Publish Novellas 23 November 2022
EPISODE 12 – RELOCATION
Ricky and Jillian move into the family neighborhood in the face of shocking revelations and percolating trouble.
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By Kevin RR Williams
With many upcoming milestones affecting his sister, Jack puts his own marriage on the back burner. Nicole is not too happy about it.
Jack breaks the news to Nicole. “You told me that the situation with Ricky and your sister was a family matter and that you’d be supportive. They’ll be moving into Agassi within the next six weeks.”
Nicole reacts with tears, “Did you even consider my feelings? I told you that man is like a drug to my sobriety.”
“I hear you, babe. Both of them of have made large strides in their progress. Their tattoos are significantly lighter and they are no longer on drugs. That news, combined with their elopement, moved father to accept their application. I’m caught in the middle like you,” Jack explains.
“This is stirring up unspeakable emotions. That is the best way to phrase it without getting vulgar. For all this pain, you have put our own marriage on hold!” Nicole shouts in anguish.
“Do you have any idea how wrong it would be to exclude my own sister from our wedding?” Jack reasons.
“If you tell me that Ricky is your best man, I’ll snatch this ring off, shove it down your throat, and tase you until the diamond turns back into coal!”
“No, honey. Try to relax. Neither of them have to be in the actual ceremony. It’s just a memorable time for family photos. Please tell me that you understand.”
“How can I understand when you refuse to do so? I am going to take a walk to cool down. Could you please leave now before I say something more hurtful?” Nicole warns.
“I hate to see you this way,” Jack says with sadness. “We will talk later. I love you.”
Location, Relocation, Location
From a van to an apartment, and now a beautiful townhouse. Ricky and Jillian Sanders plus one are finally residents of Agassi. There is no ticker-tape parade. In fact the relocation takes place rather covertly.
It has been about a year since Jillian made a very public entrance with bodacious displays of her body art. The family is hoping that the memory of that occasion will fade like her tattoos. At twenty feet away, you can still see faint traces.
After giving their skin a rest, Jillian and Ricky hope to be virtually ink-free. In the meantime, the newlywed couple will keep covered up, avoid the monthly concerts, and maximize food delivery services.
Efforts to finalize wedding plans with Nicole have cooled. Every time Jack brings up the subject, she replies, “Not now,” with a stiff lip.
Because of faint tattoos, the Sanders are still avoiding concerts. This month’s concert corresponds with Octoberfest. Sally Summers volunteers to be one of the beer maidens. Without wearing concealing makeup, the hyperpigmentation on her chest, arms, and hands are visible for the first time to other residents.
As Sally sets down steins full of the frosty amber cold brew, some men ask about her skin. Questions range from ‘Is it painful?’ to ‘What does the rest of your body look like?’ She welcomes the dialogue, ensuring inquirers she is in no pain.
To the handsome men who ask about additional patterns, she teases that if they get to know her well they’ll find out when she wears a bikini. This leads to quite a few phone number exchanges. Her confidence that vitiligo is not a deterrent to dating is restored.
Security Patrol Alert
All wrapped up in a long-sleeve turtleneck sweater, Jillian takes the baby to a doctor’s appointment on Monday. While she is away, Ricky phones Nicole and says he needs her help with withdrawal symptoms at his home.
“Do you want me to send an ambulance?” Nicole replies.
“No, I don’t want to make a scene. Just get over here right away.”
Though Nicole has avoided Ricky face-to-face for over a year, it’s her job to answer complaints within the townhomes. So she hurries over. The front door is ajar. She taps and calls out without a reply.
Stepping in, she sees Ricky lying on the living room floor with his shirt off. She runs towards him to check his pulse and press her ear on his chest.
Can Nicole establish whether this is a health crisis, trap, or fantasy?
“Oh no, oh no… Ricky, can you hear me?” she asks with more distress than him.
He slowly sits up, swirling his head a little. “Nicole, I’m glad you came.”
“Did you take something—perhaps drugs? Should I call an ambulance?”
“No, help me up on the sofa. Sit down. I’m better now that you’re here.”
“Can I get you anything from the kitchen?” Nicole asks while filling a glass of water from the faucet before setting it down on the table and sitting beside Ricky.
“I’m fine. Relax. Deep breaths—together with me!” He then takes a sip and says softly, “It seems like you’ve been avoiding me. How does a year go by without us seeing one another?”
“Where is Jillian?” Nicole asks while dodging his question.
“Don’t worry. She’s at the doctor with the baby for a checkup. We can talk. Do you hate me? Is that why you avoid me?”
“No, of course not, I don’t hate you, Ricky. It’s just…” Nicole fights the urge to share her true feelings.
“Just what?” Ricky asks softly.
“Our life together was wild. My heart races around you because I associate you with tattoos, drugs, and sex—pleasure, pain, and ecstasy. It’s a big fat emotional package that I work hard to keep under wraps. Right now that package feels like it’s unravelling,” Nicole confesses.
“It sounds like there are some positive emotions in Pandora’s box?”
“That’s true. But now you’re married to my fiancée’s sister. Tell me that doesn’t sound weird. Your child becoming my nephew is a lot to process. I keep imagining me bouncing Zephyr on my knee while having flashbacks of sleeping with my brother-in-law.”
“Slow down. For a moment, imagine you’re in a perfect world. I’m not married to Jillian; Zephyr is not my child; we’re not related by marriage, and I’m sober. Are there any obstacles to your attraction?”
“You’re toying with my mind again. You’ve always had a way of leading me to imaginary places. I should go now,” Nicole says without any effort to reach the door.
“Shhhhhush. Close your eyes and visualize it. What obstacles to our being together remain?” Ricky asks while holding Nicole’s hand.
“In those circumstances, there’s a strong probability of being drawn to you.”
“Probability… or certainty?” Ricky asks for clarification.
“Okay, I would definitely be drawn…. But don’t talk like that. We should’t be having this conversation!” Nicole shouts as she opens her eyes.
“Calm yourself. We’re just unburdening our emotions. Keeping them trapped up could lead to all sorts of health problems. Do you still have feelings for me?”
“I don’t want to answer that right now.”
“It’s okay, because your evasive response reveals enough to work with.”