Saturday, July 9, 2011

Shep Ferguson Ch. 7 The Rest of the Clan Pt. 1

All of Shep and Madeleine’s children, except Debbie, were grown and out of the house with homes of their own. Debbie was a great comfort to these almost empty-nesters. A joy to her parents ever since she’d left the children’s home to live with them, Debbie had bloomed once in their care. She was only getting to know her older siblings, Gillian, Margo and Nicky, but she was close as could be to the twins, Harvey and Holly, who had lived at home when she arrived. When Harvey and Lori had moved in for a short while looking for a house, she’d also got to know Lori better. In fact, Lori was a big influence on her and Debbie loved the colorful and sometimes avant-garde way she dressed. So her own clothing choices now as a teenager were very similar.

Shep and Madeleine still loved to paint and sculpt  and most mornings, as soon as Shep finished weeding his garden, they went to the studio. They’d moved it upstairs so they could make a “game room” out of the space.

Debbie had become much more outgoing once she hit her teens and frequently asked to have friends over for supper. When a new family moved in, she promptly asked the middle son, Vic Severino to come over for hot dogs and to play Don't Wake the Llama. 

Right after dinner, while Debbie and Vic played the game and Madeleine cleared and washed the dishes, Shep grabbed a nap on the love seat. Madeleine was noticing how much he’d slowed down in the past year or so. Then again, she supposed she may have been slowing down as well. With Shep, it was hard to tell at first. He’d always been so laid back, carefully considering his words before he spoke, even when he was in his twenties. It had kind of sneaked up on his wife that he got fatigued more easily than he used to. Often he’d doze off as soon as he sat down for more than twenty minutes. She wasn’t all that worried she told herself, but perhaps a little checkup with the doctor was in order.  Also she might give phone up her friends, Melora Lassiter and Olivia Flynn, to see if they’d noticed the same things with John and Errol.

When Vic was getting ready to say goodbye that night, he suddenly took Debbie’s hands in his. It was his personal opinion that she was the cutest and sweetest girl he’d ever met. He thanked her for inviting him over and trying to make him feel welcome in the town. Then, tentatively at first, but with growing conviction, he kissed her. It was the first kiss for both of them and a very special moment. Vic floated home as Debbie wrote in her diary.

“Lori told me that no matter how old you get, you never forget the one who gives you your first kiss. And she even married the boy who gave her that first kiss, my Uncle Harvey, so she ought to know. There’s a very good chance this kiss from Vic might really be momentous." 

Summer was coming to a close and Debbie often was found by the pond, fishing. She’d loved fishing ever since she was a little girl and Shep had taught her. In the years since he'd tried to impart whatever tips and knowledge he had on the subject to Debbie since she was so interested. He often remarked that soon she would soon be as good a fisherman as Harvey and Nicky were. 

“Not as good as me, yet, of course,” he’d told her with a smile, “No one in the family is that good yet. At least, not so far.”

Her mother, Madeleine, still loved to cook and bake and this went right along with her fondness for entertaining. Whether a large group of people or small, she loved a party. In fact, they were planning a family get together for the weekend.

Starting slowly, Madeleine was teaching Debbie to know her way around the kitchen. Of course, Debbie could only work on that so much; she had her homework to do. Her grades were consistently very high, but it took work to keep them there. She was diligent about exercising, either on the machine, or working out to the radio or swimming in their huge pool.

Margo, the Fergusons' second daughter, didn’t live too far away from Shep and Madeleine (though not as close as Gillian, who was next door, or Harvey who was just across the street) so sometimes she would surprise her parents with a quick visit when she wasn’t totally absorbed with her husband and the twins.

She showed up one afternoon not long after lunch. Debbie was just finishing her homework—she’d been too exhilarated to deal with it the night before because Vic had called her and run it straight out of her mind. As soon as she closed her notebook, she joined Margo, Shep and Madeleine in a game of Don't Wake the Llama.  Setting out plates of cherry pie, Madeleine said it wouldn’t ruin their appetites; the Fergusons almost always had a late supper, around 7, and Margo was welcome to stay for that as well. 

After she’d finished her pie and done the dishes, Debbie wanted to do a teenager’s favorite thing and talk to her friends on her cell and in the privacy of her bedroom. Margo had to leave by then to get home to her family who would soon be expecting their supper. Madeleine kissed her daughter goodbye and returned to the kitchen to make preparations for the cookout tomorrow. They’d invited Gillian and Harvey and their families.

The next day Debbie worked on her very first painting upstairs until she heard the guests arriving. She adored her nephews and nieces—it was almost like having younger brothers and sisters and she knew Gillian was bringing her oldest son, Robby, as well as her husband, Jeremy. Little Ryan was at home with a sitter. 

