Of Hell and Heaven Ch. 02bybmunchausen©
I was wondering what I could do. Going to New Mexico would be useless, she wasn't there and they weren't going to tell me anything anyway. Maybe go to the Mother House here outside Baltimore and have a sit down strike until they told me where she was? But that wouldn't work...the nuns would probably call the cops and then give me detention for the rest of my life.
All of a sudden the doorbell rang. I thought that it was my parents as they were the only people who could get past the doorman. I opened the door. Standing there was my twin sister Amanda.
She pushed past me and said, "Okay, what the fuck is wrong. You have been fucking impossible for the past few weeks and you have Mom and Dad in a god-damned tizzy. Even Mark is worried and you know he never worries about anything."
She walked into the bedroom that I use as my office and sat down at my computer. You have to understand, Mandy is older than me by exactly eleven minutes. Although, I quickly followed her, I have suffered all my life for being eleven minutes younger. She is the older sister and that makes her the boss. Not that she wouldn't be the boss if she were younger than me, but this is a legitimate reason, at least in her mind.
The other thing is, nothing is private, at least from her. "We did spend nine months in Mom's womb together and there was no privacy there, so we can't be private out here."
She sat there at my computer giving me the third degree when one of the photos of Carol and I kissing came on. Mandy must have caught a glimpse of it and turned to see that and the other shots of us.
"Oh, wow, is this the reason that you are like this?"
Then other pictures came on showing Carol and me. Mandy looked at them and said, "Do I know her? She looks so familiar."
"No you don't know her. I met her in St. Louis."
Then the picture that I loved the most came on, it showed Carol...just Carol, she was smiling at me. She was so beautiful, it was the perfect picture of Carol.
I turned and walked into the living room and stood before the huge picture window. This was usually the place I loved best in this apartment. The view.
It overlooked the city and on to the ocean. I could stand here and watch the boats all day. But, today I saw nothing, all I saw was the pain in my soul. The pain that permeated every cell in my body.
Mandy came out of the bedroom. "You shit head, she is a fucking nun. What are you a fucking asshole? She is a Fucking Nun!"
I turned to her and said in a voice far more forceful than I wanted, "Do you think that I don't know that?"
She looked me in the eyes and said, "Zack, what the fuck is going on?"
"I love her, I have loved her for years. Ever since I first saw her in homeroom a thousand years ago. And when I saw her in St. Louis, it was like I was eighteen again. I loved her."
"But there was a difference. This time...she loved me. I asked her to marry me."
Mandy looked at me with eyes as big as saucers, "You big fucking idiot. She is a nun, she can't possibly marry you."
I looked down at the floor and in a very quiet voice said, "She said yes."
This seemed to take Mandy back. She asked, "What did you say?"
I looked up at her and said, "She said yes. She said she would marry me."
I paused and then went on, "The last time I talked to her she told me that she was going into speak to her superior and tell her that she was leaving the order. She was going to leave the order for me."
"I haven't heard from her since. I don't know what happened. Mandy, I can't live without her." I put my face in my hands and for the first time in years I cried.
At first Mandy just stood there in shock, but then she came over and put her arms around me. "Oh Christ, baby brother, she really fuckin got to you. Didn't she?"
She brought me over to the couch and sat me down. She sat next to me, with her arms still around me. In a very soft voice that was full of love and resignation, she said, "Oh Zacky, you can never do anything the easy way, can you? It wasn't enough that you went into the Army, a fucking boat builder in the Army. No, you had to go airborne, jumping out of fucking airplanes. And even that wasn't enough, you had to go Ranger, go into combat and get your god-damned knee blown off."
"And now, you can't fall in love with the girl next door, no not my brother, you have to fall in love with a nun. A fuckin nun. Oh Zack, Zack, Zack what are we going to do with you?"
We sat there for a long time, I finally calmed and looked up at her. "Thanks Mand, I think that I really needed that and you are the only person I could cry to."
She hugged me tighter and gave a little laugh. "I know that there isn't much that I can do for you, but if you think of anything, let me know. And of course you know that I am going to have to tell them something. Mom was the one who asked me to come here."
"So I will tell them that it's a woman, and things aren't working out the way you wanted. It's the truth, so I'm not lying. I'll just try not to go into too many details. Which isn't going to be easy, they're all are going to want details. But don't worry, I'll think of something."
I knew that I had nothing to worry about with Mandy, she would never betray a confidence. We always kept each other's secrets.
