“Richard?” she called again.
There was a blank expression on his face before he looked at her and smiled.
“Are you OK?” Jodie asked.
“Yea. I’m fine,” he responded, as he turned to face the crowd.
The group of people were making their way to the main exit. Jodie spotted Wayne among them and wondered what he was doing there. She wanted to call him out, but there was a look on his face that meant he was working and she didn’t want to bother him. Besides, Jodie had to attend to Piper.
“I’ll get going,” Jodie told Richard.
“So soon? You’ll miss the show,” Richard replied, still facing the crowd.
“The show?” Jodie asked, as she waved Piper over.
Richard did not answer. Instead, he stuffed his hands into his pockets and greeted, “Welcome home!”
The crowd heading toward the exit continued, but a few halted in their steps. One of them was Wayne. And along with him was what Jodie guessed to be a family; father, mother, son, and… uncle?
There was a short moment of silence, as Richard stood before them with the same smile plastered on his face. Jodie was more confused than before, and Piper looked completely lost.
“Missed me?” Richard asked. “I missed you, father.”
The man Richard was addressing did not say anything. He simply stared at him with annoyance.
“Aren’t you surprise to see me? Didn’t expect me to be here, did you?” Richard added.
“We’ll talk about this back home,” the man sternly replied.
Ignoring him, Richard turned to the woman and said, “Long time no see, mother. How many years has it been? Nineteen?”
“I said, we will talk about this back home,” the man repeated. He then waved his hand and the whole entourage followed after him as he stalked out of the airport.
“What just happened?” Piper whispered to Jodie.
Jodie shook her head in reply. She had no idea what just happened. This was the kind of show she did not want to watch. Everything felt so awkward after that.
“Richard, what’s going on?” Jodie asked.
Richard had not turn to see his family leave. He did not even follow after them, as he stood rooted to the ground. The smile on his face however, had vanished. When he did not reply, Jodie did not know what to say.
Turning to Piper, Jodie gave a shrug and told her to wait at the exit. Piper did not protest, and when she was out of ear shot, Jodie asked again, “What’s going on, Richard?”
“That’s my family,” he simply replied.
“Why don’t you go home and talk it out with them?”
“I’m not going home. Don’t think I would even have one after tonight.” Richard finally faced Jodie. He wore a look that Jodie had not seen before, a look she thought Richard was incapable of, a look of seriousness as though playtime was over.
“What do you mean?”
“Why don’t you ask Wayne?”
“You should go. Your friend is waiting,” Richard said.
“How about you?” Jodie was worried. She never thought she would feel worried for someone like Richard, but she could not lie to herself that day.
“I’ll visit Matthias tonight.”
Even though she knew Matthias would probably curse at the sight of Richard at his doorstep, Jodie said, “Good idea.”
“See you around,” Richard responded. And before Jodie could bid him farewell, he turned on his heels and strode away.
That night, after Jodie had gotten Piper settled in her guest room, she found herself lying on her bed, staring at the ceiling. After much hesitation, she reached for her phone and gave Wayne a call. Unfortunately, her call entered his voice mail.
What was Wayne up to? What was he doing with Richard’s family? Did Richard say he had not seen his mother in nineteen years? What is up with that family? Why did Richard say he would not have a home after tonight?
Despite the fact that she had troubles of her own, she could not help but feel sorry for Richard. Jodie never had family problems. She was the only child and her parents were too average for any family drama. They also passed away in a car accident five years ago. All the family she had left were her close friends, including Piper who flew in just to take the stand in Jodie’s case. She felt blessed that she still had people to count on, but from her standpoint, Richard did not have anyone.
Jodie wanted to find out more about Richard’s predicament. Wayne did not pick up her call so she contemplated on calling Guinevere instead. Maybe she knew what was going on. It would be a first, though. It would be a first for Jodie to have a conversation with Guinevere willingly. That was one option.
The other thought she had was to call Matthias instead. Jodie wanted to be sure that Richard clocked in. Matthias might also know Richard’s story, since the two of them were on better terms these days.
It was already getting late. Not wanting to intrude someone in their sleep, even though it sounded like an excellent idea when it came to Guinevere, Jodie had to pick one of the two. Jodie had to choose.