Barbara was beginning to get a little fed up with
this cat and mouse game that Mike’s parents had lured her into. She was beginning to understand that all they were really trying to do was keep everything cool until Mike found another girl in the little town to capture his attentions. This would not go along with her plans at all. June was going to live at the Bend, and that was that. It was time to pull out the big guns. She knew that in April, right before graduation in May, Mike turned eighteen. That fact put him in a slightly different legal status with the sixteen-year-old June. It was time to make use of that little legality.
The phone rang one Monday afternoon at Claudette’s office.
“Hello, this is Barbara. We need to have lunch again.”
“Oh, I thought everything was going along just fine. What’s wrong?”
“Please just meet me at Fat Eddie’s for lunch and I’ll tell you.”
To be perfectly honest, Mike’s mom knew that this was the big push. She’d been expecting it for some time, in fact since Mike’s birthday. Her only question was how hard a push it was going to be, and could she fend off the blow this one more time? She arrived at Fat Eddie’s at 11:45 that morning trying to be early, but Barbara was already there.
“What seems to be the problem,” she asked as she eased into the booth. The waitress came over and she looked up, “What’s on the special?”
“Grilled chicken on a bed of rice.”
“Um, ok, then that, green beans and a salad with ranch. Tea.”
The waitress wrote down the order and went to the kitchen Then Mike’s mom asked again, “What’s going on?”
Barbara did her best to look outraged. “Mike has been sleeping with June all this time!”
“And you didn’t know that?”
Barbara looked at her hard, “I never really dreamed.”
“Oh, don’t tell me that! Don’t sit there and act like that. Now the last time we were here you went on, and on about it. We both know the score here, and I don’t want to hear anymore about my divorce.”
The fat woman leaned back. Mike’s mom went on, “You want your little girl to marry Mike and move into the Bend. That’s what this is really all about. And Mike is stupid enough to fall for this so you have me. Lets dispense with all the talk about the cops, and lawyers, and all that, and just get down to the bottom dollar, and that’s what this is all about, dollars! You get your little Miss Precious blood tested and we’ll get Mike’s, and we’ll have a wedding on our porch. You want a wedding at the Bend. That’s what you want, isn’t it.”
“They love each other.”
“Oh, give me a break!” Then Claudette’s eyes narrowed. “I left Tennessee to get away from this filth! They pulled the plug on my brother and then Mike’s ‘reeeeeeal da da’ was playing strip poker with my little sister! I divorced that bum and came to Texas. I won’t see my son drug down into that garbage heap like I was. Your little girl will be under my eye all the time. She will be a lady of the Bend! She will raise herself up. If she doesn’t I give you my solemn word, I will destroy the whole bunch of you desert rats, including that ex-convict husband of yours, and you’ll never work in this town again. He’s after me to finance his next little venture, so you will do as I say. Now, you’ve pulled your bluff, you’ve got what you want. I don’t have to sit here and eat and look at you!”
With that she rose, laid a five-dollar bill on the table and walked out the door. She drove across town while dialing her cell phone.
“Hello,” her husband’s voice came over the phone.
“Hon, Barbara just gave Mike a birthday present. We have a wedding to go to.”
“I’ll meet you at the Daisy, hon.”The Butcher Shop