Monday, June 10, 2013

Ch166 Don’t poke the bear


When Simon, at long last, came into the living room announcing that dinner was nearly ready, Victor just about jumped for joy. No, he wasn’t starved. He was, however, dreadfully tired of running interference on Marty who seemed particularly intent on provoking Morris Kramer.
At one point he almost shouted, “Don’t poke the bear!” but he knew better than to tell Marty anything, least of all how to behave.
“May I help you into the dining room, Mr. Kramer?” Simon asked, offering a supporting arm.
“I’ll be fine, but thank you, Simon,” he retorted. “No need for all this sucking up. You’re still on the list.”
Simon laughed. “Well, let me know when I slip to last place, will you?”
“Sure thing.”
Don't poke the kitties, either!

“And what is this list?” Victor asked.
“Never you mind! That’s between me and the folks on my list,” Morris informed him.
“Duly noted,” Victor said, giving Simon a questioning look.
“So, Morris, do tell us how long you plan on sticking around this time,” Marty asked as they moved into the dining room.
“Sticking around?” he repeated. “You mean on the planet? For as long as the good Lord will keep me here. That’s how long!”
Marty smiled…again. She hadn’t been this happy in ever so long. Morris’ aggravated manner and nasty retorts to anything she said, instead of quailing her, managed to bring her unfounded joy. It was rather odd, but there you have it. They were obviously each needled by the other’s presence and while she was enjoying it immensely, he seemed rather annoyed by it. 
“Oh, my, I was not thinking of that, Morris. I meant Catalpa Valley. I just wondered when you were off on another world-wide venture to places unknown. Last I heard you went on safari in Kenya. Do tell us, did your beloved wife ever find Obama’s real birth certificate?”
“I beg your pardon! My wife is dead as a doornail and couldn’t care less about that crap!”
“Ah, doornail, did you say?” Marty said, sipping calmly at her drink. “She was like that in life too, as I recall.”
Victor nearly choked on his drink after that exchange. Simon had to pound him on the back, all the while trying his best not to burst out laughing. “Have they been like this the whole time I was gone looking for Ronnie?” Simon asked in an undertone.
“You don’t know the half of it,” Victor replied, clearing his throat. “Shall we go into dinner?”
 They all moved together, Victor with Marty on his arm and Simon helping Morris.
“Where shall I sit?” Morris asked stiffly.
“Why don’t you take the head of the table?” Victor said pulling the chair out for him.
“But Victor, that is highly improper! You are the head of the house and the host,” Marty said.
“Marty, we do not stand upon ceremony here…at least not this time,” Victor replied. “The less we make Mr. Kramer walk the better.”
“I thank you,” Morris said, sinking gratefully into the chair and setting aside his walking stick he looked at the table. “Very nice.”
Violet came in carrying the large casserole dish with Ronnie following close behind with another two. They placed them on the buffet.
“Ah, there you are, young man!” Morris said, staring sternly at Ronnie. “You like helping out in the kitchen I see.”
“Not usually, he doesn’t,” Simon interjected. “There’s just something about Ms. Bennett that makes one want to stay close to her…make sure she is safe from harm, doesn’t drop a plate or fall or something.”
Violet turned pink, but lucky for her the hot food was her cover. “Shall I serve everyone?”
“We can do it ourselves, Ms. Bennett, but you can serve Mr. Kramer,” Simon suggested, grabbing a plate and helping himself to everything.
“Will that be all right, Mr. Kramer?” Violet asked.
“Sure is. I’m sure I’ll like everything you cook up,” he said.
“Marty,” Victor said, “Why don’t you sit at the other end? You can be our hostess.”
She harrumphed but sat at the other end, mumbling to herself, “Highly improper, it is.”
“Someone oughta get the stick outta her ass,” Morris muttered under his breath.
Ronnie burst out laughing, but quickly stifled it when Simon elbowed him in the gut.
“Ronnie, what in heaven’s name is so funny?” Marty asked, obviously not having heard the insult.
“Oh…nothing, Gramma,” Ronnie said. “Can I get you a plate?”
“Yes, you may,” she replied, staring straight at Morris who seemed to be staring at Violet’s cute little bottom as she moved about. “So, Morris, tell us, what have you been doing since… what was her name? Judith, Edith, Mildred? I’m completely drawing a blank on your wife’s name.”
“You told me it was Vera just yesterday when I asked if you knew Mr. Kramer,” Violet innocently interjected.
Marty threw her a venomous look, but as Violet’s back was to her, she missed it. “Why thank you, Girly. What would I do without your help?”
“Violet, please call her Violet,” Victor pleaded.
“Yes, I’ll try,” Marty said through clenched teeth. Much to her annoyance Morris was grinning now.
“Here you go, Mr. Kramer. That isn’t too much for you, do you think?” Violet asked placing a plate in front of him.
He smiled up at her and affectionately patted her hand. “I doubt it. All this walking and yammering gets a man hungry.”
Violet smiled. “Let me know if there’s anything else I can get for you,” she said, turning and almost colliding with Simon. “Ooh, sorry!”
