The Crystal Orchids Episode 5: Country Stars

“Gibson, you don’t have any uh… Stuff in your bag, do you?” Rose said cautiously as they walked up to the security line at the Los Angeles airport. 

“Obviously you guys have never flown private before.” David scoffed as he walked right past the security baggage check, waiving to the workers with a pleasant smile. The rest of the group followed after him as they walked through the gate and down onto the tarmac. There were heatwaves rising off the asphalt of the runway as they walked up to David’s extravagant private jet. The jet was shorter than a normal commercial plane, and it had a decorative pattern down the length of the side. David took off his golden mirror shades as they entered the plane. He stuck his head into the cockpit and greeted the pilots before guiding the others onto the plane. The inside of the aircraft was laden with embroidered leather and there was a fully stocked mini bar at the back. David sat down on one of the long couch-like seats as Rose, Olivia and Gibson stowed their baggage and then took in the sights of the private jet.  

“Wow, I’ve never experienced the feeling of realizing money can actually make me happy firsthand before, but you know what, I feel it right now.” Rose declared as she sat down. 

David went straight to the bar and made a Martini. “Olivia, I have a 96 pinot grigio here if you’d like a glass.”  

“Oh, sure.” Olivia called back. 

David poured a glass half full and then returned to the seat across the aisle from the others. He sat, martini glass in hand with his legs crossed over each other. Dirty with 3 olives, the way he always made it.  

“So, Liv, why did you decide to spend Thanksgiving with Rose and her family? Isn’t Jonah going to visit his parents, I thought you’d want to spend the holidays with them.” Gibson asked as he got up to make himself a gin and tonic.  

“Well, he is going to his parent’s house in Palo Alto…”  

“Of course.” David interrupted 

“But we decided that since we’ve only been dating a few months, it’s better if we just do our own things. You know, we don’t want to pressure each other too much, and take things slow.” Olivia continued, unphased by David’s passive aggression.  

“Well, hey, I’m glad to have you come with us.” Rose added.  

The conversation grew quiet as the engine started up and they began shuttling down the runway. Soon, the jet took off with a deafening roar and everyone watched as the Los Angeles skyline faded away into minacity. Once they reached cruising altitude, the noise from the aircraft’s engines leveled off a bit and the passengers could converse again.  

“Oh Rose, I was thinking about a prank on your parents, it would be so funny.” Olivia mused “I think when we get there, Gibson should stay in the car and we should pretend that we’re dating and that Gibson isn’t there.” Olivia said with a laugh. Rose didn’t respond, and Olivia’s expression harshened as she understood the situation.  

“You’re not out to your parents yet, are you?” she said solemnly  

“I was going to say it to you guys, just no mention of me being bisexual, ok?” Rose stated.  

“Yeah… Of course.” Olivia replied uneasily looking down at her shoes.  

“You don’t have to act all dour about it. I’ll come out eventually, it’s not a big deal. Just, let me be the one to do it, you know.” Rose added  

Olivia nodded in acceptance and Gibson got up to make another drink, if only to avoid having to deal with any further conversation.  

After a few hours, they arrived at the airport in Iowa, they grabbed their bags and headed off David’s private jet. The runway was much shorter than the one at LAX and the airport as a whole was much smaller. David put his mirror shades on as they walked away from the mid-afternoon sun and into the terminal which was tiny in comparison to the one they had departed from, the chairs and service desks in much worse condition as well. David walked past groups of people trying not to draw attention to himself, meanwhile nearly every man had turned their head to look at Olivia.  

“Why are all the men looking at me, I’m really not used to this kind of attention from guys.” Olivia said uneasily  

“Well, you see Olivia, that’s because you’re an LA 7 but to everyone in Iowa, you’re literally the most attractive woman any of these people have ever seen with their Midwestern simpleton eyes.” David explained  

“How rude, Olivia is at least a 9.” Rose snapped defensively, grabbing her friend by the arm.  

