Friday, November 19, 2010

The Lassiters Ch. 6 The Twins Are Growing Up Pt. 1

The twins were now teenagers. It seemed to happen so suddenly. One day Lori was a twirling angel in her pink tutu, the next she was a beautiful young lady dancing to the radio and practicing to become an accomplished cook like her mother.

 Lori was still pretty dramatic, but aren’t all teenage girls? In this case, she lost a game of pool to Melanie Flynn and her reaction was a little extreme:

One day Trey was tinkering with his train set, the next he was shaving (at least every other day) and restoring a car. John offered to help him with it, but his mechanical skills seemed to have deteriorated over the years. He said as he turned to walk into the house, somewhat demoralized,

"Well, son, you seem to have it pretty much under control so I'll  leave you to it."

How could the years have gone so quickly? Melora looked at photo albums of all four of the kids at some of their birthday parties. She brought one in to share with John from five years ago and they laughed as they recalled how happy, innocent and trusting their children had been when they were small—when they had counted on John and Melora for everything and clung to their parent’ side.

“John, look at those sweet faces! Remember when they liked to spend time with us?” Melora laughed.

Those days were gone; yet this was now such a time of promise. As for wanting to be with their parents, it was natural that they now preferred time with their friends.

After all, we became a lot dumber in the last couple years since the twins turned 13,” John pointed out.

John and Melora had two adult children and they’d been through this before so they knew that when the twins got to be about 21 Mom and Dad would somehow be considered intelligent again.

The twins were still close to each other when they were at home, but they frequently had divergent interests when it came to their social life away from the house.

Life was still as hectic at the Lassiter home as always, but many things had definitely changed, while others remained the same. For instance Lori still loved her piano and books and ballet. And Trey was here there and everywhere—outside whenever possible as he always had been, playing soccer and basketball, swimming and fishing. Both the kids were very disciplined about their schoolwork and exercising, but otherwise they were typical teenagers in many ways.

Melora and John had changed somewhat, as well. John suddenly decided to rethink his style in facial hair. Melora was secretly relieved. She’d never said anything, but she hated what she called "scraggly" type beards and the unshaven look. She thought if a man was going to have a beard then do so! Just be sure to keep it well-trimmed. The wispy things that had been in style in the last 15 years made it look like that was the best a man could do. Far from it with John, who had a heavy beard; that was probably why he decided to change to this new style, less area on his face to shave. Personally, Melora thought he was handsome and didn’t need any facial hair at all or maybe just a mustache, but about all this she kept silent except to say that she liked the new look. That was not like her—keeping silent--but she was afraid if she gave an opinion, he’d start telling her what clothes to wear. He frequently was opinionated enough—no sense in asking for it.

And he was not the only one making a few subtle changes. Melora had grown her own hair a little longer again and was now wearing her it in a chignon. It was easier when working in the kitchen. John actually told her he liked her hair this way, which surprised and relieved her. Not that she had planned to change it if he didn't like it. She'd been a hair stylist many years ago and nobody was going to tell her how to wear her hair.  

The routine was a little different at home; they’d fired the maid a few years ago, she was a plaguing nuisance, frequently leaving beds unmade, and constantly stamping her foot like a child, complaining about every minor inconvenience. For instance if one of the Lassiters happened to be using the bathroom when she decided she wanted to clean it. Actually that was every time anyone used the bathroom, because as soon as one of them shut the door Lucy Hanby made a beeline for that particular bathroom, ranting when she couldn't get it.

Melora was staying at home so she felt she could handle the housework with occasional help from the kids and John. Besides, she figured she needed the exercise. In the last couple years she had gotten a little pudgy. “How did my backside get so big?” she wondered. It seemed to Melora that she gained weight more easily than before, yet it was harder to take off than ever ever. (The cheesecakes and berry pies, you know).  Anyway, John claimed  that she was just “zaftig” and looked “voluptuous”.  He really does have a strong streak of “sweet” in him at times, Melora thought fondly. Smart man, John.

