Sunday, March 28, 2010

Chapter 68: Jorge Is As Empty

Tues, December 1, 2074 12:37 pm: The Echo Hotel; Doubling, Pleasantview


"I'll be goddamned. Cricket? Is that you?" It took Jorge several seconds to register the nickname as his own. The last person to call him Cricket had been deceased for over a decade and no one else would dare. He sat his glass on the table and turned his torso towards the speaker. A willowy red thing squinted down at him in perfect skepticism. She might have been a Pleasant but Jorge couldn't be sure. She bit her lower lip uncomfortably and something in the gesture triggered Jorge's memory.

"Jules?" Her face relaxed into a smile. Jorge stood as she waddled over, so awkwardly feminine that it was almost funny. He remembered then what a tomboy she had been as a child. Even tarted up and twenty years older, she still could not have attracted him less. When she wrapped her arms around him, all he could think was that she was thin enough to be snapped in half.


"Just look at you! I swear, there must be a portrait somewhere aging in your place," she bristled. Jorge pulled away from her gently.

"Quite," he said. Across the table, Donna cleared her throat. "Juliette Capp, you remember my sister Donna? And this is her husband, Sean Wallace."

"Capp-Torrence, actually and of course. Enchanted." Juliette extended her hand to Sean who kissed it rather than shaking it, visibly unnerving her. Donna leaned back in her chair, pinching her glass by the stem as though a temporary amnesia had untaught her how to hold red wine.

"Don't just stand there, pull the woman a chair." Donna crossed her legs at the knee, her perilously tight skirt riding upwards. Jorge swallowed his annoyance and busied himself with Juliette's chair, having long ago learned not to challenge Donna on her choice of attire. Jorge forced Juliette's chair towards the coffee table as she sat down, thinking neither of the chair nor the woman in it. Donna, on the other hand, was gazing straight through Juliette with seemingly predatorial attention.


"So what brings you to Pleasantview, darling? Adventure holiday? Vacationing amongst the salt of the earth?" Jorge kicked his sister under the table but did not look up to gauge her reaction. Instead, he offered Juliette a glass of wine by way of gesture towards the bottle. She shook her head to decline.

"Goodness, no. My husband sent me here on errand. The Tellermans are soliciting us for financial backing. They're reviving the old Fiorello Vineyard." With that, Donna took a sip from her glass and choked. Jorge peered at his sister, whose hair had fallen into her face with the impact of her cough. He knew what she was thinking. Kelly's body was scattered for over a kilometer across that vineyard but the news did not disturb him. He had been expecting to hear as much for years, ever since that Goth woman married into the Tellerman family. Why they hadn't decided to farm that land sooner, Jorge did not know. The silence that followed was too heavy for Jorge to lift. Juliette shot furtive glances between the assembled company. "It's shocking, I know but according to J.L., the land is still arable and Isabella owns it as part of the Mortimer Goth estate. Personally, I always believed the urban legend that old man Fiorello salted the earth just to spite his daughter but there you have it."


"I live at Arbormoor Manor." Jorge spoke evenly but there was a disconnect between the words that he spoke and the thought behind them. He lived at Arbormoor Manor. Kelly died in the Fiorello Vineyards. Juliette laughed as though she were coming to some realization.

"Oh! Of course. How stupid of me. Hope you won't mind having a new neighbor out there in the woods," she said.

"I always assumed the state owned that land," Sean interjected, scratching his knee.

"Oh, no. Dr. Goth bought the vineyard from Isabella Fiorello for pennies right before she died. The old lady practically gave it to him. Told him he was a damn fool. J.L. showed me their correspondence over lunch the other day." Jorge stared out of the window behind Donna's head, losing himself in the bleak white backdrop of the sky. He thought of the farming industry moving in on that muddy expanse of land where his wife had been found in pieces. The thought conjured up precisely nothing within him. His heart was as empty as a snowdrift.


"Why would Mortimer Goth buy a vineyard and just let it rot?" Donna traced her collar bone as she spoke, intently watching Jorge for what, he couldn't tell.

"No one knows. Rumor has it that he offered it to Adriana Lothario but that she turned it down," Juliette said.

