Another ChatbyCaptain Midnight©
Created by Patricia51 and Linda_s
Two cops help a new mom move on with her life.
Special thanks to Patricia51 and LadyCibelle. You guys are wonderful friends! LadyCibelle is the best editor I have ever known. And thanks to my newest friend, Roxanne Appleby. Her stories are suffused with warm-heartedness and caring, which I hope I can show in the stories I submit from here on out.
This is the follow-up to "A Chat". In that story, Sue Adams accidentally caught Michael Gibson Junior practicing that act for which no man need look his best. Mikie hid out in a tree house. Sue found him and grilled him on his sexuality. He admitted to helping beat up another student ("got it right in the nuts"), for admiring a third student's girlfriend, Rachel Davis. "She really had a rack on her and her ass was nice too," Mikie said. Sue expressed disapproval of Mikie noticing only the obvious, and Mikie said Rachel was a friend too. She had liked him too, but she had been distant since the beating.
Sue talked about her own sexual awakenings. They discussed the book Forever (1975), dealing with school romances. Neither Sue nor Mikie have had a relationship with a member of the opposite sex, but Sue talked about being attracted to some young men before falling in love with Linda. She exhorted Mikie to not engage in sex of any kind with another person until he fell truly in love. (See "Bridget's Nights, Chapter 10" by patricia51 to see if he kept his promise.) Sue wondered what might have happened to Rachel.
As the author, I was curious too. So this is Rachel's story, and the story of the people who try to help her.
In this story, Rachel is an unwed, teenage mother, well under age 18. There are no depictions whatsoever of sex acts.
Pat and Mike Gibson, and Linda Shannon and Sue Adams, are police officers and lovers, but work and sex don't make up their whole lives. They are also parents interested in their children's activities; churchgoers and civic boosters; and people who enjoy activities with friends. I admit to being greatly influenced by Patricia51's "Concrete Angel," a non-erotic story which shows Pat Gibson trying to keep from being totally undone by a terrible case, and surviving through the support of her family. And finally, I am influenced by the current comic strip For Better or For Worse, which follows extended families around for many years and devoted time to every member as he or she grew, married, had children, and went through the many stages of life.
Through a weird process of self-suggestion, Rachel Davis was called Carrie Underwood until well into the first draft. There is no connection between the character and the American Idol champion except for her singing ability.
"Wake up, sleepyhead," Susan Adams cooed to her lover Linda Shannon.
Linda groaned and wrapped the pillow around her ears. Although Sue's wakeup call often led to wonderful lovemaking, and Linda was nude, this wasn't a social call. Linda had had hot flashes during the night, prompting her to doff her nightwear, and Sue had awakened Linda an hour earlier than usual so Linda could take a cold shower.
"Your dress is hanging on the back of the bathroom door," Sue continued cheerfully. "I want to see you in it before I take my shower. Then you can call Erin and make sure everything is still on for this morning."
Linda unfolded her middle-aged joints and was relieved she didn't have more-than-usual morning backache. She plodded to the closet and got out one of a set of matching bathrobes – Sue was wearing the other one – and went into the bathroom. Sue joined her.
"You're not going to fall asleep in the middle of the sermon?" Sue teased.
Linda shook her head no. "Not with Erin doing a warm-up talk. I just hope, hope, hope the preacher doesn't go to 12:30 or later. You're sure that the Davises always go to Darryl's Steak Restaurant after Sunday services?"
"As sure as I can be. Pat, Mike and the boys go there after Mass and they usually see the Davises coming in as they're going out."
As Linda splashed water on her face and eyeballed herself in the mirror – never a good idea for a woman of fiftysomething just out of bed – Sue swatted her with the belt of her robe. "None of that 'where have my looks gone?' self-pity. You're going to be the prettiest lady there if your heart is in the right place. Besides, how long has it been since we've been to church?"
Linda groaned. She hadn't been to church since her divorce, twenty-nine years earlier. Her ex-husband had kept the kids, so she really hadn't wanted a bunch of eyes staring holes in her wondering what had caused the breakup. If her son hadn't fallen in love with a divinity student in his study group, and hadn't subsequently married her, she might never have had the nerve to go.
"You're no angel either," Linda grumbled. "You didn't want people to stare at the two of us. Either you stayed home or went to church with your mom."