I should explain one thing about Mandy, you will never hear a curse word pass her lips. I know that this sounds ridiculous, but the only time that she uses such language is when we are together and alone. This started years ago, when we first learned that there were certain words that would get us in trouble if our parents heard us say them.
We would only use them when we were alone, it made us feel like grownups and we were doing something wrong but we wouldn't get in trouble over it. This carried over into our adult life. When she is with others, she is the picture of decorum, but when we are together, she curses like a sailor (soldier?).
She got up and made a pot of tea, we sat and drank it without saying much...what more was there to say. She put her arms around me, hugged me tight and said, "Things will work out, one way or another. If she loves you as you say, you will be together and if not..." She looked at me and shrugged.
A little while later she said she had to go, as she was meeting her husband, Joe for lunch. She got up and as she was walking out of the door she turned and with an evil smile, she giggled, "One thing you must promise, you will not bring Sr. Carol to Mom and Dad's unless I am there. I wouldn't want to miss the look on their face when they meet your fiancé."
I laughed and yelled, "Get out of here." She gave a maniacal laugh as she walked down the hall to the elevator.
A little while later, I just had to get out of the apartment so I went to a mall nearby. I got a cup of coffee and was looking for a table to sit at. As I was walking through the food court, I heard a mousy voice say, "Mr. Zachary Miller, as I live and breath."
I recognized the voice and I turned to see this thin old wizened nun, the "Fossil" sitting at a table with a cup of something hot.
"Sister Miriam, what a wonderful surprise. Why you look marvelous, how have you been?"
"Knock it off Miller, you can't sweet talk me. It never worked before and it won't work now."
"But Sister, why would I sweet talk you now? I'm not trying to get out of detention, am I?"
She actually cracked a bit of a smile and said, "Yea, I guess so, but I know your type. The smooth talking ones, can't trust any of you."
Without an invitation, I took a seat across from her. She then gave me a hard look and said, "You were one of Williams' crew, weren't you?"
"Williams? Oh you mean Sister Carol. Yea, I was in her homeroom and she taught my math classes. I was one of the "Firsts."
She gave a bit of a sneer and said, "All of you boys liked Williams, didn't you?"
I had no idea where this was going and I took a bit of an attitude, "Yea we all liked her, she is a wonderful person."
I wanted to add, unlike others in your order, but I kept quiet.
"Well, it seems that she liked you boys... liked you boys a little too much. She went out to a conference in St. Louis and got herself pregnant."
I sat there staring at this nun, "Pregnant?" I asked.
"Shocked? Your sweet innocent Sister Carol isn't as innocent and pure as you thought, is she? It seems that she went to that math conference in St. Louis and came back with a bun in the oven, she is with child."
Pregnant...Carol pregnant? The word echoed through my brain. Pregnant. Pregnant with my child. Oh my God, I never thought...we never thought of using any protection. It never entered my mind.
The "Fossil" kept prattling on, I heard "Tramp", "Harlot," and many more derogatory adjectives. But, nothing stuck in my mind except "pregnant."
Then I heard her say "Tribunal" and asked, "What's a Tribunal?"
Sr. Miriam gave a smile and said, "Tomorrow, that tramp will be given a choice by the order. Either she gives up the child after it is born and accepts reduction to Novice or she is out. I think that she should be out, no matter what she wants."
At this point another woman came over and said, "Miriam, what's going on? Who is this?"
Before I could say anything, Sr. Miriam said, "This is one of her crew." Then she added, with a disgusted voice, "One of her FIRSTS"
The other nun gave an exasperated sigh and said, "That's enough, Miriam."
The "Fossil" got up and said, "I have more shopping to do, I can't say it's been a pleasure..."
"The pleasure has been all mine," I interrupted with a smile as I stood.
She gave a harrumph and walked away.
The other nun turned to me and said, "I'm Rose Quinten." And she offered me her hand.
I shook her hand and said, "Sister Rose, I'm pleased to meet you."
She gave me a sad smile and said, "Can we talk for a minute?"
"Of course," I said and we sat down at the table.
She started, "I don't want you to have the wrong idea about Carol. You have to realize, although we are nuns, we are also human, with all of the strengths and weaknesses that all people have. Sometimes we make mistakes."
I looked at her and said, "I understand, I would never think less of her...ever. But, what's the Tribunal about?"
"Like Miriam told you, tomorrow morning at 8:00 am we will meet with Carol. She will have to choose between the Order and the child. And depending on her choice, it will be giving up her child or being out of the Order."
"So you will have to wait until tomorrow to see what she does?"