The fact was that both of them were aging. Their senior citizens years were right around the corner, especially for John, who was eight years older than Melora. Perhaps that was why they wanted a last fling with their looks. Melora declared she would never be gray as long as there was anything in a bottle that would make her hair red. John didn’t care if the gray showed or not. He was only now starting to get white threads along the sides of his head.  He had the kind of black hair that turns silver and looks attractive and distinguished.
“That’s unfair and it stinks,” Melora grumbled from time to time, “You’ll just look more handsome and sophisticated, while I’ll have to be a bottle redhead till I die.” 

If she let her hair go back to brown and it had gray in it, it wouldn’t be sophisticated it would just be a mousy light brown with gray streaks. So she continued to color it. She no longer remembered NOT being a redhead, anyway. She had to admit the truth: women aged faster than men. Melora had noticed, though, that while this was true at 40 it seemed to her that around 60 most men seemed to catch up. Ha Ha.  That for you, buddy! Still, even though they were slowing down it did not keep them from getting frisky now and then. And they had perfected their skills at Swedish and hot stone massage. That was a sure-fire way to get frisky.

John’s career had been moving along for the last six years, being promoted a couple of times. When the twins entered high, Melora put her foot down. He’d been working from 10 at night to 2 am. The kids and she were on one clock and he was on another. She begged him to quit/retire, whatever he wanted, just stop working now. So John turned in his notice at DePasse chemicals. He didn’t really mind that much, after all. There were new projects at home that he had in mind…

John and Melora had no idea that things were going to get complicated and quite soon.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Brecht Family Ch. 2 Author! Author!

When we last left the Brechts (Ch. 1 was Oct. 3 and Ch. 2 was Oct. 7) Royal Jr. had just been married—and seemed to be undergoing some strange moodiness that no one could quite understand. Youngest son, Devon, was in college, but still living at home.

Since that time Devon had finished college and was looking for a job. With extra time on his hands, he began to write a book he’d thought about for a couple of years. A book about the time his mother, Brenda, was kidnapped by aliens. He’d been quite small when it happened but she, his father and his brothers had told him a lot about it. It totally fascinated him. So he spent a lot of time up in his room on the computer when he wasn’t job-hunting. He talked to his parents about his plans and they were fine with it, although, secretly, they did not hold out much hope that he would get it published. Brenda said she would contact John Lassiter and see if he could cut through some red tape or offer some contacts.

"Whoa, Mom, chill! I haven't even written anything yet. Well, not more than a few pages, anyway," Devon laughed.

"That's fine, but just keep in mind when you are finished, we can try to get some help from John."

Brenda was thinking of returning to work, but not sure what she wanted to do. She spent her days painting and sewing in her art studio and cooking for “her boys” as she called them.

That was okay with her, actually, she had a small but cozy kitchen and she liked spending time there and in the adjacent art studio. The studio had floor to ceiling windows on two sides and was light-filled, yet it was warm in the winter.

She got out of the house more often than Royal Sr. did. Going to the library from time to time and shopping in town mostly.

Royal Sr. worked in his greenhouse, but the cold weather pretty much kept him from any outdoor activity like fishing or jogging so he was writing a blog on his greenhouse. His work with vegetables and fruit was starting to pay off as he sold the produce. Many afternoons were spent up in his bedroom on the computer. It had to be afternoons, because his mornings were devoted to the greenhouse and exercise. He'd started working out a little more, since being indoors and enjoying his wife’s cooking was starting to cause him problems in the waistline department. He figured he sure wasn’t going to give up eating, so he’d just have to exercise. A lot.

He made juice from his own plants and trees. Orange juice was good for colds in winter--lemonade was cooling in summer! Unfortunately he got the two confused one winter day and almost froze to death in his own kitchen...

And it was definitely winter now

Devon's literary agent--and had it been tough to get one of those!--had submitted his manuscript to a number of publishers and Devon was totally amazed when one of them elected to publish his book. (Brenda and Royal suspected that John Lassiter had pulled a few strings). When he met the publisher (as had happened with the literary agent) she remarked on how very young he looked. Devon began to wonder if he should make some sort of attempt to look more “author-ly”, especially when they wanted to take some photos for the back of the book wrapper.

 Accordingly, he changed his hair and grew a beard and mustache. He definitely looked older. Brenda didn't like it, but his dad shrugged "Young men have to go through these things."