Sue merely grinned. "Have to see how the other half lives," she said. "I'll go make breakfast while you shower."
Linda's spirits lifted considerably when she finished showering and applying makeup, and admired the dress Sue had bought her for extra-formal occasions some years earlier. At least it still fit properly. She telephoned her daughter-in-law Erin, asking if she was still going to preach the evening service (her first big sermon) and whether she thought the Davises would come in for the eight A.M. service and take off after Sunday school – it was football season, after all. Erin asked in return whether Linda was going to Sunday school and if she had a good Bible, New American Standard edition. Linda had purchased two, and had studied the lessons. Erin cheerfully rang off as the first parishioners entered the sanctuary.
Sue let out a sigh as her lover walked into the kitchen.
"Linda, I'd say you looked better in that dress than you do without clothes on, but your feelings would be hurt. That really shows class, though."
Linda managed a smile. "In my day, you dressed up for church. Why don't you go and get your outfit on? I'd like to see what you consider dressy."
Two police officers with limited social circles don't dress up very often. They had dress uniforms, of course, and one evening gown apiece for super-formal functions, but their wardrobes ranged from casual to practical to "nice."
Sue gave Linda a peck on the cheek. "In college, the guys and girls really dressed up for church. It was an acceptable form of flirting."
"Is it all set?" Linda asked. "I go to the Joy class for seniors, and you go to the singles department? We sit right behind the Davises?"
"Works for me," Sue said. "You see if Rachel's mom and dad are in your class and introduce yourself, and then we'll meet Rachel while shaking hands during the service. If we're lucky, we can talk to them about official business and go from there."
Sue returned about thirty minutes later, wearing a beautiful dress. Linda looked her over and shook her head.
"Hard to believe we're on semi-official business, isn't it?"
"You cannot serve God and money, but you can serve God and the law," Sue replied as she sat down to breakfast.
Sue entered the main sanctuary first, taking two visitors' cards and a pen. She sat in the pew behind the one the Davises generally took, and filled out the information while looking around for Linda.
Linda came in and told Sue their instincts had been correct. Jim and Marilyn Davis were in her class, and she had said hello to them. She had mentioned she was there because of her daughter-in-law – "my son's in Houston taking a deposition and sent me in his place," which was true – and identified herself as a Deputy Inspector for the Sheriff's Department, also true.
The Davises didn't come into the sanctuary until it was nearly full. Linda pointed them out. Sue realized that she knew Rachel, who didn't notice her right away, from a drug-counseling class she had taught two years earlier.
But that wasn't the main attraction.
Jim and Marilyn Davis were in their forties. Rachel looked to be fourteen or fifteen. A younger brother, David, was about ten. But the third child ...
The third child was an infant girl, not more than three months old, asleep in a carrier. Rachel was carrying it. Either her mom and dad had been blessed with a little one unusually late in life, or Rachel was a teenage mom.
The Davises filed into the pew just ahead of Linda and Sue before the first group song. The senior pastor asked everyone to shake hands all around. There was a noticeable coldness in Jim Davis's handshake, and he avoided looking at his own daughter. Marilyn Davis was friendlier, but not much. David, who seemed irrepressible, almost introduced his whole family, but a look from his dad shut him up.
Rachel recognized Sue after a minute and shook her hand hard – almost clung to it, really. In response to questions about how come Linda and Sue were there, Linda reiterated her statement to the parents, while Sue simply said she was there as a favor to a friend, not specifying Mikie.
Baptist churches have plenty of traditional hymns, but there was a band on the stage to provide a contemporary beat as well. Sue stood and sang several hymns and popular Christian songs from lyrics flashed on view screens. Her attention was on Rachel, who took the soprano part and sang like a beautiful bird. A thought grew in Sue's mind.
The first 35 minutes or so of the service passed smoothly. Erin gave a little talk from the podium, explaining she'd be giving her first sermon that night. There were more songs and several prayers. Baptists stand, bow their heads and usually pray silently, which was a little unusual to Sue. Then came the offering plate. Linda and Sue noticed that only Rachel contributed money, a five-dollar bill. Linda and Sue put in twenties and their visitor cards.
