“We’re poor,” said Scarlett flatly.
“You’re kidding me, right?” Daisy fretted. “I’ve got a dinner to be at tomorrow! I need that new dress!”
“We can live like the princesses!” sang Rose very badly. When listened to behind a curtain, one could righteously assume she was being murdered by a Walt Disney film. “Maids! Maids! You can all have princes, but I’ll keep my big bad books.”
“The funeral shouldn’t have been that expensive,” mused Young Watson, ignoring his eccentric relative, as all usually did. “Lavish catering, handmade coffin, a headstone bigger than the state of New York-all very unnecessary. Mother, why did you have to pay for their revenge?”
“Well,” sniffled Pandora, chest heaving. “It’s not a pleasant story.”
While not entirely pleasant, many found Sunset Valley’s latest tragedy to be, to put it bluntly, a hoot. It had occurred in such a ridiculous fashion that one could not help but laugh and then feel guilty for doing so immediately afterwards. Newspaper headlines failed to do it justice-they liked to heap the blame on the scatterbrained stylist, and only those close to the key players were privy to any sort of reliable information. In an effort to dispel the fog about her name, Pandora Belue compiled a third person (so as to appear less biased and therefore more accurate) factual narrative of the whole affair. It reads as such:
Claire Ursine was not the easiest of clients to design a wedding dress for. She hated pink nearly as much as she hated law enforcement, which left poor Pandora Belue at a loss for words. She simply could not fathom how someone could live without a dash of appreciation for her favorite color. When her client demanded that the dress use a mile’s worth of fabric and be greener than a poor man in a millionaire’s garage, everyone (aside from Miss Ursine, of course) in the studio gasped. Pandora, not one to be easily deterred, quickly set about to creating the impossible.
In a month’s time, the job was done. Claire, who thought the traditional pre-marital crash diet was ridiculous, barely squeezed into the camouflage green gown. She marveled with an unrestrained squeal at the ridiculously long train, which wound around the studio three times and then out the door and around the block twice. “It’s beautiful!” gushed Claire. Relieved, Pandora could do nothing but grin.
Claire clapped her hands together, whooping and hollering. Wishing to rehearse her curiously choreographed cake cutting, she raised her foot, began to twirl, and promptly slipped on the train and tumbled into a broken neck. Aside from her grizzled uncle, her family was not pleased with this turn of events. The only thing that angered them more than Claire’s comical demise was the hideous wedding gown itself. They ordered it (and Pandora’s stylist license) to be burned immediately.
Following the burning, a grand funeral was thrown. Caterers flew in from nations whose names had more syllables than the Ursine family’s combined vocabulary. Entertainers were shipped in from the most scenic of gentlemen’s clubs, and alcohol ordered directly from Detroit’s most esteemed breweries. The Ursines, who had been pitiably impoverished the previous week, seemed utterly saturated in their newfound money. Their suits, it was said, had each been custom made for the occasion. Amazed, Pandora watched from behind her television screen. How in the world had the Ursines managed to cough up so many dollars? Such extravagance had not been seen in Sunset Valley since the joyous passing of Mrs. Cornelia Goth.
It was not until Pandora received an innocent cream envelope that she realized exactly who was to foot the funeral’s bill.
“And now the safe’s emptier than my sister’s coffin,” whimpered Pandora. “We have to sell the house to pay for the funeral, too.. Oh god, Malix, what do we do?”
“Tell the kids to get their own place?” suggested Malix, yawning. He loathed being awake at the ungodly hour of noon, and he loathed whichever one of his children had roused him from his bedsheets even moreso.
“Daddy!” cried Daisy. “You wouldn’t really suggest throwing out your favorite daughter, would you?”
“Favorite sheep,” giggled Rose, “black sheep, red sheep, green sheep. All of them are my favorites, yes, yes, yes!”
“Rose only speaks the truth,” said Malix. This was a lie, but Rose gleaned an ounce of comfort from his acknowledgment. “Each and every one of you is my favorite.”
“Highly unlikely,” observed Young Watson, ”but I will accept the lie for the good of the family.”
“I’ll get work as a waitress,” sighed Pandora, running her fingers through her hair. “Tips are going through the clouds these days, I’ve heard, especially at Hooters.”
“Daisy, Rose, Young Watson, and Scarlett,” Malix addressed each of his children gravely. “The rest of you should get jobs, too,” –he paused thoughtfully- “or perhaps it’d be better if you all just moved out.”
“Why do you want us out so badly?” groaned Daisy. “Don’t you love you us? You know we couldn’t possibly fend for ourselves out there.”
“Hoping for an empty nest?” snickered Scarlett.
“As if. They haven’t had sex in eighteen years,” said Young Watson.
