Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Arthur: Holiday commitments

I didn't get much Christmas shopping done when I met Jake last week; my current plan is to make an evening of it with Raymond tomorrow night. Quite frankly, he probably knows Elizabeth's family far better than I do, so he'll be able to say yes and no to what are almost completely random choices. Besides, it'll be payback for getting dragged to another boring law firm party tonight.

The only thing I wound up buying at the mall on Thursday was a new red dress, something a little Christmas-y with a snowflake print. It's fun, I look kind of cute in it, especially with the matching sparkly red stockings and Santa hat, but I'm kind of amazed that the weather is right for it. It was cold when I bought it, but there's been a patch of warm days lately. That's confusing, really - you hear all about the New England winter, but if this is it, then there are evenings when I'll take Boston's winter over San Francisco's summer. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be wearing a dress that's a halter up top and which stops above the knee tonight, if I was back home.

With the caveat that if I was back home, I'd probably be myself, of course.

Anyway, that's what I've got planned for the next couple evenings. Getting those days off means that I'm pulling a couple doubles later this week, along with working both Christmas Even and Christmas evening. Not that I mind; it keeps me out of the Lees' holiday celebrations. Jake may have really enjoyed his Thanksgiving with Ashlyn's family, but it goes to show how different our respective baggage is. He's been without his family for a while, so a big family dinner is like revisiting a childhood memory for him; it hasn't even been a year since I lost my mother, and I can't say I've got good memories of my father, so the big nuclear family gathering feels like a parody to me. It's not my life, I don't know how to act in that situation, and I'm taking what rightly belongs to Elizabeth.

She doesn't really seem to hold it against me. I received my first letter from her in over a month yesterday. On the good side, it did have a helpful list of Christmas shopping suggestions, along with some helpful "don'ts": Her father is allergic to chocolate, so if I had followed my usual strategy of buying candy for everyone who hadn't been checked off my shopping list two days before Christmas, that would have been... awkward.

She said she was sorry she hadn't written sooner, but it's apparently been a crazy couple months for her. Like me, she wound up inheriting a boyfriend, but hers is one André Trudeau, a notable figure in organized crime up there. Or, at least, a "suspected" one. According to Liz, he's always been paranoid, but last month there was a major organized crime crackdown in Quebec. For the most part, it focused on Italian families, which means it's been something of an opportunity for the Trudeaus - it created a power vacuum for them to move into. On the plus side, it meant that the nasty guy twice her age isn't coming by quite so often, but when he is, he's quite insistent and not happy that "Marie" now prefers speaking English to trying to get by in her high school French. The big downside is that André's paranoia has gone through the roof, and he's constantly worried about someone close betraying him - someone like his twenty-five year-old mistress.

So Liz is being watched. Some of the time, she's being watched by "Jean-Michel Therriot", that is to say, Ashlyn, and there's a little pressure off, but Ashlyn says that doesn't mean she's particularly trusted - Trudeau has software loaded on their computers to track web browsing and keypresses (which is why her letters are written by hand), and since Ashlyn is occasionally told to keep tabs some of her "colleagues", it stands to reason that she's being watched, too. Besides, Ashlyn doesn't keep tabs on Liz that much these days - Trudeau apparently got a little upset when "Marie" and "Jean-Michel" stayed in Old Orchard a few days longer than expected, and wants to nip anything going on between them in the bud.

Liz shudders to think what would have become of them if Ashlyn hadn't been able to blend in - the Providence area has a good-sized French-Canadian population, so Ashlyn was already somewhat familiar with the language and accent (that, and she had dated the occasional hockey player). Liz really wants out badly, though; she's already making plans for how to accomplish it.

It's sobering. As much as I'm not thrilled with living Liz's life, I can certainly see why she wants it back. I'm going to feel pretty bad enjoying her family dinner, knowing where she is.

-Art

1 Comments:

At 1/01/2007 9:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope Liz is ok with all this mob stuff.

 

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