Have a fun Friday and a wonderful weekend.
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Like Father, Like Son? White Trash in the Snow -- Chapter 83, 84, 85, 86
Welcome back fiction readers. Today, we find out some of what Field and Tad have been up to. It might be summed up by the phrase a certain ditsy politician used when another ridiculously unqualified person, a male running in the Republican primaries, was accused of sexual harassment; "Boys Will Be Boys." This gives me an opportunity to tell new readers (and remind the rest of you) that Shailey Tripp's book Boys Will Be Boys: Media, Morality, and the Todd Palin Shailey Tripp Sex Scandal, is a good read, and it is NOT fiction. It's available on Amazon.com, unlike White Trash in the Snow, which is only available here, at The Palin Place.
Have a fun Friday and a wonderful weekend.
Have a fun Friday and a wonderful weekend.
WHITE TRASH IN THE SNOW
CHAPTER EIGHTY THREE
The previous summer, while his longtime girlfriend Dee Dee Hoofilter was working in the capital and saving for a semester abroad, Field had been back in Azzolla partying and skipping out on his remedial classes at the community college. He had also been seeing a local girl, Larissa Pellitiere.
Like everything else their kids were doing that summer, Rachael and Tad hadn’t paid any attention to their son’s love life. They were too distracted with their own activities. Tad’s summer business had not performed up to expectations. He had been fishing up north until mid-August. Meanwhile, Rachael had capitalized on opportunities to make friends and allies in national politics. Governor Saplin left the state three times for conferences between June and August and in July, she had visited troops in Kuwait.
Rachael heard about Field’s indiscretions, though. Cristol, angry with. Field for raiding a stash of vodka she was saving for a party, got even by calling their mother.
“…and her name is Larissa. She’s got a reputation.” Cristol knew exactly how to play her mother.
“What kind of reputation,” her mother asked.
“She gets drunk and sleeps around,” Cristol said.
Now, Rachael accepted that “boys will be boys” but she also believed that boys became men when they served in the military. She and Tad were going to have another talk about that, it was time for a game plan. But, alone and in a hotel room, she wasn’t up to it that night. “Cristol, tell your brother I’m going to talk to him when I get home.” And if he refuses to stop seeing this town tart, what will I say?
She picked up the remote and turned on the television. I don't know. I’ll think about it tomorrow.
Rachael didn’t think about it again until the day she got home, and only because her father brought it up when she showed up to get Pride, who had spent the week with her grandparents. Buck knew the timing was poor and all of them were tired, but because his daughter the governor was going out of town in another day or two, he decided it shouldn’t wait.Buck Heat heard about Larissa from one of his retired friends.
He waited until Pride climbed into the car and he was sure her attention was on electronic things – her iPod and a handheld game – and then he gave Rachael a replay of the gossip going around about Field.
“Where did you hear that?” she asked, scowling.
Buck was slightly offended by her tone, and snapped back. “Well I didn’t make it up! It came from a friend of mine, one of the guys at the coffee shop. He thought I should know what my grandson is up to . Headed for more trouble.” He pushed on his dentures with his thumb then wiped his thumb on his plaid shirt. “So, do you want the details?”
“Thanks, but no thanks, Dad. But I do want to know where he heard these things which are not true, these stories which, of course, are only meant to hurt me and are lies from the pit of hell.”
Buck shook his head. “You can use that churchy talk with your mother but it don’t work on me. My friend, he had a good source. He and his wife live next door to Myleen Decker, that woman who gives you that fruit drink stuff. And Myleen and the wife, my friend’s wife, they was talkin’ down at the beauty parlor and Rev. Hoofilter’s daughter came up, and that Decker woman said Dee Dee Hoofilter’s boyfriend had taken up with some other girl. And the whole bunch of them women sittin’ under hairdryers, they all got to talkin’ about this Larissa gal and Field cheatin’ on Dee Dee. And everyone knows Field and Dee Dee have been together since they were, what, maybe thirteen? Well, anyway, everyone knows. And everyone loves the Reverend and Mrs. Hoofilter. And because Field is the Governor’s son-“
“I’ve heard enough. Pride and I are leaving now,” Rachael said. She went to her side and opened the driver’s door. Pointing her finger at Buck, she said “I don’t care if you call him a friend. This is the stuff that fries my fritters. When will people flippin’ learn to leave my kids alone?”
