Gary Mackay at the time of the story
The phone rang as I was turning onto the highway, and I pressed the button for the speakerphone “Hello?”
“Hi. This is Gary Mackay here. I thought of a story for the book about Alicia.” His voice filled the car, as I sped on my way to meet with Tiffani, Alicia’s adopted daughter.
“Alright. What is the story about?” I pulled over so that I could start my tape recorder, unsure if I would be able to remember it without assistance.
“It’s about my dad and the days after his death.” Gary took a breath before continuing. I pulled back into traffic, letting the tape roll, as he talked. “I couldn’t help but be jealous of the bond between Ali and Joel, while I was growing up. Dad moved us around so much, that it was nearly impossible to make friends.” I could hear the pain in his voice, and knew that interrupting might mean he would clam up. “It took dad dying for me to see that I had a bond with her too.” He paused again, “It all became clear the night of his funeral.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well…um I’ll send it to you via email. It’s a bit…” he stopped mid sentence,
“Hang up on the reporter chick, we’ve gotta go,” Joel’s voice was audible in the background and then the dial tone resounded in my ear. I switched off the tape recorder sighing in disappointment. I know that the Mackay brothers have more stories about Alicia, which can fill in a lot of the gaps. Seconds later my phone beeped, showing that I had a email.
The coffin rolled through the curtains, my dad going on his final journey. “Before…before he…” I stopped, trying to recover myself even as tears streaked my cheeks. “Did he say anything to you?”
I glanced over at my stoic brother. Joel stood on the other side of Alicia. She was still recovering from the accident, but she had still come, to support him. “No.” Joel didn’t take his eyes away from the place where dad’s body had disappeared, but a little of the anguish had disappeared from his face. I glanced down to see that Alicia had taken his hand, squeezing lightly.
I was sitting along in the motel room, forty minutes later waiting for Alicia to come back with dinner. Joel was in the bathroom, cleaning up. I had just started to think about my dad, sadness swamping over me again when the door opened and Alicia entered, weighed down with several bags. “Hey Gary. I got you a salad shake and a couple of oranges to keep your vit c levels up.” She threw the fruit across as she spoke, producing them from inside the clean brown bag.
“Thanks Ali,” she crossed over to me, carrying a greasy brown bag in one hand and the salad shake in the other. I made room for her to sit beside me on the bed, as she handed me the salad shake. I didn’t quite see how she stayed so slim, as she squirted some mayo onto her turkey burger.
“What are you going to do now?” she threw the sachet away.
“I don’t…I don’t know,” I hadn’t even thought about it. The last twenty four hours, hell the last week had been a whirlwind of emotions and I had hardly had time to draw breath.
“You can come and stay with me while you figure it out if you want,” she took a bite of her burger while waiting for my response.
“I don’t know if I…” I trailed off, as I wasn’t sure if I wanted to stay with her. Part of me just wanted to run back to Harvard, and see if I could still get into med school, while part of me wanted to carry on dad’s work, and see if I could solve the mystery of mom’s murder.
“Well the offer is always there. Just think about it.”
I looked right at her, blown away by how forgiving she was, and her offer. “Thanks Ali,” I said after a few seconds “I thought you’d want to be as far away from us as possible. After what dad did…” I didn’t like to think about the events directly before the accident. I couldn’t bring myself to think about her, covered in blood after dad had…
The unfinished sentence intrigued me as I continued reading.
“It wasn’t your dad’s fault.” Ali set her burger aside, and faced me directly. “Yeah it scared the crap out of me, but you and Joel are part of the family, you’ll always be family okay? No matter what.” She squeezed my hand, nothing but honesty and love in those amazing eyes.
Joel entered the room then, drawn by the smell of the food “Hey Joel,” I pulled my hand back, when I saw him standing there.
“Didya get me a burger?” he sat down on Ali’s other side.
“I got you a double bacon cheese, fries and a six pack.” Ali dug in the other greasy bag, tossing him a Styrofoam container.
“Where’s the pie?”
“Right here.” She produced a apple pie from a plastic bag, setting it down on the bedside table. “I wanted him to get one of his five a day.” Joel laughed for the first time in nearly a week, and she smirked, clearly proud of herself. We sat in comfortable silence, eating for a few moments, until she said “Anything on the telly?” her voice was muffled, as she reached for the remote.
Joel snatched it away, and flicked the tv on, channel surfing for a Knick’s game “Perfect.”
“I’m gonna go for a walk.” I wasn’t in the mood to watch them argue over the Bulls versus the Knicks’. “I can’t stand basketball and I’ve a lot to think about.” I cast a grateful smile at Ali before leaving.