|The Ballad of Eggy Buckwald
Author: Kody Wright PM
After becoming a successful semi-celebrity chef, a small town geek returns home and becomes the mentor to the daughter of her tormentors. Rated T for theme. This story is completed and can be found on websites listed in bio.Rated: Fiction T - English - Chapters: 10 - Words: 49,140 - Reviews: 13 - Favs: 5 - Follows: 12 - Updated: 05-20-13 - Published: 07-02-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3038194
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
It soon became apparent to Terry that having a teenager staying in her small single bedroom apartment wouldn't be good for the long term. The small couch was too short for Jessie to sleep on and sleeping with Terry, in her bed, would be rather cumbersome. Thus, Terry packed a bag and went to stay with Jessie.
Jessie suggested she sleep in the master bedroom, an idea that Terry wasn't sure about at first but with a fresh set of sheets on the king-size bed, the teen assured Terry that her father wouldn't mind.
Sliding the closet door open the cook was rather surprised to find the space nearly empty. There was ample room for clothes and such. After unpacking, she found herself looking in the freezer at what seemed to be a rather large number of frozen prepackaged dinners. Terry made a face as she closed the door. Then moving down to the refrigerator, to the chef's estimate was far worse than the freezer…No fresh vegetables or fruit. Cold cuts, old milk and beer cans lined the bottom shelf. She rolled her eyes as she shut the door.
Jessie popped into the kitchen while holding her house key out, "We can make you one."
Terry looked at the teen and nodded, "Could use a key. You and I young lady, are going grocery shopping."
"Dad said he bought a bunch of TV dinners," she replied.
Terry snatched a dinner from the freezer, holding it up, "Do you really want to eat this?"
The girl shook her head.
"Neither do I."
Exhaustion had overcome the man. Twenty-four hours with no sleep had taken its toll and he was now too tired to actually sleep. He tossed and turned in the motel bed and wondered just how his daughter was doing. His mind always went back to her, his only child alone with, what seemed like…A stranger. Finally, he sat up in bed and called the number that Terry left.
She answered, "Hello, Kyle."
"Fine, she's in bed sleeping." Terry sounded cheerful, "She had a good day today. We went store and got some groceries. Rented a movie and did some laundry. She's very inquisitive."
"Where is she sleeping?"
"She's alone in the house?"
Terry assured, "Of course not. I'm staying at your place. My place is too small. I made a spare key."
Kyle seemed confused, "Where are you sleeping?"
"Um, your bed."
"Well, you're not using it. I put on clean sheets and washed the ones that were on it. When was the last time you washed your sheets anyways?"
"Um..." He drew a blank, he honestly couldn't recall.
"We thought it would be better if I just stayed here with her. Besides, this way I can house-sit for ya too."
"Well, I suppose," Kyle drudgingly agreed. "You know I can't pay ya to do that."
"Did I ask for money?"
"Well, there ya go."
"Okay...So, what do you want?"
"Nothing," Terry replied.
His tone turned sarcastic, "You're doing this out of the kindness of your heart...I suppose?"
"No, I'm doing this for the sake and well being of a fifteen year old girl who should not be stranded alone for three weeks. Listen Kyle, maybe you still have some sort of an issue with me. I really don't care. But Jessie happens to be my friend...Regardless of whom she's related too. And for Jessie, I will do what needs to be done. And if it means sleeping in the bed of my old high school crush for three weeks while he is out of town, then so be it."
"Okay," Kyle nodded. "So, this isn't some sick, twisted plot to get even?"
"Even? For what? What happened nearly sixteen years ago? You're kidding?"
"Well..." Kyle suddenly felt like he was in some sort of trouble. Perhaps, never accepting responsibility for his past deed had finally caught up with him? "Well, we got ya pretty good."
Terry rolled her eyes, "Yes, congratulations. You humiliated me and embarrassed me like no tomorrow. Would like a ribbon for that?"
"No," shame could be detected in his voice, "I just wondered if you had an ulterior motive for doing this?"
She rebutted, "Ulterior motive? I didn't even know she was your daughter until I saw you. Jessie has been doing extra choirs for me and helping me around my apartment for weeks. I'm doing it for her...Not you. Please, don't flatter yourself."
"Alright, alright!" Kyle held up his hand, as if she was actually in room with him. "We got off on the wrong foot there. I'm sorry. Okay? I'm sorry. I never meet to humiliate you back in school. Just don't take it out on Jessie; she had nothing to do with it."
Terry scoffed, "I wouldn't blame Jessie for something that happened before she was even born. You know, what really amazes me, is that Jessie is actually related to you and Heather. That baffles my mind because she's nothing like the two of you."