“There’s nothing wrong with being a 7, that’s well above average. It means you get lucky a lot. Not everybody can be a universal 10 like me. I’m sure Rose was very popular here with both sexes.”  

“You know that just because I’m bisexual doesn’t mean I want to fuck everybody I see, right David?” Rose responded aggressively  

“Did you just pull the biphobia card on me saying you’re attractive?” David stated, confused. They walked through the airport to the transportation hub where Rose’s mom was waiting in her silver SUV for the group to arrive. Upon seeing Rose, she jumped out of the car to greet her.  

“Rose!” her mom exclaimed as she closed the car door behind her, and embracing her daughter.  

“Mom! It’s so good to see you again.” Rose excitedly declared, hugging her back. 

Rose’s mom was a heavy-set woman with long auburn hair. Her facial structure was very similar to Rose’s, but she had bright blue, inviting eyes. She had age marks and wrinkles on her forehead and around her eyes, and she wore a pair of high waisted jeans and a button up purple blouse. After the hug was over, she turned her attention to Gibson.  

“Derrick, how’s my favorite bass player?” she asked kindly  

“I’m doing well, it’s good to see you again Audrey.” He replied, immediately being engaged in a deep hug.  

She then turned to Olivia who had just finished putting her bags in the back of the vehicle.  

“And you must be Olivia, Rose talks about you all the time. It’s so good to meet you finally.” she said, holding out her hand. Olivia shook it and replied, “It’s nice to meet you too.”  

“Wow Rose, you didn’t tell me Olivia was so pretty. You must be a model.”  

“Mom, I told you not everybody who lives in LA is a model or a movie star.” Rose intervened  

“Well, luckily, I’m both.” David said confidently. Audrey’s eyes lit up as he finished putting his massive suitcase in the car’s trunk.  

“Dave, oh my god it’s been so long.” She said clutching him. “I always forget how tall you are.”  

“It’s nice to see you again too Audrey.” David replied with a charming smile. The hug had gone on for an uncomfortable amount of time.  

“Mom, c’mon.” Rose said, embarrassed 

“What, it’s not every day you get the chance to hug a famous actor.” Audrey replied giddily before getting back in the driver’s seat. Rose got in the front seat and David behind her with Gibson and Olivia in the left side seat and middle respectively. They drove off and as they exited the area around the airport, the sprawling fields of green and yellow rolled by. Rose and her mom were catching up while David rested his head on the window and watched the countryside flash by his eyes.  

“I’m sorry Rose, is there anything in this fucking state besides corn fields?” David asked  

“Well, there’s the park where they shot Field of Dreams at… But that’s in a cornfield too I guess.” Rose replied, trailing off in the end.   

The drive from the airport continued for about half an hour before the group arrived at Rose’s parent’s house. Their street was sparsely populated with just a few houses on the road. Each house was a standard small, midwestern home with an aging wood façade and large spaces in the back yard covered with various rusted sheds and toolboxes. As the car pulled into the driveway, the door to the house opened and Rose’s dad Henry was standing in the doorway to greet them. Tall and slim with a patchy white and black beard, Henry had long, slicked back hair and a stoic resting facial expression that turned to a smile when he saw his daughter get out of the car. Rose ignored everyone else who was going to get the bags out of the car and ran to her father who she embraced.  

“It’s good to see you again Rosie.” he said with a proud smile. “You’re getting too big for your shoes out in LA with this guy.” he said snidely, acknowledging David who put down his bag on the porch to hug him.  

“Long time no see Henry.” David said hugging him back and then picking up his bag again to carry it inside. Henry stood by and greeted Olivia by gently shaking her hand and then Gibson, this time with a much firmer handshake.  

“Nice to see you again Henry.” Gibson said kindly.  

“Good to see you too.” Henry replied less so. 

“I see you finally got around to doing the repairs on the porch you said you wanted to do, it looks good.” he said, complimenting the fresh carpentry work on the front of the home. 

