1635: THE DREESON INCIDENT – snippet 36:
“I think, Nani, that before you repeat that story, you had better correct it.”
Everyone at the Jenkins dinner table looked at Missy, who was looking at her maternal grandmother.
“I had it directly from someone who had it from someone who saw the whole thing,” Vera Hudson said indignantly.
“Very few of someone’s ‘facts’ are accurate.”
Missy turned. “Gertrude, now pay attention, because they’ll probably be repeating it at school, too.” She looked back. “Nani, there’s one pretty major problem with what that person thought he saw. Or she saw. Minnie and Denise didn’t take the cycles out this afternoon. Pam and I did.”
Vera opened her mouth, then closed it.
“That leads logically,” Missy continued, “to the fact that Minnie did not pick up Ron Stone and give him a lift out to Lothlorien. This leads logically to the fact that when Ron got off the cycle and kissed the driver, the driver was not Minnie Hugelmair.”
She paused. “That’s how far your narrative got, Nani. Please note that the last fact that I just provided leads logically to the conclusion that Minnie is not a down-time Lolita and Ron Stone is not a dirty old man planning to commit statutory rape, which is, I think, the direction in which your narrative was tending.”
“Mother,” Debbie said. “Missy. Uh. Both of you.”
Willie Ray said, “Vera.”
“Nani, when you consider repeating that story, if you would run through it substituting ‘Missy’ for ‘Minnie’ as a kind of preliminary, it might sound a bit different to your ears. What I don’t understand is how anyone could confuse the two of us. About the only thing we have in common, as far as looks are concerned, is light brown hair. Even then, hers is straight and mine is wavy.”
“Maybe someone just assumed…” Debbie said, a bit lamely.
Missy laughed. “For informational purposes, Mother, Ron and I were born in the same month and I think that he’s somewhere between one day and two weeks younger than I am. As the evidence upon which I base this conclusion, I would adduce the monthly birthday lists that graced the classrooms we shared between kindergarten and fourth grade, when our names always came up together and his always followed mine. Since I was born on the sixteenth of December, he must have arrived in the world somewhere between the seventeenth and the thirty-first.”
“That’s nicely pedantic,” Chad said. “You may make a reference librarian yet. Would you care to share with us the sequence of events that gave rise to this, ah…” He spared a sly glance for his mother-in-law. “Misunderstanding.”
“Pam and I like to use that road for practice runs. It’s good for our level of experience. They’ve improved the surface to get things in and out of the dye works, but that’s the only place it goes, so there isn’t a lot of traffic.”
So far, so good, thought Chad. At least his daughter had avoided using the word “motorcycle,” which acted on Vera like a red flag on a bull.
“We caught up with Ron. I offered him a lift and Pam decided to go wait there. We were talking on the way up. It’s the first time we had seen each other for, well, since they left last January. That’s quite a while. I asked him if he had learned any suave Italian phrases while they were down there. He said that he’d picked up a lot of the profanity used by workers at the arsenal in Venice. Things like that. Just talking. Then when he got off, he said, ‘Mille grazie, signorina,’ and performed a really flourishing bow. Then he took my hand and kissed it. That was followed by Nani’s version of the significant event. I would like to point out that I was straddling the cycle, he was standing on the ground, and there was about six inches of clear air in between everything except our lips and the hand he was holding.”
She took a deep breath. “We were also in full view of half of the employees of Lothlorien Farbenwerke, I think. It must have been break time or something, so you don’t have to rely on Nani’s informant as the sole eyewitness. Then I took Minnie’s motorcycle back to the lot.”
“Thank you,” Chad said, thinking that she had used the word “motorcycle.” Still, it was probably better to spend the rest of the meal listening to Vera on the topic of motorcycles than listening to Vera on the topic of Missy kissing Ron Stone.
“Plus, he’ll be coming by in about fifteen or twenty minutes because we’re going to the library this evening since I’m working tonight. The public library. Where your cousin Marietta can watch our every move.”
“Oh.” That, Chad thought, was definitely a curve ball. Or a slider.
“Not that one cousin or another doesn’t watch every move I make in my life. I think I’ll wait out on the porch.”
Ron looked up the steps. Missy was sitting on the glider, wearing a sweatshirt and a glum expression on her face.
“I think,” he said, “that we disturbed the cosmic rhythm this afternoon. Or the karmic balance. Or something that Dad believes in.”
He climbed the steps, stopped with his hand on the banister, and looked at her again. He felt a little queasy. Up till now the girls he had seriously wanted to kiss had mostly been… pretty. Preferably gorgeous, but cute was the bottom cut-off and “pretty” covered most of them.
Missy Jenkins wasn’t ugly. She wasn’t even unattractive. She just wasn’t… pretty.
Missy looked back at him. Ron Stone seemed more or less like he always had been. He was a little more adult-shaped than she remembered. Thicker in the chest. He didn’t really look like a kid any more. But he was still himself. Straight hair, darkish blond. Medium. Medium height, width, face. Ordinary, except for the hazel eyes which proclaimed “brighter than your average bear.” She knew that from being in school with him, anyway. So what had happened?
They had disturbed something, all right.
Missy didn’t have anything against Ron, but she had sooooo not wanted to respond like that to a kiss from any guy in the world for another five years. Ten years. Until she got herself organized and had real life down pat.
“Yeah,” she said. “Maybe.”
“I figure it this way,” Ron said. “We performed the deed that upset the equilibrium in front of my place. So we ought to be able to reverse the process if we kiss again in front of your house. That will put everything right back where it always was.”
She looked around. “Interesting hypothesis. Nice persuasive tone of voice, too. You’re talking to the daughter of a car salesman, though. If you think I’m going to add another chapter to Nani’s story by standing here on the porch and kissing you again—rethink the program.”
“Hmmn. We did it in the daylight, there, and it’s still barely dusk. In order to achieve karmic balance, let’s figure that the reverse process will work better if we do it in front of your house after dark. I’ll accept the sidewalk if you have a quibble about the porch. Library now, kiss me again later.”
In spite of herself, Missy laughed.