Saturday, November 19, 2011

Shep Ferguson Ch. 9 Gillian Ferguson Blackford

Gillian's back was killing her lately--she was far along into her pregnancy by this time and her third pregnancy seemed a lot harder on her than either of the first two.  Ryan was a good boy but he sometimes seemed to Gillian to be a little crankier than Robby had been at that age.

"Or maybe it's just me who's crankier," she muttered.

Robby was still devoted to his father. He greeted Jeremy everyday when he got home from work--running clear out to the sidewalk from wherever he was playing.  Gillian had told Jeremy he'd best enjoy it because once Robby became a teenager there was no guaranteeing that he'd want to be with his dad as much, if at all. So Jeremy did try to spending as much time with Robby as he could, but he also made a renewed effort to give attention to Ryan, who would be having a birthday soon.

Many people said that in Pleasantview babies, like vampires, always seemed to show up after dark. The new twins, Stephen and Sabrina, were no exception in that regard. In fact it was the very middle of the night when Gillian experienced those familiar pains.

"Well, Mom wanted six grandchildren--then she upped it to an even dozen," Gillian grinned at Jeremy as they cuddled the new babies, "All I can say is I've done my part. I love all four of our children, but I'm ready to say 'enough' after this." 

Ryan might have seemed cranky to Gillian at times, but most family and friends who knew him thought he was very amiable, though quieter than Robby. He could get upset at times but it was really because he lived in his imagination so much and focused so hard at play that reality intruding could unnerve him a bit.

Early on he showed a definite preference for any animal toys like his "horsie", and he absolutely adored his teddy bear. He never mishandled, hit or chewed on "Blue Bear", as he called him, and for a toddler that was very good indeed.

Time went by, Gillian was very busy with Ryan and the babies. Jeremy and Robby did more bonding. When it was at last time for Ryan's birthday Gillian cuddled him and helped him blow out the candles. 

Now that he was of age, Ryan couldn't wait to begin school and go on the bus with his brother. He was excited that he could play games with Robby, too. The very first day of school he brought home a new friend with him, Liara Hammond. She was quiet and a little shy, like Ryan was with strangers, but once he got to know her he'd found she was a lot of fun and they played at the activity table and then had a game of Paper-Rock-Scissors. Spaghetti with meatballs was what Gillian usually served for supper when the boys had friends over, the other favorite was macaroni and cheese, of course.

Later that same week Robby brought home a friend of his own--it was Loni Faye, Liara's big sister, who had been over to the house before. 

Gillian said that supper would be late tonight so the kids could get some snacks from the refrigerator. Robby knew she was probably thinking along the lines of an apple or a jello cup, but all three of them were really hungry and there was leftover cherry cheesecake and part of a butter cake with chocolate frosting. So he served up the desserts to his brother and his schoolfriend.

Afterward Loni Faye said with a particularly sweet smile that she couldn't think of a better supper--how clever of Robby. He had a little bit of a crush on her so when she said that to him his face grew pink and he tried to think of another way to impress her. Whispering in her ear he suggested that they play "Red Hands". Ryan thought that whenever Robby glanced at Loni Faye his expression was decidedly stupid, but he kept his opinion to himself for the time being.

After all, Ryan liked Loni Faye fine and he liked Liara, too, but come on--they were girls. Girls could be fun to play with, but to Ryan they were kind of silly at times. What was wrong with Robby, anyway? Ryan didn't say anything to Gillian or Jeremy so they could not explain to him that Robby was growing up, that was all.

Now, Loni Faye was a very neat and orderly child (as well as outgoing and precocious) and before going home she visited the guest bathroom at the Blackford house. Not only did she use the toilet, she also took a shower to wash off the day's grime and then wiped down the shower stall afterward and scrubbed the sink. 

Robby quickly hugged her goodbye just as her mother's car pulled up out front, which disgusted Ryan so thoroughly he went upstairs to go to bed early, making gagging noises as he went.

"That little girl cleaned the shower and sink better than the maid," Gillian told Jeremy later that night.

"I'm surprised she didn't mop the floor," he laughed.

"There wasn't a mop handy, or she probably would have. I can't tell if she's just well brought up or obsessive-compulsive, but as far as I'm concerned Robby can bring her here any time he wants."

