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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Chapter 20




I told her, “I am pretty sure you shouldn’t be here.” 

“What did you do to Roman?  He looks sick.  Did you hurt his feelings?” 

“Not that I’m aware of.  We were making a deal … he kinda wandered off to think for a bit.” 

“That’s not what it looked like.” 

“Then go ask Roman.  I’m not his keeper.” 

“But he’s yours.” 

“We’re talking about the possibility.” 

“No.  Father B has already declared that is going to be the way it is.” 

“Well whoever Father B is, they can undeclare it until after me and Roman have a chance to talk it over.  I didn’t escape one pimp only for another to try and own me.” 

She gasped.  “You … you …” 

“Like I said, I’m pretty sure you shouldn’t be here.  You might hear something they don’t want you to hear … like the truth.  Now go away.” 

“I’m free to do as I wish.  I’m not some two bit piece of trash that came in off the trail to make people miserable with lies.” 

“Don’t be stupid.  It doesn’t matter what you think of me or how much you want to hide from the facts.  Roman’s dad and Saul will crap the Chrysler building if they find you here.  And Roman probably will too.  I’m thinking though that Roman’s mother might be even worse and I don’t want a run in with that woman.  She can be scary when she wants to be and Roman says that she’s the best about some stuff and … and … well I won’t pay her back by being nasty.  She let me hear Bean.” 

“Bean.  That’s what you call … call that …” 

“Bean is not a ‘that’ or an ‘it’ now please go away.” 

“You can’t tell me what to do.” 

“Maybe not but you can tell yourself to use commonsense.  Now scram.  I won’t pay Roman’s mom back like this and I don’t want trouble from anyone else either.” 

Someone cleared their throat and we both jumped.  It was Saul and Mrs. Beauchamp.  Her look could have frozen Satan while he was sitting in a sauna when she said, “Patricia.” 

Just one word.  Not even an order or anything.  But that girl sure moved.  Mrs. Beauchamp reminds me more and more of Mother Mary and that is not a good thing I can tell you that.   

“I wish to have a discussion with you.” 

I was tempted to say so long as your discussion doesn’t involve hitting then go for it … but I didn’t.  She isn’t the type to put up with sass and I’m not sure I want to find out if her remedy is as interesting as Mother Mary’s could be. 

“Roman … is upset this morning.” 

“You mean just now upset or before we started talking he was upset?” 

“I presume it was something that just occurred.” 

“Oh … well I taught him how to read the word cow.  It seemed to perturb him.  He needed to go off and think about it for a bit.” 

“I beg your pardon?” 

“About what?” 

“Let me rephrase that.  My s … s … Roman has severe learning disabilities and cannot read.” 

“He has challenges.  So do lots of other people.  And he can read … or just did.  He just might not ever read really good.” 

“Well.  He may not ever read really well.” 

“At least you seem to be admitting that he can.  Before you said that he cannot.” 

I saw Saul turned his head away like he wasn’t interested in being blinded by the flash explosion that seemed likely to occur if Mrs. Beauchamp’s face was any measure of how things stood. 

“Are you being disrespectful?” 

“No, just stating facts.  Unfortunately you folks aren’t the only ones in the world that seem to lose sight of them on a regular basis.” 

“And what is that supposed to mean?” 

“It means that you came here looking for a fight and you did it by saying something stupid about your son … Roman, not the other ones that by all I’ve heard are actually archangels that came to earth ‘cause you and Mr. Beauchamp are just so special.  Only somehow you feel like Roman is the dud that got snuck in on you.  Well he isn’t a dud … he’s just a man like all other men and has his faults just like the rest of them too.  I admit he does annoy me by acting like I’m some stray he’s got to fix but I’m thinking about letting him so long as he and I get it straight that this is about Bean and not about me.  I’m not fixable.  Bean doesn’t need to be fixed, they’re just going to need someone that won’t object or get in the way of me teaching Bean about safe.  And Roman really has this thing about family so I figure that is good too.” 

“How would you know about the depths of connection in a family?” she asked. 

I glanced at Saul but he was still looking away so I figured either they had decided not to tell her or they hadn’t gotten around to it yet.  I shrugged.  “Maybe I don’t know personally but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have enough brains to figure out that the more people on Bean’s side the better.  If that’s what a family is for then that is what I want for Bean.  Roman can be family.  I just don’t like …” 

“Like what?” she asked and I got the feeling it was against her preference to ask. 