Actually, Devon wasn't sure, himself, if he liked it, but the point was to look like a writer. He thought that had been accomplished.

When the book arrived, he was quietly ecstatic. He discussed the book with his father and read it by himself, too. 

He thought he might want to write another book, his publisher sure wanted him to, but the publishing house wanted more on alien abductions. Devon really had no more stories in that regard. So perhaps his writing career was over as quickly as it began.

But, in the meantime, Devon had much still to do for this first book. They had scheduled him to go to New York and then several other cities to do publicity and book signings. He was homesick while he was gone and called his family often. When he heard that his girl friend since high school, Lalique Flynn, had left town, though only on a vacation, he had a pang of guilt for not calling her in these last few weeks.  In high school and in college he'd been over at her house all the time, his parents said it was like they'd acquired a son.

It was no excuse, but he’d just been so caught up in events. She had never even tried to call him at the house before she left, nor had she left a note, but then, she probably knew he was not there. Brenda said that the Flynns told her Lalique was coming back, but maybe she wasn’t. He thought about her often while he was on the book tour. It made him both sad and regretful. He’d taken her for granted and she didn't deserve it. He hoped when he got back to Pleasantview they could mend some fences...if Lalique returned.


The Errol Flynn Family Ch. 2

Continuing from the October 3 Post...

That home invasion in her senior year left scars on Lalique. Even as an adult she found it hard to get over it. The woman who came to burgle them that night was so bizarre, giggling insanely to herself and instead of a mask she had worn clown’s makeup. Worse, even though the authorities knew her name—Brooke Wakeley—they had never found her--she was still considered "at large" although the police said she was probably out of the state by now. Sometimes Lalique woke up in a cold sweat from nightmares. Often, even in the daytime, she’d just be out in the neighborhood, going somewhere and that creepy clown face stole into her mind.

Time passed.

Lalique came to the conclusion that it was time to be out on her own. She had begun her teaching career, but she did not know if she and Devon Brecht had a future together or not. His first novel had just been published to great acclaim and he was in New York and then would be on the road for a while with book signings and various PR affairs. She’d thought of just heading for New York to surprise him, but she was half afraid that she might be the one who would be surprised. Then she’d considered going to some other big city, to lose herself in the large population. In the end, Lalique knew that, no matter what happened with Devon (if anything), she wanted to be in Pleasantview, in spite of the nightmares. They were decreasing in frequency at least. She did decide, though, to take a short hiatus from her job and use the resulting free time for a brief getaway, and then house-hunting. It was suddenly that she made up her mind and late at night. She’d thought she could exit quietly that way, but the family realized she was going and ran downstairs to say goodbye. Errol was jovial, wearing that rakish grin of his and saying that her “fine adventures” had only begun. Olivia smiled her gentle smile and squeezed her tightly, 

“Bless you, my dear. You have all our confidence and love.”  

 Melanie, who was 11 and not happy with this change in the household, wailed, “I don’t want you to go!”

“Sweetface, I’ll be right here in town…somewhere…when I get back from my vacation,” Lalique told her, “And once I have my own place, you can come for sleepovers! “

 That was a stunning and happy thought for Melanie who suddenly remembered, “But my birthday! You have to be here for my birthday!”

“I will be, I promise,” and with that Lalique walked out of the beautiful mansion that had been her home for 22 years and into an uncertain future.

True to her word, when Melanie had her next birthday--it was just family--Lalique was there for supper and the celebration afterward.

And suddenly Melanie was a young lady! She looked all eyes and long colt’s legs to Lalique; who had to smile. Errol and Olivia looked at each other in amazement; the baby of the family was nearly grown.

 “Can I have Lalique’s old bedroom now? It’s a little bigger than mine,” Melanie asked almost immediately.

“No,” Errol was emphatic, “It happens to be a lot bigger than our bedroom—so we're taking it, quite frankly.  But…perhaps we can swing some other changes around here that you will like.”

“What changes?” Melanie pounced on this.

“We don’t know yet, Melanie, we’ll just have to see.” Olivia said.

Once Melanie was in her teens the slight shyness she had shown seemed to be a thing of the past. She liked being physically active and often went with her friends to the movies, shopping, roller-skating and ice skating.

