In this week's episode of Don't Look Back, Marshall and Lee face Rhonda. Will they be able to diffuse the bomb she's determined to explode? Find out! And don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what they're up to. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!
Don't Look Back #52 (10.1)
The next time Rhonda knocked on their door, they were ready for her.
Several days had passed since her first intrusion, but Marshall knew she hadn’t left the area. He caught glimpses of the bedraggled travel trailer as it cruised by their house at odd hours, probably waiting for Lee to not be there. That wasn’t happening.
Roy reasoned they couldn’t be staying in Burnham, but he suspected they might be squatting somewhere in the area, living out of the trailer. He’d put out some feelers and was waiting to hear back from a few people, so they’d have a better idea where they stood with regard to the law.
When the knock came, they answered it together. Marshall stood beside Lee, head held high. He wasn’t about to let her intimidate him, never again. Their hands were clasped in solidarity. Marshall took comfort from Lee’s loving grip.
Rhonda stood there alone. She seemed uneasy at the sight of Lee. “I guess you know why I’m here,” she said, after a moment of uncomfortable silence.
“Not really.” Lee’s voice was colder than Marshall had ever heard it. He knew how much effort it must have taken for Lee to speak to her in any kind of a civil manner.
“Can I come in, or do you want the neighbors to hear everything?”
Lee hesitated. They’d discussed this too. There seemed to be no way around letting her in, but this would be the first and last time, Lee swore.
“Fine.” Lee stood back, allowing her to enter. Closing the door after her, he took Marshall’s hand.
“This way,” he said, leading her back to the family room. He indicated the arm chair, and he and Marshall sat together on the couch. She sat at the edge of the cushion, as if poised for flight.
“So let me get this straight, Rhonda. You think we should give you money because you think you’re entitled to it. Have I got that about right?”
Rhonda flinched slightly, but managed to meet Lee’s gaze. “Yeah, that’s about it. You’ve got it pretty good here. You can afford it.”
“What makes you think we owe it to you? This is our business. We’ve worked hard to make it what it is. Why do you think you deserve anything?”
“You started that business when you were still married to me,” Rhonda countered. “It should have been part of the divorce settlement.”
“Well, it wasn’t,” Lee said bluntly. “Judgment went in my favor since you abandoned your family by choice. The court awarded me custody of Marshall. The only reason I didn’t have you arrested for kidnapping is because I didn’t want to put him through it, after I got him back.”
“Stole him back, you mean.” She sniffled, glancing at Marshall, but he knew better. Fake tears, all the way. “You and some private detective.”
“Lee didn’t steal me. I chose to go with him,” Marshall spoke up.
“And why? Just so you could fuck him? Or be fucked by him? However that works with queers.”
“What we do is none of your business.” Marshall could tell Lee was angry. He seldom lost his temper, but he seemed close to doing so now. “Why don’t you and your husband just go back to wherever you came from and leave us the hell alone?”
“Because we need money,” Rhonda whined.
“Then work for it, why don’t you? And not on your back,” Lee said harshly. “What’s the matter with him? He unemployed too?”
“Murray’s had health problems,” Rhonda returned defensively. “We got behind on our bills, and then we lost our house. And that’s beside the point. You’re doing good… you’re not hurting for money. You go out to fancy places and have a good time. Well, I think you should share with us. Or I’ll tell people the truth about you. That you’re living in incest with your own son. Betcha won’t be welcome here after that.”
Marshall could feel Lee’s muscles clench. He put his arm around Lee’s shoulder, in an effort to calm him. “Don’t let her get to you. Who cares what she says? Remember, you and me forever, Lee. That’s all that matters.” He stroked Lee’s cheek gently before he pulled him in for a soft kiss, ignoring Rhonda’s splutters.
“You’re sick, both of you,” she spat out, “and it’s about time your neighbors—”
“That sounds like a threat.”
Rhonda jumped at the newcomer’s voice. Roy stood there in his uniform, glaring at Rhonda. He must have let himself in, having seen her truck. “Didn’t I tell you before you needed to leave town? Or do you just want to be arrested?” Marshall knew Burnham didn’t have a jail, but it was unlikely Rhonda realized that.
“Arrested?” Rhonda screeched. “Why would I be arrested? They’re the criminals. They’re the ones committing incest, not me.” She waved her hands frantically toward Marshall and Lee.
Roy took a step in her direction, and Rhonda shrank back into the chair a little.
“First off,” he began, “did you know there is no statute of limitations on kidnapping?”
“Kidnapping?” she bluffed. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Forget the lies, I know better,” Roy said. “I was there.”
Rhonda gasped. “You… you were the private eye, the one who found me?”
“That was me. And I’ll gladly testify against you in court, don’t think I won’t. I know exactly what Lee went through to get Marshall away from you. You’ll do hard time for that. Kidnapping is a federal offense. And you compounded it by taking him across state lines.”
“Why don’t you just leave now,” Lee interjected. “Go away and don’t ever come back here.”
“Marshall…” Rhonda cast soulful eyes at him, wringing her hands together as she implored him. “I’m your mother. I carried you for nine months, kept you safe and warm. Loved you. How can you turn me away like this?”
Marshall took a deep breath. “Fuck you.”
to be continued
Now go see what the other Briefers are up to!