Being an only child in a moderately wealthy family had not done Lex any harm. Well that’s the way he saw it.
His father, Tim, was a professional actor and had got into the game early. He had joined a theatre when he was young and had been in countless stage shows before joining the cast of the famous soap “Runway Place”. It was here he met his wife to be, a young writer on the series, Rose.
They’d locked eyes the first day they met but it would be weeks before they saw each other again. The writers only met with the cast occasionally to discuss characters and plotlines and then the scripts would be written up for the next 2 months.
Tim was never shy, how could he be. He asked Rose out at the next opportunity and she couldn’t help but say yes to this strong, charismatic man. He had a self confidence that was mesmerising and she’d often wonder how someone so confident didn’t end up being stuck up.
They had a romantic year with fine dining and going to the theatre. They got an apartment overlooking the harbour and enjoyed the nightlife that hustled and bustled below them. For his birthday they splashed out and they went for an island holiday for two weeks. Not long after they got back Rose she realised she was pregnant. Although it wasn’t planned it couldn’t have come at a better time. Tim was thoroughly enjoying his role as Dr Martin on Runway Place and Rose was able to keep writing through her pregnancy.
With six weeks to go until the new arrival, Tim and Rose bought a house in a little valley out of the city. A big wooden home with a large country garden, it was the perfect little place to bring up a family. And much better for a family than the apartment they’d been sharing in the central city.
Rose dreamed of a life that was perfect. She was constantly writing about dysfunctional families and dramas and all the juicy things that made up a soap opera - she wanted her life to be something to be proud of - something she would look back on when she was 70 and feel warm fuzzy feelings about.
Lex arrived in the early morning of a Saturday. He was certainly healthy weighing 10pounds 1 ounce, with all ten fingers and toes and Rose and Tim were extremely proud of their new little bundle.
Life carried on and Lex was given almost anything he wanted. Tim’s salary was growing and Rose still had time to write a few scripts here and there. They were certainly not short of money and to show their son how much they loved him they showered him in gifts and praise as he grew into a confident little boy.
For his 4th birthday Lex was thrown a huge birthday party with all the cast and crew bringing along their children and all his pre-school friends were invited too.
The theme was Cowboys and Indians and Lex insisted on being a Sheriff for the day. There were ponys to ride, horse-shoe throwing, and bales of hay had been brought in to make the kids a mini maze. Late in the afternoon the kids had tired themselves out so much they were falling asleep and were loaded into cars covered in hay and driven home to bed. But Lex and his little friend from pre-school were found to be missing. They were finally found curled up in a bed of hay behind the house, fast asleep.
Lex had the confidence of his father and was not at all shy. At pre-school he had all the girls wanting to be his best friend. He even had a little wedding in the sandpit to his childhood friend, Zandra. Even the teachers thought he was just such a lovely little boy.
But when Lex started to attend school the teachers became increasingly worried about him. He would refuse to recite his alphabet, read books or even listen to the teachers. Tim and Rose were worried and spared no expense getting a diagnosis from specialists. Some said he had ADD (attention deficit disorder) and others thought he might be dyslexic.
In the end it was decided he had Dyslexia. The symptoms similar to ADD were brought about by the fact that the dyslexia was causing him problems and because he wasn’t reading or writing he just wasn’t interested.
Tim and Rose decided that Rose would do extra work with him after school and the teachers now knew what was going on and could help Lex through the work he needed help with.
In the end it didn’t affect Lex too much and he managed to get by. Rose would read to him every night and send him off into a blissful sleep, dreaming of pixies, elves and giant chocolate trees.
He struggled through school but with a certain amount of charm and his oozing confidence he managed to work his way through.
Tim had suggested he join some acting classes knowing that Lex was more into creativeness than academics. And what better than to follow in your parents footsteps.
So Lex joined the local theatre when he was 11 and revelled in the spotlight. He would often clinch the main role and even won the “Best New Talent” at the local Theatre Awards when he was 13.
He had lots of friends and even more girlfriends. He had the latest computer, the best games, the charm, the bad boy within…
But with all his confidence he was becoming arrogant. He would get angry and snappy with everyone if he didn’t get the main role in a play and he would be-little the other actors if they messed up a line. He started dating all the lead girls and ended up causing broken hearts all over the city. Parents were ringing Tim and Rose with young girls crying in the background. And other parents were accusing Lex of bullying other kids so that they wouldn’t get the main parts in the plays.
Tim and Rose were realising that Lex was perhaps too spoilt. Or perhaps he was hanging out with the wrong crowd. They couldn’t help feeling it was their fault. Had they not spent enough time with him? Should they have had more kids so he had brothers and sisters to play with? Did they really spoil him too much?
