Friday, June 8, 2012

White Trash in the Snow - Chapter Four

Chapter one, intimately introduced readers to Cristol Saplin and her boyfriend Wrangler Strauss, and  they met her mother, the governor. 

In chapter two, readers learned more about Cristol's parents, Tad Saplin and Rachael Heat Saplin, through glimpses into  how they were raised, and their life together. 

Chapter three provided a foundation for understanding why Cristol's mother can't stand Wrangler's mother Jerrie Strauss. 

This chapter pulls back the covers and exposes secrets. 

If this is your first reading of "White Trash in the Snow" you should be aware that these characters are not real, this is a work of fiction, and any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. It is an original work, written by Allison, and published for the first time anywhere on the blog The Palin Place. All rights reserved.

Happy reading and have a great weekend!

White Trash in the Snow

by Allison


“Herpes? It can’t be!”

Rachael was getting her an annual checkup from Doctor Abigail Barton-Curtain, a long time friend and the Saplin family physician. Azzles years ago had given the general practitioner the nickname “Dr. ABC  the GP”  and over time it was shortened to Dr. ABC or, sometimes, just the three letters.

During the exam, Dr. ABC tactfully asked about the obvious cold sore on the mayor’s upper lip. In the doctor/patient exchange that followed, Rachael Saplin learned to her horror, that the likely cause of the reoccurring outbreaks was the human herpes virus 1, as opposed to 2 which the doctor explained is responsible for most genital herpes infections. That led to another discussion.

After digesting the information, she thought she should give some explanation for not having consulted her friend the doctor. “I just thought it was, you know, one of those things that comes along with a cold and I had a cold last week, well, it was a sore throat sort of thing, and so I didn’t call you because I knew I had this appointment coming up also, too, so shoot, it’s a good thing you caught this. Must have got it from Tad, you know, boys will be boys.”

The doctor didn’t react. She scribbled away on a prescription pad and professionally kept her eyes diverted while her patient babbled on.

"God’s looking out for me, that’s for sure. He used you to supply the answer to a problem I didn’t even know I had. Man, it isn’t easy being mayor and everyone judging every flippin’ thing in your life. You know?”

“I’m sure that’s difficult, Rachael,” Doctor Barton-Curtain sympathized.

“You betcha. I have an image to maintain, so, give me the shot, or whatever and let’s get rid of Tad’s gift.”

 Dr. ABC tore the top sheet off the little tablet and said, “There is no cure for HSV, but I can give you this. It's a prescription for Zovorax. Taken as directed, it will reduce the number and length of your outbreaks.” Dr. ABC saw her friend’s eyes widen, and heard her gasp.

“No cure? Unflippin’ believable!” She looked angrily at the doctor. Then, her scowl turned to a pout. “How could this have happened to me?” she whimpered.

Dr. ABC understood that she was delivering a difficult message for a woman with so much pride. All Rachael’s friends were very aware that she was  proud of her looks, proud of her title, proud of her public service, proud to have birthed three babies. In her meager not yet four decades on the planet she had achieved personal and public successes beyond any reasonable expectations for someone with her intellect and education.  God had blessed Rachael. It made her so proud.

So, the doctor spoke words of reassurance; words she would have spoken to any patient hearing this diagnosis. “It’s a very common disease, as many as 300 million Americans have HSV-1 or 2. And while I understand that it can be distressing to learn that you’ve contracted herpes, it will become a relatively small thing that you deal with occasionally, and this will help.” She handed Rachael the script.

Zovorax became part of Rachael’s life, a little reminder that life as Mrs. Tad Saplin hadn’t turned out the way she had expected. Her husband’s blue-collar-rough-around-the-edges personality that she once found sexy had become annoying and embarrassing after only a few years of wedded unhappiness. Rachael wasn’t proud to be Tad’s wife and she wasn’t happy in the marriage. Rachael confided to her friends and her mother that she and Tad didn’t have a “normal marriage.” They hardly talked. When they did, it was with raised voices. The marriage was a lonely place. Tad liked being alone. Rachael hated it, which may have been a contributing factor to her having acquired a lifelong viral infection.

