Max found the disks quite by accident. He, as well as his father Marty, and sister Sherry, were not organized people with each others' books, CDs, DVDs, and other medium scattered about the living room, office, and rec room -- often missing cases, labels, booklets, and other identification. Finding "adult-oriented" material was not a huge -- although pleasant -- surprise for the 18-year-old. Realizing his father had directed, written, and starred in the production was another matter, and begged a long-wondered upon question.
"Harrison Lucas?" 16-year-old Sherry said, snickering, looking at the opening credits, "A name Daddy would choose. The clothes and hairstyles are old, something people wore 20 years ago."
"I'm not sure you should even be seeing this," Max warned, more out of brotherly propriety than actual concern.
"And why not?" Sherry asked.
"You're 16 and still a virgin, right?"
"Well," Sherry said, with some feigned embarrassment, "technically. And while I wasn't expecting any of this, it's really nothing I haven't kinda seen before -- on your hard drive."
The film continued showing their father, although so much younger-looking as to seem a different person, involved with close to a dozen women; a few other men participated, apparently to give him time to recuperate.
There, with a few scenes showing various configurations of people.
"Here's the thing," Max said, "Work the math. How old is this? I'd say twenty years ago, max. Judging by the popular genres and styles of that time, fifteen years ago, minimum. So it's entirely possible that one -- or maybe two -- of these women are our mother."
"He has always been secretive about that. 'We'll talk about it when you're older and can process'," was all he ever said."
"It's better than the theories we used to throw around. Remember you used to think she ran off with some better-hung stud." She added with a giggle, "We now see that's unlikely."
"I think seeing that left me a bit traumatized," Max said, a sly grin on his face.
"Okay," Sherry said, her mind several steps further along than her brother's. "Take a screen-cap of each woman's face. Then we can compare for resemblances, focusing on places we don't resemble him."
"You do it," Max said, weak frustration in his voice. "I think I need to decompress a bit. This is a lot to take in."
"That's what she said," Sherry said, amused by her brother's dismay. "I don't seem as hung up on all this as you seem to be."
"I'm legally the adult here," Max said, sounding far more prudish than he intended. "Just letting you see this can be considered corrupting a minor."
"And who purchased the condoms for you because you and whats-her-name were both too bashful?"
"Yeah," Max said, "I was the jock, you were the brains."
"Odd how that turned out. I could have graduated early and started college with you. Now, you're a bench warmer. But I have my friends, and straight A's. Graduating early would have made a mess of things."
Max decided to take a walk around the neighborhood to clear his head. He thought about that lingering question mark. Christmases with only his father's sister and her husband and family. Most of the year was lonely. While Sherry had a few friends at school, she thrived in solitude. Max spent his time busy with pain-inducing activities, football and martial arts, mostly. If he wasn't headed for the pros, his tolerance of pain might make him a decent stunt man.
Marty had spoken about a failed movie career. "Too much nepotism in Hollywood," he'd complain. His parents were blue collar factory workers, not stars, directors, or even TV journalists. The right connections, or so he claimed, weren't there. And, from what Max had seen, his films were no works of art. Effectively titillating, but simply recycled plot lines from dozens of other movies. But his abilities as a commercial artist more than paid the bills. Still, drawings for Sunday newspaper advertising supplements could not be as fulfilling as cinema.
He arrived home to find his sister looking at five images, his, her own, and three women from the disk. She was superimposing her and her brother's images on those of each of the woman, the three she felt lined up best.
"I was able to find some stuff on the Internet about each of them," she said proudly.
"I wasn't aware I was gone for so long," Max said. "Anyway, Dad's going to be home from work soon. Don't you think we should wrap it up for the night?
Their father arrived home a while later with a large pizza, small foam container of wings, and a two liter bottle of cola. While Max and Shelly notices the awkward silence, Marty was oblivious to it, all his mind pondering layout designs.
After he went to sleep, Max and Sherry returned to the computer. "Caren," Max said, a redhead. Natural?"
"Impossible to tell, but taller than either of us. Taller than Daddy, in fact."
"That would be my guess. Noses match both of us. Height is same as mine. And," she added giggling, "similar boobs."
"To you, I hope," Max said. "Why not Marla?"
"Body lines all wrong. Face close, but no cigar. I'm sticking with Rena."
After Sherry went to sleep, Max continued digging for information about this mysterious Rena person, who just might be his mother. He used his father's userID and default password to check a modeling website his father often used. And moments later was confronted with Rena's webpage.
Rena lived in a university town about fifty miles from them. She was in her late 30s, still attractive, but now limiting her modeling work to projects not involving nudity. A further link showed that there was still correspondence between Marty and Rena. The most recent was dated on Max's birthday and from Rena to Marty.
It's been eighteen years, actually eighteen years and nine months. I am softening on the
idea of telling them. I'm not sure I want to meet them -- some maternal instinct, huh? You were
the parent, cool-headed, able to think things through before taking action. I was a mess.
