Thursday, November 8, 2012

Bad News from Dr. ABC - Chapters 55 and 56 White Trash in the Snow

Because this novel is rolling out several chapters weekly, I realize it might me helpful if I provide links to smaller characters, places, or events that come back into play at later intervals.  I appreciate all of you that come by to read the latest installments, and I think this will add to your enjoyment.

In Chapter 56 one of the story's smaller characters, Mylene Decker, reappears. If you don't remember  her introduction as a "prayer warrior"  in Chapter 33 , you might enjoy reviewing her inaugural appearance. My Mylene is based on a real character. She is not from Alaska.

Rachael Saplin's favorite beauty salon, "Big Tease," comes up in the first chapter below. Earlier, readers learned that the owner filed a complaint about Jerrie Strauss once upon a time. That story became part of  Chapter 3.

Rachael has a group of friends who call themselves the "Elite Seven."  They grew out of a Junior High group she formed who called themselves CAMPS (Cutest and Most Popular).  For more on that, see Chapter 21. The Elite Seven also had a quick mention in Chapter 24  when Rachael asked for some advice.


by Allison

It was one year from the day Governor Saplin had taken office. In the satellite office that morning, staffers surprised her with a cake and her email filled with friends and political cronies sending good wishes her way. By 2 PM she was ready to go home.
Since becoming governor, she had continued the habit first formed as Mayor of Azzolla  - she ended her workday in mid afternoon. It allowed her to get her hair done regularly at her favorite beauty parlor. The 1950s theme at  “Big Tease” gave her inspiration. Those were America’s best years, and if she ever held a national office, she’d work to take this country back to it’s roots – before political correctness, abortion as a choice, and other nonsense. Whenever she needed a trim or a foil from Andrea at “Big Tease” she would have her appointment secretary find some reason for her to be in Azzolla. Reading to school kids was her preferred spur of the moment “official business.” It was great - kids’ books didn’t have hard words.
Her secretary also made the appointments for the governor to go tanning. Soon, though,  there would be a tanning bed in the mansion and Governor Saplin could keep up dermal appearances without being seen going into “Fake and Bake.” She picked up a pen and made a note on the palm of her hand “Electrical”. It would remind  her to push Tad  to finalize the creative wording on a State voucher that would pay for electrical upgrades necessary to install her bed.
The governor’s hair was falling out of the updo and straggling strands fell in front of her eyes.  She picked up the phone and called her secretary. “See if they can fit me in at Big Tease about four. If they say no, ask for Andrea.”
 Andrea was not only her long trusted hairdresser, she was also a friend and supporter. They both attended the Azzolla Bible Believing Church, children who embarrassed them publically at times, and marital problems. They were never at a loss for conversation while Andrea cut and curled Rachael’s tresses.
Waiting to hear whether Andrea had an opening, the governor relaxed on a red leather sofa and began flipping through a recent copy of her favorite magazine “WHO.” It claimed to be the world’s Leading Tabloid and their slogan “Who cares? WHO cares!” had served them well for three decades. Outrageous covers promised shocking, never-before-told stories about the lives of people with fame, money, and talent, though the talent part was optional. Bored shoppers stuck  in long checkout lines were targeted by the magazine’s advertising department - everyday people whose everyday lives were supposed to be enriched by exclusive stories about “Who did what” “Who said what” “Who wore what and where” “Who hooked up” “Who broke up”  “Who’s pregnant” and “Who’s the daddy?” The governor’s staff made sure the most recent copy of WHO was always in the Governor’s office.
With her rough backwoods upbringing, it was understandable that Rachael had a craving for “real glamour.” A couple years before, she and the whole Elite sisterhood (her closest friends)  had driven two hundred miles on a whim to see a rich and famous movie star hawk a perfume in a city department store.  Tad still didn’t know about that, and there was no reason to tell him. He was critical enough of her stars-in-the-eyes addiction to watching “Inside Edition.” He said it was pathetic how eagerly she lapped up news about East Coast society and West Coast celebrities.
Everyone close to Rachael knows about her addiction to tabloid gossip. A joke among the office staff was that Rachael read only headlines highlighted by them in the newspapers and magazines they put in front of her, yet she read every issue of “WHO” cover to cover. Buck Heat brags of his daughter, “Ever since she was ten, Rachael has read the paper from beginning to end, not skipping a page.”  When they hear that, Sally and Helen want to correct him. “It wasn’t a newspaper, Dad, it was WHO”.’ But they don’t. All the Heats have learned to spin Rachael’s weaknesses into fabricated strengths, and each one has smiled through their recitations of “the Big Four” phony glorifications of the governor which, in no particular order, are: the children are over achievers; the governor can’t tell a lie; she’s not making any money on [fill-in-the-blank]; and she’s a hard worker.
