Thursday, February 28, 2013
Not quite the final four - White Trash in the Snow Chapter 100, 101, 102, and 103
Hello friends. This is the next-to-last installment of my novel, White Trash in the Snow. This book was written during free time as I could find it and it took me about one year. I finished in August, 2010. A year and two months later I began writing this blog and after 80 posts in about six months, I had to cut back and tackle personal and family challenges. Big challenges. That was when I began publishing the book that next week will be fully released. Thank you for following the story of the fictional Saplin family and thank you for catching some of my typos and mistakes. Your greetings and comments have buoyed me, and repaid me for my weekly efforts. I feel we have been a team.
Next week will not be good bye. It will only be "the end" of a book. The blog will have another metamorphosis. Can't say yet exactly what it will turn into. Please stay tuned.
By the way, I have used very few real names, but the actor Colleen Boag is a young woman of my acquaintance and the two movies mentioned (Wrangler likes them) are available from Amazon or for rent through Blockbuster. Bled White and Plastic are independent films from the same director, Jose Gomez, also an acquaintance. Your support, whether it's renting, buying or even if in the form of a "like" on Facebook, would be a wonderful way to give encouragement to some talented and hardworking young people in a very competitive field. Colleen also has a blog. If you check out Fear of Flying or her Facebook page, let her know you're a friend of Allison.
WHITE TRASH IN THE SNOW
CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED
Wrangler poured himself a bowl of generic frosted flakes, doused them in milk and set them on the kitchen table. Returning the milk to the refrigerator, he grabbed the quart of orange juice and was ready to take a swig straight from the carton when his sister walked in.
“Don’t or I’ll tell Mom,” she threatened like an eight year old.
“And I’ll deny it,” he shot back in kind.
“You’re such a baby. Grow up.”
“Just sayin’, you need to start acting right so’s when you have a son, you won’t let him drink out of the carton. ”
“Yeah? Well, I don’t have a son. ” He put the juice back on the shelf and slammed the refrigerator door.
“But before you do - “
“SHUT UP!” God, he thought, Cristol was right. His mom and Porsche don’t know when to shut up.
Porshe stood wide eyed and motionless except for a trembling lip and wet lashes splashing in pools of tears. Wrangler wanted to cry, too. “Sorry,” he began, “This isn’t your fault.” He sat down and shoveled cereal into his mouth. She stood over him.
“You know, Wrangler, you’ve been real jumpy since people found out about, ummm, about those plans…”
He raised an eyebrow and kept eating.
“… and uh, maybe, um, maybe you and Cristol aren’t ready, you know, maybe you should wait..”
He stopped shoveling, finished chewing and then asked. “Did you come in here to get breakfast?”
“Yes,” she answered.
“Then go get it.”
“Fine,” she said, mistaking it for an invitation. She fixed a bowl of frosted cereal for herself, and added two teaspoons of sugar. “So,” she said as she pulled out a chair, “I can’t wait to be an auntie.”
“Will you just sit down and shut up?” Wrangler snapped. It was a crude phrase he’d picked up at the Saplin house. Someone there was always telling somebody else to ‘sit down and shut up.’ In some ways, he was becoming one of them.
But Porsche was not a “sit down and shut up” kind of girl. She was stubborn, and she was smart, and she almost always spoke her mind. Her smarts were not Harvard scholar level smarts, but she scored solidly in the average IQ range, a good twenty points above anyone else in her family. “You and Cristol are going to get married some day. That makes us almost in-laws.” She took out a spoonful of her breakfast and talked through the chewing. “And it makes Calc my baby brother-in-law. When will you take us in-laws over there to see the baby?”
“In-laws? To Calc?”
“Yeah, almost anyway. Pretty soon we’re going to be related.”
Wrangler snorted. “Don’t bet on it. Cristol and I had a fight last night.”