“I don’t like that it looks like he is having to sacrifice to do it.  Oh I know he doesn’t think you all really want him around to begin with and someone has to take the crap work, even in a family; but, Roman really isn’t all that bad.  Kinda a little bit soft hearted but some people just are I guess.  He reminds me of my brother in a lot of ways.” 

“You … you have a brother?” 

“I wasn’t exactly hatched and left under a cabbage leaf for Mother Mary to find.  She’s the woman that owned the whore house.” 

Saul growled and I told him, “Relax.  Mrs. Beauchamp is a grown woman and I heard she used to be a nurse.  And she sure as heck ain’t made of glass.  You want to know the truth she’s scarier than you are and you should really take some notes.  One word and she had that Patty girl moving and it was the same way with those others … Missy, Regina, and the one that Roman said was his sister Vicki.  I don’t see you doing nothing but growling and I sure ain’t moving for some man that can’t use words that can be found in a dictionary.” 

Saul glared and said, “In case Roman hasn’t gotten to this part of it yet, you are required to speak respectfully with members of the enclave and behave appropriately.” 

“Well la-dee-da Mr. Saul … haven’t you figured out yet that I’m too ignorant to know how to act.  Yes siree … I’m just a dock ho’ and …” 

“Thorn, can’t I leave you alone for two seconds without coming back to find you in trouble?!”  Roman stood shaking his head.  “Knock it off.  I told you to be careful around Saul and that you weren’t going to like some of the conditions.” 

“You also told me I wouldn’t have to be around any of the men.  Well unless I’m sadly mistaken Saul is one of the men and he’s around, so which is it going to be.  Do I have to put up with them or not?” 

“Saul is the exception.” 

“How many exceptions are there going to be and Alex better not be one of them.” 

“No, Alex will NOT be one of the exceptions.  That was one of my conditions so you don’t need to worry about that.” 

“You sure?  ‘Cause they let him run loose once and he tried to … to hurt Bean.” 

“I’m sure.  But that’s one more reason why we’re out here rather than back in the enclave.” 

“Where is here anyway?  I know it is a different place than the other one.  They didn’t kick you out did they?” 

“No Thorn,” he said with a sigh.  “They did not kick me out.  And we’ll talk about where here is as soon as we get some other things straightened out.” 

“Ok, so long as here is a place that is safe.” 

“Yeah, here is safe.” 

“Ok.  Fine then.  What’s the other stuff you need to straighten out?” 

“We need to straighten out.  We’re making a deal remember?” 

“That’s what I mean.” 

“That’s not what you said.  First thing first.  You aren’t a prisoner.” 

“Roman, get off it already.  I’m not some pathetic little whatever that you need to … I don’t know … whatever it is you think you need to do.  All I’m looking for is a place for Bean.  You aren’t half bad at this deal stuff so I’m willing to reconsider about around here being where I can stop and give Bean safe.” 

Mrs. Beauchapm obviously did not like being left out of the conversation.  “Young la … woman …” 

Roman surprised me – and from the looks of them Mrs. Beauchamp and Saul too – by saying, “Mom, I’ve got this.  Let Saul take you back home.  You and him are only making things harder.” 

“Well, that a son of mine would …” 

I rolled my eyes, “Roman, just let ‘em stay so we can get this over with.  But first I need to go to the bathroom so you better tell me where it is and get out of the way.  Bean is not making this sitting still stuff very easy.” 

Roman got red and said, “It’s out back.  Uh …” 

“No.  I do need you trailing me to the bathroom like some kind of pervert.  I’m not completely stupid.  I will go there and I will come back.  I will not run away.  I will not cause trouble.  And close your eyes, I don’t have to let men see me no more.  Besides, Alex pretty much let me know that I’m gross looking and the way I’m feeling right now I don’t want to have to clean up some man’s puke just ‘cause he got an eye full he didn’t want.” 

“Now Thorn …” 

I ignored him because I could and when I got to the front door I asked, “Left or right?  And stop looking.” 

“I’m not looking already.  Left.” 

“Then stop following me or is that part of your job?” 

He sighed.  “Knock it off.  I’m tired of fighting with you.” 

“Fine.  But that still doesn’t mean you can look.” 

“Will you just go already?!” 

I did but I came out feeling not so hot.  It must have showed on my face because Mrs. Beauchamp, who must have come out to make sure we knew how to do things, told Roman, “She is no condition to run anywhere so I can at least let them know that isn’t a concern at this time.” 