On this December afternoon, the dead bear draped on the back of the sofa looked as if it had more energy than she. Maybe she wouldn’t bother stopping at the salon. She threw the tabloid magazine aside and, again, stringy pieces of hair fell in front of face. She sighed, and pushed the strands behind her ear, leaned back and closed her eyes. Crap, I really need to get my hair washed and cut. Gonna have to make myself do this. This morning, though her hair needed washing, she’d chosen to hit the “snooze” bar. Now she was paying for it.  I need a Red Bull, she thought, and she got up and went to a mini-fridge hidden inside a credenza. She was addicted to the sugar packed energy drink, and told herself, as she had many times before, that she needed to break the habit. I must find a healthier drink. Maybe I’ll try some of that $40 dollar a bottle fruit juice, that stuff some of the church members sell.
Every Monday night, like clockwork, there would be a message on the Saplin home phone from Mylene Decker. Her annoying voice issuing yet, another invitation to a home demonstration for Luna Moi, an expensively labeled bottle containing 21oz. of  “God’s energy drink.” Rachael suspected it was a pyramid scam that was running amuck among believers. Mylene Decker was vocal about her plan to become a Luna Moi millionaire (all glory to God, of course). “Flippin’ ridiculous”, she’d told Tad, “Here’s this Mylene woman, all fat and smug,  trying to convince people this drink is healthy. Does she think we are stupid?”
Tad was skeptical about it, too, but his reservations were about the pious doing-it-for-the Lord claim that the irritating huckster was using.  “How, exactly, does it bring glory to the Lamb to fleece His sheep? You Christians are always putting down the secular and repackaging it with a god-stamp of approval to sell back to each other. Christian rock, Christian make-up, Christian diets…whatever the trend, there’s a knockoff  version for Christians.” Rachael wanted to take him to task for the slur, but she couldn’t find any flaws with his examples. “And Christian politicians, now there’s any oxymoron for you,” he added. 
“Shut up, Tad.” She said, not because she understood the word he’d used, but because she was pretty sure it was a personal dig.
Waiting to hear if she had a hair appointment yet,  Rachael had a new thought about Luna Moi?  Why not try it?
Why not? Well, it’s expensive stuff…but if that woman, that Mylene Decker gives me the stuff at no cost, Tad would set a bottle out in plain sight in all these offices, and even serve it to visitors. It would be free publicity for the stuff. I won’t actually sell it, but I’ll get her to provide cases of the stuff free for my whole family. Mom and dad, too.  Having been elected on a platform of ethical reform, she had to be careful not to promote products using the governor’s office, so Tad would be in charge of handling it. If her favorite ethics complainer caught on and wanted to file a complaint, let her. Luna Moi would get lots of publicity and it would be found to be another frivolous complaint. The governor would get sympathy, once again a victim of malicious nonsense. Oh yeah, I’ll give that woman a call tonight, she thought.
Pushing hair behind her ear one more time, she got up and went to the outer office to see what was taking her secretary so long to make that appointment. The outer office was empty.  That girl’s in the bathroom more often than Cristol, she thought, irritated. She noticed a pile of new mail on the desk and shuffled through, pulling a new issue of WHO with a cover picture of a nineteen year old pop star rumored to be pregnant.
 What’s with these girls? I didn’t get pregnant until I was out of college. This kid here probably also thinks she’s ready to raise a kid, and again, just like Cristol and that Valley Trash boy.  How can Tad and I convince those kids that the baby should be adopted when teen celebrities make it look so attractive to have babies?
She flipped to the article inside and and became even more angry as she read it. This no-talent girl has a condo, designer clothes, an expensive car, travel, glamour. It’s a terrible message to other girls.  When real teenaged girls have babies, girls like Cristol, it isn’t like this at all.
She took the magazine back to her office and opened it up.  This time, she noticed how much that girl on the cover looked like Cristol.  She closed her eyes and prayed softly, “God, you gotta get Cristol to agree to lettin’ me and Tad adopt the baby. I’ll be doin’ my part again tonight. Sure would help if you just give her a nudge, too.”
With her eyes still closed, she imagined a cover of WHO  that announced “Governor Saplin and Husband Welcome New Additon.” She clearly saw a picture of herself and Tad showing off a blanket-wrapped baby under the “WHO cares!” banner.
