Monday, July 1, 2013

Ch169 Praying for Strength


          “What do you mean she’s not there?”
          Victor closed his eyes and put the phone to his chest while praying for strength. He drew in a deep breath and put it back up to his ear. “Exactly what it implies, Cat. Marty is out with a friend.”
          “Don’t call me Cat!” she hissed.
          “Did it ever occur to you, Cat, that I might call you Cat because you always make such a point about me calling you Cat?” he snapped.
           Violet placed a hand on his arm and shook her head. “Don’t antagonize her,” she mouthed.
          “That’s like asking me to stop breathing,” he muttered.
          “I never asked you to stop breathing, Victor,” Catherine said. “But it may have helped…had you listened. So, where is my mother?”
          “I don’t know exactly, Catherine. She’s an independent woman who doesn’t feel the need to tell me her every move.”
          “Dammit, Victor! I knew this was a huge mistake. Why the hell did you insist on her moving in with you if you weren’t going to take care of her?”

          “If you expected me to treat her as an invalid, that was never going to happen. She wouldn’t allow it even if I wanted to do that. I am caring for her as she requires and right now she requires her friends and companionship.”
     “And what do you know about what she requires by way of care?”

“Recall, Catherine, she was alone when she suffered her attack and she is no longer alone.”
“She should be in a place where she can get proper care.”
“It is not up to you where she goes and what she does. It is entirely her decision to live here with me. Just like it was her decision to go out today and nothing you nor I say matters.”
          “She just had a heart attack and you’re letting her…”
          “Letting her? Will you listen to yourself, Cat? When has she…”
          “Don’t call me Cat,” she shouted.
He growled and made like he was choking himself with one hand. Violet giggled.
“Who was that?”
“No one you need to worry about,” he said.
“Ah, it’s your chippy, isn’t it?  So, that’s it. You want time with your chippy alone and you sent my mother away to God only knows where so you can get your freak on. Nice, Victor. Very nice!”
“First, stop calling her chippy. Second…”
“Then stop calling me Cat,” she interrupted.
“Second…Catherine, I’m not getting any freak on. And third…”
Violet made a face and mumbled, “Getting a freak on… what in the world?”
“...I did not send Marty away. She went out with a friend. That is all. She’s perfectly fine. I only just spoke with her. Call her on her cell and she’ll tell you herself,” Victor said.
          “I’ve only left a dozen calls on that stupid thing and she never picks up. It always goes to voice mail.”
          “Well, then she obviously doesn’t wish to be disturbed. Perhaps she’s at a show or something.”
          “A show? This isn’t the city, big shot,” she snapped.
          “Marty has told me they put on nice theater productions at the Sullum Playhouse. She’s seen several good plays and musicals there.”
          “My mother wouldn’t know a good production if it bit her on the nose.”
          “Be that as it may, I’m sure she’ll be home soon and I’ll have her call you, all right?”
          “Fine, but if anything happens to her…”
          “I’ll probably feel worse than you about it,” he said before he could stop himself. He clenched his teeth together, instantly regretting the words. “Catherine, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that.”
          “Sure, just tell her I called,” she resentfully said and the phone went out with a tiny blip.
          Victor tossed the phone onto his easy chair and threw his head back against the sofa cushion. “God, I hate talking to her.”
          “Why must you two always snap at each other?” Violet asked, visibly upset and taking his hand in both of hers.
          “It’s just a bad habit now.”
          “Can’t you…I dunno…can’t you just remember when you loved each other?”
          “That was too long ago, Babe.”
          “Maybe it’s that thin line between love and hate again?”
           He chuckled. “I doubt it.”
          “I’m serious, Victor. You must still love her and she you… just a little maybe? Or you wouldn’t have such animosity between you.”
          “No,” he said decidedly. “There is no love there on either side. That is one thing I know for certain.”
          “Hate just eats you up, Victor. Don’t hate her, please?”