I didn’t say it but I could have told her that she obviously did not know me at all and underestimated my determination and how much I could take … and how much I would put up with.  Instead I used a little commonsense and kept my mouth shut which for some reason had Roman looking at me suspiciously before taking my arm and saying, “Just let me help without giving me any grief about it.” 

“Fine.  But I’m not helpless.” 

“You’re as helpless as a rabid panther but that doesn’t mean you don’t need help once in a while.” 

I could accept that and by the time we got back in the house I was shivering.  “You need a coat.” 

“I could have taken a cover but I didn’t want to get it dirty in the bathroom.  That place needs a serious scrubbing.” 

Mrs. Beauchamp said, “Yes it does.  I also expect you to clean the rest of this house.  I may not agree with Roman’s choices but I will not see him suffer because of some … some over inflated se …” 

“Aunt Margaret …” 

I told Saul, “Oh stop it.  Let the woman express herself.  She’s more polite about it than most would be.  All she is saying is that I best behave or she’ll know about it and get involved.  That’s fine by me.  It lays it all out on the table.  And besides, I don’t want on her bad side.  Roman says his mother is the best about baby stuff and that means she’s what is best for Bean.  If you want something in this life you gotta be willing to give something.  If I gotta give minding her to get her for Bean, that’s the way it’s gotta be.” 

“I cannot be bribed.” 

“I’m not talking about bribery.  I’m talking about paying what is due on account for Bean’s sake.” 

Roman said, “Enough.  Get back in bed.” 

“I can’t clean if I’m in bed.” 

“You can start that after you aren’t the color of a rancid mushroom.  Now get back in bed or I’ll put you there.” 

Mrs. Beauchamp must be the kind of woman that is the one that likes to give the orders.  “Roman Douglas Beauchamp.” 

“Mom, don’t take this the wrong way but your way isn’t going to work here.  Neither is Dad’s or Andrew’s … and Peter better just back off all together before him and me get into it again.  Saul probably understands better and even he don’t get it all the way.  Thorn and I will work this out, make a deal that works for us and the enclave and then everyone can go back to doing what they want to do.” 

“And Alex?  He’s left with this … this … scar … trauma …” 

“Mom, you and I are just going to have to disagree on this.  Alex was wrong.  Talk to Dad if he can even bring himself to tell you.  If not … Saul you do it.  Someone needs to but she won’t believe it if it comes from me.” 

“Hey!  I said …” 

Roman turned around and very quietly said, “Your story isn’t going to get spread around.  I don’t think they dare … for lots of reasons.  But Mom needs to know.  It’s not fair to keep her in the dark.  Not about this.  And she needs to know for Bean’s sake too.  It might make a difference.  Mom is always up in arms about young girls having babies and you fall into that category.” 

“What do you mean she falls into that category?” 

I rolled my eyes.  “Don’t worry about it Mrs. Beauchamp.  Roman is just hypersensitive.  It’s not his fault and it isn’t anyone’s fault that is still around to kick around about it.” 

“Excuse me?” she said like I was trying to fool her on purpose.  Honestly Bean, that woman doesn’t know when to give it up already. 

Roman interrupted.  “Saul, take her to Dad.  I don’t know, maybe they can work it out between them or something.  Just give me some space to try and make a deal with Thorn.” 

Saul sighed and said, “Patty is around here someplace.” 

“What?!  Oh that’s just great.  More for Alex to come unglued about.” 

I patted his arm. “I told her she probably wasn’t supposed to come around and I was nice about it.  Ask your mom.  I know she’s … something … to you I mean.” 

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?’ 

“I told you I could tell about people – human nature and all that – and Alex was having too much fun just egging you on about it and a couple of other people have let her name drop.  Now I know she is Alex’s wife so that must mean there is a story there but that’s none of my business.  But my business IS making sure you don’t think I’d get into your business and stir trouble so …” 

Roman just shook his head.  “You are a piece of work.  And we might as well get this out in the open right now before witnesses so you don’t get all sorts of dumb ideas and this just gets harder.  Yes, Patty and I were sitting on her uncle’s porch together after she came to live with him.  At least before Alex started showing up and then pushed me out of the way.  Patty is a sweet and likable girl and she wasn’t always treated very nice in her father’s house and I tried to … to make her feel better.  But I went and read too much into the time we spent together.  I … I thought there was more to it than there was and what went down was Patty’s choice, not mine.  I didn’t like it at the time and pouted like an idiot which just gave people more fuel to … to think less of me than I’d like.  But I was nineteen and have outgrown it and her.  And I swear that is all there is to it.  I have no clue why people keep bringing it up any more than I understand why they are forever making such a big deal out of Alex and I being twins.  Just because it is a big deal for some people doesn’t mean those situations have to be a big deal for everyone.  Including me.  Understand?” 