“No worries. I didn’t drop this one,” he said in a low voice so no one could hear. “Have you told Dad?”
Her face turned pale. “No, not yet, but there’s nothing to tell.”
“Really? We’ll have to see about that. I still say he’ll want to know about a future child bearing his name or a fiancé with an undisclosed illness,” he said.
“Simon, don’t, please!” Violet hissed.
“Am I to have my dinner sometime tonight, or not?” Marty huffed.
“I’ll get it!” Violet said, glaring at Simon’s smug expression as he sat down beside his brother.
“Simon, you cannot sit beside your brother,” Marty said. “That’s where your father ought to sit.”
“I didn’t know we had assigned seats,” Ronnie said looking at his father for confirmation.
“It’s all right, Ronnie. I’ll sit here and Violet can sit beside me.”
Marty shook her head disapprovingly. “That is…”
“Highly improper!” the boys chorused and then they burst out laughing, but none laughed more so than Morris.
“Well, I don’t see what’s so funny!” Marty indignantly said.
“That’s all right, just as long as we do, right boys?” Morris said, winking at them.
“Yes, Sir,” they said together. One look at their grandmother, however, and they straightened their expressions and ate in silence.
“She does sound a bit like Lady Catherine, doesn’t she?” Violet said as she filled another plate.
“Like Mom?” Ronnie asked, baffled.
“Girly, if you’re comparing me to my daughter, I’ll take that as a huge insult!” Marty snapped.
“No, I meant Lady Catherine Deburg. You know…Mr. Darcy’s imperious aunt from Pride and Prejudice,” Violet said.
“Pride and prejudice?” Marty said, rolling her eyes. “Try reading Clancy, why don’t you?”
“Imperious, aye?” Morris said, reaching for his water glass while staring across the table to Marty, and taking a sip. “Sounds about right.”
Marty looked rather indignant, but was thwarted by Violet from retorting.
“I hope this is good for you, Marty,” Violet said, placing a plate in front of her. “I gave you just a bit of everything, because I didn’t know what you’d like. If you want more let me know.”
“Violet, come sit with me,” Victor said.
“But I have to…”
He indicated he got a plate for her already.
“Oh, Victor, you didn’t have to do that,” she said, letting him help her with her chair before sitting beside her and kissing her cheek.
“Yes, I did. You’ve worked hard all day for all this and we all appreciate it, don’t we, guys?”
Ronnie and Simon took their cues well and complimented the cooking, praised Violet to the moon and back, and then went on eating.
“This is wonderful, little Violet,” Morris said, patting her hand affectionately again. “Makes me feel like I’m back in Mexico. All that’s missing is those goofy Mariachi guys playing in the background.”
“I don’t think Ronnie does Mariachi music, do you?” Simon said, turning to his brother.
“No, I don’t,” Ronnie said through clenched teeth, kicking his brother under the table.
“Victor, my boy,” Morris said.
“Yes, sir?”
“I have a bit of advice for you,” Morris said.
“I’d like to hear it,” Victor replied.
Morris took Violet’s hand and gave it a squeeze. “You need to grab this darling little girl and get her to say I do, but quick.”
“Funny you should say that, Mr. Kramer,” Victor replied, smiling at Violet who had gone all rosy cheeked. “I was thinking the same thing.”
“Victor, please, not here, not now,” she whispered.
“That, Mr. Kramer, is an excellent idea,” Simon said. “I’m pretty sure I speak for my bother when I say we’d both love to have a step mother and possibly a little brother or sister.”
“We have dessert, two kinds,” Violet interjected quickly. 
“Two?” Morris said. “What are they, Missy?”
“Rice pudding and flan.”
“You did not make flan!” Marty shrieked.
“Uh…think I did. Why? Don’t you like it?” Violet asked.
“No, she loves it,” Victor said. “So, if the rest of us want some we better eat it before she can steal it away!”
“Nonsense, Victor,” Marty said, smiling impishly. “I’ll only steal what I can grab from my seat, so only you and Ronnie have to worry.”
“I’ll help you with dessert, Mom,” Ronnie said standing up.
“Mom?” Morris said. “You already call Violet mom, before your father puts a ring on her finger?”
“Suppose I do,” Ronnie said, shrugging. “Wishful thinking.”
“I’ll get coffee, too,” Violet said, before escaping into the kitchen.
“She’s pretty skittish, isn’t she?” Morris commented. “It isn’t that you’re not good to her, Victor. I can see you are, so why is she so reluctant to marry you? Doesn’t she love you enough?”
“I don’t know about that,” Victor said.
“Yes, she does,” Simon insisted.
“That is obvious,” Marty concurred.
“Doesn’t make sense then,” Morris said.
“She’s still in mourning, Morris. Not willing to let go of her husband just yet,” Marty said in a snippy voice. “Don’t suppose you would understand, being a man and all.”
“Yes, I can, Martina,” Morris countered, glaring at her across the table. He turned back to Victor and with a softened expression added, “I can see being in mourning and not falling for another man during that time, but if she already is in love with you that should mean she’s over her husband.”
“That would be the logical thinking,” Simon muttered behind his water glass.
“Love and mourning for a lost love have very little to do with logic!” Marty explained.