He pointed his finger at the receiver, "First of all...Never put Heather and me in the same sentence. I'm not with that woman anymore. She walked out on me and left me to raise a little girl by myself. Second, Heather was behind the idea of throwing eggs at you. Not me! I just went along with it cause you embarrassed me."
Terry remained calm as usual, as she detected the hostility in his voice towards his ex-wife, "How did I embarrass you?"
"You wrote all those stupid love letters that you gave to Heather to read aloud to my friends."
Terry corrected, "First, those 'stupid love letters' were my private journal that your lovely ex-wife stole out of my bag and purposely read to your friends to embarrass you and me both. I never gave them to her nor asked her to read them. She told me it fell out of my bag and she was 'so touched' by my letters that she thought I should go to the prom with you. Get it now? She used my personal diary to set you up to throw raw eggs at me."
He conceded, "Oh. I didn't know that."
She acquiesced, "I figured as much, or else she would have looked bad if she told you that she stole it from me and it was a private diary and that I had no intension of showing anyone. How would you feel if someone took your most personal, intimate thoughts and feelings and made a mockery out of it?"
"Not very good," he admitted, "then again she kind of did that to me too."
"Considering your reaction to me coming back to town, I would say she did a number on ya."
He rubbed his temple, "Yeah, okay. You're right. Let's start over, okay? I'm glad to see you're back in town and I want to say, I'm sorry for what I did to you when we were kids. Are we even now?"
Terry assured, "Kyle, I forgave you and went on a long time ago. There is no 'even' okay? I accept your apology. All right? Now you sound really tired and to be honest you are not making much sense right now. So, why don't go to sleep? You can call and speak to Jessie anytime tomorrow, all right?"
"Yeah, all right." He let out a sigh, "Thanks."
"You're welcome. Good night, Kyle."
"Night," he hung up the phone. Placed it on the bed stand and settled back down. He wondered why she had come back to town and what she had been doing all these years. He found himself thinking just as much about Terry as Jessie until slumber finally took his worries away for the evening.
One Week Later
Terry was amazed just how fast three weeks had gone. Soon Kyle would be returning home. She enjoyed the time she spent with Jessie and the evening talks with Kyle on the phone. As the days went by the talks became more and more intimate.
By the end of the tenure, Kyle had found himself calling not to only speak to Jessie but also to Terry. Her charm and wit made him grin from ear to ear, found himself laughing aloud at the remarks she would state about any conversational subject. Pleased to learn she was a professional chef and that Jessie was now taking cooking lessons, the man looked forward to returning home, as Terry promised Jessie would cook him a welcome home dinner.
As Terry and Jessie worked in the kitchen peeling potatoes, the teen had an urgent question to ask, "Terry?"
She became meek, "Would it be okay if I called you 'Mom?'"
Pausing for a moment in thought Terry replied, "Tell you what, if it's okay with your father then it's okay with me."
"Okay," the teen agreed, though deep down inside she wasn't sure if her father would go along with the request. Her mind schemed for an alternate plan. Perhaps, she could slip the subject into a conversation or maybe ask him when he wasn't really paying attention to her. She wasn't sure just how she would do it, but one thing she was determined to have Terry as her mom.
They heard the front door open and close with a thud, Terry looked at the teen, "Bet that's your dad."
"Probably," she agreed.
Terry quickly dried her hands, she seemed more eager to see him than before, "Well come on," she waved for the teen to follow.
They walked into the hall and spotted Kyle still standing in the foyer, reading the pile of mail that Terry collected from the box.
"Bills, bills and more freaking bills," he muttered to himself, "never seem to get ahead."
With a warm smile Terry approached, "Welcome home, Kyle. We missed you." She stopped just shy of embracing him.
He threw the letters back down on the side table. He looked tired from the drive, his beard unkempt with the smell of coffee on his cloths. His soft blue eyes settled on the pair, a smile crept across his face, Jessie looked well cared for and Terry seemed to beam.
Jessie didn't look all that enthused to see him in return, for that matter she never looked enthused to see him.
"Thanks," he reached over, gently touching Terry on the shoulder. "Glad to be back too."
The touch was rather awkward, not quiet like giving a friend an encouraging gesture, more of an absence in knowledge of just what type of gesture to give the woman.
Jessie stood arms crossed behind Terry, avoiding making eye contact with him, "Glad you're home, Dad."
"Really?" he asked.
Terry looked at the pair, her instinct told her they seemed to be uneasy with one another, she insisted, "Of course she is, she's working hard to make you a very nice dinner. We both are."
