Curse You Uncle Jessie Ch. 02byRabbitrunner91©
"Pastor, what am I to do? Everywhere I go, women are throwing themselves at me. I've turned off my phone and the mailman is threatening to sue. And I don't dare show up at my apartment, it's been staked out."
"Matt, let's look at your options. According to the will, the money is to be distributed to either the Pregnancy Center OR to the Abortion Clinic. Correct?"
"Yes, it's to be decided by my marital status as of June. Uncle Jessie knew I didn't want the Clinic to get the funds."
"Sounds like you've decided to walk the aisle." (Or walk the plank.)
"I was hoping to wait a couple years before saying 'I do'."
"What do you want in a wife? Don't default and allow the money go to the wrong place."
"Oh boy." (Sounds like a death sentence with six months to go.)
"Why not start with that box of applications. Ask the Women's Center to help sort them, narrow the quantity and perhaps you can find someone." (Whoopee.)
Uncle Jessie had already made the choice.
(Curse you Uncle Jessie. I wish you weren't dead.)
Mrs. Jordon at the Center was willing to help. She'd assigned two part time staffers, Lynn and Sherrie, to assist. I'd carted the box into the conference room and the Post Office delivered my other mail, dumping it on the table.
"What are we looking for?" Sherrie asked.
(A wife or a miracle) I examined one of the forms. I must admit, the questions the Fraternity used were quite detailed.
"Select from between 18 and 25 years, doesn't smoke or drink, never married, ..."
"What about her 'race' or 'children' or ..."
(CHILDREN?) "Definitely no kids."
The three of us worked quietly, with an occasional 'Look at this.' Or 'What about that person?'
By the end of the second day, we'd gone through all of them, holding back, maybe 200. The rest were burned. (Burn, burn, burn them all.)
It felt strange. I was sifting through applications with mechanical detachment. Marriage is a relationship and this was being handled emotionlessly. (I might as well yell in the streets "I NEED A WIFE?")
Day three was used to refine the 200, down to 25.
"Matt?" Sherrie spoke, "I'd suggest we contact these ladies to see if they're still interested. Perhaps they filled it out as a joke, or have had second thoughts. You could interview, or date the ones you like."
What she said made sense, I wasn't comfortable with it but gave the go-ahead. I wanted to disappear for a couple days. (Literally, from the face of the earth.)
On Monday I learned eighteen were withdrawing because they'd done it on a joke or dare. (Great, now I'm not wanted.) Sherrie had taken the unusual step of having the remainder write an essay. (What was the question? Why I want to be a Mail Order Bride?)
As I read the last essay, Sherrie asked, "Did you eliminate any?"
"These three. What they wrote is stupid." (Just like me.) "How many do we have?"
"Five, I think." Lynn said, counting them out.
(Maybe I should draw straws. It'd be quicker.) "Set up an evening; dinner and conversation. Nothing more."
(Curse you Uncle Jessie. I wish you weren't dead.)
After the first evening, I,d eliminated the first. Oh, she was nice enough, but her temperament was high strung. The second lady was a possible ... (for another date). The third dominated the evening, I wouldn't see her again. The next lady was so shy. That's okay, but I wouldn't rule her out, merely place her lower on the list.
Tonight I'd meet the fifth woman. The agreed time was 7pm and my watch read 7:15. (She's late, not a good sign). I'd turned and was watching the other patrons; Lynn appeared at my side.
"Did she cancel out?" I asked. (I hope, I hope.)
"No, she didn't."
"Where is she? She's late."
"Matt, I'm number five." Nervously she dropped her purse and stooped to retrieve it.
(She'd stacked the deck. She'd inserted her own application into the pile). I wasn't angry, but I wasn't very happy, either.
"Do you want me to leave?" (She looked like she was ready to run).
"No, we're here. Let's have dinner." I said coldly. She took my arm and I escorted her to the table.
A waiter appeared and I ordered drinks and horderves.
"Want to tell me what you're doing?" I questioned.
"Are you angry? I almost backed out. That's why I was late." Apprehensively she played with a bracelet and wouldn't hold eye contact.
"I don't know what I am. But I'd like to hear your story." I let disgust taint my voice.
"When Mrs. Jordon assigned Sherri and me to work with you, we knew the Center desperately needed the funds. So Sherrie and I drew straws, I won. When you asked us to arrange an evening out, I slipped my file onto the bottom."
"So you're only interested in the money?"
"That's not fair."
"Stacking the deck on me is playing fair?"
"Touché. Point made." Her finger was toying with her hair, making tiny ringlets.
"My intent, Lynn, was to meet someone for a date. You used your work assignment as an advantage and I became the pawn. We're at cross-purposes and I don't like it."
"Do you want me to leave?" Her lip quivered and she refused to look at me. (I almost said 'Yes'."
"You've connived a 'Dinner with conversation'. You'll get that wish."
The waiter arrived with our drinks and the first course. We ordered the main meal.
"I've a condition with tonight. You can't tell anyone. That includes Sherri. Agreed?"
She nodded. "I agree."
"Tell me about yourself. I want to know what kind of person will sneak a date with me."
"Are you holding that against me?"
"I don't know yet. We'll have to find out. You have my ear for the evening."
I was still ticked and it may have tinged my voice, for she became withdrawn. Quietly she began.
"I'm a local gal. Grew up here and graduated from high school. I took two years of educational courses at the Community College. I had planned to attend State University but when Mrs. Jordon visited our church and talked about the need for workers at the Center, I joined her team and have been here ever since."
