Enduring on the Lake

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Chapter 27


Trying to answer him I gave it some thought.  “Zane, I know how I act.  Most people probably think I’m … a simpleton – which is a nice way of saying stupid – or … or young for my age or something along those lines.  You probably think it too and Daddy and Mom treating me like they do probably hasn’t helped that perception much.  But I have good reason to act like I do.  It’s nothing against anyone, just more like a …a … hmmm … a convenience I guess you could say.” 

“A convenience?  What by a Barbary pirate’s eye patch is that supposed to mean?” 

Making a face at the saying that I knew for a fact Sam had helped make up when the boys were all young together I told him, “Don’t get upset.  There’s no reason for you to.  I’m more myself with you and Max than I am with anyone.” 

“Oh really,” he said unconvinced. 

“Yes really so let me explain before you get all bent out of shape though why you should I don’t know.  Look, you know my parents.  You’ve seen how they are.  For a long time they needed me to … to …” 

“They needed you to stay a little girl.” 

“Yeah.  So they could feel in control … of protecting me.  At least about some stuff.  Some stuff they expected me to be almost grown up about before I was ready to be.  I know it sounds crazy; it used to drive Dan nuts.  We weren’t allowed to go out on dates until I was half way through my senior year of high school and even then it was grudgingly allowed … and that is to say both my parents felt that way.” 

“I … I got the impression from Red that your dad had liked your … uh …” 

“He did.  Mom and Daddy both had liked Dan.  And they were really good friends with his parents … and still try and be polite to them and support them despite everything that’s happened.  But I … I’d prefer not to talk about it if you don’t mind.” 

“You don’t trust me?” 

“Huh?  No.  It just feels … icky.” 

“Icky.  Icky?” 

“Yeah.  Icky, so knock it off.  Dan was a major mistake on my part.  I’m … I’m not sure how or why or … or much of anything else for that matter, but it was a mistake.  I let my feelings …”  I shook my head.  “I’d like to say it was just a crush or whatever but it wasn’t.  My feelings were real and … and he … he broke …”  Getting angry I threw one of my hands in front of me like I was brushing something annoying out of my way.  “Like I said, I don’t want to talk about it.  Suffice it to say that the whole situation and the things that came out during it are one of the reasons that I stopped trusting my feelings.” 

“Until me.” 

“Yeah until …”  I looked up and he had an expectant look on his face that alarmed me. 

“Zane?  You … uh …” 

“Take it easy.  I just wanted to know for sure … hear you say it … that you trusted me.  I just want you to remember that … even when I wind up making an ass out of myself by yelling at you in front of other people.” 

Sudden relief flooded me and I tried to play off his words.  “Well I hope you aren’t going to make a regular thing out of it.” 

“Probably at least as much as I hope you aren’t going to make a regular thing out of worrying the snot out of me.  I don’t think it is real healthy for either one of us.” 

I was ready to laugh at the expression on his face until he said, “Because I’m not just watching you because your dad asked me to anymore.  And I’m not just watching you because of Max.” 

“Uh …” 

“I just want you to know that.  OK?” 

Suddenly irritated I asked, “And what the heck am I supposed to do with that?  That you’re just watching me and not for any particular reason.” 

“There is a particular reason.  I’m watching you for your sake.  Because it would upset me to no end if something happened to you.  You seem so damn innocent … not ready to be living on your own so far from family.  Then you’ll turn around and say something sooo .. insightful and cynical … that you sound like one of Gran’s friends that come over for game night.  Makes me so crazy my teeth hurt.” 

In exasperation I asked him, “Did I ask you to worry over me?!  Contrary to what everyone thinks I do have some brains in my head.” 

“Yeah, you’re academically smart … really smart if half of what Max says is true.” 

“Oh puh-leeze … as much as I love the little guy he is only eight.” 

“Almost nine … and speaking of, what’s the deal not saying anything about your birthday?” 

I sighed.  Lord you’d think once you hit adulthood that not having a birthday would be no big deal but apparently some people still think it is.  “Zane, I’m not a child.  I know how my parents think of me.  I know how you and just about everyone else around here think of me.  Lawrence is about the only one that gives me any credit and that’s probably on accident.  I honestly just don’t think my birthday is that big of a deal.  I was nineteen and now I’m twenty.  Big whoop.  There’s nothing I can do today that I couldn’t do before.” 

“You still can’t drink.” 

