Chapters One to Twenty Six
Vignettes 1 - 140

Chapters 27 to
Vignettes 141 -

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Chapter #48: Uncontrolled Idiots

“Late.” Miss Glo mumbled as she was pushed from the common room back to her bedroom.

“Calm down, Gloria.” Miss Inez Morning carefully rolled the woman across the floor. “The traffic in this town can be murder. I’m sure they’ll be here soon.”

“Forgot.” Miss Glo spat as best she could.

Inez stopped the wheelchair, almost tossing the stroke victim out of it. She stepped in front on the woman, one hand on her hip and one shaking the extended finger on the other one. “Shame on you, Gloria! You know that man would not forget you, especially not on a day like today. You are going home, for good. Now just suck it up, or I will personally beat the crap out of you.”

Gloria laughed out of the one side of her face that worked. “Like you.”

The black woman shook her head and chuckled, strolling back to her pushing post. “God knows why any one of us even wanna be around you, Old Girl. You are such a bitch.”

“You…too.” Gloria smiled and lovingly gave the woman pushing behind her a favorite hand signal. Inez smacked at it playfully.

“Hey!” Shot a voice from inside the doorway they were passing. “Hey, you!”

Inez stopped the rolling and leaned forward to peer in the room.

“Come in here!” The voice insisted.

Inez tried to speed up the pushing, but her recent hip replacement hadn’t restored her to the energy of her youth. Gloria peered in as Inez did her best to get her past.

“Get your butts in here!”

Gloria pointed toward the doorway.

“Glo, honey. I know that woman. Let’s just get to your room and wait for…”

“Shuddup and get in here!”

Gloria nodded her head and motioned Inez to push her in. Inez just shook her head, “Glo, that woman is crazy!”

Gloria pointed firmly. Inez mumbled, “This ain’t gonna be good.”

Propped up in the bed was a train wreck of a woman, about their age with oxygen pumping through the tubes up her nose. She smiled through her garishly applied lipstick.

“Join me, ladies?” She asked as she held a Bic up to her Marlboro Red.

“Aren’t you afraid you’re gonna blow the whole place up, Lulu?” Inez stared down the now smoking woman on the oxygen tank.

“Hell, no.” Lulu puffed. “Besides, it would just put most of us out of our misery.” She tossed the Bic on the stand beside her bed then looked at Gloria. “So, honey. I’ve heard you’re busting this joint tonight.”

Miss Glo smiled as best she could proudly. “Home.”

“Home?” Lulu cackled. “Who are you, E.T.?”

“Miss Glo, is going home, Lulu. Someplace where she’ll be loved and cared for.” Inez smiled. “Can you say the same?”

Lulu puffed out a blast of smoke. “Loved and cared for…done it…it’s over rated.”

“Well, nice to see you, again.” Inez began to roll Miss Glo’s chair backwards out of the room.

“Not so fast, Inez, me an’ Miss Glo here haven’t had a chance to chat.”

“Oh, her family will be here any minute. They’ll be waiting for her and worrying that she’s not in her room.”

“Yeah…sure.” Inez took a long drag of her cigarette and dared Inez to keep retreating with her eyes. “So Glo, is that right? That what they call you?”

Miss Glo nodded her head. “You?”

“They call me Lulu.” The woman thought a minute. “I think that’s probably right. I’ve had so many names and lived so many lives. At this point, I’m lucky to still be sittin’ up.” She cackled at her own joke.

“Fam…lee?” Gloria struggled to say.

“Nah…just me, but that’s the way I like it.” Lulu took another drag off her smoke and flicked the ash at an ashtray she was sure was around somewhere. “Seen you around, old girl. So you’re finally bustin’ out, huh?”

Miss Glo nodded her head.

“Good for you.”

Inez smiled. “Gloria’s going to go live with her Daughter and her sort of Son-in-law.” She stumbled over that last part, not knowing how to define it exactly.

“Sort of?” Lulu grinned. “One of those…been there myself.”

“Actually,” Inez finally realized how to word it properly. “She’s going to be living with family, that’s what’s important.” She patted Gloria on the shoulder. “Right, Glo?”


“Yeah, well, good luck with that.” Lulu snarked. “Let’s just hope your daughter doesn’t blow it and get you both tossed out on your keysters. Better yet, let’s hope she does blow and blows well, just to keep a roof over your heads.” Lulu howled and slapped the bed.

“No need to be crude.”

“No need to be crude.” Lulu mocked her and took another drag off her smoke. “Look, hon, I hope everything works out well for ya. Nobody wants to be in this dump, if they’ve got a choice.” She thought for a moment and looked away. “Been my experience, no matter what you do, it never quite works out the way you think.”

“You?” Gloria leaned forward and asked.

“Me?” Lulu snorted. “Obviously nothing turned out the way I planned. That’s why I’m living the high life here.”

“No.” Gloria frowned. “Choice…your…choice.” She struggled a bit, but was proud she got it out.

“I chose to come here.” Lulu grinned and then frowned a little. “Didn’t have anywhere else to go.” She sighed and then put the grin back on. “But it was the best of the dumps I could find.”

There was a little buzz in Inez’ pocket. Inez slipped her hand in and patted Gloria on the shoulder. “It’s Ian, probably to tell us he’s on his way.”

“You slip out in the hall and take it, Inez. Me and Gloria will have a little chat.”

“Oh, I’ll just…”

“Take the damn call, hon. We’ll be fine.”

Gloria turned as best she could a nodded her head. Inez frowned but flipped open the little phone and stepped to the door. “Is everything alright…” she said as she disappeared.

“She’s a corker that one.” Lulu told Gloria then looked deeply in her eyes and confided. “I have the feeling you and me are a lot alike.” She gave a devilish little grin and held a pack of cigarettes toward Gloria. “You want one?”

Miss Glo firmly shook her head.

