Victor tapped a pencil to the contract he was attempting to read, and couldn’t make out what the sixth paragraph said even after reading it several times. His mind drifted each time he tried, so the words—not able to penetrate the fog-- didn’t make any sense at all. Of course, neither did anything going on in his life at the moment.
He sighed and tossed down the pencil just as the door of his office burst open and crashed into the large, potted yellow striped dumbcane plant—a gift from Violet-- behind it, making it sway as if in a tropical storm. Victor looked up in shock, but he smiled when he saw it was friend, not foe.
He was mistaken, however.
Freddy stopped in the doorway in a furious stance, balled up fists at either side. “You bastard!” he shouted.
Ella came in behind Freddy and attempted to usher him out again. “I told you I would announce you,” she said, giving Victor that I’ll-call-the-police-in-a-minute-or-maybe-I’ll-shoot-him-myself look. “Now you will have to leave. I will not tolerate rudeness such as this.”
“It’s all right, Ella. Freddy is a friend…I think,” Victor retorted.
“The hell I am!” Freddy shouted.
“Ella, some coffee for us, please?” Victor said.
“Not in any fricken mood for coffee, you jerk off punk!” Freddy yelled, coming to the desk and slamming his fist down on the contract.
“Well, then, in that case, two whiskeys should do, Ella, if you will be so kind,” Victor said calmly.
Ella glowered and propped her fists on her hips. “It’s ten in the morning, Victor. You’ll get coffee. This one should watch out for buck shot though!” With that said, she left the office and closed the door behind her with a smart click.
“Hello, Freddy, what can I do you for?” Victor said, curiously. He had never seen Freddy angry, so this was new and different, and ever-so-slightly fascinating. Besides that, he couldn’t imagine what he might have done to provoke such vehement anger, unless Freddy suddenly really thought Victor was making a play for his wife as he had often jokingly commented with regards to the excessive gifts Victor always brought over.
“I’m within an inch of punching that smug face of yours, so watch what you say if you know what’s good for you,” Freddy growled.
“And why is that, I wonder?” Victor said, frowning.
“You were at the Willbury Inn having dinner with Helen Gibson last night. You’re two-timing my sister! ”
Victor blinked stupidly for a minute. “Am I now?” he mildly said, marveling at the speed in which gossip travels in this sleepy little town and what the townsfolk thought worthwhile to spread. The other day the county commissioner was caught fondling someone other than his own wife, the town treasurer recently resigned under suspicions of having his hand once too often in the coffers and the sheriff was seen drinking while on duty and crashed his car into a telephone pole and yet Victor’s love life gets top priority. Go figure.
“Well, that was quick,” he said, grabbing his pencil again simply to have something to do with his hands. “I had no idea it would get around this fast. Don’t know why the NSA bothers tracking phones calls and emails. All they need is Catalpa Valley’s grape vine to discover everyone’s secrets, although, I must admit, my date with Helen wasn’t a secret.”
Freddy’s face grew more livid. “You’re not even gonna deny it?” he said, utterly astonished.
“Why would I when it’s true? Helen and I had a great time last night,” Victor said. “And for your information, Freddy, it’s not two-timing when you’re slapped in the face—figuratively speaking, of course-- and told you’re not wanted anymore, that you never really were, that all you ever were at best was a friend and that she never planned on marrying anyone, least of all you.”
Freddy sunk into a chair in front of the desk, dumbfounded, his anger vanished instantly. “What? You…what? No, that can’t be…you…no…”
“Perhaps you ought to hear it straight from your sister since you don’t seem to believe me.”
Just then Ella walked in carrying a tray with two mugs. She placed it on the desk and looked from one stricken and befuddled face to the grim and stoic one. “Will you be needing anything else?” she cautiously asked.
“No, I think not, Ella, thank you,” Victor quietly said, effectively dismissing her.
Freddy waited for the door to shut before he asked, “What did you do?”
“Me?” Victor growled, snapping the pencil in two and tossing the two pieces across the room. “Sure, your saintly sister couldn’t possibly have played me for the fool all these months. Had to be me.”
“Then what happened?” Freddy asked.
What had happened? Victor didn’t even know. He surely couldn’t pin it down.
“She lied to me,” he finally said. “She didn’t tell me she was ill and it was like…”
“Wait! What do you mean ill? There’s something wrong with her?”
Victor gave him a sardonic half grin. “So, she didn’t even tell you. Didn’t see that coming.”
“What’s wrong with her? Tell me!”
“For several months she’s been hiding the fact that she’s periodically been fainting and getting dizzy. My son Simon fortunately was there the last time it happened and he managed to prevent her from getting hurt when she fell. He thought she was just pregnant, so he figured she would…”
“Wait! You’re having sex?”
Victor rolled his eyes. “That’s hardly the point, Freddy. Simon allowed her time so she could tell me about the blessed event, but when she didn’t he told me what had happened and I insisted she go to a doctor because I know for a fact it was not a pregnancy. I was furious with her…. that she would keep something like that from me. God! It was my mother all over again,” he said through clenched teeth.
“So, that’s why you broke up with her? Cuz she’s sick?”
Victor glared at him. “She lied about it!”
“No, she just…neglected to tell you. That’s different, not a lie, not really,” Freddy said.
“It’s a lie! When someone asks you how you are and you’re ill and still say you’re perfectly fine, then it’s a lie, and if we hadn’t discovered her lies, she might still be lying about it and she may never have gone for medical help like I insisted. Omissions are lies, Freddy, at least this one was. We’re lucky it was nothing worse than vertigo and extremely low blood pressure, and possible diabetes. Of course, there could be more, but it’s not like she’ll tell me what the test results yielded,” he said, running frustrated fingers through his hair. “And let’s make one thing quite clear. I didn’t break up with her. According to her, there never was an us. We were nothing. We were just friends. Ask her yourself if you don’t believe me.”
