Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bonus! Not 2, but 3 chapters (and Maple learns she's going to be an aunt) White Trash in the Snow Chapters 26, 27, 28

by Allison


“There it is. That’s the issue with an article about mom in it.” In a shabby, crowded newspaper and cigar shop inside the shabby, not crowded AK Mall, Cristol reached for the latest copy of Newsweek. “It’s got a nice picture of her, too.  I’ll show you.”  She flipped through a few pages and held it out to him.

“Umm.  No glasses.” Wrangler didn’t care about Governor Saplin’s first nationwide news coup. He had bigger things on his mind. But he knew Cristol wanted to brag, so he attempted to show interest. “Where are the glasses?”

“She thinks she’s more glamorous without them. I don’t agree. She’s got that funny eye. And she wore her hair up, but I think she should have worn it down. She says ‘her brand’ is an up do. Whatever ‘her brand’ means.”

“Yeah, whatever. Your mom say the dumbest stuff.”

The shop owner, a short, bald, pasty-faced guy was hovering near them. It was obvious he thought they might steal something. Wrangler resented it, even though he had some sympathy for the guy when he looked around at the high, tight rows of small items.  Probably a ton of chewing tobacco, candy bars, and Playgirl magazines find their way out into the mall inside other people’s jackets, he thought. But I’m no thief. Just cause my hair is long, he’s thinkin’ I’m a bad-ass…

“C’mon Cristol, let’s get out of here.”

The issue of Newsweek was shoved in the pocket where US News belonged, and Cristol hurried to follow her boyfriend who was already out the door. Catching up, she took his hand and fell into step with him. They mutely strolled, each absorbed in thought. After passing three shoe stores, Famous Fannie’s Falafel’s and a men’s clothier, Wrangler asked the question that was formost in his mind.

  “When are you going to tell your parents?’ he asked.  Just bringing it up made him feel a little better.

“Umm, I’m sure you mean when are we going to tell them. You’re gonna be there, too, Mister.”

“Well, sure. That’s what I meant. ” His voice was low and even softer than usual.  “So when? And how?”

“I think Dad’s going to be home this weekend. I guess we just sit them down and tell them. We could catch them both home at the same time if we do it early enough Saturday morning.

“What about Pride? Is she gonna be around?”

“I thought about that. Usually she stays over at my grandparents, but they can't take her this weekend.  I think I'm going to have to tell Maple to keep Pride busy for us. She'll do it if I tell her why.”

“If you tell Maple, you better be ready to tell your folks right after that.  You know she’s a big snitch.”

“There you go again. WE are going to tell them. Not just me."


Cristol gave him an elbow in the side, but otherwise dropped it rather than making it a bigger issue. They already had a big issue to settle. "So anyway, you are right about Maple, but we don’t have any choice.  We have to trust her.”

Wrangler shrugged his shoulders. They walked further thorugh the mall, turned a corner, and Wrangler stopped to admire a pair of cowboy boots on display. “Half-price sale!”  He brightened, distracted by tooled leather, pointed toes, and a large red tag.

“They're not for you.  We have to save our money now. And pay attention, Wrangler. What I'm saying is important. ” Cristol shook her index finger at him. It was so cliché, Wrangler could almost find it funny - almost but not quite, because his pregnant girlfriend was completely serious. In fact, she had been nothing but serious ever since that pee stick turned blue.  That day when she’d called him up to tell him, the “good news” she’d sounded happy,  even bubbly, but that had only lasted two days. Ever since then  she’d been grumpy, serious, and bossy. Cristol treated him like property.

“Wrangler?” Her voice interrupted. “See what I mean? You don’t pay attention.”

“Pay attention to what?” he snapped back.

“To the subject at hand.” Even she knew she sounded just like her mother. “We need to save all our money for diapers and stuff, remember?”

Wrangler frowned. “I told ya. I’m gonna get a job. I’ll take care of him...and you,” he said. “My momma raised me to be a man.”