“ Rachael,,” Buck said. “Why don’t you have Tad talk to Field? That husband of yours, he knows all about hiding, er, um, I mean, about being careful. He can give him a lesson on being discreet. ”
Rachael closed the car door so that Pride couldn’t hear this. “What are you talking about Dad? When has Tad been discreet? About what?”
“Well, all the time, of course. Like with the stuff we’re trying to do for Sally. He made those calls about Ed and let those people know what you expect and he did all of it without there being any way to implicate you. He’s real careful like that. It’s a gift, that’s what it is. A gift. He can cross the line and leave no tracks. That’s what I meant. He’s discreet, and you should thank him for that.”
Rachael thought for a moment. She didn’t want to have this conversation right now. “Okay, right. He’s discreet about the Ed stuff we’re doing. Okay, I’ll ask him to talk to Field. Gotta go.” Quickly, she got into the car and backed out. As she drove away, she continued to wonder, Is that really all Dad was saying about Tad?
And that Mylene Decker! I wonder what else she tells people about my family?
CHAPTER EIGHTY FOUR
Before Rachael or Tad got around to talking with Field their son became a new enlistee in the United States Army. In the months that had passed since then, they hadn’t given Larissa a second thought, and apparently, Field forgot about her, too.
Dee Dee was the only person who heard from Field very often. His godfather’s parents, Lydia and Kenneth Krebs Sr., came in second; they heard from him a couple times a month. Lydia Krebs was faithful to pass on information to Tad and Rachael – “a report from the Field” she called it, hoping to cover the awkwardness of the situation with a little levity.
Rachael was hurt. Any mother would be. And, she was a little embarrassed. “He probably thinks it’s easier to reach you two than it is to reach me – a busy governor – which, of course, is him being thoughtful not to interrupt important business, even though, also, too, I would take his call anytime! Anytime at all. And you should tell him, that, Lydia. He’s tryin’ to be thoughtful, that’s what it is. Like Tad. He is his father’s son. He should call him, also, too. But I can understand him not trying to call his father. We never know exactly where Tad is at any given time. Field’s job is hard. He hasn’t got time to try to track down his father. Tad – I mean, Field’s father - has a goofy schedule.”
Whenever she talked to Lydia, Rachael overused references to Tad being Field’s father. Tad and Kenneth Jr, for the most part, had made peace long ago, but it's not as easy for women. The truth, as each woman understood it, was nestled inside each of them, nurtured and protected. King Solomon wouldn’t have been able to resolve their differences any better. All the adults – Tad and Rachael, Kennth Jr., (Kenny) and his parents Lydia and Kenneth.- held on to their rights and their place in Field’s life. It was an emotional arm wrestling match that never ended. There were no winners, no takedown, no surrender. To the credit of everyone, the co-joined families made the best of their relationship. The men were socially respectful toward each other, Rachael pushed the Krebs only so far, and Lydia always turned the other cheek.
And so, it was with reservation that Lydia Krebs called Governor Saplin that day in April, 2008.
“Rachael, sorry to bother you at work. Are you sitting down?” Lydia immediately regretted using that clumsy, trite phrase.
The Governor panicked. “What is it? Did something happen to Field?”
“Oh, no! No, not Field. He’s fine. Just fine.” Lydia was in a tough spot. If Rachael got too upset, it wouldn’t be good for the baby, but…
“Praise God! So what is it, then? You never call me when I’m out of town. Or, rather, when I’m working from this god-forsaken capital district. What were the forefather’s thinking when they chose this isolated –“”
“Rachael, I called about Larissa.”
“Who?” Rachael asked.
“Larissa Pellitiere, she’s-“
“I know who she is. She was Field’s summer fling, and that’s putting it nicely. I saw her once, from a distance, never met her.“
It had been the day the First Family made their appearances at the State Fair. The Governor been walking and talking and shaking hands when she noticed a young couple locked in a steamy embrace behind some carnival vendor’s rig. She continued giving an old couple her “personal attention” while peripherally sneaking peeks at the lusty, youthful indiscretions that were inappropriate for public places. They stopped, apparently for the girl to light up a cigarette, and Rachael was horrified to recognize that it was her own son who had been practically having sex in public! Or at least that was how she described it later to her sister Sally.