Gillian decided to start her Christmas shopping the next week. She was most surprised to see her Aunt Heather working behind the cash register at Inner Child Toys, but Heather said she was squirreling away as much money as possible to cover side expenses when Scotti Lynn went off to college. She and Scott had a fund for Scotti Lynn's tuition and books, of course, but this extra cash would give her spending money and extra clothes. 

Unfortunately for Gillian, Heather was still very new at being a cashier and took a long time to check Gillian out that day. On the bright side, Gillian was able to purchase a lot of items for the kids. Now she would have to figure out a new place to hide them. She was pretty sure that Robby had found where they were in the back of the master bedroom closet last year. Things had looked disturbed when she went to wrap the gifts. Maybe she'd try the attic, tucked behind one of the big trunks--and wrapping them first would probably not be a bad idea, either. She'd also have to warn her oldest son that she was aware he'd snooped in the past and it had better not happen again. Not if he wanted to have some of the things on his Christmas list, anyway. Yes, she definitely was the one who was getting crankier, she decided, it must "hormones-gone-crazy-due-to-having-twins" syndrome. She'd have to get advice from her sister, Margo...

Saturday morning breakfasts were usually a big family meal of pancakes or omelets, but this morning Gillian was busy bathing babies and the men in the family had to fend for themselves. So they ate left-over pancakes and omelets. Jeremy told Gillian he thought it was important that Robby and Ryan should learn how to prepare meals using the microwave anyway. She rolled her eyes and said,

"Whatever. Just clean up the mess afterwards."

Later that same day they celebrated Robby's birthday with cake and presents. He got a new laptop, a stamp collection, a soldering gun, some new clothes in the right size and a new TV and video game player for his bedroom.

It was a great birthday he thought and he hugged his mother on his way upstairs to check himself out in the mirror. Washing his hair and using a blow dryer he was pretty happy with the outcome, same hair style, just fluffier, really. He wondered how Loni Faye's birthday would be and how she would change--he knew it was coming pretty soon.

Robby changed things around in the bedroom he shared with Ryan, who was all about science, space and science fiction, while Robby was all about sports. He did still love quiet pursuits, though, like stamp collecting and learning to craft things and tinker--learning what makes things tick. So he kept his interests mostly to his side of the room and Ryan had all his space stuff on the other side. They met in the middle with their desks.

Ryan and Jeremy went up to the third floor to play the pinball machines there. When Robby could tear himself away from the mirror he sat on the floor in his bedroom to play a sports video game on his new player. Just because he could. Later Gillian joined Ryan and Jeremy on the third floor where her sewing machine was. If she worked at it maybe she would become good enough to sew outfits for the twins when they became toddlers.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Shep Ferguson Ch. 8 Debbie; High School Senior Pt. 2

One evening John Lassiter strolled by the Ferguson home while Shep was fishing in the pond so he called to John and invited him in for a game of "DWTL" and a double-pork chop dinner. John's youngest daughter, Lori, was married to their youngest son, Harvey, so not only were they long time friends and neighbors they were also relatives. They asked him how his wife, Melora, was doing and were surprised to find out that she was working part-time at the Flowers By Chelsea shop in town. She'd taken classes on flower arranging and enjoyed it very much. With all their children out of the house, Melora was bored so she was eager to work for a while again. So John had time on his hands; hence the "walkabout" in Pleasantview that day.

Madeleine was a very good cook; almost as good as Melora Lassiter, and she'd been thinking for some time of entering into the competition at Sue's Secret Kitchen. Melora had encouraged her to give it a try so Madeleine began making a number of her best recipes to see which one she would use to compete.  Crown roast of pork was one of the first ones she made to Shep's great delight; because that was his favorite meal. In fact, she had given the recipe to Lori just before Christmas. Madeleine also grilled often so on various days she prepared Stuffed Golden Trout, Stuffed Rainbow Trout and her special Barbequed Ribs. The ribs recipe had been handed down in her family for three generations--Gillian used it all the time.

She couldn't decide on one recipe so far, but she had narrowed it down to either her barbequed ribs or the crown roast.

"Well, you know which one I'd choose," Shep smiled, "But I'm no expert on cooking competitions."

Madeleine was also considering entering a cake or pie in the dessert competition eventually, after she got the nerve to enter one of her savory dishes. Debbie, too, was more and more interested in learning to cook. She could make grilled cheese sandwiches and macaroni and cheese, but she wanted to learn to make chili and spaghetti and especially double chops the way her mother did.