“I’m starting to realize that,” Victor said.
“Don’t give up trying, son,” Morris said. “She’s worth the trouble and the wait, that little Violet. I can tell she’s special and I can tell you know it. I once gave up too soon and I’ve regretted it ever since.” He looked straight across to Marty again, took a deep breath and sighed heavily. “Regret it for the rest of my life, I will. Lucky for me that’s not too long now.”
“I’m sorry to hear it,” Victor said. “But you know what they say. Only the good die young. You’ve got another ten-fifteen years coming to you before you kick the bucket…assuming you go bad!”
“You think that’s how it works, aye?” Morris said, grinning.
“I sure as heck hope so!”
They had a good laugh and continued talking and joking-- the men did anyway. Marty was suffering from a bit of a shock, shock so deep she could barely breathe. Morris regretted losing her? No, it couldn’t be, and yet…could she interpret it any other way?
“Here we go!” Violet said, coming in with a large tray. She placed it on the buffet table and Ronnie followed with coffee and tea on another tray.
Violet went to Marty first and gave her two desserts. “That’s to hold you over until you can steal Victor’s,” she joked. Her smile faded when she saw the odd look on Marty’s face. “Marty, are you feeling all right?”
“What? Oh…yes, I’m fine. Thank you,” she replied.
“Gramma, would you like some tea?” Ronnie asked. “It’s decaf like you always have in the evening.”
“Thank you, my love,” she said, watching him pour out the dark, hot liquid into a delicate tea cup.
“Mr. Kramer, which would you like?” Violet asked holding out the two desserts.
“Yes,” he said.
She giggled and placed them both in front of him. “And you, Victor? One of each?”
“Come sit and I’ll get it for you. You’ve done enough,” he said, forcing her down onto the chair.
“Yes, sir!” she said, rolling her eyes at him. “What do you think, Mr. Kramer? Does it pass the Mexico test?”
“Hmm, Missy, this is even better than Mexico. Know why?” Morris said. She shook her head and shrugged. “You can drink the water here!”
She laughed. “I’m glad you like it. It was so nice having you here. We’ve missed you.”
“Well, I’ve missed you. I was almost expecting your angel kids to be here. I kinda miss them, too.”
“Well, we will be having a party for them in a week or so,” Violet said. “A Halloween party and everyone is to dress up. The kids would love you to come!”
“Halloween, aye? Sounds nice,” Morris said, staring across the table at Marty. “Is that English tea, by chance?”
“It is. Want some?” Violet went to get him a cup, but Victor beat her to it.
“Love a good English tea,” Morris said.
“So does Gramma,” Ronnie said. “Man, this is the best rice pudding ever.”
“Yes, Mom has outdone herself,” Simon said, staring at Violet. “Thank you for a great dinner, even if it was highly improper.”
She giggled and cast a furtive glance toward Marty. She had barely touched her flan and she looked a bit sad or perhaps confused? Not liking this and taking it as a bad sign, she whispered to Victor, “Perhaps Marty has had enough excitement for one night.”
“You think? It’s still very early,” Victor said, frowning slightly as he looked at Marty. “Sweetheart, are you tired? You can go up to your room and rest any time you wish.”
“What? No, I’m quite well,” she said, forcing a smile. She looked across the table and suddenly got an idea. “I was thinking of watching the stars for a bit. I get the feeling I’ll see a falling star tonight.”
Morris smiled. “I’d like to join you, Martina, if you don’t mind. Falling stars always give you good luck…at least, that’s what I’ve found.”
Marty smiled and nodded. Simon helped Morris to his feet and handed him his walking stick.
 “Thank you, Laddie. Still on my list,” Morris said.
Simon laughed. “Might I help you outside?”
“No need, Simon dear. I’ve got him,” Marty said, wrapping her arm around Morris’ arm and they walked off.
Victor and Violet exchanged baffled looks.
“What in the world…?” Violet said.
“How did they…?” Victor said.
“That’s just…weird,” Ronnie said. “Thought they hated each other.”
“Curious indeed,” Simon said. 
“Well, um…anyway, I better clean up,” Violet said.
“Dad, want to help me clean up instead?” Simon said. “Violet shouldn’t have to clean up after all that cooking. Besides, we can chat and stuff. We’ve got to leave tomorrow and we won’t be together again until Thanksgiving.”
“You’re right,” Victor said. “We should. Violet’s done quite enough.”
“No, Victor…” Violet said, watching the sardonic expression on Simon’s face and definitely not trusting it. “I…maybe we can let the boys clean up? You and I can…” She slipped her hand in his and that was enough.
Victor smiled. “Okay,” he said. “You boys can handle things, I hope …without killing each other?”
“I’m sure we can,” Simon said, pushing Ronnie ahead of him into the kitchen. 

“Especially, if you two have a nice, long chat about…oh…broken dishes, babies, tumbles and stuff like that. Plus, we’d love it if you can decide tonight when the wedding will be.”
Victor gaped at his son’s retreating back. “What was that about?”
Violet shook her head and tugged him away from the dining room. Now, if she only knew what to tell him….

©2013 Glory Lennon All Rights Reserved 

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