“Thanks. Just make sure to lock the door behind you when you come in.” her father responded a bit coldly.  

The inside of the house was antiquated and cramped. Age had not been kind to the yellow paint on the wall; it had turned a shade of which you couldn’t tell was intended or just white paint that had weathered horribly. The same could not be said about the brown shag carpet running throughout the house, that was dated as soon as it was put in; it seemed to have almost become one with the house, like it was growing on it. Antiques and knick-knacks obsessively cluttered the shelves and walls around the living room and kitchen.  

“We have room for all of you guys here. Derrick and Rose can take Rose’s old room and David and Olivia can have the spare room.”  

“Oh, we’re not together.” David and Olivia said in unison 

“Why did you say that so fast?” Olivia asked looking at David with a tense leer 

“Why did you say it with such an offended tone?” David questioned back, meeting her stare.  

“That’s my mistake, I just figured since you’re both so good looking…”  

“Mom” Rose interrupted her sharply  

“Ok, sorry. Well, we only have two rooms so one of you will have to sleep on the futon. We can get that ready for you.”  

David and Olivia looked at each other and David spoke first “I’ll sleep on the futon. It’ll remind me what it’s like to be poor.”  

“Alright, you guys. Get settled in and then we can get dinner.” Audrey stated, “We should order out from Frankie’s, it’s a special occasion.”  

“Oh, that sounds nice. I haven’t been to Frankie’s in forever.” Rose answered excitedly. 

“Alright, let me get the menu out so you guys can order.” Audrey nodded and the others agreed to the plan.  Audrey went to leave the room. About halfway down the hall to the kitchen, she turned back 

 “Oh Rose, I have some clothes I picked up at the good will for you if you want to try them on.” She pointed to a tote bag full of a random assortment of clothes.  

David was in the bathroom fixing his hair when there was a knock on the door.  

“Yes?” he called, finishing running the comb through it.   

“It’s Rose, can I come in for a second? I need to ask you something.” the voice called from the other side of the laminated wood door.  

“Sure.”  

Rose opened it and stood there, holding a dress.  

“I don’t know why I’m asking you this, but what do you think?”  

“I think that your parents love you and that you should feel comfortable telling them. You’re their only child and they seem very supportive of you.” David answered without looking down at her. He was still focused on making sure every hair on his head was in perfect position.  

“Ok, thanks but I meant about this dress.” Rose said holding it up against her body. It was blue with orange swirls on it.  

“Oh that? No, that should be burned.” David answered aggressively in response to taking a quick glance the dress.  

“Noted.” Rose said, and exhausted sigh parsed her lips, and her shoulders sagged a bit. “But thanks for the encouragement.”  

David quickly bobbed his head in acknowledgement. “Rose, your parents seem great. You shouldn’t worry too much about coming out to them at all. I…” He paused to draw his breath, as if mentally catching his feet under him. “I wish I had parents like that. I’m honestly jealous.”  

“You never talk about your parents much, so I just assumed you don’t have many pleasant memories of them.” Rose said tactfully  

“Nah, it’s fine. Chicks dig a little darkness.” David replied, his usual arrogant smirk returning to his face.  

Rose laughed and rolled her eyes, using that as a cue to excuse herself. “Oh yeah David, can you like try not to be a rich privileged douchebag for just 2 days? It’s really not that hard.” she added, somewhat unnecessarily. They both walked out and back to the living room where everyone else had gathered.  

“David and Olivia, I have some tea if you’d like that. It’s cold out so maybe that will warm you up a bit while Henry goes to get the food.” Audrey asked, almost excited at the quaint idea of offering them some comfort.  

“Yeah, that sounds lovely, thank you.” Olivia replied cheerfully.  

“it’s just jasmine tea if that’s ok with you.”  

“That great, thanks.” David answered  

Rose’s mom got out a thick black saucepan and turned the dial on the stove, the blue flame flickering into life beneath it. She filled it with water then reached into the cupboard for the tea bags. David was standing next to Rose, and she looked up at him with concerned eyes.  

