Comstock's magazine 1117 - November 2017 - Page 58

unsweetened whipped cream frosting. Diane had baked her eldest son’s favorite cake for his twelfth birthday and placed it atop a plastic, imitation-crystal cake tray. Before cutting the cake, Cabaldon insisted that he, his mother and 9-year-old brother Dylan wait for Larry, their father, to return home. The family of four lived in the upscale Hollywood Hills neighborhood, in a spacious home Cabaldon says his parents barely afforded. Diane, a university pro- fessor, had grown up in a blue-collar family in Michigan as the daughter of Czech factory workers, and moved to California as a teenager to study economics at Cal State Northridge, where she met Larry. Larry was a second-generation Filipino immigrant — his parents worked at a soda fountain in the Central Valley, and Larry's father ran a secret gambling ring under the store. Through Cabaldon’s early childhood, Larry worked as a corporate headhunter. He now operates a consultancy firm for businesses and has authored a book titled, “God in the Boardroom: Why is Christianity losing market share?” But on that night in November, Larry didn’t arrive home. As the hours passed, Diane grew distressed. After Dylan went to bed, Diane inexplicably gave Cabal- don the “birds and bees” talk. He remembers being repulsed by the thought of human reproduction, later equating sex with his mother’s aggrieved state of mind and distancing himself from both. Past his bedtime, Cabaldon eventually crawled under his covers and fell asleep with the untouched cake still sitting in the kitchen. He awoke to the sound of crashing glass and scream- ing, and crept down the hallway to investigate. Diane was in hysterics, throwing things in the kitchen. Larry still wasn’t home. The front door stood open. The cake was smashed to bits on the front porch. Two days later, Diane and Larry summoned their two sons and announced the couple was divorcing. Larry would imme- diately move out while Diane looked for a new home for herself and the boys. Neither parent mentioned that Larry had met another woman, a cocktail waitress who would move into the family’s home shortly after Diane’s death. On a Friday night the following April, Diane drove her sons to the house of her sister, Janice Tully, to celebrate Tully’s daughter’s birthday. Wine f lowed freely, Hall & Oates played on the stereo and the kids played games. Cabaldon recalls his moth- er acting upset — a common sight following the breakup — and finishing several drinks. After the party, the two boys piled in the back of the car and Cabaldon im- mediately fell asleep. After Diane pulled away, Tully noticed Diane had forgotten her purse. The accident occurred with the BMW traveling back toward Tully’s house. Diane drove the wrong way up an off-ramp on Highway 170 and crashed into a guardrail. Tully heard the news in a late-night phone call and rushed to the hospital. “It was a horrifying sight,” Tully recalls. Diane “was hooked up to all these machines that were keeping her going. [The doctor] said she was basically braindead.” Cabaldon remembers getting into the car and then waking up covered in ban- dages in a hospital bed in Glendale. His ankle and arm were wrapped, and he had THE NEXT THING CABALDON REMEMBERS IS THE SOUND OF HIMSELF SCREAMING. 58 | November 2017