Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Sessions 14 - Epiphany
So I speak to you in riddles
'cause my words get in my way.
I smoke the whole thing to my head
and feel it wash away
'cause i can't take anymore of this
soundtrack: Epiphany ~ Staind
South Beach - Stanfield Residence 9 AM
Cooper was up and out early, too early, but he was not going to wait to take the first step toward making changes. First order of business...Ryan. Cooper wasn't going to let it lie, not by a long shot.
Pushing out the front door, residual effects from his dreams and the mess that was the last couple of days still lingered with him as he strode toward his bike, irritably scratching at the new ink on his left bicep.
Driving hard down the coast road, the heat of the sun intense for so early and wind whipping his hair fueled his anger and determination. Still mulling over the rest of it, his daughter running around dangerously out of control, other changes that still made him uneasy, Cooper gripped the bike handles harder as he flew around the winding beach road.
South Beach - McDermott Residence 10 AM
Cooper pulled the bike up in front of Ryan's house and swung his leg over. His wife, his daughter, all of it, Ryan's connection was coming to an end once and for all.
Hot fury seared through him as he took the stairs in one easy stride and pounded his fist against the door. He was going to enjoy every damned minute of this.
"What are you doing here?" Ryan shut the door quietly behind him and glared at Coop.
Cooper spoke through gritted teeth, his voice hard and venomous. "It's over Ryan," he hissed. "I'm here to make sure you get my meaning."
Without warning Cooper reached back and struck Ryan with a hard left hook. The sting of it immediately shot through his hand and up his arm but he ignored the pain as he waited for Ryan to react, ready for it, wanting to go at him. Instead, he was met with a smug look of satisfaction.
Rubbing his jaw briefly Ryan laughed. "I'm going to let you have that shot considering what happened."
That reaction, so far from what Cooper expected, momentarily shook him. He had been home the past two days; nothing could have happened. Sunlight, hot and oppressive, flashed off the buildings to the west and beat down on his back, and he uncomfortably moved his shoulders against the weight of it. "What the hell are you talking about?"
His smile broadening, Ryan folded his arms and shook his head. "Still can’t keep track of her, can you? Beth came to me that night. She was with me all night. In my bed. Wrap your head around that."
Cooper laughed, relieved and genuinely amused. "Are you out of your mind, McDermott? You're delusional. Beth never left the house. She was with me all night, not you. Maybe you ought to start checking ID if you can’t tell who you’re doing; whoever it was, it wasn’t my wife."
Ryan’s eyes narrowed as he studied Cooper’s face, and he shifted his weight from one foot to the other, a small tell but it was there. He’d surprised him. The man was serious. Ryan really believed Beth had been with him. The idiotic assertion infuriated Cooper even more: not only the implication that she was hopping from his bed to Ryan’s, but that he wouldn’t notice she was missing for the whole damned night.
His expression turned serious once more, "You just don't get it. She doesn’t want you. She made that very clear, clear enough even for you. Get over it. And stay away from her and stay away from my daughter. I won't warn you again; you get in my way, I’ll take you down. No problem at all for me - you're what, nothing more than a goddamned bouncer now anyway."
Ryan sucked in a rapid breath, turned a hard stare on Cooper and spat, "Get the fuck off my property."
South Beach - West Coast Road
Ten miles back down the coast road, Cooper abruptly turned off onto a deserted stretch of patchy grass and dirty sand, cut the engine and walked out a few paces to stand by himself. To breathe. To try to think. The confrontation with Ryan, while he thought he’d made his point, hadn’t gone as planned. The man’s crazy conviction that Beth had gone over there…it bothered him. He knew she hadn’t. It was easy enough to confuse one whore with another, but to be so certain his wife had been there...
Cooper took a deep breath of the salty air, beads of sweat beginning to soak the back of his shirt again, and yanked out his cell. He hadn't said anything yet to Beth about this decision, hadn't made up his mind, didn't want her to try to talk him out of it, and she would, but this did it. He was going for it. “Slim…yeah…look I need to talk. Yeah I can make it to Heydon’s and no, it can’t wait.”
South Beach - Mitchell Residence 10:30 AM
Uneasy, Cooper slowed as he approached Heydon’s place and saw a car he had not expected – Camilla was here. He swore, looked for a place to park the bike, finally drove it right up onto the sand. Considering the tire tracks, he wasn’t the only one to use the front yard as a driveway. Cammie probably parked wherever she pleased.