"Mmm, what are we having? I'm starved."
"Steak, mashed potatoes and fresh salad." Terry tilted her head to the side, "I know how construction workers like their meat and potatoes."
"So true," he added, "sounds good. I'll get cleaned up before dinner."
Terry grinned, "Okay...We'll finish up while you're in the shower." She reached for his duffle bag, "Dirty laundry?"
Terry handed the bag to Jessie, "Could you take this to the laundry room for your father?"
"I guess," the teen grabbed the bag and headed off as if the chore was a burden.
Terry chuckled as she watched her leave, "Kids."
Kyle nodded, "Yeah, wait till she actually has to get a real job and has to work for a living."
She grinned, "Better yet...I'll send her to culinary school and she can get a job working in a restaurant for sixty to seventy hours a week. Love to see her doing dishes."
He puffed, "And complained about it the entire time?" kicking off his work boots, "Heck, I would love to see her do dishes home."
Terry shrugged, "She does dishes here."
"She never washed a dish in her life."
"She washes them for me," Terry countered.
Dumbfounded his mouth gaped, "How did you get her to do that? Did you bribe her or something?"
"Kind of...I told her I would give her an allowance if she did chores around the house."
"Um...How much? I can't give her an allowance."
"I pay her ten dollars a week to do chores around the house here. Extra to do chores at my apartment. It's a deal between her and me. Okay? You don't have to pay her anything."
He certainly didn't like feeling indebted. And he wasn't sure if the allowance was such and good idea since it would come from someone other than himself.
Kyle cautioned, "Are sure that's such a good idea?"
She nodded, "You know you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Positive reinforcement. It's not much money but enough for her to actually feel like she earned it, and is willing to work to get more."
"She knows it's coming from you and not me, right?"
"She knows," Terry assured, "Now go get cleaned up." She reached around his middle with one arm giving him a haphazard embrace. "I'll finish dinner."
Jessie crept down the hall. She peeked into the kitchen to assure Terry was working on the dinner and was too busy to bother. She then slowly snuck back towards the bathroom door. Listening she could hear the shower running.
"Dad?" she kept her voice lower than normal. She got no reply. Slowly she opened the door. Just enough to stick her head through, "Dad?"
"What? I'm in the shower."
"I was wondering. Would it be okay if Terry was my mom?"
"What you say? I can't hear you over the water. Speak up!"
She didn't speak up enough, "Can I call Terry 'mom?'"
"I still can't hear you."
"Can Terry be my mom?" she spoke louder this time but still not loud enough.
Kyle only caught part of the sentence, "Terry says dinner's on?"
"Can Terry be my mom?" she asked again.
"Can you go with Terry to the mall? Yeah, whatever."
It wasn't a proper response but it was close enough for the teen, "Thanks dad!" She spoke up loud and clear, and then promptly closed the door with the assumption that she now had permission to adopt Terry as her mom.
It suddenly struck the teen that she didn't actually possess permission but was determined regardless. Upon seeing Terry, she knew she couldn't call her "mom" in front of her father. So, she would have to wait until her father was not around.
Terry looked up from her work, "Where have you been young lady? I thought you abandoned me to finish this by myself."
Happily, she grinned, "No, I needed to do something personal." Then taking a seat she picked up a tomato for the salad. She was about to slice the fruit.
"Did you wash your hands?" Terry interrupted.
Terry warned, "Before you pick up food to prepare, you need to wash your hands. Especially if you were doing something 'personal.'" Terry assumed the girl had simply gone to the bathroom to relive herself.
"Oh, sorry," she quickly complied.
They could hear the father through the wall of the home, "I'm in the shower. Who's playing with the water?"
The girl shouted back, "Sorry Dad," she then muttered, "next time I'll flush the toilet on ya." She took her seat and resumed her task.
Terry chuckled to herself, "Yes, the joy of a two bathroom house."
Out of curiosity, Jessie wanted to know more about her father's relationship with Terry, "You had a crush on my dad in high school?"
Terry corrected, "Actually I had a crush on your father in the sixth grade. He was so cute. Cutest boy in the whole school. And back then, he was so nice to me too. We use to share our pencils and pens. At recess he would always pick me for his team...Though, I wasn't any good at sports. I was always the second to last picked. I remember he made me a birthday card with crayons and marker. We had many classes together. We would work together during art class. He used to tell me jokes and he would let me listen to his music."
"Really? My dad did all that? Gee, he's never that sweet."
"Oh, before he knew your mother he was a doll."
"So, what happened? How come you grew apart?" asked the girl.