“Suit yourself. Hope you’re not goin’ home just to be a lump in Depends?”

Miss Glo smiled.

“Thought so.” Lulu leaned back on her pillows. “Yeah, when you get our age, in our situation, it’s pretty much the only way to entertain yourself. If I can’t make at least one nurse quit every day, I’m slippin’.”

“You have fun, old girl.” Lulu nodded at her. “I’m sure you can find lots of interesting ways to torture your Daughter and sort of Son In Law. I miss those days.”


“Several.” Lulu smiled in remembrance. “And not a whole lot of regrets either. Always thought regrets were mistakes you didn’t learn from.”

Miss Glo smiled. “Like…that.”

“You can use it, won’t even ask for credit.” Lulu sighed. “I used to be somebody, you know. Now I’m just an old bitch…” she held up her quickly dwindling Marlboro. “But I’m still a smokin’ bitch!” Once again, she cackled at her own joke.


“Oh yeah, hell half of old Hollywood used to grovel at my feet.” She smashed out her smoke on the side of a sterofoam cup until the melted hole was big enough to shove the butt in. “Course, now no one knows I’m alive.” The cherry of the smoke hit the water at the bottom of the cup and sizzled.

“Gloria!” Inez came rushing back in a grabbed the wheelchair. “We got to go.”

“Ian?” She said hopefully.

“No, hon, Ripley’s coming. We’ve got to get to the hospital!”

Inez Morning saw the panic spread across Miss Glo’s face. “Don’t worry, you’re about to be a Grandmother!”

The panic turned to pleasure as she breathed, “Now?”

“Yes, now. Everyone’s there already. Ripley’s on his way to pick us up.”

“Hey! Wait a minute!” Lulu barked as they inched toward the door. “Ian? Who you talkin’ about?”

“Ian Justyn.” Inez looked up at the old monster in the bed. “Who else?”

“Ian Justyn is your sort of Son-in-law?”

Gloria couldn’t help but beam with pride. “Good…man.”

“Yeah, maybe.” The old woman in the bed reached for another smoke. “Have to admit he’s done good stuff for ol’ HRT. God knows, it was gasping for its last breath.”

“Aw Ian’s wonderful.” Inez said as she carefully began backing Gloria’s chair out of the room. “You’d like him.”

“I doubt it.” Lulu sniped. “He reminds me too much of someone I hate.”

Gloria and Inez were already out of the room and couldn’t hear her. Lulu took a long drag and mumbled. “…Darla Hutton.”

She blew out the smoke and cackled.

“Thank God!” He said as he swiped an armload of stuff off his desk top and stood. “I was beginning to think I was going to have to leave before you got here!”

Sparky Jarvis smiled. “I got here as soon as I could.”

“Sorry, didn’t mean to snap.” He took a deep breath and smiled.

“What’s up? I’ve never seen you like this.”

“Family emergency, which I don’t do well,” He smiled and uncharacteristically began double checking his arms to make sure he had everything.

“I understand that.” Sparky tried to assure him as she slipped into the chair behind his desk. “You run off and take care of things, as only you can do, and I’ll sit here quietly and try to keep everything in order and be second best at being you.”

“Great.” Blake let out a puff a frazzled air. “It’s been quiet, just answer the phone, take notes and I’ll take care of it in the morning.” He sat a pile from his arms back on the desk, pulled out a notepad, consulted it and turned back to Sparky. “Okay, Doll, Jeff Torkelson may call, just check Ian’s calendar and pencil in a convenient time. If anyone insists on speaking directly to Ian you know what to do.”

Sparky nodded her head. “Tell ‘em to suck it up and you’ll get back with them as soon as Ian can.”

Blake grinned and picked up his pile again. “Good girl, if it’s a real emergency, text me.”

“You got it, er, I’ve got it…now run.”

He kissed her on the cheek and scampered away. Sparky sighed in contentment. She actually was enjoying her tenure at HRT adoring the fact that she was the only one Blake trusted to fill in for him when he had other places to be.

She kicked back in Blake’s Erganomic chair, putting her hands behind her hand. “I’m Second in Command of the World” she said to an absolutely empty office.

Of course, it meant she’d be bored out of her skull for the next three hours. That’s the way it usually was when Blake left the office. It meant that HRT and most of Hollywood had disappeared until the next day.

She took a deep breath and looked around the room. She drummed her fingers on the desk top and willed the phone to ring. She cocked her head and looked closely at the desk top.

“What’s this?”

She cocked her head again for another close inspection. “Surely not.”

She pulled the object closer to her and looked yet again. “My, my Blake you were in a hurry. I’ve never seen you without this at your side.”

Yet there it was, Blake’s little black book. Sparky pulled out her phone and hit a button to text him.

“Naaah…” she thought. He’ll realize he forgot it and be right back up to get it before he gets out of the parking lot.

Sparky smiled. “Which means, I haven’t got much time.”

She picked up the book, whirled the little Ergonomic chair around and began to make copies of it page by page.

“Sorry, Blake but why should you be the only person in the world with a magic wand?”

“They’re so…” Ian touched the warm forehead of the child he held in his arms and searched for the correct word that wasn’t cliché. He couldn’t find it. “…beautiful.”

Tippy smiled up at him from the second child she cradled in hers. “Perfect.”

“This still doesn’t seem real.” He sighed looking intently at the newborn. “None of it does.”

“It’ll hit you eventually.” She smiled, remembering, in many ways, Ian was a first time father. “Sometime between the 4 A.M. feedings and the sleep deprivation.”

Ian touched his son’s tiny little chin. “I look forward to that.”

“Good.” Tippy turned back to the baby in her arms. “God knows, Clare will be absolutely no help in that department.”

“My turn.” Colton said, greedily holding out his arms.

“You’ve already had a turn with this one.” Tippy pulled the baby close to her and nodded her head toward Ian. “You pry that one out of your son’s arms.”

