Mr. and Mrs. Carson Return

This post was originally scheduled for 11 August 2012, another of the posts intended for the long-defunct Sweet Saturday Samples bloghop. It comes from my published book Little Ragdoll, in a scene set in July 1972. It differs a bit from the published version.

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This week’s excerpt takes place the day after Justine’s arrival in Hudson Falls. Ricky’s parents are back from their week-long vacation in the Hamptons, and are scandalized at what’s happened in their absence. They’ve arrived with a bunch of mail that came for Ricky and the news that Mrs. Troy is pressing charges against Seth for his breaking and entering and attempted assault of Adicia’s brother Tommy. Then they start running their mouths against Adicia, her family, and her marriage to their son, not expecting anyone will talk back to them.

Justine’s second line was taken from the Laurel and Hardy short Tit for Tat (1934), one of the ones I practically know by heart. Stan and Ollie are having a store war with their neighbor and enemy Mr. Hall, and when a cop finally intervenes, the boys tell him Mr. Hall started it by slandering Ollie’s character and jilting his good name.

***

“My sister is a great person,” Justine says. “How dare you slander her character and jilt her good name!  And I were you, Mrs. Carson, I wouldn’t be the first to throw stones at anyone.  Just lookit that dumb hat you’re wearing.  Who mixes up tiny lightbulbs, Russian nesting dolls, parrot feathers, and jumping jacks all on the same hat?”

“Shut up, you insolent child.  Apparently no one ever taught you not to talk back to your elders or betters.”

“If you talk to either my wife or my sister-in-law so disrespectfully again, I’m going to throw you out of our house right away,” Ricky says. “In fact, I’ve half a mind to throw both of you out right now.  Obviously you can’t say anything nice or constructive.”

“Why are you even here?” Adicia asks. “This is our home.  We don’t want you in it.  Your son made a choice to marry me, and he’s been a very good husband to me in the six days we’ve been married.  He’s done more to take care of me and protect me than a lot of husbands do in six years of marriage.”

Mr. Carson grabs Adicia’s hand and examines her rings. “Sapphire and diamonds for an engagement ring, with a white gold band, and gold and silver with diamonds for a wedding ring.  I’m scandalized you spent so much money on wedding jewelry for this whore, Warrick.  Knowing girls of her ilk, she’ll probably lose both, or damage them beyond repair.  Fine jewelry wasn’t meant for common street girls.  It was designed only to grace the perfect hands of upper-class ladies.”

Mrs. Carson bursts out laughing. “What kind of childish wedding ring is that?  Three little flowers with diamonds in the center?  How old are you, little girl, twelve?  You certainly don’t look eighteen.”

“You’re living in a dreamworld if you think you’re going to stay married to Warrick and live happily ever after.  He’s coming with us, back to the city, and is going to be re-enrolled at Columbia.  If this house is already paid for in full, you and that urchin sister of yours can have fun making it into a pigsty by yourselves.  Thank God my son didn’t consummate the marriage yet, since it would ruin his good name if he were tied to a street girl forever by a child.  Warrick, we’re going to wait for you to pack up your things and join us.  You’re going to leave these two ragamuffins behind and forget this past week ever happened.  Miss Troy, I hope you had your fun pretending to be married and getting a taste of the moneyed world, a world you don’t deserve, while it lasted.”

“Where did you buy the wedding ring?” Mrs. Carson is still examining it. “Certainly not at a proper store like DeBeers, where they sell only quality rings.”

“Mother, please take your hands off my wife,” Ricky orders. “And they’re called plumeria flowers, from Hawaii.  Adicia wanted this ring more than any other.  It’s what made her happy.  A plain gold band wouldn’t reflect her specialness.  Her wedding ring is cute and not like every other ring.”

“We got it at Macy’s,” Adicia says in a small voice.

“Why are you being so mean to my sister?” Justine demands. “She never did anything bad to you.  She’s the best big sister I ever coulda asked for.  Adicia would give me the moon if I asked for it, ‘cause that’s the kinda big sister she is.  And Ricky’s the best brother-in-law ever.”

“Oh, nonsense.  Poor trash like you don’t even have feelings.  You’re just like rats or fleas.  Warrick, I won’t ask again for you to collect your things and come with us.  Leave the house and everything else to the ragged poor girls.”

“You wouldn’t dare choose Miss Troy and her pathetic sister over your own parents, the family wealth, and your reputation, would you?”

“Please show my wife the proper respect due to her and use the correct title.  Adicia is Mrs. Carson now, no longer Miss Troy.”

The senior Mrs. Carson laughs. “Do you really think a slum-dwelling piece of trash and street whore like that deserves or knows what to do with the title Mrs. Warrick Grover Carson?”

Ricky goes over to the door, pulls it open, and points outside. “Get out of my house.  I’m done with yous guys forever.  Never try to contact me again.  You oughta be ashamed of yourselves for the cruel, appalling way you’ve spoken to my beautiful bride and her darling baby sister.  It’s nice to know you think a girl who’s been raped on two different occasions is a whore.  If Adicia and I have kids eventually, you will never know them.  Get out of our house before I call the cops.”

