Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sim State U Ch. 1 Mike Lomax and Lucy Burb Part 2

Almost two years after they'd made the move to the rental house, Mike’s dad came to tell him that his mother had left their home and had already filed for a divorce. Larry Max also made remarks to Mike that made him realize—for sure—that his dad thought he was staying in this apartment alone. Evidently his mother had never let him know anything about Lucy. The split didn't really surprise Mike; he knew his mother had been kind of wild and quirky the last few years, even when he lived at home. He also knew he should have set his father straight at this point since he'd been paying Mike's half of the rent, but he just couldn’t bring himself to do it, especially now that he and Lucy were...no longer platonic and did not need a second bedroom anymore. He realized he was being selfish as well as dishonest, but they were in their senior year and there was no way, even with a part-time job, that Mike could pay for this place, if his dad refused to pay any longer. If he did get a job he knew his grades would suffer, too. His dad might even shrug and say, no problem, big deal and keep paying the rent. He knew his mother would. But his dad was another matter entirely. Naturally enough, Larry Max did not like to be lied to and Mike was afraid to chance it. So Mike tried to justify his lie by omission, saying it was only for a short while longer, but it was always in the back of his mind and now he avoided speaking with his father when he could.

 It wasn't until his mother called and talked to Mike that he found out she had just spoken with his father and told him everything.

"I guess we'll have to get out and go back to the dorm," Mike was totally bummed.

"No, no. I told him that I was going to pay the rent for you, it's only a few more months. But he said, no, he'd pay it but he expected you to be honest with him from now on and he'd like to meet Lucy," Jenny said.

"He wasn't mad?"

"Oh, he was mad, but he was mad at me, Mike. So stop sweating it and remember, I'd like to meet her, too."

Mike was so relieved he had to send a text to Lucy, who was at class, he couldn't even wait until she got home.

After thinking a lot of things over, including various recent events, Mike knew it was time to have a serious conversation with Lucy. But by the time they'd done class assignments and some studying, Lucy was in her camisole and wanted to just relax and play SSX. Mike tried to say something a couple times but she was distracted by her game.  In point of fact, she was distracting Mike. By the time he finally captured her attention, he’d decided to wait to set the stage a little better for the discussion at a later date. He didn't have time right then. Maybe tomorrow.

Every once in a while Mike and Lucy just needed to have some fun for fun’s sake. That was the only thing they missed about the dorms. It was never dull. No one would let you keep your nose to the grindstone unless you escaped to the library or something. So the next morning Mike decided a trip to the skating rink would make them feel carefree again. As it turned out an unsteady but romantic kiss on skates did bring back childhood memories.

That night, cuddling on the love seat watching TV, Mike asked Lucy what he’d wanted to ask her for weeks; would she marry him when they finished school, even though he had no job and no home of his own? She flew into his arms and he had his answer.

Graduation loomed large and Mike had recently cut his hair. He’d been wearing it the same way since he was 12 and he thought it was time he look more adult and more professional. Especially since he expected to be going on job interviews soon. Lucy and he began to talk about what was ahead after University. Since they’d become engaged, they had talked of long term future plans, like where they hoped to be headed in their careers, what about children, did they want to live in Pleasantville or move off somewhere else? But this discussion tonight was more about immediate concerns, what they would do for money, where they would live, when and how they would marry, first steps to employment. Always the practical one, Lucy did not want a fancy wedding, she favored a justice of the peace. 

"We can blow money on a big party for our first anniversary, that is, if we're gainfully employed," she hugged him.

They decided they would both go to their respective homes after graduation and look for jobs and announce their engagement to the families. They needed to save money for a bit before they could get married so that they could start out with a nice house or apartment. Mike would actually be graduating a little before Lucy and could not stay very long on campus afterward, only 72 hours. Lucy would graduate 2 days later than Mike. She was a little afraid that she would be lonesome--and frightened--without Mike, she'd never lived alone. Mike told her he would wait until the last minute to leave; then it was only a matter of hours before she would have her final exams. By the time she got back, if she didn’t want a party, call the taxi to take her home, he’d be at his parents’ house waiting for her call. Lucy didn’t care about a party; she just wanted to be reunited with Mike as soon as possible.

