Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Chapter 29: Beau Steps Blindly Through

Weds, November 11, 2074 6:52 pm: 35 Woodland Dr.-- Middlebourne, Pleasantview


Beau didn't know how much longer he could take it. Once, sometimes twice a week, he sat down to dinner with his brother's family. His nephews would curse and shoot spitballs while Dustin roared on the subject of any idiotic conviction that hit his head. Hell would be raised and plates would occasionally be thrown. But having been graced with a certain amount of patience, Beau could tolerate his brother and nephews well enough. It was witnessing the slow deterioration of his sister-in-law that tore him apart.


When Beau first met Cherise, she had been the sort of woman that could stop traffic with a glance. The ground quaked beneath her feet by the sheer force of her confidence and nonchalance. She had been charismatic and witty. Beautiful, even. The Cherise that presently sat across from Beau was barely a pale shadow of her former self. She made every effort to be as invisible and unassuming as possible. She fashioned her days around what she was cooking for dinner. She never even combed her hair.

Cherise looked up at Beau and smiled weakly when she caught him staring. Her hazel eyes were dull and sunken. He would have given anything to see a look of real happiness on her face.


To Beau, Cherise was living proof that the caste system was not without its flaws. If nothing else, it placed the emphasis was on marrying immediately, marrying correctly and spending your youth popping out as many hideous, sniveling brats as possible. Cherise had not been born to live like this. Of that, Beau was certain. He smiled back at her as convincingly as he could manage.


"You got a girlfriend yet, Beau," Dustin shot at him from across the table. Cherise's mouth went slack.

"Uhh, no." Beau stabbed the salad at the center of the table, thinking to himself that Dustin was at his most annoying when his interjections were apropos to Beau's ponderings.

"Well don't you think that it's about time you got one," Dustin prodded. Beau shrugged. Dustin turned to Cherise for an affirmation. "Talk some sense into him, won't you," Dustin demanded.

"Actually dear, I don't think that there are any girls for Beau's age and caste." Cherise was speaking to Dustin but staring directly at Beau. Dustin snorted.

"That's true enough," he mumbled.


"When I grow-up," Joaquin interjected. "I'm not going to get married. Girls piss me off." Beau's eyes widened.

"You probably shouldn't say things like that in front of you mother, you know," Beau said.

"She knows I don't mean her," Joaquin replied. Beau furrowed his brow. Evidently, even the children had gotten into the habit of talking about Cherise as though she wasn't there.


"I know," Dustin said. "What about that girl down the street? The Mindelsohn girl? The one with the big knockers?" Beau wrinkled his nose.

"She's like twelve or something," Beau said, growing vaguely nauseated.

"Oh." Dustin began to stare off into space, no doubt lost in maze of stupidity. Then, seemingly without provocation, his face contorted into a look of rancor.


"It's a goddamn shame, isn't it? Our people are so deep in Townie-borns that a forth generation kid like you can't even find a girl his own age. Makes me sick. Townies are getting so uppity these days, they got no qualms with talking to our women. I wouldn't even be surprised if that Mindelsohn girl doesn't carry around a pocketknife or something to fight them off. We've been coddling these sons of bitches for too long and it's all because we got families like the Calientes running this town. Did you know that Siren Caliente's biological father was a Townie? And I don't mean a Townie-born. I mean a filthy, full-blooded Townie right down to the day he died."


"Now, I don't have no problems with Townies so long as they know their place. But when they come around here and start threatening my job and my family and my way of life, that's when we run into some problems. I've said it before and I'll say it again- We have got to get organized. It's about time someone put the fear of God back into the sort of trash that's been filtering up into our community." Dustin Broke, the sage of Pleasantview's lower west side, was in rare form that night. Silence glazed the dinner table like a thick sheet of ice. Cherise shattered it with a cough.


"Granddad says that all they're after is our women. Our sisters and our daughters and our wives," Peter recited to the table. Cherise gave him a pained look.

"Your grandfather is not to talk to you about such things. You may tell him that from me." Cherise's voice was low and trembling. Peter stared quizzically at this woman who had spoken without being directly addressed.


"Don't worry Mom. Nobody better dare try to hurt you while I'm around." Joaquin shouted as though Cherise were deaf. Dustin patted his son on the head. Cherise tossed the napkin from her lap onto the table.

"If you'll excuse me," she said under her breath. Dustin cleared his throat.

"Alright. Let's do something nice for your Momma and get this table cleaned off," Dustin said to the boys. They groaned in unison. Baby Isolde tossed her bowl to the floor and squealed with laughter at her trick.


"That's a no-no, Zizi," Dustin yelled at the baby who screamed just to hear her own voice.