 Cristol saw an opportunity and took it. “You aren’t half the man my father is. You’ll be lucky if he doesn’t shoot you on Saturday and give you to grandpa for his collection.” (Buck Heat had more taxidermy on display in his house than any museum in the state.)  

“That isn’t funny,” Wrangler said.

“Actually, Wrangler, you are right. Nothing about this is funny. And my dad is definitely not going to think this is funny. So be prepared…”

“D’you really think your dad will shoot me?”

“Get real, Wrangler, of course not,” she scoffed. “I’m the one he’s gonna want to kill.”

She saw the look on his face and said, “That’s a figure of speech, Stupid.”

“Don’t call me stupid.”

“Well, sometimes…”  Satisfied that she’d gotten the last point in that verbal volley, she redirected the direction of conversation. “What I really expect to happen is that they’ll both yell some and then Mom will remind him that they weren’t perfect at our age. She won’t go so far as to admit they were fucking in High School, but I know they were. I won’t say it, though, ‘cause last time I said that, I got grounded.” Something about the chance of getting grounded now, after getting pregnant, amused her and she smiled to herself.  

They slowed to look in the windows as they walked past  the GAP. “I wish GAP carried maternity clothes. Then we could go in an I could try some stuff on.  You could tell me how I look…”

Wrangler had a frightening thought. This was the voice he would wake up to for the rest of his life. . He and Cristol Saplin were tied together forever. Shoot me now, Mr. S!  Please!

Oblivious to her boyfriend’s state of mind, Cristol droned on,.“Anyway, this is about us. If things get too bad, I will tell them they have no right to point fingers. They may have been in their twenties when Mom got pregnant, and not as young as us, or we, umm... but still, they weren’t married-”

“Whatever,” he said, cutting her off. “I only hope it doesn’t take long.”

Cristol stopped walking, causing a sharp tug on their arms as his momentum continued an extra two steps. “Look at me, Wranger. Look.” He looked down, directly at her belly. “Not there!” She snapped. With index and middle fingers of her right hand, she pointed steadily at her own eyes.  “Look right here and listen.”  When he’d obeyed, and she’d held his eyes with hers for a few seconds, she found her scolding voice again and said, “God, Wrangler, we’re talkin’ about the rest of our lives. You think maybe you got an extra hour on Saturday for something as important as the rest of our lives?”

Wrangler looked duly chastised. The rest of their lives. Wasn’t that what he’d just told himself? No coincidences. He began to feel ill.

In the sprinkling of lethargic mall shoppers strolling the corridor, Cristol spotted a familiar foursome at a far distance.  Lannie, Jennilee, JJ, and Porsche were entering an electronics store. She hurried to finish her reprimand. “So, it will take as long as it takes.  My folks need to understand that we aren’t just having a baby, we love each other. If they aren’t cool about it, maybe I’ll have to move in with you and your mom.”


She frowned. “I know you heard me. I said maybe we should live together at your house.”

Immediately he had the thought My sister would hate that, which was quickly followed by Then the guys will say I have THREE mommies. He put his hands in his pockets, his shoulders sagged, and he subconsciously looked around for the nearest exit.

He didn’t have to suggest they leave, Cristol was already  headed  outside and pulling Wrangler along with her. 


Maple was folding laundry. It was what her mom called her “family contribution”(in other words – chore) and if she got it done on Thursday night, it wouldn’t mess with her weekend social schedule.

“Maple we’ve got to talk”  Cristol interrupted her sister as she was trying to figure out how to fold a queen size fitted sheet. Maple glanced at her and kept on rolling the yards of pale blue cotton blend.

“Fine, but make yourself useful and help me fold this thing,” Maple replied.