Freddy stared at him, baffled. “Makes no sense…that’s not like her. She wouldn’t…you did have sex with her, right?”
“Violet or Helen?” Victor said, vindictively.
“I don’t give a shit about Helen,” Freddy hissed through clenched teeth. “Is that what this is? You’re trying to make Violet jealous by dating some cheap…”
“Watch it, Freddy!” Victor interrupted. “You may be talking about my future wife.”
Freddy’s jaw dropped. “You’re not serious! All of a sudden Helen’s your new squeeze? What? You don’t love Violet anymore?”
Victor, try as he might, couldn’t speak the words of denial, although he wished he could. “It’s funny how quickly things change when you’re finally told the truth.”
They stared at each other for a good long time. “Tell me this, Victor. Did you ever really love Violet?”
“I think you know the answer to that,” Victor replied.
“But you see, I don’t really. It took you what? Two days to get over her. That doesn’t sound like love to me.”
“Who said I’m over her?” Victor shouted. “I just refuse to waste what little time I have left. I need a wife and I’m going to get one.”
Freddy made a face. “Why this rush all of a sudden? I told you Violet needed time. You told me you would wait forever for her to get over Richie if need be, and you were so close. For Pete’s sake, Victor, she went away with you. She wouldn’t do that unless she thought… I know my sister. She’s not like that. So, why this rush all of a sudden?” he pleaded.
“You said it yourself. For Pete’s sake,” Victor said. “And Georgiana and Julian’s, too. I told you about them.”
“The orphan kids? What do they have to do with this?”
“I’m adopting them and they need a mother just as much as they need a father, maybe more so,” he said grimly.
Freddy made a derisive sound. “And you expect Helen to be that? You’re nuts! Or rather she’s three kinds of crazy and you’ll so regret it, it isn’t even funny.”
Victor raised an eyebrow. “I see no evidence of that…not in Helen,” he snapped.
Freddy stood up bursting with fury. “Implying my sister is?”
“If the crazy shoe fits,” Victor said, standing too and grabbing the neglected document from the desk he added, “Well, it’s been nice talking with you, but I have work to do and I assume you do too.”
In impotent rage Freddy stood there glaring at him. He really did want to punch him.
“Don’t bother. He’s not worth it,” Richard whispered to him and he tried to nudge him out of the office. His ghostly hand, however, went right through him, making Freddy suddenly shiver. “Sorry about that, dude.”
Freddy went to the door and even opened it, then turned back. “And the Halloween party?”
“What about it?” Victor said, once again sitting at his desk, perusing the contract.
“Is it off?”
“Not at all. I won’t disappoint my kids,” Victor replied easily. “And neither will Violet, if I know her at all. It’s up to you whether or not you wish to be there. I think Molly and Jimmy especially would like to come, but I will understand if they cannot make it.”
Freddy stared at him utterly astonished. How could he be so cold?
“It’s just for show, dude,” Richard said. “He’s hurtin’ as much as Violet is. Go talk to Violet and fix this before it’s too late. He’s already talking about making babies with Helen and you know how not good that is.”
“Right,” Freddy said, “We’ll see you at the party.”
“Good, it’ll be fun,” Victor said, not betraying his immense surprise. “My best to your family.”
They exchanged curt nods and Freddy left, pulling his phone out of his pocket as he smiled apologetically at a stern looking Ella.
As he got into his car he hit Violet’s speed-dial number and waited for the recorded message. To his surprise, she picked up. “Violet, hey, how ya doing?”
“I’m fine,” she said, automatically. “Is everything okay? You need me to help Laurie with the baby or kids?”
“No, nothing like that, but thanks,” he said. “I want to talk to you.”
“About what?” she said suspiciously.
“Oh, this and that,” Freddy casually said, though he seethed inside. “About how stubborn and self-destructive you can be. Nothing much.”
Violet closed her eyes and bit down on her bottom lip before saying, “Stop exaggerating.”
“When do you get off work? Come over to the house today.”
“I…I can’t, Freddy, not today,” Violet said.
“Please, Violet. You can watch the baby for Laurie while she cooks or something,” he said, knowing full well this would work and he’d get a great meal out of the bargain.
“I want to go visit Mom today after work,” she said.
“Mom won’t know one way or the other if you don’t show, but we will. Come over or I’ll come get you. Either way we are talking. See you later.”
With a tiny blip, the phone went dead and Violet tossed it back onto the rumpled bed clothes and rolled over, snuggling into her damp pillow.
“She’s right back where we started!” Richard said.
“I see that,” Heidi concurred sadly.
“You said this thing would work out. Does this look like it’s working out?” Richard shouted.
Heidi sighed. “There are often hiccups along the way.”
“Bit more than a hiccup, I’d say,” Richard snarled. “She never misses work. She never calls in sick even when she is sick.”
“A broken heart is as good as the flu, Richard. You ought to know that. Let’s let her be for now,” Heidi said, passing a loving hand on Violet’s tussled hair, and down her damp cheek. “Perhaps at the party they’ll…”
“The same party where Victor will bring his new love, you mean?”
“He’s not in love with that girl. He’ll never be in love with her, I can guarantee that.”
“You think you know your son so well, but you don’t know him at all. He’s scum as far as I’m concerned and he can go straight to hell.”
Heidi narrowed her eyes and lifted herself up into the air, going through the ceiling without another word.
“Good riddance!” he shouted after her. Then he turned back to Violet and hugged her. He fleetingly wondered why he hadn’t been able to feel Freddy but he could definitely feel Violet and she didn’t shiver like he had done. He shook the thought away and held her close. “You don’t need him. You have me.”
But she really didn’t, did she?
©2013 Glory Lennon All Rights Reserved