There are a great many things to be said for alcoholism. It numbs the troubled brain, provides a good deal of fun for a short duration, and is a valuable excuse to take an abundance of aspirin in the morning. While it is said that it has too many draws to be a viable lifestyle-violent behavior, isolation from family and friends, an empty wallet, extreme delusions involving fried fish, many agree that the worst thing about alcoholism is the sorry business of quitting. Our heir, Bender, staunchly agreed. He complained about it often, and in the span of a half a week, had lost nearly all sympathy from his disgruntled housemates.
Only Nina Caliente, whom he knew the least and was thus the most suspicious of (This was not helped by the fact that she was a woman and therefore plotting to get in his conceited trousers), still sat through his many complaints. In this particular rant, he sought to educate her on the proper way to treat a withdrawal headache.
“It’s like some guy is pounding his fucking bongos in the back of my head,” groaned Bender, “and I can’t take aspirin, because I’ve got some alien spawn chewing on my insides. So you know what I’ve got do?”
“What?” asked Nina.
“I’ll tell you, but you’ll owe me a favor,” said Bender, voice dropping to a whisper. “And you aren’t allowed to tell anyone.”
“I won’t tell a soul, I swear. My lips are sealed.”
“Damn right they are!” Bender continued, whispering again, “First, I lay so still that I forget that I’m alive. I stay like that for around twenty minutes, then apply an ice pack to my forehead, and after that I watch an episode of that new sitcom, Life After Bella, and by then my brain is so numb I don’t feel a thing!”
“Tell me about it. I’m a withdrawal genius.”
He was very much a genius, thought Nina. A crazy, alcoholic, misogynistic genius, but a genius nonetheless. He must have been a devil in the courtroom.
Probably a devil in the bedroom, too, thought Nina. She would like to crawl over him, just once, not only for her plan (which was a very wicked plan, but a very necessary one in the eyes of Nina Caliente), but for the beauty of it all, as well. She wanted him as much as he wanted to avoid the police. It was almost a shame how much he didn’t trust her. She’d only lied about one thing, and simply withheld the rest. That wasn’t too bad, was it?
Nina mulled this over, and as memories began to surface, quickly shot it out of her head. Tears nearly sprung to her eyes. She blinked; Bender was waving his hand in her face.
“What’s with the expression?” he snapped. “Do you not like my cure?”
“No, no, that’s not it at all,” she said, smiling weakly. “Your cure’s great.”
Bender narrowed his eyes. “Cool. I’m going up to bed. Goodnight.”
Before Bender could even pull the covers over his head, he was overtaken by a hideous nausea. He dashed to the bathroom, crashing into the narrow hallway walls on his treacherous journey there, and shoving open the bathroom door, interrupting Blair and Griff in an intimate moment. He threw his face over the toilet. His insides heaved and then emptied into the once spotless bowl. Blair and Griff, however, were not sympathetic. “Jeez, Bender!” shouted Griff after pulling up his boxers. “Knock next time, okay?”
“Seriously, Bender,” Blair said and rolled her eyes. “Bulimia’s for models, not lawyers.”
Ignoring their accusatory eyes, Bender wiped his mouth on a square of toilet paper and stumbled onto the roof. He had a few things he needed to say.
“They think I’ve been doing this!” he shouted to the inky void above, and stuck his finger in his mouth. “It’s all your fucking fault! Why’d you have to go and pollinate me at all? What are you trying to do-destroy the world?”
The moon remained silent.
“I’m a man! I don’t have a uterus! I don’t even know how this baby thing is going to work out! Shit,” he whimpered, and then bellowed, “and now I can’t even have a glass of wine to forget about this whole fucking mess!”
The stars held their tongues.
“ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING!?”
With no answer at hand, Bender returned to the kitchen, suddenly struck by an intense craving for omelets.
“Are you okay?” asked Nina, eying the bead of sweat on Bender’s brow and his trembling hands. “Do you want me to cut that?”
“You can’t cook for shit,” mumbled Bender, shivering.
“Do you want to hear something that’ll cheer you up?”
“No, but okay.” He grabbed his plate, she grabbed her bowl of cereal, and they sat at the kitchen table.
“Blair’s pregnant,” Nina said, smiling.
“What about me?” asked Blair, glaring at her younger brother.
“Oh, we were just talking about how we should sell the baby to pay for home renovations,” said Nina.
“Oh, splendid!” Blair threw her hands up in the air. “Please tell me that joke’s just a coping mechanism.”
Bender was hysterical over the whole ordeal, and he slapped his knee wildly. His sister rolled her eyes and opened the fridge. “Cravings?” asked Bender, wiping a tear from his eye.
“I could say the same to you.”
