Episode Seven « The Caliente Affairs

Act 4: Beau’s Birthday

“Someone wanted to wish their brother a happy birthday!” Brandi said, as Calvin crawled into Dustin and Beau’s bedroom.
“Happy, Happy…” Calvin paused and looked at Brandi.
“Birthday.” She reminded him.
“Happy Birthday, Beau!” Calvin said. Beau stretched, waking up and smiling at his baby brother.
“Aw, thanks Cal. I’ll be singing it to you soon too.” Beau said, reminding Brandi that yet another of her children would be growing up soon.

“Do I look any different yet?” Beau asked Dustin.
“Hmm, have you gotten smaller?” Dustin joked.
“No! I’m just sat down funny. You’ll see, once I blow out my candles, I’ll be as big as you.”
“Dream on, shorty!” Dustin laughed.

“Is my party going to be fancy dress?” Beau asked his brother about his birthday party which Dustin had organised with the help of some of his friends from work.
“You want your first teenage party to be fancy dress? Boy, do you have a lot to learn about being a teenager.”
“Will you teach me?” Beau asked. Brandi served up some breakfast and dreaded to think about the kinds of things Dustin would teach him. It’s not that she didn’t trust her son, it’s just that she didn’t trust the crowd he hung out with. She worried a lot less once he had started seeing Angela Pleasant, but she still had to worry about his work friends – and Dustin’s inscrutable boss, Gordon King.
“It’ll all come naturally, trust me.” Dustin said, as he and Beau went to eat breakfast. Brandi yawned, catching Dustin’s attention.
“Are you sure you’re ready for this party?” He asked.

“Of course. I’m not about to miss my son’s birthday party.” Brandi yawned again.
“Your body’s telling me otherwise. You were up all night with Calvin again, huh?”
“Not all of the night.” Brandi lied.
“Well, then he’ll be in no condition to come either.”
“Yeah, mum, I don’t want him crying all day.” Beau added.
“So what do you suggest, I don’t go?!” Dustin and Beau smiled. Their plan to have an unsupervised party was working.

“You’re so good at bargaining with mum.” Beau laughed.
“You just have to know how to offer the right balance of stuff so you both get what you want without feeling short changed.” Dustin said, as he prepared the bath for Calvin.
“Yeah, but all you had to do was give Calvin a bath and we get half an unsupervised party. How easy was that?!”
As Calvin kicked and screamed whilst Dustin tried to get him into the bath, he replied, “Not that easy!”

Later on, with Calvin clean, Brandi kept up her part of the deal. “You two have a good time – and don’t bring out the cake until I’m there. And no heavy metal music or alcohol, okay? Dustin, are you listening?” Brandi stopped Dustin, as Beau hugged his mother and went to rush out of the house.
“Yes, of course. He’s my little…” Beau looked back and shot Dustin a deathly look. “He’s my teenage brother, I’ll look after him. You just make sure you and Cal get as much rest as you need.” Dustin kissed his mum on the cheek and left.
“Oh, well, I won’t be resting for that long – just an hour or two…” As Brandi shut the door, she crashed down on the couch. “Or seven!”

But it hadn’t been more than forty-five minutes until Calvin cried for some food. Brandi was sure if she just got through with this, he’d fall right back to sleep. But, as she opened the fridge-door, she realised why she was not throwing Beau’s party at home – there wasn’t any food left in the house. Everything at Beau’s party was bought cheap by Dustin’s shifty work friends. The party had been a welcome gift, as she knew she hadn’t got enough money to throw one herself, especially with Calvin growing up so quickly too.

Brandi closed the door and realised Calvin had stopped crying, having begun to play with his toys. Quietly, she crept over to the couch and lay down. But the moment her head touched the soft pillow, Calvin screamed out loud and began smashing his xylophone with the stick for attention.

Brandi’s head began pounding with the pain of a terrible headache, as Calvin continued to scream. She suddenly felt her insides boil, as the screaming got louder and louder. Brandi could take it no more. As if floating above her body, she watched down at herself, rushing over to Calvin and snatching the xylophone stick from his tiny hands. She saw Brandi had grabbed it with both hands and snapped it straight in half.

The pieces fell to the floor, and Brandi returned to her body. There was nothing but silence now, until Calvin began to sob at the sight of his broken toy. But instead of getting angry again, Brandi swooped up her youngest in her arms and cuddled him.

“I am so sorry.” Brandi cried, as she hugged Calvin. He began to smile, but it wasn’t enough to cheer her up. She was exhausted and ashamed. How could she give Nina advice on being a good mother when she herself wasn’t even a good one. “I promise I will never ever take out my anger on you again.” Brandi looked at her son, and he gently wiped the tears from her cheek with his finger. Brandi placed Calvin back down and his smile faded. Inside, Calvin felt different, it was as if everything the world had taught him had all of a sudden snapped into place. With all his might, he stood up and walked over to Brandi, who had sat back down on the couch. Brandi looked up, and realised what Calvin had just done… for her. Feeling more awake than ever, Brandi soon forgot about sleeping and spent the next hour playing with her son.