April 16, 2007

Chapter 24: SK Grills Cleveland

SK Grills Cleveland

"It was nice of you to accept my invitation to dinner Cleveland. Keth wasn't sure you would, after the whole blow up during the headmaster's visit."

"Well, I was glad for the chance to get out of the house. It's going to be a while before things get back to normal there. All the crying and sobbing. And that's just from Father."

"I'm sorry to hear that."

"And just to let you know, it's kind of weird being here without Kasson. I mean, you two are serious about each other but I'm suddenly single and you're a knowledge sim and..."

"Cleveland, you're babbling. We just wanted to know how you're handling everything. You're a good friend; I was concerned."

"Oh, I've certainly discovered who my friends are during this... situation. I couldn't believe all the support I received. Here I was wondering if I should've given Shelby another chance and if maybe I'd overreacted, but everyone started telling me I'd done the right thing. They said if anything I'd waited too long. Some of the language they used to describe her though... I wouldn't want Omaha or Treynor to hear it. She is their mother after all."

"At least Salina moved home from college before all this happened. It's been great to have her there. She's been helping keep everyone's spirit up at home. She's even moved her wedding plans up."

"Yeah, I know. She keeps dragging me out gown shopping with her. Oy. She probably just wants to get moved out as soon as possible so Texas will stop bugging her about grandkids."

"Well, that could be..."

"It probably is. Texas sure wants those grandkids. Anyway, on to the topic everyone's been waiting for you to weight in on. What about you and Veronica? Barely 24 hours had passed after you send Shelby on her way before you were implying things were heating up a notch between you and she. So spill it."

"Oh, you... ah... wanted details on all that?"

"Damn straight. You two have been making secret goo-goo eyes at each other since college."

"It would be nice to have a little private time for once. No one peering over my shoulder or telling me what to do. And think of Veronica. She's been an NPC until recently. She doesn't know how to handle all this intense scrutiny and direction."

"So you're not going to tell us?"

"Whatever happened to privacy?"

"Keth's going to have to get the crystal ball or the Wayback Machine again, isn't she?"

"She never lets up, does she?"

"Nope. How do you think I feel?"

"Oh all right. Here goes."

"As you can imagine, my whole marriage falling apart in a single evening was a bit much to take in all at once. I needed to get away from all the wailing and talk to someone about what had happened. Help me sort out my thoughts."

"Hey, I was available to talk."

"No you weren't."

"Well I was until Kasson showed up. You should've called ahead."

"Can I continue? Veronica shares a row house over on Llama Creek Way with her grandmother. I showed up just after she got back from work. She was a little shocked to hear about what happened between Shelby and the headmaster."

"But she was very sympathetic about everything. She didn't even say 'I told you so' or anything like that."

"That's because she's been waiting for you to wake up and part ways with Shelby."

"And she's been waiting a long time."

"So I gathered. I guess I should be glad she's patient."

"So she invited you in?"

"Yes. I figured you would've realized that from the last picture."

"Just checking."

"We talked a lot while Veronica made dinner. I figured that after serving others all evening she might want to order a pizza or something. Have someone else serve her. But she said she'd prefer to fix something up quick."

"We talked about everything that had been going on. I explained that it felt like I had been lost in a raging storm and that now the clouds were starting to clear. The light was beginning to shine through..."

"...and there's bound to be a rainbow showing up sometime soon."

"That's very philosophical, Cleveland."

"Veronica thought so too. She's such a good friend. And awfully cute too."

"Yeah, we have a feeling she thinks you're pretty cute yourself."

"Do you think so?"


"Well, she did light the fire and invite me to join her on the couch for a little snuggling."

"Just snuggling?"

"Yes, why?"

"I don't know. This doesn't exactly look like snuggling."

"Okay, maybe it was a little bit more than just snuggling."

"I would say a lot more than just snuggling. And how long were you to at it? The fire looks pretty well burned out by now."

"No, no. It wasn't burned out at all."

"Um, I think you're referring to a different sort of fire there Cleveland."

"No I wasn... er... you're right. The fireplace had burned out. So we moved upstairs where it was warmer. The nights do get cold in the Strangetown Urban Complex."

"And when it got too cold upstairs you took it under the covers?"

"I... ah... er..."

"Where does she hide those cameras?"

"Believe me, I wish I knew."

"So what about Shelby? Have you had any contact with her since the divorce was finalized? I heard she got that big name law firm, Boolprop and Motherlode, to represent her."

"Well, they didn't get anywhere near as much as they wanted. Mother hired this fancy solicitor who gave them what-for. I'm surprised they were able to get anything at all out of her."

"Did you catch her name?"

"No. She looked kind of like a nun though. I thought it was rather odd."

"Interesting. But have you seen Shelby recently?"