The place was quiet. When Heydon had moved out, he’d chosen a place on the far northern outskirts of South Beach. Cooper glanced up at the towering bluffs to the east. At least they blocked the damned sunlight he’d had in his face the whole way here.
“What’s up?” Slim asked as he opened the door and stepped aside to let Cooper walk past.
“I need to talk to you,” he replied over his shoulder without looking him in the face. “And Heydon too.”
Slim trailing behind him, Cooper strode through the foyer and into Heydon’s soaring living room. It had been a while since he’d been in the place, and, as he walked into the blue light cast by the pool, the biggest change struck him in the face.
An enormous portrait of Camilla covered the wall behind the couch. She was gazing off into the distance, beautiful, provocative, and half dressed, those lush breasts spilling out of some kind of animal print bra and exposing one nipple.
Surprised, he turned back to Slim, and there was another portrait hanging on the opposite wall, not as revealing but almost as overwhelming as the first.
Cooper exchanged a glance with Slim, who cut a brief, dry smile and shrugged. Whatever statement Heydon was making, he was going all out with it...if it was Heydon's statement.
The model herself slid up off the couch, carefully stepping barefoot over CD’s, food and coffee scattered across the floor, and demanded, “What’s the matter don’t you like them?”
Cooper turned back to her, hesitated, then cautiously replied, “They’re pretty, Cam. I recognize the artist – that’s Gayl’s work isn’t it? She did some family portraits for me.”
She still studied him, evidently trying to work out whether the compliment was sincere, when Heydon walked in and intervened, smiling, “Hey Coop. What’s going on?”
Seeing those paintings reminded him forcibly why he was here – his family. "We need to talk," Cooper glanced over at Camilla who watched him with a look of curiosity and added, "Let's take it outside."
They moved out onto the deck and once the door had shut behind them Cooper went right into it. "I've made a decision. I'm not touring anymore; my family needs me right now so touring is out of the question."
Heydon stood there obviously stunned but it was Slim who spoke first. "Coop, have you really thought this through, what this means? Maybe you should sit on it for awhile, let some time pass."
"That's bullshit!" Heydon exploded in anger. "This is about fucking McDermott and Beth isn't it? You're quitting over that shit? Did she threaten to leave you for him? Did she give you an ultimatum to quit or she walks?"
Cooper shot him a hot glare but made a tremendous effort to keep his temper under control. No there hadn’t been any ultimatum, nor would he do this if there had been. And he was increasingly enraged that even one of his best friends thought he’d run scared from McDermott. He tried to keep his voice level, reasonable. “I didn’t say I was quitting. I’m just not going to tour. There's a difference. We'll still record like we always have."
"Yeah there's a difference, a huge fucking difference! We make money touring, a hell of a lot more than just recording and selling CDs. I have mortgages, college tuition for three kids, and spousal support. This isn't a big deal for you because you still get your piece out of everything that comes out of Hitman including our stuff!"
In his face now, Cooper growled, “Since when did your debts become my responsibility? I’m not your personal bank! I’m taking care of my own life and if that’s a problem for you, you can go to hell!”
"Look Heydon," Slim interjected, "let's just cool down here. I know where Coop is coming from. Let's just sit tight and see how this plays all right?"
"No! It isn't all right! I put up with Danny chasing after my wife for years and never once threw it out there about quitting. This shit will blow over in a month but the rest of us have to pay the price? No fucking way!" Heydon stepped angrily toward Coop.
"Back off, Heydon, the decision's been made." Cooper turned on his boot heel and started to walk away, deeply resentful, and thoroughly torn. He had to do this; they’d have to figure out how to deal with it. He couldn’t take on anybody else’s problems.
He almost made it to the front door, Heydon’s angry voice and Slim’s quieter responses echoing behind him, when Camilla stepped into his path. She stood in the shadows, looked at him, her gaze cool, direct. “Whatever you do,” she warned him, “don’t do it for her. Don’t you ever do something like this for her. She will eat your soul.”
Cooper stared down at her, stunned and chilled. This was turning out to be a shit day - first Ryan and his bizarre claim, then Heydon jumping him, and now Cam, as if she had any business telling him what to do. And from the look of things in Heydon's living room, she had a good grip on something more tangible than his soul. In a low, hard voice, he told her, "Fuck off Cammie."