But the fifteen years since I quit the industry has changed me -- A LOT! My spirituality
has so changed that I would no longer have been so against either preventing or eliminating the
situations. Hell, that's something you want to tell your kids. A part of me is curious to who
they are -- their personalities, interests, would they be disturbed to know their mother was a pothead who did your movies for bags of weed. The barter system is lovely, isn't it? I'll tell you what, tell them the truth and I'll accept whatever they decide.
Max printed out the email. He considered rushing up to Sherry's room and showing her, but remembered his sister slept nude, which made him uncomfortable. No, this would wait 'til morning.
Max pushed the print-out over to Marty as he sat eating a bowl of cold cereal. He and his sister waited silently as he read it.
"Actually," Marty said, "this is a bit of a relief. So you've seen the movie?"
"We both saw it," Sherry said.
"So," Marty said, sipping his coffee, "where do we go from here?"
"Tell her we want to meet her," Max said, walking over to the coffee pot to pour himself a cup.
"You're sure?" Marty asked. "I can see Sherry wanting to, always the more adventurous of the two of you."
"I may not be first string," Max said, irritated. "Or be in a Division I School. But I do play college football. That takes some guts."
"It does," Marty said. "But what I meant is emotionally adventurous, You've always been a lot less ..." The right words eluded him.
"When I'm happy or sad," Sherry suggested, "everyone knows. A few years ago, it took days before Max would admit to having an ankle sprain. Even now, is there someone he likes? I'm more open."
"Or a brat," Max said, "Or an exhibitionist."
"Ooh, I like that one," Sherry exclaimed. "The brat, not so much. Still, I can see how one might think that.
"So what do we do?" Marty asked. "I do have her number."
"Call!" they both said, almost in unison.
Marty made the call, and within an hour the three of them were in Marty's car, heading for Rena's house. It was mid-afternoon when the car turned onto street where she lived. It was a quiet, tree-lined street; oaks and maples, mostly. The lawns were well maintained, and most of the houses had small flower gardens along the front porch. They came to a house and saw the slight brunette sitting on a porch swing. Marty pulled into the driveway and the three of them got out and walked to the porch.
"Yup," Rena said, examining Max and Sherry, "they're mine, all right."
"You're looking good," Marty said, climbing onto the porch.
"And you look like a single father with two kids," Rena said, a slight smile on her face.
"Would you have had it otherwise?"
"Back then, no way. But like I said in the email, time changes people. Still, I'm not likely to jump into something that might end very badly for all of us."
"I am surprised you stayed single all these years."
"Men find out you're a former porn star and get a lot of crazy ideas. They either can't deal with it, or expect some wild times I'm no longer in the mood to deliver on."
"Same here, most women are either terrified I'm carrying some disease or they're eager to try some experiments."
"What do the two of you make of this?" She asked, looking at Max and Sherry.
"I'm not naive enough," Max said, "to believe life is a G-rated family movie where a long-separated couple can meet after years, fall back in love, and start over. That is, if it was even not just lust."
"It was really just a professional thing," Rena said. "I did find him attractive, which in the business does help. But something just never clicked between us."
"Also," Marty added, "if you calculated all the different pairings, we were just one couple out of dozens -- some of us involved us with other people."
"But you quit after I was born," Sherry said, unintentionally making it sound like a complaint.
"I was afraid of you eventually following in my footsteps."
The brother and sister looked at each other and broke out laughing over some inside joke.
"Is there still any attraction?" Sherry asked, looking first at her father and then at her mother.
"Can't say no," Rena stated.
"We're really all just strangers," Marty said.
"Do you mind company?" Max asked.
"What are you suggesting?" Rena asked.
"Each of us could spend a weekend here," Max suggested. "Get to see how well we get along."
"Me too?" Marty asked, for the first time, optimism in his voice.
"Max, week one. Sherry, week two. "You, week three. And how about the fourth week, I visit you guys?"
The first two weeks, with Max and then Sherry, went well enough. The third found Marty and Rena going over a lot of old memories and hopes for the future.
"I can see it in them both," Rena said, as they sat, both topless, under a plum tree in the back yard. "Max is clearly your son. Brave but unassertive."
"And Sherry is a lot like you."
Rena laughed. "You wouldn't believe the questions she asked me last week."
"I think I can, and she'll be scary in a few years. But I think we did okay, as far as genetic material goes."
"I was perfectly willing to shack up with you, back then."
There was a long silence before Marty said, "I suppose that ship has sailed."
"Let's see," Rena said, counting with each extended finger, "six months 'til Christmas. Who knows, six more months of these weekly visits ... Maybe ships will come sailing in. They often do on Christmas Day, you know."
Article © Dan Mulhollen. All rights reserved.
Published on 2015-03-16
Image(s) © Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.