One night, not long before Mike graduated, he got into a fracas just outside their home. He'd been studying long hours for his final exam. Ravi, the current Llama mascot had been scampering around their place for two days, smelling the flowers, catching butterflies and then leaving the glass jars there with the poor butterflies still in it, practicing the school cheer relentlessly, doing his homework on the front porch or the back porch, whining and complaining when he couldn’t get into their house because they'd wisely locked the doors. Ordinarily Ravi did not stay so long. Then, too, sometimes Mike could go out and just ask him to leave and he would. This time Lucy had gone out to release the little butterflies so she decided to ask Ravi to please leave. He chased her all the way up to the porch and she ran inside. This really ticked Mike off; his future wife (he liked the sound of that) should not have to be chased around her yard by an idiot hiding inside a moth-eaten Llama suit. He stepped out thinking he’d try just once more to ask Ravi to leave. When Ravi danced back and forth defiantly, Mike was so irritated that he told him off in no uncertain terms. Ravi must have been secretly drinking that night; because he was totally defiant. Either that or he had a death wish. What was really aggravating was that every time Mike went down the steps to take the argument away from the house, the Llama ran down them on the other side and then back up again. When Mike followed him back up, Ravi immediately ran down. The coward. So Mike hauled off and slapped him. Ravi slapped Mike back, and from there the fight was on.

Lucy became worried as the fight got worse and foolishly came out to see. Perhaps she could calm Ravi down, she thought.

Instead, Ravi turned on Lucy. Although she later maintained Ravi just got confused in the fight, when Mike saw this he really got bent out of shape. Suddenly Ravi represented every butterfly-catching llama, every practical-joking cow and every rogue cheerleader who had bedeviled them over the last four years.

Mike kept yelling at Lucy, “Get in the house! Get in the house!” But she couldn’t get in the front doors and she didn’t want to miss anything by going in the back door so she ran down the steps to the front walk and hid under foliage.

Mike ultimately beat the tar out of Ravi who left quietly at first, but then collapsed into loud sobs as he trotted down the street.

“Ah, quit your blubbering,” Mike yelled after him; then muttered, “Miserable little alpaca.”

As she treated Mike’s bruises and scrapes afterward Lucy remarked, “Actually, I don’t think alpacas and llamas are the same thing, honey.”

Mike gave her a long look.

“Of course, I could be wrong on that,” she amended.

They were down to the last couple hours they would be in this house. It held a lot of memories. Lucy kept telling herself the fact that Mike would leave before her was nothing; just a matter of hours. It was the symbolism, she guessed. As if he was moving on without her almost.

“Lucy, I have to leave, I’ve stayed a couple extra days and only have 7 hours left. They’ll yank me off campus just like that and I can’t get back on,” Mike held her on his lap and consoled her, “But I’ll be waiting in Pleasantview. I told you before, you call the taxi right away after you get that degree and you come home. Call me the minute you get there and I’ll come to see you at your house.  We’ll announce our engagement. Remember we decided all that yesterday."

“I know.”

“What are you worried about then?”

“We’ve never been apart since I got to Landgraab,” she murmured as tears fell. "And now we’ll be back at our parents' homes trying to save money. Even though we’ll be in Pleasantview together we’ll still be living apart! Who knows how long it will take us to save for a house of our own!”

“Okay, we can rethink all of that if you want. We can get married right away. We’ll both get jobs and find a place, an apartment, a mobile home, a camper, whatever. Whatever you want, babe."

Mike had not planned a graduation party, but Lucy wanted him to have at least a small one and since Corky and Chelsea were right on campus, why not invite them and whoever they were currently dating? So Corky brought Elle and Chelsea brought Trey. There were bubbles and fruit punch drinks for all.

Chelsea chug-a-lugging fruit juice

Trey, Mike and Corky

Elle and Chelsea discussing makeup

Trey, Corky and Lucy join Mike
Elle and Chelsea

Lucy gets into the spirit

All too soon Mike is on his way...

Dancing couples but Lucy is all alone, nearly time for her final exam
Lucy took her final exam a few hours later, made the dean’s list and got her degree. She came back to the rental house just to check that everything was all right—they’d packed up their stuff and sent it to their respective homes that morning. Then she called the taxi to take her home to Pleasantview and to Mike.