Life began to pass in this simple manner-a pleasant cycle of arguments, jokes, and inadvertent bonding. Bender felt walls begin to drop as the creature inside him grew. He spent his days not drinking, but teasing, smiling, laughing. A general air of mistrust still loomed over the house, but it was of the manageable sort. Bender’s recovery from college had segued into some of the happiest days of his life. He adored this monotony.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on who you ask), the spell was broken on a quiet summer morning.
Blair and Griff slept softly in their bed, and the cats crept silently through the ground floor. Only two souls flirted about the house, and in one breathless moment, smashed together.
Bender had just left the shower, and Nina, who was always washing (if there was anything she hated more than garden gnomes, it was feeling filthy), wished to use it. She stepped forward, and he declined to move.
In that instant, Bender was upon her, kissing her face with a frenzied fervor, then smoothly parting her lips and exploring her eager mouth. There was a certain rustiness to his actions that Nina adored-it proved his exclusivity, that he’d chosen her alone to shower with his affection. A warm tingling traveled up her spine, resting in her dancing fingertips. Another flash, another hidden memory.
“You’re leaving her tomorrow, right?”
“Sure thing, baby.”
“You’re leaving him tomorrow, right?”
“Sure thing, baby.”
Bender felt another wave of nausea wash over him. He opened his eyes a crack, and noticed that Nina had done the same.
Bender pulled his face away sharply, mumbling, “I have to go to work,” before rushing out the door. Nina leaned against the bathroom wall, sliding to the cold floor. “Shit,” she muttered, holding her head in her hands. Combined, their baggage could easily overwhelm an airport.
As Bender fled to the law office, Blair turned on their newly purchased television, and was greeted with an unnerving news program.
“What a sight we have today! Streaming to you live from in front of the Caliente home, this is your one, your only, your local Pleasantview news!”
“I hope they got that abusive asshole of hers,” commented Blair, leaning back on the couch.
“Inside, two missing persons have been-how should I put this?-recovered, and are being sent to the morgue for a speedy, painless autopsy. Painless because they’re dead! Geddit?”
“What the hell?” whispered Blair, blue eyes widening.
“Mr. Ambulance Driver,” asked the newscaster, thrusting his microphone through the ambulance window. “What have you got to say about this?”
“Well,” said the ambulance driver slowly, “I don’t know who went trigger happy on Mr. Lothario and Ms. Caliente, but I just want to thank whoever it was for doing a service to this town. They have just bleached out one ugly stain from Pleasantview.”
Blair stood up slowly. A walk, that’s what she needed. A walk. Something to clear her mind. She wrapped her arms around herself, shuddering. Caliente. Nina. Nina Caliente. Lothario, Lothario, Lothario. She had seen him once, as a child, chatting up women at the local pool. Lord.. She stumbled outside, expecting a refreshing dose of sunlight.
She was greeted by the darkest woman in town.
“Mrs. Belue,” greeted Cassandra Goth.
Blair blinked; the world shook. “Who are you?” she asked, voice trembling.
“So you’ve seen the news,” said Cassandra, leaning in closer. “Did you know Donald and Dina?”
“No, seriously,” Blair snapped. “Who are you? I’m having a very bad day, and I’ve had my fill of mysteries for a lifetime as of five minutes ago, so I’d really like you to fess up before we take this conversation any further.”
“My name is Cassandra Goth,” said Cassandra. “My father is Mortimer Goth, and my mother was Bella Goth, but she disappeared many years ago. Donald Lothario was my fiance, and if my research is correct, was seeing not only Nina Caliente, but Dina Caliente, Kaylynn Langerak, and myself. He postponed our wedding for us to take an outing to the bowling alley-us including all of his lovers. I saw him kiss Nina on the street, stormed away, and never saw him again. Does this answer your question?”
Stunned, Blair didn’t answer.
“I’ve seen Nina Caliente outside your house. I believe she is plotting something against your family, and played a part in the murder of Dina and Donald. I am not here to patronize you, Mrs. Belue, but to help you.”
“So,” began Blair slowly, “all of what she said about an abusive husband is a lie?”
“Completely. She’s never even been engaged. Dina had been married to my uncle, who passed away, bless his skeptical soul, and was engaged to my father shorty before her death. But never Nina.”
“So what do we do?” asked Blair.
“Send her to prison, burn her on the stake, feed her to a cow plant,” hissed Cassandra. “Your brother-he was abducted wasn’t he?”
“How do you know that?”
“I saw it from my bedroom window.”
“I’m going to call the reporters, and I’m going to call Nina and appeal to whatever morals the,” she spat out the next word, “whore has.”
“Hold up!” snapped Blair. Her mind was afire with thousands of ideas, misgivings, and was terribly parched for a piece of honest proof. Facts. She needed facts. Truth was elusive, truth was driving her insane. “You can’t even prove that Nina did it! For all you know, she escaped. And you are not calling those reporters. The house is a mess!”
