Life Moves Along

“The Brewer’s Backstory”-Episode 21

May 2010

TBJ final cover

Coming January 2016!

The backyard of Brad and Maddy’s small rental house was filling with friends and family. At the grill, Brad’s father lined brats and hamburger patties in rows with military precision. A sunny day would have been nice, but the cloud cover kept the heat down.

Dick Hatfield emerged from the house onto the patio and kissed his daughter’s cheek. “A lawyer in the family. Who would have ever imagined we’d all be here celebrating your graduation from law school? Maddy, I’m so proud of you, baby!”

“Thanks, Dad, but no lawyers in the family yet. I still have to pass the bar exam.”

Brad smiled, remembering how much had changed since his and Maddy’s CU graduation party. That day, he and Maddy’s mother had quietly intercepted Dick and sent him away without Maddy or the other guests realizing the man was intent on crashing the party. Today, after three drug-free years, Dick looked and acted like a different man. Maddy’s relationship with her father was still fragile, but they had been seeing each other monthly for over a year.

“Congratulations, Madddyyy!” Brad stepped out of the way as a squealing Hannah Lockhart, arms extended like the wings of a plane, flew passed him to envelope his wife in a tight hug.

“Hey, Brad. Congratulations on Maddy’s graduation,” Hannah’s boyfriend Rob said, offering a handshake.

After Hannah had lassoed Brad in a hug, she stepped back and asked, “So, what are you two going to do with all the free time you have now?”

“After the bar exam,” Maddy said, “I plan to sleep for a month. Brad’s thinking about starting an MBA.”

“Just thinking for now,” Brad clarified. The whole MBA idea had come from Maddy. When he finished CU, he’d seen himself as done with school, but the disappointments at Coors had left him wanting something else. If he did go the brewpub route, he’d need the business training.

Carol Hatfield walked over with a red plastic cup. “Great beer, Brad—as always. How’s the latest brew coming along? The one you made with the bikers.”

“The chocolate imperial stout we made for the Fermentation employees’ barbeque and homebrew competition? Almost ready.”

“Sounds like a lot of fun. If Maddy doesn’t want to go, I’ll volunteer.”

“Mom,” Maddy said in an admonishing tone. “I’m going.”

Brad stood between the women, trying to put together the pieces of a conversation he must have missed. “I can get an extra ticket, if you’d like.”

“Great, I’d love to go,” Carol said, as Maddy shot him a glare.

****

“Time to get up, sexy guy,” Maddy cooed in Brad’s ear.

He’d gone to bed three hours ago. Some guys on the graveyard shift got used to catching a few z’s here and there, but Brad never would. He pulled his wife toward him and kissed her on the lips. She thrust her tongue in his mouth, and he felt the stirrings of an arousal. As much as he wanted to keep going, there was no time. “As soon as we get back from the barbeque, let’s pick up right there.”

On the drive from Boulder to Golden, he ate an apple and washed it down with a Diet Coke, enough to tide him over. When they arrived at Coors, Carol was waiting. “Oh God, look at her,” Maddy muttered.

Carol Hatfield wore a tight pair of jeans and a white tank top that showcased the flowering shoulder tattoo she’d gotten the day her divorce from Dick was final. “Hey, you two,” she called out, waving an arm.

“Relax,” he whispered to Maddy. “It’s not a cocktail party with lawyers.”

Fermentation department employees and their families were pouring in for the food and festivities. Brad waved to a couple of graveyard shift operators tossing horseshoes in a loud competition with two men he didn’t recognize, probably from the day shift or swing shift. Children bounced inside an inflated castle. At the sound of a splash and oohs from a crowd, Brad turned and recognized his boss Rex surfacing in the dunk tank and shaking his head like a dog.

“Brad, over here!” He turned again, this time spotting Carl and Derek at a table. He led Maddy and Carol over and made the introductions before taking drink orders. When he returned, Carol was deep into the story about meeting Mick Jagger when she was sixteen. Brad had heard the story and the outcome enough times that he took a pull on his beer and settled back to watch Carl and Derek. He tried to remember, wasn’t Derek divorced? Did that make it permissible for Derek’s eyes to keep drifting down to Carol’s cleavage?

She must have been aware because, as she delivered the final line about how she turned down Jagger’s invitation to his hotel room, she grabbed the scooped-out front of tank top and jerked it up. Then, she delicately tugged each side of the top at the waist. The net effect left the cleavage display roughly as it had been. With that, she belted back the remainder of her beer. Brad decided against offering refills.