“You seem like you want to say something douchey, so just get it out of your system.” She sighed  

“Is your mom making tea in a saucepan, what are we in prison?” David derided in an annoyed yet hushed tone of voice.  

Soon, the tea had heated up and was poured into two separate white cups and handed to David and Olivia. They both thanked their host and decided to step outside with Gibson who was standing on the back porch watching as the last waning rays of the sun hit the dusk. It had become a bit chilly out and Olivia clutched her mug close to her for warmth. David immediately took off his suit jacket and went to wrap It around her. She put her hand up in refusal.  

“Thank you, David, but I’m fine. It’s quite nice out. It reminds me of Manchester.” She said with a nod and a wayward glance like she was taking a moment to be nostalgic of home.  

“I guess that’s slightly better than reminding you of Newcastle.” David said with a grin.  

“I’m not clinically depressed enough for it to remind me of Newcastle.” Olivia said. She looked up at him pensively and the two burst into laughter.  

“Oh, I love it when you two make jokes about the UK that literally nobody else understands.” Rose butted in, popping up between the two of them with a terribly forced fake laugh.  

“Oh, you guys need to excuse me, I completely forgot to call Jonah.” she replied, walking to the other side of the porch and putting her mug down on the hand railing. She dialed the number and then put the phone to her ear.  

“Hello?” Jonah asked as he answered the call.  

“Hey, it’s me. Just calling to tell you I made it. Sorry it’s so late, I got busy getting settled in.”  

“Hey, no problem, I’m glad you made it. How was your flight?” Jonah asked positively.  

“Oh, it was great. Yeah, we took David’s private jet. First time I’ve ever flown private. It was quite the adventure honestly.” Olivia replied.  

“You took David’s plane?” Jonah responded, much less enthusiastically than Olivia.  

“Yeah, I told you we were flying on his plane, remember.” She restated cautiously. Radio silence from the other end.  

“Jonah, there was nothing happening ok. We just had a few glasses of wine and watched a movie. We were never alone; Rose and Gibson were there with us. Nothing romantic happened” She explained  

“I trust you Liv.” He said, his voice finding its familiar kind tone once again.  

“Thank you, Jonah.” Olivia answered in a relieved tone.  

“So, what movie did you watch?” he asked, taking an interest in her trip.  

“Before Sunrise.” Olivia recalled happily. 

Again, silence on the other end.  

“So, you said nothing romantic happened.” Jonah started  

“Y-yes” 

“But you went on his private jet, drank expensive wine and then watched a movie about two people who have a deep connection, but can’t act on those feelings because of outside circumstances.”  

“…Right.”  

“Ok then… I gotta go, I needed to get on the road to my parent’s house half an hour ago.” Jonah said, with a resigned sigh.  

“Call me when you get there?” Olivia asked him, a hint of desperation in her voice, knowing full well she’d be lucky to even get a text at this point. She exhaled heavily and then picked her mug back up. She brought it to her lips and took a drink of the now palatable drink. She took a swig and immediately coughed at the taste. She walked back over to where the others were and stood next to David initially, then moved over to the other side of Rose.  

Olivia took another sip of tea and coughed again.  

“That bad huh?” David asked with a chuckle 

“I’m trying to be nice.” Olivia replied, choking down another gulp. 

David tried his and it drew the same visceral reaction from him.  

“Good god, that would make the sun set on the British Empire.” he stated causing Olivia to laugh. David reached out across the handrail of the porch and poured the rest of the cup into the bushes. Gibson came out of the sliding glass window and took his place by his wife’s side, putting his arm around her waist and drawing her in for a kiss. David and Gibson began talking about band matters and Olivia and Rose had their own separate conversation. Rose and Gibson went inside to help set the dinner table. Olivia was rubbing her arms up and down to warm them up as she stood there in silence with David.  

“Are you sure you don’t want my jacket?” He asked, “It’d probably look better on you anyway.” he added. 