The house, in fact, was not a mess, but there was a slight pile of chopped vegetables on the counter which Blair assumed qualified as one.
Sighing, Cassandra shook her head and walked away, already dialing numbers in her mind. Blair’s mind, on the other hand, rapidly exploded.
Nobody could be for certain where the lampshade had come from or what purpose it served, but it was assumed to be a profound metaphor for the objectification and overt sexualization of women in modern media. Blair’s mental breakdown became the biggest success story in the history of Pleasantview, and was quickly added as a footnote to the Notable Figures section of It’s Always Pleasant In Pleasantville!
All of this rejoicing was to be saved for the future, however, as she became visibly, massively, and most importantly hormonally, pregnant.
She would have to save truth seeking for later.
Inside, Griff and Nina had began the first of what was to become their weekly workout session. While Griff would never admit it, he preferred to lay in the back, which gave him a worse view of the exercise video, because he got a much better look at Nina’s chest.
Nina paid little notice to him. She was used to the attention, and would rather focus on keeping her figure than averting a married man’s gaze. Another lesson from Dina.
The phone rang. Nina got up to answer it.
“I’ve called the press.”
Nina threw the phone at the wall. Being a very nice phone, it did not break, but simply pitifully coughed up its batteries.
She rushed up to Bender’s room and locked the door behind her. Falling onto his bed, she imagined how much pleasant it would be with Bender laying next to her, but shut out the thought. There were more important matters to worry about.
As Bender returned from work, he felt a sharp kick in his side. Horrified, he realized that it was time to don some amazingly ironic maternity clothes.
The reporters, summoned with news of a murder suspect, immediately turned their attention to the pregnant man in front of them. “Sir! Is it true they laid eggs in your stomach?”
“Did they say anything about the secret government project?”
“They didn’t feed you grilled cheese, did they?”
“Kiss my ass!” huffed Bender, continuing into his house. He did not need their shit today. Being reporters and thus persistent as unwanted suitors, they clambered into the house after him. They tailed Bender to his bedroom, and giggled when he realized that his door was locked. They each liked to think that they’d come up with the idea themselves.
“Do you remember the father’s name?”
“How is it going to come out?”
“Did the alien toilets make a lovely swish as the water went down the drain?”
“Are you aware that your t-shirt is badge of your unnatural pregnancy?”
“SHUT UP!” shouted Bender. “WHOEVER’S IN THERE, OPEN THE DAMN DOOR!”
“Shit!” swore Nina. “She really did it!”
Thankfully, however, the press had little interest in the murder of a legendary womanizer and one of his chew toys. A pregnant man was a much more alarming matter, and one of the first signs that the world was ending. The first, as a matter of fact, on a list of seven.
“Sir! Are you aware that your pregnancy is a sign of the coming apocalypse?”
“I don’t think he watches the news,” sighed Not-Scotsman, who wore his kilt not because he was of proud of his Scottish heritage (he had none to speak of), but rather to show his approval of the alleged Scottish lifestyle. In particular, he meant to show his approval of Scotch, a drink which he assumed to be Scottish.
“Poor, sad man,” said the reporter in cargo pants.
“Poor, sad man,” they all repeated in unison and swiftly, mercifully left.
“I can still taste the sweet brandy!” cried Bender. Another sentence was interrupted by a swift kick to his ribcage. Get a hold of yourself, man! the thing seemed to say. Don’t be such a pussy!
He just needed some sleep, Bender decided. A good rest would fix him right up. After a good deal of stumbling and stubbed toes, he arrived to find his bedroom door unlocked, a woman on his bed.
Nina hated to feel like an opportunist, but it was what she did best. Taking advantage of damaged, broken, but terribly successful men was in her blood. Her sister had made sure of that.
With a sweet, tasteful kiss, phase two of her plan was nearly complete.
And then it was.
A sharp, joyous pain jabbed her heart, and Nina coughed. Bender smiled softly, reaching across the pillows to stroke her cheek; staying that position, he drifted to a deep, lovely sleep.
Feeling righteously guilty, Nina sat up and glanced back at the sleeping man beside her. Awake, he had a terrible temper, a deep hankering for all things alcoholic, and an enviable case of extreme self confidence. He was an incredible madman, she thought. This other, soft side of him was a rare sight indeed.
She stood up, sighing. It was wrong to use him like this, she knew. It was wrong to use any person unless they were incredibly stupid and wholeheartedly deserved it, but she could not think of a single one that did. Except for Cassandra Goth, however, this stemmed from her great dislike of the Goth heiress rather than any measure of the girl’s intelligence. Nina crept downstairs, laid on the couch, and basked in the gentle glow of the secondhand television.
Bender awoke, alone, and miserably decided to feed his cats. He had been dumb to think he would wake up beside her. He had been dumb to think that maybe, just maybe, he could trust her. He had been so dumb.