“Another fight? You guys need to grow up.” It was out before she thought about it, telling her brother again that he was not mature enough to be thinking about having a baby. He looked very angry and she hurried to smooth things over. “Sorry, I just meant that you two fight an awful lot. But it never lasts ‘cause you two are crazy about each other. By tomorrow whatever you had a fight about will be forgotten. Like always.”
She changed the subject, something she thought was safer– “Is Calc cute? Who does he look like? Mom says babies looks change quickly; that’s one reason we really should get to see him soon. Before he changes. He’s gonna be my baby brother and I want to know all about him. How he looks. How he looks when he cries. And when he sleeps. And –“
“God, Porsche, give it a break.”
“I’ve never had a baby in my family. Hey, can you tell he has Downs Syndrome?”
“It’s not Downs, it’s Down. There’s no ‘s’” he corrected her, avoiding the other questions.
“Are you sure it’s not Downs? Everybody says Downs.”
Girls! They always have to argue! At least there’s one less girl in my life this morning.
The thought made him hurt inside, a heavy aching like a hole had been opened up below his heart. Wrangler pushed his chair away from the table and headed for the back door. He stomped down the porch stairs and took off in his truck.
When he saw golden arches up ahead, his stomach reminded him he’d left half his cereal on the table. He pictured a soggy mess. Let mom or Porsche throw it out. That’s all women are good for – picking up after men. He pulled off the street, into the drive-through, and ordered a man- size breakfast.
CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED ONE
After five days hanging out with friends and hunting his mind was still on Cristol. Tonight was changing things up. He had stopped into the movie rental place and picked out a couple of horror flicks, then gone home and ordered delivery of a large pepperoni and sausage pizza. Midway through the first movie someone pounded on his bedroom door.
“Yeah, what is it?” He pushed the pause button on the remote and the screen froze showing that pretty blonde actor, Colleen Boag, entering an alley.
“Wrangler, let me in, it’s real important.”
He rolled over and swung his feet off the bed, lumbered slowly to the door, and opened it wide.
"Okay, you’re in. What is it?” he said.
Porsche was visibly upset “I think Cristol’s going to defriend me!”
Wrangler didn’t “do MySpace” or any other social networking site, and he didn’t give a rat’s ass who was in whose top ten friends, who got friended, defriended, poked, or who gave who a pig. Even Mafia Wars couldn’t hook him, it sounded too much like life in Azzolla. But, if Wrangler had been a MySpace or Facebook kind of guy, his status right then would have read “miserable, go away and leave me alone.”
“Porsche, that’s bullshit. Get outta my room. I’m busy.”
Porsche was not to be deterred. “But I’m talking about Cristol! If you two ever have a baby, I’m gonna be the auntie. If you two ever get married, I’m gonna be her sister-in-law. So, we’re family and we need to get along. She can’t defriend me! Don’t you see?”
Details! Why do girls always have to give so many details?
“No, I don’t see. And. I want to get back to my movie.”
“Wrangler! Nothing’s more important than family!” To his annoyance, she sat down on his bed. It was obvious she planned to keep at this. “I called Cristol yesterday, just, like, to let her know that I was real happy for her, being a new sister again. You know, uh, excited for her, and all that.” Porsche’s head was down, she was wringing her hands. She didn’t see that Wrangler was stealing glimpses at the TV screen. . “And I told her I had some presents for the baby and her that I want to take over there, and she was like, all cold and stuff. I couldn’t figure why she wasn’t happy, I mean, I said I had gifts, and maybe they have a lot more money than we do, but still, these are nice things!”
Wrangler said nothing, but he gave her a look thatshe started again. “And I invited her to come over here Saturday night and see me in my prom dress. Told her how Mom worked real hard makin’ it and it’s going to be one of a kind.” She didn’t see that her brother’s eyes had glazed over. “Now, I know Cristol might be feeling bad about not going to prom too, but that’s not my fault.” With each of the last three words, she pounded her fist on her thigh. It made Wrangler refocus. “Then, you know what she did?” She waited again, as if her brother actually might guess, which, of course, he didn’t. So after a few beats, Porsche told him what terrible thing his girlfriend had done - “She snorted!”
