Saturday, August 23, 2014

Chapter 28

Later after supper, and after Sloan had finished his meeting with Dan and everything had calmed down for the night, Sloan and I were getting ready for bed. I asked him, "Did Dan hear anything at the market?"

He looked at me in frustration then sighed. "You really aren't going to give this up are you."

It was a statement not a question but I answered him anyway. "What's to give up? All I want is the truth. And it's a little too late for me to go back to being a stupid little know-nothing."

"Hey," he said limping over to where I stood folding back the covers. "I never thought you were stupid. Frustrating as hell. Innocent beyond good sense. Hard for me to understand ... and still are ... but never stupid. And next time I take you out, it won't be to ..."

In a flat voice I told him, "There won't be a next time."

He was quiet for a moment then he said, "I thought you said you were staying."

I reached up and kissed his cheek again to let him know by gones were by gones. "I am, my word is good. But that doesn't have anything to do with what you're talking about. I'm not going to make you or anyone else a target again."

"Teaghan," he said sighing and taking me into his arms carefully, like he used to back when we were first getting to know each other. "What happened wasn't your fault. Those guys that tried to run us down - and that won't happen again because I'll take outriders - got too full of themselves, pushed the envelope, whatever you want to call it. Not even their own are happy with them. The other men that came to the farm were probably just out more for revenge that their buddies got busted and decided to combine it with what they considered a bit of fun and getting what they thought they were entitled to faster than their bosses are giving it to them. It's not like that everywhere. It wasn't like that at the strip center was it?"

I patted his shoulder then pushed him back so I could finish what I was doing. It was also to show him I didn't need to be babied the way he had before. "There is more of it going around than you think there is. That Hattie was an exception, not the rule, as far as females go from what I saw. And she has men making the candies not women."

"How the hell ... never mind, did you peek in her back room?"

"No, that's not something I would do no matter what I was looking for. She has this young man doing the clean up. He was admiring her way with you, saying she was the best. I told him that you were better. Then I asked if she was his sister and got an earful ... how Hattie was great, how he just cleaned up the place, how Hattie was great, how there were guys in the back that made the stuff, how Hattie was great ... you get the picture."

He didn't apparently because he got stuck on something else. "What were you doing talking to a man ... I didn't see one in the place ... or was it that gorilla she had for security. Was he outside?"

I looked at him and nearly laughed but didn't. Instead I shook my head. "Don't growl. You probably saw him and did't think much of him ... he was closer to my age ... draft bait."

"Oh, a boy ... I thought you said a man." He said it with such relief all I could do was shake my head again.

"Don't start that stuff just to make it seem ... "

He wasn't listening. "What the hell Teaghan? You shouldn't have been talking to any guy ... boy or man. You were there with me."

Then I did laugh. "You remind me of Jeremiah when he would get all illogical for some reason."

Indignant he squawked, "I don't know what you are talking about."

"Yes you do, you just don't want to admit it," I said with a smile to take some of the sting out. "First you tell me that it isn't like town every where else. Then you get a little crazy because I talk to some guy for maybe sixty seconds and act like I put myself in some kind of danger. Which is it Sloan? Are guys donkey butts or are they not?"

Sloan sighed. "We're all asses to one degree or the other just like women are all bit... HEY! That's a sore spot. Watch where you're poking. You're close to proving my point by the way."

I was feeling a little charitable so I gave him the point and stopped poking at him when he was down. "Fine. If you had simply told me if Dan had heard anything neither one of us would have gotten off topic."

He grumbled but let me boss him into straddling the chair backwards so I could put some liniment on his back. He relaxed and before I had to ask again he sighed and said, "People were quiet about it but it was noticeable if you looked for it ... listened for it. There was talk about certain people not being around. Some were those guys that chased us over the county line, some were those that showed up to harass us that night. A few tried to sound Dan out but he basically just said he didn't know who all were the ones that were arrested and he wasn't about to start guessing and as for the rest of them a man was permitted to have a little too much fun on Friday nights and that the resulting hangover was between him and whoever he was having fun with."

I rolled my eyes even thought he couldn't see. "I bet that got a couple of goobers laughing."

"You know, for a woman that doesn't have that much experience you sure do have strong opinions on men."

"It doesn't have anything to do with which sex ... 'cause there's goobers of both flavors. All I have to do is read a history book - a real one and not that trash they are using at the school - and it will prove my point."

I had him get up on the bed so that he could relax more and after a moment he turned his head with a groan and asked, "God that feels good. Now tell me what you saw at the strip center that bothered you. And before you blow me off because I can see it in your face, I'll have you know I'm just as interested in the truth as you are."

After momentarily stumping me by using my words against me I told him, "You're a man and might not have noticed, especially if it has been a gradual change, but I can remember back when Hannah still worked in town and saw right off things weren't the same."

"For instance?"

"No women working in the stores. None. No females running the registers. None behind the make up counter. None handling the women's changing rooms. Not a single one. Except for that Hattie ... and even in her back room where they were making the candy it was men."

Sloan took a deep breath like men sometimes do when they get a deep thought suddenly come up in their head.

"Then there were the shoppers themselves. I didn't see any kids. And to be honest I was probably the youngest female there. I know school was in but you'd figure to see babies or kids too young to be in school ... but there wasn't a single one. Not that there were that many women shopping. Those that were there were there in clumps of at least three or four older women or they were tied to the side of a man and not saying too much."

"Women always travel in flocks. It's your nature."