"No, it's just a formality. Have to follow the rules, you know. She already told her superior that she was leaving the Order. And now...well... she will never give up her child. The thing is that I will miss her, we have been friends since we were Novices."
She looked at me sort of funny and said, "What did you say your name was?"
"I don't think that I did, it's Zachary Miller, Why?"
She looked into my eyes and gave me a sad smile. She took my hands in hers and said, "Nothing...but everything will be over by eight fifteen. Then she will be free. As I said the Tribunal will take place at the Mother House, just outside of the city. I have no idea what she is going to do after it's over, I'm sure that she has something arranged. But, she will need a friend."
She let go of my hands as we stood and said, "I had better go and find Miriam, before she gets a hold of the PA System."
I stood there and watched as she walked away. I immediately took out my cell phone and called my boss. I told him that I was going to take a couple of days off. He told me to take the whole week, "You have been driving yourself too hard. I don't want you getting sick or anything. Anyway Mark can handle the project for a few days. You guys were just running the tests and it doesn't take both of you to do that. Take some time. I've been worried about you."
I told him that I would talk to him soon and hung up.
At 7:00 the next morning I was parked in the circular driveway in front of the Mother House. There were a few other cars there so I wasn't very obvious. I sat and waited. It seemed like I sat there for hours, when finally the huge wooden door opened. A nun wearing the full habit walked out closely followed by Carol, who was wearing street clothes. Carol was followed by another nun in full uniform.
They stood there for a moment talking and then the first nun and Carol hugged. Carol then turned and hugged the other nun. The two nuns then went back into the Mother House and the door closed.
Carol turned and started to slowly walk toward the driveway. She was pulling a wheeled suitcase and had a backpack on her shoulder.
When she was about twenty yards from the street I got out of the car and as I walked toward her I said, "Need a lift?"
It was like she didn't see me, because she seemed to looked at me in shock. Then her face softened and she smiled, "Yea, I think I could use a lift."
I walked over to her and took her suitcase and backpack. I took her hand in mine and we walked to the car. She got in and I popped the trunk and put her bags inside and closed it.
I got in the car and started it up. I turned toward her and said, "Where to?"
She looked a little lost and said in a halting voice, "I'm really not sure...I haven't thought about it."
I took her hand as I looked at her. Oh god, she is so beautiful and I love her so much. My heart went out to her. The last time I saw her she was this poised and confident woman and now she seemed so lost. I wanted to take her in my arms and hold her. But I just sat there with her hand in mine.
I took a deep breath and said, "Why don't we go to my place. I have a two-bedroom apartment on the twentieth floor of a huge building. You can stay until things get settled."
She gave me a sad smile and almost whispered, "That sounds good...it's the best offer I've had all day. But it will only be until I can get a job, get settled and find an apartment of my own. I wouldn't want to wear out my welcome."
I smiled and gave her hand a squeeze, put the car in gear and drove off.
Ten years have passed and in that time, Carol was able to get a job, hell she had one within a few weeks and she got settled. However, she still hasn't found an apartment of her own and as far as wearing out her welcome...well...
It's early on Saturday morning, in the last weekend of June. I listen to the laughter and giggling as I walk down the stairs. When I enter the kitchen, nine-year-old Mikey looks up and screams at the top of his lungs, "Daddy, Mommy says that we are going to Disney World today."
I give a surprised look and say, "WOW that's great, can I come?"
Three-year-old Melissa jumps out of her chair and runs full speed into me. I scoop her up in my arms and she squeals in delight. Then she says, "You gotsta come, Daddy. You gotsta drive us to Dizzy World...Silly Daddy."
Six-year-old Jessie laughes, she has the same sweet, soft laugh that her mother has. She giggles, "You can go on the rides too, Daddy...but you gotta be good and listen to Mommy!" The three of them scream and laugh, "Daddy has to be good."
Mommy gets my mug out of the cabinet and fills it with coffee. I walk up behind her and put my arms around her. She turns her head and I softly kiss her lips. Holding my arms around her she turns toward the children and leaning back into me she asks, "If I want to go on the rides, do I have to be good and listen to Daddy?"
Again the three children start to scream, "Mommy has to be good and listen to Daddy. You gotta be good, Mommy."
Mommy leans back into me and quietly asks, "Am I good, Daddy?"
I hug her into me and say, "Mommy, you are the best."
"I had a feeling you would say that."
She takes my hands in hers and brings them down to her slightly bulging belly and I caress her.
Carol, wear out her welcome? Not in a million...no not in a billion years.
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