Cristol reached out and took hold of  a puckered corner of the sheet and began working with her sister to figure out how to get it under control. She glanced at Maple  with a sense of sadness. Her sister had the same long, straight brown hair as Cristol, same dark eyes, same baby-round face, but she was much prettier. For a moment, Cristol was struck with the thought that pretty soon Maple would start dealing with the temptations of cute guys and pressures of wanting to be popular and wanting to have a guy to be with at dances and hockey games. Hey, maybe she already was wrestling mentally and physically to set some boundaries for her dating life! She wouldn’t have confided in Cristol. They were more like enemies than friends.

But, still, they were sisters.  Nobody better hurt her, Cristol thought. If they do, they’ll have to answer to me and Wrangler.  Wrangler already thought of Maple and Pride as his little sisters and he’d already told Cristol that he’d beat up anyone who messed with them.

“Hey, umm, Maple, I need your help.”  Cristol took a deep breath and felt the heat of tears in her eyes. She  fought against them, and plowed on,“I’ve got to tell Mom and Dad something and it’s going to be really hard.”  

Maple stopped mid-way through folding a top sheet. She recognized something in  Cristol’s voice – a funny pitch that was almost always a  harbinger of bad news. This was the voice that confessed to being involved in the Halloween spray painting fiasco. And the voice that had denied, then admitted to drinking on the field trip when the hockey team won the state championship. It was the voice that confessed, after Field blew her in,  to having a stash in her room. Oh yes, this was that voice, and with curiosity and concern , Maple waited for Cristol to compose herself.

“Saturday morning, will you take Pride outside to play, maybe walk around the lake or something.?  Get her out of the house for about an hour?”

“Saturday morning I’m going to a Junior High hockey match. That’s why I’m folding this stuff tonight. “

“I need you.” Cristol whined. “It’s really, really important.” Suddenly, tears came in a torrent. Cristol dropped to the floor in a heap and covered her face with her hands.

Maple had no idea what was going on, but she knew it had to be bigger than weed hidden under the bed. She sat down on  a basket of folded towels and laid her hand gently on her sister’s shoulder. It upset her to see her older sister this way. Gently, she asked, “What happened? What is it? Whatever it is, it will be okay.”

Cristol usually dealt with frustration, anger, and fear by controlled breathing. It had worked that first night the family spent in the governor’s mansion, and the time Field and Dad had gotten into a fist fight so bad that Field said he was going to run away.  It was a useful tool in her mental survival kit. While Maple waited, Cristol took three deliberate breaths, exhaling slowly each time. After the third breath she spoke, “It’s a baby.”  She took another breath and looked up. Maple was staring at her.  “I’m having a baby.”

Maple’s eyes got very large. Neither spoke for a minute, Cristol sobbing quietly. Maple picked a hand towel out of the clean laundry and gently wiped Cristol’s cheeks, one, then the other.  Though there was still silence between them, it was a comforting silence. Cristol took the towel from her sister’s hand and dabbed the corners of her eyes. She shrugged, sniffled, and smiled weakly, “Guess that means you’re going to be an aunt.”

Cristol and Maple had separate lives. The three years difference in their ages put them into different circles of friends and gave them different opportunities.  But they had always loved each other, even if they fought a lot. When it came to family stuff, like hating to campaign, making fun of their mother, and picking on Pride, they made a strong team.  

There had been times when they saw things the same as Field, and then other times when the two of them agreed and differed with their brother.  For instance, when Dad’s business partner had been around way too much, and, Field said the guy was hitting on Mom, they agreed. But when their brother said “Mom’s been flirting with him, too,” the girls vehemently defended Rachael. He was wrong.  

“Flirting is cheating and  Mom wouldn’t cheat on Dad,” Maple had declared and Cristol had nodded like the dog in the back window of a ’57 Chevy.

“Mom winks at every body, it doesn’t mean anything and that’s not why the business got sold.”  That was Cristol’s contribution to the logic puzzle.

Maple took another turn. “It definitely did not and could not have had anything to do with an affair!”

Cristol moved in for the rebound.“Yeah, that’s impossible.”