(You're skimpy on details.) "Is that all there is to Lynn Richards?"
She talked about her family; her dad was a salesman, and her mom a teacher. She was the second oldest and being the only girl, knew how to give and take from her three brothers. She'd taken band and chorus in school, bypassing sports. A few guys had asked her out, but nothing serious.
At the Community College, she'd dated a guy regularly until she caught him with someone else. He'd tried to patch things up but she'd have nothing to do with him. Her grades were good with all 'B's.
She really liked working with the Women's Pregnancy Center. It always gave her a thrill when a woman chose life, rather than an abortion. That had happened 120 times this year, and she'd been instrumental with twenty-three.
Our meal arrived and the two of us continued our talk. She was warm but flustered, friendly but shy, smart but reserved. Mostly she was committed to helping unwed mothers carry their babies to full term. It was this point which clicked with me.
The histories of these women were shared and how, when they'd been bent on terminating the pregnancy, she'd helped them understand the importance of life. Whether they gave the child up for adoption or chose to raise it themselves, it was a victory; a victory which shone through into Lynn's eyes.
When I'd worked with her at the Center, she'd been calm, relaxed and congenial. Tonight, there was an edge of uncertainty in her demeanor, probably because of the trick she'd pulled.
With the evening over, I walked her to the car.
"Thanks. Sorry about misleading you. I didn't mean to hurt you." She said apologetically.
Her hair on one side was in a series of curls where she'd been twirling it. The other side hung straight.
"Could I have your phone number and address?"
She appeared flustered, "Oh, of course." She shuffled in her purse and quickly scribbled on an old envelope.
"Are you okay?" I asked.
"I'm fine... No.., no I'm not. I'm nervous."
I chuckled. "Okay."
"See you tomorrow," and I walked away. Glancing over my shoulder I nearly broke out laughing. She'd dropped her pencil, and then her foot slipped as she bent to pick it up. The keys slipped from her hand and she couldn't insert the key into the lock. (It was comical.)
Mrs. Jordon greeted me in the morning and we talked. I surmised she didn't know about the scheme the girls had hatched.
"Would you stop by? I think you'll find this interesting." (Very interesting.)
"Give me a few minutes. I'll be there shortly."
While in the conference room I heard voices from the hallway...
"No, Sherrie, I can't tell you."
"You said you would, Lynn."
"I know, but I just can't."
"Well, was he upset? Did he call it off?"
"He made me promise, so I can't say anything." (She's keeping her word.)
"Ooohhh, so you did meet with him. Is there a chance for the money?"
"Drop it, will you. It's not about the money. This is not a joking matter and we shouldn't have been meddling. He wasn't happy about it last night. So forget it, I can't say anything more." (Smart girl.)
I stuck my head into the corridor. "Good morning ladies. Shall we get started?"
Around the table, I held the folders, and Lynn's was at the bottom.
"Sherrie, I've eliminated these three, let them know."
She flipped the top cover on each. She knew Lynn's was in my hand, so did Lynn.
"Lynn, I would like you ..."
Mrs. Jordon poked her head in the door. "What's happening?"
"I think you'll find these interesting. They're the last two."
Both girls got the most awful look on their faces. The room was quiet as she opened the last file. Her look shifted to Lynn, a smile touched her face. "I hope you girls know what you're doing." She tossed Lynn her folder, the other to me, and then left.
"Holy sh..." Sherrie began.
Except for muffled voices from elsewhere in the building, the room was quiet.
"Ladies, you started this. So whose idea?"
Lynn pointed a finger and Sherrie sheepishly lifted her hand. "What now?" Sherrie asked.
"You got the ball rolling, where do you want it to go?"
It was Sherrie's turn and she was in the hot seat.
"I Don't Know!" she wailed. Her pause became uncomfortable, so she continued. "We knew about your Uncle's money and thought we'd help."
"What about me? What do I want, Sherrie? Did that ever enter your thinking?"
"I guess not."
"Now your plan's in the open, what's next?"
"Find some solution so the Center can still receive the money. That's what I want."
(She's sealed her coffin.) I tossed her the file. "Here, tell them I'm NOT interested. Sherrie, your help is no longer required."
I stood and walked out, I was livid.
At 6:00 I placed the call, the answering machine kicked in. I hung up and called again. The same result. On the 6th call, the handset was lifted. "I want to talk. Do you?" I asked.
"I'll see you in an hour."
I drove up, she was waiting and got in the car. Looking at me, she said nothing. I drove to the address and we went inside.
"You're still angry, aren't you?" she asked.
"No." I say facetiously. "I'm ready to spit nails."
"It's ruined. I suppose it's over."
"What do you think? What would you do in my shoes?"
"Probably the same thing."
"You don't know what it's like to become a millionaire overnight. Suddenly I've all this money and every girl in the world wants to get their hands on it. I wasn't planning on finding a wife. Uncle Jessie put it in his 'will'. Damn him, he knew my heart's with the Center. He's forcing me."
She didn't say anything, but her eyes told me she was hurting.
"The newspapers and the University found out, broadcasting it to the world. Everywhere I go I'm a marked man. I loved my Uncle Jessie, but gee whiz."
I broke down, my face in my hands. She watched.
(CURSE YOU UNCLE JESSIE, I WISH YOU WEREN'T DEAD.)