Friday, November 12, 2010

The Lassiters Ch. 5 Back Home Again Pt. 4

As if to prove that he would still find time for his family, John proposed a family trip to the Wonderland Ice Skating Rink. Not much snow left on the ground, but lots of winter atmosphere at the rink, he said. The twins had been asking to go there for a couple months; they were ecstatic as they climbed into the back seat.

When they  arrived, Lori saw her good friend, Holly Ferguson and hurried over to talk to her.

Trey made right for the rink, though. It was a shame to him that he was not allowed to skate on their iced over pond. John had seen a boy die when the ice cracked and he fell through. His dad had never forgotten it so, no skating on their pond.

They all took a tumble or two on the slippery ice that afternoon, except for Lori. Perhaps the ballet exercises she loved gave her an extra edge when it came to balance?

Trey skated alone mostly; he wished Holly had brought her brother, Harvey. There were no boys his age to goof around with at the rink today.  Of course his parents and Lori were pretty good company, but Lori was giggling and whispering with Holly, she hadn’t even got on the ice yet. Trey hated girls giggling anyway, the sounded like chickens and it got on his nerves. When he said this one time at the supper table; his father had remarked that in a few years he’d find giggling girls appealing. His dad was smart, but Trey thought he’d made a big mistake this time.

 Finally Lori and Holly came out to skate.

Lori practiced her spins, both solo and with her daddy.

The day after they went to the skating rink, John looked for a job. Because of his degree and experience he was able to get a position quickly, within a week, and not at entry level. He wanted no part of an office or of teaching, though. What he wanted was to do field work or be in the lab. He was able to become a Project Leader with an up and coming new company, DePasse Chemicals, not far from Pleasantville.

John seemed very happy with his decision so far. Melora was resigned, at least for the time being, and the twins waited to see what would happen next.

They remained busy as ever with their friends and school during the week. On the weekends Lori practiced her ballet, read books, colored or drew and played SSX3 with Trey. Sometimes they went to the movies. Trey played video games and pinball and used the putting green. He also watched a lot of TV, though, and began to think that warm weather would never come.

Lori, true to her word, practiced on her piano faithfully every day. John and Melora concluded that she must have, evidently just been too young when they gave her lessons before and that’s why she quickly tired of it.

The twins met another new friend, Scotti Lynn Ferguson, the daughter of Heather and Scott Ferguson. Scott was Holly and Harvey’s uncle so Scotti Lynn was their cousin. She was younger than Lori and Holly, so they kind of looked after her in school.

Lori told Scotti Lynn all about one of John’s science fiction books, "Beyond Antares". The story was very mysterious and scary, but exciting to read, according to Lori.

The twins, however; were still each other’s best friend. This extreme closeness would likely change once they hit their teens, but at this point in time they told each other everything.

Melora finally made up her mind to go down to Sue’s Secret Kitchen--that was the name of the cooking guild--and find out what the story was on the cooking contest. She found that they did, indeed, have competitions there all the time. In spite of all her experience as a chef, she decided to get a little extra education from the instructor there, Sharlene Royce.

Then she went back home to practice her versions of barbeque ribs, chocolate cake, chili and various pastries.

 Her chili was to die for, or so her friends and family said...

The night she made Cherry-Cranberry pie she served it to the family and to the Lori's guest, Janice Simmons. Janice was a twin, too, but her sister, Jessamyn, had clogging lessons after school that night so she couldn't come for supper. If their gobbling was any indication; they found it delicious.

Melora was also refining and perfecting her cherry cream cheesecake recipe. It was the cheesecake that John recommended she submit.

"Baby, yours is better than Lindy’s ever was. I should know; I ate there when I was going to Chudney Academy. Once a year they took us down to Manhattan and we always ate lunch at Lindy’s. The meal  had to include dessert which just had to be their famous cheesecake,” he recalled.

“I sure hope it’s close anyway,” Melora said fervently.

“I’m right; you watch,” he assured her, “And be sure to make two of those and leave one here.”

He grinned at her then growled, rubbing his stomach, “Yum, yum, eat’em up!”

“You’re dating yourself, quoting ‘The Little Rascals’ like that,” Melora laughed.

The day of the competition Melora was nervous, but when she saw that Sharlene Royce was one of the contestants she went from worried  to panic-stricken. Looking around at the other three contestants she realized they were all tense, too, though Sharlene not so much. Melora’s cheesecake was competing against two lobster Thermidor entries and one Baked Alaska. Her cheesecake seemed rather tame in comparison.

It was nerve-wracking as the judge tasted each entry and made notes. Then she walked toward Melora, smiling. It seemed unbelievable—she had won the competition and collected 500 bucks! Melora was thrilled. She served the rest of the cheesecake to the other participants and the judge, then made her way home simply floating on air.

“John, the judge said it was the lightest, most delectable cheesecake she’d ever eaten!”

“See, I told you,” John said, hugging her, “Just stick with me, Baby, and you can’t go wrong. I think next time you should enter that Pineapple Pork Chops thingy you make.”

“You mean the Pineapple Glazed Stuffed Pork Chops?”