“Oh my God,” she said, and her thoughts ran wildly ahead. I wonder if ‘WHO’ would do a story about me and Tad adopting a baby? Bet they’d pay a lot of money for an interview. We’d be on the cover for sure. It would sell to all the real Christians, bless their hearts. Suddenly, everyone would know who I am and I’d get interviewed by Oprah and then when Hilary gets nominated the Republicans will be looking for a woman to run with…”
“Excuse me, Governor. Dr. Barten-Curtain is on the phone for you.”
What? Abigail Barten-Curtain? Dr. ABC?"  Rachael still tired and preoccupied hadn’t even noticed that the phone had rung.  She went to her desk and pressed the speaker button. “Hi Abigail, what’s up?”
“Rachael, I have the results. Can you come in so we can discuss them?”
 If I do that, I can’t get my hair done, thought Rachael.
“Hey, yeah, well, I’m really busy today. Tryin’ to wrap some things up because I’ve got an interview on Monday with a national fashion magazine. It might take all day. Publicity is very important, you know-”
“This is important, too, Rachael. I can talk to Cristol without you, and I will if you don’t come, but I really think you should be here.  Office hours officially end at five, and she’s coming at six fifteen.”
Her friend was pushing too hard. It was irritating. “Did Cristol ask you to call me? Why should Cristol need her mommy just to hear what the due date is?“
“I’m the one suggesting you come in Rachael.”
“Well thanks, ABC, but I know what you’re going to say. I’ve been through this four times. You are going to say boy or girl, so many weeks along, so many pounds and ounces, and a due date of February twenty ninth. It’s very nice to be invited, but, really, I am just swamped here at work.”
Rachael noticed one of her nails was chipped. She pulled out the middle desk drawer and rummaged for an emery board, and put the doctor on speakerphone. I hope the nail tech still on duty when I get to Big Tease.
“I respect that your time is limited, but this isn’t about you.”
“Ya know, if she can’t have a nice little talk with the doctor about an ultrasound, how’s the whole pant and push thing gonna work out for her?”  Rachael filed her index finger as she blathered on, “I was meaning to ask you to talk to her about something else. I want her to let Tad and I adopt the baby.  Could you do that today, too? I try, but she doesn’t listen. Besides, I hardly have time to breathe, so I sure can’t sit down and have a long talk with her. Not that she’d do that, anyway. It’s so hard right now with the freakin’ legislative season getting underway and the holidays and here it is almost Christmas, with  an open house on Saturday, and so much travel in the next few months, and this interview coming at the worst of all possible times.  Oh, that reminds me, I need another prescription for sleeping pills. My refills have run out.”  Nail finished, she pressed the speaker button again, and put the receiver back up to her ear.
The intense monologue fueled by Red Bull and insufficient sleep continued until, finally, some jumbled words indicated she was nearing the end. “But, again, if therefore you give me one good reason, too, why I shouldn’t expect Cristol to, with all respect to you, to handle this herself, perhaps, then I will come in.”
“Rachael, listen carefully. I’m only telling you this because Cristal signed a HIPAA release. The sonogram indicates the possibility of complications. I’m going to advise Cristol to have further testing.”
“Is she losing the baby?” Rachael experienced a fleeting moment of  relief.  Quickly it dissipated and was replaced by a shot of shame. Then fear reared its head and took over the vast airspace of her mind. “What about Cristol? Is she in danger? I’m coming! I can be there in an hour!”
“No! Rachael, stop! Listen to me. Cristol is fine. Just fine. ” She gave Rachael a chance to absorb that and then said, “And the baby isn’t in any trouble, either…”
“But, you said…”
“I said there is a serious situation and that I’m offering you the opportunity to be here for your daughter when I talk with her and explain it to her.”
Seething from perceived disrespect, Rachael let the doctor have it. “ABC, I can’t believe you are treating me this way, holding out on me. And after all I’ve done for you! Have you forgotten - Doctor of the Year? And the appointment to…that, oh, whatever. Tell me what’s going on. You said Cristol signed that paper, so let’s hear it!”
“Rachael, I wanted you to come into the office to hear this, but because you insist, I will tell you now. I’m going to recommend that Cristol agree to undergo amniocentesis. There are some risks involved, including early labor, but I am of the belief that those risks are minor compared to the importance of being prepared for an at risk delivery.”
“At risk? But, but…you said she was okay!”
“I believe tests will show evidence of an extra chromosome.”
“You mean…wait, isn’t that Down's Syndrome?”
“Yes, Trisomy 21, it's commonly known as Down Syndrome. ”
The words felt like stones being thrown to shatter her icy heart. Rachael felt the pain of sharp shards.
“Oh God, help us,” she gasped.

