Monday, April 17, 2017

Chapter 330 Last place he was wanted

          Sophie and Ronnie would have been horrified to know what Simon was up to at that exact moment. For he was indeed doing what they fervently hoped he wouldnt. However, there he was driving stealthily past Cassandras house knowing full well that this was the last place he was wanted.
          That fact did not deter him, needless to say.
          Simon parked across the street in the driveway of a neighbor who apparently was away for the holidays, and he watched Cassandras house from this position for several minutes thinking about his next move. There were an extra six cars there today, and even sitting in his car with the windows rolled up, he could hear lots of activity, rather noisy activities. There was music playing, kids squealing, TV blaring, the constant slam and clink of dominos against wood and adults shouting to be heard above it all. Obviously lots of Cassandras family came over to celebrate Christmas with them and possibly to say a final farewell to Cassandra's father who she insisted had one foot in the grave and was not too long for this world.

Although, Simon thought wryly, a man supposedly that close to death, not likely to live to see another Christmas, shouldnt have been able to shout as loudly and for as long as Mr. Bellarosa had done a few nights back. Simon couldnt understand why the sick old man would have such a problem with him when Simon was only defending Cassandras right to go to college and to become a physician as was her dream. Who knew sticking up for Cassandra would get him berated so severely and permanently banished?
          So there Simon sat, wondering if he dared knock on Mr. Bellarosas front door-- hoping against hope that it would be Cassandra to answer it-- so he could give her the Christmas present he painstakingly and with much deliberation chose for her plus the favor he cajoled out of his new, influential, well-connected and very wealthy grandfather. Oddly enough, asking for this huge favor seemed to delight Morris Kramer no end.
          Ah, Laddie, not a bother at all. Glad to do anything I can to help that sweet little gal of yours, he said to Simon. Besides, this makes me feel like a real grandfatherdoing some good for my kids and grandkids before I kick the bucket.
Simon very much was liking having a grandfather to talk to, especially one so intelligent, humorous, worldly, and helpful, who gave great advise, and it certainly didnt hurt that he had plenty of money and was extremely generous with it.
He tapped his fingers on the small, rectangular gift-wrapped box taped to the large envelope and sighed as he looked back at the house. Would anyone even hear a doorbell with all that noise? Possibly not. He could always text her, but would she have her cell phone nearby to hear the faint signal? Again, not likely.
          Where are you, Cassandra, in all that family mess? In that huge crowd where are you right now? he murmured to himself, his ice-blue eyes narrowed in concentration.
Was she likely beside her father jumping to his every command? She was such a good girl. Or was she in the kitchen with a gaggle of domineering females being told what to do by several of them all at once? She might be with her bratty little cousins being the unpaid babysitter. Or was she being manhandled by that little creep she told him about… Anthony or whatever his slimy name is?
If it were me, Id hide in my bedroom for as long as I could get away with it, he said, and as he did, he looked up at the windows on the second floor wondering which might be her bedroom. He caught sight of a figure passing in front of the window on the far left of the house and his heart lept. Was that Cassandra? It was hard to make out exactly who it was through the lace curtain, but that wonderfully curly hairit had to be her.
Only one way to find out, he said as he tapped out a message on his cell phone. He smiled recalling Morris Kramer--Grandpa, kiddo, hed said. Gotta remember to call me Grandpa.-- telling him how he as a teenager used to get Marty to sneak out at night with him by tossing tiny pebbles at her window until she heard it and looked out her window to find him smiling up at her. Simon couldnt imagine having to do that to get Cassandras attention and also risking having her disagreeable family see him. What a disaster in the making!
Thank God for modern technology, he muttered, but before he pressed send he frowned and looked up at the window again. What if she didnt want to hear from him anymore? What if she considered it betraying her dying fathers wishes? He sighed and again said, “Only one way to find out.
He waited an excruciating amount of time and nothing.  He then shook his head, started the car and drove away, Cassandras gifts in the seat beside him.
Cassandra, it turns out, was discovering just how little her family thought of her. She couldnt do anything right in their collective eyes. To start, her father was in a horrible moodshe assumed from being in pain-- and yet he took it out only on her. For everyone else he was relatively pleasant and even somewhat charming, but Cassandra got shit just for being there. She was the only one devoting her time and effort to his comfort, so how unfair was that?
Stop fussing on me! he bellowed until she was ready to cry. You shouldnt even be in here with the men. Women belong in the kitchenor keeping the kids out of trouble.
She swallowed her tears and did as he bid her, only to find she would be shunted out of there too.
She went into the family room hoping to play with some of her little cousins, but the babies were napping and the older kids had no use for her now that they didnt need her to have fun. They played with their newly acquired toys and electronic devises instead and completely ignored her. When she suggested they all watch a Christmas movie together they gave her the evil eye and told her to shut the heck up.
It was no better in the kitchen.
Cassandra, what are you about? Aunt Rosa said. We need help to get everything ready and youre nowhere to be found.
           “I was tending to Papa and then I went to see if the kids needed anything, Cassandra said, but was ignored.
Just trying to get out of work, Mary muttered.
Thats not how you stuff a cannoli, Cassandra, Carla said. Let me do that!
Cant you wash those dishes faster than that, Cassandra? Julia snapped. We want to eat today, not next week!
Youre making a mess of the antipasto, Cassandra, her cousin Clara waspishly said, snatching the pepperoni out of her hands. Out of the way, please.
Their assertion that they needed help, didnt fly when nothing she did was good enough. So Cassandra washed her hands and made an excuse to leave. On her way out of the kitchen, she heard everyone suddenly speaking in Italian. Curious as to why, she listened just outside the kitchen door and quickly discovered they were talking about her.