“Sorry.” Colton shook his head in amazement. “You can’t tell them apart.”

“Easy.” Ian almost whispered. “This one has green eyes and that one blue.”

“Okay, I’ll make a mental note to pry their eyes open when I need to tell them apart.” Colton chuckled.

“Have you thought of names, yet?” Tippy asked. “We can’t refer to them as this one and that one for too long. They’ll develop a complex.”

“Unfortunately, Tippy, they’re my children. I think they are destined for complexes.” Ian gently handed his armful to Colton, who instantly became enamored, again.

“Now, Baby Doll, why would you say something like that?”

Ian looked over at the bundle in her arms, but avoided her eyes. “My life, Tippy, my life is a mess.”

“Why would you say that?” Colton looked up at him.

“Well, first of all this isn’t the way you bring a child into this world or at least shouldn’t.”

“Maybe it wasn’t the most perfect of scenarios” Tippy agreed, “But these boys were born into so much more than many have at the beginning.”

“It’s certainly much different than when Ronnie was born.”

“And he turned out just fine.” Colton rocked the child who began to squirm a bit.

“I can’t take credit for that, Colton. He’s ten and I didn’t raise him. I’ve still got plenty of time to screw him up. These two will have my claw marks all over them from the get go.”

“That’s a horrible thing to say.” Tippy scowled. “You’re a wonderful father. You act like you’re some horror show freak locking away Rapunzels in a tower somewhere.”

“Well, maybe I’m not but we all have to admit that anyone who even circles close to my life has had to deal with a lot.”

“Like?” Colton looked at him.

“Oh, like gunshots, explosions, bodies falling from the sky…”

“Not to make light of it, but that was your body falling from the sky and your still here.” Tippy reminded him.

Ian nodded his head, ever so slightly, then reached for the baby in her arms. “I just want to keep all the bad stuff, all the bad stuff that seems to keep happening from coming anywhere near this little guy.” He looked toward the son in Colton’s arms. “Or that one or the one waiting with baited breath down the hall to meet his little brothers.”

Colton handed the child to his wife, and put his now free hands on his son’s shoulders. “You know you weren’t the only one who wasn’t around when a of their blood child was growing up.”

“At least you didn’t know about me, Colton. I don’t have that excuse.” Ian refused to look away from the baby in his arms. “I gave Ronnie away. I did the selfish thing and gave my baby boy away.”

“No Ian.” Colton quickly and sternly corrected him. “You did the unselfish thing and did what you thought was best to ensure that your son had a good life, one you didn’t think you’d be able to give him.”

“But was I right?”

Tippy looked Ian directly in the eyes. “Can you say that you were wrong?”


She cut him off. “Can you honestly say that you and especially Ronnie would be having a better life right now, if you had kept him and raised him yourself instead of giving him to Kyle and Janie?”

“You’d never have finished school, maybe even never have started. You’d probably still be living in a shack in Virginia.” Colton added.

Tippy smiled broadly. “And you’d never have discovered that you have a big ol’ family, as crazy as we might drive you.”

Ian nodded his head. He sighed. “At least Ronnie knows he was conceived in love and raised in love.” He looked at Tippy and Colton. “What about these two?”

“What do you mean?”

“What do I tell them when they ask if I loved their mother?”

“Ian, you thought so at one time.” Colton defended.

“But no child should be brought into this world as an attempt to force a relationship to stay together.” Ian gently lay the sleeping child in the little hospital basinet. “And that’s about the best I can say for why they ended up being.”

Tippy followed suit and put the second infant beside his brother and then rubbed the small of Ian’s back as he looked lovingly forlorn at the babies. “Baby Doll, everyone wants to think that the reason they were given life is because their parents were so deeply in love that planets aligned and that energy created their divine existence.”

Ian snorted and Tippy smiled with him. “And we all know the real truth. Most children in this world are born simply because two idiots couldn’t control themselves.” She lay her head on his shoulders and looked at the twins. “But that doesn’t make their lives any more or any less divine.”

“Speaking of divine,” Colton interrupted. “I think maybe it’s time you go down the hall and get the big brother.”

“I just don’t want to leave them.” Ian sighed.

“That’s always the hardest part, Baby Doll.” She took his hand and gently pulled him away from the basinets. “Let’s go get Ronnie.”

“Yeah.” Ian smiled. “Yeah. I can’t wait to see the silly grin on his face. He’s going to be such a great big brother.”

Tippy led Ian toward the door of the ward, through the door to the entrance. As they began to remove the paper gowns they had been donning, Colton turned to the man sitting in the corner. “He’s going to go get my grandson and bring him in to meet the boys.”

“Oh, that will be nice.” The old man grinned.

“Then we’ll try and talk them into going home and getting some rest. It’s been a long night for everyone.”

“Yes.” The man nodded from his chair. “Get some peace and quiet while you can. They’re quiet now, but that won’t last.”

Colton grinned. “But it always worth it.”

“Yes.” As Colton turned to go the old man added. “Good night, sir, best of luck to you.”

“You won’t be here when we get back?”

“No. No, my shift is almost over. I just volunteer. They let me sit here and make sure no one steals or switches the babies while the night shift nurse takes her dinner break. She’s due back any moment.”

“Well…” Colton smiled at the old guy. “Good night to you then.”

“Same.” The man nodded and watched intently as Colton stepped through to the other room and removed his paper trappings. When the door shut behind him the old man got up from his chair as quickly as he could and went to the basinet holding the Justyn twins.

He smiled as he looked down. “Hey there, young men. My, my but you are handsome things.”

One of the babies opened his vivid blue eyes, making the old man smile and lean in closer. “Don’t let the face scare ya, boy. I used to be as good lookin’ as you once. Still am on the inside.”

