Maggie Redux Ch. 4byWhiff666©
She sat stiffly in her rocker, slowly relaxing, feeling the tension gradually leave her body. Really, it hadn't been that bad, and she thought she'd gotten through to him, that wounded look men get when you tell them something they know is true, but won't admit it. Plus, she had known it was coming, been almost rehearsing for a couple of weeks. Bill had talked about their questions. But you couldn't be sure, and sitting here now, she was afraid. Not terrified, just concerned that he'd do something stupid. It wouldn't make any sense, but she'd hate to come between Bill and his parents. Plus, once the gossip got started, a lot of people would get hurt.
He'd come to the front door, ringing the buzzer, and she hadn't recognized him. "I'm James Warren, Mrs. Thornton. Billy's dad." Her surprise had nearly exploded, as she took in the slim, modest looking man, no rim glasses, nearly bald, then saw the resemblance. Was this what his son would look like when he was fifty? But she took a deep breath, straightened her back, making her almost as tall as he was, and invited him in. She gave him some coffee, as he stuttered about the weather, then she sat down in the rocker, opposite him.
"Uh, Mrs. Thornton, uh, I gather you've been....seeing quite a lot of my son." He took a deep breath, probably ready to go on with a speech.
She could remember her first words very clearly. "No, Mr. Warren, we haven't been seeing each other. We've been making love, mostly every day now, for two months. He has a schoolboy crush on me, probably intensified by the fact that I may be the only black woman he's ever known in this white bread town of yours, but that's not my concern. I care about Bill, Mr. Warren. Very much. He's sweet, daffy, nuts over me, and I assume you know my situation. If it was as simple as my telling him to go away, I would. But it's not that simple, Mr. Warren."
She had gotten up then, starting to pace, feeling her anger rise. "Somewhere along the line he's gotten the feeling his family only cares about him for his football, his good looks, the light he reflects on them. I don't go to the football games, don't worry about whether he acts properly, goes to Church, none of that. I give him love of a special kind, Mr. Warren. I mean, you aren't stupid, I don't think. You're a typical honky parent, but not stupid. Do you know he writes poetry for me? Do you know he has made almost all his friends mad because he never sees them anymore? And that he doesn't care, all he wants is to be with me? Have you ever, ever felt that way, Mr. Warren?" She had stopped a moment then, taking a deep breath, trying to calm down.
"Look, I'm sorry I said that. It's just, he feels so intensely, and he can show it with me, and nobody else. I don't judge him, except in bed." She had paused then, for effect. Then she gave him her broad, afro smile. "He's very good in bed, Mr. Warren. I have some experience, and I can tell you he's going to make some blonde very, very happy one day."
He'd damn near started to cry when she said that, probably realizing she was way ahead of him, but maybe feeling a little ashamed of the accusations he had intended, some threat possibly, or just how little he really knew his son. Whatever, she knew then she had him back on his heels.
"So, Mr. Warren, here's the deal. I'm not going to drag him down to the Limelight and fuck him on the pool table. I'm going to keep making sure he's careful, so as not to embarrass you. I'm going to keep helping him with his schoolwork, though he's as helpless with Math as I am. I'm not gonna get pregnant, I'm not gonna marry him, I'm not gonna disturb the social structure of your town. But I'm going to keep seeing him, Mr. Warren. I'm going to let him jump me as long as he wants to. Because he likes it, and so do I. And we aren't hurting anyone, and won't unless you do something stupid. Your family, your son will be the losers if there's trouble. I'm just a dumbass nigger who can't help herself." She remembered her anger as she continued. "So don't fuck with me, Mr. Warren. Ruin your son, your family, that's your perogative, I guess. But you better believe Maggie Thronton can take care of herself. I'll have my head up high while you all hide in your big ol' mansion on the hill."