Harvey had to finish up a few things in the office, so he met Lori at his parents house. She’d brought a change of clothes for him so he could trade his business suit for something cooler. Harvey and Lori had no children yet, but Madeleine had high expectations that they soon would.

As the summer day grew even hotter, Debbie and Ryan hit the pool first while Madeleine and Gillian enjoyed the slight breeze and the shade of the porch. Shep, Harvey, Lori and Jeremy soon joined the swimmers. The temperature was just right, not cold, but not bathwater either.

The sun-worshippers, Debbie and Lori left the pool to soak in the rays, while Madeleine put the hamburgers on the grill.

Debbie and Robby sat at their own table because there was not enough room at the big one and…they were “the kids” at this party. Ordinarily Debbie would have resented being kept from the adult table, but Robby was good company so she didn’t really mind.  

Once it got dark, they moved inside; the mosquitoes were getting bad. There was a lively Llama game going and the players changed often. Harvey played for a while but then heard Robby playing SSX3 and went in to compete against him. So Jeremy took his place and was almost as cutthroat a player as Harvey.

When Harvey and Lori said they had to be on their way, Robby and Madeleine took their places at the table. Lori practically jumped into Harvey’s arms and he carried her out the door.

“Newlyweds,” Jeremy complained, “I hope he’s not going to try to carry her clear to their house.”

“It’s only across the street,” Gillian remarked, “Ten years ago you would have carried me farther than that.”

“That’s why I have a bad back now,” Jeremy grinned.

About an hour later Jeremy and Gillian were ready to leave and Robby was giving goodbye hugs to his grandparents. Right after that Debbie whispered to her mother—when could they have Holly and Nicky over? The next day was Sunday and that’s what they did. 

Holly’s husband, Andy, was also keen on fishing, so he joined Shep and Debbie at the pond while Nicky play Marco Polo with his mother. Holly and Nicky's new wife, Allyn, were in the kitchen, cooking. As the weekend came to a close, Debbie thought, I love having this big warm family around me, so when I get married some day I want to have kids, lots of kids.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lomax Family Ch. 6 Two Couples and a Dad

Andy Lomax had been most enthusiastic about his chosen profession: natural science. He was so ahead of the game that he was hired right away as a Dinosaur cloner. He went to work happily each day until he was promoted to Ecological Guru. Along with the promotion came an unbelievably high salary and he only had to work one day a week, but, the “uniform” was a bit skimpy.

Holly was busy in the kitchen when he came down the stairs that first morning, so he walked out the door, relieve that he would not have to explain to her. He was proud of his work in this field, but he feared Holly would be less enthusiastic than she had been. As he walked out the front door Andy reflected it was lucky he’d been working out so strenuously.

Holly heard him leaving and followed to grab a kiss goodbye. Odd, that he had not come to her, he was always very affectionate. While she came through the foyer, she got one quick glimpse of him from behind and did a double-take. She ran down the front walk after him to try to prevent him from going, but he was already poised to take off. Stopping a moment to admire her husband, she knew that while she loved to show him off, this was definitely more of him than she cared to share with the world. She blinked and he was gone.

Andy didn’t get home until the middle of the night when Holly was sound asleep, but the next morning she shared her reservations him. 

“Andy, darling, you know that I love you. And I realize that this is the career you dreamed of when we were in college. I’ve always supported you so far,” she paused, “But if you go out of the house almost naked again, I’m going to have to kill you.” 

“I should have told you ahead of time this morning,” Andy nodded, through a mouthful of Western omelet.

“Do you like going out dressed like Adam?”

“Not particularly. It gets cold out there in the morning,” he admitted, “I’m sorry I upset you, Holly. I don’t know what to do, though. This is what I’m trained for and I have no idea what else I could do.”

She smiled and said in a indulgent coaxing voice,

“You can do anything, Andy, I know you can. Please? Please quit and look for something else? I can go back to work while you consider your options.”

“No. I have to be able to support us on my own, I’m going to go talk to Dad and see what he suggests.”

That relieved Holly’s mind immensely and she cleared away the food and did the dishes while he went outside to where his father was weeding his garden.  About 45 minutes later, Holly was still in the dining room where she had been polishing the silver. Then she heard the back door slam and Andy swaggered into the room and, wrapping his strong arms around her, gave her a big kiss.

“My goodness! What did your dad say?”

Andy grinned,

“Dad said that you are right; he doesn’t think any career should dictate wearing only grape leaves. We can stay here and not worry about money while I look for another job. Also, he’s old-fashioned so he added I’d better not send you back to work because he wants grandchildren as soon as possible. I guess he thinks getting pregnant is a full time job.”