“You know, like the time she read on MySpace that that girl was going to beat her up. She snorted, remember? You and me we laughed so hard when she snorted! Maybe it’s weird to remember something like that, but I do. Anyway, do you think she’s going to defriend me?”
“Don’t know. Don’t care.”
“Well, would you ask?”
“How’m I gonna do that? We ain’t spoken in five days.” It was true. They were both being stubborn. “S’could you leave now?
Porsche finally saw the pain on Wrangler’s face. She shifted her mode to “Best Sister” and got up and hugged him. “Awe. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t dissing Cristol when you are missing Cristol. Oh! Ha! I made a rhyme. Well, anyway, can I help?” Her own problems were momentarily set aside for the opportunity to be important to Wrangler. It had been a long time since they hung out, shared secrets, drunk together or gone camping. Much too long.
“Nah, it’s nothin’ I ain’t been through before. It’s just Cristol being a pistol.”
“Well I hope you work it out real soon. I want to see that baby.” She left, and he returned to watching the movie.
An hour later, as the credits were rolling, he got a text from Cristol. It sounded like she was ready to make up. He was all for it. Either they were going to make up real soon, or he was going to start dating again. He wasn’t going to be without a girlfriend this coming summer. Summer nights were meant for camping and partying, and both required the opposite sex for maximum pleasure. He felt he’d been cheated out of a lot of fun this past year, times with friends that he couldn’t make up. He wasn’t going to miss out on summer’s best this year. No way.
He looked at the text again. “hav BIG suprize for u”
He suspected it was and early present. He was turning eighteen in another week. That’s a big deal.
“Wat is it” he texted in reply.
“hav 2 see u 2 give it 2 u”
“2nite!!! Pick me up?”
“No not till 9 cause I hv 2 put Calc 2 bed 1st”
“C U @ 9”
Maybe I should go to the grocery store and get her some flowers, he thought. He closed his phone and put it in his pocket.
CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED TWO
Helen extended her stay to help with the deluge of thoughtfulness being shown the Saplin family. So many calls, presents and casseroles. Both the Saplins and the Heats were overwhelmed. It was full time work cataloging and writing thank you notes, and Rachael’s sisters were doing most of it.
During a lull, when Calc was having a nap, and Cristol was in her room trying to catch up on French lessons, Helen and Sally agreed to take a break. Sally put on a pot of coffee and cut two large slices of chocolate cake that some thoughtful Azzle had dropped off.
“How is Rachael getting away with this?” Helen asked, getting out forks and spoons. “The rumors are everywhere. Just read the comments posted online, you’ll see.”
Sally agreed. “I think a lot of people know. There’s that gossipy nurse at the hospital – she must have told somebody. And the news people - they have photos. Her figure went from flat to humongous inside of two weeks.” She put a big forkful of cake into her mouth and tried to savored it in spite of the distasteful reality of their sister’s life.
Helen said, “I know. I know. That big fake empathy belly she wore only once? My God! One week she was using a throw pillow off my sofa, the next week she looked like it was going to be twins.”
Sally sipped her coffee, then said,“That story of going into labor in Texas and flying home to deliver - Dad really outdid himself on that one,”
Helen smiled, remembering her sister’s reaction. “Rachael wanted to kill him. And then Mom and Dad with the baby in the hospital corridor? I mean, really. What hospital allows babies to be carried around the hospital corridors picking up germs?” She sipped her coffee and continued, “They don’t. And that one was supposed to be a preemie with special needs and a hole in his heart. Totally absurd.
“Why isn’t this front page news? She’s the governor, for Pete’s sake. The media isn’t doing it’s job.”
Neither said anything while they enjoyed the silence, the cake and the coffee.