Bay View - Holloway Residence 12 PM
After leaving Heydon's, Cooper rode straight to Hitman where he found Danny and Aidan and gave them the news although more than likely they already knew. Unsettled, frustrated and angry he climbed on his bike once more and rode aimlessly until he ended up in Bay View. It was midday and waves of heat rose off the asphalt as he maneuvered through his old haunts. He continued past MJs place, Sam's Bar and the Surfside Club where traffic was always congested until he ended up in front of Shaun and Stevie's place.
Cooper looked up at the house nestled directly across the street from the beach where Shaun loved to surf. Despite their success they never moved and instead preferred living in Bay View. As Cooper dismounted he wondered absently if Shaun still had that old truck. He took the stairs two at a time and knocked.
"Hey Coop! What are you doing in this neck of the woods? Come on in!"
"You alone?" he asked as he entered the house.
"Shaun took Devlin to the beach. Are you hungry?" Stevie stepped up into the kitchen and opened the fridge.
He watched her, briefly playing with an old memory of Stevie bending over next to the fridge in that worn out loft near the wharf in Bay View. It was a long time ago. "I could eat. Did I catch you at a bad time?"
"Nah I was just doing some yoga. I've got these nagging few pounds I can't seem to shake." Stevie patted her stomach and smiled.
"Funny I don't remember you dressed like that when you did yoga," he teased her.
Stevie turned toward him and smiled at the reference. "The last thing I need is someone taking shots of me doing yoga in the nude. They'll end up plastered all over the tabloids." Stevie glanced toward him and saw the look of surprise on his face. "Oh shit I'm sorry Coop. I didn't mean anything by it."
"Forget it Stevie. It's already yesterday's news," he grumbled as he changed the subject quickly. "So maybe you're pregnant again."
"You take that thought right back Coop. One is plenty! Dev is actually at an age where we could take him on tour with us if we hired a nanny - and my boobs don't get in the way of my kit anymore!" She pulled a fresh strawberry from the bowl on the kitchen counter, popped one in his mouth and smiled.
A wave of recognition, another memory swept past as he tasted the sweet berry. Cooper said nothing as he moved into the living room. Stevie watched him move toward the window and then followed. "OK the Coop I know would have made some suggestive remark about my chest so obviously something is eating at you. What's going on?"
Drawing a deep breath he went into it. "I'm done touring Stevie, calling it quits. I just told everyone."
Stevie stared at him. "I'll bet that didn't go over so well. Are you insane? Why would you do that? It's going to kill you not to tour!"
Cooper folded his arms, averted his eyes briefly and then swung them back on her. "My family needs me Stevie. I wasn't there for Wyatt when he needed a father and I still have a tenuous relationship at best with him. I won't let that happen with Rainie and the twins, not when I can change it and get it right this time. And I won't allow my marriage to crumble, I almost lost Beth, I'm not going to neglect her anymore."
Stevie was quiet for a long moment as she watched him intently. "So Beth is on board with this decision? She can just let you walk away from the essence of who you are? Beth doesn't understand what this will do to you but I do."
Cooper turned away uncomfortably. "I haven't told her yet," he said quietly.
"Oh Coop..." Stevie's voice was laced with worry as she sighed. "I know you and this is a mistake. It's going to drive you crazy."
Whipping back around he vehemently assured her, "It's my decision to make. It's done. I'll live with it."
Stevie nodded and stepped closer to him. "Are you certain this is the answer? Even when you didn't know who you were, it was obvious that the thrill of being on stage drove you."
Cooper was silent. His breath caught in his throat; there wasn't anything to say. He'd done it. He wasn't going to take it back now.
"What can I do to help?" She pressed a cool hand against his face.
He pulled closer to her. She smelled like lavender and vanilla, familiar. "Just be here for me Stevie. I really need a friend who doesn't want a piece of me right now."
Stevie moved up into that light embrace, her hands resting on his shoulders as he slipped his arms around her waist, even the curve of her waist familiar, comfortable. "Of course," she promised him quietly. "I'll be here for you, Coop. Always."
NEXT CHAPTER: Sessions Chapter 15
at 2:14 PM