"I'm going to head home after we get the leftovers put away," Beau called out over the din.

"Yeah sure. Same time next week?" Dustin's invitation filled Beau with an insurmountable dread but he attempted a smile nonetheless.

"I'll be here with bells on."


Outside, autumn was seeping into the air and stripping the trees. Beau caught sight of Cherise, adrift upon an ocean of dead leaves. Time was limply suspended in the ether like a tangled marionette. Beau took his place beside her. It seemed an eternity before she spoke.

"Isabella Fiorello famously wrote that even in a forest, a tree remains a universe whole unto its self and thinks not of its brothers when it strangles a sapling for want of soil."


"That is rather bleak."

"It was her treatise on the human condition. Even in a crowd, we are left alone to strangle or suffocate."

"You are not alone, Cherise." She opened her mouth to respond but no sound came forth. Beau tried to read her face but found the task difficult in the dark. He resolved to step blindly through the void of her speechlessness, unsure of what she was thinking or how she would react. "And I want you to know that I care about you more than I care about anybody."


"You don't even come to visit me anymore during the day." Beau hung his head.

"I know. I'm sorry." All of his feeble excuses dried up before they even hit his tongue.


"I hate him," Cherise spat. "I hate him and sometimes... Sometimes I hate the kids too. And I hate myself for hating them." Beau watched her hands as they balled into fists at her sides and reacting almost instinctually, he placed his hand on top of hers. Cherise inhaled sharply and yanked her hand away as though his touch had scorched her. Beau had a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach.

They sat in an uncomfortable silence for a time, Cherise staring out into the yard and Beau studying the subtle curve of her neck. The wind soaked through Beau's shirt, piercing his skin. But he refused to leave things as they were.


"Run away with me." He didn't know what had compelled him to say it. And though the suggestion immediately horrified him, it also seemed strangely right.

"What did you say?" Beau gathered his courage. He slipped his arm around her shoulders. He had meant it the first time.

"Run away with me." Cherise giggled airily. It was the first laugh that he had heard from her in- He didn't like to think of how long. "Don't even bother to pack. Let's just go."


"And leave my kids?" Beau smiled at the fact that she was willing to treat this as a real suggestion.

"Absolutely leave the kids." Cherise smiled but her eyes were tragic. She was no doubt thinking of what a relief it would be.


"Where would we go," she whispered.

"I don't know. Riverblossom?"

"Uh uh. There's no way I'm starting over in that po-dunk town."

"Ok. How about Veronaville?"

"We could never afford Veronaville."

"Bluewater then? Strangetown? Alpinloch? Stop me when I'm getting close here." Cherise shook her head and squealed with laughter when he pinched her side. She was just like a girl.


"Oh I know," he said. "We'll just live downtown with the Townies. That would make Dustin happy." Cherise drew closer to him, her laughter subsiding. She laid her head on his shoulder and placed her hand on his thigh. He told himself that she was only trying to keep warm. "I'd do it, you know," Beau said softly. "Whatever I have, I would leave it behind. All you'd have to do is ask."


  1. Poor Cherise :(

    I think Beau would be good for her, though.

    If I remember correctly, Dustin is Haven's father? Is that why Beau kind of thinks of her as something of a nuisance (again, if I remember correctly--I have a terrible memory)?

  2. Oh yeah, Dustin is Haven's biological father. But no one knows that. Beau suspects it (because she looks like Dustin) but he's never said anything. I'm not even certain that Dustin knows Haven exists. He definitely doesn't know that Haven's mother lives just a few blocks away. He might not even recognize her if he saw her. In short, Haven was the result of a rather brutal rape. This is why her mother isn't so keen on keeping her around.

    Beau thinks that Haven is annoying but only because she has a tendency to do things that annoy him. ("Beau, I just made up a new song! It's about pineapples! Wanna hear?" "Beau, I can stuff fifty-two marbles in my mouth! Come see! One, two, threeee...")

    But deep down, Beau really likes her a lot. :)

  3. Oh and Cherise is Lavinia's elder sister. But you might have been able to guess that. She and Lavinia look a lot alike.

  4. Man, that has to suck Cherise! I hope that they do run off together! And he can give her the life she deserves! Great update! I like your screenshots!:D

  5. Ooo thanks, Phoenix! I think the kitchen wallpaper really made these pictures.

  6. Oh that conversation at the dinner table was dead-on... felt like I was there, cringing along with Beau.

    This caste system of yours is really quite interesting. I know practically nothing about the Sims neighborhoods and characters other than some of the names, but I suspect you are doing some really novel stuff with them here.