“But tell me about the famous chocolate imperial stout, fellas,” Carol said with a girlish grin.

“Maddy, want to go get something to eat?” Brad asked.

“I’d love too.”

They returned and ate, watching Carol, Derek and Carl have a great time. Somehow, Carol had a fresh cup of beer. After three years of working with Carl and Derek, Brad had thought he knew these guys. An afternoon of homebrewing taught him otherwise. And now this side of them. They looked like high school freshmen talking to the popular girl. Before long, Derek was offering to take Carol out for a Sunday afternoon ride on his Harley.

“What do you say we go sample the homebrews?” Brad asked.

The group moved en masse toward the sample area. They listened more or less attentively as he explained swirling the glass, drive-by sniffing, pushing the beer around inside the mouth, swallowing and observing the finish.

Derek did an exaggerated parody of Brad’s example that caused everybody except Maddy to laugh. Then he downed the rest of the cup in one drink, which made Carol giggle. By the third sample, when the server handed Carol a cup, she tossed it back.

“That’s it, Mom. We’re taking you home.”

“Not now, Maddy.”

Brad had been here once before. He had to act fast. “Maddy’s right, Carol. We’ve got to be going.” He took his mother-in-law’s arm and steered her away. She respected strong men. She wouldn’t back talk him. That was what Maddy had said after the other incident. He felt Carol’s arm relax. She let him guide her like a child. Maddy took her other arm and they moved in silence through the happy crowds.

“Give me your keys, Mom,” Maddy demanded in the parking lot. “I’m driving you home.”

“Dammit, Maddy, I’m fine.”

“Dammit to God, Mom, you’re not fine.”

“Carol,” Brad said, “come ride with me. Maddy can drive your car.”

Carol blew out a beery breath and handed her daughter the keys.

They dropped off Carol and headed north to Boulder. After five minutes of silence, Brad said, “She’s an adult. You can’t control her actions.”

“Jesus, you think I don’t know that?” Maddy’s voice carried an edge as hard as steel. “I knew that all too well by the time I was twelve! Do you get it now, why I didn’t want to come today and why I especially didn’t want her here?”

Brad blew out a breath. “Okay, I apologize. I shouldn’t have invited her. I was just trying to do the right thing. Can’t you see that she’s lonely?”

“I see her making stupid decisions like she’s been doing all her life!”

“Christ, Maddy, don’t be so hard on her. She’s your mother.”

“She’s a freakingly incompetent mother. Do you have any idea how hard I’ve had to work all my life to overcome her shitty parenting? Hers and my father’s.”

Brad glanced at the accelerator and saw he was driving fifteen miles over the limit. He stepped in the brake. “Look, I’m sorry. I totally admire what you’ve done. You know that.”

“Do you see now, why I don’t want to be around men like Derek and Carl?” she shouted. “For you, socializing with those kind of men is a big novelty. I grew up surrounded by them. If it wasn’t my dad coming home stoned out of his head with pals like Derek, it was some scuzzy guy coming around to flirt with my mother! I’ve worked my whole life to get away from those kind of people. The wounds are deep and unhealed.”

Brad wrapped his hands more tightly on the steering wheel and said nothing. Derek and Carl were a little rough around the edges, but they were good men who came to work every night and did their jobs well.

When they walked in the front door of the rental house, Maddy said, “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have taken my anger out on Derek and Carl. You grew up with the life and the family I dreamed of having. When I’m with you and the Peters, I feel like I finally belong to the middle class. One day, we’ll take our kids to soccer practices and music lessons and family dinner at your parents’ house. They’ll never know what it’s like to not attend a friend’s birthday party because they can’t afford a gift. They’ll think everybody has soccer practice and piano lessons.”

Brad reached out and pulled her to him. He kissed her gently. “Let’s put this afternoon behind us.”

She nuzzled into his chest and reached around to squeeze his butt. God, he loved this beautiful, intelligent woman. One day, they would have children and take them to dinners with the whole Peters’ clan. He led Maddy into the bedroom where he pulled off her t-shirt and stripped away her pants. He reached around and unhooked her bra. She responded by kissing him almost violently. Together they pulled off his clothes and fell onto the bed. There was only this moment and the urgent physical need. They came together throbbing and pulsing until both were panting and damp with sweat. To hell with the rest of the world. They had each other.

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