The Freshman Ch. 18bycaligula97236©
Chapter 18 - Jason's Ghosts
There was no question that Cecilia needed to talk to Jason about Heather Jones. However, that would not be until she had some time alone with him, which wouldn't be until after Thanksgiving dinner at the earliest. Thanksgiving dinner was the next hurdle everyone had to get past.
Cecilia prepared herself psychologically to face the upcoming ordeal. She no longer was concerned about another fight with Jason's father. She knew that at least it was possible to talk to him in a civilized manner, presumably as long as the topics of Mega-Town Associates and Vladim Dukov were kept out of the conversation. Instead, she would have to worry about Mrs. Schmidt, and possibly Cassie. Cecilia's nemesis during the dinner would not be Jason's father, but Jason's mother.
Having failed to get that nasty little Dominican expelled from the house, Mrs. Schmidt spent the day thinking about the various slights and embarrassing questions she could pose to make her unwelcome guest as uncomfortable as possible. She would show her, once and for all, that she was where she did not belong. Jason knew his mother well enough to know what was coming, and knew his girlfriend enough to know what was coming. He would be trapped, sitting helplessly at the table, while the two women went to war. Cecila also knew what was coming, but refused to let him talk about it.
"Jason, just try studyin'. We got next week to think about and we're both gonna be busy, so worry about that instead of some stupid turkey dinner."
Mr. Schmidt anticipated the dinner with glee. His cynicism and secret contempt for everyone in his life came out full force in his mind as he looked forward having a meal with a bunch of people whom he couldn't stand and watching them fight. This was going to be good, watching the two bitches go at it while the wimp sat and cringed. He encouraged Cassie to invite her boyfriend...might as well get those two losers in on the action as well. And the Old Lady...she always liked the wimp...well, maybe she'd feel a bit differently after dinner.
A few minutes later Cassie and her boyfriend returned to the house with Jason's grandmother. She seemed nice enough, quietly shaking Cecilia's hand while Jason introduced her. She made a couple of pleasant comments about how well Jason was doing in college and that she hoped Cecilia felt at home in the Schmidts' house. Cecilia realized the older woman was actually being sincere; apparently she was too naïve to understand what was happening.
The two Salvadoran maids were ready to serve the dinner, which had been special-ordered by Mrs. Schmidt. The turkey, as expected, was impressive and perfectly cooked. Cecilia looked longingly at the meal and planned to eat to her heart's content. Jason sat quietly with sweat running down his face while his sister and her boyfriend glanced at Cecilia with blatant curiosity. Mr. Schmidt gave a brief prayer and then directed the two maids to cut up and serve the meal.
The opening salvo from Mrs. Schmidt came as soon as Cecilia's plate was set in front of her. In a tone of sweet sarcasm she asked:
"I suppose a nice turkey dinner is something new to you, so I hope you enjoy. Have you ever seen turkey before?"
"Yes Mrs. Schmidt. We used to go over to the YMCA and have turkey roll for Thanksgiving, along with all the homeless people. Mmm... I'll tell you, there ain't nothin' as good as hot turkey roll when you're starvin', 'cause, as you know, we don't have no Christmas dinners, 'cause we ain't got no supermarkets in New Jersey."
Mr. Schmidt smiled to himself while Cassie was trying to figure out if Cecilia was being serious. Cecilia stared right at Mrs. Schmidt, ready to fight. Her expression clearly stated: "There's a lot more where that came from, rich-bitch, so you wanna hear it?" Jason began sweating all that much more.
Mrs. Schmidt's eyes filled up with pure loathing. She glanced furiously at her husband, who just sat there with a smug look on his face. So that's it, she thought to herself, no support, huh? Fine, I'll take her on myself if you're not going to help me out. She stood up.
"Just who the hell do you think you are? You don't talk like that to me! This is my house and you'll start showing me some respect, young lady!"
"Then don't be sayin' stupid shit to piss me off, Mrs. Schmidt! Like I ain't seen turkey before..."
Mrs. Schmidt tightened her lips and slammed her fork down on the table. Suddenly Jason stood up.
