Emend by Eclipse
Chapter 14

Copyright© 2020 by Lazlo Zalezac

May 24, 1975

Trust is an interesting thing. If you have it, it’s easy to lose. If you don’t have it, it’s nearly impossible to gain. Some people just can’t trust others no matter what. Others shouldn’t be trusted no matter how nicely they smile.

When Suzie was five, she broke the cookie jar. Still holding the cookie in her hand, she solemnly swore that she was nowhere near the cookie jar when it mysteriously fell off the counter. Sam tossed a ball through the window when he was seven. He claimed it wasn’t him although he was the only one around and was wearing a baseball mitt. Eleven years later, Suzie is sixteen and Sam is eighteen. Mom and Dad should have gotten over the fibs told by a young dumb kids, but sometimes, parents can’t and that is a big problem for the kids.

In 1973, girls liking girls was a pretty big deal, but not in a good way. It was considered immoral, abnormal, and contagious. Some folks even considered it a mental disease like schizophrenia. A girl outed in school would be subjected to social, emotional, and physical abuse. Some idiots were of the opinion that all a lesbian needed in order to return her to the straight and narrow of heterosexuality was a romp in a bed with a big cock. Some neanderthals even thought that a rape would turn a lesbian back to ‘normal.’ The only redeeming value that could be affixed to a lesbian was that it looked pretty sexy when two girls were going at it. There were very good reasons why girls who liked girls were very careful not to let it become known.

It should be noted that it was even worse for boys who like boys. Just about everyone believed that homosexuality could be beaten out of a boy. Parents and schoolmates alike would line up to provide that beating to chase away the evil demon of homosexuality. Even a hint that a guy might be that way or an untrue rumor could destroy a life.

Outside of liking girls in a sexual way (which really had nothing to do with anything), Cathy was a good girl by every definition of the word. She didn’t curse, smoke, do drugs, or drink. She was respectful and well mannered. She dressed nicely. She was an honor student in school. As far as 999 out of a 1000 mothers were concerned, they’d be overjoyed to have a daughter like Cathy. Unfortunately for Cathy, her mother was that 1 out of a 1000 who was disappointed.

One day when Cathy was 6, she was playing in the living room. She would spin in place until she got dizzy and then would stagger around like she was drunk. Her mother was watching and laughing at her antics. Then, in the blink of an eye, there was a disaster. Cathy stumbled into her mother’s showcase. Grandmother’s vase wobbled and then fell to floor where it shattered into a thousand pieces. Cathy’s mother never forgave her for that.

From that day forward, Cathy could do no right as far as her mother was concerned. Her mother snooped through her room looking for contraband. She was always watching, anticipating another screw up. If Cathy did do something wrong, her mother was all over her. Her father did nothing to protect her from her mother’s abuse. His take was that he was committed to his wife until death do they part while he was only responsible for Cathy until she turned eighteen. Sorry kid, your mother comes first regardless of whether she is right or wrong.

Cathy’s mother hated Sandra. She thought Sandra was a sneaky conniving witch and was going to lead Cathy even further astray than she already was. This was kind of far fetched because her opinion of Cathy was so low that it couldn’t get any worse. The two girls couldn’t get a moment of privacy around the house. In the first time line, when they were caught having sex this confirmed everything Cathy’s mother believed about both girls. Armed with a club the size of a nuclear bomb, she went after Cathy with a vengeance. The result was that the poor girl committed suicide.

In this time line, Benny showed up at their doorstep to take out Cathy. According to Cathy’s mother, a girl who is sixteen and evil shouldn’t be dating boys, but should be on her knees praying to God for her mother’s forgiveness (which wasn’t going to come). About every three months, she hauled Cathy off to the gynecologist to see if she still had her hymen. Due to Cathy’s sexual orientation, she hadn’t yet been penetrated and her hymen remained intact. It seemed like her mother was disappointed that she didn’t have another weapon with which to bludgeon her daughter.

Benny didn’t cooperate. With his buzz cut, he was the opposite of the dreaded hippie which was the stuff of parental nightmares at the time. Insults rolled off him like water off a duck’s back. He just didn’t notice or care. Any other red blooded American boy probably would have committed murder after some of the things she said to Benny. Fortunately, Actor Benny was in charge. That persona could be quite charming even though five minutes later he wouldn’t be able to tell you what had been said. It must be admitted that Cathy enjoyed her mother’s discomfort in dealing with Benny.

The house that Benny and Tim purchased for use as an office was basically in full repair. Walls had been repaired and painted. The floors had been covered with linoleum tile (the roll version rather than the individual tiles). The bathroom was fully functional. Even the bathtub had been given a facelift although it had not been restored to original condition. The kitchen had a working stove, oven, sink, and refrigerator. Desks, tables, and chairs had been added to the main room. The storage room was filled with filing cabinets and bookcases although they were all empty except for one drawer. All of the windows had curtains.

The bedroom, which was Cathy and Sandra’s love shack, had a simple bed and a comfortable chair. There was nothing in your face obvious about its use. It could have served as a place to take a nap if needed. In fact, it looked like it had never been used.

On the day before Memorial Day, Benny was marking up a large city map for use in planing their curb painting activities. He was sectioning the various parts of suburban neighborhoods into workable regions for the upcoming weekends. They preferred to go into an area knowing exactly what streets they were going to cover, how many houses were on each street, and what route the various teams could take to minimize effort while maximizing the territory they could cover.

He paused, looked up from what he was doing, and then said, “It sounds like someone just pulled into the driveway.”

Sandra got up from her desk and looked out the window which gave a good view of the driveway. She groaned. “It’s Cathy’s mother.”