“David stop it.” Olivia replied  

“What, it’s cute when girls wear clothes that are too big for them.” He expressed with a devious grin 

“No David, I mean it. I have a boyfriend, just stop, ok?” Olivia snapped, decidedly less playfully than David. She stormed off, sliding open the glass door with a loud grinding sound and leaving David confused and dejected on the deck at her unusual outburst. He stood outside quietly thinking to himself. A few minutes later, Henry arrived with white take-out bags full to the brim with food containers.  

David went inside and was greeted by a plate of steaming ribs stacked high with Styrofoam vessels overflowing with sides and thick brown sauces. Audrey placed them in the center of the table, and everybody pulled up a chair and filled their plates to the brim with every assortment of barbecue they could have wished for. After letting everybody settle in and fill their mouths, Rose started the conversation.  

“So, dad, Gibson just bought a new bass the other day, did he show you?” she detailed in between bites of her dinner.  

“That’s nice. So, Olivia, what do you do for work?” Henry replied, deflecting attention away from her husband. Rose wasn’t taken aback at all by his disinterest and instead reached over and placed her fingers on top of Gibson’s hand under the table. He obliged and responded by grasping her hand tightly. 

“Oh, I’m a therapist.” She answered. She was really digging into her food and had already gone for seconds on some sides which was uncharacteristic for her.  

“Do you like it?” Henry grunted in response, grabbing a rib and holding it front of his face, ready to bite into it.  

“Very much so, it’s engaging and I’m glad that I feel like I can make a difference in the world.” Olivia claimed happily. The group continued to eat and chat until the plates were mostly barren. Rose and Gibson cleaned up and then the girls formed a group to start talking amongst themselves. Henry pulled David aside.  

“Dave, I got a nice bottle of scotch in the garage if you want to get away from… That.” He said  

“That sounds wonderful.” David replied with a smile and a relieved chuckle. “You still got that 71 Charger you were working on last time?” he added as he turned to follow Henry to the garage in the back of the house.  

“Oh yeah, I finished fixing her up about a year ago, we can check it out if you want.” Henry responded with a spark of excitement.  

“Sounds good.”  

After the girl’s conversation had ended, Olivia found herself outside on the porch where Gibson was standing, looking up at the country stars in the night. The evening air had grown more than chilly, and Gibson had put a green sweatshirt on over his normal shirt. He poorly hid his glass pipe from sight in the sweatshirt’s stomach pouch as he heard the door open behind him.  

“Hey.” Olivia said kindly, taking her place by him, leaning up against the handrail.  

“What’s good?” Gibson replied 

“You don’t have to hide it from me, you know I don’t care right?” Olivia stated, motioning to his pocket and the pipe.  

“Oh, I know. I just didn’t see it was you right away.” Gibson responded, pulling the pipe back out along with his lime green lighter. He held the flame over the bowl and took a long hit, exhaling the smoke into the night air. He offered it to Olivia, and she took it from him. She repeated the process albeit with a far less big draw. She then immediately handed it back to him.  

“Derrick, if you don’t mind me asking, it seems like Henry and you don’t get along. Hopefully I’m not overstepping my boundaries here, but why is that?”  

Gibson sighed and shrugged his shoulders. He took another puff from the still lit pipe.  

“When me and Rose first started dating, I was in my old band. Just going nowhere. I was out until 4 AM pretty much every night drinking. Didn’t make any money, and what little I did make immediately got spent on booze and drugs.” he paused for a moment “We all thought we were such rebels. A bunch of white guys living in LA sticking it to the establishment. And we didn’t see an ounce of irony in it at all. You know, stupid shit you do when you’re young and trying to find a place to fit in.” he handed the pipe back to Olivia and she lit it again, coughing as she exhaled.  