In the four days since receiving the news, Cristol had been dealing with it pretty much alone. She had started an argument with Wrangler over his finishing off a half-full box of Fiddle Faddle, and sent him back to his mother’s. Staying in her room, she told Pride the “mono” was making her especially sick, and she banned Maple from her room for borrowing a sweater without permission. Her mom and dad had made cameo appearances, usually together and she let them hug her, say they were sorry, and assure her that whatever she decided to do they would back her up.
When they left the room last night, after once again pledging unconditional support, Cristol had sworn under her breath. “Fuck them. I know what they’re really saying. There’s no way I’m letting anyone kill my baby. No fucking way.”
Cristol loved the baby inside her. Okay, he would have challenges (that’s the word the doctor used, and it didn’t sound so terrible). She still rocked and sang lullabies to him before she went to bed and she still clipped coupons for diapers and formula. It was going to be hard, but God would help her through.
Cristol wanted to be the best mommy ever. Realistically, she knew if she were ten years older and had a job and a house it would be easier, but while he was an infant those things wouldn’t matter. He wouldn’t know what he didn’t have.
All the motherhood books said  they needed to bond during those first weeks when both would be exhausted by a consuming schedule of bathing, feeding, changing, and napping. It was important, that bonding stuff, so she and her baby would bond like super glue to…umm, to… . whatever. Before this baby was put into anyone else’s care, she and her baby would bond. And Wrangler, oh yeah, the baby would spend time with him, too.
Dr. Barten-Curtain had given provided her with a stack of material to bring home and read. She’d read it all, and so much more. It made her wonder why, out of the sheer numbers of women under 30 who have babies,  God chose her to be a mom of an “angel child.” Chosen – that was the way she wanted to look at it. It made her feel special.
From the first meeting with the doctor, through all of her reading, she was assured over and over that this diagnosis wasn’t her fault. Nor was it Wrangler’s fault. It wasn’t due to not taking vitamins, it wasn’t due to the drugs they had done, it wasn’t from alcohol or smoking or any mixtures of the above. No one was to blame. It just happens. And she could have more children in the future without fear that this was going to happen again. Those were the positive messages. On medical websites, she learned that children with Down Syndrome have widely different degrees of impairment and achievement.  Some information she found was too technical, making her bewildered and scared. Other information was personal, posted on personal blogs and funny, sweet videos posted on YouTube by proud parents. Until then, she’d never done real research, not even for school. Games, email, MySpace and shopping had been the extent of her use of the computer. She couldn’t believe the amount of information available. There was a world of information – no, a universe - at her fingertips and she ravenously sought and devoured data, studies, and antidotes. It was the most intellectually curious she had ever been, and the most inspired.
I’m going to be an expert by the time the baby is born. Maybe I’ll become a pediatric nurse like Aunt Helen. She pictured herself in a smock with cartoon characters on it, and a stethoscope around her neck. 
I could help other parents whose children have disabilities. I’ll talk about it with Aunt Helen. We'll have lots of time to talk  when I move in with her after Christmas.


Dis Gusted said...

surprising that Cristol doesn't know anything about DS children as there seems to be a lot of them in her family.

Her mother displayed the same ignorance. Yet, the world met "the real thing" at a book signing.

Anonymous said...

And to think that poor little guy is doomed to live with this family. These little guys require so much attention and therapy. Everyone is gallivanting around the globe for their own gratification and he's left with nannies. I just hope they know what they are doing and working with him. Just wish he could always have his glasses and hearing aids on. Any child that strikes out at his "mother" has issues that a child of that age shouldn't have...but perhaps with a total stranger or one that has ignored his pleas for love. Child abuse? or lack of love? Children bond with their mother by holding, feeding, nursing, playing, reading, rocking to sleep and loving rubs/pats on the back. So much for bonding. Then again, some people just don't bond with anyone, do they. A sociopath comes to mind.

Anonymous said...

Editing suggestion -- in prior chapters Cristol had done what she would consider 'real research" on the internet before this regarding pregnancy.