Not long before he turned 30 his dreaded father-in-law died in a car accident. His wife was inconsolable but he fought to hide his joy. The man who’d prematurely cut short his intense and decadent lifestyle was finally gone. Now was the time to escape this stifling marriage. There were other, more personal and slightly insane reasons for him wanting out as well. Since he was 28 he had been chased by visions of the Santa who had hospitalised him as a boy. He’d gone on to terrorise hundreds, maybe thousands, of children in the twenty years in-between before suddenly disappearing when the nightmares began.
In them he was eight again, back at the grotto where the terror had begun. In the intervening years he had seen and heard a lot and the adult influences made the incident darker. In these nightmares he wasn’t just thrown through a wall, but Norbert had grabbed him while he was out and run away with them.
Thecracks began to appearfinal straw camewhen she saw him with the same woman on three separate occasions. Once or twice she could understand, but the third date was when it began to get serious. When he first came home after the promo tours she said nothing, worried about upsetting the children.
He sat with his sons in the living room, just talking to them. They knew Daddy went away for work like their friend’s fathers, but their Daddy was always gone for longer.
She was busy starting dinner, something she’d delayed until she knew he was home. There had been a few occasions when he’d come home and been faced with a dry meal, she and the kids having eaten theirs earlier.
They didn’t speak over dinner. The children were fortunately oblivious to the hostility that was bubbling between their parents and prattled on immaturely about their day. Mum and Dad spoke to the children and communicated passive-aggressively through them.
He put the children to bed after they’d bathed. Had it not been for them he wouldn’t have been forced into a marriage but he didn’t regret them at all. It was the timing he regretted. 27 had been too young to become a father.
It became a fight in the bedroom once the children were asleep. He told her to stop believing gossip and undressed for bed while she screamed at him. She’d never felt so abandoned in her life, her father had just died, she wanted more support… her words became an indistinct buzz and he watched her exhaust herself hysterically before collapsing on the bed. When she noticed he hadn’t listened the screaming started again. “If anything happens while you’re away, I’m going! I can’t cope any more!”
“As if you would, you love my money too much.” Another screaming fit ensued and he stared blankly ahead, verging on falling asleep. “The kids’ll hear you.” That gave them an uneasy peaceand she climbed into bed with him, keeping as far away as possible.
Before, he had come back to his sister and his wife in bed. A normal man would have been angry and left then, but Randy had left them to get on with it and gone to bed. It aroused him in a confusing way and
The new tour would take them roundthe UK,then Europeand the UK., then North America.They’d be gone for nearlythreesixmonths, long enough for him to forge a relationship with someone else. In the interim another child had been born to James and the drummer had knocked up one of the dancers, which did little to ease Mary’s paranoia.
None of the women this time round were relationship material anyway. They were either just typical bimbettes or ugly, and no one likes the ugly groupies. He ended up not getting much action and was miserable by the time they landed in London for the tour finale.
In the three days before the show they were invited to various promotional events and introduced to certain people.One of these events was an exhibition opening. James liked modern art, Randy didn’t, but there was always booze and birds at these events.
He did meet a woman at this event, one worth more than one night.Her name was Kitty and she was an aspiring artist. Unlike any of the others she was beautiful and intelligent. Something about her was enticing and interesting and he was attracted to her.
After the show Randy collected Kitty and a few other girls from the stage door and they went to the closest pub. Most of the girls drifted off before last orders, so it was just the two of them at the very end. When the barman told them to leive they walked to his hotel, just two blocks away. He was too drunk to operate the lock and fell on the bed in relief when they got back. “You’re beautiful, just lemme sober up...” he moaned, rolling onto his side. As the waves of nausea passed over him she stroked his hair. She was even good enough to fetch the bin for him to be sick in and wiped his face afterwards. Few groupies did that, marking her as a special woman.
He returned home after this tour and found his wife and his brother on the couch together, clothes askew and panting heavily. He said nothing, just going to his son’s room and kissing them on the head. “Daddy loves you very much” he told them before going downstairs.
Mary was stood at the foot of the stairs, waiting for him to come down. “It’s... Randall...!” He said nothing, pushing by her like she wasn’t there. He unlocked his favourite car and loaded it with favourite notebooks, guitars, mobile sound equipment and whatever fitted into it. Richard was still sat on the couch, too much of a coward to face his older brother. Good.
She tried to get his attention all the while, but he’d shut himself off. All he wanted to see was his possessions and leave this hateful woman with his worthless excuse for a brother. He didn’t care how tired he was – when he found Kitty he could sleep.
She was, somehow, just about an hour away. It was a coincidence but one he was grateful for, as he wanted to spill this expanding bladder of bile on sympathetic ears. The stupid bitch had supplied all the details of their three-month affair in an attempt to plead her way back into his affections. The marriage had been crumbling for a while and this had been the kick he needed.
When he arrived at her small flat he noticed how plain it was. He’d expected somewhere madly grand and tasteless, not an ordinary bedsit.“All my possessions are in Cateridge” she told him whenhe first came in. “Made no sense to bring anything with me.” She sat him on the flat old couch and made him a drink.“Spill everything.” He did, exhausting every word he knew for his desperation and hate. He had given the woman children, a home, security and she’d had an affair with his brother. Any other person he could have forgiven, he had built a career on promiscuity and had forgiven her for the time with his sister, but the brother was unacceptable.
His disappearance would never have gone unnoticed.
Two days after returning home from the tour, giving him time to see his sons again, Randy disappeared.It was suspected that he’d gone off with a groupie he’d been seen with after a couple of the London shows. His wife heard this and voiced her suspicions in a letter to a national newspaper:
“My husband has been distant for quite some time, ever since the death of my father eight months ago. I have heard certain rumours and would like to lend my credence to the theory that he’s disappeared with another woman.
As some will have noticed, he had recently been seen with fans at the awards ceremonies and such. I understand that he has to go to these, but I don’t like these events. I allowed him to take female fans as placeholders but he took the same woman out to four different events. It’s not hard to work out what was happening between them.
Selfishly, he has left me with three children. When he returns I will divorce him.”