The memories of that day triggered a steamy warmth inside her shirt. She would not admit, even to herself, the real cause of her sticky discomfort. “Damn,” she groused as she readjusted the firm padding she’d chosen that morning to represent her supposed stage of maternity. “So, Lydia, why are you calling about that girl? Does she want a reference or something? ‘Cause if she does, she’s not getting it. The only personal reference I can give her is that, personally, I think she’s a shameless little tramp.”
“Rachael,” Lydia interrupted. “If you only saw her once, and that was from a distance, then you wouldn’t know-“
“Oh, I know enough. It’s so doggone bold of her to ask you to get me to give her a letter of recommendation. Disrespectful, too.
"She doesn't want a reference. I wish it were that simple." Lydia sai
“Wait! I bet she wants a job! Of course. Well, I don’t have any positions available.”
“Rachael, Larissa’s having a baby.” Lydia said. “She’s due any time now.”
“Well that’s not my problem. No wonder she can’t find a job. Why would she even want to start a new job right now? Tell her I said she should just get government assistance like all the other kids do.”
Lydia was finding this even harder than she expected. She gave Rachael the news without any further preamble. “She says it’s Field’s. Field is the father.”
“What?” Rachael screeched into the phone. “No! It can’t be true. She’s lying.”
“Take it easy. You need to stay calm. Think of your own baby.”
“I’m fine.” Rachael’s thoughts were racing as she again, rearranged the pillow under her jacket. “God damn.”
"I know. It's a shock. When she called and said she thinks it's his -"
“Wait a minute, she thinks it’s Field’s? She isn’t sure? What kind of girl isn’t sure who the father of her child is? Didn't I tell you? She's a tramp.”
Lydia repressed some clever responses and gave her a straight answer. "Whatever she is, she's pregnant. Right after she called, Field called me, he swears it can’t be his. But Larissa is going to have a paternity test, and before that even happens, I wanted you to hear it from a friend." She paused. "Are you okay?”
Lydia has always been Rachael’s supporter, encourager, and fan. Years ago, she was the director of the Miss Azzolla pageant and had recruited Rachael to compete. Not quite twenty years ago, Lydia and her husband had been the only people their son Kenny had confided in, upset that a pregnant Rachael married Tad Saplin. And over the last fifteen years, Lydia Krebs had worked tirelessly on Rachael’s campaigns. Rachael needed Lydia on her team of supporters. They both knew it.
“I’m fine,” Rachael said with a sigh. “I’ve got bigger things to think about. But, Lydia, I really think Larissa is trying to trick Field into marriage. Don't you think she seems the type?”
Again, Lydia found the hypocrisy amazing. “Let’s not go there. Field’s not going to marry her right now, he’s in training. Then he’ll go overseas. If a paternity test says this is his child, he’ll have time to figure out what’s best for him and the child. If it’s not his baby, Larissa will be out of his life. Time will work it out.”
“You know, Lydia. I wouldn’t be surprised if Larissa isn’t really pregnant. Just faking it to get Field to marry her.”
“That’s nonsense. You’ve watched too much trashy television.
“Oh, she could do it if she wanted to. Some pillows, an empathy belly…”
Shit! What am I saying?
“Oh, I guess you’re right, Lydia. Damn TV shows. It’s the girls that watch that stuff, not me. I’m too busy. But, still, ya’ know, if the tube’s blaring away, and I’m in the house, that is what it is which made me aware of empathy bellies and breast pumps and such, of course.”
Breast pumps? This is getting weirder by the minute. “Rachael, you sound tired. Why don’t you call your doctor? Maybe you need a little time off?”
“What I need, Lydia, is a call from my son. It’s been two months. Maybe now I know why.”
“Let’s look at the bright side. I know that becoming Great grandma Lydia wouldn’t be the worst thing in my life, and being Grandma Rachael wouldn’t be-”
“ I can’t think about this right now,” Rachael interrupted. “It’s a waste of time. I can almost guaranteee that girl is not pregnant.”
“I saw her, Rachael, and no one in their right mind would fake being eight months pregnant. She’s even bigger than you. And I got to feel him kick. Can’t fake that.”
“No,” the governor agreed, “can’t fake that.”
Lydia put on a smile and hoped it translated over the phone. “Remember, babies are blessings, no matter what. Let’s just let these kids work it out.”