“Maybe we see it because we know,” said Helen. “Unless you have some reason to be looking for this stuff, you probably can miss it.” She shook her head, “The story of the year, hiding in plain sight. Un-f’ing-believable.”
“Rachael should be happy that publicity plan of hers fizzled. What if she had become a national figure?”
“Ho, ho! She’d have been reading about herself in “Who”! They just had a story about that woman who had the politician’s baby…”
Helen interrupted, “That’s the answer, you know. Really. That’s it - this isn’t real news, it’s tabloid stuff. Supermarket tabloids are where you read about celebrities having babies. But, like you just said, she’s no celebrity. Hence, no story.”
“And even though there’s a twist, the faked pregnancy, Rachael Saplin isn’t a recognized name. The story’s just not that good – after a month, Rachael and Tad will be just another set of parents whose teenager got knocked up and they are raising the kid, Who cares?
“Who cares? Who cares!” Sally sing-songed the magazine’s effective slogan, then she laughed. Poor Sally, needed to laugh. The antidepressants that helped her get through the messy dealings of divorce also kept the synapses from firing like they should. Most of the time she felt emotionally numb.
Helen had already thought this through, and she was ready to talk with another adult. Sally would do. Helen said, “Each news outlet has a slant, from the city paper to “Who” to Fox to MSNBC.”
Helen sighed, “You know, Hardball? Chris Matthews?” Nothing but a blank look from Sally. “Countdown?” still nothing registered. “Never mind, you’re probably lucky not to know.” Helen was a closet Countdown watcher, tuning in to hear what Keith had to say on evenings when her husband wasn’t home.
“Kevin Olbermann, he has this “Worst Person” of the day award, and if Rachael were a known name and her supposed in-labor flight…”
“I’m sorry, Helen,” Sally interrupted. “Kevin who?”
Helen realized she was dangerously close to coming out of the closet and exposing herself as Countdown watcher. For her own safety, she switched the focus to newspapers. “Never mind. So, anyway, yup,the editors at the Daily News can ignore the story. It’s trash. Only tabloids would want it. And, like white trash in the snow, it’s easy to ignore, easy to pretend you don’t see it.”
“You know, white trash in the snow – stuff like styrofoam cups and crumpled Kleenex laying there on the street with no body paying any attention. White trash is easy to ignore ‘cause it blends in with the snow. That’s Rachael’s phoney pregnancy. A story that’s laying right in front of everyone and yet easy to ignore, too. Sure, it’s there, but if you don’t want to see it, …well, you get it.”
“I get it, yeah, but at first, I thought you were calling Rachael white trash.”
“No.” Helen chuckled “ But, if the shoe fits…” . They smiled at each other.
“So, you don’t think reporters noticed,” Sally stated.
“Oh, they see it, the whole story. They know Cristol disappeared for months. They know she was sent to live with me. They know Rachael didn’t stop running, didn’t stop drinking coffee, didn’t act pregnant. They are ignoring it. They have pictures of Rachael with her flat stomach claiming to be seven months. They’ve got pictures that show that silly, rectangular pillow shaped stomach. I told her not to use that one.”
“She never takes advice,” Sally frowned.
“And then, too soon, that that huge strapped on stomach; we both said she wouldn’t waddle around wearing that thing for another six weeks. Yup, that was when we predicted a premature delivery. We know our sister.”
Sally nodded agreement.
For a minute, they both looked thoughtful. Sally spoke next. “And then, there was the wildest story ever - “oops- my- water-broke- I’ll- stay- and- give-a-speech- standing- at- the- podium-in-front-of-hundreds-of-people-not-go-to-a-hospital- fly-eight-hours-take-another-flight-and-fly-three-hours…” She stopped to catch her breath.
Helen took over, “pass- up- another-big- hospital- equipped-to-handle-an-at- risk-delivery- and-drive-an- hour-to-get-to-a-family-doctor- who-only-delivered-three-babies-last-year-so-I-can-be-induced-and-have-my-Downs-Syndrome-child.” She was out of breath, too.