Holly hugged Andy,

“Mmm, yes, let’s make it a full time job," she added, "I just love old-fashioned men!”

The big, comfortable house was holding only five people right now, but there were two wives in residence and that can often make the walls seem to close in. Fortunately, Holly and Lucy liked each other very well, but still, it could get awkward in the future. Since Lucy worked, Holly volunteered to clean the house (they’d gotten rid of the pesky maid), and do a large portion of the cooking, but she didn’t want Lucy to feel like a guest in the house. So Lucy volunteered to make dinner a twice a week to spell Holly.

The kids didn’t want their father to come home from his restaurant after being chef as well as owner and then have to cook something for everyone else, so they didn’t even ask him if he wanted to be included in the schedule. However; Larry Max said he would be happy to make a big meal on Sundays. Grilling out didn’t seem like work to him. Meanwhile, when people got hungry at odd times, they were on their own; they either had to eat leftovers or make a sandwich.

Mike was not totally incompetent in the kitchen so he said he would be willing to help out on meals, too, when necessary, Andy could not even boil water so no one wanted him near the stove. When it came to clearing the table and doing dishes, the girls just pitched in together.

Living together for the first time in several years, Mike and Andy, the oldest and youngest in the family, actually got to know each other better. They both loved games of all kind. They had set up a room upstairs with pinball machines and they both spent many hours playing.

Larry Max felt he had enough privacy, at least for now, with his office and bedroom, both downstairs. Anyway, the house was so big that he could read the newspaper in the foyer while the boys played SSX3 and the noise was filtered out quite a bit. However; he had been mulling his situation over. Did he want to perhaps move to a small home where he could have real privacy and maybe even start dating at last? Or did he want to remain here to be close to his future grandchildren and be there for Mike and Andy? They were men, but they were young and frequently asked for his advice. And if he left, who would want the house? Both of the boys? Neither? And what about Corky and Chelsea? He had planned at one time to leave the house to all of them in his will so they could sell it. He hadn’t thought then about any of them wanting to keep it and, perhaps, none of them did want that.

He wasn’t the only one puzzling over the housing situation. Holly had already grown to love this house and hoped that, somehow, she and Andy could stay here and raise their family. But she didn’t know if Mike and Lucy wanted the same thing or not. And how could they have two families living together, even if the house was big? Multi-generational was one thing. But two brothers and their wives and children were another. 

Holly said to Andy that she came from a big family, and so did he and she wanted her children to know the same thing. If they couldn’t live here just the two of them and their future kids along with Larry Max—if Mike and Lucy wanted to stay as well—Holly said she would accept those terms. If it became unbearable afterward, well, they would have to move she guessed.  

Mike and Lucy often talked to each other about it at night. While they felt they had enough privacy here they worried that once they had children it would be a different situation. Also, they planned to wait a few years to start a family; but Holly and Andy did not. They wanted children right away while Mike and Lucy plan was to have a couple years with just the two of them. How alone would they feel with little babies and toddlers crying all the time--babies and toddlers who were not theirs? Of course, they amended, they’d love any nieces and nephews that might come along, but that didn’t mean they wanted to live with them. After all, they were on the same floor as Holly and Andy, even if they were at opposite ends of the house. They began to consider buying a house of their own.

Neither of the two sons even considered that Larry Max might have plans of his own or might want to move out to finally have a life of his own. Lucy had thought of it, as had Holly, but when they told their respective husbands, Mike and Andy scoffed. Daddy was perfectly happy this way--their dad was their dad and would never want to leave his greenhouse or his pond. Right?

One morning, with business as usual, Lucy gulped down an instant meal before her ride came. Mike called to her that her ride was here and to hurry up as he headed out. Meanwhile, Holly was having her first bout with what she surmised was morning sickness. She hoped so, but said nothing to Andy when they fished in the pond together later that day. She had already made an appointment with her doctor.

Larry Max had told no one, but he’d been quietly checking out homes in Pleasantview with the thought of possibly moving out as soon as he figured out the fair thing to do with the house.

The next morning after her doctor appointment Holly excitedly told Andy the good news,

"You're going to be a daddy, hot stuff!"

In no time she was wearing maternity clothes, even though she wasn’t showing yet. The summer wore on, hot and humid,the family swam and fished a lot. Holly’s stomach did pooch out finally and she gladly bought a maternity swimsuit.

After a day of swimming and a tasty supper one night the boys decided to have a jam session. Larry Max played the piano so Mike could have a turn on the guitar while Andy played drums.  The house was filled with music and Holly reflected that perhaps the baby could hear it and would grow up to love music, too.