"Kasson said she's stopped by a couple times when I've been at work or asleep. I guess she was there to see Omaha and Treynor. She didn't say much to Kasson, but then they've never cared much for each other."

"He did mention that she seemed pretty angry with me still."

"Well, getting denied your big divorce settlement can do you that do you."

"No, I think it's more that she still doesn't believe she was doing anything wrong and she's upset that I think she was."

"For Omaha and Treynor's sake, we can't continue to go around furious with each other."

"And stealing each other's newspaper."

"That too... er... well one night as I was doing my Master of the Criminal Underworld rounds, I stopped by her place. She's got a new little house over in the Strangetown Urban Complex."

"She didn't seem overly thrilled to see me, but she did invite me inside once I explained why I was there."

"I also understand she rolled up a want panel full of Cleveland wants as soon as you stepped on the lot."

"I wouldn't know anything about that."

"We saw yours too. Veronica would be hurt."

"Can I continue now?"


"As I was saying, she invited me in and whipped us up a little early morning breakfast."

"What is it about women wanting to fix you meals? And why did she change clothes?"

"I don't know. Maybe she felt uncomfortable being around me in her pajamas."

"She was wearing flannel. They covered more of her than that suit of hers does."

"I explained that for the sake of the children, we should call a truce between us. Omaha and Treynor don't need parents who can't even talk civilly to each other. They need our understanding and support right now. By the time we were done talking, we'd sorted out more things than our lawyers had during the divorce proceedings. It felt good to get things settled."

"But Omaha and Treynor will be living with you full time still, won't they? They are Holldums after all."

"Shelby said that she's working hard on her next big promotion and that it would be best for them to stay with me for now."

"She also said that after this next promotion or two she should be all set at the top of her career. As much as she'd like Treynor and Omaha to stay with her, she can't afford any distractions until she has her promotions."

*blink blink*

"After we finished our talk, Shelby told me she was tired and needed to catch a little sleep before her carpool arrived. So I said goodnight and continued on my Criminal Underworld rounds."


"I think she'll be happy in her new house and with her new life. Now she'll be able to devote herself wholeheartedly to climbing the corporate ladder. She'll probably be one of the best business tycoons Strangetown has ever seen."

"Ah, Cleveland?"

"You're absolutely sure there's nothing more you want to tell us?"

"I'm sure. Why?"

"Oh, no reason..."

Moving on to the Next Chapter...


April 03, 2007

Chapter 23d: Aftermath


Ah, the last load screen featuring Cleveland's now ex-wife Shelby. Shall we go and see how they're coping with the heartbreak of divorce?

The youngest ones are always the deepest hurt. Poor Treynor can't even eat his burned muffin, he's so traumatized. As a toddler he'd witnessed his mother flirting with coworkers, but that doesn't seem to matter now.

Omaha was losing it even before Shelby had left. She might be Daddy's Girl but that doesn't mean she doesn't care about her (cheating) mama.

Cleveland doesn't seem too concerned at all, however. Almost unmoved even, as he goes about making dinner.

What I wasn't expecting was how it would affect Waylon and Texas. I was busy getting pictures when I heard this horrible wailing. Bawling old geezer is not a pleasant sound. I'm sorry Waylon, I didn't realize how bad you'd take it (especially since he's been spinning up engaged/married/grandchild wants like crazy)

Texas hasn't been spinning up those wants (well, other than the grandchild one) but that doesn't mean she's any less moved by the break up.

Kasson's been on the receiving end of that break up speech before. Even though he and Shelby weren't the best of friends, he's not unmoved.

Salina too has faced that pointy "get out" finger and sympathizes with poor Shelby. She was lucky enough to find her love again; hopefully Shelby can find new love, in time.

"Mouse Mistress?"

Did someone say something? I can't hear over the wailing elders.


Oh, sorry Cleveland. Yes?

"Are you done ruining my life, destroying my family, and making my mother cry?"

Hey, I'm sorry about Texas and Waylon. Really. I didn't know they'd take it as hard, if not harder, than the kids. Still...

I'm a little concerned about Treynor. The breakup seems to be causing him to develop some issues at an early age. He's a bit young to be developing "self fury" syndrome.

"Waaaaaahh!!! Mommy!"

Cleveland, shouldn't you do something to comfort your son?

"I'll be lucky if he doesn't hate me for life."

Well, at least Omaha is here to console her little brother.

"It's okay punkin. I'm here fer ya. An' Gramma's here too. It'll done get better, really it will."

"Ya'll always have me Treynor, no matter what. I'll always be here for ya."


"I done cross mah heart. That's what big sisters are fer ya know."

Omaha tries to put on a brave face for her little brother, but occasionally it slips. Listening to her grandparents certainly doesn't help.

And so begins the awkward phase of trying to move on with life when everyone is still hurting.

