Chapter 87: A Christening
The christening was a week away when Tim finally got some time alone with Jimmy. They were having lunch, mostly just catching up, and as things were wrapping up Tim said, “So… okay… The thing about being a godfather. I don’t really believe in God.”
Jimmy spends a moment just staring at him, looking confused. “Don’t you and Abby go to church like, every Sunday?”
“Yeah. But I do it because it’s important to her. It’s not important to me.”
Jimmy just looks at him. “And that would be different from me, how?”
That takes Tim by surprise. “You’re not into the whole God thing?”
“Agnostic. I really don’t know, and evidence seems pretty thin.”
“Exactly. I won’t say there isn’t a God, because I don’t see how you could know that, either. But…”
“Yeah. So, no, it doesn’t bother me.”
“Will it bother Breena?”
Jimmy shakes his head. “She married me, and I’m going to be a bit more involved in raising our kids than you are, so I don’t think it’ll be an issue.”
“Okay. Good point. Am I going to have to renounce Satan?”
“You’re onto me.” Tim flashed his best evil grin. “Just, I may be iffy on God, I’m pretty sure on the no Satan thing.”
“You believe in evil right?”
Tim shrugs a little, of course he believes in evil, sees it or its aftermath at work every day. Just like he believes in grace, sees that and the soldiers of it, every day, as well. But evil is one thing, while a malevolent spirit that controls all the evil in the world is another all-together. “Evil, yes. Satan, no.”
“Me either, but we certainly see more than enough of it. So, I’m comfortable with the idea of promising to renounce it, and if Satan is the term they want to use, fine with me. Anthropomorphic personifications don’t bother me.”
That triggers a million year old memory from Catechism. “The Jesuits would call that mental reservation.”
“Then we will reserve the right to be reserved.”
“That’s the worst pun I’ve heard all year.”
“That I can do. So, what else is it for?”
“Keep the in-laws happy. Make my mom stop bugging me about it. Show my family and Breena’s that we’ve picked you and Abby. Her parents aren’t thrilled with that. They’d prefer we had picked one of her sisters.”
Tim looks perplexed, not that he knows Breena’s sisters well, but they’re all pretty young and single. “None of them are married or settled.”
The look on Jimmy’s face makes it clear that that’s exactly what he and Breena were thinking and that it’s nice to have some validation on this. “Thank you. Amy’s the oldest and she’s four years out of school. She doesn’t need a baby. Anyway, if it ever comes down to it, there’ll be an entire church full of people who saw that we picked you.”
“So, we’re good on this?”
“Yeah, we are.”
Spring in DC can be a tricky thing. First of all, it shows up whenever it feels like. And that can be anytime between mid-February and late April, but for 2014, it decided to show up for Molly Palmer’s christening.
Second of all, it shows up fast. It might play around a little, a nice day here, a nice one there, and piles of cold, wet, rainy-snowy crud in between. But once it decides to come, it’s bursts forth over the course of what seems to be two days.
So, while it was true, that Thursday, when Jimmy and Breena were finishing getting the pre-christening party stuff ready, it was cold, wet, and gray, with nary a leaf in sight, by Sunday, when the actual christening was happening, every tree was covered in tiny green leaves and white and pink flowers.
Ed Slater sober is a piece of work. If he’s got a filter between his brain and his mouth, it’s got a really wide mesh. Ed Slater with two beers in him, well, at that point the filter vanishes. One thing Jimmy has privately wondered for years now is how on earth the Slater Funeral Home has managed to stay in business. His best guess is that Jeannie, Breena’s mom, never lets Ed anywhere near the customers.
And by the third snide remark out of Ed about “real” family, Tim can see he and Jimmy are headed for a confrontation, so he keeps his eyes open, ready to head over and help out if need be.
It was two hours into the post-christening party when it happened.