“ with-a-hole-in-his-heart-born -in-a-tiny-hospital-with-no-neo-natal-care-unit,” Sally finished. “That story is harder to swallow than Dad’s spicey moose ball nuggets.”
“Yup, but reporters ignore it. Pulling it apart would get too sticky.”
“Ha, like opening up a crumpled Kleenex you pick up from the snow.” Sally started to giggle. “Haven’t we always said our sister was a snot?”
They laughed together.
“Gross,” Sally said, wiping a tear from her eye. “White trash in the snow,” she said again, and another round of laughter began.
Minutes later, their plates held only crumbs and the last drops of coffee had been drained from their cups. “Time to get back to work,” Helen said. She picked up the dishes and moved them to the sink.
The red message light on the phone base caught her attention and when she pressed the button, a young woman’s voice said, “Hello, this is Francis Decker, Myleen Decker’s daughter. I’m calling all her Luna Moi customers to let them know she won’t be able to fill orders for a while. She’s had a stroke.”
There’s the first casualty,” said Sally. With a look, her sister sought an explanation.
“She’s that gossipy nurse. The one at the hospital the day Calc was supposedly born. Guess the pressure of keeping this secret must have been too much for her.”
“Or the opposite,” suggested Helen. “The stress of having told someone, and knowing she’s going to pay a price…”
“Ooooo,” Sally caught on, “I wouldn’t want to be Myleen Decker.”
CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED THREE
It was Wrangler’s eighteenth birthday and as a gift to Wrangler, Rachael was going to let Jerrie and Porsche meet Calc. Jerrie had told herself that it would be a good day to begin to cut back on criticizing her son and his future in-laws. That was before she learned that the baby had accompanied the Governor that very morning to a ribbon cutting ninety miles away.
“All these weeks we’ve waited to meet him, all these weeks you’ve been sayin’ he can’t be exposed to germs, and making Porsche and me wait. Us not getting to hold him before now…” The confrontation was taking place as Wrangler drove his mom and sister to the Saplin house.“We been real understanding, Wrangler. Real understanding.”
It was a short distance between the two houses, and Wrangler figured he’d let her get this out of her system before they rang the doorbell. Besides, she couldn’t say too much because Porsche still didn’t know the full story. Chewing tobacco and staring straight ahead, he ignored the rant.
“It isn’t right, her dragging that baby all over the place. He’s got problems, he’s delicate. I might not know how to run a state, but I know you don’t expose a little baby with a hole in his heart to all the germs in the world.”
“How could he be getting proper care when he’s all over the place? What about naps? Babies need routine. Routine comforts them. And what about him getting the therapy that Porsche’s been reading about? That’s real important.” She turned and looked back at Porsche. “Isn’t that so? Isn’t that what you found out?’
Wrangler looked in the rear view mirror and exchanged glances with his sister, who was riding in the rear seat of the double cab. When Jerrie turn forward again, Porsche rolled her eyes. She wasn’t going to risk getting her brother pissed off. He could still turn the truck around and call off this visit.
What was past was past. In a few minutes, she was going to get to hold a baby! She’d never done that. Not a really little one. Nothing else mattered to her tonight. She checked her bag and confirmed that she had brought her camera. Porsche planned to post pictures on her MySpace later tonight, and didn’t want anything to come in the way of her plans.
Jerrie was tightly wound. “He isn’t a political prop. He’s a baby.” Jerrie said. “She should stay home and take care of him.”
Wrangler spit into an old soft drink cup before he spoke. “It’s complicated, Mom.”
“What’s complicated about staying home?”
Wrangler didn’t want to get into it. He was tired of defending Rachael’s treatment of the child who started out his son and was now his girlfriend’s parent’s son.
“It just is,” he reiterated, “It’s very, very complicated.”