Tuesday, July 30, 2019
The Shrewd King 2.1: Luke Salazar continued
The next night was every bit as tense than the first.
Brittany got ready for bed and laid down. Then she patted the side of the bed where she wanted him.
“Don’t get used to this.” Luke said.
“Why are you being mean?” Brittany said.
“I don’t have a mean bone in my body.” Luke said, surprised.
“I have to sleep somewhere. You have to sleep somewhere. I don’t see the problem.” Brittany said.
“I. Am. Gay.” Luke almost shouted.
“So. Carson had his faults and we slept together.” Brittany said, unknowingly making an understatement of monumental proportions.
“But what if...” Luke said, groping around, “...what if we do the wild-thing?” Luke said semi-panicked.
“So what if we do. We are married.” Brittany said. She really didn’t see a problem with it.
“Wait a minute. Are you HIV positive?” Brittany asked. She had never considered the possibility.
“No. I was checked shortly before things came apart. One of my partners...well, let’s just say getting checked was a good idea even though we used protection.” Luke said, wryly.
Suddenly, the enormity of Luke’s new circumstances in life weighed upon him. He had gone with the flow when things came apart. He had no baggage in life. It had been easy to move in with his parents. Then the chance to open a store in Pray Church came along and he jumped on it.
Luke was a very, very private man. He did not respond well to criticism. Luke may have had some obsessive, compulsive tendencies but he had coping strategies that hid that fact as long as he didn’t need to coordinate with others.
Then, like a bolt-from-the-blue he found himself saddled with three-and-a-half strangers living in his house.
He appreciated the fact that the children were as quiet as church mice. Luke had no way of knowing that they tippy-toed in deathly fear that Luke would go nuts like their birth-father Carson frequently had.
What was freaking Luke out was the fact that he had transformed from a guy who could pack all of his earthly possessions into the back seat of his car and move in ninety minutes to a family man with responsibilities.
And they weren’t his kids and their mother was not his wife.
He felt tricked, coerced, trapped.
Luke could not know that on his worst, pissiest day he was ten times more pleasant than Carson was on a normal day.
In spite of the disorientation of finding her family living in a stark “bachelor pad”, Brittany was happy and could not comprehend Luke’s angst. Not understanding meant that she had no patience for it.
“I don’t get it.” Brittany said. “Why you keep moping around.”
“I can’t physically stop you from making ‘a trip to town’ to get your itch scratched. I don’t want you to go to town. My hope is that you won’t. But I CANNOT stop you if you choose to do that.” Brittany said. "You are a man. I CAN'T physically stop you."
Brittany did not share that Carson frequently came home with gasoline splashed on his pant’s leg. She had overheard Carson telling her younger brother that the smell of gasoline obscured the evidence of trips outside the martial bed. “The first thing the little-woman will tell you when you come through the door is to take a shower” Carson had confidently informed her teenaged brother. Brittany kept an eye on the truck’s gas gauge and quickly verified that Carson hadn’t even bothered to put gas in the truck those late evenings he came home stinking of gasoline.
“All I can ask is that you not rub my nose in it and that you be very, very careful.” Brittany said. She knew that their marriage would always be a shame, one of compromises and conditions and play-acting.
“You say that now.” Luke said bitterly. “But in a few months you will think you own me. Then all hell will break loose if I make what you call ‘a trip to town’.”
Luke had been in relationships both ways. Relationships where he had the expectation that the other partner would remain exclusive and then his partner had ‘stepped-out’ and relationships where the other partner expected him to remain exclusive and he had dallied with another. The breakups had been spectacularly dramatic and very painful. He had no stomach for another, especially when there was no place to move to and there were kids in the mix.
In case it eluded you, gentle reader, Luke was very conflict adverse.
“Grow up.” Brittany said, sharply.
That pulled him out of his brooding. “What?” Luke said.
“Grow up.” Brittany repeated.
“I am grown up.” Luke shot back.
“Then act like it.” Brittany rose to the challenge.
“I am a grown-up and I take care of myself.” Luke said. “That is the definition of a grown-up.”
“That is half of being a grown-up.” Brittany said.
“When you were a kid somebody looked after you. And when you are old somebody will be there to care for you. Who do you think that is, the people who care for others? Not kids. Not senile, broken-down old people. Grown-ups.” Brittany said.
“You have one foot in the canoe and the other on the boat dock.” she said.
“Grown-ups do things we don’t want to do because it is our job.” she said, practically shouting.
“Do you think I like changing poopy diapers? Do you think I like rocking crying, colicky babies all night long? I do it because that is what adults do.” Brittany said. “Some times I am so tired I didn’t think I can keep moving for another minute. When that happened I just focused on moving for another half minute, or ten seconds or maybe just take the next step.”
“What have you done to help people, I mean other than taking us in?” Brittany said. “And now you are having second thoughts about that.”
“This is your chance to learn what being a grown-up is all about. Put on your big-boy pants and be a grown-up. If thinking about the next two months is overwhelming, then focus on this week. If this week is too much, plan what you are going to do today.” Brittany said.
In a rare show of emotion, Luke slammed the door on his way out. Brittany had really pissed him off. He needed to take a long walk.