Time went by and Holly made frequent trips to the bathroom at night and kept up a diary on her pregnancy. Every day Andy scanned the newspaper and looked online for career possibilities. He still couldn’t decide what he was best trained for besides natural science. After the grape leaves uniform debacle, he’d called Harvey Ferguson who had also trained for natural science. 

Once Harvey found out about that, he decided to take a chance on an architectural career, even if he had to take some more college courses. He advised Andy to think about the things he really liked, really was interested in and review what his talents were and that might help him decide. All Andy knew was that above all else what he loved best, besides Holly and the rest of his family, was gaming—and he was good at it. He decided to try for a career in the gamer line.

When they were all together at breakfast a few days later Larry Max said how much fun the impromptu jam session had been. Why didn’t they do it again and, this time, invite their brother and sister to come, too? Corky and Elle and Chelsea and Trey were enthusiastic and promised to come the following Saturday for a jam session with swimming and Larry Max's famous barbeque ribs to follow.

That Saturday Trey and Chelsea arrived first. Andy had scarcely seen his old housemate since they'd come back home except at a couple weddings since then. Once Corky and Elle arrived and after some preliminary goofing around, the session got under way. This time Corky played the piano because Larry Max said he would have to leave for work shortly. He'd barbeque the ribs when he got back. He'd arranged to leave the restaurant early.

The day was blistering and, after the musical interlude, everyone headed for the pool. Even Holly went swimming that day too. Mike and Lucy were relaxing on the lounges when Holly waddled by on her way to the bathroom (again). They looked at each other and Lucy said,

“Want to bet that baby comes before another 24 hours?”

“I hope so, for her sake,” Mike grinned, “Because she can’t get any bigger.”

“You’re rotten, Mike,” Lucy replied.

Andy couldn’t have been  happier about the baby-to-be and was more affectionate with Holly than ever.


As evening came Larry Max arrived home. The swimmers had not yet given up, so Larry Max got the food ready--that would make them consider drying off, he figured. They all trouped in to the dining room to devour the ribs, along with barbeque beans and creamy coleslaw. It was a wonderful family reunion, actually. Larry Max was really happy to have all four kids, and their spouses, together at one time. The only one missing--and no one mentioned it--was the families one-time matriarch, Mrs. Jenny Hammond.

The guests left not long after supper, saying what a great time they’d had and asking when they could do it again maybe at Corky and Elle's house this time. 

Lucy had been on the money; that night Holly had twins; a boy and a girl. Larry Max, Mike and Lucy were right there to give moral support. Although Lucy did have a spell of almost fainting for a moment. She recovered quickly and was happy to hold one of the twins. Andy announced that the names he and Holly had chosen (they knew they would very likely have twins), were Arliss and Alexa.

The sweet babies were held and petted by everyone before they could be fed and bathed and laid in their cribs.

No one could sleep that night; they were just too excited. The next morning Andy had his first bout with a dirty diaper and bathed his first baby. All in all it had been a remarkable 24 hours.

Lucy had been very excited at the response to her first novel. As many journalists do; she had longed to write a fictional book. The title was “My Dad’s a Kook”. Her father, Josh Burb, would possibly have been insulted of he’d been paying attention to what was going on around him, but as usual he remained befuddled. The only place he seemed clearheaded at all was at Dylan Ottomus’ Club Dante where he worked as the resident DJ. When her copy of the book arrived Lucy asked Mike to discuss it with her. He was impressed and said someday she might want to quit her job in order to write more books. It was an intriguing thought.

Andy wore a much less revealing uniform at his new job as a gamer. In fact, Holly said he looked hot in it. Some mornings he left at the same time Lucy and Mike did.

This pretty much left Holly alone with the twins during the day, although Larry Max could be relied on for emergency help. But he left for work at 2 in the afternoon. She seemed to be getting the hang of motherhood though, juggling two babies for multiple diaper changing and feedings.

Holly with Arliss on the left and Alexa on the right:

The two brothers had still not decided what to do about living quarters in the future. Mike was at the top of his field in as an executive and CEO of his own company and a helicopter picked him up at 9 am and transported him home at 4 pm each day. However; the neighbors could have lived without it. Very noisy. The thing was, he could now afford to buy almost any house in Pleasantview, but would that rock the boat for Andy and Holly or even Larry Max?

Andy was slowly learning about fatherhood. He’d been eager to start a family and wanted to do the best job he could. Holly was well pleased with his progress. Now the question remained, who would live here---or how many would live here at the house? And when would everyone come clean and discuss it?