"Mom! Let it go! Just let it go! Can't you say something, just once, without insulting someone?"
Mrs. Schmidt stared at Jason, shocked at his sudden display of temper. She calmed down slightly and reluctantly sat down, disconcerted by the fact Jason was willing to stand up to her over Cecilia. She still planned to attack her son's guest, but with no support from her husband and facing the defiance of her son, she would have to think much harder about what she wanted to say and how she wanted to say it.
Cecilia was grateful that Jason was willing to stand up to his mother, but at the same time felt guilty. This was not his fight, it was hers, and she really did not want him to confront his parents.
Mrs. Schmidt changed tactics, making some disparaging comments about the maids and then slipping a dig at Mr. Schmidt by criticizing men who slept with the hired help. Then there were some more digs at Cecilia, and finally additional questions about her family and background. The questions were not so much out of curiosity as intended to force the guest to discuss the more unsavory details of her life before college.
At that moment something rather strange happened inside Cecilia. A transformation took place within her as she faced her hostile audience. She had never wanted to talk about her past before, but suddenly the deep-seated fear she had about her prior life being exposed evaporated. This woman wants to know who I am. Fine, I'll let her know. I'll give her the facts, and then she's the one who'll have to deal with 'em.
Cecilia spent the rest of the dinner talking about her life. She left out very little, talking at length and in detail about the conditions at the housing project, her own struggles in school, her brothers' gang activities and arrests, her mother's boyfriends, her irresponsible cousin, and her neglected nephew. She talked about used needles and empty spray-paint cans littering the stairwells of her building, open drug dealing on the streets, and deadly turf fights between rival gang members who were not any older than Cassie.
She went on, describing the formidable struggle she endured to get her high school diploma and her naps in the public library just to be somewhere she didn't have to listen to her mother's television. Finally she described her escape and her personal indebtedness to Dr. Ruth Burnside. As she thought about all the barriers she had to overcome, she became rather proud of her accomplishments so far. She had absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Nothing at all.
The dinner ended with Mrs. Schmidt not saying anything. She hated Cecilia more than ever, but that no longer mattered. As badly as she may have wanted to get rid of her, it simply wasn't going to happen. The girl had planted herself in her son's life, was quite capable of defending herself, and obviously wasn't going anywhere.
Mr. Schmidt did not like Cecilia either, but knew that he had to take her seriously and grudgingly respect her. The respect he had for her was conditional and somewhat hostile, similar to the respect he might have for a talented and successful business rival. However, considering the man's overall contempt for humanity in general and for women in particular, for him the opinion he had of Cecilia was comparatively positive.
Jason's grandmother finished the meal actually liking Cecilia. She had truly enjoyed watching the dinner guest match wits and temper against her son's odious, snobbish wife. Jason's girlfriend endured a battle she had not picked, but came out the winner. It was refreshing to see a girl with so much spunk and combativeness in her, one who was intelligent, worked hard, and could hold up in a good fight. Yes, she was just what Jason needed.
Later that night the family dispersed, leaving the huge empty house to Jason and Cecilia. Mr. Schmidt took off in his BMW to get together and drink with some business partners, Mrs. Schmidt left to hang out with some of her friends and relay the horror of what happened at the table over Thanksgiving Dinner, and Cassie left with her boyfriend to take her grandmother back home.
With the family members gone, Jason decided to take advantage of their absence to go skinny-dipping in the family pool. He invited Cecilia to join him, which she did with some reservations. She barely knew how to swim and never had gone into a swimming pool without a swimsuit. It was strange to see the empty pool, its smooth clean water beckoning from under the cavernous tent. The pool itself was quite large, almost as big as the crowded public swimming pool she visited occasionally while growing up. It felt very weird to be alone in such a large pool, and even stranger not to be wearing a swimsuit.
Cecilia admired Jason's bare body as he stood on the diving board. Yes, he did indeed make a lovely sight, his athletic body strangely lit by the pool lights and reflected on the water. Cecilia thought that it was only proper that such a body always remain uncovered. It was really too bad Jason couldn't always be like this...