For the first time in years, he allowed himself to cry. Abandoned, pregnant, and worst of all, sober, what did he have left going for him? There was his law career, yes, but he honestly couldn’t give a rat’s bladder about that. It was just a mechanism-a dream to keep him out of prison. They were all just mechanisms.
His head pounded. Bender winced-he needed to watch his soap opera to get rid of this one. He padded to the living room. As he sat beside Nina on the couch, the tears returned, and he choked back a sob.
“God-fucking-dammit,” Bender sighed. “Goddammit.”
“Everyone’s always leaving me,” he whimpered. He couldn’t help it-the honesty was pouring out in spades. “Everyone’s always leaving me, and no one ever feels bad about it.”
She pulled him into a tight hug; Bender began to shake uncontrollably. The tears were now flowing freely.
“My mom left me on the floor when I was born, and she never picked me up once after that. She never even tried. After she died, I went to college, and I met this girl. Really fucking cool girl. We hit it off and were going to get married. When she finished sophomore year, though…I couldn’t satisfy her anymore, I guess. I found her fucking the boy next door, and then my sister, and somehow, she and my sister were going to get married, and then somehow I let her start fucking me again. When I graduated, she..she…”
“She what?” said Nina gently.
“She told me she wasn’t going to love me. She was going to stay with my sister, and after graduation, they’d move Downtown, and we’d never see each other again. She said she had no regrets. I said my only regret was her.”
Nina hugged him tightly. “You deserved better than that.”
“Nobody deserves to be alone,” Bender sniffled. “Except for Starla Wren and that guy on that awful cooking show. Those bitches.”
He nuzzled her neck, breathing in her deep, flowery scent. “Please don’t leave,” he murmured. “We don’t have to get married. Actually, let’s not. Fuck weddings and rings and all of that shit.”
She smiled, kissing his forehead. “Let’s just be us.”
He returned her smile and leaned his head on her shoulder. “Bender,” said Nina, “there’s something I’ve got to-!”
Her confession was interrupted by a sharp scream upstairs.
“Shit!” Bender rubbed his stomach. “This craving hurts. Fuck, I could really go for some champagne right now.”
As Bender walked to the fridge, Nina ran upstairs, throwing on her dress as she went. Cassandra, that horrid woman, had probably just murdered Blair and Griff and the cats and now was coming for Bender and then her, oh god, oh god..
“SWEET LINCOLN’S MULLET!”
Breathlessly, Nina and Griff tumbled through the door. A wave of nausea overtook Nina, and a wave of fatherhood overtook Griff. Neither had a single idea as to what to do. “Have you ever delivered a baby?” Griff shouted at Nina.
“Do I look like I’ve ever delivered a baby?!”
Downstairs, Bender fixed himself an omelet.
Evidently, he was very excited about it-so excited his pregnancy went from first trimester to third in the span of thirty seconds.
It was a very good omelet.
“OH MY GAWD!” Blair screamed. “HOW DID MOM POP ME OUT, LET ALONE BENDER AND BERKLEY?!”
“Are you sure you’ve never delivered a baby?” yelled Griff.
“I’VE NEVER EVEN SEEN A BABY!”
Suddenly Nina’s plan didn’t seem like such a brilliant idea.
In a swirl of sparkles, the baby fell from the sky and into Blair’s outstretched palms. She nearly dropped him (he was a ten pounder, and Blair was not used to lifting objects that weighed more than their cats), but wishing to not follow her mother’s footsteps, managed to catch the boy.
“Isn’t he beautiful?” breathed Blair. “No thanks to any of you, of course.”
“I helped make him!” protested Griff.
“What’s his name?” asked Nina.
Blair grinned. “Louis. He’s going to be the pharmacist in Sim City. He’ll be grabbing pills for anyone who needs them.”
Nina opened her mouth to say what she thought would be profound and life changing for the newborn boy, but was suddenly hit by a ravaging pain in her stomach. Could it be..? The thought only made her feel more ill, if that was possible. Her eyes rolled back into her head; she stumbled backwards but could not find the door. Neither Griff nor Blair seemed to notice.
That is, they didn’t notice until she vomited all over their sweet baby boy.
Welcome to the world, Louis Belue.
Song of the update: Oh! Sweet Nuthin’ – The Velvet Underground
A/N: Another chapter in three days? /no life I’m so excited, though, it’s my seventeenth birthday on Sunday, and I’m throwing a little partay to celebrate tonight. I thought it’d be best to get this out before I get lost to the busy weekend ahead. :XD:
Also, I’ve updated the family tree-it’s a bit spoilerific, but not quite as bad as the last Author’s Note was.
Here’s a better picture of the first baby of generation three. Someday Louis is going to be GRABBING SOME PEELZ and killing all sons of bitches.