little Rookie.

Harwood kept his promise and didn’t go anywhere near Dilly and Milly Pidgin’s home but he did call Dilly often, just to talk about his son if nothing else. He needed to know if he was healthy, if he was growing and if he was happy. It was important for him that Billy has a good childhood. Sure he missed her sometimes.  Whenever he heard the strain and fatigue in her voice he wanted to pedal over there and just hold her but he didn’t. If she was moving on so would he. Pattina had not called and he didn’t want to call her. He wasn’t about to get burned again, not until he was sure things between her and her husband were over for good.

On the evening of Billy’s toddler birthday Harwood found himself drinking at the bar alone. Dilly said she was not making a big deal out of something their son wouldn’t even remember and Harwood respected that. But still he wished she had invited him at least, just to see the boy, to be with him at least on this day. She didn’t. And so he was here sipping Winning Streaks one after another with no one but the bartender, Betty to keep him company.

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He was on his third, or was it fourth drink? He had already lost count by then when he noticed a young woman looking at him. He turned to meet her gaze but she quickly turned away. She was very thin, with short brown hair and dark eyes, there had been something vaguely familiar about her Harwood thought as he looked her over. She wouldn’t turn to face him choosing instead to just drink her colorless drink .

“Oh she was definitely checking you out.” Betty whispered leaning over the bar so only Harwood could here. He turned to her lifting his eyebrows slightly. “Go talk to her. Maybe she has what you need.” Betty urged him. “If I am wrong you can always go back to the drinks. They will be here and so will I.” She added with a wink. Harwood sighed heavily and emptied the whole glass. What did he have to loose?

“You can sit by me if you like. I don’t bite.” He said when he came close to the young woman. Oh she was so, so young he realized when she turned to him. She could have been his daughter, that is how young she was and if he wasn’t as drunk as he was he might have just turned around and went home but with those Winning Streaks in his system…

She smiled ever so slightly. “I know you don’t Harwood Clay.”

“Oh, you know my name.” Harwood said his eyebrows going up in surprise.

“Of course I do.” She said, again with that wicked little smile.

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“You know I would have to ask how now.” He said smiling back.

“Well lets say while I am not an artsy person I know a thing or two about modern art.” She said. “You look different though, your hair was longer, and you didn’t have a beard. Harwood smiled as he run a hand over his face. It was true, his bear was getting rather thick, it should go off soon.

“It seems my past will always haunt me.”

“Oh it is not just your past I know you about, your guitar skills have left quite a few people impressed.”

“Impressed… Well I’m not sure we should go that far….”

“Oh we should, but they say your songs are getting sadder lately.” She added in a seductive whisper.

“So you saw my last performance didn’t you?”  Harwood asked straightening up.

“No, no. I avoid going to the same places my parents go.” Her dark eyes met his and there was a challenge there but he couldn’t figure it out.

“Well I am sure I could work something out with Betty so you can hear me play. It is just getting lonesome playing alone on that big stage… Do you by any chance play an instrument? Maybe we can start a band! I always wanted one. Goopie’s Groopies! We even have a name.” She laughed. It was a nice sound, one he wanted to hear again.

“I am afraid I am not much of a musician. Not stage ready that is for sure. I did learn a bit of piano, it is compulsory at Smuggsworth Prep.”

“A private school kid?” Harwood said with a smile. “You must be some mean buisness woman.” She laughed again.

“No, no I work in a restaurant, I cook.” She smiled again and some kind of bells started going off in his head, there was a connection he had to make but his mind was so damned clouded…

“Well I must admit you are one interesting person. And you know my art! Maybe I could gift you one of my sculptures, just for making this shitty night a tad better. I will mail it to you. You just have to at least tell me your name.” A smile spread over her face.

“I will give you my name but I would like it more if you would come and deliver it in person.” She paused. “My name is Julienne. Julienne Knack.”

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3 Comments

  1. Uh oh…. seems like Harwood’s judgement was very clouded indeed! He hit on Pattina’s daughter?! Holy Molly!! Don’t do it Harwood!!
    It’s so sad that he can’t even see Billy on his 1st birthday… That’s pretty mean and selfish of Dilly!

    Liked by 1 person

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