“Well, okay,” said Rachael. “And if she needs – hold on! What does she want; what did she tell you to ask me for?”
“ She just wanted you and me and Tad to know. Because…”
“Is it money she wants? Because if it is, we don’t have it. We aren’t rich.”
“No, she never said anything about money. Not a word. Field has told her about his, umm, his paternal situation, and how hard it is, and she wants her son to know all his grandparents, and great-grandparents, and that’s it, Rachael. She just wants her baby to have a family.”
“I’m nobody’s grandmother! And he told her what? Field has one father, and it’s Tad!”
“I’m worried about you, Rachael. Let’s stop talking about this now. Think of your baby. Stay calm.”
“My baby’s fine,” Rachael snapped and again shifted her padding.
Lydia needed to hang up. “Let’s see what the paternity test says. That will settle this. I’m going to hang up now. Please check in with your doctor. Okay?”
Rachael was more than ready to end the call, too.. “Yup, sure, alright.”
“I’ll check in on you in a few days.”
Regaining a degree of composure, Rachael said, “I’m sorry I snapped at you. You’re a true friend, Lydia. And don’t worry, I’ll be fine. My baby’s fine. Really. Just fine. Bye now.”
Lydia stared at the disconnected phone. “Wow, I owe Tad an apology. I thought he was exaggerating when he said Rachael’s hormones were making her “even more wacko than usual.”
CHAPTER EIGHTY FIVE
Lydia Krebs quietly took in the sad scene at her kitchen table. Tad Saplin was sitting across from her, his red rimmed eyes testified of his inner torment, and his hands, wrapped around a coffee mug, trembled slightly. She poured herself another cup and added a splash to his, though he’d hardly taken a sip.
The gravity of what he had disclosed hung in the air.
“Tad, you’ve got to tell her. She has a right to know.”
“I can’t. I don’t know how.”
“Do you want me to help you? Is that why you’re here? If that’s what you want, I’ll go with you when you tell her.”
“I thought maybe you could tell her while I’m up north. You know, give her time to cool down before she sees me. Maybe that would be easier for her.”
Easier for you is more like it, Lydia thought. And she wasn’t going to let him get away with it.“Tad Saplin, don’t make me think you’re a coward. Rachael is your wife and she deserves to hear this from you.”
Tad knew she was right. He poured cream into his coffee and watched it swirl. He didn’t even like cream. He liked his coffee black and strong.
He finally looked up. Just as he did he caught a change in her eyes. They softened. “I’m not going to judge you,” she said. “ You two have overcome things that would have split up other couples. You guys will get through this somehow.”
He thought back to the earliest days of his marriage to Rachael. “I’ve always forgiven her! And I’ve loved Field. I’m not asking any more of her than what I have done myself. Nothing more!” His eyes begged her to agree.
She nodded gently, then took a sip of coffee. He pushed his drink away, folded his arms on the table, and started in again. “It’s no excuse, I’m not saying it is. But, still…”
Lydia patted his forearm. All those years ago, Tad had accepted her own grandson, her own flesh and blood, as his son. In a way, she owed him. Now she could do something to balance the scales. Lydia could accept Tad for the weak man that he was, be his friend, and help him face the consequences.
“Rachael is in for a shock, and at first, she’s going to be very hurt. Unfortunately, the timing couldn’t be worse. Last time I talked to her she sounded very tired. Very stressed. Lord, Tad, here she is, at her age she's going to have another baby, and she’s about to learn there’s a half-sibling being born in another town!”
Briefly, Tad considered telling Lydia the whole truth. The Calc-is-Cristol’s-kid-and-Rachael-isn’t-really-pregnant truth. But that would complicate things even more. Lydia did not make the list of “those who need to know.” Tad squirmed. Lydia interpreted it as remorse.
“If things get too emotional when you tell her, she might need to get to the doctor fast. And that’s a good reason to have someone with her when you tell her. I’m thinking that someone should be Dr. ABC. When is Rachael’s next appointment? Maybe you should talk to Dr. Q, tell her what’s going on. Abigail could help mediate, she works with families in crisis all the time. She will probably agree that we should break the news to Rachael there in the office..”
There was a long pause while Tad scrambled to come up with an excuse why there weren’t any doctor visits scheduled. “Ummm. I think it’s in four weeks. I can’t wait that long.”