As her boyfriend gracefully dove into the deep end, Cecilia waded out into shallow end. She went in far enough to allow the water to come up to her shoulders. She began enjoying herself...yes it really did feel better not to have to wear a swimsuit. Now she was quite glad to have forgotten to bring the garment because it had forced her to step away from her inhibitions. She enjoyed the feeling of the smooth cool water flowing over her body as she waded around and lightly splashed her arms in the water.
Noticing her reluctance to take her feet off the bottom of the pool, Jason stepped out and got a training board Cassie had used years before when learning how to swim. He handed the board to Cecilia and gently coaxed her to take her feet off the floor. She followed his lead, learning how to kick as he guided her around the shallow end of the pool by pulling on the board. At first she splashed very clumsily, but within a few minutes she had the hang of it.
A very strange sensation swept over Cecilia as her boyfriend gave her the impromptu swimming lesson. She felt almost like a child, splashing naked in the water and dependent on him for guidance and safety. He continued to gently guide her around as she improved the control over her legs. Eventually she splashed somewhat less and was able to propel herself forward. The test of the evening came when Jason suggested she flutter-kick herself to the deep end and back again, holding onto the board. Cecilia was terrified at the thought of not having the bottom of the pool close to her feet, but she trusted Jason enough to follow his suggestion. He swam alongside her as she slowly and nervously propelled herself across the pool. She gained some confidence as she made her way back to the shallow end, knowing he was there to rescue her if anything went wrong.
Cecilia then sat on the edge of the pool resting, as she watched Jason dive a couple more times. From the diving board he admired her bare figure as she sat dipping her feet in the water. She really was quite pretty, he thought to himself. He swam up to her and began kissing the insides of her thighs. She reacted in her usual manner, the stimulation making her lie back and spread her legs, her uncovered vagina begging him to bring pleasure to it with his mouth.
At first the only thing Jason could taste was the chlorine, but as she became more excited the familiar salty flavor of her body filled his mouth. She climaxed, and then slid into the water to join him. For a very long time they embraced and kissed. He stiffened and she became aroused again. They were just about to...when she remembered:
"Jason, you don't have a condom on."
"And you don't have one with you either?"
He shook his head. She backed away.
"I can't. I can't risk it."
"Please...it's almost the end of your month...Can't we...?
"I can't, Jason. I'm not gonna risk it. I'm not gonna go through that again..."
"Go through what again?"
Cecilia's eyes filled with apprehension, as though she had just told him a dark secret she had not wanted him to know. She hesitated, then pushed him to the edge of the pool.
"Get up. Sit up on the edge."
When he obeyed, she pushed his thighs apart and began licking his penis. She gently encircled him with her lips and fingers while stimulated the tip with her tongue. It felt very good, but Jason knew that she did not much care for performing oral sex on a guy. What she was doing was changing the subject and diverting his attention from his last question.
He quickly came, squirting semen into her mouth and onto the lower part of her face. She continued licking the tip of his penis, but he could tell she was disgusted by what she was doing. Still, it felt very good and relieved him tremendously. He could tell she was relieved as well, having safely disposed of his dangerous erection.
She dipped her face into the water to rinse off and pulled him back into the pool. For a very long time the couple held onto each other, silently standing under the quiet tent as the pool lights gently reflected the moving water off the canopy above their heads. Cecilia placed her head against his chest, hugged him hard, and said nothing more.
The following day Mr. Schmidt broke the news that he would not be available to take Jason and Cecilia back to Chicago until Saturday at the earliest. He justified the delay by claiming he had critical projects to take care of at work.
That statement was only partially true. He did have work to take care of, but certainly nothing that couldn't wait until the following week. The truth was that he wanted to leave Cecilia in the house another day with the hope an open fight would break out between her and his wife. He wanted to give the two women every opportunity to make each other as miserable as possible.
He also loved the idea of forcing his wife to deal with a rival who was capable of matching her jibes and hidden insults with sarcasm and jibes of her own. Cecilia never directly insulted Mrs. Schmidt nor said anything that could be construed as a direct insult, but her sarcastic responses to the older woman's constant comments drove her into despair. By the third day Mrs. Schmidt's insults were becoming more open, but Cecilia kept her cool and calmly continued answering by mocking her rival's most outrageous statements with irony. Sometimes she delighted in telling a short story or antidote that sounded straightforward enough, until the very end when she added a sarcastic conclusion.