Ed more or less drug Jimmy into the garage, apparently he had enough sense to know you don’t do this in front of everyone. But not enough sense to respect Jimmy and Breena’s decision.
“You should pick family for something like this!”
Tim heard the louder, sharp voices and decided it was time to join in, offer back up. “Hey, everyone okay?”
Ed Slater turned to him. “No.”
Jimmy shrugged and sent Tim an apologetic look. “Ed’s having a fit over picking you and Abby for Molly’s guardians.”
“Look, I’m sure you and your Goth are perfectly nice people, really weird, but nice, but this should stay in the family.”
“Tim and Abby are our family!”
“They’re your friends.”
“Family,” Tim added.
“Really, you grew up with Jimmy? You certainly didn’t grown up with Breena. I was there, and I don’t remember seeing you.”
“I’m here now. Abby’s here now. And we aren’t going anywhere.”
“You say that, but you don’t know it. Amy, Kristin, or Jamie will be here forever. Hell, what about your brother?” Ed said to Jimmy.
“Look around, Ed, Clark isn’t here. He wasn’t at our wedding. He lives in Tokyo and only makes it back stateside three days a year. Amy’s twenty-seven, Kristin is twenty-five, and Jamie is twenty-three. They are barely adults. They don’t have homes. They don’t have their lives set up. None of them are ready to take care of kids, or for that matter, wants to.”
Ed just stares at Tim, disdain on his features. “And those two are? I know what you guys make, and both of them work with you.”
Well, if money was an issue, Tim had a ready answer for that. “I’m Thom Gemcity.”
“What the hell does that mean?” Ed asked.
“It means he’s a best-selling author, Ed, and that if money is the issue, he and Abby make a ton more than Breena and I do.”
“And it shouldn’t be an issue, because even if both of us were working for pennies, we’ve got jobs, we’ve got a home, and we’re ready to take care of a child if need be. We’ll have one of our own in a year or two.”
“Great, you’re ready to be parents. Doesn’t mean you’ll be around in ten years. My girls will.”
“We will be here. Both Abby and I understand that by saying yes to this we basically married Jimmy and Breena. And, as horrifying as Abby and I might find this, that also means you’re now part of our family, too. Because, if something does happen to Jimmy and Breena and we end up raising Molly, you’ll be at all of our Christmas and Thanksgiving and birthday parties for the rest of our lives. And the fact that I’m willing to let a jerk like you into my home because you’re my goddaughter’s grandfather should speak loud and clear on how important this is to Abby and I.”
Ed just blinked at him, scowled a little, and headed off.
Jimmy smiled. “We basically got married?”
“We signed up to be here for you and your kids for the rest of our lives. You got a better way to put that?”
Jimmy thought about it and shrugged. “Not really.” Then he smiled. “So does this mean I can sleep with Abby?”
Tim punched him on the shoulder. “Just as soon as I get a turn with Breena.”
“Get in line.” Jimmy’s shaking his head. “God, he’s such a jerk.”
“He’s probably worried that if something happens to you, we’ll take your kids, and they’ll never see them again. That’s something that won’t be an issue if you had picked one of the girls.”
“Maybe. It probably is the issue for Breena’s mom. I think he’s just a control-freak asshole who wants everything under his thumb.”
“Or it could be that. He really offered you a job? Doesn’t seem like he likes you enough to want to work with you every day.”
“Did I mention control-freak asshole?”
Tim squints a little, obviously that makes sense to Jimmy, but not to him. “Not seeing how that fits.”
“If I work for him, all of our income comes from him. He ends up owning us.”
“Yeah. Not going near that job with a million foot pole.”
“Why’d you head over?”
“Saw him pull you away, heard the voices, though you might like backup.”
“Thanks. Never thought I’d say this, but I envy the fact you’ve got Gibbs for a father-in-law.”
“Yeah. He’s a terrifying hard-ass, but at least he’s a quiet one.”
Tim laughed. “Come on, let’s get back to the party.”