waiting for the other shoe to drop...
Life took a serious turn that day. Hand in hand Tommy and Renée left the church. There was little conversation in the car on the way to breakfast. Nothing sounded good to Renée as she read, and reread the menu. Foods that she formerly loved didn’t appeal to her today. She finally settled for plain toast and coffee.
“Have you told your parents?” Renée wondered.
“No, not yet. I want to have things planned out more clearly before I say anything to them.” Tom replied. It was a shame that they thought that Lydia was pregnant with his baby. It made this so much more difficult. Tom wasn’t sure what happened in that doctor’s office, but he did know for sure that after she came out, Lydia never mentioned having a baby again. It was as if the baby never existed. He didn’t want to go through what he endured again. He knew that neither of his parents cared very much for Renée, so he wasn’t sure what their reaction would be this time. All Tom knew for sure was he wasn’t going to be beaten for this, or for anything else ever again. He also knew there was no way his father was going to get his wish of ever seeing Renée in one of the Fun Flick Films made by the same trio that had brutally raped Lydia. There was no amount of money in the world that would entice Tom to allow that to happen. Irregardless of what his parents thought, Renée was a good girl, Tom knew it.
“Are you mad at me?” She asked.
“Mad? No. Why do you think I’m mad?”
“You are so quiet. I thought you were upset.”
“Upset about what?”
“About me getting pregnant?”
“Did you know you could get pregnant?”
“Not really. I thought you had to be married, and go to a doctor first. Did you know I could get pregnant?”
“Not the first time we did it, but soon after I learned that’s how a girl got pregnant. But, I thought it had to be at a certain time of year... Like with horses. Didn’t realize how dumb I really was.”
“Yah, me too.” Renée thought a minute. “I do not know very much about taking care of a baby. Mama said my body will make milk, and I can feed it for many months. Lee’s mother had another little boy. I am going to start work for her tomorrow to help her with the children. I did not tell her I am going to have a baby. I will watch, and learn from her what to do. When I went to see the baby, she told me newborns can not hold their heads, and showed me how to pick it up, and how to hold it. Tommy, it was so helpless, I felt very strange.”
“You sure didn’t feel strange yesterday. Renée, you were something else. When did you see the baby?”
“Friday. And yes, I do not know about yesterday. That day and another, I had very deep need for you to love me, and to have relations with you.” Renée’s voice was a whisper as she didn’t want the whole restaurant hearing their conversation.
Tom paid the bill and they walked to the car. Back at the hotel room that Tom had paid for the day before, they were both still very quiet and subdued. Renée kicked off her shoes, sat down on the bed, unhooked one garter at a time, then rolled down her stockings. She continued to undress and stretched out on the bed. Tom had bought a Sunday paper from a newsboy outside the restaurant, and was looking through the classifieds to see what jobs were available. He circled several prospects, and turned to see Renée sound asleep. He curled around her, and soon found himself in a peaceful sleep. It was much needed after the nightmares he’d had.
Bright and early Monday morning Tom went job hunting. Basically it was the same everyplace he went. They either had all the summer help they needed, he didn’t have the experience they needed, or else once they learned who he was, they figured he didn’t need the money, and made up some lame excuse why he wasn’t needed. Tom was very discouraged, especially when he couldn’t even get hired at Seth’s Auto Repair washing cars.
Tom was finally given a break at the local department store. The manager of the men’s department saw what a handsome physique Tom had, and offered him a job as long as he wore the clothes that the store was selling. Days spent carefree riding the trails on his parents ranch, evenings spent at the Burger Barn, or at Patsy’s Pizza were distant memories now as two teenagers in trouble would count their money at the end of the week and try to figure how much they would need, and if they could make it on their own.
Renée’s family said it would be okay for them to live there with the baby as long as they contributed to the upkeep of the household. Tom still hadn’t told his parents. His heart jumped to his throat every time he thought of bringing it up, and his stomach churned.
When he arrived home one evening, there sat a letter from Lydia.
I’m having a wonderful time with my Aunt Grace. As you may or may not know, the baby is no longer with us. Some things were just not meant to be, and I guess that is the way it is, or was for the child. Being away from you and our situation has given me much time to think. It would be best if we part as friends so that each of us can pursue our own interests without the reminder of what happened between us. I hope that you understand, and will forgive me if this breaks your heart.
Tom couldn’t believe the timing. Bless her heart,
Lydia came through for him again, and she didn’t even know it. He handed the letter to his parents, and told them he needed to be alone to rethink his life. Ralph and Marlene just shrugged it off, believing that the kids had learned an important lesson. Both were glad that it was over, although they both liked Lydia very much. They were more concerned that Tommy had decided to go to public high school again, and would graduate from there the following June. They had their hearts set on him attending an Ivy League college, although Tom told them time and again he wanted to go to a school more geared toward sports. There were no violent outbursts, however the tension was thick on more than one occasion.
Several more weeks passed. Tommy and Renée continued to add up their money. The Jorgensen’s were pressing Tommy for a commitment, even though he was paying for Renée’s doctor visits, and giving a generous amount toward the family grocery bill. Tom didn’t know if he wanted to tell his parents alone, or if he should have Renée with him, and tell them together. He knew if his father wanted to beat him, it would come now, or later if Renée was there. He decided to have her there. She wanted to be there.