“God knows why she stuck with me, but she never wavered. She just kind of accepted me chasing my dream and never said a word about it. I guess we were both doing that with her trying to pursue a career in acting and we bonded over it. But she gave up chasing her dream so I could go after mine and not once has she ever resented me for it. I’ll always love her for that.” he continued with a smile thinking about his wife. “But anyway, Henry never liked me. And I get it. Every father wants their daughter to marry Mr. Perfect and I’m the furthest thing away from that. I mean, I want him to like me, but I stopped caring if he did years ago; respect is earned and all that. Why even bother to force it at this point, yah know?”  

Olivia looked out at the night sky for a few seconds as if she was pondering something.  

“I think he’ll come around eventually. It’s obvious that you love her to anybody who spends a minute around you. It’s just natural he’d be defensive of his only daughter.” Olivia said reassuringly. “At the end of the day, what really matters is giving his daughter a life he thinks she deserves. And for what it’s worth, you seem to have your life together now.”  

“Thanks, I try. Don’t tell my bandmates that though.” Gibson replied with a snigger as he emptied the ash in the pipe out into the air beyond the boundary of the deck.  

The two just stood in mutual silence, looking out at the clearness of the night sky above them. Something you simply didn’t get in Los Angeles very much.  

“I can pack another bowl if you want.” Gibson offered.  

“Oh no thanks. I’m reminded why I never smoke with you Derrick. I take two puffs and I feel like 3 generations of my kids are going to struggle to keep pizza delivery jobs.” she said with her characteristic dry wit and they both had a hearty laugh. Gibson put the pipe away in its plastic sandwich bag and he turned to Olivia again.  

“Derrick, can I ask you something?” Olivia mused  

“Shoot.” Gibson obliged simply.  

“What is it that makes everyone so comfortable confiding in me, besides the fact it’s literally my occupation?”  

Gibson mulled over the question for a second then replied “You have such a… God I’m gonna sound like such a stoner here… You have a very positive vibe about you. I’m not 100% sure what it is but you’re just a really positive person. I’ve literally never seen you look at a situation in a negative light. You have such a kind and inviting personality and I think it just makes people comfortable around you. You’re also super easy to talk to. Plus, you’re pretty, which disarms people. Don’t tell Rose I said that though… Or do, she’ll probably agree with me.“ he laughed, and Olivia smiled back.  

“Thank you, Derrick.” Olivia added.  

“I’m gonna head in, it’s getting late.” Gibson said and Olivia agreed, following him inside.  

He walked by Rose and kissed her on the cheek.  

“You two better not be forming a love triangle out there without me.” Rose snarked as she kissed him back. David and Henry returned from the garage a few moments afterward and after a while, everyone decided to go to bed. David transformed the wine-colored couch into a bed and began laying out the sheets that Audrey had given him. Olivia emerged from her room to get a glass of water from the kitchen. David looked away from her and back at the bed. Olivia glanced at her phone but still no messages or calls from Jonah.  

“Hey.” Olivia said meekly looking up from the screen 

“Hi.” David replied, again, not glancing away from arranging the bed.  

“I’m sorry about snapping at you earlier.” She stated.  

David didn’t reply at first then he responded by saying “What are we doing Liv?”  

“What do you mean what are we doing?” Olivia replied confused by the question.  

“I mean us. What is going on between us? We’re just playing stupid games and denying how we really feel.” David said shockingly open about his feelings.  

“David, nothing is going on between us, don’t be daft. We’re just friends.” Olivia asserted.  

“That’s the thing though. We can’t just be friends Olivia, because literally no guy you date will ever be ok with me being around you. And we obviously have romantic chemistry that’s off the charts. And it’s not just me saying that because literally everyone sees it including your boyfriend. So, there’s only two choices. Either you don’t hang out with me, or we start a relationship. It’s not fair to anybody involved if we just stay in purgatory like this. And I really do not want to lose you as a friend Olivia.” David said, laying out an ultimatum.  

Olivia put her hand to her head and leaned on the counter, thinking for a fleeting moment before looking up at him.  

