Monday, October 17, 2011

Chapter 84: Don't know Jack by Glory Lennon


Freddy shook his head. “No, that can’t be it. You must have done something to upset her. Think!”

Problem was Victor could barely sit up let alone think. His head ached something fierce and he thought he might hurl at any moment. He switched the icepack he held to the back of his neck from his forehead and glowered across the coffee table at the only person he could count on to help him win Violet back. He just wasn’t in the mood for an interrogation.

“I already told you ten times. I invaded her space and it freaked her out, but it doesn’t make sense. I’d been that close before. Gees, I even kissed her a couple of times, so…”

“Did you?” Freddy said, stunned and pleased. “That’s real progress, Vic!”

Victor grimaced. “Could you lower the volume? You’re killing me,” he whined.

Freddy held back a laugh. “I guess you don't know Jack. He can kick your ass without even trying. Or you're not used to drinking a full bottle of the stuff in one night.”

“It wasn’t full, thank God. One bottle usually lasts me half a year,” Victor said.

Freddy felt for the guy. “Sorry, I don’t know any hangover remedies. Haven’t ever needed them.”

“Well, bully for you, Mr. Squeaky-clean,” Victor moaned, lying down on the couch.

“I don’t think that’s it at all. I just never got my heart broken.”

“Lucky you! If you’re trying to make me feel better, it’s not working,” Victor snapped and instantly regretted raising his voice.

 "That's it, isn't it?" Freddy said. "Violet?"


"What else?"

“I’d leave you to rest and wallow in self pity, but I’m afraid you’ll die from alcohol poisoning if I don’t watch over you,” Freddy said apologetically. “I’m glad I came. You look even worse than Violet and she looked bad enough to set me worrying big time.”

“Is she sick or still that angry?” Victor said, totally dismayed.

Freddy shook his head.  “Definitely not sick and she didn’t look so much upset or angry, Victor. She actually looked… extremely sad.”

“Sad? But that doesn’t make any sense. Up to the point of her freaking out, we were joking, having a great time,” Victor said, moving the icepack back to the top of his head.

“You must have hurt her feelings somehow. When you can, when you feel up to it, tell me everything you can remember about the entire day, from the moment you picked her up til you got her back home. In there, somewhere, has to be the answer.”

Victor closed his eyes and thought back. “It was a perfect day, Freddy. The weather, the ride there, the waterfall…oh, that may be it,” he said frowning slightly.

“The waterfall?”

“I forgot what she called it. It’s up that road going up to Somerset Hill.”

“On Griller’s Creek? Doesn’t have a name…just the waterfall, but why do you think…”

“No, it was before that. She started crying and when I asked, she said it was Richard. She remembered the last time they had been up that way. They didn’t get the chance to go to Somerset Hill last year before…”

“Before he died…yeah. They used to go every year on their anniversary. Well, one of their anniversaries,” Freddy said sheepishly.

“One of them?”

Freddy smiled. “The anniversary of the first time they…” He left the sentence hanging, hoping he wouldn’t have to say it.

“They told you this?” Victor asked, incredulous.

“No, but I ain’t no dummy. You count nine months back from when Kenny was born and that was the day I helped them sneak off and…there ya go.”

Victor sat up despite the pain and stared at his friend. “She conceived on the very first time? Rotten luck, huh?”

Freddy shook his head and smiled. “Not at all. I’m pretty sure Richie did it on purpose. I think he planned it all. He wanted to get her pregnant. I would never say it to him or to Violet, especially not to Violet, but…”

“For what conceivable purpose?” Victor asked angrily. “Why would he do that to her? She was so young, barely out of high school. She…”

“She was getting sent off to college after that summer. My father was going to make sure he got her as far away from Richie as he could. He hoped she would forget all about him.”

“Your father didn’t approve of Richard?” Victor said, stunned.

“Not at all. Hated him. He thought she deserved someone better. Oddly enough, someone more like you. Sophisticated, polished and successful. He wanted her to marry someone who would give her everything she wanted. He never understood her,” Freddy said, bitterly. “She didn’t need or want anything more than a family to care for. She was never materialistic…still isn’t.”

“I know,” Victor said. “She begrudges every gift I give her.”

Freddy smiled. “And yet she gives and gives and expects nothing in return. She’s so funny.”

“So, Richard got her pregnant on purpose, so they would have to get married. Your dad must have been furious.”

“Got that right. He threw her out of the house,” Freddy said, grinding his back teeth at the memory.

“No, he didn’t!” Victor said, aghast.

“He did and called her…well, you can imagine what he would call her. A young girl getting knocked up in this small town back then was fodder for gossip of the meanest kind and my father didn't care to have his good name slandered," he said, a mean look on his face.
 "It wasn't pretty. I told him to drop dead and we left. I took her to Richie’s house and they were married a week later. Mr. and Mrs. Bennett were happy to have us stay with them.”

“You too?”

“They loved me like a son. They had lost Tim in the war, Richie’s older brother, so they were glad to have a full house again. Sweetest people I’ve ever known. Why people like that have to die young while my asshole father…” Freddy shook his head and said no more.

"That's why she hates people talking about her," Victor mumbled.

"You bet. It brings back bad memories."

“She’ll never get over him, will she? Richard,” Victor said in a defeated tone.

“That’s not true. Look at the progress you’ve made. You said you got her to kiss you! That may not seem like much for a big city guy where girls give it up before they know your name, but for Violet it’s tremendous.”

It hit Victor like a blinding light bulb. He put his aching head in his hands. “I just remembered. Last night just before she freaked out, she looked at me,” he said, lifting his head and staring into space.

“And?” Freddy prompted.

Victor focused on him. “I could have sworn, Freddy…for a minute I thought she might…but I thought surely it was wishful thinking.”

“What?”

“I think she might have wanted to kiss me. She had that look. You know that look women get?” Victor said, although he didn’t sound at all convinced. “But it couldn’t be.”

“What were you talking about before that, just before?”

“The close talker on Seinfeld. She said I was exactly like him. Then I invaded her space and…she just stared at me for a minute while I finished eating. Oh, damn! I forgot that, too.”

“What?”

“I told her, Violet, you do love me. That’s the best sandwich I ever had and…and that’s when she totally lost it. Told me she most certainly did not love me and that I had to go. That was it. I told her my secret wish upon a star and it got her angry. I'm a moron.”

“Yeah, must be,” Freddy said, a smile coming slowly.

“Who knew that would set her off like that? I tried to pass it off as a joke, but she must know I'm in love with her. I’m such an idiot.”

“You are. You really don't know jack, Do you?” Freddy said. “You don’t understand what this means at all.”

“Course I do. She hates me because I dared suggest she loved me. I’m not Richard, so she’ll never love me,” Victor said slumping back onto the sofa cushions and tossing aside the icepack.

“No, Victor. That’s not it at all. Don’t you see?” Freddy said, eagerly sitting forward in his seat. “She freaked out because she’s falling for you, falling in love with you before she’s ready to let go of Richie.”

“But she said she most certainly didn’t love me…exactly her words and she shouted them at me,” Victor said.

“Yes, I’m sure she did. A bit too much protesting, don’t you think? Unless, of course, she is indeed in love with you.”

Victor’s gaped, his mouth falling open, but just as quickly he slapped a hand over it. He jumped up, ran to the powder room off the foyer and puked all of Jack into the commode where it belonged.

He sat back onto the cold tile floor, breathing heavy and grinning.

“She loves me!” he shouted and he didn’t even care his head still ached.

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