Another detail that drove Mrs. Schmidt to despair was the girl's bad grammar. Cecilia picked up on that and, whenever she was around Jason's mother, purposely spoke worse than normal. She even started highlighting her accent and inserting a few Spanish words into her speech, especially whenever the Tennis Queen made her disparaging comments about the maids or about Hispanics in general.
Friday morning Mrs. Schmidt simply gave up, fleeing to her country club to get away from the odious trespasser who had so thoroughly contaminated her house. She couldn't handle dealing with the girl's hostile sarcastic behavior, listening to her grating accent, and hearing her constant use of "ain't". She would have the place fumigated and cleaned as soon as that Sanchez girl was gone. Undoubtedly she was unclean and probably had brought disease into the house. Yes, the place needed a good cleaning once that horrible deviant was taken out.
As soon as Jason's mother left, Cecilia decided to spend the day finishing up a term paper and reviewing for finals, which were just three weeks away. Obviously Jason would have to study as well. However, there was a surprise coming to the young couple, a phone call from Jason's grandmother telling him that she had sent a friend to pick them up to have lunch with her.
Shortly afterwards a jovial man about 65 years old came by and rang the doorbell. He was driving an old Chevy, just like the one Cecilia's mother had but in much better condition. The car either had been restored or had been properly taken care of, and it was interesting to see what her own family's car would have looked like when it was new.
Jason invited his grandmother's friend to come in, but he refused. Instead, he said something Cecilia found very interesting.
"You really think I'd want to go in there? Come-on, now. Your grandma says I'm crazy, but I'm not that crazy. Now, let's get you two out of here."
A few minutes later they were speeding out of the neighborhood and onto a public road. Cecilia breathed a huge sigh of relief at the thought of getting out of that oppressive place for a few hours and seeing something normal. Jason, too, for the first time in his life, also felt relieved to be getting out of his parents' house. He felt quite upbeat, but at first couldn't understand why.
The trip took them through a couple of small rural towns to a condominium development. It was 20 minutes and a world away from the area they had left, condos occupied by older and middle-aged residents. The units were nice and kept up, but there was nothing ostentatious about them.
As soon as they entered her condominium, the reason for the invitation from Jason's grandmother became clear. She was interested in getting to know Cecilia better and that interest was genuine. She was fascinated by the young woman who had matched wits with her obnoxious daughter-in-law the day before. Cecilia knew right away that, with Jason's grandmother, she could let down her guard and enjoy a normal conversation.
Two generations separated the two couples at the table, but they were able to converse freely and casually. There was talk about how their university had changed over the years, some talk about cars, and finally some talk about the Schmidts' neighborhood. Jason and his grandmother's friend then decided to watch part of a college football game while the two women continued talking in the kitchen. With the two males now out of the room, the topic of conversation shifted to Jason's parents and the unpleasant experience at their dinner table the day before. What her hostess had to say about Jason's mother surprised Cecilia.
"You know, she wasn't always like that. She was a really nice girl when I first met her, and even when they got married. I liked her a lot. What you're seeing now, that didn't happen until later. I hate to say this, but the truth is, it was my son who ruined her."
Noting Cecilia's surprised expression, Jason's grandmother continued.
"My son...I just don't know about him. I never really figured him out, 'cause he was always so different from me and Bob (that's my late husband). I guess he's always had this...'gotta win' personality. For him it's all about competing and winning. There isn't anything else. He can't be happy unless he's on top, and it's been that way ever since he was little. He's always had to be Mr. Big Shot...you know...never happy unless he was stomping on someone else. Everyone's afraid of him, and that's what he likes, everybody to be afraid of him. And my daughter-in-law became that way too. I guess she had to, if she wanted to keep her sanity around him. That part I can understand, but still, it was kind of sad to see it happen. She's become so obnoxious, she's now worse than he is. I honestly can't put up with being around her anymore."