A Scene From “Committed”

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A scene from Chapter 9 between Peter’s mother and father:

Robert pulled into the garage but sat in his car for a few minutes. He’d gone to another business dinner and had a little more to drink than normal, knowing what was coming when he went inside. Nancy had called the office twice after noon and left three messages on his cellphone. He didn’t need to listen to them to know she wanted to find out how the bullpen session with Peter had gone. With any luck, she’d already be in bed, and they could have their fight Saturday morning.
   Standing at the door leading to the kitchen, he pressed the garage door button and waited for it to close before going inside. When it did, he opened the kitchen door a crack and listened. The lights were off, and he didn’t hear the television, so he stepped inside. He exhaled a deep breath as he laid his briefcase on the kitchen counter.
   “There he is. Robert Taylor—big business man—sneaking into his own house.”
   When Robert heard her voice, he jumped and flipped the switch for the kitchen lights. She was in her usual chair at the kitchen table, cigarette in her left hand. “Oh, hello. I didn’t see you.”
   “If I didn’t know better, I’d think you’ve been avoiding me all day.”
   “Avoiding you? Why would you think that?”
   She took another drag from her cigarette. “Well, there were the two messages I left at the office. And God only knows how many texts I’ve sent.”
   “If it hadn’t occurred to you, I’ve been busy running my company. I don’t have time for personal calls all day long.”
   “It’s a wonder you have a company at all if you deal with things there the way you deal with your son.”
   Robert held a tumbler to the ice maker on the refrigerator door, dropping a few ice cubes into the glass. He opened a bottle of expensive bourbon and filled his glass.
Nancy went on. “Did you deal with Peter today? Or do I have to do it?”
   “You’re just so damn tough, aren’t you?”
   “Is he working at the firm on Monday?”
   Robert poured another drink. “No. We’re going to hold one more bullpen next Friday. One of my people tipped him off—”
   “One of your own people? That explains a lot.”
   “I fired her. Doesn’t matter, anyway. We’ll close things out next Friday.”
   Nancy smirked. “Where have I heard that before?”
   “You think you can do better? Do it.”
   Nancy shook her head. “You never understood leverage. Without us, he doesn’t have a roof over his head, he doesn’t have gas for his car, and he doesn’t have food to eat.”
   “Are you saying we should kick him out?”
   She narrowed her eyes. “That’s always been your problem. You never understood it’s the results that matter. Whatever you have to do to achieve the desired result is of no concern.”
   “That’s too much. Where would he go?”
   “He wouldn’t go anywhere. If you had any guts, he’d already be working in that new office you built for him.”
   “He’s our son.”
   “You’d be a terrible poker player.” She tapped the ashes off the end of her cigarette. “He either agrees to the job at the company next Friday, or we’re kicking him out.”
   “I won’t do it.”
   Nancy sat back in her chair, tilting her head back just a fraction, as if she was going to look up, and exhaled the smoke from her lungs. “I can remember a time when you weren’t a coward.” She studied him for a reaction but saw none. “If he makes it past your people on Friday, you’re going to push whatever buttons need to be pushed. For his own good. And yours.”