“Have you ever stopped to think that maybe I don’t want to date a famous person? That I don’t want that extra pressure and attention?” Olivia snapped  

“I mean…” David started but was quickly cut off.  

“Of course, you haven’t because a lifetime of being famous has made you think you’re the center of the bloody universe and you’re fucking not, David.” she said sternly and then left for her bedroom.  

David was so taken aback by the abrasiveness of Olivia’s comments that he couldn’t even reply and figured it was probably for the best he didn’t say anything. Instead, he slid the blanket open and crawled into bed. The sheets were hot and scratchy, the pillow uneven and stiff. He could feel the springs below the thin mattress poking into his back as he turned over and tried to fall asleep.  

“The futon wasn’t too uncomfortable for you, was it David?” Rose’s mom asked as she was preparing the food for dinner later in the afternoon.  

“Oh no, besides the fact that I’m not used to sleeping on sheets with a thread count lower than my IQ.” David snarked back. Rose jabbed him in the lower ribcage with a pair of tongs she had in her hand.  

“What was that for?” he whispered harshly  

“Sorry. Runaway salad.” Rose replied which drew the ire of a deep eye roll from David.  

Audrey was moving from one thing to the other on the stove top preparing all the sides for the feast. She turned one of the burners down to barely on, then tasted the contents on the inside of the sauce pan with her spoon before putting the utensil down and turning to David.  

“David, do you know how to make stove top stuffing?” Audrey asked  

“Uh, of course.” David replied unconvincingly.  

“Great, can you make this for me while I go check on where Henry is at with the turkey?”  

“No problem.”  

David took the red box of stuffing mix from her hands and read the back of the box. He stood there staring at it for a few seconds.  

“You don’t know how to cook anything do you?” Rose said with a demented grin on her face.  

“Why would I know how to cook this? You think I eat stuffing? I haven’t had 10% of my daily carbs in a decade.” David spat back “I will literally pay your rent for a month if you just make it for me.” he suggested.  

“Oh, trust me, you couldn’t buy me a mansion in Bel-Air in exchange for the enjoyment I’d get out of watching you struggle to cook boxed stuffing.” Rose answered with a devilish laugh.  

Outside, Henry had fired up the barbecue and was putting the turkey in to cook. The heat of the flame and the smell of propane filled the air around the back porch. Gibson who was drinking a beer walked over and tried to engage Henry in conversation.  

“So, what kind of wood are you using for the barbecue.” Gibson asked  

“It’s a gas grill Derrick, it’s using propane.” Henry replied condescendingly.  

“…Oh yeah. Well either way, I can’t wait to try it. Smells good.” Gibson added.  

“You know Derrick, I think Audrey said she needed help with the cranberry sauce.” he sighed, passive aggressively taking a large gulp of his beer.  

“Sure, I’ll go help.” Gibson replied dejectedly, returning to the house.  

Some time passed and finally dinner was ready as the dusk sun hit the windows of the house. The table was set with the nicest dinner ware they had, and everyone filed into the kitchen to sit and eat.  

“Where’s Rose?” Henry asked. He called for her and no response. Olivia went to the bedroom and found the door closed. She knocked on it and asked if she could enter. Rose agreed and Olivia opened the door.  

“Hey.” Rose said quietly.  

“It’s dinner time, we’re about to sit down to eat.” Olivia responded  

“I know.” Rose was visibly shaking a bit and her breath was ragged.  

“Oh, poor thing, you’re really stressed about coming out. I get it.” Olivia said sympathetically. She sat on the bed next to Rose and put her arm around her friend. 

“Look, I know it’s not going to help you at all to hear it, but I know for a fact that your parents will accept you no matter what. You clearly mean the world to them. I know it’s scary but just think about how much better you’ll feel being able to be your true self around them.” Olivia said 

“Goddamnit, why are you so fucking good at helping people with their problems, you’re an angel.” Rose laughed and Olivia laughed too. The two embraced each other for a moment.  

