10 word exercise #8
Dynasty, hypocrisy, regret, contentment, issues, suave, interaction, in-law, examination, mechanic
Jason Mullens didn’t need the weekly cross-examination from Nancy’s family to let him know that once an in-law, always an in-law. He got the picture. But here he was preparing to walk into the lion’s den once again for Sunday brunch. Her father would take shots at him for everything from being just a lowly mechanic to how he wore his hair but what it all boiled down to was that he’d never be forgiven for having the audacity to marry the youngest daughter in the Laing Dynasty.
Daddy’s little girl, that was Nancy Laing-Mullens, and after ten years of marriage to Jason’s deep regret, his interaction with Nancy’s family was always, would always be, a sore spot between them. Not based solely on those issues, but he’d pretty much given up hope for any sort of contentment for either of them. It was time to move on.
“So, you come to the table with grease under those nails, son?” her father asked in the same derisive tone saved for criminals, the unlucky, who had to face him in court.
“No sir.” Jason bristled, but kept his cool. This wasn’t the time or the place for a confrontation.
“You prowling around again with that brother of yours? If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again, he’s no good. The Mullen boys will never amount to anything.”
Since before he’d even met Nancy, Jason hadn’t wasted much time hanging out with his older brother, Garth, and it irked to think he’d always be tarred with the same brush regardless of how clean he’d lived his life.
Garth had been in court more times than Jason could count, and had always found a way to make the problem go away before having to do time…that was until he stood before the stiff face of Judge Richard Laing and was sentenced to two years for armed robbery.
“That’s enough. This has to stop.” Spoken so quietly, Jason wasn’t sure he heard correctly until he noticed that his look of stunned surprise was mirrored on the faces around the table of Nancy’s brother and sister-in-law, her sister and her mother.
“Have you lost your mind?” Her sister, Angela, hissed as she elbowed Nancy in the ribs. “You’ll ruin it for everyone!”
They say the eyes are the window to the soul and if that’s true, Nancy’s was crying out for something they’d both lost sight of. “No, I haven’t lost my mind. In fact, I’ve finally found it again. It shames me that I’ve let this go on,” Nancy said, making and holding eye contact with Jason, looking for some sign that it wasn’t too late. Seeing hope there, she turned to her father. “Not saying a word while you brow-beat my husband, talk down as if you’re better than him. Well, Daddy, not anymore.”
“Maybe you should leave and come back when you’re ready to be civil. No daughter of mine is going to talk like this to me; must be from hanging around with this white trash.”
“Suit yourself,” Nancy said as she pushed her chair out, preparing to walk away and give her marriage a second chance.
“Patricia, this is none of your…”
“None of my what? Concern? Business? You’d like to think that. It keeps us all under your control. Well, it’s every bit my concern; I know my daughter well enough to know that if she walks out that door now, she won’t be walking back. And Richard? If she walks, so do I.”
“Mom!” Angela and Richard, Jr. exclaimed in unison.
“It makes me proud to know I raised one of my children to be the kind of person who’ll stand up for what’s right, not for what it will get her,” Patricia said as she looked at each of her children in turn. Noting the look of chagrin on Richard Jr’s face and the look that passed between him and his wife, Sally, she knew she’d at least started to reach him, but Angela would be another story.
Angela had high hopes of living the life where the worst she had to think of in a day was where she’d go for her next manicure. What she did to need a manicure was a mystery to Patricia.
In the beginning, Patricia had thought her husband to be very suave and debonair but after twenty plus years of marriage she was tired of the hypocrisy of having to pretend she was something she wasn’t, for she too came from what her husband so freely referred to as, ‘White trash’.
“When I get back, everyone had better have come to their senses!” Richard said as he stormed off, unable even in light of a family crisis to miss a tee time with his cronies.
With the kitchen and dining room put back to normal, having settled Angela’s histrionics to a dull sulk, and with promises to keep them all posted she said her goodbyes to Nancy and Jason, Sally and Richard, Jr. before seating herself on the front porch swing in the waning light of the afternoon sun. Sipping her tea she patiently waited for her husband to arrive home. The conversation for tonight had been a long time coming.
“I adore you, you know. You know that, don’t you?” She’d been so lost in thought she hadn’t heard Richard come home.
“Before you say anything, I never made it to the golf course. I made it as far as Rockford Park and have been there ever since…thinking,” he said as he sat beside her. “Thinking that for a man who has such a brilliant career, how could I be so stupid? When did I turn into such a snob? Can you ever forgive me for being such an ass?”
“Of course I forgive you,” she answered, snuggling into him, “but it’s not me you owe an apology to.”
“I know. The advice I give to all who pass through my court room is to ‘own it, take responsibility for what you’ve done and find a way to fix it’. Easy to preach, much harder to practice, but it’s high time I did, don’t you think?” And first thing the next morning he made through his rounds of apologies and hugs with more hope for the future than even he’d had in a long time.