"I guess we started to grow apart in junior high. By high school, it was all over. He forgot I even existed. He was popular and I certainly wasn't. Your mother was the cheer captain and the hottest girl in school. She had a number of guys drooling over her. And it was customary for the popular kids to pick-on the unpopular kids and needless to say...I got picked-on a lot."
"Really, what did they do to you?"
Carefully she decided what to disclose to the teen, "Well, they used to call me names. First, no one could pronounce my last properly. I was 'Buckwald' to everyone. I had raw eggs thrown at me on prom night."
"Gawd, that's horrible!"
"I was 'Eggy Buckwald' after that night."
"What else did my father do to you?"
"Your father didn't do too much. Mostly, he just ignored me. Your mother and her friend, Nadine on the other hand…"
"Nadine Rommie? Uncle Paul's wife?" asked Jessie.
Terry's mouth dropped, "Nadine Peters married Paul Rommie? Your father's best friend and jock of the year?"
She nodded, "Uncle Paul and Aunt Nadine. Dad works for their company?"
Terry rolled her eyes, "Dear god, Nadine? Gawd she hated me. She runs a construction company? She was going to be a model or something."
"Nadine doesn't model. She works with Paul. Aunt Nadine hates you?" her face wretched with worry.
"She was your mother's best friend, followed her everywhere. Did whatever Heather told her to do, they were like twins."
Jessie replied, "Really? Cause Aunt Nadine hates my mother now. She blames her for walking out on Dad and me. Calls her 'The Slut.'"
"Really?" Terry was about to burst with laughter. "Nadine and Heather had a falling out?" She muttered to herself, "Cool. Maybe Nadine and I have something in common now. We both hate your mother."
"Birth mother," Jessie corrected, "I don't consider her my mother. She didn't want me, so I don't want her."
The admission took Terry by surprise. She paused a moment realizing just how sad the situation was for Jessie.
"I'm sorry, Jessie. You shouldn't have to feel that way about your own mother," Terry stated.
"No skin off my back," Jessie tried to suppress the hurt. For it did hurt her, feeling neglected and unwanted by the fact that her mother simply left.
"I disagree," Terry, told her, "You can't fool me. I've been there too. My mother rejected me as well. And so did my father...Remember? I was a foster child with no one. You're lucky, you have your dad and you have an aunt and uncle as well. Be grateful for that."
Jessie looked up from her work, "I am," she admitted, "I'm also grateful I got you too."
Terry grinned, "And I'm grateful I got you."
Nadine sat cross-legged on the oversize plush gray chair. She sipped from her mug as she read over the brochure she grasped in her hand. A sudden thought crossed her mind. Pausing, she looked up and hollered through the house for Paul.
His voice echoed back, "What?"
"What do you think about inviting Terry to go camping with us?"
"I think we should invite Terry Buckwald to go camping with us this year."
He marched into the living room beer in hand, he simply asked, "Why?"
"Because Kyle seems to like to like her and Jessie seems to really like her and I think we should make an effort to get to know her."
"Why?" his face contorted in disgust.
"Cause if she is out to hurt them, don't you think we should figure that out? We could be wrong, Terry Buckwald maybe just a very nice person. But we should at least make an effort to figure her out."
He waved his hand nonchalantly, "Like spy on her?"
"No," Nadine rebutted, "just find out if she's is well meaning or if she's a vindictive witch. As Jessie's godparents we need to protect her if, her father can't. And we did get her bad in school, she might have a motive or she may not. But we should at least get to know her to figure that out."
He insisted, "Yup, spy on her. Bring her on the camping trip and really drill her."
"More like use it as a means to get to know her and her intensions." Nadine really didn't like sounding like some sort of spy. She continued, "Kyle and Jessie always come. I know Jessie would want her to go. Kyle has been calling her every single night now. Let's ask her to come and figure out what she is up to...If anything."
Paul approved, "Good, I'll bring my gun and we can bring her on a skeet shoot. That outta give her the message."
"What message is that?" Nadine huffed.
"Mess with Jessie and deal with us," Paul declared.
"What are you gonna do? Shoot her?"
"If she screws with Jessie, I'm sure it can look like an accident."
Nadine rolled her eyes, "If she screws with Jessie we will just expose her."
He shrugged, "Whatever. You call Kyle and ask him if he will invite her on their next 'talk.'"
"Okay," Nadine retrieved her cell phone, "better yet, I'll text him."
"Why not just talk to him?"
"Hey, we just got unlimited texting and by god were gonna use it. Last month we only used it three times. I paid good money to upgrade this."
