Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Novel-The Plan: The Doctor-Easter
When I got the call it startled me. Sickened me. Then made me angry.
What would it take to extract myself from these people?
I had begun thinking of them as "these people". Perhaps to compartmentalize myself from the entire ordeal. It helped me to deal with the reality of the whole situation.
Or maybe try to forget it.
But the General's voice was on the other end. And the summons to Easter Dinner was not a request, but a carefully measured command.
"Mark has been having a pretty rough time of it. The thought of Tracy abandoning the kids. Just do this for him."
This is it." I stated flatly. "I will do this once for Mark, but then it is over. Don't ask me for anything else."
"I understand." He lied, baiting the trap, and watching as I walked right into it.
Sunday arrived, and so did I, dressed for Easter Dinner.
I put a smile on my face and Patty greeted me warmly at the door.
"You just make yourself tah home. I's gots to tend tah this dinner. Kin I getchoo adrink whilst ya waitin' "
Smells radiated from the kitchen. Baked ham, syrupy yams, fresh raised home-made yeast rolls and cake.
She brought me a Scotch and I settled comfortably into one of the wing-back chairs to wait. Enjoying the warmth, and being surrounded by the smells of home cooking. Maybe this isn't going to be so bad, I thought.
"Hey, there you are!"
The booming voice of The General cut through my happy thoughts like an axe.
"Mark will be down shortly with the kids." he said with a smile.
And for a moment I thought maybe this would be okay. A good way to tie loose ends up.
In retrospect, so did The General.
By the time Patty had set and served Easter Dinner my stomach was rumbling and the scents wafting from the kitchen made me salivate.
The kids seem to have sprung up a foot since I had seen them last. They seemed happy and content. They didn't mention their mom. For that I was grateful beyond imagination.
Mark seemed happy, but the shadows beneath his eyes from lack of sleep and worry told a different story. Haunted.
When he started to discuss his worries the General put a curt end to it
"Not at the table, or in front of the kids."
It was obvious whose ship it was. He made that clear.
For dessert, Patty had cleared the table and returned with hot coffee and a crumbly soft, still warm, pineapple upside down cake. The room filled with its brown-sugar-baked pineapple smell.
The kids had been shooed out into the yard where Jade wandered with a pink frilly Easter basket; looking for eggs that Josh had re-hid for the third time. Both of their mouths smeared with the tell-tale remains of chocolate bunny.
"Like I was telling Mark" The General began. "It is likely that Tracy just knew the kids were better off here and met up with that Jerry somewhere."
Mark fixed his gaze on me. I don't think I have ever seen anyone who wanted a confirmation so bad.
And so I gave it to him.
I agreed with the crafty bastard.
That Moment would be my Undoing.
Of course, I couldn't possibly know that yet.
It would be the unravelling of The General's comfortable life, too.
(...for once he did not think everything through, apparently...)
I extrapolated that she probably did not consider it abandoning the children...that she was probably just overwhelmed. Then to add icing to the whole pile of steaming bullshit I added
"When she finally gets settled in...she will probably even call them."
I could see Mark's face fill with false hope.
I was so engrossed in my lies, at first, I didn't hear the cars or sirens coming up the long lane to the circular drive outside the house.
The wailing growing louder; the closer they came.