Jack goes to London. Jack meets Kate. Everything changes.
Jack watched as his father died for the third time that week. He was sick of it, and he said so.
“Dreams again?” Helen rolled onto her side, facing away from him.
“Again.” An unidentifiable siren shrieked outside the hotel window, reminding Jack of his location.
“We’re still not in Kansas any more, honey.” He lay back, focusing on the peeling paint that was desperately clinging to the ceiling.
“Jack, you’ve never been to Kansas. I don’t think you’ve even crossed the Mississippi.”
“Thanks for running with my joke.” Jack shook his head, and then looked for the remote. With a popping sound the television awoke, showing a morning ‘entertainment’ program. The latest Australian soap star was explaining how terribly excited she was to finally be in London and how terribly exciting her new singing career was going to be.
“There’s no way this would succeed at home. These Brits are crazy.” Jack propped his head up under a folded pillow and circled his finger around his temple, indicating just how crazy he thought they were.
Helen’s body remained in a foetal position. Jack ignored it, rolled out of bed and headed for the toilet. The room containing the toilet, sink and shower didn’t appear to actually be large enough to contain a toilet, sink and shower. It was though, and it somehow managed to handle the addition of Jack’s body mass.
“Why do you think the British make their toilets different? Just to spite us?” Jack said as he emerged from the closet-sized room.
“How many times do you think you’ve said the word ‘toilet’ since we’ve been here?”
“It’s a fun word, Helen. I can’t help it – I won’t be able to do it when we get home, so I am enjoying the freedom.” Jack smiled as he jumped onto the bed. Helen let out a sigh without subtlety.
“So, what’s the plan today?” Jack pounced on Helen’s surrender.
“My plan is to see my family – the whole reason I came here. Your plan is, as yet, unknown to me.” Helen remained facing the wall.
“Don’t start. You know I hate family gatherings.”
“Yes, families are evil Jack. You can’t trust them.”
“I wanted to travel with you. I wanted to see Big Ben and Buckingham Palace with you. Not Uncle Ben in Crystal Palace.”
“Look, do whatever you want to do, I’m going to see my family. When you won these tickets and asked me to come, you didn’t say it was conditional on doing only what you wanted to do.” Helen got up at that. It was her turn to defy physics in the bathroom. It was Jack’s turn to sigh.
The slamming door prompted him to grab his jeans from the floor and pull them up over his white boxer shorts. He slipped his mostly buttoned-up shirt over his head then reached for his Doc Martens. Sitting on the edge of the bed, he laced them up, and paused to admire them.
“You boys have made this whole trip worthwhile.” He then put them to work by walking to the door. “Helen, I’m going to get a paper.” He didn’t wait for a response.