Looking at him in disbelief I said, “Really?!  You’re going with that argument are you?  Because it isn’t like there isn’t practically a winery and distillery going on down in the cellar.  I’m just lucky that Deputies Laurel and Hardy didn’t traipse down there and stick their nose into things.” 

He grinned, “I saw you moved those sheets of plywood to cover stuff up.” 

“You bet I did.  Had to tell Max it was because I didn’t want anyone to see everything I had canned and get nosey about it.  That’s one of the few half-truths I’ve ever told him.  I just didn’t want him getting into trouble or noticing things too much.” 

Zane kept grinning and said, “This is Harmon, you didn’t have to explain.  Max would just assume you didn’t want the law on your private stash and not say anything anyway.” 

I rolled my eyes and then admitted – at least to myself – that I had forgotten Daddy saying that almost all of the local families have or had some kind of something running whether it is ‘shine or wine or beer.  “Fine but that just makes it even truer.  If I want something to drink a date on a calendar isn’t going to change it that I could imbibe if I wanted to.” 

“Do you?” 

“Do I what?” 

“Imbibe,” he said, giving me the sense he was teasing me for my choice of word. 

“You’re beginning to irritate me Zane.  Not a healthy thing to do when I’m in the mood I’m in.  You know doggone good and well things can turn nasty fast and not always because I want them to.” 

I stood up to do I don’t know what but stumpy foot or not Zane is fast and reached over and stopped me.  “Sit down.”  When I chucked a hard look at him he added, “Please.” 

I sat down but it was without good grace.  “What is it you want Zane?  To read me another lecture?” 

“No.  I’m trying to understand you.” 

“For heaven’s sake, whatever for?” 

“Because I feel like a cat and you’re one of them stupid laser pointers.  I no sooner think I’ve caught you than I realize you were never there to begin with.” 

“I’m not sure but that sounds like an insult.” 

“Wasn’t meant to be.  Just means you’re elusive as hell.” 

I couldn’t help it.  I laughed.  “Zane, I think you’re short on sleep.  I’m about as un-elusive as they come.  You don’t think … uh … that I’ve been … er … trying to … to … uh …” 

Zane snorted.  “Spit it out Syd.  Do I think that you’ve been teasing me on purpose?  No.  Do I think that you’ve been teasing me on accident?  No … at least not that you’d ever admit to and either way it isn’t your fault.  Do I think that you are about as interesting a woman as I’ve ever come across?  Hell yeah.  And all things considered I’m not sure what to make of that.” 

I’m not sure how long I sat there looking at him with my mouth hanging open but it was long enough for his pride to get zinged and then for him to look at my expression closely and then start laughing.  “Honestly Syd, you look like you’ve been nailed with a two-by-four.” 

“Well … you called me a woman.” 

He stopped laughing in surprise and then started laughing even harder than he had to begin with. 

“What is your problem?!” I snapped. 

“I profess to finding you interesting and all you can do is focus on I called you a woman.”  He laughed some more then wiped his eyes and said, “That’s exactly what I’m talking about.  I’m just never sure how much of what you do is an act.” 

“Well I’m not acting thank you very much.  And what is that supposed to mean anyway?” 

“At the risk of making you even madder than you already are, did you drive Dan this crazy?” 

I was ready to throw something.  “I thought I told you I …” 

“… didn’t want to talk about it.  Fine.   I don’t want the gory details anyway but answering something like that shouldn’t set you off like a bottle rocket.” 

Gritting my teeth in irritation I told him, “I’m not sure how I made Dan feel.  I thought I knew … and it wasn’t crazy, we … it seemed … look, we were young and friends at first and it just went from there.  And things were … good … we both agreed that things were better than good … until they weren’t.  Only I didn’t know it until it was too late … way passed too late.  Daddy probably explained it all.” 

“Yes and no.  How about you tell me.” 

“How about I don’t.  It was humiliating enough the first time around.” 

“He cheated on you.” 

“Good Lord, what part of no don’t you understand?” 

“No he didn’t cheat on your?” 

“ARGH!  I am going to the kitchen.  I am going to bake some muffins.” 

“You don’t need to bake any muffins.  You’re tired and out of sorts and are likely to cause a kitchen fire in the mood you are in.  I want you to sit here and talk to me.” 

“I am going to thump you.  I am going to thump you so hard …” 

“You can try.  C’mon Syd … talk to me.” 

“Why?!  Why on earth do you want to dig up that ancient history?!” 

“Because it isn’t ancient history and it is part of what makes you like you are.  And for some damn reason that is all I can think about lately.”

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