“A month? No, Tad, she’s probably seeing the doctor weekly at this stage. Or she will be soon. Find out. Talk to the doctor.”
“And remember to suggest that I be there, too. My presence will remind Rachael about Field, you accepting him as your own. Not a lot of men would have done that.”
“Don’t think I haven’t thought of that.”
He shrugged and looked toward the window. The the afternoon was waning. The sky had grown dark. He took a deep breath. “I love him, Lydia. He’s my kid. MY kid. Legally and,” his right fist thumped his chest twice, “ and right here.”
“You are a good man, Tad Saplin. I’ve grown to love you like another son.” She got up and went around the table to him. He stood up and they hugged.
“You’ve been a good dad to my grandson. I’ll do whatever I can to …”
“You don’t owe me anything, or Rachael. None of this is your fault. You’ve always been there for Field. You’ve done so much for Rachael, too,” he pulled his cap out of his back pocket and held it with both hands. “Thanks, Lydia. I’ve gotta go now.”
“Promise me you’ll call Abigail Barten-Curtain and set it up. I’ll be there.” He nodded and closed the door behind him. Before he got off the porch, Lydia had opened it up again. “None of my business, Tad, but I’d like to know. Is it a boy or girl? Do you know?”
Tad brightened. “A boy!” he said, “maybe he’ll look like me.”
CHAPTER EIGHTY SIX
Less than a week later, Rachael was summoned by Dr. Barten-Curtain and learned of Tad’s most recent affair and the pending birth of his son. Tad’s real son, but not her son. Lydia Krebs was there to provide moral support (an oxymoron if ever there was one).
Tad was visibly upset. He said little, but was embarrassed, ashamed, and disappointed in himself. He used to think he was better than her, she was the one who had cuckholded him at least twice during their marriage. Now she knew he was no better than she. He was human, too. He gave in to temptation. Another round round of infidelity. They would survive, as long as they agreed, again, to work on the marriage. At least this time there wouldn’t be any consequences that would have to be put through college. Rachael’s tubes were tied.
Lydia and Abigail agreed that their friend took it surprisingly well. She blurted out “How could you? How could you do this to me?” But, immediately she stopped. The other women didn’t know why, or what she’d done to calm herself, but they admired her for it.
Actually, it was an old saying that stopped Rachael from a full-blown rant. She saw her hand pointing at Tad and remembered that “When you point a finger at someone else the other three point right back at you.” Tad could bring up her own indiscretions in front of her two friends! To avoid that, she uncharacteristically shut up and sat down.
Dr. Barten-Curtain fearing Rachael had gone into shock, had her lay down. Her blood pressure was only slightly elevated. That, in itself was puzzling. Dr. Barten-Curtain had expected the news to have had a greater effect on the governor. She’d been expecting some screaming and crying, maybe a flung object and threat of divorce, and an increased heart rate. None of that happened.
Rachael never for a moment considered divorce. Nor would she make her husband run a gauntlet of emotional punishment. There simply wasn’t time nor energy. Calc was closer to release every day, the charade of pretending to be pregnant was a lot of work, and, most importantly, there was the VP candidacy to work on. Absolutely nothing could distract her from that- not infidelity, not infants, not anything.
“So disappointed in you, Tad,” she said. “But, what’s done is done, let’s put this behind us quickly and move on.”
“Guys,” Lydia said. “You’re going to get through this. As they say, life happens.”
“Ha! Right. Thanks to Tad, life is happening inside some other woman. I’m tellin’ ya, it’s a good thing I’m pro-life, or I’d kill him.” Rachael pounded out a snappy rhythm on her stomach. Pat-a-pat-a-ping, pat-a-pat-a-ping.
Dr. Barten-Curtain flinched at what could have been a a dead giveaway that there was no real baby under that maternity top. She stole a look at Lydia who did not appear to have noticed the odd bongo-belly-drumming. Thank God, she though, But Rachael must be more careful. My reputation is tied to that imaginery unbilical cord.
Lydia was absorbed with wonder at how well it went. “There’s a melancholy sweetness to all this, much like an O. Henry story,” she said, and the doctor agreed, it certainly had O. Henry elements.
Rachael misunderstood. She thought they were talking about an old comic strip, one with a funny-looking bald-headed kid. “There is nothing funny about this!” she snapped. “Tad, let’s go home.”
She stormed out, and Tad shuffled after.