“Not particularly but if that means that I don’t have to step on eggshells around her then fine.  She sure don’t like me none but I thought it was because of you so I tried to … uh … defuse the situation so there wouldn’t be trouble.” 

“Patty could care less about me.  She loves Alex just like everyone else.  She’s probably just upset about the entire situation.”  He turned to Saul.  “Patty needs to know the truth too.  I’ve already talked to Andrew and he agrees.  So does David.  Dad is still sticking his fingers in his ears and going la-la-la.  The only way you people are going to be able to get the Alex back you want is to make sure none of this gets swept under the rug or it is just going to fester and maybe happen again.  You know how Alex can be about people … if he doesn’t have any reason to respect them he doesn’t.” 

To me he said, “In the bed … willing or not that’s where you are going to go.  If you won’t do it for yourself then do it for Bean.” 

Well I couldn’t fight him there and I wasn’t up for any more fighting of any kind to be honest.  I was all wore out again.  I must have fallen asleep and when I woke up everyone was gone … or at least I thought so.  I didn’t need to go to the bathroom but lying in bed wondering what was going on gave me an upset stomach so I got up and walked around.  The door was closed so I knew they meant for me to stay in the bedroom. 

Bean, this bedroom is about the nicest place I’ve ever been … at least that I can remember.  There is real wood on the wall and on the floor too.  The bed is a real bed and it is up off the floor.  There’s other furniture in the room too and I was real tempted to go snooping but I didn’t.  I was messing with the window and I thought I’d broken it until I figured out it opened and closed and could lock and unlock.  Me playing with the window let Roman and his sister Vicki know I was awake.  When Mrs. Beauchamp isn’t around Vicki is as bossy as she is but eventually she left and it was just Roman and me. 

“You up to finishing our deal?” 

“I guess.” 

“I wish I could make it easier on you.” 

“Don’t worry about that and just spit it out.” 

“You … you should sit down.” 

“That bad?” 

“I have a feeling you’re going to think so.”  He sighed.  “Andrew is being a total butthead.  I don’t care if he is a preacher that doesn’t exempt him from being one.  And after Mom got all the facts … she’s mortified.  And she’s really angry too but doesn’t know who to be angriest at.” 

“It isn’t exactly her business.” 

“Mom tends to make stuff her business.  Most of the time that’s a good thing.  This time?  She’s … she’s hurting.  I know you don’t think so but she is.” 

“I never said she wasn’t hurting.  I … well she’s just more angry than hurt from what I can tell.  And I don’t want to be in the blast zone when she blows.” 

“She … she won’t blow.  Mom doesn’t.  Ever.  She just gets … brittle … to deal with.  But right now it is Andrew being the biggest …” 

“Butthead?” 

“Yeah,” he sighed.  “Thorn if it isn’t me they’ll make it someone else.  It’s the rules.” 

“Taking responsibility for Bean?” 

“Yeah.  But … more than that.  They expect the baby … look they are at least admitting that the baby is Alex’s.” 

“I told you …” 

“It’s just a figure of speech.  I’m in one hundred percent agreement that Alex isn’t ever going to have anything to do with Bean or you so drop that off your radar.  I’ll move us further up the mountain if they try that route.” 

“I’ll fight if they try that route.” 

“You won’t have to.  They think Alex will change his spots … he won’t.  I think he’s gone too far to come back.  Andrew wants there to be absolution and redemption.  It’s the other he said that has created this situation.” 

“What other?” 

“He says that if they’re gonna do that for Alex they have to do it for you.  Which is right but instead of just giving it they want to actively make it.” 

“Uh … what’s that mean?” 

“The rules of the enclave have to be followed but the family’s reputation is at stake also.  So not only do the rules have to be followed but the whole situation needs to be white washed.” 

“Are … are they going to disappear me?  Like they do in the city?” 

“No!  No they are not.  They … they say the baby has to be born a Beauchamp.  The only unattached male Beauchamp besides me is a cousin that is already seeing a girl who he plans to marry.  And Peter … but it’s a toss up as to who would kill who first, you or Peter.  He means well – in a dumbass older brother way – and he would do it but neither of you would be happy.  Ever.” 

“What … what are you … they …?” 

“Easy Thorn.  Trust me I know how this sounds.” 