He rubbed the child’s little belly. “Glad we got a chance to talk. We haven’t got much time, so we gotta make this quick.”

The old man looked into the other basinet, and back. “Looks like your brother’s still asleep, so you’ll have to give him a message for me. Okay?”

He pulled the chair from the corner where it had been and right up to the crib, sitting himself back down but leaning in so his scarred face was just inches from the baby’s. “I just want you to know that things have been out of control for a long, long time. That’s was kind of my fault. Not all of it mind you, I had a lot of help messing things up, but we’re fixing things.”

“We can’t erase everything that happened, but hopefully every little loose end is almost tied up. It took a while, but things should be good now. Now your Daddy is not to blame for any of this, you hear me. He had nothing to do with any of it. He just got born, that’s all. Just like you and your brother.”

A tear formed in the old man’s eye. “I couldn’t protect him, like I can protect you and I promise you from now on nothing bad will happen to any of you. Family is important. That’s the one thing I learned in all of this, family is important, and you’re my family.”

He smiled when the boy seemed to smile at him. “That's right, I’m family, too, but that’s our secret. I’m your uncle with a couple of greats thrown in there. Now, you probably won’t see me again, but just know that I’m out there watching from the distance. I promise you nothing bad will ever happen to you and your Daddy as long as I can help it. Okay?”

The old man kissed the boy on the forehead and pushed the chair back as he stood up. He moved the chair back to its original spot and went to the second basinet, kissing the other sleeping child as well.

Before he turned to leave he took one last look at the blue eyed boy fascinated by the color and movement that was the old man. “Just so you know, I always keep my promises.”

He was getting ready to head out the door when a nurse stopped him. “Excuse me? What are you doing in here?”

“Oh, Maxine had an emergency and they said it was okay if I sat here until you started your shift.”

“Volunteers as not allowed to…”

The old man put up his hands to calm her down. “I know, I know.” He smiled warmly and handed her some papers stuffed in his pockets. “Everything is all approved and legal like.”

He pointed to a signature. “See, Dr. Warner signed off on it and everything. Can’t be too careful when it comes to the innocent, especially when they are connected to the connected.”

The nurse read fervently, the old man watching her move her lips. “Can I go now? Way past my bedtime.”

She nodded. “Of course…”

“You have a good night, now.” The old man patted her on the shoulder as he walked past her.

“Oh thank you…” she said as he shut the door, “…Mr. Redfield.”

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Vignette #234: He Knows

David Turner stroked the cat in his lap and didn’t bother waiting for a salutation when he heard the line being picked up. “He knows.”


“Well, not everything, but he knows enough.”

“That’s what we wanted. Isn’t it?”

“Yes.” Turner took a deep breath. “We’ve let him grope around in the dark so long, when we could have just sat him down and told him at the beginning.”

“But then we would have had to tell him everything...” The voice stressed “…Everything…and that’s the last thing we want. This way he finds out enough of the truth to correct all of our mistakes…”

“Most of our mistakes.” Turner corrected.

“Fine, most of our mistakes and we all live happily ever after.”

“You don’t know him like I do. There will be a price to pay.” Turner said almost to himself.

“Is that a problem?”

“No.” He insisted. “This just isn’t going to be as easy as it sounds.”

“It never is.” The voice added. “It never was.”

“There’s more.” David Turner bit his lip. “I’m pretty sure there’s someone else who knows or at least has figured it out.”

“How on Earth could someone else figure it out, David?” The voice scolded him. “We’re not even 100% sure ourselves.”

“Then why?”

“Then why what?”

“Why is someone trying to kill him?”

There was silence on the other end of the phone. “You’re sure? It wasn’t just a one time occurrence?”

“There have been other definite attempts. The FBI is even very discreetly involved.” Turner smiled. “I’m not supposed to know, but then I end up knowing everything.”

“Almost everything. I recall one or two important facts that managed to slip your attention.” The voice reminded him. “How could someone else figure it out?”

“I don’t know…” Turner stroked the cat and thought. “Unless…”


“They could just be guessing.”

“Like we are.” The voice suddenly insisted. “End it, end it now. It could be the only way to stop anyone else from getting hurt.”

“And what do I say? I’m sorry but the liars believed a lie that had them looking for a unicorn in the wrong garden for oh about fifty years, give or take a year, and now we feel so guilty we’ll do anything to make it up to you short of telling you the reason why it all happened?”

Silence again. “You’re right, and still it’s a shot in the dark. He may very well not be who we think he is.”

“We decided we didn’t care about that anymore.” Turner reminded them. “We decided that it was the most likely hunch and true or not he was in fact the most deserving of all the possibilities.”

“There’s still so much we don’t know.”

“I know for a fact now that he is the one.” Turner insisted.

“You have proof?”

“Finally, I do have proof.”


“Young Justyn’s not the only one with a Genetics lab on speed dial.”


“I had a DNA test of my own run.”

“Isn’t that illegal?”

He smiled. “Since when has bending the law a bit stopped us from getting what we want? That’s what started this whole mess in the first place.”

“And the test was conclusive?”

“There is absolutely no doubt that he is the one.” David Turner sighed, and his lips trembled as he said it out loud for the very first time. “Ian Justyn is my grandson.”

Vignette #233: The Color Burple

“Oh, stop.” Tippy slapped at him. “Clare’s not that bad…anymore…well not as bad…okay, she’s trying really, really hard…or maybe we’re all just getting used to her…or…”

“She’s a like a human kudzu.” Ian sighed. “She gets one finger in the door and she somehow manages to take over, strangling the beauty and the breath out of everything for miles and miles and miles.”

“Hey.” Jesse elbowed his brother. “You knocked her up.”

“Don’t you need to be buying condoms and speed dialing Sarah Palin?”

“Okay, someone has to be the adult in the room.” Ripley hiked up his britches. “I guess it’s my turn. Billy, did you come bursting in here just to tell us your daughter was listening to the baby move?”

