It was Gary's birthday, and he was sitting all alone in his home. He and Val had just gotten back together, but one would never know it by the way she was acting. She had hardly said two words to him all day, and it was 630 and she had been out "Getting her hair done" for the past few hours. How long did it take to get one's hair done anyways? Val was a beauty, and Gary appreciated that she wanted to look her best for him, but didn't she know he would rather have her lounging around in her robe and her hair a mess and be there for his big day? Besides, he kind of liked it when her hair was a mess. It reminded him of- better days.
He didn't know where the twins were. Val had said something about them being with Karen and Mack. He'd tried to call them but all he got was one of those perky answering machine messages that was enough to drive anyone to drink, let alone a recovering alcoholic. Gary knew that Karen had her days, but lately she and Mack had been so…so..so happy, and he didn't understand that. He wanted to. There was a word for what he was feeling. He'd learned all about it in the program he belonged to. It was called resentment. It was a long enough word, but to him it was the longest word in the English dictionary. Gary was a smart cookie- he could identify that that was what he was feeling, but he just didn't know what to do about it.
Why shouldn't he feel resentful? He hadn't seen his oldest daughter Lucy in almost a year. Who knew what she was up to? She probably hated him, and she had the right to. As a father, he had failed her in every way that a person could fail another person. She couldn't stand to talk to him on the phone anymore; he knew that. Every time he'd tried to call lately Lucy would make some excuse up and then end the conversation. But he didn't blame her. If he blamed anyone, it was himself. He was a failure as a father, he knew that. Gary was trying with the twins, he really was, but he knew that the damage was done with his eldest child.
Even his favorite brother had had a time of it. Yes, his life was rough, but usually Bobby and Gary had seen each other several times a year but for the last couple of times Gary had asked Bobby to come out the youngest Ewing brother to come out to visit he had made some excuse, maybe Lucy's attitude had rubbed off on him. It was just as well. Gary had made a living off of not needing anyone anyhow, so this was probably for the best.
As far as JR went, he didn't expect anything from him. He'd written off the fair-haired Ewing off a long time ago. And maybe he was right to do so. From the looks of today, everyone else had done so as well.
But today was his birthday. Everyone deserved to be remembered on their birthday, didn't they? Didn't Gary deserve to be acknowledged? Or was he a nobody? Maybe JR was right about him all along. Maybe he was a loser. Maybe his family would be better off without him after all. There was one place that would welcome him, after all these years. One place that would accept him, or at least accept his money. So after cleaning up and making up his mind, Gary got in his car and drove across town to a place that he'd thought that he'd left behind a long time ago. The name was of no consequence. They were all the same in the end, weren't they?
But as he sat down with that first drink, Gary thought about it and knew it wouldn't be his last drink. He thought about all he had to lose. He would lose Lucy for sure. Yes, she only spoke to him for a few minutes, but wasn't a few minutes of happiness better than a lifetime of misery? And the twins? Maybe Mack and Karen had taken them out to eat- who knew- but all Gary knew was that if he touched that drink that he would not be sleeping underneath the same roof as they did , or Heaven forbid, Val did, that night or for a very long time.
Val. Who knew why but he loved her. She was everything he had ever looked for throughout his entire life, more than he could find in that little glass. In The Program they called it a moment of clarity but he saw things so clearly. He saw everything he stood to lose if he took that first drink. Gary knew he'd made so many, many, mistakes but he would be making the biggest one of his life if he were to lose Val again. Without her he just wasn't whole. God help him but he tried to make it on his own and he just couldn't do it. Even she was stronger than the poison he was about to imbibe in.
So he knew what he had to do. He slammed the glass down, paid for it and turned around and made his way home. To his surprise there were cars in the driveway and lights were on that he was pretty sure weren't on when he left.
"Daddy!" The twins ran up to him. He laughed.
"What's all this?"
"You didn't think we forgot your birthday did you?" Val smiled as Karen and Mack made their way from around the corner.
"Me…no, of course not," Gary laughed. "Nice…" he pointed to Val's hairstyle, and she smiled knowingly.
From the kitchen out walked the biggest surprise of the evening, more like two surprises. First to embrace Gary was his favorite brother Bobby. "Hey," Gary laughed. "Where did you come from?"
"The kitchen. Where else?"
They smiled as they embraced again.
"Save some of that for me," pouted a very familiar but long lost voice.
"Lucy! What are you doing here?" Gary broke away from Bobby to run over to his firstborn.
"Coming to see my Daddy, did you think I could forget you?"
He looked around and thought back a half hour ago to how close he came to throwing this all away. He wouldn't trade this all for all of the money in the world. Clarity was a good thing, a very good thing indeed.