"Great job fer done gittin fired from yer job way back when there Dad."

"Er, thanks Omaha. How do you know about it? You weren't born yet."

The Holldum tradition of bad congradulations continues.

After she finished her lobster, Texas got up and began laughing at Shelby's portrait. Really Texas, think of your grandchildren. What sort of trauma will seeing their grandmother laughing at their mother cause?

"Salina hun, I sure hope that whene'er ya'll an Cirrus git married, y'all take the time ta work out yer problems afore somethin like this done happens."

"Thanks Mamma. We'll sure try."

"Cuz if it does, I'm gonna done make you so sorry fer breakin this ol' woman's heart again."

"That there goes fer you too Kasson. If'n ya ever git yer head on straight an' ask that nice Keth-who-ain't-Keth gal ta marry ya, ya better not be thinkin of splittin up either or when I git done with ya, ya'll be hatin life."


"Both of y'all are my only hope fer granchiles now. Well, Salina, actually yer prolly my best chance. I ain't holding out no hope that yer brother'll be fatherin' any lil ones anytime soon like."


Amidst all the hub-bub and wailing and lamenting, Omaha tried to sneak out for a little night on the town with one of her stable of boys. Maybe it can help ease the pain in her heart.


"Yes Daddy, I'm headed back inside."

"I'm sorry Angel. This is a hard time for everyone, but we'll get through it, one day at a time. Just remember your mother and I love you and Treynor very much, even if we don't love each other anymore."

*snuffle* "I luv you Daddy."

"I love you too Angel. Now head up to bed. Tomorrow's a school day."

"Gud mowning bus dwiver wady. My sisser Omahaw says dis is the bus to my new skoo."

"You must be Treynor. Hi, I'm Stacy Phelps. Your sister's right. This is the bus to SSSS. So hop on in and lets head out... ohmigod, did you steal your grandmother's dentures or something?"

See what I mean about Treynor having issues. We're talking class 5 free roaming gums here.

Quit the creepy smile and get on the bus Treynor.

Salina, you're not supposed to set the kitchen on fire. That's Euphemia's job. If you insist on making omelets flambé, at least step back a ways before they go up.

I love how Felicia is right there underfoot. She's in as much danger as Salina.

"Thanks fer savin me Dorian. I was sure poor Felicia and me were done goners with that fire. Hey, yer sure kinda cute. Kin I git yer number ta give to my niece so she can ring ya up when she's lookin fer a man in a few years?"

"Hey, I'm just here to put out the fires lady, not pick up underage girls. That's wrong."

So Salina decided to take a sponge bath in the kitchen sink. Felicia barked at her the whole time she was bathing. I guess both the dog and the maid have some issues with naked Holldums.

Off to work Kasson?

"Yep. I'm like starting to totally dig this here whirlybird."

Yeah, well I still have that "quit my job" want locked for you. And you're a political bigwig now, don't you think you could shave before heading off to work? It doesn't look terribly professional.

"Nah, chicks dig it."

SK is the only chick you need to worry about digging anything and she... aw crap, I forgot the scruff turns her on. Never mind.


Poor Treynor's homework was forgotten in the chaos of the previous night, so Cleveland took a little time before he left for work to help his son learn how to study.

"Can I go pway now Daddy?"

"Brush your teeth first and check to make sure they're not floating around still. You'll freak out your grandmother."


Strangetown's newest criminal mastermind rushes out for his first day on the job. Yeah, you'd better run Cleveland. You may be permaplat, but that won't stop you from toasting in the sun like the vampire you are.

Omaha does a little rushing out to the car of her own.

So who is it this time?

"Um, some friend of Payton's. I ain't recalling his name, but he's blonde."

Is that all that matters?

"Well, I done hope he's a good kisser too."

Treynor, you're really starting to creep me out. Stop channeling your uncle's dreams. You're too young to develop pink floaty hearts for anyone, much less SK. *shudder*

Oopsie, looks like the good sergeant Larry Mace caught himself another Holldum. Luckily Cleveland is still at work so Omaha can't get more busted than she already is.

So how was your first night atop the Throne of Crime? Was it a good night for evil?

"Just because I control the crime world now doesn't mean that I have to be evil."

Don't let Orrin hear you say that. He'd be so disappointed.

"Are you done interrupting my return from work? I'd like to go to bed and cry myself to sleep now."

I'm sorry Cleveland. Really I am. How many times do I need to say it.

"A few hundred more times might be a start."

How about I do something better next chapter.

"Such as?"

Such as doing something about all those wants for Veronica you spun up as soon as you became an eligible vampire.

"Um, what if I've already done something about those?"

Oh really? Please, do tell...

"That will have to wait until next chapter."

Dang it, I'm going to have to go dig out the Wayback Machine again, aren't I?