“Oh…yeah…right.” Billy turned back to Ian. “I made a few phone calls and discovered something that may be important.”

“Okay.” Ian blinked, bracing for the worse.

“Is Kellen still here?” Billy looked amongst the group. “Kellen should hear this.”

“No. I think he went out earlier.” Tippy pointed over her shoulder. “I don’t remember where he said he was going. Do you?”

“No.” Colton thought a moment. “I saw him go out the front door, but I don’t recall him telling anyone where he was going.”

“He may have told Clare.” Reese said. “I saw them chatting just before he got up and left the house.”

“You want me to ask?” Jesse piped in.

“You just wanna hear the baby move.” Ian teased.

“I can’t help it.” Jesse blushed. “It’s cool.”

“So cool.” Ian agreed.

“Okay…once again…adult in the room?” Ripley said. “Whose turn is it?”

“Never mind.” Billy didn’t know whether to laugh or roll his eyes. “Let me just get this out before we get into cyclical and linear configurations and who invented the color burple.”

“Purple.” Ripley smiled. “The color purple.”

“I have a four year old.” Billy blinked. “To her it’s burple.”

“Who did invent the color purple?” Jesse quandered.

“Well, I know who wrote it.” Tippy said. “But I don’t know who invented it.”

“It’s a color.” Ian insisted. “You can’t invent a color.”

“Stop it!” Billy interrupted. “Ian, I made some phone calls about the renovations…”

“I thought you were doing the renovations/” Colton said.

“I am.”

“But you said…”

“Okay, stop before we get way off track again…” Billy waved his hands in the air. “Everyone take a deep breath and hold it in until I get this out. Now, on the count of three…one…”

“Is this really necessary?” Tippy asked looking around the room.

“…Two…” Billy stared her down.

“Oh.” She realized what she was doing. “Maybe it is.”


Tippy and everyone in the room took a deep breath and held it.

Billy began to race verbally before people started passing out. “I called the Vespa Brothers, the people Elizabeth Elysian contracted to do the renovations that disconnected the third floor and half the second. I didn’t find out why she insisted it was done, but I did make a discovery that may answer a few other questions. One of the men in the crew doing the renovations was Blue Richards.”

Ian took a breath of air and sputtered. “Blue Richards?”

“He worked with the crew for three weeks until Miss Elizabeth insisted that he be fired.”

“She had him fired?” Tippy took a deep breath, and put her hand to her ample bosom.

“She said she was constantly finding him in parts of the house, by himself, where he wasn’t supposed to be.” Billy informed them.

“That’s odd.” Ian said.

“That she had him fired or that he kept turning up where he wasn’t supposed to be?” Jesse asked.

“Well…kinda both.”

“Focus people…focus or take another breath and hold it.” Billy warned. “Here’s the good part, Blue and another guy were specifically assigned to rebuild the master bedroom closet.”

“My closet?” The statement hit Ian like the proverbial ton of bricks. “Can we talk to the guy? The one who worked on the closet with him?”

Billy crossed his arms and shook his head. “Can’t, turned up dead in a dumpster about three weeks later.”

“Surely the investigators knew about all of this.” Tippy said out loud to herself.

“Uhm…Peyton Balouche?” Reese reminded her.

“That explains how he was able to hide in the house all night without anyone knowing it.” Ripley added.

“And maybe…” Ian looked from the couch up the stairway, “...Where his clothes are and what he took from the house.”

The group looked at each other and began a mass exodus to the master bedroom closet.

“Shouldn’t we call somebody before we do this?”

“Like who? The police think this case is closed.”

“Kellen or maybe Yancy?”

Too late, they were already in the closet ripping everything off the walls looking for latches or levers or anything that would allow entrance into the blocked off portion of the house. In seconds all of Ian’s carefully hung clothes, stacked shoes and folded shirts were a huge messy pile on his bed.

“I think I found it.” Reese said in triumph.


He ran his fingers beneath the crown molding on the ceiling. “See? This is the top of the door. I think the whole wall must just swing.”

“What, do we push it or is there a latch?” Ian shoved slightly on the wall.

“Ya’ll are silly” came the little girl’s voice in the closet doorway.

“Vonnie, Angel, we’re trying to find something.” Tippy explained.

“I know.” She said confidently. “But it only swings the other way.”

All movement and conversation ceased as heads slowly turned to the four year old in the doorway.

“Oops.” Vonnie said, folding her hands sweetly in front of her and smiling as innocently as she could possibly figure out how to do.

“Vonnie?” Her father said an octave or two lower than usual.

“Uh…Auntie Clare sent me in here to tell you something important.” She quickly changed the subject.

“Auntie Clare?” Ian’s eyebrow went up again.

“World…ending…” Jesse muttered.

“Yuh huh…” Vonnie smiled and batted her eyes. “It don’t make much sense to me, but she said it was a ‘mergency…her water broked…”

Vignette #232: Defining Goober

Billy rushed into the living room. “Okay, the world is definitely coming to an end.”

Reese shoved his little brother from behind Ripley. “Guess you’ll be calling Sarah Palin.”

“What would I call that thing for?” Jesse sniffed.

“You said when the world came to an end you’d do her.”

“Oooh! Baby Doll that would make a great television show!”

“What, my little brother having sex with a rather…let’s not even get into that…politician?”

“No.” It was Tippy’s turn to roll her eyes. “An anthology comedy series about all the promises people would have to keep when Hell freezes over.”

Ian’s eyes popped. “Let me write that down.” He reached to the little drawer under the coffee table for one of his little pads.

“That one’s on your desk in the den.” Ripley reminded him. “I saw you write something on it and take it in there this morning.”

Tippy jotted a note down on something she pulled out of her bra. “Here. I want partial creation credit.”

