The House That Dreaded Sweets
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'The twelve days of Christmas! One day of Christmas is horrible enough.' (Laurence Harvey - 'The Manchurian Candidate' (1962))
'Unca Dare-wick! Unca Dare-Wick!' Screamed three year old Sally as she bounded down the stairway. 'Where ya go-wing?'
Derek was halfway out the door before he paused at the sound of the small figure coming toward him. He closed his eyes, shooked his head and sighed deeply before pulling himself back into the house. 'Pumpkin, I told you several times already. I have to go out of town on a business trip.'
A worried look suddenly washed over the little girl's face. 'But Unca Dare-wick, my paw-tee iz...'
'... Tomorrow night. I know! I know!' Derek quickly interupted her as he looked at his watch. 'Look Sally, I ~really~ need to leave this minute if I'm going to catch my flight.' Quickly staring down at the child, who looked simply adorable with her blonde hair done up in pigtails and wearing a pair of small pink overalls, he knew the conversation wasn't over yet.
'But Unca Dare-wick...' The expression on little Sally's face was dropping quicker than the stock for Planet Hollywood, as she went from worried mode to pout mode.
Derek set his suitcase down and kneeled to Sally's level. 'I'm only going to be gone for one day. I promise I'll be back in plenty of time for your Halloween party.'
Sally lifted her head up in response to Derek's words. 'You pwomise?'
'I promise!' Derek swore as he mockingly place one hand on his heart and one hand in the air. He suddenly felt as if he was reenacting a scene from Harper Lee's 'To Kill a Mockingbird' (minus the gold watch).
Sally's face immediately brightened and she swung her tiny arms around Derek's thick neck and hugged him. Derek smiled akwardly at Sally's affectionate display of emotion.
After Sally released him, Derek stood up and quickly grabbed his suitcase. 'Now you better behave yourself while I'm gone, young lady, and remember to obey your mother and sister. Okay?'
'Oooooookay!' Sally replied, only half listening to Derek at this point. 'I gonna go pway now! Bye!'
Derek once again shook his head as he watched the three year old darling skip down the hallway and out of sight. Opening the door to leave, he still couldn't believe he had been married to her for 12 years.
The unbelievable turn of events that occurred last Valentine's Day were still freshly etched into Derek's befuddled mind. 'God, why hast thou forsaken me?!?!' Derek screamed outloud after getting in his car and shutting the door. (The comment was said in jest, but still seemed like the most logical phrase to express under the circumstances, despite the fact that Derek was an atheist.)
The last eight months had been an utter nightmare for Derek. His 33 year old wife was now 3, his 8 year old daughter was now eighteen, and his other daughter, who was 10, was now a newborn. It had taken Derek up until now to carefully and somewhat successfully conceal the situation from work, school, friends, family, neighbors, and just about everyone else who knew or confronted his wife and daughters on a regular basis. The situations with school and work were fairly simple to solve. Derek just called his wife's place of employment and told them that she had quit that day (also throwing in that she had suddenly went to visit her sick mother and couldn't be reached, and that he would have to come in and clean out her office). Derek also called his daughters' school and told them that Dianne and Peggy would be attending different schools. Family, friends, and neighbors were a little harder to conceal the truth from and under the circumstances, Derek really couldn't blame their suspiciousness of him or his actions. One day he had a beautiful wife and two great kids, and the next day, POOF! The wife and kids are gone, and in their place is a voluptous teenager, a toddler, and a baby. Rumors ranged from his wife, after learning he was having an affair, taking the kids and leaving him (with the mistress and her illegitimate children moving in the next day), to Derek actually murdering his family. Just recently, theses rumors had even begun to leak around where he worked.
With all the stress at work and at home (especially at home), Derek had surprised himself by allowing Sally to have a Halloween party, let alone entertain the idea of one. Even more surprising was that some of his friends and neighbors were actually accompanying their kids to the party. Derek figured it had more to do with quenching their own curiousity over his situation and discovering firsthand what was going on in his home and less to do with being friendly and cordial. Derek figured if he cancelled the party now, he'd only look more guilty (of what, he didn't know) and the rumors would grow unabated.
Derek turned the car on and reved up the engine a little. He was still uneasy about leaving his family with everything that had happen recently, but business was business. If Derek lost this upcoming account, he knew his boss Mr. Tate would have his head on a platter at work. The thought of supporting himself and three young girls on temporary severance pay and unemployment checks was simply inconceivable. Unable to trust his frivolous and self-centered 18 year old daughter Peggy, Derek reluctantly had to venture outside the confines of his own immediate family for someone to help share the unusual burden that he had been suddenly entrusted with. That person turned out to be Sally's mother Dorthy, who was not only really close to her two grand-daughters, but spoke to or visited Sally and the two girls almost daily. Due to this, Derek soon found it virtually impossible to conceal the truth from her for long. Natually, Dorthy was shocked at first, but eventually accepted the unbelievable story Derek revealed to her. The 65 year old woman even temporarily moved in to help Derek out in his time of need. Dorthy, whose husband (Sally's father), died two years earlier, quickly filled the void in her life by becoming a full-time surrogate mother to Dianne & Peggy and her newly rejuvenated daughter Sally.
Derek shook his head and recollected his thoughts. 'Well, enough of this mental self-pity shit! I've got to get going!' Derek slowly backed out of the drive, took one last look at his personal domain, and quickly headed toward the airport.
If Derek had been concentrating more on his driving and less on his current predicament, he might had seen (in his rear-view mirror) the special delivery truck that had suspiously come out of nowhere and was now slowly pulling into his driveway.
END OF PART ONE