 She is useless, Gina started. Cant do anything right.
“She doesn't even try," Clara said. "Like her mother, I guess."
And as much of a whore I hear, Julia added.
 Bad blood, Rosa muttered. Dont know what Frank was thinking.
Safe to say his little Frank was doing the thinking, Rosa, Marie said, to much laughter.
I mean, Frances should have left the child with her mother, Rosa said ominously. Cassandra is turning into her no good mother.
Why do you say that? Gina asked.
Oh! Is it that boy shes been seeing behind Frances back? Not even a drop of Italian blood he said, Julia said.
Is he Polish? Gina said and several of them laughed.
 Wait, she didnt want her either, remember? Clara said. You know Frances would not allow his own blood to be abandonedeven half blood is better than none.
And, Rosa, you know they adore her, Gina said with a sigh.
Stillher bad blood is showing and if they dont do something about it soon…” Rosa said.
If you believe this why do you push her to marry your brother? Clara asked. You want nieces and nephews with bad blood?
Anthony has a strong hand and doesnt take any guff from a stupid girl. Hell smack that attitude right out of her, keep her under his thumb and make her a proper wife, Rosa imperiously said. The nerve of her thinking she could go to medical school and become a doctor!
Is that what that boy wanted for her? Julia said in surprise.
Does sound like her mother, then, Clara said, ominously.
So if she is really like her mother you think shell be a pregnant, unmarried teenager soon? Frances will freak if…”
Abbastansa! We should not speak of such things on Christmas day, said Marie in harsh tones, completely forgetting that they were celebrating the birth of their savior brought forth by an unmarried teenage girl. Clara, get the antipasto ready. Gina, set the table. Julia, put the bread in the oven or there will be no eating today.
In a daze, Cassandra walked away from the kitchen door. She now understood why the women in her family treated her like shit. They had hated her mother and expected her to grow up to become just like her.namely a slut, a teenage girl who got pregnant before getting married. First she heard this about her mother!
It didnt make sense. They had always spoken well of her mother…of course, that was when her father was around. They may have been speaking of Frankies mother and not her own. Her father never spoke about her mother to her. Frankie had said it was too painful a subject. He only talked about his cara Angela, Frankies mother.
It suddenly occurred to Cassandra that she knew virtually nothing about her own mother, but was it likely she had been a slutty teenager? No way! Her father would never even look at, let alone marry, someone of questionable virtue and a teenager when her father was beyond ancient? Get real! Surely these women were making up stories just because they didnt like her. 
Then again, Cassandra knew nothing about her mother and could only glean what she could from Frankie when he was around and when he was in the mood, and even then he didnt say much at all. Could this be why? Because he didnt want to speak ill of the dead? Didnt bother her aunts, though, did it? What the hell!
It was all her fault, Cassandras, for not knowing anything about her own mother. She had asked many times as a small child, but was always ignored so after a while, she just stopped asking anymore, and consequently she knew so little about her mother that this bit of information, although a shock, was also good to know.
What a strange family this was that she could discover this vital knowledge only by eavesdropping! She wished she had thought to do it sooner. Then perhaps she wouldnt need time to think about this now, on Christmas day, to make sense of it, but she did, right this minute. Cassandra pushed away from the kitchen door and just as she went passed the family room she was accosted by none other than her would-be handler, strong-handed husband. Lord have mercy!
Yo, Cass, where ya goin? Anthony said.
My room, she replied trying to sneak passed him, but he grabbed her arm. I dont have time for this, Anthony. Let go of me!
We can both go up there and we can talk. Ya know what I mean? he said with a vile smirk.
She yanked her arm out of his sausage-like fingers and when he grabbed her again, painfully, she lifted her knee hard into his groin, just as Frankie had taught her. He released her and let out a string of curses through clenched teeth as he grabbed his family jewels.
 You touch me ever again, Anthony, and Ill do worse to you. You do not own me now and you never, ever will. Remember that, you asshole! Then she ran down the hall. She was half way up the stairs when she was once again stopped, this time by one of her uncles.
Where do you think youre going, young lady? Paulie said, raising his glass to his lips. Its Christmas, a time for family.
She might have retorted that her so-called family made it quite plain to her that she was not wanted, but that would have required more gumption than she was willing or able to muster at the moment. She forced a smile instead.
I just need to get something for Papa. Ill be right back down, she said, lying through her teeth. She had zero intention of coming out of her room for the rest of the day.No one would miss her after all.
She rushed up the stairs, down the hall and made it to her room just before bitter tears of frustration could escape. She stood in front of her large window, fighting the urge to scream,  fists clenched so tightly she thought she might draw blood.
She so wanted to leave this house today and get away from everybody, but there was no way out. There was nothing she could do to escape, but even if there was, she first wanted some answers. How would she find the truth about her mother when nobody was willing to talk to her as a grown up person?
Maybe Frankie... she muttered, just as she heard a tiny signal coming from her pocketbook. She searched for her cell phone, but before she could find it she heard someone shouting up to her from downstairs.
Now what? she said through clenched teeth. She went to the top of the stairs and looked down at her brother. What?
Are you coming down to eat or what? Frankie said. Somebodys gotta sit at the kids table to watch them rug-rats.
Seriously? she said. They treat me like shit and then they expect me to help them and watch their stupid brats? Well, forget it! Screw them all!
Frankies jaw dropped. He gaped as Cassandra went back to her room and slammed the door. What the fuck is up with her? he mumbled.
He would soon regret asking.

©2017 Glory Lennon All Rights Reserved 

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