"You want me to poke you again?" He mumbled something rude and racy into the pillow that I'm not repeating. I told him, "And men all have one track minds. Seriously, you didn't notice any of that?"

"Teaghan times are different. The war may be over, the pandemic too, but the aftermath is still being felt. It's dangerous out there."

"Why? Because men don't have any self control or because women cause men to lose their self control?"

Sloan opened his mouth on a joke then slowly closed it. "Damn."

"I'm not saying everyone is going all Sharia and stuff like some people did during the wars but I can see that there is a second Victorian Era developing ... or something even worse ... and things are just as hypocritical now as they were then. Women had to have escorts or they were in danger of being considered no better than they should be, getting bad reputations, and being taken advantage of and no one really caring because they thought they got what they deserved. Even the clothes the women wore and what was available for sell seemed the same ... long gypsy skirts, unfitted extra modest blouses, lots of scarves and hats to cover the hair. The colors of what was available actually reminded me of the clothes I had to wear for Mennonite school. But all of the stuff for underneath was lacy, frilly, and such ... the kind of things that men seem to like and women wear no matter how uncomfortable."

"The things I gave you are uncomfortable?"

"Stay on topic Sloan."

"It's not off topic," he said gingerly rolling over and putting my hands on his chest. "I want to know. Do you wear things just because you think I like them? Maybe because I make you?"

"You don't make me. But ... well would you wear stuff like that, made of that type of material under your clothes?"

"I'm not a woman."

"Doesn't matter."

He sighed. "Then don't wear it."

"I've gotten used to it. It just isn't always ... practical. And I'm always afraid of messing it up. And trying to make sure it doesn't show 'cause I'd die if anyone else knew I was wearing it and I am serious about that."

He started to get "the look" then grimaced. "I'm not starting something I can't finish. Just tell me what else you saw."

Trying to explain by finding just the right word I said, "I was ... superfluous."

"You were what?!" he asked with half a chuckle.

"Superfluous. Only there like an accessory but not really necessary. The only person in any of the stores that paid attention to me was that Hattie and she really didn't want to because she assumed it was a waste of time. In every store when they asked 'may I help you' they were talking to you. All of them. All I did was stand back and watch."

"You weren't shopping. Salespeople would notice that."

"No ... salespeople would try and get me interested in parting with my money ... unless it was already a proven habit that only the men are the customers and women aren't. Even the women that went around in groups had to wait for help over a man that was looking for the same service. I'm not sure people even notice what they're doing anymore because the women that had to wait didn't make any kind of comment like they once would have; like how bad the service was or about going to a different store or something like that. They just waited like they didn't think they'd get treated any differently at any place else either."

He'd closed his eyes and was very quiet, I thought he'd fallen asleep but when I went to move he grabbed my waist. "I didn't see it ... but you're right. Damn. I just assumed that because there were so fewer women since the pandemic that the imbalance in the stores was a result of that."

"Historically when there are fewer women, women actually become more powerful ... a kind of rude supply and demand issue. But I'm not seeing any powerful women ... unless that Hattie is an example of one."

Absentmindedly Sloan muttered while he fiddled around doing things he tended to do, "Forget about her. The only thing she has going for her is her assets, and I'm not talking about her bank account. She's stuck on the idea of how she perceives her business and not on making sure she still has customers. She's pricing herself out of the market. And I'm damn mad she told me she was out of lemon drops when you said there were some behind the counter. I'm gonna get you some but not from her. She can go bankrupt with my blessing. Should have told Dan to look for some at the market while he was there."

"You don't need to do that."

He tugged letting me know he wanted me to lie down beside him. "And you don't have to do half the things you do ... but you do them anyway." He was silent for a moment before saying curiously, "I wonder what you are going to look like when you start to show and if it is going to get in the way."

I never got to answer as his imagination starting getting busy.


  1. Sloan is really making me feel icky! ugh... poor Teaghan! Having to be married to such a slimy guy.

    Thanks for the MOAR!!! :)

    1. He's a man that is at a crossroads in his life. The question will be does he pick the wide and easy to travel or the narrow with lots of perils? And does he even recognize the difference between the two?

    2. yes I can see him struggling with this "crossroad", it is just how he disrespects Teaghan as a woman that makes my skin crawl. Maybe I am just not seeing her LIKING the "man handling" he is giving her. He just greatly insulted her and then started in on the sex like it (the insult) was nothing to her. Yes I know it is fiction. LOL! but when a man insults me, the last thing I would want is his hands all over me like he owned me and I had NO say about my own body.

      They just got done talking about how women were being treated and how wrong it was... yet he did the SAME thing they agreed was wrong. Doesn't matter if he is her husband or not.

      It may just be me; but it sure shows how great a writer you are !! LOL!

    3. Nah, its not just you. I don't like him either lol. I feel sorry for her having to be married to him, although when I first met my sweety I wouldn't say he was all that perfect. Sometimes it just takes time for them to figure out what they really want. Its a change that has to come from them, and its usually a woman that they care for that knocks them out of their stupid ways but not because she wants to change him, but because he realizes he wants to make her happy, and he wants her to stay. Still.. right now hes an A$$ and isn't worth being sweet to. Poor Teaghan

    4. LOL! I just love how Kathy makes me invest in her stories.... me not liking him (yet???) just shows how good she is as a writer. I want to pop him one! hahahaha! But I am glad it isn't just me!

  2. Thanks Kathy great chapter.