It was during the main sermon that things started to go awry. The preacher had a booming voice. Traditionally, Baptist preachers shy away from raising issues during the sermon itself, since it's televised. After the noon hour has passed, and the TV camera goes off, they may raise some issues. But the pastor was hot about his text on the sanctity of life.
The baby woke up and started squalling. Preachers generally don't stop in mid-sentence, but this one did, and he looked out. Both of Rachel's parents turned and glared. Rachel wilted under the glare.
Rachel picked up the carrier with her little girl and edged out of the pew. A lot of eyes followed her. Sue didn't stop at looking. She got out the end of her pew and went up the opposite aisle to an exit door.
Rachel didn't see Sue until she was in the foyer. The ushers had long since sat down, so the area was as empty as an exile's back yard. She didn't notice Sue for a long time as she tried to shush her little one.
"Need help?" Sue finally said.
Even the baby quieted a little bit at the unfamiliar voice, which sounded soothing. Rachel looked uncertainly down at her little one, and then at the woman she knew only slightly. She thought, and walked over to Sue.
Sue had no children. She had no plans to have any. But she had a way with infants and toddlers which her friends, the Gibsons, had commented on many times. Somehow, the babies took to the woman.
"Is she hungry?" Sue asked in the same soothing voice.
Rachel gave a helpless nod. "The bottle's in an ice chest in the car."
"How come you didn't leave her in the nursery?"
A tear formed in Rachel's eye. "They won't let you pick up babies in the middle of the service, and Dad wants to get out at twelve so he can go eat and catch the game."
There was no point in showing disapproval. Sue asked: "What's her name?"
"Megan Elisabeth. She's eleven weeks old today."
Counting backward, Sue figured little Megan must have been born in early August. She wondered if Rachel had "shown" during the past school year. Perhaps not. Some expectant moms show nothing until they just pop out.
Sue also thought of a comment she had heard from Michael Gibson Junior, Rachel's classmate – "I think she must have gotten knocked up and had an abortion." That had been accompanied by rumors about Rachel's ... moral character; by comments on Rachel's "rack" of breasts – they were substantially too large for her frame; and by an admission that Michael had participated in a brutal assault on another guy who had admired Rachel.
"Is this her first time to go to church?" Sue asked quietly.
"Her third, but she's never cried like this. I wonder what's wrong?" Sue wondered if the young mother had undergone prenatal counseling.
"Maybe she's just becoming aware of things," Sue said. "Babies know more than you think. You seemed really tense coming into the sanctuary. Maybe she sensed it."
Rachel almost broke out bawling.
"Grades come out this week and I'm in danger of flunking two classes. My dad will kill me."
"Have you ever flunked?" Sue asked. "Is this your first year in high school?"
"No, and yes," Rachel said. "Geometry isn't my thing and I hate health class. I'm not doing well in P.E., either."
"Are they teaching sex education in health class, I wonder?" Sue asked.
"The abstinence-only program."
Sue had taken the baby and rocked her back and forth. She handed her back to her mother and spoke. "I believe in that program, strongly, but it doesn't stop everything and it doesn't tell you what happens if you have a baby or catch something bad, or both. Do they offer parenting classes?"
"No," Rachel said flatly.
Sue looked at little Megan. She appeared to be dozing off.
"Do you want to go back inside or find a bench out here and sit for a minute?" Sue asked. "I'm not used to services like these. I'm here as a favor to a couple of friends. The woman I'm with and someone else." She didn't mention the name Michael Gibson Junior.
"Do you go to church?"
"Ashby Square Unitarian Church. It's a big difference. I like the music a lot up here. You sang the hymns really well."
"I was in the junior high choir, and then ..."
"Anybody know you were going to have her?" Sue asked, gently.
"People talked," Rachel said bitterly.
Sue just looked at Megan. She looked tiny even for three months.
"Did she arrive on time, or early?"
"Two months premature," Rachel said sadly. "She was in NICU for a month. I'd never even heard of NICU. It cost my mom and dad a fortune."
"And you were back in school during that ... pretending nothing happened?"
"Mom and Dad thought it was a good idea."
Sue wondered what to say. She opted for the truth.
"I told you I was here because of a friend. Linda told you about Erin, but I'm here because of someone else. Someone who said some things about you."
"It's confidential for now, because it's really police business."