Tim said, “I wonder why she’s here.”

Bitterly, Cathy said, “She’s here hoping to catch Benny and me in bed making like bunnies.”

Tim said, “Why don’t the four of us get naked and start running around the room screaming and shouting?”

Sandra burst out laughing at the mental image his comment invoked. Deciding that this had nothing to do with him, Benny went back to work. Cathy growled, “Don’t even joke about it.”

“How did she even know where to come?”

“I have no idea.”

There was a loud pounding on the door which could have passed for a knock except it sounded more like she was using a battering ram. Cathy, who was normally the aggressive one, shrank into herself.

“Benny!”

“What?”

“We need you to deal with Cathy’s mother,” Tim said.

“You’re the people person.”

“You can be Actor Benny. Dealing with her mother is going to require all of the insincerity of Benny the Actor.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

“Okay.”

Benny went over to the door and opened it. With broad smile on his face, he greeted the woman like she was a long lost friend. “Mrs. Peterson! What a surprise. I didn’t know you were coming. If I had known I would have bought a coffee cake. Come in ... Come in. Oh, it’s always such a pleasure to see you.”

“Hello, Benny,” she replied in a tone of voice that suggested she was less than pleased to see him. She stepped into the house while examining the room for anything suspicious. Cathy was at a desk with a ledger open in front of her and two stacks of receipts. Sandra was at a desk with a telephone on it. Tim was seated at the table with a pad of paper, the front sheet identifying materials that they needed to purchase from the hardware store.

Sandra had to look away before she burst out in laughter. She had never seen Actor Benny before. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing, particularly knowing Benny as well as she did. He was an absolute parody of a gracious host.

“Please make yourself comfortable. Would you like something to drink? We have milk. Would you like a glass of milk?”

“No thank you.”

“So what can we do for you?” Benny asked clapping his hands together lightly.

“I just came by to see the place. Cathy has been spending so much time out here that I thought I should check it out.”

Benny make a gesture like he was praying. He said, “Of course you’re concerned. We should have had an open house so our parents could see the place. It’s a little late for that, but maybe I can rectify the situation a little. Would you like a tour?”

“Yes.”

“This is our main office room. Cathy, who is our paperwork person, has a desk over here which is where she deals with all of the company papers. Sandra ... you know Sandra ... she’s our receptionist. She’s seated at her desk. You’ve met Tim. He and I were at the conference table partitioning the town into little sections for our curb painting business. Kind of like, this weekend we do these streets, and next weekend we do those streets...”

“I see.”

Benny walked over to the door of the second bedroom. He opened and gestured inside, “This is our file room. It’s kind of empty at the moment, but our business is still growing and I’m sure that one day it will be packed with files.”

“I’m sure.”

Benny walked to the other door and opened it. He said, “Over here we have the bedroom.”

“Bedroom!” The word left her mouth like an explosion.

“Yes, I know what you’re thinking. What are we doing with a bedroom in office? You’re right. It probably is unusual. However, Tim and I go to school, we mow lawns after school, we clean offices in the early evening, and then we come out here to deal with other business issues until late at night. Sometimes, one of us will be so tired that we just have to take nap. While we were fixing up this place, we would take naps on the floor.

“Have you ever taken a nap on the floor?”

“Not recently.”

“If you ever have, then you know that it is uncomfortable and hardly restful. After talking it over, we decided it was worth getting a bed. Now when one of us is too tired to work, we go and take a half nap and then we’re ready to go. We never take a full nap, that would ruin our whole sleep cycle. I’m sure that you would have done exactly the same thing in our place.”

Tim was having a hard time keeping a straight face through the whole bit about a half nap versus a full nap. He wondered from what reality Benny was pulling that one.

“Maybe.”

She went into the room and inspected it. She even looked under the bed searching for panties that might have gotten misplaced. The room was clean. Benny went over to the bathroom. He stood there gesturing inside when she came out of the bedroom.

“This is our bathroom. I want you to see our bathtub.”

“I’m not really sure that I need to inspect the bathroom.”

“You’ve got to see our bathtub.”

“Okay.”

“Look at it. Isn’t it gorgeous? A real honest to goodness cast iron lionpaw porcelain bathtub. We think it is over fifty years old. We couldn’t throw it out.

“You may not be aware of this, we have three acres of land. Let me tell you, mowing this place is a huge pain, particularly in middle of summer under a blistering hot sun. This bathtub is a wonder when you come in all hot and sweaty after sitting all day on the tractor in the sweltering heat while mowing the lawn.”

“I can imagine.”

“Let me show you the kitchen.”

“Sure,” she said while looking around the bathroom. There were no female undergarments hanging on a line drying. “It’s remarkably clean.”

“Of course, it’s clean. We own an office cleaning business.”

Benny led her into the kitchen. “This is our kitchen. It’s fully functional.”

“I see.”

“Are you sure you wouldn’t like a glass of milk?”

“No, I’m fine.”

“Let’s go out the back door so I can show you the outbuilding. Now I have to warn you that the contractor hasn’t finished it yet, but don’t worry there’s nothing dangerous there. It’s just that they haven’t finished hanging the front and back doors. Apparently there was some issue with the parts.”

“I don’t need to see your building.”

“Okay. Well, you’ve seen the whole place. I know what you’re thinking. There’s not much here, but it is our office and we’re very proud of it.”

“I can tell,” Cathy’s mother said with an expression on her face like she had bitten into a lemon.

They returned to the main office. Cathy said, “Tim, there’s a receipt here for Leonard’s Pest Control. What is it?”

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