Everybody’s eyes swiveled to the youngest Belue. While his words were common knowledge, no one had dared to voice them. Even Young Watson, who usually held no reservations with his opinions, had kept his mouth shut about this fact. Something, reasoned Scarlett, must have pushed him to point out their parents’ unfortunate sexual situation. Perhaps it was their hot off the shelves poverty. Perhaps his chronic sleeplessness had finally hit him, for his freshly spoken words would never even cross through his usual mind, or perhaps his usual mind had simply grown up. Young Watson had little interest in bedroom politics. Young Watson was to sex as the Mojave Desert was to a seal wearing a bowtie. If he were presented with a naked, willing woman, he would probably ask her if she wanted to watch a crime documentary. “I write detective novels,” Young Watson often said. “I haven’t got the time for women.”
He did, thought Scarlett smugly, have the time to think about sex-on their parents’ lack of it, in particular. The absence was slightly disturbing, really, when one mulled it over. Who in the world would stay in a marriage that was drier than a British comedy? Scarlett shuddered. She could hardly imagine monogamy itself, let alone sexless matrimony. Her parents hadn’t the faintest idea of how live ought to be lived, thought Scarlett, and they ought to be advised on how they should go about doing it. As she opened her mouth to elaborate on Young Watson’s statement, an extraordinary advertisement flashed on the television.
It began in a tiny blue house, concentrated in a tiny chesnut kitchen. Lace curtains framed dainty windows; wood paneling comprised the walls. A smartly dressed man sporting a fat cigar sauntered onto the screen. He leaned against the chrome refrigerator, taking a long drag. He stared through the screen and into the crowded living room.
The Belues remained silent.
Outside, the sun shone. The man, pale and thin, glanced out the window, and then returned his eyes to his audience. Daisy shivered. His black eyes burrowed into her forehead. Each memory was turned over in his mind like coins in a collector’s sweaty palm; each sin examined for further judgment. Each finger trembled, and bile arose in her throat. It seemed that the Belues would have a further, much more literal mess on their hands.
The sharply dressed man opened his mouth. All other thoughts fled the room. “It has come to our attention,” said the man, “that the world is coming to an end.”
“Hasn’t he read the previous chapters?” groaned Young Watson, the only one watching who had retained his wits. “Everybody knows that.”
“Shut up!” snapped Scarlett. “I’m trying to pay attention, asshole.”
The man on the screen continued. “After a great deal of testing, philosophizing, and deductive reasoning, we have determined the cause.”
“The homosexuals,” said Young Watson dryly. “It’s always about the homosexuals.”
“There’s nothing wrong with homosexuals,” said Scarlett. She was rather knowledgeable on the subject. “The men are just a bit boring in the…”
“Scarlett!” cried Daisy.
Scarlett rolled her eyes and Daisy clucked her tongue and Rose dreamt about sheep and Young Watson furrowed his brows and the man on the television began to speak once more. “Supernaturals have shot the world’s normality meter. Unless a cure to their unusual condition is created“ -he paused dramatically- “the world will come to an end.”
This, of course, was wrong, but was to be expected from the only Public Service Announcement denouncing things other than our friends of another orientation. Yes, the universe had determined that Earth’s time was ticking to a close; this was easily evidenced by the lack of dolphins frolicking about the sterns of accident-prone ocean liners. However, the creatures of the night had little do with any sort of apocalypse planning. The state sponsored advertisement on the television, despite the usual honesty and truthfulness of the average commercial, was a lie. The general public was too gullible to see this. Young Watson was not the general public.
He knew how to use this PSA to his advantage.
The man on the screen cocked a dark brow and widened his eyes seriously. The scene quivered. For a moment, it appeared as if the world had gone dark. Not a lamp flickered; not a star twinkled. The man and the kitchen reappeared. A faint whistling shimmied in the distance. The man’s eyebrow relaxed. The screen faded to black.
Bewildered, the company stared at the television. Another more healthy and ordinary show took over the screen. An attractive couple waltzed seamlessly from shot to shot, tangoed from frame to frame. His shirttails traced his every shift, precisely placed step; her skirt enveloped their legs in a dizzying, whipping, and whirling blissful storm cloud of magenta silk. Flawless limbs arched forwards, backwards, perfectly nestled within each crevice of a drumbeat. Scarlett yawned, and her sister lurked away, forever unnoticed. She was not one for romantic dramas or comedies. “They should just get it over with,” she often said during teenage sleepovers while the party gathered around the latest chick flick. “Why does it take a whole hour and a half for them to get to the sex scene? This is a waste of time, if you ask me. Can’t we just fast forward to the good parts?”
Scarlett was not popular with other girls, but the men sure loved her.
“Well,” said Malix, “that was all weird and blatantly offensive, and on that awkward note, I think it’s time your mother and I had a talk.”