  7. Yeah, I've twisted the game's plot so badly that it's really not the same story anymore. But most of what I do with the caste system is inspired by what you can and cannot do in game.

  8. But most of what I do with the caste system is inspired by what you can and cannot do in game.

    Oh really? I didn't get that out of your behind-the-scenes post on the caste system, though I can sorta see how that's true. I haven't played in so many years I don't really remember what possible and not with Townies, NPCs, and neighbors any more. I would love to read more about how how game mechanics helped shape your caste system, if you have the time.

  9. Most of the Maxis inspiration comes in where the anti-Townie laws are concerned. For example, there is no way for two Townies to marry unless they are made playable. Townies have no real place of residence (which is where the property laws come in). Maids, nannies, butlers (in AP) plumbers and all manner of service workers are necessarily NPCs. Playable sims do not pay these people what would be considered a living wage, not by far when you think about what playables make for entry-level jobs. Hmmm there's probably more but I can't think of it right now. However, these were definitely the basic stepping stones towards the invention of the caste system. Social divides amongst the playables were my invention, though.

    Then there are other Maxis inspired laws that have nothing to do with the caste system. Teenagers can live on their own without the social workers coming after them. For this reason, I've made the age of legal adulthood 14. Inteen also plays a role in my law-making. Kids graduate from school around the age of 17 because with inteen, there is a point where the school bus just stops coming for teens.

    I'll probably end up writing more about this on the behind-the-scenes blog when I'm back home tonight or tomorrow.

  10. Oh, your caste system sounds totally interesting! I love my townies, but I've always felt sorry for them. There is a lot they can't do, isn't there?

    In my hood, they're like a subset of sim. They live forever unless they manage to get a playable on their side. I've started a church for the wayward NPCs (Non-persona Class). And I've gotten at least one NPC to tell me her story. She was the one who opened my eyes to the plight of the poor NPCs.

    But service NPCs have it THE WORST. They're basically slaves, aren't they? Poor guys.

    Anyway, haha, still reading through. I love your descriptions.

  11. I'm glad that you mentioned that Townies and NPCs don't age because it reminded me of another reason that I had for the caste system that I didn't mention in that earlier comment.

    Because Townies don't age, if a playable has a Townie for a childhood friend or a high school sweetheart, the relationship is lost when the playable grows up! It's ok for little Suzy Playable to be friends with little Johnny Townie while they're children (because hey, they're just kids) but when Suzy Playable grows-up, it's no longer kosher for her to hang out with her Townie friend.

    But for the purposes of the story, Townies, Downtownies and NPCs are all the same class of people, sorted under the giant heading of "Townie". And to a Resident, a Townie is a Townie, is a Townie regardless of education or occupation or wealth or any other socioeconomic construct that would make one Resident higher than another on the great totem pole of life.

    For more in-depth reading about the caste system, there is this little article that I wrote on BBL to demystify the whole business:


  12. Okay- getting back to my reading of your story.

    Wow, Dustin is horribly bigoted and his children are following in his tracks. How long has he been like that? Is Cherise a townie?

    Was Beau already in love with Cherise before she married Dustin? And how young is Beau? I found it kinda icky that Cherise was flirting with her brother-in-law.

  13. Dustin has always been that way and Cherise is, as far as I know, not at all a Townie. I haven't plotted her lineage back very far but she is at least a third generation Resident. I believe that her family has been in Pleasantview for a while though, so it probably stretches back a lot further than that. But like the Brokes, Cherise's family (the Forester family) is pretty poor.

    Ya know... I'm not sure that Beau is in love with Cherise. She is in all likelihood his favorite person in the world and the thought has probably crossed his mind before but I don't think that he loves her in that way. The weirder thing is definitely that Cherise is starting to take second glances at Beau. Beau is only 17. Cherise is a very depressed, very bored and very lonely woman. She's desperately looking for someone to cling to. And in that way, she is a lot like her sister.

  14. It's funny how you say you're not sure that Beau is in love with Cherise, because as I read this, I got the impression that he just felt sorry for her and that he has a bit of a knight in shining armor's kind of sense of duty. Since Dustin is his brother, he feels he has to protect her from him or something.

    But anyway, what would happen if they ran away? Oh, the drama...

  15. Aha! Coming back to this chapter after such a long time and revisiting Beau every now and again, I absolutely agree with that interpretation. She's like a big sister to him. He is closer to Cherise than to anyone else he knows but I don't think that he thinks about her in that way.

    Indeed. What would happen if they ran away? :D

  16. Especially if Cherise did think about him "in that way". After all, she is a desperate housewife (no pun intended).

  17. Well she did get a little defensive of Beau's bachelorhood when Dustin pressured him about having a girlfriend. ;)