At the time she had the unforgettable check up, Mayor Saplin of Azzolla was having an affair with her husband’s friend and short-lived business partner, Harley Branson. Tad and she spent little time together and talked superficially, so it wasn’t difficult to keep him in the dark about her extra-curricular activities.  At first she worried that herpes outbreaks would be a giveaway, but as weeks passed, she relaxed and gave God credit for allowing outbreaks to erupt only when Tad was away at work.  It gave her one more thing to feel proud about. I keep confessing my sin to God and he keeps hiding my herpes.  It’s so cool to be forgiven.

Then, it happened. The tingle started on Tad’s first day home. The second day the tenderness increased.  She doubled up on her antiviral pills. It didn’t matter. On Tad’s third day off, a Sunday, she awoke with an obvious outbreak that makeup couldn’t cover. She got through half the day before they had a face-to-face conversation.

“What’s that sore on your lip? Is that what it looks like?” Tad asked.

“Well, Tad, that depends. If it looks like a cold sore, then yes, it is that which there are that come from having a cold.” She grimaced at the awkwardness of her own response, and in contorting her mouth she felt a painful reminder in a tender area on the right side of her upper lip.

“I know herpes when I see it!” he growled, “And that,” he pointed, "is herpes!”

She slapped his hand down and matched his accusatory tone, “I’ll just bet you do, Tad.” They glared at each other. She wasn’t done. “I betcha you know about both kinds of herpes, right, Tad?”

“There’s two kinds?  Oh, yeah, you mean… hey, wait a minute!”

 Oh no, now she’d done it. In trying to turn the tables, she’d put herself in the position of some kind of herpes expert.  She began to panic, afraid he would ask…

“Do you have both kinds?”

She didn’t answer, she walked away and let the slamming of the bedroom door speak for her.

It didn’t take too many inquiries around town to narrow the suspect list to one. Tad confronted Harley. The business closed down and the Branson family left the state. Tad bought himself a comfortable recliner for the living room and Rachael bought a large exercise machine for her bedroom.

Then, she had had another brief affair. Nothing very romantic, it was a textbook classic – the workplace relationship gone too far. Her inappropriate closeness to one of the City Councilmen began suddenly one January evening and was over by the first of May. This time, Tad threatened her with divorce. Rachael went to her mother for advice, and after Betty made her look at the matter practically, she admitted that Tad was the one “making real money” so Rachael begged him to stay and convinced him to accompany her to counseling.

They went to a Christian family counselor, Rachael wouldn’t see anyone who hadn’t been saved, and of course, they said that with prayer cover from believers and their own honest efforts they should be able to go on and have a good marriage in spite of having some issues in their past. Both Tad and Rachael agreed to work on their marriage.

“Working on the marriage,” the counselor told them, “includes making time for sex.”  Rachael hadn’t expected that from a Christian counselor, in fact that had been one of the reasons she picked someone from the faith. Nevertheless, she made the effort, and even aroused herself during their love making with the thought that she was doing it for the money. Such a bad girl. And Tad, why he was paying for sex!  Something about that bad boy image appealed to Rachael. Sex with Tad was fun again.

In spite of odd and busy schedules, they managed to get in the minimum weekly prescription of intercourse. In the process, Rachael accidentally conceived a child.

The unplanned child was what Betty Heat called an “ooopsy baby,” a name that Tad and Rachael became fond of and used while the baby was in utero. “How’s our little Ooopsy?” Tad would ask when he’d return home. “Ooopsy’s been kicking a lot today,” Rachael might reply. They became so comfortable with the name, they thought they might name the child “Ooopsy Saplin.” They agreed it would fit a boy or a girl.

Seven-year-old Maple thought the baby and the name were wonderful. She told her friends at school, “I’m going to have a brother or sister called Ooopsy!” The new second grade teacher scolded Maple and had her stand in the corner for telling a fib. When the teacher’s contract was not renewed the next year, the head of the teachers union came right out and told her she’d made a big mistake when she had a Saplin spend ten minutes in the corner. Fortunately for the fetus, the Saplins entertained some other gender-neutral names and ended up calling their third daughter Pride.