Puzzlement spread all over Rachel's face.
"Someone lured someone else into an alley a year or so ago and beat him up really bad. I don't know who they are. But my friend told me it was about you." Sue paused.
"I found this out by accident," she continued. "I don't think a formal sheriff's investigation would lead to anything. But if that guy thinks he can get away with that, he'll think he can get away with anything. Anything at all."
Tears ran down Rachel's face. She spoke.
"Such as getting me ...?" She looked at Megan.
Sue wanted to hug the teenager. She didn't. "Did he?"
"Christmas break. I didn't really want to, but ..." Sue held up her hand.
"You said people talked. I heard one of those people. That person said you, quote, 'must have' had an abortion. So some people don't know about her?"
Rachel decided against bawling because it might startle Megan. Sue pulled a pack of tissues out of her purse, tore it open and handed Rachel the whole batch. She needed most of them.
"I was going to. My mom took me to the clinic. There were a lot of protesters there. I got scared and left. Soon ... it was too late to go back."
Sue thought this out. "And now you're in denial about being a mom? Does your mom take care of her when you're in school?"
Rachel sighed sadly. "She took family leave from her job. I try to be there as much as I can, but I don't think I have what it takes."
Sue frowned. "It's a bit early to be self-judgmental. I've seen a lot of mothers and fathers who don't take care of their children, and usually it's just because they don't want to, not because they can't."
Rachel replied: "I have to stay in school until I'm sixteen, and then I guess I'll drop out and get a job. I don't know if I'll move out of the house or not. I saved money babysitting, but I've heard how much it costs to raise a child."
"Don't drop out," Sue said flatly. "Do Not Drop Out. Get a job you can do alongside your schoolwork, take time to take care of her, but get an education. The difference is incredible."
"That's just it, I may not have time to," Rachel replied. "My dad wants to kick me out of the house as soon as I'm old enough to work full-time."
Sue frowned. "He could do that, I suppose. What does your mom say?"
Rachel shook her head. "She's not that hard, but she knows I did something really bad. I don't think she'll ever forgive me."
Sue let one corner of her mouth go upward. "David seems happy enough to be an uncle. Anybody else in your family who at least doesn't disapprove?"
Rachel smiled. "David's a brat. He teased me and bugged me for I don't know how long. But he'd stand up for me if he could. Then there's my grandma Mimi. She's nice. But she's sick a lot."
Sue genuinely smiled. "Both my grandmas stood up for me, and my mom's mom spoiled me rotten. I had a lot of problems with my dad when I hit puberty. He really didn't know what to do with me." Another thought. "Do your mom and dad think they'll be blamed for not raising you right?"
"I ... I don't think that's it. They sort of love Megan, and they'll take me and her with them when they go places. I ... I just think I'm all to blame. I should stand up. Be a woman. Take responsibility."
Sue swung her head back and forth in disapproval. "You'd never come up with that line on your own. They drilled it into your head. You don't look like a girl who would smoke, drink, do drugs or cut classes. You taught yourself to avoid those things because you felt they were wrong and you also followed your parents. But you did do something and seven months later Megan came along, and I don't even think you believe God will forgive you."
"No ... He won't." It was almost inaudible, but it was there.
Sue just looked at Rachel. "From God's mouth to your ear, or vice versa?"
Rachel flushed crimson. Sue softened her tone.
"Any time you go into a religious service, anywhere, any religion, you ask to talk with God. And any religion anywhere will tell you God listens. Christianity tells you ... well, you know what happened for you and everyone else. I'm not saying everyone everywhere will go to heaven, but I will say no sin is unforgivable if you trust God to forgive it."
Rachel looked Sue in the eye. "People do a lot of bad things."
Sue looked back. "We have people quit the Sheriff's Department every year because they've seen too much evil. If not for Linda, I'd quit too. But is that a sin? No. It's just an acknowledgment that no one – no one – is perfect."
Rachel said: "Ma'am ... can I tell you something?"
"I'll do everything I can to be nonjudgmental," Sue assured her.
Rachel let tears run down her face. "My mom took me to that ... abortion clinic without telling my dad."
"Was it her idea?" Sue asked.
"Y-yes. Dad didn't know I was pregnant. Mom didn't want him to find out."