“You got it.”

Things seemed good again.

The air outside was getting warmer and timid tulips were poking through the soil. Soon it would be summer. The passing of time was inevitable and many things would change once more for the Lassiters…

Next chapter on the Lassiters Ch. 6 The Twins Are Growing Up Pt. 1



The Lassiters Ch. 5 Back Home Again Pt. 3

That same night, when everyone was warm and cozy after their baths and the children were upstairs in their playroom, John broke it to his wife that he wanted to come out of his voluntary early retirement and go back into the workforce. Melora couldn’t have been more startled if he’d suddenly performed the splits. For one thing, they had discussed at length the fact that they wanted to enjoy what was left of the twins’ childhood. Trey and Lori would be teenagers before they knew it and then they wouldn’t want to be with their parents much at all. Teenagers were just that way and the Lassiters knew it from experience.  

It wasn’t like they needed the money. Between John’s considerable inheritance, the money he made in business ventures back in NC, his financial consulting online and what he made from his novels they were more well-off than almost everyone in Pleasantville except for Remington Goth, the zillionaire of Pleasantville.

Furthermore, Melora pointed out, John’s father, Big Jack, was nearly 85 and in good health but for how much longer? They needed to visit him in Atlanta more often than before because he wouldn’t even discuss moving closer. Possibly he would need special care when and if his health declined and they would move him to Pleasantview if he would let them at that time. All this would take time to do.

It was as if John had caught Jim Candeloro’s restlessness.  He mused,

“Maybe I’m getting that 'middle aged crazy' thing they talk about."

Melora thought, “Excuse me--middle-aged? Not unless you think you’re going to live to 100”.

She went to the kitchen because sometimes she believed she did her best thinking there, making cookies or cooking up a pot of chili. While she stewed a couple of chickens to make a huge pot of her mother's recipe for chicken noodle soup, she pondered and worried. Meanwhile John retreated to his study to work on his latest manuscript.

What was even more shocking to Melora was when they discussed it again the next evening John said he didn’t want to go back to any of the businesses he had previous experience in--not real estate, not construction, not financial consulting, or even journalism. He told her he wanted to go into the field of science.

"Science? Where is this coming from?" Melora thought. She knew John had taken science courses as well as business in college and that when they were first married he spent hours with the telescope on the upper deck of their first home. With time and because the demands of his business empire, the fascination with the stars had appeared to diminish, though, and she was totally flummoxed at this new direction he’d taken.

"What about your writing?” Melora questioned.

"I can still do that in my spare time,” John insisted.

“Spare time? What spare time? When exactly, will you have time for me and the kids?”

He had no real answer for that except to say he was always there for them, she knew that. Melora realized there was nothing to do but to grin and bear it. He was evidently determined to forge ahead with this. Frankly, she was furious with him but, for once, she held her tongue. Using sarcasm (one of her better abilities) had never worked with John and neither did badgering. Perhaps he would tire of this as quickly as he had acquired the inspiration. She could only hope that was the case.

Anyway, she could never stay angry for long with him and he well knew it. To the outside world John Lassiter was a very reserved and circumspect man, calm and reasonable, but not very outgoing. However; when John cared to try he could charm the birds out of the trees, and the person it had always worked best with was Melora. So before long she and he were cuddling and cooing once more. In truth, they had faced it long ago; they were madly in love with each other so they were stuck--there were no other options for them. Together forever; for better or worse, et cetera.

The next morning over their cereal, and while their parents still slept, Lori and Trey talked about their father going back to work and their mother being upset about it. Adults think kids don’t know what goes on in their own home; but they do. They were only upstairs in the playroom; voices always drifted up the staircase, especially emphatic voices. It didn’t worry the twins too much in the long run because they heard their parents laughing later. Still it had kept them both awake into the night after hearing at least parts of the argument.

Trey shook his head, “What a whopper that fight was.”

“Mommy says it’s not fighting or arguing, it’s discussing,” Lori corrected.

Trey rolled his eyes,

“Gimme a break.”

Lori said quietly, “I’m just glad it’s over.”

The Lassiters Ch. 5 Back Home Again Pt. 2

Winter seemed to finally be waning by March when the snow had pretty much ceased. It was true, though, that temperatures remained just above freezing. Then quietly, early one Thursday evening, it began to silently snow, and by midnight it was a blizzard complete with howling winds. The next morning the storm had stopped but Pleasantville was once more covered with heavy drifts of snow. The kids were ecstatic—they had a snow day and it was Friday. Three days of fun! Early in the morning they were outside making a snowman and snow angels.

The next morning Trey and Lori implored their parents to come out in the snow, so John and Melora bundled up and soon there were snowball fights going on in both the front yard and the back.

Although it was really fun, the adults were ready to call it quits before the kids were. It was early afternoon. Making cocoa "on tap” as John called it, Melora knew the twins would want some when they came in later. To her surprise in just a few minutes Trey and Lori came bursting in, shivering. They were cold, they were wet and they quickly grabbed mugs to get the cocoa.  Melora declared the next thing on the agenda must be hot baths for all.