“Is it ironic that me shoving my face in your tits is calming me down for coming out?” Rose said without looking up  

“I guess the universe does have an odd sense of humor.” Olivia replied a bit awkwardly and dryly, tapping Rose on the back to indicate the hug had gone on long enough. Rose stood up and walked out into the dining room where everyone was gathered around the table.  

“There’s my movie star.” Henry exclaimed as he glanced up from cutting the turkey with electric trimmers. The buzzing of the device stopped, and everybody sat down. The table was overflowing with sides; potatoes, cranberry sauce, green beans, gravy and anything else you could possibly want for a Thanksgiving dinner. As Rose sat down next to Gibson, he saw that her hand was quivering. He put his arm around her waist and helped relax her as she stood next to him. She looked down at him and he shot her a reassuring look.  

“M-Mom. Dad… I have an announcement to make before we eat.” Rose stated, she was looking down at the pile of biscuits that was right in front of her.  

“Oh, did you get a role in a movie? What movie is it?” Audrey asked excitedly. 

“Mom… It’s serious.” Rose replied, her tone very somber.  

She looked down at Gibson who again nodded his head in compassion. Rose started to speak again and then covered her face with her hand and looked back at her husband. Gibson stood up and took his wife by the hand. He squeezed It and she did the same back.  

“Mom, Dad…” Her heart was in her throat and yet there was a strange calmness to her tone, like she had finally come to terms with the fact that anything bad happening was completely out of her own control. Or maybe it was her husband lovingly egging her on non-verbally.  

“I’m bisexual.” The words slipped out of her mouth quickly, as if forcing themselves out to get the whole ordeal over with as quickly as possible. Her body tensed up, awaiting the reaction of her parents.  

“Oh, we know.” They both responded in unison.  

“Wait what?” Rose said, nervousness giving way to elated confusion.  

“We saw your grades in high school sweetheart, we know you weren’t studying with all those cute girls you brought over.” Henry explained with a gruff but kindhearted response. “We love and accept you no matter what Rosie.” Audrey added with a generous smile.  

“Well, uh… I gue-guess we can eat now.” Rose said, her heart rate normalizing and feeling as if the weight of the world had lifted from her shoulders. All she could do was laugh at the absurdity of thinking her parents would respond in any other way. Rose made her way across the table to clutch her parents in her arms and then made her way back to her seat. Gibson was standing there with tears in his eyes, and the sight of it made Rose tear up as well. He hugged her and whispered in her ear “You’re so fucking brave and I’m proud of you.” He kissed her several times on the lips and looked in her eyes. She could see how genuinely happy he was for her. The pair sat back down and immediately intertwined their fingers as they always did at the table. Everyone cheerfully began filling their plates with food until they overflowed. After everyone had gotten their fill and the table had been cleaned up, Henry asked David if he wanted to go back out into the garage with him. David agreed and followed him out there. About halfway down the steps into the garage, Henry turned around and said “Derrick, you want to join us?” Gibson’s eyes widened at finally being invited to the mythical garage.  

“Uh um… Sure. Yeah.” He stuttered trying to not act too excited at the prospect. He practically ran to the door that Henry was holding open for him.  

“So, Rose told me you got a new bass.” he said matter-of-factly 

“Yeah, it’s an ‘87 Rickenbacker 4001. It’s pretty much my dream bass. Here, let me pull up the picture to show you.” Gibson replied excitedly fumbling with his phone to show Henry the picture of it. 

The next day, the group said their goodbyes to Rose’s parents and were driven to the airport. They waltzed through the terminal and down to the runway where David’s jet was once again waiting for them. They boarded and David once again popped in to have a short conversation with the pilots. Soon, the plane roared into life and was in the air at cruising altitude.  

“Does anybody want a Manhattan?” he called from the back.  

“No, I’m good.” Gibson replied, speaking for everyone.  

“Good.” David grunted, grabbing the entire whiskey bottle and aggressively shutting the door to the private room in the back of the plane.