“I’ve been trying for the boys all these years, but for you, I’ll try harder, okay?” he said, squeezing her hand. 
          “You know…I wouldn’t blame you, Victor, if you still had feelings for her, and I wouldn’t be mad about it. You knew her first, after all,” Violet said.
He stared at her, a smile slowly settling over his face. “And that is why you’re a far better person than I am.”
“Oh, Victor, stop teasing,” she said with a slight pout. “I wish you would just admit it. You loved Catherine once, very much. Passionately, you told me! You forget, I saw your wedding pictures. I saw how happy you were, both of you. You loved each other then and I’d hate to think…” She paused, her breath catching in her chest. She bit her lip, emotions filling her so that she could barely breathe.
“What? What would you hate to think?”
She looked up and blinked quickly lest the tears fall. “That love can just vanish like a puff of smoke. It’s so sad,” she whispered.
“Violet,” he said taking her hand, lifting it to his lips and kissing it. “My funny Polly Anna, you’re forgetting that some people confuse love with lust, and others  mistake love for true love. I’ll readily admit to both those huge blunders. Yes, I thought I loved Catherine at the time, maybe I actually did, but I know now she was never my true love, nor I hers. I know this for a fact, now that I know what true love feels and looks like. And let’s not forget there is a grave difference between falling in love with just anyone and doing the same with a soul-mate.”
If words could pierce skin, Violet would easily bleed to death right then and there from the gaping hole in her heart. She couldn’t look at him. True love, did he say? Soul-mate? That just couldn’t be! Richard was her true love. Richard was her soul-mate…wasn’t he? Yes, of course he was, but then…what did that make Victor? An anguished confusion settled on her. She didn’t know what to think.
“May I tell you my deepest, darkest secret?” Victor said, clearly oblivious to her inner turmoil.
She had to stop herself from yelling no! She knew what he would say, but she certainly didn’t want to hear it. “Um…if you think you can trust me with it,” she mumbled.
“I never loved Catherine as much as I love you. You are my true love. You are my soul-mate,” he said. He threw an arm around her, drawing her to him until her head was tucked under his chin and she felt warm and cuddly soft against his chest. “Enough about that, okay?” 
He felt her nodding under his chin, her hair tickling him. For several minutes they remained quiet, he quite content, she anything but.
He then sighed, “I don’t know how much longer I can cover for Marty.”
          “They should be back soon…I think,” Violet said snuggling closer, her mind struggling to find something they could talk about which would steer her far from thoughts of Richard, very far from true love and even further away from soul-mates.  “Maybe we should call them. You know, to make sure they’re okay? I know it’s their honeymoon, but…”
          He chuckled. “Oh, they’re better than all right. Wanna see the pictures they sent me yesterday?”
          “Oh, yes!” she said, sitting up.
          He reached over and grabbed the phone, flipped through it and said, “There you go. Tell me they’re not having the time of their life.”
          Violet stared at the photos. “Where is this?”
          “That’s in front of the Bellagio where the fountains dance to the music. That’s nothing, though, keep going.”
          “Oh, they are so happy together…so in love!” And there they were back at true love and soul-mates. She could have kicked herself. Three pictures later, however, Violet gasped. “Is that the…but how did they get this photo? It looks like they’re flying over the Grand Canyon.”
          “In a helicopter,” Victor said, looking over her shoulder. “They’re living it up all right. Or finishing up that bucket list. At least they didn’t go skydiving…yet.”
          She laughed. “Oh, I’m so happy for them,” she said, still looking through the photos. In each Marty and Morris were grinning from ear to ear, rosy cheeked and looking twenty years younger. “I’ve never seen Mr. Kramer so happy.”
          “Closest was when he was with the angel kids.”
          “Well, they did say they’d be back in time for the Halloween party.”
“Did you finish all the costumes for the kids?” he asked.
“I certainly did. Do you have a costume picked out? I can make something for you if not,” she said, handing him the phone.