Before Lydia left, she gave Renée another closet full of clothes including the chemise and sack dresses that were so much in style, since Animal hated them so much. They certainly came at a most opportune time, although Renée didn’t even know she was pregnant when the clothing arrived.
Wearing an orange chemise when Tommy picked her up, it was very obvious that she was also sporting a bump. She was a full four and a half months along, not huge, but very obviously pregnant. Tom thought she looked beautiful, he always did.
“Mother, Dad, Renée and I are going to have a baby. We would like to get married, but I need your written consent to do so. Her parents are willing to sign for her, and I hope that you will be as cooperative in granting our wishes.”
“Well, I’m sure that you do. But, as easily as she takes her clothes off, how do you know it’s yours?”
“Don’t start Dad. I mean it. This is my baby, and I want to marry his mother.”
“How could you Tommy? How could you? With two girls? Poor Lydia!”
“Mother! What do you mean ‘poor Lydia’? She broke up with me.”
“Don’t you sass me young man! It doesn’t take a genius to see that this girl was pregnant before Lydia broke up with you! Tommy, she’s, she’s... riff raff!”
Renée began to cry. “Mrs. Ericsen, I may be poor, but I love your son. I would not give my body to him if I did not. I am a good girl, and will be a good wife and an excellent mother. Please give me a chance.”
Marlene acted as if she hadn’t heard her words. “Tommy, I’ve talked to you for two years now about marrying your own kind. This will never work out.”
“Why Mother? It’s worked out for you!”
“And just what do you mean by that?”
“I have ears Mother. I can’t begin to tell you the number of times I’ve heard Dad shout that you came into the marriage with nothing, and if you leave, you will leave with nothing. You’re still together aren’t you? It’s worked out for you.”
“For your information young man, I came from wealth, too! My father was too old fashioned to divide his estate between all of his children. The boys got it all, and each of us girls got one thousand dollars. The will was iron clad, and could not be broken.”
“Look, all I’m asking is that you sign the papers so I can marry Renée.”
“There are other options, you know. You are both too young. A baby is no excuse for a marriage. You had sense enough to realize that when Lydia got pregnant.”
“Lydia got pregnant?” Renée was stunned.
“Renée, later. I’ll tell you about it later.”
“Isn’t that something? He didn’t tell this one that that one was pregnant? Got anymore out there knocked up, son?”
“Dad! Lydia is NOT pregnant. Renée is, and I want to marry her.”
“You’ll not get anything from me. I won’t sign a damn thing and if your mother does, she can move in with the three of you because she won’t have a place to live here.” Ralph was adamant in his statement.
“I’m sorry Tom. Your father didn’t have to put an ultimatum like that on me. There is no way I would ever consent to a marriage between a fourteen-”
“Oh alright then, between fifteen and seventeen year olds that think they’re in love. Can’t you see dear? She just wanted to up her social position. I’ve talked endlessly to you about the type of girls that will trap a rich boy to make a better life for herself by getting pregnant. I can’t blame her, it’s you I blame. I told you this could happen if you mingle with the lower classes.”
Renée was crying again. She looked at her beloved with tears running down both cheeks, “Tommy, what am I going to do?”
Marlene spoke in a very patronizing tone, “Renée, I have the names of some very nice homes for unwed mothers. We will take care of everything. You can go there before school starts so that you don’t have to be embarrassed to be seen in the family way at school. It is shameful for others to know that you acted so immorally. It’s one thing to get away with it if you marry first, but once a baby is on the way, well, everyone knows.”
“But, nothing Tommy! You have no say in this matter. You don’t have enough money to pay for what this is going to cost. You can not marry her, and further more, because you are a minor, you have no rights whatsoever. Now, I feel I’ve handled this in an amicable way with a viable solution. If you would like your father to take over, I’ll gladly give the floor to him.”
“Renée and I need to talk about this first. Try to keep me out of it if you must, but it’s my baby, and I want to have some say in it’s future. Come on, Renée, let’s get out of here.”
Out in the car, Renée spoke first. “You can begin by explaining Lydia’s pregnancy to me. How come I was never told? I have heard of girls having relations with their best friends boyfriend. Did you get her pregnant Tommy? I never cheated on you! I have been with no one besides you, and now that I am with child, I learn that Lydia was intimate with you? Who else Tommy? Even your father wonders.”
“You Renée, only you. Lydia was pregnant, I don’t know what happened, but she isn’t now. She got pregnant as a result of the rape. She didn’t want her parents to know about that, so we said I was the father. I swear Lydia and I never went all the way. She didn’t want Animal to know that she got pregnant either. You are the only girl I’ve gone all the way with.”
“So you can’t marry me. Your parents want me to go to a home for unwed mothers. Then what? Come home with the baby, and wait?”
Tom nodded his head yes. “I will marry you after the baby is born, as soon as I turn eighteen. Wedding date is the same as it was before this happened. I’m sorry. I want to marry you now, Renée. I wanted to marry you the first day I set eyes on you.”