Sometimes they entered the dance competitions in town. At home she entertained her friends in the yard with swimming, fishing or shooting hoops. She could count on Olivia to whip up hamburgers, grilled cheese or chili for any and all friends who came over.

In fact, it seemed now that she had more friends than ever before and when she went anywhere, even if she went alone, she would always run into at least one person she knew. Other times she would call a friend up and ask to rendezvous somewhere; like Chelsea Lomax, who met her at the Rapid Racers Roller Rink.

In bad or cold weather there were a number of indoor distractions, including the pool table, with which to entertain her friends. So far this year, her closest two friends were Chelsea Lomax and Lori Lassiter.

A little gossip was always fun, as long as it was not about you...

Melanie's dad had taught her how to be quite a pool shark. Lori's father and brothers had worked with Lori, too, and she was quite good, but not as good as Melanie. No one in town could win at any gaming or sports competition like Errol Flynn. Especially pool. He was a natural athlete and fiercely competitive.

But most of the kids who came to the house did not know this about him. What teenager pays any attentions to adults? The kids who came to the house just saw a man who was always on his computer, writing a book about his youth, or making pottery. Hardly the stuff of legends to their mind.

One morning they got the call from Mark Wilson, Yvette had just had a baby girl. They named her Simone. Olivia was beyond happy to be a grandmother and planned to go visit the baby right away.

The parents were quite pleased as well with Yvette’s husband and how things had gone. Frankly, when they first met him they were struck by the fact that he was some 20 years older than Yvette. He seemed to them to be an honest, hardworking man, with a really wicked sense of humor, but he lived on a farm. Nothing wrong with farms, but Yvette had been raised in Beverly Hills and Carmel and then they moved here to Pleasantville. She’d lived in mansions and estates all her life. 

They had worried whether she would be content and happy to live at Mark’s home, where he grew vegetables to sell and restored cars for a living. Truly it was in a magnificent setting right near the bluffs that go down to the ocean, but it was still a frame house with a smaller outbuilding used for the restoration business.  When they visited Mark’s place, before the wedding, Errol and Olivia couldn’t help but wonder if Yvette's love for Mark would be enough to keep her happy with his kind of life.

Obviously, Errol who loved the outdoors and fishing, could definitely see the beauty of the place, but would Yvette be happy here forever--Yvette, their pampered first daughter, the one who had dreamed of being a concert pianist? The house was warm and cozy; but pretty homespun, compared to their own art deco manse. 

Yet, after the wedding it soon became apparent that Yvette was head over in heels in love with Mark, loved her little farmhouse and had no plans to change it except for a few feminine touches here and there. She had an old upright piano tucked in a corner and she had access to her games; that and Mark being near her seemed to be her only requirements. Even more stupefying, Mark was teaching her to grow things! Errol never could interest Yvette in that at all--she'd always hated working in his greenhouse.

“Daddy, you keep calling it 'soil', but it looks like dirt to me. Look at my nails now. And there are icky, creepy little bugs crawling around out here.  Eeuuwww, get away!”

When the newlyweds had showed him what Yvette had been learning about cucumbers and pole leans, Errol was incredulous to say the least.

“I can’t believe he got her to dig in the dirt,” Errol muttered to himself.

“Well, that’s love for you”, Olivia whispered back.

So the Flynn parents were very happy: the birth of Simone was reason for happy hearts. Olivia thought that the sooner she could get her hands on that darling grandchild, the better. Errol was curious to see if the child resembled him in any way. He always said to friends,

"My daughters all look like Livvy; it's like I wasn't even in the room."

"Nonsense, dear, Lalique looks exactly like you. She just has my coloring," Olivia would laugh.

It was true, Errol just couldn't see it, but his middle child resembled him very much. Oldest daughter, Yvette, seemed to be a real blend of her parents, while Melanie, the baby, was a ringer for Olivia, like a little miniature.

The arrival of a new member of the family was always time for a celebration.

For her part, Melanie was wondering whether they would let her go with Lori Lassiter and Chelsea Lomax to the dance contest that weekend…

For next installment on the Flynn Family go HERE