“I bet you don’t.” 

“I bet I do.  I’ve been listening to them go at it almost since we arrived.  On top of the rest of it Missy and Mom have had their first big blow up ever.  Usually they are in lock step about stuff.  Missy says you are too young – which I agree with except you don’t act young – and too traumatized – which I worry about – to even be considering this.  Missy really got mad and even Vicki had a few things to say about it.  Patty is in some kind of denial which is sort of expected I guess but all her hysterics did was add to the noise.  What a nightmare.” 

“Roman?  Exactly what kind of deal are we talking about?  This isn’t … well … it doesn’t sound like what I had been thinking we were talking about.” 

“A deal that if you don’t accept it they’ll send you off to the mines to work as a housekeeper or something like that, then they’d try and take Bean away and raise him or her as a Beauchamp directly.  Only, regardless of what you decide, I won’t let that happen.  Like I said, we’ll move up the mountain and to … and to hell with ‘em.  I promised to look after you and Bean.” 

“Roman?” 

“It would be common law.  We don’t believe in having the government get involved in this stuff.  But there is no denying that problems could come from that, your age for one thing if it gets out.” 

“Roman?” 

“And for … uh … what?” 

Quietly I asked, “Is this … a contract?  Are you going to own me?  Like Alex?  For how long?” 

“No!  Definitely not that … at least not like that.  And we’ll own each other.  Basically as for how long?  It’s … it’s supposed to be forever.  Um … are you going to puke?  You look funny.” 

“No, I don’t think so.”  Hesitantly I asked, “I wouldn’t ever have to have to be with any other man?  Ever?” 

“That’s … er … the general idea.  And I wouldn’t be with anyone else either.” 

“No?” 

“No.” 

“Why would you say yes to this?” 

“I … Thorn I just am.  I don’t … look, thinking about it being anyone else is just not acceptable.  I promised to take care of Bean … and you … not some other guy.  I keep my promises.” 

“What happens when Bean is old enough to take care of themselves?” 

“What if we decide to … to have more Beans?” 

“What if I’m only good for one Bean?  What happens?” 

“I don’t know.  What if you don’t want to have Beans with me after you’ve had this one?” 

“I … I never thought about anyone wanting to have Beans with me.  And thinking too many tomorrows ahead makes me want to puke again.” 

“What about the tomrrows you can think about?  You have a problem spending them with me?” 

“Would we fight like we do now?” 

“Eh … I won’t lie, probably some.  But I’ll do my part to try and keep it to a minimum.  What about you?” 

“I … I …”  It was the biggest deal I have ever brokered Bean.  Seriously. 

“Thorn I’d give you time but …” 

“They want the mess cleared up, swept away, and out of sight?” 

“I hate to admit the truth of it but yeah.  That’s exactly how they see things.” 

“And it makes it easier on them that you … that you’re the one willing to fall on your sword?” 

“Huh?” 

“I read it in a magazine article once.  I think it means if you sacrifice yourself, you take all the blame and bad things with you.” 

“Let ‘em think that if they can.  I’m doing this for Bean … and you … and maybe me too.  This is something I know I can do.  Maybe it’s the one thing I can be good at.  I’ll try.  No … I will do it right.  I just need the chance Thorn.” 

I looked at Roman, I mean really looked at him Bean.  Looked at him beyond what he looks like on the outside which isn’t all that hard to look at to tell the truth about it.  But he’s the kind of man that always bothered me.  He’s the kind that would want to be nice and would wind up hurt when all I do is fight. 

“Roman, are you forgetting something?” 

“What?” 

“I’m a whore.  Do I really need to explain to you what that means?  I’m sure Alex …” 

“Stop.” 

“No.  I can’t let you do this.  I know whores are supposed to be ruthless and ..” 

“Thorn I said stop.  Now.  I’m not sacrificing nothing to do this.  I don’t have anything to lose.” 

“Yes you do.  Family and reputation and …” 

He took me by my shoulders and made me sit in one of the chairs and he sat in the other facing me.  Then we really got down to it.

5 comments:

  1. awesome chapter! I can't believe how much I like this story! :) thanks so much!

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  2. Well I am once again all caught up. Thank you for the story. I really truly love it. Hope you are able to add to it when you have the time and inclination.

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  3. Kathy fantastic chapter thanks for the chapter and the story.
    Wayne

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  4. Thanks so much for the chapter!!!

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  5. Very much enjoying this story, hope you get a chance to get back to it sometime!

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