Ian grabbed the note with two fingers and swallowed hard. “Uh…thank you?” He looked for a place to put the offensive slip down.

Billy put his hands on his hips. “I’m sure that being a Goober has its benefits, but most of the time it just means you’re a Goober.”

“What’s a Goober?” Jesse asked.

“I think it’s one of those Southernisms.” Ripley said.

“Wasn’t that a dude on the old ‘Andy Griffith Show’?” Someone piped in.

“I don’t think you can be a dude and be a Goober at the same time.” Reese mused.

“Mom, what’s a Goober?” Jesse asked.

“Well, honey.” Tippy thought a second. “Usually that’s a term we use for…”

“Obviously, I’ve just tossed another crayon on the floor in a room full of Bi-Polar children hopped up on sugar.” Billy moaned then clapped his hands. “Attention! Attention people, back on the important subject.”

“Yes, right.” Colton has to think a moment and then got back to the original subject. “So Billy, why is the world coming to an end?”

“Actually, that wasn’t the subject.”

“Yes, it was.” Ian corrected him. “You came in the room and said the world was coming to an end.”

Billy got an odd look on his face. “Oh, yeah.”

“Now who’s a Goober?” Jesse snorted.

Billy gave Jesse a playful shove. “Um, sorry, I just walked by Ian’s den and my daughter is in there, sitting on the love seat with Clare giggling and listening to her belly.”

“Vonnie? And Clare?” Ian froze at the thought.

The room was silent for a moment, finally broken when Jesse said softly. “Does any one have Sarah Palin’s cell phone number?”

“The room temp wasn’t fifteen degrees lower either.”

“I never understood what the two of them have against each other.” Tippy asked no one in particular.

“Some people just naturally don’t like each other.” Ian said.

“Like Batman and Joker.” Jesse added.

“But Vonnie’s a little girl.” Tippy retorted. “How can anyone simply not like a sweet little girl?”

“Tippy, Vonnie is my daughter.” Billy told her. “I love her without question, and wouldn’t have her any other way than she is, but let’s be honest she’s not the typical sweet little girl.”

“She’s a hellion in pigtails.” Ian smiled.

“Sometimes.” Reese agreed. “Sometimes just one pigtail with a mass of hair on the other side and a little pink ribbon screaming to get away.”

“That about sums it up.” Ripley nodded. “I adore her, but I can see how she and Clare wouldn’t be able to stand each other. They’re so much alike.”

Everyone in the room froze except for Ian who quietly turned to Billy and put his hand on his forearm. “Drown her. Drown her now. We’ll all swear it was an accident.”

Vignette #231: Other Things

“I will hurt you two.” Ian raised that one eyebrow and pointed a Reese. “I will come after you with a big stick, and then go after you with a bloody stick!” He looked at Jesse.

“Children!” Colton warned with a grin on his face. “Do we need a time out? Now…we’re all a little quirky. Ian, do you feel a little better about this now?”

“Uhm…” Ian sat back down again on the couch, resigned. “…Right now I’m going to put it down on the list of things I still need to figure out about Elizabeth Elysian but can wait until I figure lots and lots of other things out.”

“Other things?” Tippy piped up. “There are other things about Miss Elizabeth that unsettle you?”

Ian looked at Jesse, whose head was poking out from behind Ripley. Ripley looked at Ian and took another big step to the left exposing Jesse Shores. “You didn’t tell them?”

“You told me not to until you figured out why she did it.” Jesse tried to grin. “See, I’m the brother you can trust with a secret.”

“Hold it!” Tippy demanded. “What else has Miss Elizabeth done that we may or may not know about?”

“What do you know about the sale of the house?” Ian said.

Tippy looked at Colton, who shrugged and answered. “That she sold it to you at a bargain price and disappeared almost before any of us had a chance to ask any questions.”

“And that’s all?” Ian tried not to be accusatory.

“Is there more?” Tippy looked at Ian and then at her youngest son.

“Yeah, Mom.” Jesse admitted. “There’s more…a whole lot more.”

“There’s not a problem with the sale, is there?” Colton was worried.

“No, nothing like that.” Ian assured him. “In fact everything is signed, delivered and air tightly legal.”

“So what’s the problem?” Reese was interested.

Ian stood again and turned to face the family, less to face them than to see if he could tell if any of them knew more than they were letting on. “So none of you actually know about the transaction, the whole transaction?”

Tippy was obviously nervous. “The whole transaction? Baby Doll, that sounds ominous.”

“Ominous? No, and maybe just another one of those little quirks of hers, one that makes me wonder why she would do such a thing.” Ian said out loud.

“Just spit it out, Ian.” Ripley said. “It’s weird, but maybe these are the people that can explain it.”

“So you know what he’s talking about.” Reese looked to Ripley, who nodded.

“I told Ripley they day I found out, and Jesse was my driver the day I had the meeting with my lawyer and accountant and discovered the…quirk.” Ian scratched the back of his head.

“It’s some quirk.” Jesse admitted. “Even I’m not sure why she did it.”

“Did what?” Tippy couldn’t stand it anymore. “Did what?”

“Without his realizing it, Elizabeth Elysian sold Ian more than the house.” Ripley mumbled.

“What?” Colton asked.

“Colton, maybe I misunderstood the offer, and I should have done more than take all the paperwork to my lawyer, I should have read it in detail…”

“So much for being anal retentive.” Jesse said quietly making Reese snort.

“Yeah, yeah…in my defense for the price I paid I could hardly believe I was getting this house, there’s no way I could have imagined what I was buying. I took it straight to Jerry Wolfe just to make sure there wasn’t something I wasn’t seeing, like more money down the road…blah blah blah…”

“It’s pretty hard to believe but by the time you found out the deal was done, way too late for questions.” Ripley added.