“Are we going to tie the knot?” asked Pandora. She batted her long eyelashes, and Scarlett gagged. Daisy’s heart fluttered. The rest of the room remained ambivalent.
“Let’s not get our hopes up,” said Malix pleasantly. “This conversation is going to be strictly fiscal.”
“Strictly fiscal?” laughed Scarlett. “Are you sure you’re not talking about Daisy’s engagement?”
“I love my fiancé very much,” snapped Daisy. “He’s so much more than his mansion, sports car, suits, maids, chef-you’d love the chef, Scarlett, he makes a lovely lobster dish, dress shirts, and oh, he’s just got loads of great things going for him.”
“Oh, loads,” said Scarlett, rolling her eyes. “Sounds like you’re marrying into Wall Street.”
Malix cleared his throat. An eye roll, courtesy of Scarlett, shot in his direction; he sighed, warranting him another. Malix secretly believed Scarlett had never matured past sixteen, and wondered briefly if Pandora thought the same. He would make sure to ask her about this. “Let’s talk outside,” he said, turning to Pandora, who nodded solemnly and followed him to the stagnant outdoors.
Their children gathered around the kitchen table. Rose peeked out the kitchen window, squinting her almond eyes into the sun. “Why are they talking on the porch?” asked Rose in a rare moment of mental clarity. “Dad’s going to die.”
“So about the fortune,” said Young Watson, “I’m not one for stating the obvious, but if we do not start bringing in the cash soon, then we’ll be forced into shaking cans on the corner if we want to pay the mortgage. Is everyone in agreement with this?”
“He’s sizzling,” said Rose. Almost everything she said was regarded as incoherent by almost everyone she spoke to, and her words passed through the stratosphere without garnering a lonely reply.
“Aye,” said Scarlett.
Daisy nodded sharply and leaned forward in her seat.
Young Watson continued. “In order to quickly and easily remedy the situation, I’ve come up with a four point plan. (Unwittingly, he held up five fingers.)
First, we move to a house in Lovecraft county, though you probably know of it as Moonlight Falls. I’ve heard that it’s crawling with supernaturals, which will figure into my plan in the next thirty seconds. Be patient and quit your fidgeting, Daisy.
Second, we will convince our parents to move to a separate household with an easy lie. ‘We’re going to enroll in the local-nonexistent, mind you, but they won’t know that-university. We need your room for the bubble blower,’ we’ll say, and they’ll readily agree and move somewhere conveniently far away from us.
Third, we’ll claim to have invented the cure to supernaturalism. There’s not enough money for potions, but we can always improvise. Scarlett, we might need some of your, er, talents here, if that’s all right with you. They should be eager to take it, what with the end of the world coming around and all, so business will be booming.
Fourth, we state the cure takes a year to work. After five months of open business, we reap the profits and move back to Sunset Valley, and say that we’ve exhausted our resources and must recuperate. We leave no new address. How does this sound?”
Scarlett clapped her hands. “Brilliant!” she grinned. “I can always give what I’ve got to offer, provided they’re not hideous or taken. Besides”-her voice lowered-“I’ve always wanted a supernatural.”
There was an awkward pause. Scarlett’s fantasies often brought these.
“I don’t want to move,” Daisy sniffed.
“Why the hell not?” snapped Scarlett. “Do you want to play Oliver Twist, or do you want to move up to the big leagues?”
“You wouldn’t understand! You just sleep around-you’ve never been engaged!”
“Are you calling me a slut?” Scarlett’s voice quavered.
Sheepishly, Daisy bit her lip. “A little bit, yeah.”
“Come back after you dump your sugar daddy, honey,” Scarlett hissed. Suddenly, a brilliant idea struck. They’d be moving in no time. “You know he’s already married, right?”
Daisy threw her face in her hands, wailing to the ceiling. Scarlett appreciated her modesty. Daisy’s snot soaked, blotchy red face was never a sight to behold. Daisy, on the other hand, was utterly ashamed. While she loved the stench of old money, she couldn’t be a mistress. She wasn’t Scarlett, goddamnit! I will never be someone’s whore, she thought bitterly, untruthfully. I am better than that.
“Lies!” cried Rose, pounding her fists on the table and glaring at her younger brother. “Unethical lies, like the trees in the winter!”
“Ethics are irrelevant,” chuckled Young Watson. “This is business, my dear.”
Tom Jones – “Sixteen Tons”
A/N: HIATUS BROKEN, HUZZAH!!
I hope you guys all enjoy this new generation. I’m going to wait to host the heir vote until a few chapters in, so ya’ll get to know these guys a bit before deciding which one will carry on the Belues. I had a lot of fun writing this, and am really looking forward to developing these characters to their fullest. 🙂
Teenage Daisy is hardcore lurking.