When Leonora opened the door to the large home off Havekost, the home of a Microsoft millionaire who’d lost more in the stock market than he’d ever care to admit, downsizing never mentioned by Leonora, only a quick, “The owners decided to retire to Mexico . . . cheaper to live down there. Like Kings and Queens,” Camoustra and Frenalto fell upon her.
Peggy wanted out and left the island the Monday after Thanksgiving. She’d had enough of her father arguing and picking fights with Carole, and she actually began to feel sorry for Carole since, often, Peggy couldn’t fathom why her father became so upset with his second wife, her stepmother. She wasn’t evil, just presumptuous, had pursued her father while he’d still been married to her mother, knowing full well that he had a daughter. This cat-like trait, taking and taking whatever shiny bauble catches my fancy, made Carole ugly to Peggy and it’d taken more than a decade for her to come to an adult decision to be kind to the woman. More than kind, she acted like she understood her, felt sorry for her. But, Carole had made her bed.
Peggy didn’t look forward to being home once more, a new Santa Barbara location with her mother and her lecherous husband-of-the-moment, but she didn’t have the wherewithal to remain on her own, as galling as that admission was for her to make. She began to plan an escape long ago, and her mother’s shared wealth with someone who probably only had a few golden years left fit nicely into her plans. She could withstand anything, even a leering request from a wrinkled up over-the-hill ladies man for a massage. The answer was always a loud, “NO!”
Her father had made one last plea for her to return to Anacortes, take up residency in their off-center home—help him with The Queen’s Idle Fancy. The vibe didn’t suit her anymore. She didn’t recognize her smart good-natured father anymore, his love had less weighted consideration on her wants and needs, but she’d keep the offer on the backburner.
Carole surprised Peggy the morning she packed up her suitcase and headed for the airport shuttle, insisting on driving Peggy to the pickup location.
“Your father’s busy with the play,” Carole said.
“More than usual. I noticed.”
“Do me a favor,” Carole said, the favor word being something Peggy loathed, since it was a passive-aggressive manipulation flag word. Often, whatever favor was asked, came with too many strings attached. She resisted rolling her eyes. Carole needed help. Peggy felt that. Witnessed too many skittish moments over the holiday weekend not to feel sorry for her, living under the roof of a man who’d at worst lost his mind, and at best, was obsessed with a play he constantly talked about to the detriment of everyone around him. (Yes, my father’s turned into a monster, but he’d never hurt Carole, would he?)
“Don’t come back for Christmas. There’s something going on. Personal. Between your father and me, and I need time to figure things out.”
“Is he hurting you?”
The car silence hit like a physical object.
“I’ll take that as a yes,” Peggy said, “I don’t know what I can do to help.”
“Stay away. Let me try to get help.”