“Okay, okay…” Colton was losing patience. “Enough with the reasons why whatever slipped you by, I take it that there was a surprise in the real estate deed.”

It was Ian’s turn to snort. “Little surprise? Colton, she sold me everything.”


Ian nodded his head. “My accountant picked right up on it and thought I knew what I’d purchased. He kept making comments and they kept going right over my head. Now I truly know what the term ‘caviar at bubble gum prices’ means.”

“Baby Doll, we still don’t know exactly what you are talking about.” Tippy looked at Colton and then back to Ian. “She sold you everything. What do you mean by everything?”

Ian crossed his arms. “Most of the block.”

“Most of the block?” Tippy’s mouth dropped open.

Ian nodded his head. “Kellen’s house, the apartment building next door, the two at the beginning of the cul-de-sac…”

Ripley jumped in, “And from what we can tell every business and company she owned.”

“And all her stocks and share holdings.” Jesse finished up.

“Basically by the time I made the first payment on what I thought was the house and just under two acres of land, I had accrued enough profit to pay off the loan…” Ian’s trademark right eyebrow went up, “…from just the interest off the bank cds, that somehow were also part of the deal.”

“Oh…my…God…” Tippy had to sit slowly down on the couch. “Why would she do that?”

“How could she do that?” Colton joined his wife, stunned, on the couch.

“She used a codicil that’s basically used for relatives so they don’t have to pay inheritance tax. It’s perfectly legal, but rarely used for someone who’s not an intended benefactor in a will.”

Ripley added, “The only thing that wasn’t sold to Ian for the bargain price of $500,000 was her personal bank account that we know of. Everything else either became Ian’s or Ian’s name replaced hers as the bearer effective 90 days after they both signed the paperwork.”

“I don’t know what to say.” Tippy blurted out.

“Congratulations?” Reese managed.

“Which brings us back to the original question,” Ian said. “Actually two original questions; why would Elizabeth Elysian do something like that and maybe most important of all, why me?”

Vignette #230: Next Question

“Let’s just forget who didn’t tell who what or who didn’t notice what and start with the next question.” Ian plopped on the sofa.

“Like?” Tippy sat motherly on the arm beside him.

“Why would Miss Elizabeth do something like that to begin with?”

“Not tell you she’d blocked off half the second floor and all access to the third?” Jesse blinked.

“No, just not tell me…anything…at all.”

“She is in her nineties; maybe she just forgot she did it.” Ripley thought out loud.

“Her mind is still like a steel trap.” Tippy defended.

Colton shook his head. “God love the ol’ girl, but she didn’t do or not do anything unless she specifically thought it was for the best.”

“That’s not even the question, but it is certainly one of those points that gloriously seem to point toward so many other questions.” Ian jumped in the get back to the point. “I want to know why someone would just block off half a house.”

“Well, Baby Doll, the basic reason is because it was she couldn’t bear to look at it.” Tippy smiled.

“And she couldn’t stand the thought of remodeling it.” Reese interjected. “She wanted it to remain as it was. I guess she thought when you moved in you’d, you know, make the place all yours, open those walls back up and she’d never have to think about his stuff being touched again.”

“Okay, still a little lost.” Ian looked at the crowd. “What couldn’t she bear to look at and or touch?”

“The second floor she partitioned off was Herman’s bedroom and the third floor was his studio.” Colton sat next to him. “His death was a hard on her. We wondered for a while if she’d even survive it herself.”

Jesse nodded, sitting beside his father. “It was awful, just awful.”

“It came so sudden.” Reese looked at the floor. “No one expected it.”

“What happened?” Ripley had to ask. “I mean, it wasn’t something, you know, Freddy Krugerish or anything, like here in the house was it?”

“No.” Tippy smiled a little. “He did pass away here at the house, on the third floor, but it was a stroke.”

“I think what hurt her most was the fact that she wasn’t home.” Colton said. “The doctor said it was massive, nothing could have been done to save him, but she wasn’t here, by his side, when it happened.”

Ian nodded and looked to the floor. “No one wants to die alone. You always hope someone you love is nearby.”

“And she wasn’t.” Jesse sighed.

“She was at George’s shop, getting a perm and a touch up.” Tippy said. “Miss Elizabeth never was very vain, so I think the fact that she was getting her hair done when her husband of who knows how many years was dying on his studio floor was almost more than she could stand.”

“A little unorthodox,” Ian finally agreed, “But now I can sort of understand it. She blocked off their bedroom and his studio so she could remember everything as it was and find a way to continue on.”

“Well, it wasn’t their bedroom.” Tippy corrected him. “Just Mr. Herman’s.”

“They had separate bedrooms?” Ripley was a little shocked. “I understand they were part of a very different era, but they slept in separate bedrooms?”

“You did not know the Elysians.” Jesse piped up. “They may have been from a totally different era, but they in no way embodied it.”

“Maybe it was the Hollywood they were a part of,” Reese thought out loud, “Maybe they were just the first hippies but they never blinked an eye at anything.”

“Including Reese and I…” Jesse stopped himself.

“Including Reese and I…what?” Tippy raised an eyebrow.

“You know…” Jesse sputtered.

“Having sex in their pool constantly?”

“You know about that?” Ian’s jaw dropped.

“Well, we didn’t video tape it or anything but yes, we knew our sons occasionally brought dates home for a little…in the pool.” Colton admitted.

“I don’t understand what everyone is tip toeing around for.” Reese spoke out. “The Elysians never seemed to be shocked or horrified no matter what sex Jesse and I had sex with in their pool.”

“Ooookaaay.” Ian said.

“I just wanted to hear Jesse say it.” Tippy bit her lip to stifle a giggle, then leaned over to Ian. “Jesse’s the prude in the clan.”

“Ian freaks out at things like that more than I do.” Jesse pouted.

