1635: THE DREESON INCIDENT – Snippet 58



"I wish that Lenore could have come today," Eleanor Jenkins said.


"Too many places for her to be, Gran," Missy said. "Bryant wrote her. The letter made a fuss that she should have noon dinner with his sister Lola, and then the Days wanted her and Weshelle for supper. Maybe she can run in here for an hour or so between two Thanksgiving dinners, the way Chandra is going to do for the Pricketts, before she goes to the Days’. Well, Chandra’s really going over to David Jones’ house, since Nathan’s mom is Mr. Jones’ sister and they’re having Thanksgiving there. I can phone Lenore at Lola’s and ask, but I wouldn’t count on her being able to get away soon enough."


"Jasper Day isn’t even in town. He’s up in Magdeburg, still, so she doesn’t have grandparents there. Believe me, at Thanksgiving a grandmother outranks three aunts. If she had to be at Lola’s for dinner, she could have dropped in on the Days this afternoon and come here for leftovers for supper." Eleanor’s voice was very firm.


"They guilt-trip her, Grandma. Because Aunt Lena and Sarah and Diana and Di’s girls had gone to the movies together and were left up-time, now Janice and Nell and Cassandra are putting pressure on Chandra and Lenore and Sarah’s kids to hang tight with them as a family group. Which goes triple now that Ed Monroe and Chauncey Wilson as well as Uncle Wes have all remarried. Plus, they’re pushing even harder since Janice and Ross adopted five kids and Nell and Fenton have adopted two kids. Replacements for the ones they lost. They’re trying to focus on them, I guess. Bonding and all that kind of stuff. Make them feel that they are really part of the family. Plus, with Cassie remarrying to a German guy this month and bringing in three stepchildren . . . and the Nazarenes lost almost their whole church congregation and their minister. The Days were hit really hard by the Ring of Fire."


"You’re sounding very grown up, littlest granddaughter."


"Teacher training. Child psychology as well as library science. I’m not ‘littlest’ any more, really," Missy said. "You’ll have to promote one of the great-granddaughters to spoil in that spot. Or leave it vacant for a while, considering that Chandra’s girls are twins, which might cause sibling rivalry. Wait and see what Chip and Katerina produce once they get themselves organized."




"Missy, where are you going?" Debbie hurried out into the hall.


"Home. Gran brought up ‘good bourgeois’ and started saying things about Ron’s dad. He and Gerry left."


Debbie winced. Her mother-in-law’s talent for disguising catty remarks as polite comments was one of the banes of her life. It occurred to her that Ron Stone might not be so bad to have around if he had an antenna that picked it up too.


"I’m sorry, hon. But you can’t go straight home. You’ve got to stop by Aura Lee’s. You can’t not go see Nani and Pop on Thanksgiving. Everyone’s feelings will be hurt if you don’t."


"Sometimes," Missy said. "Sometimes I wish that people would collect all the things they get hurt feelings about and put them out in a garbage can."




"Sorry I put you through that," Ron said, lounging on his dad’s favorite bean bag chair.


"No problem," Gerry answered. "Dinners like that are part of what pastors have to learn to do."


Ron stared a minute. More alien than Mork from Ork.


Then he got up and looked in the mirror. Missy. Miss Utterly Bourgeois. That meant that she knew, without thinking about it, where her body, her face, her hair, every bit of her, came from. What did he know about himself? Looking at his reflection, he had to admit that it would probably have been sort of hard to tell the origin of any of the component parts, even if he had known his mother at all and his father for sure, given how . . . average . . . the whole ensemble was that looked back at him.


For the first time in his life, it occurred to him that even though his biological paternity was a bit optional, so to speak, Dad had at least known his mother. In every sense of the word. They’d been acquainted. In his next letter to Italy, he would ask what she had looked like. Even if the answer was "sort of all-round unimpressive," that would be something. And his school records should have a copy of his birth certificate. He could ask for a copy of it to back file with the Bureau of Vital Statistics. Maybe he ought to do that for all three of them. It wasn’t a bad idea to make sure that your paperwork was in order.




"It can’t be serious, Chad. Can it?" Debbie took off her shoes and propped her feet up on a hassock. It had been quite a day. "They can’t be serious?"


"No idea," Chad answered sleepily, tilting his recliner backwards before folding his hands across his chest.


"Surely not. Oh, surely not. They’re only eighteen."


"Nineteen next month. Both of them. Out of high school for quite a while now, when you think about it."


"She was just being nice because their father and stepmother are still in Italy. If they hadn’t come here, where would they have eaten?"


"With somebody else, I expect. Or done something at their place with chicken. Based on the way she was looking at him, wherever he was, she would be too. Seemed rather taken by him. Vice versa. Both trying hard to keep anyone else from noticing. Success level with that project measurable at roughly zilch. Very taken with him. Can’t imagine where she gets it," he yawned.


That was probably the best tack to take, he thought, remembering that Debbie had been seventeen and still in high school when she married Don Jefferson, who was only a year older. She was eighteen when Anne was born and Don was killed in Vietnam. Willie Ray had used every ounce of political clout at his disposal to get the school board to let her come back the next year and graduate. Willie Ray had once told him that Debbie would have run off with Don if he hadn’t given his consent at the time. Debbie had been a rather determined young lady herself, Chad mused. Nope. Absolutely can’t imagine where Missy gets it.


"Charles Hudson Jenkins!"


He assured himself that Debbie hadn’t been reading his thoughts. "It’s not as if Tom Stone is a social pariah any more. He’s made a ton of money legally and his father-in-law’s not too shabby when it comes time to bargain either."


"Well, I’m going to call Mother. If Missy came straight home rather than stopping by Aura Lee’s, I might as well hear about it now as later."


She reached for the phone extension, listened a moment, and put the receiver down again. "It’s busy."


Chad raised an eyebrow.


"Missy and Ron. Dissecting the dinner events." She frowned. "Missy has a sharper tongue than I ever realized. I wish that I weren’t such an honorable mom. I might have learned a lot from eavesdropping longer."


"What did you learn in fifteen seconds?"


"That Gerry called the Lutheran minister out at St. Martin‘s as soon as they got home from here. About Chip’s needing to take instructions, I mean."


"That’s not exactly revolutionary news. Chip broke it to us a long time ago. And they are Protestants. Lutherans, I mean. I looked that up after Vera said . . ."


Debbie would rather not talk about her mother right now. "According to Ron, this school teacher out there, the one who is going with the Kochs’ daughter, is practically keeping a prize list under the heading of ‘up-time converts we have caught.’ With Chip, at the moment, as a candidate for the blue ribbon."


"One hand washes the other. We can’t expect all the influence to run one way. Doesn’t the Koch girl count as a prize?"


"The Kochs were Lutheran already. Before."


"Oh. I guess I never knew that. Our paths didn’t cross much."