Life carried on and Lex got worse. He was getting into trouble at school and hanging out with some of the kids from the rough side of town. Tim and Rose were constantly visiting the Principal of the school.
Just after Lex’s 14th birthday, Tim’s mother, Lex’s grandmother, died. Things started going down hill pretty fast.
It hit Tim hard and he started wondering what he was even doing in this world. Was it shallow to be an actor? To pretend to be other people all your life? He had a lovely wife and a confident son but things weren’t perfect. His son was a bully and causing trouble, and his wife didn’t seem as interested in their relationship anymore. He guessed that being together for so many years takes it’s toll and being in love doesn’t last forever. Was he having a mid-life crisis?
Tim started drinking. It used to be a glass of wine with dinner but now it was 4 or 5 over the night. Rose didn’t really notice at first but then it got more obvious that he was actually getting drunk. He would order cases of wine and they wouldn’t last as long as they should have. Lex was also helping himself to a few bottles every now and again and sharing them with his mates. He would come home late at night drunk as a skunk. But Tim hardly noticed.
Tim would drink his way through four glasses and then start getting depressed. He would consume another bottle and he would ramble about life and how things just weren’t what he wanted them to be.
Rose was in despair. What had happened to her loving family? What had happened to her bright, confident son and her loving husband? She used to pride herself on having a normal happy family and now it had turned into the type of family she never wanted to be a part of.
Next the violence started. Tim wasn’t just depressed anymore, he was angry. He wasn’t entirely sure what he was angry about but that didn’t stop him hating everyone and everything. He would fly into a rage at work and cause more drama than was in the scripts. Then he would get home and start an argument with Rose. The tv remote would fly around the room and Rose would jump in her car just to escape the constant barrage of insults and abuse.
Lex would come home and find his father in a heap on the couch. He would also get a load of abuse and they would scream and yell until one of them left the room in despair.
It all came to a head one Saturday night. Lex arrived home to find his mother crying, his father yelling and the house looking like a war zone.
Lex just couldn’t handle it anymore. He lunged at his father screaming that all this was his fault. The drinking, abuse, the family was breaking apart! Tim stopped Lex in his tracks, with a backhand to Lex’s face.
Lex stumbled back in astonishment. He laid a hand on his hot red cheek. Rose looked dumbfounded.
Rose was about to say something when Lex just turned and walked out the door.
Lex had had more than enough. He would be back, but only to get his mother.
When they all thought things could get any worse …. the virus hit. It stopped just being their family in crisis – it was every family.
Lex came back two weeks later to find his father gone and his mother smoking and drinking herself stupid. He’d seen in the newspapers that a deadly virus was sweeping the city but thought as usual that the headlines were only attention grabbing. She seemed to have resigned herself to her fate and was enjoying her last few weeks, she reckoned.
His mother was pretty drunk but managed to tell Lex that Tim had gone out one night and didn’t come home.
The house was in a mess. There were dirty dishes all over the kitchen and the tv was on repeats of Gilligans Island. Rose was picking holes in the script with a slur in her voice that came from drinking too much vodka.
Lex couldn’t believe what he was seeing. All this time he had thought his mother was strong. She was the one thing he had counted on when Tim had lost the plot. How could she just give up like this? Had she not been worried about where he was for the last two weeks?? She didn’t even look happy to see him.
Rose finally decided to go to bed. Lex put clean sheets on her bed and gave her a glass of water and some aspirin. He went back downstairs and started tidying up – getting more and more furious about how life was treating him.
He was tidying up some old newspapers when he saw a front page headline “Virus Death Toll, latest”. He couldn’t believe what he was reading. The death toll had to be wrong. Thousands of people from every city had perished.
The next day Rose said she had spoken to a family friend who had told her about a Boot Camp that was being run by the Government to help out the kids that were to be left behind. It would teach them survival skills, trading skills and prepare them for life after the adults had gone.
It didn’t take much to convince Lex. He wasn’t stupid. He knew that things were about to get a whole lot rougher. He was still angry that his whole life was being turned up side down and that his mother was just keen to get him out of her hair. He had a couple of days to get his gear packed and then a bus would be round to pick him up.
Lex spent the next day trying to help organise his mother. He made sure there were enough supplies in the cupboard and managed to tip all the alcohol he could find in the house down the sink. He kept one bottle for himself and stashed it in his bag. He also rifled through anything valuable in the house – jewellery, cd’s, batteries. He knew they’d come in useful at some stage. He still thought that coming from a moderately wealthy family hadn’t done him any harm. And right now it was certainly handy.
The next day he kissed Rose goodbye, knowing he would probably never see her again, and jumped on the bus wondering where the next few weeks would take him.
Lex felt totally alone. He hadn’t contacted any of his friends in days – didn’t even know if he would be able to find them with all the chaos in the city. Maybe some of them would be at Boot Camp too…