Rachael took a few weeks off from her job as mayor, then went back to her usual routine. The baby spent mornings, day  after day in a baby carrier looking up at the underside of a desk in the Azzolla Town Hall.  In the afternoon she would be delivered to her grandmother Betty so that Rachael could get back to tanning and take long naps. New motherhood had become old hat to Rachael. Pride’s essential needs were met, but little more.

Tad had hoped for a boy, but once he cradled his third little girl in his arms, he wouldn’t have changed a thing about her. Still, he held out hope that his wife might agree to have a fifth child, especially if, somehow, they could figure out how to conceive a boy. That dream was shot down one day when Rachael came into the room while he was swaddling three month old Pride and warned, “Better enjoy that baby. I’m too old for this. Next week I’m getting my tubes tied.” And she did. Neither of them said anything, but they felt differently about sex after that, and they began sleeping apart once again.

Five years later, when Wrangler Strauss began dating Cristol, the young man wondered why and how the governor and her husband had even had four children. It appeared to him that they never talked, let alone touched. The affects shown throughout the household. Life at the Saplins was full of chaos and stress and void of compassion and warmth. Cristol told him it had always been like that, except that since her mom began working in the capital it was “ten times worse.”

It wasn’t and exaggeration. At the mansion after the day workers went home, there was a lot of yelling. Rachael and Tad were, once again, in need of marital counseling, and the children’s interactions with them and each other could have been scripted by the writers of “The Family Guy” or “South Park.”

The four children were remarkable only in problematic ways; Field had identity and aggression issues, Cristol was insecure and a dullard, Maple was arrogant and rude, Pride was spoiled. The older ones and their friends spent weekends in group activities, picking from a smorgasbord of opportunities both good and bad: drinking, drugs, sex, shoplifting, and vandalism fell into the latter category while shopping, hanging out, hiking, camping, fishing and hunting, and going to the movies were primary activities of the former.

By May 2007, Field, Cristol and Maple were thrilled to be back in Azzolla for the summer and minus parental supervision for weeks at a time. They prepared to gorge themselves with mischief and merrymaking.

The Governor and Tad didn’t realize how deeply their kids were involved with risky behavior. They were distracted by the duties of the Governor’s office. Tad was, in reality, a co-governor with Rachael. Some called him  “The Shadow.” He attended official meetings, was copied on official email, made quasi-official requests, and had input into policy.

An issue as big as any concern the Governor’s Office wrestled with that summer was the dating life of a member of the governor’s staff. A public employee, and a once-trusted member of Rachael Saplin’s high school inner circle, he’d been dismissed over the Fourth of July weekend when the governor heard that this man was dating the ex-wife of a Saplin friend and supporter. The week following the abrupt firing,  Rachael was working out of the satellite office in Azzolla and accidentally learned that the man had already found a job with a lobbyist. She’d issued orders to Tad, “Call up and tell ‘em the governor isn’t happy that they hired that impotent, limp noodle. Tell ‘em I expect they’ll have the cojones to do the right thing. Make sure they understand.”

Rummaging through papers on her desk to give Tad the lobbyist’s phone number, she mumbled “Bob has a lot of nerve to call himself a Christian, him breaking up a marriage and all. And they have kids, also!” If she meant to give Tad a reason to get involved, she needn't have bothered. He didn’t need one. He joined in looking for the number, anxious to make the call for his own satisfaction. It wasn’t the adultery that offended him,  though he had the momentarily satisfying thought that maybe Bob would contract herpes or something. Anyway, the truth was, Tad simply never liked Bob. He didn’t like any of the men who worshiped his wife. What husband would?

“Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord.” Rachael quoted. 

Tad wasn’t in the mood for her God-speak. He wanted to get onto that call.

“Now you are the Lord, Rachael? I know how you like titles, but come on."