“But I was raised in the mountains by drunken rednecks. Boxer briefs still shock me.” Ian defended his defenses. “Obviously Elizabeth and Herman Elysian were two very healthy, very progressive people. So why would they sleep in separate beds?”

“Probably so Herman could get some sleep.” Colton said looking around at his family who all nodded in agreement.

“Okay…T.M.I.” Ian shook his head then held it in his hands.

Tippy let loose a snort, then a giggle when she realized what Ian was thinking. “No, no Baby Doll. Miss Elizabeth snored.”

"Miss Elizabeth didn’t just snore, she rattled the windows, peeled pain of off walls snored.” Reese added.

“Okay, well that doesn’t make me feel so icky.” Ian sighed in relief.

“Icky?” Reese teased.

“Hey, I’m the long lost big brother and I’ve still yet to collect on a lifetime of noogies.” Ian warned. “So Miss Elizabeth snored.” Before anyone could add anything else he added, “Reverberating the dead after the nuclear holocaust snored. I’m still a little confused. If she snored so terribly the love of her life had to move to another bedroom, why didn’t she just have something done? You know, one of those sleep apnea machines or surgery?”

Tippy tried to hold back the next in the latest series of giggles. “Face it, Baby Doll, when you are in your eighties that last thing you want to do is go to sleep every night with a mask strapped around your face wired to a machine unless of course, it’s the only way of waking up the next morning.”

Colton nodded in agreement. “And as far as surgery goes, once again I’m not sure of the whole story but when Miss Elizabeth was younger she spent a lot of time in and out of hospitals. Back then they weren’t nearly as much fun as your recent visits.”

Ian rolled his eyes and did his best to ignore that remark.

Reese smiled at his brother. “Snoring like a constipated backhoe was stuck in her sinuses seemed to be one of life’s oddities that she and Mr. Herman learned to live with like we’ve learned to live with your obsessions about, well, practically everything.”

“Yes. We’ve decided to find it quaint.” Jesse agreed.

“Mommy, Daddy, the babies are picking on me again.” Ian whined.

“Aw honey.” Tippy smiled and pulled her husband closer. “See, we are a real family.”

Vignette #229: Up Front

“Don’t you think that’s something you should have told me right up front?” Ian seethed, uncharacteristically running his hands through his hair, grabbing a handful and pulling. “Hello, we’re your neighbors and half your house is missing!”

“Right, next time I’ll add that to the list.” Colton deadpanned. “Hello, I’m your new neighbor, your biological father and half your house is missing.”

“Uhm…and don’t forget.” Jesse added. “…You knocked your girlfriend up with twins.”

“Jesse, honey, I don’t think you’re helping any.” Tippy tried to rub Ian’s shoulder, but he immediately pulled away. “Technically, it’s not missing, Baby Doll, it’s still there, just walled off so no one can get to it.”

Ian shot her a look.

“Don’t think that’s helping much either.” Reese said under his breath. Jesse couldn’t help but giggle.

“What’s so funny?” Ian snarled.

“Sorry, but I’m kind of enjoying watching you unravel.” He smiled then took a step behind Ripley to protect himself. “You know, the calm cool collected Ian Justyn comes apart at the seams. It makes you wonderfully human, Superman.”

Ian put up his hands and took a deep breath. “Okay, okay. I’m not angry at ya’ll.”

Tippy smiled and Ian pointed his finger at her. “Don’t push it.”

“Sorry, Baby Doll, but we all know when you’re tired because that Southern drawl rears its head. When you’re angry, well honey, it sits up, wags its tail and barks ‘ya’ll’.”

He had to smile at that. “Forgive my diphthongal changes, but back to the initial question. Don’t you think that in the past oh six, seven months at one time or another one of you might just have mentioned that there was entire floor and a half of the house hidden somewhere behind door number three?”

“Son, forgive us, but we thought you knew.” Colton shook his head. “Miss Elizabeth was always extremely detail oriented. We just assumed that when she sold you the house she explained that to you.”

“Obviously she skipped that little detail.” Ian resigned.

“And we thought that’s why Billy was getting both sets of blueprints.” Tippy said. “So you could see what was hiding…well…above your head…and beyond your master bedroom.”

“Actually, behind the closet of the master bedroom.” Jesse interjected and took another step further behind Ripley.

Ian nodded his head. “Tell you what, when they prove that Al Gore actually won that Presidential Election and the country gets a do over, I’ll write a note on the back of my hand to ask Elizabeth Elysian if by any chance there’s anything behind all the solid walls in the house before I sign on the dotted line.”

“See now, that’s pretty simple.” Jesse quipped.

“Still not helping.” His father looked at him.

Reese took a tentative step into the defense foray. “And quite frankly Ian, Mr. Anal Retentive, I’m surprised that in the past oh six, seven months you didn’t notice a huge discrepancy between where your terrace ended and the rest of the house beyond it.”

“Not to mention all that, you know, space above it.” Jesse nodded in agreement, shirking further behind Ripley when Ian gave him yet another dirty look.

Ripley cleared his throat as he reached behind himself, grabbed Jesse and shoved him in full view. “In Ian’s defense, the size of the house is extremely deceptive. I never noticed myself until someone pointed it out…about fifteen minutes ago.”

“I guess unless you knew it was there, you just don’t notice.” Colton shrugged.

“Maybe, maybe not.” Ian frowned. “With all that’s gone on, I’m just gonna chalk up this new discovery as another in a series of I probably would have noticed if something more spectacular hadn’t jumped in front of the car.”

“It does seem like every time one thing comes up another pops up right behind it to take your attention off what you wanted to look at from the first…” Tippy struggled along.

“…Bomb?” Jesse helped.

“Don’t say that!” Ian snapped. “That’s the only thing that hasn’t gone off in this house since January. Let’s not encourage fate, karma, God or Harry Dresden with something they may not have thought of.”

Ripley nodded. “Probably a good idea.”