"I believe it," Sean mused. "People used to say that he had been in love with Adriana. Married Bella Bachelor just because they looked alike." Juliette sucked her teeth, tilting her head to the side.

"Oh rubbish. He loved he wife. Do you remember how he turned the entire state upside down looking for her when she went missing?" she said. Donna rolled her eyes.

"You mean the way that he constrained the townsmen into indentured servitude just to find one runaway housewife?" Jorge reached forward to refill his glass, sensing one of Donna's townie rights speeches on the horizon. Juliette wound her necklace around her fingers.


"Forgive me but last I checked, the townsmen were and are the workforce. What aught Mortimer have done? Monopolized your law enforcement agencies? She was only, as you say, one runaway housewife." Jorge spat his wine back into his glass rather than inhaling it as he laughed. He didn't agree with Juliette-- Far from it-- But people did not often stand up to the hailstorm that was his elder sister.

"Are you honestly going to sit there and legitimize a human rights violation that put one out of every twenty townie men in Pleasantview in jail for no real reason?" Donna was fuming. Her cheeks were nearly the color of her hair. Jorge supposed that she was inches away from wringing Juliette's neck.

"Townsmen do not have rights. They have privileges that are granted to them as the residents deem fit. In Veronaville, we find it increasingly necessary to cut back on what the townsmen are allowed. We have handled them with far too much care in recent decades and it is beginning to backfire. They are getting organized and staging demonstrations. You mark my words, they'll be bombing Hidelton Square before too long." Sean cleared his throat.

"Demonstrations are for students and anarchists. Not hardworking townsmen. It's unheard of," he griped.

"I hope they burn Amhurst to the ground." Donna took a swig of her wine. Juliette pursed her lips in anger but instead of furthering the argument, she clasped her hands tightly in her lap, turning to Jorge.


"Well, I certainly didn't stop to talk about wineries and politics. How is your son doing, Cricket?" Her tone was falsely cheerful. Jorge sat his glass on the table.

"Sons and they are both doing well. Thank you for asking." Juliette looked as though she tasted something sour. Perhaps she was remembering that Kelly was townie-born. Or perhaps she had heard that Jorge was sleeping with his governess. Or perhaps both.

"Your mother is positively beside herself over your little Malcolm. He's a partling. He aught to be doing his upper school studies at Ethelden," Juliette said. Jorge smiled at her just slightly.

"Macaulay needs the duel influence of the Temple and my sainted mother like the townsmen need their privileges revoked."


Donna caught her brother's stare. She squared her shoulders and tipped her head back, building a defensive wall with her posture.

"Maybe you should ask your son what he wants," she said. Jorge knitted his brow in confusion. If the world was on fire, Donna would have saved a stranger before she saved their mother and yet there she was, suggesting that maybe Cully should be sent home to live with her. Worse-- That maybe he wanted to be sent home to live with her.

"Macaulay is a child. He isn't allowed to have an opinion."

Donna shrugged her shoulders as though she did not agree but would not belabor the point.


"Veronaville has nothing to offer him." Jorge spoke more to satisfy himself than his sister. Donna leaned back in her chair and uncrossed her legs.

"Perhaps you're right," Donna said. She then turned to Juliette. "And when did say that the Tellerman family would be breaking ground?" Jorge's stomach writhed. Was he denying Cully the only opportunity that he would have to escape Jorge's personal ghosts? Juliette folded the fabric of her dress in her lap, curling it around her fingers.

"This spring," she said simply. Donna rose her glass in a toast.

"To their harvest," she said.


  1. Wow. I honestly felt like I was sitting in my childhood home here, watching my very liberal brother square off against my very conservative mother :S

    Veronaville sounds like a rather horrible place to live if you aren't a member of the upper crust. I can't really see either Jorge or Donna thriving there, so it's probably a good thing they relocated to Pleasantview.

    As for Cully... well, I do think he's entitled to his own choice, but he could get ripped apart in Veronaville, since his mom was a Townie. His Fae classmates would probably treat him even worse than Jennail's treated her :(

    Then again, Cully does have a certain inner strength to him that could enable him to rise above that social stigma. Of course, I'd still rather see him in Pleasantview, if only because Laurie is in Pleasantview :P

  2. I'm glad that this conversation felt natural in that way. Goodness knows I've been party to enough "my ideology vs yours" arguments. O_o

    The socioeconomic divide in Veronaville is much more staunch than in Pleasantview by entire light years. To someone like Juliette, the upper class of Pleasantview is a bunch of townie yokels. But if there's money to be made on the scale of the Tellerman fortune then she can conveniently put her prejudices not-so-permanently to the side. After all, the Goths are still the Goths and J.L.'s half brother is related to Juliette's husband.