“You’re starting to talk like them!” Mr. Carson says in disgust. “Before we moved from Syracuse and you started hanging around with social undesirables, you never had the term ‘yous guys’ in your vocabulary!”

“Get out of my house,” Adicia orders. “Ricky is my husband now, no longer your little boy you get to boss around and control.  We’ve chosen this life for ourselves, whether you like it or not.  We don’t need your blessings or approval to continue our marriage of convenience.”

“You heard my wife,” Ricky nods. “Go back to the city and leave us alone forever.  You took a trip up here for nothing.”

“Don’t let the door hit yous on the way out!” Justine catcalls as they turn around and storm out.

Adicia goes over to the front windows to watch them getting in their extravagant luxury sports car and starting to back up out of the driveway.  She hopes they get into an accident after how they spoke to her and Justine.

Sweet Saturday Samples

The Dust It Off Bloghop post is here and the Writer’s Voice contest post is here.

This week’s excerpt for Sweet Saturday Samples continues where last week’s left off. Adicia and Justine are meeting their new neighbor Ricky when his parents, clad in ridiculous clothes, come over to chastise Ricky for talking to girls outside of their social class.

***

“Mother, these are the Troy girls, some of our new neighbors,” Ricky says, sending them an apologetic look. “They live in the Lower East Side, just a short distance from here.”

Mrs. Carson looks at the block behind them. “Ugh.  I didn’t realize we had moved so close to the ghetto.  Don’t tell me these girls are Jewish too.”

“We’re Protestants, not that it matters,” Justine says, not willing to let this strange woman’s insults stand. “And for your information, your new-fangled East Village was a part of the Lower East Side until five or so years ago.  We even useta live in its boundaries.  And why are you calling my family’s neighborhood for over a century a ghetto?  It’s come a long way since the days of overcrowding and tenements.”

Mrs. Carson looks down at Justine with disgust. “Apparently they don’t teach poor ghetto trash kids to be seen and not heard, nor do they teach you to watch your mouth around your elders and superiors.  My Warrick knows better than to talk back to his elders.  Go home to your ghetto, you pieces of trash.”

“If you wanna be so mean to us when we don’t even know yous guys, then I guess we’re not sending a welcoming gift to you,” Adicia states.

“Is that how they talk here in New York?” Mr. Carson asks. “’Yous guys’?  It sounds like something a hick from the Ozarks might say, in the same underclass league as ‘y’all’!”

Mr. Carson is wearing a red derby with a peacock feather, a mauve-colored mink coat, orange leather boots, and black pants that look as though they’re made of silk or satin.  Adicia and Justine want to burst out laughing at how ridiculously both of Ricky’s parents are dressed.

“They seem like swell girls,” Ricky says. “Is it okay if they come over for supper or tea or something sometime?  They do only live a very short walk from here.”

“These girls are no good, Warrick,” Mrs. Carson repeats icily. “They’re poor trash.  Just look at how they’re dressed and where they live.  I won’t have you associating with their ilk.  Is that understood?”

“I’m nineteen, Mother.  You might be able to control whom I associate with in the house, but not whom I choose to talk to when I’m on my own.”

“Our neighborhood isn’t so bad,” Adicia says, barely able to believe she’s defending it. “I was living in Hell’s Kitchen for seven years before I came back home, and it seems like a paradise in comparison.”

“Oh, how lovely.  They’re also former residents of that gangland Hell’s Kitchen.  Warrick, your father and I will stop paying your college tuition if you’re caught associating with these ghetto girls or any other people, boy or girl, Negro, white, Oriental, or Spanish, Jew or Gentile, young or old, from that neighborhood.  Understood?”

She and Mr. Carson disappear into the house, casting nasty looks back at Adicia and Justine on their way in.  Ricky looks at them sympathetically.

“I don’t share the attitudes of my parents about the classes mixing.  I’ll talk to whomever I want to, whenever I want to.” He looks intently at Adicia. “Now that I know you’re seventeen and not some kid in junior high, I guess it’s okay to ask you if you’d like to meet me sometime for a bite to eat.”

“Are you asking Adicia out on a date?” Justine blurts out, not letting Adicia answer first.

“I guess it is kinda forward for me to ask out a girl I’ve just met, but it’s worth a shot, right?  I mean, that is, if you don’t already have a fellow.”

“I’m just a poor girl,” Adicia says, very taken aback at how this rich boy she barely knows is already asking her out. “Not even working-class or lower-middle-class.  I’ll meet you as friends, but nothing more.  People from such different social classes don’t have anything in common, and most folks don’t approve of us mixing.”

“Why don’t I meet you at the Tompkins Square Park Library after school sometime this week?  Classes at Columbia won’t start till a bit later in the month, so I’m free to meet you till then.  You might not be the richest girl in town and really short for your age, but you’re awfully pretty.”

“You really think so?” Adicia hopes she isn’t blushing. “Usually people say I look like a little ragdoll.”

“In that case, you’re the prettiest little ragdoll I’ve ever seen.” Ricky starts walking up the steps leading up to the front door of his new house. “I hope I see you again at the library, Adicia.  It was nice meeting you too, Justine.”