Further stories of Mike and Lucy back in Pleasantview HERE

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sim State U Ch. 1 Mike Lomax and Lucy Burb Part 1

After hanging around Pleasantview for two years after he got his diploma and working at Simoleon Arcades before Bob Blackford bought it and renamed it, Mike Lomax was more than ready to get his education. Thus he went off to University three long years before Lori Lassiter and her friends arrived there. His parents, Jenny and Larry Max were still together at the time. Opting for the Landgraab dorm, he knew no one there at all and, in fact, only knew one other person at University. Alexander Goth was a senior and he was living in a tiny house on campus when Mike arrived.. He only ran into Alex once or twice. Usually they joked around a little and did the school cheer and that was it.

Often the kids at Landgraab Hall did their class assignments in the dining room. Joe Wade was one of the dorm weirdos who often decided to sit right next to Mike. This would not have been so bad, he didn't look odd or anything, except Joe tended to go forever without showering, sleeping, going to the bathroom or eating. He was very friendly though, and if you forgot to lock your door you would come back to find smelly Joe sleeping in your clean bed, saying he was keeping it warm for you. Frequently other students were seen yelling at him for just being disgusting in general. Many of the other kids in the dorm looked a little strange, mostly the guys, but, hey, these were the years to be a little out there and most students were nice. Or at least they bathed regularly.

In his first semester, Mike couldn’t resist the popular fad of “streaking”.  Admittedly he’d never been the shy type and he didn't really know any of these people anyway. The only person who paid a lot of attention was the old guy who ran the dining room and that kind of creeped Mike out. The guy never said anything to anyone except to moan continually as if something was causing him pain. He never smiled much, but he always laughed when someone farted or belched, and went on laughing for several seconds. Apparently, he had some sort of penchant for bodily functions. Mike thought he was freaky. So he never did streak again, which was a disappointment to a few of the girls in the hall.

In the second semester of his freshman year, Mike was happy to find out one of the kids from home had moved into his dorm. She was Lucy Burb; a very pretty, well-behaved and quiet girl. She’d always been a bookworm so it was not surprising to Mike that she was a Lit major. He’d chosen Mathematics for his major. They’d never been involved romantically, but it was just so nice to see a familiar face from home. She had a good sense of humor and they giggled a lot about the craziness in the dorm.

Everything began to change when they decided to do some research together at the library and somehow ended up holding hands…

When they both made the Dean’s List they wanted to celebrate somehow, but weren't sure what to do. Their exams had been late and they were walking home in the dark. Suddenly Mike was inspired to grab Lucy and kiss her.

They were actually somewhat shocked to find out they had these feelings. They were together all the time, and their rooms were right across the hall from each other, so they shouldn’t have been surprised, but they were, especially Mike. He didn’t think Lucy was his type at all. Lucy had always thought Mike was her type, but, of course, never said so. Anyway, she wanted him as a friend even more than a love interest. After some discussion they decided to go back to a platonic relationship.

By the time of their sophomore year they were both getting really tired of the dorm. So many freaks, no privacy or quiet, and Joe was still stinking up the place. But the worst of all was the food. The old guy put it out every so many hours and there it sat. Only 9 kids in the dorm, all on a different schedule so you could be eating the requisite mac and cheese and just as you finished it, the dish of food turned green and the flies came. For some unfortunately diners it happened before you finished. So, both Lucy and Mike got mini-fridges and were living on ramen, protein drinks, juice and instant meals. “I’m getting tired of this mostly liquid diet,” Lucy complained and Mike agreed, “I want a pork chop—or at least a cheeseburger. Let’s go out somewhere.”

Mike went to an all-boy grad party for Alexander Goth not long after. Really it was only three of them, Alex, Mike, and Colby, Alex’s teenage brother. Alex was a lot older than Mike, having gone into the service after high school, then to University and went on to get his Masters. When Alex showed Mike the house he’d been renting, Mike was impressed, although he’d like a somewhat larger one to get in a pinball machine. Still, he wouldn’t need the piano. But Alex’s dad was rich, almost as wealthy as Mr. Lassiter or Mr. Flynn. Mike doubted his parents could afford it.