“Shut up, Tad!” she said. Momentarily stopping her search, she straightened up and put her hands on her hips. “I’m a servant of the Lord,” she explained. “And you’re not. If you had been raised in a real church, like I was, you would understand these things.”

That did it. He was ready for a good argument. “Well, I don't understand. And, here’s a question for you. If God is love, like it says on that poster you stuck on the refrigerator to impress company, then how can loving someone be wrong? I don't like Bob, but …”

She held up a palm. “God’s ways are higher than ours. Don’t try to confuse me with reason.”

“Try? I don’t have to try…”

Tad spotted the paper with the number. He grabbed it and left the room. Behind him he heard her ask, “What do you mean by that?” He didn't bother to answer.

Tad could be intimidating. He liked to bully “the lesser people.” That afternoon, he was especially nasty when he made the call to the lobbyist. That will teach Bob not to mess around with the governor’s office, he thought.

That same day, while Tad and Rachael conspired to penalize a grown man for his relationship choices, Cristol and Wrangler were in her family’s remote cabin making relationship choices of their own. Her parents, had no idea where the kids were. It hadn't crossed their minds. 

Ironically, while Tad was forcefully delivering his message, Wrangler was putting a lot of energy into his delivery, too. It would be hard to say which of them was the more satisfied when they were through. Wrangler and Cristol, however, fell blissfully asleep in each other's arms, but Tad and Rachael returned home separately, with Tad taking a detour  to handle personal business before going home. 

That night, in bed alone, Rachael reached into the drawer of the nightstand and pulled out her journal. Keeping a diary was a ritual she's held onto since junior high. It made her feel like she was putting her college work to some use.  She clicked the pen and began to write:

So disappointed in Bob. Thought he was a Christian. Now he’s backslidden. So foolish!!!!

That took care of the day's business events; she started a new paragraph about the family:

 Midnight and such a lovely night. Pride staying over at Mom and Dad’s. F, C, and M are all out with friends having fun. Tad went for another massage this afternoon. Says it really helps him relax after a day like this one. I think I should get a massage myself sometime.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

LOL Dumb troll @ 5:18AM still doesn't get it. Thanks for the laugh you stupid idiot.

Anonymous said...

Good work Allison! I laughed a lot. It's like reading non-fiction! So close to reality.

Dis Gusted said...

troll at #1 - too funny that you think they are more behaved than the average citizen

I'm sure you really believe that.

Allison - TY - keep going - sincerely

Anonymous said...

I am really enjoying this, Allison. You are a very talented writer. The way you are introducing and developing the "characters" (LOL) is truly brilliant!
I hate having to wait to read on Fridays but at the same time it would be so depressing to sit and devour it all in a day and then have nothing to look forward to!
I felt this way after finishing Nicolle Wallace's two "fictional" books, too LOL.
Enjoy your weekend, I'll be back for more!

Anonymous said...

Excellent Allison. Have to tell you, I was so upset by that obnoxious troll yesterday that I almost didn't come to read the new chapter. Her rhetoric is so disgusting. Is there anyway you can delete her crap? She is not going to stop and it just takes away any dialog. I believe you and IM are the only ones allowing her thru now. She's even banned from the Palin's blogs and Facebook's. Since we are all banned from writing on their blogs, I see no reason why we should be subjected to her hate here. I know, I know, freedom of speech, but this person is so hateful and needs psychological help. She is a stalker. She is obsessed with Bristol and I am sick and tired of her interfering with your blog.


Allison said...

Mrs Gunka I deleted Troll comments at your request. She is tiresome, I agree.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Allison! Sorry I didn't get back sooner, but life is busy. She is so distracting to all the good things you bring us. She won't change! If others want her back, I understand. My blood pressure can't take her. Again thanks.

AKRNC said...

Another hilarious chapter in the life of the Saplin family! Thanks for the laughs, Allison. I look forward to reading more and the way this family is turning out, these stories could go on forever...LOL!

Stefanie said...

That was very entertaining and so funny too. Thanks Allison. Keep it up - your writing is fantastic! Those Saplin's are such characters.