Field didn’t really care to play the game. He flipped them the bird and left the house. They both gave Field the silent treatment for a week afterward. He didn’t even notice.

Yes, the family had withstood challenging times before and they would again. But they would always look back at the  twelve months from May 2007 to May 2008 as a having presented a particularly generous cornucopia of crises.


Sparkler couldn’t say no to her BFF.  The final version of the plan was agreed upon  after an hour of discussion which included  bouts of tears from Cristol and, occasionally, some very heavy wet blinking by Wrangler. Keeping things within normal parameters while assembling the cast and crew, it was decided that Sparkler would sleep over on Friday night, and  Saturday morning, 9 am, Wrangler would show up at the house.  Up to that point, everything would  look like a normal early October Saturday.  After Wrangler came in and they told Mrs. S. the good news (that was how Cristol was going to present it), Cristol’s life as a normal teenaager would end and Cristol’s new life as an adult would begin.

Mr. Saplin was going to work overtime and would not be home, a fact that Wrangler took as a sign of good luck. For a brief time Cristol considered cancelling the plan, worried that her mother might get so distraught she’d have a heart attack (after all, she wasn’t young, she was over forty).

“If you don’t tell your Mom this weekend, the baby’s going to do it for you,” said Sparkler. She was right, Cristol wasn’t hiding it well at all.

“Shit, this sucks,” said Cristol “Okay, we’ve got a game plan. Saturday is it.” Then she made them review it one more time.

“With you there, Sparkler, Mom will have to behave; it will keep her from throwin’ things. Once she’s calmed down, you can leave. You know, after the screaming stops.”

They had already told Jerrie, taking the opportunity while Porsche was out with her boyfriend, Wrangler simply said. “Hey Mom, how would you feel about being a grandma?” He had expected crying and yelling, but his mom acted like this grandchild was the best news in the whole world. Cristol told him it was “more than a little weird.”

Now that the date was set and the plans made, Wrangler found time speeding by faster than an opponent’s hockey puck. Before he knew it, it was Saturday morning.
He rehearsed while he drove over to the Saplin’s. The words still stuck in this throat. It didn’t help matters that his square jaw was locked and his hands were sweaty. He looked in the rear view mirror and saw someone he didn’t know in the reflection. He saw someone’s father.

Hope it’s a boy, he thought. I know I can be a good dad to a boy.  I’ll teach him to skate and we’ll play hockey. I’ll teach him to use a gun and we’ll go hunting. His grandpa Tad will teach him how to handle snow mobiles, and together there ain’t going to be anybody can beat the Strauss-Saplin racing team. He hung on to happy thoughts, and pushed his doubts from his mind. I’m ready for this. It’ll be awesome.

Wrangler’s truck made a wide turn into the long driveway passing the hand painted sign “Keep out! Proceed at your own risk.” He put his foot on the brake and looked at the Saplin mansion. That’s what Wrangler called it. Compared to the bungalow his mother raised he and his sister in, the Saplins lived like kings. Compared to almost anyone else in Azzolla, the Saplins lived like kings.

He’d heard talk that the Saplin’s had gotten some under the table deals when they built this house and he believed it was true. Tad was a real wheeler-dealer and arm twister and had a wife with the power to back him up. No one crossed this family, his dad was right. Maybe that group his dad talked about, The Family,  was into construction, too. Could be.

