Revenge of the Nerd Ch. 44byrpsuch©
The cook brought out dessert. I didn't know her name. It was just another reminder that I was not as different from them as I imagined.
When we finished, my Father asked if the two of us could excuse him and Joanne for a while, so they could discuss this matter. We said we would be around and went to my room.
"How much of that did you make up on the spot?" I asked.
"Not much. I came with a plan."
"Did you really tell your parents we're getting married?"
"Of course not. You're going to be there for that conversation."
"How did you create William?" I asked.
"He didn't get my name. You didn't come to see me, so nobody followed you. The only way he could find out that quickly was to go through your phone records. That got him my first name.
"I wrote some 'news' stories and created a program to crawl around the web and look for places to plant them that might be picked up by a web crawler that culls stories for unofficial biographies. It wasn't hard. There are a lot of public domain algorithms and program libraries out there."
"Okay, I know if I don't stop you, we'll be here all night with the details. So, what was the plan?"
"Push his image buttons," Jeff said.
"He thinks it will damage his image if we get married, so give him a scenario where it's much worse not to participate.
"I don't have the money lined up and I don't think we'll need it. If he needs to invite a small army, he's the only one who can afford it. And if he doesn't pay for it, he has no control."
"That was cruel not to invite him to the wedding."
"You do remember it was make believe?" he asked.
"Yeah," I said, convincing neither of us. "I can't believe you got away with that Exponent ad."
"By that time his troops were in such disarray he was looking for a way to retreat. He wasn't paying careful attention."
"I apologize, General. I have to admit I doubted you. I've never seen anyone picked apart so easily and so thoroughly."
"He thought we wouldn't have a plan," said Jeff. "He thought he'd waltz into our encampment and we would lay down our arms. Even now he doesn't know what our plan was."
"Amazing. Most of all," I said, "I can't believe it was this easy."
"It wasn't. It's not over. He may have come in overconfident, but I assure you he has a backup plan. And he may have a backup to the backup."
"But you have a plan to handle that," I said with confidence, "don't you?"
"Nope. I haven't a clue what he might do. Even though we don't have surprise on our side next time, image and self esteem are inflexible for him so anything that attacks them keeps him on the defensive."
"I'm sure glad you're on my side." I moved in and put my arms around him.
"And I'm sure glad you're on my side," I said again, but the meaning was quite different.
"I've never seen this side of you," I said. "You just took charge, with him, with her, with me. If I wasn't sure of the next step, you just told me what to do."
I could see he was getting ready to explain why it was necessary, that his style was really cooperative.
"No," I said. "I liked it, a lot. You saw what was needed and you did it. I'm impressed and kind of aroused."
He smiled and tilted his head. Aw, shucks, ma'am.
"So what do I negotiate with him?" I asked.
"Nothing. If he's doing it, I negotiate.
"If your Mom represents them, give in reluctantly. Let her pay for everything. Let her in on the wedding plans.
"You do know that I don't care what the wedding is like. If you want me to come dressed as Spock, one of the Village People or white tie, it makes no difference to me. If you're there, I'll be there. But, I have no idea where you are on this. What kind of wedding would you like?"
"Fairytale," I said.
"That's fine, Miss Fine. Just don't entertain the silly notion you need to tell me any of the details, let alone ask if I'm okay with whatever it is.
"I'm interested in the marriage, not the wedding."
"I want it to be perfect," I said.
"There is no perfect." This wasn't the first time he'd said that.
We heard my Mother calling for us. That was probably a good sign. She was rarely involved in important matters. Dad was still on the run.
They were waiting for us in the library. Mom wanted to talk about their involvement in the wedding.
Dad asked Jeff to join him in his study to get to know each other better.
Don't go, Jeff! It's a trick. He'll probably be waiting in ambush with his hired gunslingers.
Jeff didn't hear my silent warning. He followed my Father into the valley of the shadow of death.
Mom wanted to talk with me in her sewing room. There were a great many things my Mother did not do in her sewing room, chief among them was sew.
She was docile. I had never seen her that way.
Well, yes, I had. She was usually that way with Dad.
They wanted to go back to the way it would have been had I been marrying their hand-picked candidate. They would pay for everything. They would handle most of the arrangements, except decisions customarily made by the bride.
Was that really what they wanted?
I showed her deep concern for their feelings.
I didn't want to force anything down their throats. I wanted them to remember this as one of the happiest moments of their lives.
I wanted to throw up.
She assured me they wanted me to have everything I ever dreamed of, except Jeff. She didn't say that part. I could feel it, though.
They were delighted with my choice. Of course they were. That explained all the belligerence.
But I pretended to be as gracious as she pretended to be; business as usual in the Fine household.
Everything settled and smoothed over, we headed to the main hall to find the men folk.
The thick oak door to Dad's study was still closed as we approached. I stopped, stunned, as I heard voices through the door I thought was soundproof, a door from beyond which I had never heard a sound.
"Don't ... think ... never ..." I couldn't tell who it was, but he was yelling. Then, I think the voice changed. "You ... crush ... don't ... care ... nobody ..." I don't know if that was all one person.
And that was it. One or two minutes later the door opened and they came out. Jeff had a dark look on his face that I'd never seen. It was a mixture of anger, pain, frustration, sadness and I don't know what else.
Dad was smiling.
"I think we managed to work out our differences about the wedding," he said. "Don't be a stranger, Jeff."
Jeff nodded. Then, "It was nice to meet you Mrs. Fine. Thank you for dinner."
She was effusive, in hostess mode.
"It was my pleasure. It was just ... lovely to have you. Bye."
They turned and headed up the stairs together.
Jeff had managed a weak smile when he spoke with my Mother. It was gone.
Back was that dark look.
"What's wrong?" I asked.
"That's a lie," I said.
"Well, what did he say? What did you say? Who was yelling in there? What's going to happen?"
"I don't want to talk about it," he said. It was quiet and resolute.
"Jeff." I stood in front of him challenging him to share it with me.
"Essentially what he said is he doesn't think I'm right for you."
My father may actually have said that, but Jeff was clearly relating a miniscule part of the argument.
"And then you started yelling at each other to evaluate the correctness of his position?"
"I don't want to talk about it."
After I had mocked his refusal to fill me in, that response told me it was futile to continue to press him. Nothing I said was going to pry it out of him.
I tried giving him a hurt look and let my shoulders sink.
"Everything will work out, Fifths."
He put his arms around me and held me.