Really nice, Mike thought as Alex gave him the tour, but only room for one desk. He wished Lucy was here, he’d liked to have her opinion; she was very practical. He didn’t know if he could be ready to take this house when it was free…like later today.

“There are two more just like it along this street,” Alex said as though Mike had spoken out loud. “What do you need a second desk for anyway?”

Mike was startled; evidently he HAD been speaking out loud. And Alex was right. What did he need a second desk for?

“Anyway,” Alex laughed, “On to the party!” Between the bubble machine and the fruit punch, they boys grew very lighthearted. In fact they grew very light. Light enough that they nearly floated away a couple times.

Finally Alexander’s celebration was at an end and he was whisked off in a taxi, Colby caught a second taxi home, feeling rather ill, and Mike made his way to the dorm, giggling most of the way.

When he got back he wouldn’t tell which was worse, his crashing headache or his heaving stomach. He lounged around Lucy’s door, looking miserable. She had been reading on her bed and looked up.

“Why, Mike, what’s the matter?” he didn’t notice the very slight smile playing at the edges of her mouth.

“I think I’ve got the flu or something. I don’t feel so good and my head hurts. I think my eyebrows hurt, too.”

“Poor thing, go sit on the sofa in the lounge and I’ll get you an aspirin and an ice pack for your head.”

Lucy brought both as well as some alka-seltzer. It seemed to Mike that when she put the ice pack on his head she almost slapped it on there.

“Better?” she smiled sweetly into his face.

“Um,” he mumbled and tried to take the ice pack back off.

“Oh, no, Mike, it has to stay on there,” He took the aspirin and the alka-seltzer and after belching several times he felt much better. He could hear the old man in the dining room laughing.

“Now leave that ice pack on there until your headache is better.” Lucy headed toward her own room.

“Hey, where are you going?”

“I have to work on my term paper, you know that.” She waved amiably and disappeared into her room.

When the sweat from the ice pack dripped down his forehead, Mike figured it was now okay to take it off, even if his head did still hurt a little. He decided since Lucy’s door was firmly shut, he might as well go to bed. You’d think she’d have wanted to keep an eye on him.

The next day sweet Lucy seemed to go a little wild. Lots of kids streaked in the dorm and out of the dorm. Mike never batted an eye. Oh, all right, he'd been known to look at some of the prettier girls from time to time. But Lucy had always been such a sedate girl. A modest girl. So when Mike walked out into the lounge and saw her totally in the buff running down the hall he couldn’t have been more surprised if she done a double back flip. He wondered irrationally if she’d got into the bubbles at Alex’s house or something when she came over to him and shook her stuff right in his face.

He couldn’t think of a word to say to show his shock and, well, frankly, his disapproval until he saw she was sailing off toward the front door and the public sidewalk. Then he roused himself enough to call after her hoarsely,

“Lucy, don't go; come back! We could do some studying in my room, if you want!”

A couple of the kids nearby laughed out loud and one of the guys called in a falsetto voice,

“Ooo, Lucy, honey! You can study in MY room!”.

Mike frowned and hurried to his room where he fumed and tried to study for several hours.

The next day Lucy didn’t even mention it. They were both taking their chances: eating cereal for breakfast in the dining hall, but Mike couldn’t think how to open a conversation. They never had this problem as a rule, they were always at ease with each other. Lucy had a textbook next to her that she was reading as she ate. She had a class in two hours and his was two hours later so they wouldn’t see each other for a while after she went to class. Finally Mike blurted out,

“You should have seen the house Alex was renting,”

Lucy looked up, “Nice, huh? Was it expensive?”

“I guess. He said there are other houses and some larger with two bedrooms. I was thinking of calling my Mom to see if they could afford for me to rent a house on campus.”

“Why would you need two bedrooms? Wouldn’t that be more expensive for you?” Lucy asked, looking concerned.

Mike glanced around the dining room trying to seem casual, “Yeah. Well, I was thinking of asking someone to go in on it with me. You know.”

Lucy looked down and nodded, then turned to peer at her study book again, 

“Wow, I sure will miss you when you leave here,” 

She peeked over at him and teased, “But I bet you won’t miss the food!”

