Friday, September 21, 2007

Friday Snipets 11

OK. I'm late getting this up so I'm not going to add a long intro. I was planning to start putting in links to the previous parts with one line synopsis of them. But that would take too long. I think I need to create a separate post for that which I can keep updating maybe? And include a cast of characters for those getting confused possibly.

A reminder: The even numbered parts are in the NOW story line. The odd numbered parts take place about nine to ten years earlier. So this scene was continued from two weeks ago Last week you met the teen-age mother of 5 year old Briana who was lost in the woods. This week you meet the teenage Briana, mother of the infant Brandy left in Faye's care by Cassie who found her hanging on Beulah gate. Just like the rag doll young Briana hung on the gate the day she met Faye. You can find the parts you missed by clicking on the Friday Snippets label.

Making Rag Doll Babies and Million Dollar Maybes


Faye finds herself at the door with no idea of what to say once she opens it. Memories of a breeze-kissed child who introduced her rag doll twin and put music back into Faye’s heart war with the memory of a pout-puckered kid with swollen belly, spurning Faye and music for the attentions of a swaggering churl. The sounds of a vituperative altercation filter through the closed door. Well, there was no more delaying it. With an indrawn breath, held for a beat and released with a staccato of puffs, she drew open the door. In the center of the gravel turnaround stood Cassie’s patrol car, front doors spread like wings, interior light glowing. Beside its open back door a uniformed Cassie squatted over Briana who, butt on the ground and feet in the seat, flailed, screaming threats and obscenities at her captor.

"Let me go you freakin’ butch." Briana drummed her feet against the car door which rebounded, hinges groaning with each beat.

From the shadow-enshrouded back of the car danced caped and cackling Estelle. She swirled one side of her cape over her head as she pirouetted to a standstill over the struggling duo. With a sudden lunge she was peering into Briana’s contorted face and keening: "Though she be but little, she is fierce." And with a shriek she pranced off.

"You ought to be thanking me." Cassie spoke through gritted teeth. "By rights I should be taking you straight to Juvy.

"By rights you ought to be taking me straight to the hospital." Briana flung her head and the motorcycle helmet she wore connected with a solid thunk against Cassie’s cheek. "My leg’s bleeding. I need a doctor and you gotta take me. I know my rights."

Cassie abruptly let go of Briana, letting her fall backwards into the gravel, her cuffed hands trapped beneath her. The pouch of a baby carrier, twin to the one Brandy had arrived in, mounded her belly. Cassie stood over her, rubbing her cheek. "Try to do a girl a favor and get a black eye for thanks."

Estelle, having completed another circuit of the car, was peering down with glee at Briana’s predicament. "What you looking’ at you old hag?" Briana kicked the car door, knocking it into Estelle, who only came closer.

Drawing her hand from a deep pocket in her skirt, she bent over and held it before Briana’s eyes and as soon as Briana saw the small snake entwining her fingers, she commenced to wave it with intricate curlicue motions as she chanted: "How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child."

"Get that out of my face you freakin’ witch!" Briana squirmed across the gravel until she was up against the tire.

Estelle shrieked her glee and danced away singing: "If she must teem. Create her child of spleen."

Cassie stood over Briana hands on hips, shaking her head. "I’m beginning to doubt my own good judgment on this." Briana only glared at her. "You know so much about your rights but what do you know about Brandy’s rights?" Briana’s glare wavered and Cassie continued. "From the moment you picked yourself up off the side of the road your tongue has been busy chastising me. First for signaling your friend to pull over…"

"You had no cause! He wasn’t breaking no laws. We had helmets and he wasn’t even going that fast." Briana rapped her helmet against the wheel well for emphasis.

"You’re right there." Cassie agreed. "I had no business with him. It was you I was after to begin with. I would have took you into custody and said ‘Good evening, Sir,’ to him. But instead he chose to lead me on a high-speed chase down I-5. He took the off-ramp going too fast and spilled you both into the gravel. And he chose to rescue the contents of his saddlebags and skid-addle on out of there, leaving you to face me alone. And you chose to go ballistic on me forcing me to cuff and manhandle you. And I’m still waiting to see some sign of concern for Brandy."

‘She’s just fine! No thanks to you. I didn’t land on her or nothing. She slept through the whole thing. She sleeps through anything."

"Are you sure? Can you feel her breathing? Shifting her weight against you? Any evidence that she’s even still alive? That she didn’t smother or have the life squeezed out of her between the two of you during the chase?"

Night-sounds filled the voiceless quiet as Cassie hushed and Briana’s body went still and breathless in her effort to sense evidence of Brandy’s well-being. A distant train hooted and was answered by an owl. A breeze fingered the tree -tops and Estelle lifted her face to it and whooed a repartee to owl and train.

Briana’s eyes widened and she struggled to sit up. "Get these cuffs off me so I can check her." She demanded.

Cassie reached down to help her stand but instead of un-cuffing her she reached into the carrier and pulled out a rag doll. Briana gasped. "Oh, no! That’s Dolly. Then that means…" Her voice trailed off.

"You left Brandy hanging on Beulah gate." Cassie finished for her and at the sight of tears spilling over Briana’s eyes, she softened her voice. "She’s fine. I was biking by the gate just as you zoomed off. I heard her crying and brought her on up to Miss Faye’s before I went to work." Her voice once more stern. "Legally I should have called the cops who would’ve called in CPS and issued a warrant for your arrest. Most likely you would have been given a second chance but CPS would’ve been breathing on you for the next eighteen years." Cassie paused to let all that sink in then continued, putting all the authority of her uniform into her words. "Now you can either choose to cooperate with me and Miss Faye or I will do as you asked and take you to the hospital where they will not only treat your abrasion but, at my request, take samples of that white substance all over your clothes. I would bet a years wages it’s not baby powder. From there you would be taken to get pictures of your face and fingers and be booked for possession, assaulting an officer, resisting arrest and gross neglect and abandonment of your infant daughter, Brandy. You may or may not see the outside of Juvy before Brandy graduates Kindergarten. It’s not impossible for the courts to sever your parental rights and adopt Brandy out…"

"OK! OK!" Briana wailed. "I get it! OK?"

