1635: THE DREESON INCIDENT – Snippet 53
"I'm not sure," Pam Hardesty said, "that it would be so bad."
"What?" asked Missy Jenkins.
"Having a mom who's . . . well. Sort of maternal. What you're complaining about, Missy. A mom who takes an interest in what you're doing. Doesn't want you to get hurt. What do you think, Ron?"
Ron's feelings were ambivalent. Debbie's strong interest in where her daughter Missy was, when, and with whom, tended to have a sort of hamstringing effect on where Missy went and when. The "with whom" had not, so far, kept her from being with him, though.
Ron's own mother had been primarily notable for her absence. So . . .
"Magda's actually a pretty cool stepmother. And she can cook."
Both of the girls looked at him. It must have slipped Pam's mind that the Stone boys, until their father married Magda a couple of years ago, hadn't had a mother at all.
He realized that Pam might be feeling a little bad for having asked him.
"That's okay," he told her. "We were used to it. Making do on our own. It was probably better than having the kind of mom you had to put up with."
Oh, no, Stone. You did not say that. You did not. She's Missy's friend. You're sunk.
"You could," Pam said, "have a point there. You have no idea how happy I was to get the news that she was marrying a foreigner and going away. I'll probably never have to see her again. Never have to be embarrassed again by the slutty things she did. I was sixteen when . . ."
Her voice trailed off, then started up again. "That was when I left home. Never again to wake up to get ready for school and find out that she came home drunk and vomited on the shoes in my closet. Inside them. All of them, so I'm standing there in my socks knowing that either I'll be late for school to run the sneakers through the laundromat or go to school stinking.
"Now I'll never have to fend off any more guys who think I'll be like her if they push a little harder. She's gone. She's actually gone."
Missy listened, astonished by Pam's tone of voice. Not to mention by her statements in regard to shoes.
Obviously, the range of maternal variants included mothers who were far worse than her own.
Which didn't mean that her own wasn't behaving like a pain right now. That was true, too. Compared to the way Nani Hudson was behaving, though, Mom wasn't so bad. Mellow, almost.
Ron stood, watching the end of practice. As a coach, Missy was fierce. Ferocious. Aggressive. Not harsh with the kids, but pulling the best out of those girls and getting them to play their hearts out on a day that even the boys' high school team would have considered a little too cold.
He recognized some of the kids. Most of them appeared to be up-timers. Didn't the down-time parents want their daughters to play, or didn't they have time?
An idea dawned. The Farbenwerke needed its own soccer teams. Boys and girls both. With the idea gotten across that it was really a good thing for the parents to send their little girls out to play.
Missy watched as the girls ran into the building. Then she ran to the edge of the field where Ron was waiting and kissed him. She made sure to do that now. Every time they met. Right out in public. Just so Nani would hear about it.
Well, maybe not just so Nani would hear about it. It sort of put all the other girls in Grantville on notice that they would be trespassing if they so much as thought about kissing Ron Stone at present or any time in the immediate future.
She felt a little guilty about that, occasionally. He hadn't given her any right to put a brand on him. But he didn't seem to have any objection to the procedure.
It occurred to her that this particular kiss was going on for several seconds longer than absolutely necessary to make a point. Maybe she should demand her money back from the cosmic forces for that incense. If they had preserved her from this in the past, they were trying to double-time it now. They made it way too convenient to kiss Ron. He was only an inch or two taller than she was, which meant that no contortions were necessary. She gave herself a little shake and pulled away from the arm he had put around her waist.
It didn't occur to her that he might regard the procedure as an effective hands-off notification to other guys. Not even when he put the arm back and kissed her again. She was too busy trying to keep the impish electrons subdued.
Cunz Kastenmayer saw the kiss. He wondered if he might have averted it, if he hadn't been away for so many weeks, going to Fulda and Frankfurt and back with Mayor Dreeson. Had his mini-tour been worth it?
Then he told himself firmly not to be a fool. All that had happened, once, was that Herr Jenkins' daughter had sat down next to him at a meeting. Only in romances did the daughters of wealthy merchants fall in love with the sons of impecunious pastors, much less marry them. That was one of life's truths. The only kind of girl likely to marry the son of an impecunious pastor was the daughter of another impecunious pastor.
The likelihood that any of the Kastenmayer offspring would ever marry serious money and bring relief to the parental budget was really, to be honest, nonexistent. He pulled his cloak closer around his neck and walked on down the shortcut to catch the trolley that would take him to St. Martin's in the Fields.
Missy wasn't sure she ought to do it.
Her parents knew that she was seeing Ron regularly.
He came to the house to pick her up. So far, he had not come inside.
She'd been fine with that. Really, really, fine with that. She hadn't wanted him to. Somehow, if he was not laying eyes on her parents and her parents were not laying eyes on him, that made it a little less-so.
Made him a little less-so.
He was getting to be way-too-much-so. He was occupying a lot of her personal space.
Missy opened her mouth and invited Ron and Gerry to Thanksgiving dinner chez Jenkins on the excuse that they didn't have family in town.
Then she waited for him to turn it down.
She went home and told her mother that they were coming. The way that Mom had been sniping at her about Ron the last few weeks, it served her right.
Although it might make him even-more-so.
Ron went home and told the facilities manager at the Farbenwerke that he wouldn't have to worry about sending a meal up to the house from the cafeteria Thursday, because he and Gerry would go to the house of Herr Charles Jenkins for the holiday.
Then Ron mentioned the manager's son Lutz, who was in seventh grade at the middle school. The manager was very gratified that Herr Ron remembered.
"Come spring," Ron said, "when the weather allows, we'll be setting up soccer teams out here at the dye works to play in the recreation league. That will mean that the kids can practice near home rather than having to stay in town late. I'll coach the boys myself. Missy Jenkins has agreed to coach the girls."
The manager nodded.
"Missy says that equipment is tight in most sports below high school level, now that Grantville has five times the kids it used to. So as soon as you can, please get in touch with the sheltered workshop they've set up next to the Tech Center. There's a guy who works there a couple of days each week who is sewing leather skins for soccer balls. He only completes about one per week and we'll need at least a half dozen of them. If we want modern valves, we have to corner the market on deflated balls and transfer them. Any old inflatable balls like kids use in splash pools. Those can work for linings, too, if we find the right size. Check with Missy. She can tell you want to look out for."
The facilities manager happily told every other employee, not only about the sports teams the dye works would soon sponsor but also about the dinner.
Especially about the dinner.
The employees at the Farbenwerke had all naturally been concerned about the long term future of the business when Herr Stone's oldest son had married in Italy the previous summer and appeared likely to remain there. So it had been a great relief to all the employees when, so soon after his return, Herr Ron had kissed Fräulein Jenkins right in front of the main building for all to see.
A very suitable choice, everyone agreed. Ron Stone and Missy Jenkins were quite young, of course. But the families in question, both fathers being such prosperous merchants, could certainly afford to have their heirs marry young.
Herr Ron was shouldering his responsibilities very well. Even though he wanted people to call him "Ron" without any form of address, which made several of the older employees quite uncomfortable.
The officials of the employees' union started to give thought to an appropriate celebration once the betrothal was officially announced.