Mike was still nervous, “Yeah, the food; pretty obnoxious all right. Ha ha.”

Seeming to concentrate on her book once more, Lucy barely looked up as she asked him,

“So, who you going to ask, then? Someone from Landgraab? You don’t know anyone at Pinenut, do you? Of course you could just put an ad on the bulletin board at the other two dorms.”

“Um, no ad, no. See the thing is, Lucy, I was wondering if you might want to go in on it. I mean if you thought the place was okay and all.”

Lucy looked up slowly, “Me?”

Mike shrugged and hurriedly explained, “Well, we get on pretty well; we could find a place with two separate bedrooms. And we’re good friends who are already used to practically living on top of each other here. It’s not like we’re dating, so it would be strictly for our convenience. I thought I could get half the rent on loan from my parents and you…” Mike dragged to a stop.

She was still gazing at him, her mouth slightly open.

“No good, huh?” Mike worried.

“Will your parents still loan you money if they know I’m the room-mate?” she asked. Mike could see her mind clicking away.

“I’ll ask my Mom first, she’s a little more…But what about your folks?”

Lucy smiled, “I have my own money. My grandmother left it to me and it’s been building up. Mom said I could use it for extra expenses while I’m here. I can cover my half of the rent easily.”

“Yeah, but, when your parents find out…”

“Don’t worry, my dad has a job working all night at Club Dante—it’s driving my mother crazy, meanwhile Mom is taking care of the twins at home; they’re four. So my mom and dad don’t have time to worry about it. Of course,” she paused then said shrewdly, “I’d have to see the place first.”

Mike smiled, “I think you should change your major from Lit to Economics or Math.”

“But we still have to keep our relationship platonic,” Lucy said sternly, “Especially now.”

“Right,” Mike nodded, "Absolutely."

But on the last night before they moved out of Landgraab they were seen out on the deck by one or two people, deep in conversation. It was as if the moment they agreed there would be no romance; they were more attracted than ever. The lure of the forbidden it would seem.

The house they chose was badly designed with stairs right in front of the entrance. When you opened the front door you practically stumbled on the first step.  These stairs led to the second floor, but their placement cut the room in two sections that were hard to use. However; it was sturdily built and nicely, if sparely, decorated. Mike’s mom, Jenny, came over to take a look before she added her half of the money for the deposit to the landlord and signed the lease.

“What did she say?” Lucy asked Mike that night. She hadn’t gone with him; she'd had a class then, anyway.

“Well she said it could use a few touches so I went with her and we picked up some stuff,” Mike told her, “She’s shopping again today, she didn’t say for what, though.”

“But you told her we’re just friends and not going to be ‘living together’ in the usual sense, right?” Lucy was anxious.

“Yeah, but…”

“But, what? What did she say?”

Mike smiled and shook his head, “You don't know my Mom...”

“Mike you’re killing me here.”

“She smiled and said, ‘Uh-huh, that’s nice’ and then she said, “I expect you to use common sense and safety precautions, Michael.”

Lucy groaned, “Oh great. I wouldn’t mind if we really were, you know, doing anything, but we’re perfectly innocent.”

“Oh, I know, perfectly innocent,” Mike agreed, “But she added some good things like better towels and new sheets, a microwave and she got us a newer TV. So, frankly, I didn't want to argue with her. She also bought us our first groceries and put them in the fridge.”

Lucy bit her lower lip, “Now I feel bad I didn’t meet her. What do you suppose she’s buying today, though?”

“Who knows? But obviously she’s not angry anyway.

When they arrived the following day with their all their stuff in boxes and looked in the apartment, Mike crowed with happiness.

“She bought us an exercise machine! She knew I wanted one, but they’re way too expensive—now we don’t have to go to the gym to exercise!”

Downstairs bathroom

Mike's room

Upstairs Bathroom

Lucy's room

Mike and Lucy encouraged each other all the time and without the distractions of the dorm their grades improved even more. They both made the dean’s list every semester.

They had developed a household routine, early breakfast together most days (when they didn’t have a class too early), Mike cleaned the kitchen, Lucy made the beds and cleaned the bathrooms. They took turns cooking, but Mike knew Lucy did more of it; her cooking was better, he reasoned.