Madeleine continued to think about it but, for the time being, she didn't feel she was ready to compete at Sue's Secret Kitchen.

Last fall Shep spent a good deal of time raking leaves; a more strenuous job than some might think. Madeleine kept telling him to "take it easy and don't try to do so much in a day, you're not as young as you used to be." This only made him grumpy, of course. Shep was hardly ever in an ill mood, so she tried not to remind him too often. Still, she had read that many seniors had heart attacks while either shoveling snow or raking leaves, so she kept an eye on him when she could.

After some discussion regarding the cramped conditions in the art studio--which had been on the 2nd floor in Nicky's old room for a couple years now--Shep decided Madeleine should have a sewing room of her own on the third floor. It would be in the room that the kids used to use to work out in when they were little and now it just held a second exercise machine. Mostly they used the machine on the 2nd floor in the hall, anyway. So they stored the second exercise machine for the time being in the attic and--with help from Debbie--moved Madeleine's antique sewing machine and table up to the 3rd floor room at the top of the stairs. Madeleine loved the room--there was space for everything she needed. She not only liked sewing clothes from patterns, but designing and making her own patterns and now there was room for both pursuits. Many happy hours would be spent in this room in the future.

On Friday nights Debbie usually spent time with her female friends. Often they'd go cruising or to the movies, or sometimes they went skating or to the Arcade and frequently the next afternoon was spent with them as well. Of course, boys could be counted on to show up during these occasions, but not always. Somehow on this Friday night she'd ended up with no plans. Saturday nights she usually had a date but surprisingly no one had asked her out, either. Feeling glum about the weekend in general and desperate for some socializing she went on up to the Arcade again Friday around 7 pm. When no one was there that was her age she called Jessamyn Blackford to come up to meet her. Jessamyn did so, but no sooner did she come in the door and look around then she muttered she had to go and did just that. Debbie was irritated and headed to Wonderland Skate Rink but there were hardly any teens there either. In fact, there was practically no one there at all. What a dreary Friday night. Debbie went on back home and brooded in her bedroom, writing down her frustration in her diary. An idea occurred to her and she phoned Jessamyn again.

"What was the idea tonight? You came in and then ducked out immediately," before Jessamyn could answer she went on, "Listen, Jess, if you'll pick me up tonight--late tonight--I'll come out and we can go cruising and I'll actually forgive you for being so mean to me at the Arcade. Do not honk the horn."

"I wasn't trying to be mean--it was just that I don't like the manager there, he's too friendly, always trying to joke with me and he creeps me out. I mean, he must be 30! And when I came in he was looking at me weird and I could see he was going to come over to me. I couldn't explain to you then." 

"Well, okay, like I said I'll forgive you if you come by here around 1 in the morning when my parents are asleep. I need a little adventure and sneaking out late at night would be way more fun than than an afternoon at the Arcade anyway."

So when Jessamyn arrived Debbie was lurking on the porch in the dark and she sprinted out to the car. Hours later she crept up the walk as quietly as she could and managed to avoid detection. This time.

Jessamyn often came over on Saturday mornings and had breakfast with Debbie while they discussed what their plans should be for the day. Sometimes they went shopping or over to see another of their friends, like Lisa Trottier Goth, or Scotti Lynn Ferguson. Jessamyn's twin sister, Janice, sometimes came along, too, but her part-time job at Le Magnifique usually kept her busy on Saturday afternoons so she mostly went with them at night.

Other times Debbie and Jessamyn just hung around the house, swimming and fishing, or playing games, and sometimes just being plain silly; pillow-fighting or giggling over boys.

More and more, as her senior year went on, Debbie daydreamed about the day she would leave for college. She could see herself getting in the taxi while Madeline waved goodbye sadly. Would her parents miss her much? She knew she would be very homesick at first, and it really wouldn't be too much longer before it was time to go away to school. She hoped to go to Sim State University, the same college Harvey and Holly had graduated from a few years ago. Shep and Madeleine were debating though, if they let her go there they wanted to be sure she did not stay at the dorm where those murders had once occurred. It sounded fascinating to Debbie--at least from this distance--but surely there could not still be strange things going on at Landgraab Dorm? Perhaps she would try Pinenut dorm instead. She had to make up her mind soon...

Link to 1st Murder at Landgraab HERE

Link to 2nd Murder HERE