          “I got mine weeks ago,” he said pulling her to him again.
          “Really? What are you going as?”
          “Ain’t telling. It’s a secret,” he said.
          “You’re not lying to me, are you? You have to be dressed up. The kids will be so disappointed if you don’t.”
          “I’m not lying. I had it custom made and everything. It’s perfect!”
          She gaped at him. “What is it? Tell me!”
          He shook his head.
          “I’ll tell you what I’m going as…or rather who,” she said.
          “Go ahead, tell me,” he said as he pulled her closer, and kissed her cheek.
          “Will you tell me yours?”
           She pouted. “Fine, we’ll just both be surprised.”
          “Yes we will. Unless…”
He smirked. “We could try out some costumes right now.”
“Now? How?” she said.
“We can go as Adam and Eve. Wanna practice…pretty please?” he said, unbuttoning her top.
She stared at him, forgetting to slap his hand away. She recalled quite clearly having almost the exact conversation with Richard just a few years ago. Only difference was they actually did play Adam and Eve that night and had a wonderful time. As she debated whether to tell Victor about this, the oddest thing happened, a freaky thing really. It scared her. Victor’s smiling face changed and morphed into Richard’s. She blinked several times and there was Victor again and Richard was gone.
“Sweetie, what’s wrong?” Victor said.
“What?” she said, looking away, her heart pounding frantically. Her shirt hung nearly opened and she buttoned it up again as she wondered what just happened.
“Violet, look at me,” he said. “Are you okay…feeling dizzy again?”
“I’m fine, but I’m not playing Eve for you, so shush up about it. I don’t have any fig leaves, after all.”
He laughed. “Even better,” he said, pulling her closer. “Adam and Eve before they eat the forbidden fruit didn’t need fig leaves. Remember?”
“Naughty boy!”
“Yes, I am,” he said, and he kissed her for a good long time.
When he finally released her, she stared at him, and touched his cheek, as if to make sure he was real. “Victor…”
She stared at him, words failing her. Should she tell him?
“Violet, what is it?”
“I…I should go home,” she said at last.
“Must you?” he said, not even trying to hide his disappointment.
She nodded. “I have work and…. stuff tomorrow,” she said.
“And the doctor’s appointment. I’ll pick you up around four,” he said.
She glared at him. “I think I can take myself to the doctor, Victor,” she snapped.
“Ordinarily, I'd agree, if you really wanted to go. I just don’t trust you to get there on your own, and you are going even if I have to hog-tie you.”
“Oink-oink,” she said, sticking her tongue out at him.
“Stick it out again, and I’m biting it,” he said, standing up and pulling her with him. When she thought he wasn’t looking she did it again and before she knew it she was airborne and being kissed soundly.
Breathless and weak kneed, she sighed and clung to him. “Richard, you’re such a…” Too late she realized her mistake. Victor stiffened and placed her gently back on her feet.
“Let’s get you home before Calendula accuses me of animal cruelty for keeping you away from her,” he said, feigning casual.
“Victor, I’m sorry,” she tried again.
He ignored her and took her hand. He led her to the front door and took her coat out of the hall closet, holding it out for her.
“Victor, listen to me,” she pleaded, slipping into the coat, her back toward him.
Victor turned her around and buttoned her up then he took her into his arms and kissed her softly. He stared at her as if waiting for her to slip up again. “I get the feeling you’re slipping away from me,” he whispered. “Are you, Violet?”
That cut her to the quick. How in the world could she answer that?
“I don’t know,” she said, because she truly didn’t. They stared at each other with the door wide open, letting the cool breeze in.
“Good night, Violet,” he said. “Be careful driving home.”
She nodded and walked to her car. Once settled, seat belt on, car started, she waved and slowly backed out of his driveway. She waved again, but he had already shut the door and gone inside.
She drove as far as she could before the tears blurred her vision to the point she couldn’t see anything. She stopped the car, leaned her head on the steering wheel and let it go.
“What is wrong with me? What is going on?” she mumbled, sobbing wretchedly.
Heidi placed a ghostly hand on her shoulder and whispered, “You’ll begin to find that out tomorrow, Dear.”

©2013 Glory Lennon All Rights Reserved