Paul rolled his eyes, "Texting is for teenagers. Jeepers! Should have stuck with the plan we had, it was cheaper."
"You were using too many minutes. That's why I had to upgrade. Now use the text and picture messaging once in a while."
Paul stood his ground "Hey, real men don't text! We don't wear pink and we don't text. Sending a picture is okay. But not texting. That's a chick thing."
She sent the message and looked up at her husband, "Fine, I'll add Jessie to the plan and we can text all day long."
Paul huffed. "I'm not putting a fifteen year old teenage girl on my plan. It's a business plan. That's the only reason Kyle is on it. If she wants a phone, Kyle can get it for her."
"Fine," she rolled her eyes.
He stood before the mirror with shaving cream covering his face. Wrapping in nothing but a towel, Kyle grasped the razor and was about to start the ritual when his cell phone beeped. He picked up the phone and looked at it.
"Text message from Nadine," he pressed a button and read the message aloud. "Ask Terry if she wants to go camping with us." He paused in thought, "Wow, never thought they would want her to come with us. Jessie would love it."
He walked out of the bathroom, still wrapped in just a towel and headed towards the kitchen. He could smell the dinner as it near completion. The scent was heavenly.
She looked up from her task. Her eyes landed on his bare chest, richly defined muscles from years of heavy lifting, nicely tanned skin and a thick layer of hair. Her eyes slowly traveled up to his white covered face. His brown hair slicked back. She blinked at him trying not to seem startled.
"You wanna go camping with us in a few weeks?"
"Sure," she didn't really understand the question. The words Kyle spoke seem to spew before her in an incomprehensible way. She gazed at his body with a sudden feeling of weightlessness over taking her. She froze like a deer in a set of headlights.
"Great, I'll let Paul and Nadine know."
"Sure," was all she got out.
He turned and left back towards the bathroom.
Her eyes followed him, blinking she slowly came out of the trance, she muttered under her breath, "Camping with Paul and Nadine? Oh crap...What did I just do?"
Jessie spoke from setting the table, "Camping is gonna be so cool this year." She waved a butter knife towards Terry. "Can't wait till you put the Paul 'The Grill Master' under the table. The man thinks nobody is a better cook than he is. Can't wait till you put him in his place."
Terry's voice crackled with uncertainty, "Great."
"This is gonna be so much fun, Mom. You'll love it. You can stay with me and dad in our tent."
"Oh, yeah! We really rough it camping."
"Rough it?" she gulped. "Sleeping in a tent, no electricity, no running water and no beachside pool?"
Excited Jessie shook her head, "Nope. None of that. We do sleep on air mattresses though. Dad has a big one. I know! Dad can sleep on my air mattress and we can share the big one."
In a monotone voice, "Oh, that sounds like so much fun."
"You'll love it! We go bike riding, fishing and the grown ups do skeet shooting too."
"Skeet shooting?" A slight grin crept across Terry's face. Being a chef who also cooks wild game, she found she needed to hunt to get the game to prepare. Fell in love with sport of skeet shooting and was rather active in the women's league.
Jessie waved her hand, "See, you're already having fun."
Reality then took hold of Terry. Camping was something she had never actually done before. Sure, she went on vacation with her foster family and always stayed in a cheap motel.
As a professional, she had traveled extensively through out the world and stayed in some of the finest hotels in existence. Never had she slept in a tent, in a sleeping bag, in the middle of the bug-infested woods. And she wasn't sure if she would really enjoy it as much as Jessie claimed she would.
"To be honest with you, Jessie, I never went camping before. Though, it sounds like a lot of fun. Um...What do I need to bring with me?"
"You never went camping before?"
Terry shook her head.
"Well, maybe we can go to the outdoors store and get you some supplies?"
"I'll take you shopping with me," Terry suggested.
The teen then asked, "Can we go to the mall too?"
"Great!" Jessie already had compiled a list of stores to visit with her new mom at the mall. She then snuck in the next question.
"Can I get a cell phone too?"
"Um," Terry wasn't sure what to say. "How about your father and I talk that over?"
Her face soured, "He always says 'no.'"
Terry hated the idea of Jessie not having access to a phone in her own home. But she didn't wish to go against Kyle's wishes.
She assured her, "I will talk it over with your father. I do think you should have one for emergencies."
Suddenly there was a slight ray of hope in the dark tunnel to gain a cell phone for the teen, she grinned, "Really? That would be so cool."
Terry held up her finger in caution, "No guarantees though."
Jessie crossed her fingers, "Here's hoping!"
Terry nodded with uncertainty, not only about the cell phone but also about the trip.
"Here's hoping," she agreed.