Thursday, October 11, 2012
Creepy Buck Heat -- White Trash In The Snow - Chapter 42 and 43
WHITE TRASH IN THE SNOW
Maple was bored to tears and she didn’t try to hide it. No matter who tried to involve her in discussion, she ignored them. Mashing bits of frosting into the tines of a plastic fork and using it to pick up crumbs scattered around the plate, she grumbled silently, This is stupid. Everybody’s being so phony. When are we going home? She put down the fork, reached under the table and shot off a text to her best friend. Maple could text without looking.
“Isn’t that so, Maple?”
Oh god, spare me. What does she want now? In response to her mother's question, Maple rolled her eyes and sighed heavily. Maple wasn’t going to play the game. She pushed her chair away from the table and headed for the kitchen with her own plate, cup and crumpled napkin, hoping others would take the hint that it was time to clean up and get out. At least one person took the hint - Porshe got up, picked up her own used tableware and Jerrie's, and followed Maple into the kitchen.
“Hey there,” Porshe said.
“Hey,” Maple replied, reluctantly conceding a syllable.
“Why wasn’t the party at your house?” The question was blunt but without malice.
Maple had nothing against Wrangler’s sister. The girl was an innocent, gullible and clueless. A sense of superiority took over, and Maple opened up. “Mom didn’t want the mess. She told Cristol that she’d had a big party for her two years in a row, and she didn’t want to do it again this year so my Grandma offered to have it here.”
Porsche had heard Cristol's version of those previous two parties in October 2005 and October 2006. As the story was told, they were not, definitely not, birthday parties, they were political events. On Cristol’s 15th birthday, thirty or so adult guests gathered at the Saplin house. These political supporters, friends of Rachael and Tad, and church members were invited over because Mrs. S was making the “surprise” announcement that she was going to run for governor. That evening, Cristol and her three closest friends left the adults downstairs and played upstairs with Field’s xBox .The following birthday had been no better. Rachael gave a party to thank all the people who’d helped with her campaign previous 12 months, and then mentioned off-handedly, “Oh, and Cristol turned sixteen today! Let’s everybody sing…” Cristol complained about her parents a lot and Porshe thought most of it was baseless, but the hurt in Cristol's voice when she told these birthday stories was something Porshe had not forgotten. It had tainted her opinion of the new governor.
Even so, Porsche was excited to be sharing an evening with the governor and her family. It was something to brag about on MySpace. She was taking pictures so there'd be proof that she and her family were now part of the elite, even if they really weren’t. Porshe wanted to see more of the house before they had to leave. “Let’s go in the livingroom,” she suggested to Maple. Wrangler called the Heat's house “the museum” because Buck Heat had an unusual collection of hunting trophies and science specimens on display in the front room. This was her turn to see it for herself.
Now, Porsche knew how to handle a gun and she’d seen collections of antlers, horns or pelts, but nothing prepared her for what she saw when Maple pulled back the pocket doors that opened up the dining room and living room. Local wildlife in all sizes stood in the corners, hung on the walls, draped the furniture, and covered spots of the banister and floor. It looks like a freakin’ a taxidermist’s showroom, she thought. The foray into the front room suddenly made the whole evening worth her time. “Dayamn,” she drawled. “ This is amazing.”
Maple had spent as many hours in this house as her own, she was used to fur. But she understood why strangers were usually shocked when they first saw her grandfather's collection stuffed animals, many now considered endangered. “Yup, Grandpa’s amazing. He says this is why he came up here from the outside, to hunt wild game.”
“Awesome,” said Porshe, admiring the mounted moose head.
“Sometimes, when one of us acts up, Grandpa threatens to mount our head on the wall along with the other wild things,” Maple shared, warming up to Porshe. "He tries to sound tough, but he's really an old softy.”
Wrangler came in to the room. “You ready?” he asked. “Mom said we gotta go. Said you have homework.” He crossed the room to look at the black bear. “Did you check this one out, Porsche? It’s a beauty.”
Out of respect for her brother, Porsche gave the animal ten seconds of silent admiration, then she was ready to go. The truth was, the night had been surprisingly stressful and memorizing algebraic theorems actually looked like a good alternative. “Okay, let’s go. Mom’s right about the homework. I’m not like you and Cristol with that homeschooling scam you’re running. I actually have to learn my subjects.
It was basically true. He and Cristol weren’t doing much studying during those daytime hours in her room, hours when they had the whole house to themselves. They had found Field's old school folders, copied much of what he had done for the same teachers, and wrote essays only if they couldn't find an old one of Field's to copy. This was a sweet arrangement. What he and Cristol did during school hours that wasn't from her brother's past, was the sweaty shower-afterward activity which they liked to call “physical education.” Now, that was worth writing an essay every day if he had to.
In the following weeks, Cristol began to dread visits from Grandma and Grandpa Heat. Each time they came over, their fawning and prying was worse than the previous time. Betty Heat was especially annoying.“Are you warm enough? Can’t have you catching pneumonia. What can I get you? Hot cocoa?” Those early questions were tame compared to the progressively personal ones that came as Cristol entered her second trimester.
Today, within five minutes of arrival, Grandma flatly proclaimed “You need a bigger bra,” and before her flustered granddaughter could respond, Betty continued, “Is your mattress supporting you right? That's important. Now that Wrangler has moved in you must need a bigger bed. He’s a big guy, and you’re getting enormous. Your grandfather and I will help you kids with that. We can get you the king size down at Wal-Mart.”
Cristol wanted to cry. She ran up the stairs and locked herself into her room.
Wrangler was number one on Cristol’s speed dial. She pressed the number and paced, waiting for him to answer. But the call went directly into a notifying message that his voice mailbox was full. Hockey practice, she remembered. Damn. He’s way too tied up with hockey. Next year, he’ll have to cut back. He’ll have to help with the baby. I’m not going to let him play community hockey next year. Maybe he won’t even play on the school team. I’ll have to see.
“Cristol!” Grandma Heat’s strong voice rose up from the first floor and penetrated the bedroom. “Cristol! Come down here, I want to show you something.”
“What now?” she wondered out loud. “A deal on maternity bras on the shopping channel?”
The slammed the door was to let Betty know she was on her way but definitely not happy about it. Is there sport in making someone uncomfortable? Is this some sport where grandma scores points for making me turn red or cry?"
The sports analogy caused her grandfather to come to mind. Grandpa is totally annoying, too.
Buck Heat's annoying behaviors were directed at Cristol and Wrangler, too. Every time he came over now, if he didn't see Wrangler, he'd ask for him. Wrangler would appear, reluctantly leaving Cristol's room to find out what Mr. Heat wanted, then Buck would clasp the boy’s shoulder, reach out and grab his right hand, pump it up and down while his dentures slid, and spit out “There’s the man!” Worst of all, he would wink!
Wrangler and Cristol had been talking about it that very afternoon. He said it "creeped him out."
"You're creeped out?" Cristol replied. "You're the lucky one. God, how do you think I feel? Everytime I'm within reach, he-"
She didn't have to finish for Wrangler to know what she was talking about. Buck had developed a new greeting for Cristol, too. Whenever she was close enough, he gave her derrier a spank.
"Yeah, that creeps me out, too," Wrangler said. "Your whole family is creeping me out lately."
She took offense right away. "Oh, really? Then why don't you go home?"
He did, and now she had no one to complain to about Grandma talking about bras and beds and whatever it was she had on her mind now...
She dragged her feet going into the kitchen. "What is it, Grandma?"
"Your Grandpa's here. Give him a hug."