    Donna moved to Pleasantview because of her political leanings. Jorge moved to get away from his parents and developed his stance after he had lived there for a while.

    Oh most definitely. Jorge certainly knows what it's like to grow up in that environment and knows what Cully would be up against. But what if it's the lesser of two evils? In a relatively short time, Jorge's past is literally going to be dug up, right in their backyard. What if he self-destructs? He can't put Cully through that.

    And then we have to wonder what Cully really wants. I don't think that he would leave his dad unless he thought that Jorge could take care of himself. And he wouldn't want to leave his aunt and uncle, brother and cousins or Lavinia or certain best friends that he has recently made. But he hates that house and he hates his memories of it and I am certain that he does not want to be there too much longer. We shall see what he decides as DBL continues.

  3. I watched something about the French Revolution last night, which might color my reaction here. At least the townsmen aren't desperate for bread. Wine maybe.

    I have to admit that your writing is so beautiful, so absolutely cut glass perfect, that I stall and stand and stare and wonder. "She was thin enough to be snapped in half." My god. What a perfect description. Who is fat in that society? Who could be?

    What does Cully want? Apart from friendship and family, what does he want?

    This was worth the wait. A long wait, but stunning. Always stunning.

  4. It is true that most of them aren't starving (at least not in Pleasantview) but this has more to do with men like Addison London than it does with "the system". Someday off in the distant horizon, I plan to take the story to a Veronaville slum.

    This is something that occurs to me every now and again. I would love to have more full-figured people in the story for that added realism but the overweight body shape in this game doesn't quite do it. The closest I've been able to come to a fat person is Alexander Goth and he is only round in the middle.

    But Jorge has a lot of destructive thoughts, even and especially when no one else is the wiser.

    An excellent question! More on that later when we get Cully's perspective. ;)

    Thanks, Beth! You've given me a couple of things to think about... That I won't get into... For the risk of being too spoilery.

  5. First the pretty, then the political. Did you do something to Jorge? He is looking fine. Actually, all of them are radiating the pretty, but I don't recall Jorge ever sending my pretty meter a-beeping. Maybe because he's otherwise a mess.

    What is Donna's relationship with Cully? I mean, outside of being his aunt. Are they close? Are they cordial? Are the wondertwinning Jorge toward stability?

    And I find it interesting to actually hear (or read, rather) a verbalization of the treatment of Townies. It always seemed like something just under the surface. The given. The not quite spoken. But Donna makes it sound so concrete. ...well, I guess it sort of is.

    HEEEEEY, randomly not random question, when are we going to see Beau again?

  6. OMG, no! I haven't done a thing to Jorge. It's just that this is the first time we've seen him since I bought my new machine back in... July. O_o But yeah, dude is smoke'n. I think he might be the best looking sim I've ever made.

    Donna and Cully are very close, yes. They see one another almost daily. She is generally the one to pick him up from school and always the first person that he calls when Dad is passed out or otherwise not doing so hot. They are wondertwinning Jorge and it has unconsciously become a game of good cop/bad cop. Donna storms in, yells that Jorge needs to get his shit together. Cully doesn't even need to do anything but walk around looking depressed and helping Jorge up the steps. And by their powers combined, we shall see. :)

    And then Lavinia's absence is playing a big role here as well. The two of them are very much over but Jorge misses her and occasionally tells himself that if he did better, then maybe...

    Oh, it's concrete. It's the law. And in Veronaville, things might start to get ugly between the Townies and the Residents.

    BEAU! That is not random at all. In fact, Beau's story is highly relevant. Chapter 79 is his next scheduled appearance.

    Thanks, Roni!!

  7. La da deeeeeee, La da duuuuuum

  8. IknowIknowIknow!Things were happening, V-Ron! I want to post tonight, barring the unexpected.