"Now, if I can have your agreement to cooperate I’ll remove the cuffs. Otherwise it’s not too late to turn you in. Though I may well lose my job when they discover my delay in reporting all this. That’s a price I’m willing to pay to ensure that baby girl’s safety. What price are you willing to pay Briana?"

"I’ll c-co-co-oppppperate." Briana choked out.

"Good girl." Cassie stuck the rag doll back in the pouch and bent to unlock the cuffs. As soon as Briana’s hands were free she grabbed the doll and hugged it. "I want my baby! Where is she?"

"First you need to thank Miss Faye for watching Brandy for you and ask her to please take you and your baby in until she and I are completely satisfied that you have learned how to be her mama. Keep in mind she ought to think twice about taking in a brat who’d made such a scene as you just did right before her eyes. No matter how pretty she said please after."

Briana clutched Dolly to her chest and fastened her eyes on the ground. Cassie waited, letting silence impregnate the moment with the possibilities. Faye watched Briana as one by one she conceived alternatives and then aborted them before giving life to them. Her body tensed and relaxed repeatedly with the travail of choosing the one that she could live with. Faye ached to help her but she knew that the birthing of a new life, whether of infant, art, or change of heart, was ultimately the work and responsibility of its "Mother." Advice and moral support could aid and abet but it couldn’t substitute for the nitty-gritty labor and delivery.

Faye was willing to wait forever for Briana to gestate her repentance but Estelle was less patient. She scurried up to the guilt-cumbered girl and screeched at her. "Ingratitude, thou marble-hearted fiend, more hideous when thou showest thee in a child than the sea-monster."

Briana cringed but offered no come-back. Then as though sensing the need to remind them just who this whole scene was being staged for, Brandy gave a brief wail. Briana rocked Dolly against her breast, as she peered past Faye at the open doors where a squirming bundle snuggled against Julia’s shoulder. Light from inside glittered in the tears on Briana’s cheeks.

Faye felt a hand on her arm and turned to find Inny gazing at the girl with infinite compassion. "Even the sea-monsters," he said, "Draw out the breast, they give suck to their young ones."

When everyone stared at him Faye interpreted. "He is reminding us that the babe is likely hungry again. The apple juice we gave her was a poor substitute for mother’s milk."

Briana’s eyes caressed her daughter over the yards separating them. Faye felt her yearning and reached across the gap yawning between them with reconciling words.

"So Breezy, what do you say? Will you let me help you and Brandy?"

Briana looked directly at Faye for the first time and nodded.

"Good then." Faye said. "I have only one stipulation. You’re young man is not welcome on this estate until he is willing to meet me face to face with the helmet and visor off and agree to drive his machine only on the driveway and under ten miles-per-hour between Beulah gate and the front door."

"You never liked him." Briana whined.

"I never knew him to like or dislike. But if you mean that I disapproved of his behavior towards you and towards me, you’re right. It was very ungentlemanly of him to never get off the bike nor even take off that helmet to speak to me whenever he picked you up here."

"He was a gentleman for me. He was real nice to me. He bought me stuff and opened doors for me and kissed my hand and…and stuff."

Estelle approached Briana. "What," she asked. "Hath your grace no better company? The prince of darkness is a gentleman. Modo he’s called, and Mahu." She swirled her skirts and backed away laughing.

Briana spared Estelle only an irritated glance for her attention was snared by Brandy’s escalating cries.

"Well, if everybody’s agreed, I’ll be off." Cassie said. "I’ve overstayed my lunch break.’

They all looked to Briana expectantly. She shrugged her shoulders. "Yeah, all right. But who’s gonna tell Mae Bea. She won’t take it well from me."

"I will." Cassie said and turned to Faye. "By the way, you may have yet another stray on the estate. Estelle seemed to have herself a little shadow but it spirited itself off when I stopped to offer a lift. I couldn’t be certain but you might want to keep an eye out."

"This is getting to be quite a habit." Faye laughed. "But up until now my strays have been fairly self-sufficient cats and adults. Now both at once I have a child and a babe."

"You’ll do right by them." Cassie folded herself into the car and reached across to shut the opposite door.

Brandy’s cries were becoming fiercer. Inny, impatient with the delay, took Briana’s arm and drew her to the steps. He snatched Dolly from her arms and commanded. "Give her the living child. She is the mother of it."

5 tell me a story:

IanT 9/21/2007 4:25 PM  

Is it me, or is Cassie the only sane one? And Faye, I guess. At least at a glance. :-D

I like Cassie; she has a very distinctive voice.

Joely Sue Burkhart 9/21/2007 6:25 PM  

How you weave the two story lines is amazing!

Ann 9/21/2007 7:41 PM  

Yeah, what Joely said. :) You write memorable characters!

Anonymous,  9/21/2007 7:53 PM  

I liked the sequence of events around Cassie and Briana. Seemed very real and down to earth.

Gabriele Campbell 9/22/2007 8:48 AM  

Poor Briana. They should have gotten Brandy a wet nurse and a good forster home, and not force Briana to deal with a child she doesn't want.

But I know, that's totally not PC. :)

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