She had wanted to go on. She had wanted to beg him to talk with his son, to find some love in his heart. To control his wife, who was the likely source of the worst possibilities. But the look on his face had stopped her. He was hurt. But there was...respect in his eyes. She was not what he had expected. She had seated herself carefully beside him, not touching, but near enough so she was inside the shell he had around him. "Look, Mr. Warren. I care about Bill. I do. I wouldn't do anything to hurt him. He'll get over me. I won't break his heart, he'll break mine. But I want him to have a good life. He'll learn from this. Be careful. Talk to Mrs. Warren. I'm sure she's fit to be tied. I'm just the one who happened to be there when he needed me, not a substitute for her. Tell her to come see me if she wants. But tell her she isn't going to change my mind."
Now, as she sat there going over it, again and again, the coffee cup cold in her hand, the look in his eyes came back to her. A little fire there, probably her taunt about his wife charging him. Wanting to impress her. There had been more she had rehearsed, but she had decided it was enough. They both rose. He took her hand, just the hint of a smile on his face. "My kid has always been lucky, Maggie. You're...look, next time we meet, call me Jim, would you? I can see myself out."
Billy felt his heart tripping, staring at his suddenly unfamiliar father. Holy Christ. They were standing on the sidewalk, the chilly wind blowing from the north making both their noses red. Dad must have waited for me, he thought. He's late. His mind started to function again. "...and she's a lovely woman, Bill. Your mother really has come to terms with it, so I'm anxious to entertain her. Your mother doesn't want to go down there, but wants to meet her. So, do you think it'll be all right, Saturday night?"
He was asking Maggie for dinner. He knows. How the fuck did he find out? Why is he so fucking calm. And mother. Migod. Just then, Jenny came skulking down, making a wide swing around them. He caught her looking guiltily at him. Oh shit. He hadn't seen Maggie this morning, she ran down at the gym during the winter. She'd been on the rag since Monday, but he had planned on tonight. This made it even more important he go talk to her.
He caught up with Jenny, grabbing her arm. She broke out in tears, sobbing "I'm sorry, Billy, they made me tell 'em, they did. I couldn't help it, I'm sorry." What the fuck was all this craziness, he wondered.
He turned around, and almost bumped into his dad. "It's true son, we did practically force her to tell us. Your mother and I were just talking about how anti-social you'd become, and she snickered. Look, son. We're old, but we aren't stupid, okay." Then, his dad did something he never got over. He grabbed him, and hugged him. His dad whispered in his ear "I've met her, Bill. I've met her. I know, I know. You've always been lucky, kiddo."
- Interlude -
The tears rolled down her face now. Unrestrained, more happiness than anything else. Except for Jenny, who sat nervous and tense throughout the meal, head in her plate, it had been easy, relaxed, very pleasant. Sophie Warren, shit what a name, had been a surprise, gay and a little tipsy, toward the end. Bill had eventually relaxed too, and they had a good time. A good time. The real subject had never come up, but there hadn't been the tension she had feared. She hadn't realized how much she had missed adult company, wide ranging sharing of opinions, carefully, of course, but they had seemed genuinely interested in her ideas. They'd even had a glancing conversation about race.
They weren't stupid. They were open, trying to understand. Sophie particularly would watch Bill's face when Maggie talked. When he grinned at something she said, Sophie's eyes would shift to hers, and then dart back to her son. Maggie realized what it was, after a while. Love for him, unrestrained, resigned to this offensive thing, yet willing to accept, even trying hard to embrace the feeling of it. He was her son. Nothing else mattered. Maggie felt a deep respect, as she watched it. Confusion, fear, repugnance. Nothing got even close to the love. At the end of the evening, she imagined the two women joined somehow, in caring for him.
He hadn't wanted to make love tonight. He just wanted to cuddle there, a winter storm raging outside, his dad's car sitting in the driveway. She set the alarm for three, so she could get him gone before first light, back to his paper route, reality, the humdrum daily routine. She knew now how it would end. It was true, what she had told his dad. He would break her heart.
To Be Continued...