His parents had told him Mrs. S had a nickname in high school  “Rachael the Rottweiler.” He’d seen her mad and it still fit.  And, to his amazement, Mrs. S mentioned it some times. She liked it.  He hoped he wasn't going to see "Rachael the Rottweiler" in action on this Saturday morning. She looked so ugly when she was angry. If she knew that, maybe she'd be nicer. To be prettier. It was a weird thought but he pushed himself to expand on it because it was meaningless. It was a safe haven from the dangers he was trying not to think about.
So he thought about high-school-age Rachael Heat. She had been one of those girls in school who call themselves CAMPs. Cristol said being a member of CAMPs was family tradition, her mom was a founding member. How stupid, he thought. Girls can be really cruel to each other.  If my baby’s a girl, I won’t let her get a big head, even though she, if it is a she, will be a pretty one. My mom and Porsche are pretty, and so’s Mrs. S., he thought.   And Cristol, well, she’s okay. Cuter before she got fat, but, that’s  temporary. Wrangler Strauss doesn’t date any real bow-wows, he told himself.

Mrs. S will be a good lookin’ grandma. “Grandma Rachael” Oh boy, as much as Mrs. S likes titles, he was pretty sure she wasn’t going to like that one. What could she do to get even? he wondered. Will she send that Family out to get me?  Dark thoughts attacked.  He envisioned flying monkeys and could hear  music from the Wizard of Oz playing in his head; a sinister rhythm that generations of adults and children recognize: Dum-da-dum-da-daaaaaa-dum. Dum-da-dum-da-daaaaaa-dum.

“Keep Out!” registered in his peripheral vision, Didn’t the Lion, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow get the same warning?  Wrangler was shocked and self-embarrased to find he felt a kinship with those three. His hands were shaking and his mouth was dry. Could he hide it from Cristol?

The car crept closer to the house but Wrangler didn't hear the gravel under the tires.  Dum-da-dum-da-daaaaaa-dum. Dum-da-dum-da-daaaaaa-dum.

NEXT WEEK:     The Governor learns she's going to be a grandma.

This book is a work of fiction.  Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously.  Other names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.  Contact Allison at



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Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Alison!

Nine posts in a row from the resident obsessed Palin fan. That has got to be a world record.

Reading her comments is like peering through a window into the mind of an OCD stalker.

Anonymous said...

Same anon as 4:59 here

I wanted to also say that I really enjoyed these chapters. The story and your writing is excellent.

My only criticism is that you sometimes slip out of the voice of these not-to-bright teens. Some of the language and phrases would not be used by the kids in these stories (especially since we've seen how they talk and write).

Dis Gusted said...

what's a CAMP?

Duncan said...


Please clean up the troll droppings...

Anonymous said...

I agree with Duncan.

AKRNHSNC said...

OMG! Krusty is on her krusade for you to talk about how much "fun" this family has and how "loving" they are, WHEN THEY AREN'T THROWING CANS AT EACH OTHER, especially when the cameras are on.

I think it was especially funny when Sarah was "praying" at the RNC and Willow blurted out, "why are you being so phony? we don't do this crap in Alaska!" Those kids see right through their crazy, delusional mother. After seeing the presents they buy her, I can't help but think they are laughing at her behind her back or even in front of her but she's too stupid to catch on.

Krusty, get those meds adjusted!

Anonymous said...

Creepy stalker troll is a weirdo. Get help creepy stalker troll. No one likes you.

Allison said...

Hello Disgusted, glad you asked, little details may be hard to remember the way I"m rolling this out over the weeks.

The CAMPs are first mentioned in Chapter 22 - a group of girls who formed a club Cutest And Most Popular (CAMP). They show up wearing t-shirts reading WBTY (we're better than you). That actually happened when my daughter was in high school. A group of girls who got dance parts in the musical made WBTY t-shirts (my daughter didn't get a dance part).

Allison said...

Duncan and Anon, happy to oblige. I left them for a while because it does lend some insight into the troll. I think 19-20 hours was enough. They are gone.

If you hadn't made the request, I might have left them. IAs I said, I'm happy to oblige.

Allison said...

Hello Anon at 4:59 and 5:02

Your observations on vocabulary are appreciated. It's something I struggled with when I wrote this and continue to struggle with as I edit each week. Before I sent this into e-publishing I will give this more thought. Comment or email me anytime. I welcome the constructive criticism and any specific suggestions. Thanks!