With such a mother! faith in womankind
Beats with his blood, and trust in all things high Comes easy to him..."
--Alfred Tennyson, "The Princess"
Jimmy's first impressions of people were almost always sounds. He paid special attention to those who made themselves heard over the TV.
When Bobbi arrived, she made herself heard: the crunch and skitter of gravel under slaloming tires, the dull clink of a bottle hitting the wooden porch rail, the uneven clop of high-heels across the linoleum, the cigarettes-and-alcohol rust in her voice. But it was the first time he saw her--the first time he'd seen any of the women, or girls, his dad brought home--that he was truly able to form an opinion of her.
The first time he saw Bobbi, she was peering into his box with sharp eyes, a too-bright smile, and absolutely no surprise. "Well, aren't you a sweetie pie," she said, her fingers curving over the edge of the cardboard. Her nails were long and red, false and cracked. "Whatcha doin'? Playin' fort?"
Nora's cousin, Diana McLean, is interested in him. Nora tells him so one day at the office, blushing and punctuating every second sentence with a nervous, fluttering laugh: Diana is staying with her and Pete, she's heard so much about him, she's seen his picture in the annual report, she and Nora have been close friends since childhood...
Jim wonders if their friendship is close enough to survive the revelation that Nora let Diana's father die, when she could easily have saved his life. He also wonders if Diana would have made the same choice, for the same reason. It's clear that Nora's been wondering that too, and isn't quite certain either way, and that uncertainty is the only reason she's standing beseechingly in his office at all. Uncertainty and guilt.
He agrees to the blind date. He thinks it will go well; there is, after all, mutual interest.
The social worker came every month, ever since Jimmy came home from spending half a year in foster care. His name was Conrad; he drove an old but tidy blue car, always wore a button-up shirt tucked into permanently creased brown pants, and peered at the world through bottle-bottom glasses. He had a tendency to attach his clip-on tie to his clipboard.
Before Bobbi, it had been Jimmy's responsibility to make himself and the house presentable for Conrad's visits. After Bobbi, it was Jimmy's responsibility to sit quietly and let her do the talking following the obligatory, "Hello, Mr Conrad," and "Fine, thank you."
Conrad loved Bobbi. She said it was because he reminded her of her daddy and she'd known how to wrap him around her little finger since she was born; Jimmy's dad said it was because Conrad was a God-fearing homosexual who welcomed any distraction from the temptation Jimmy represented. Jimmy had no opinion one way or the other. All he knew was that Conrad smiled waveringly from the moment he stepped out of his car to the moment he got back into it, and wasn't particularly good at his job.
Every time he drove away, worn tires kicking up a cloud of dust, Bobbi would ruffle Jimmy's hair out of its carefully-combed neatness. "There you go, baby boy," she'd say, smiling down at him with eyes that were almost all drug-blown pupil. "You get to stay with me an' your daddy for another month. Ain't that swell?"
Carol McKenna is getting a promotion: starting Monday, she'll be editor of the Weekly Herald. It's not a very prestigious paper, but it's the only one that would hire her after her unfortunate dismissal from the Tribune. And the benefits of her promotion are somewhat relative, since she made more as a reporter at the Tribune than she'd make if she owned the Herald. Nevertheless, job advancement is always a cause for celebration.
Sunday evening, Jim sends her a congratulatory email. Just to let her know he still cares.
Bobbi went out horseback riding after breakfast one morning only to return on foot after lunch, limping and bloody. "Damn thing threw me," she muttered, and twisted stiffly away from her husband's helping hands, and locked herself in the bathroom.
She didn't come out until later that evening, after Jimmy's dad had gone to bed. Jimmy listened from inside his box as she shuffled awkwardly into the kitchen; he sat up in time to see her take a bottle of tequila out of the cupboard and go out onto the porch with it.
After a minute's thought, he joined her. She glanced at him from her rickety lawn chair as he took a seat on the steps, but didn't offer him the bottle; they sat in the dark and listened to crickets until she spoke, the rasp of her voice startling in the quiet yard.
"An' here I thought I felt poorly before I went out this morning; now I'm just a big tangled ball of pain. When that ol' mare comes back, you better shoot her dead." She took a long drink, the tequila sloshing. "And then I'm gonna buy me some Jell-o."
He smiled into the dark. "And I'll buy some glue."
"And we'll have ourselves a party." She laughed as she brought the bottle to her mouth, and it echoed inside the glass. "You know, I ain't so roughed up, really. Just a few scrapes. But when I came to in the field there was blood all over me, an' for a minute I thought the damn horse'd put her hoof through my belly, it hurt so bad. 'Course, that wasn't what'd happened." Her chair creaked as she shifted her weight, as if still uncomfortable. "It's for the best, though, eh sugar? I mean, I can't even keep a houseplant."
Jimmy wasn't exactly sure what she meant. He nodded anyway. "Probably."
The tequila sloshed again, and he felt the weight of her gaze on the back of his neck. "You know, Jimmy," she said, a sharp edge in her voice, "I think you've spent too much time in that box. Too much time sittin' and watchin', not enough time livin' and doin'. You're a growin' boy; that ain't healthy."
He stared straight ahead, waiting impassively. After a few seconds, Bobbi chuckled; it grated out of her throat and into his ears. "You get over here and help your mama, now. My ankle won't hold me up, damn thing."
It was sprained. After he wrapped and iced it, she told him to kiss it better.
Sarah Koner is buried on a cool day in late October. Jim, knowing that Gail's few remaining family members haven't been able to fly out for the funeral, takes the whole day off; at the service, he sees a smattering of other G&G personnel, and feels gratified.
Gail is a wreck. He drives her to the cemetery in silence; when they get out of the car, she grabs his hand blindly and holds on tight enough to make his fingers hurt, even through his gloves, all the way through the interment. He listens to her weep as the casket sinks into the grave, and means it when he murmurs that he's there for her as long as she needs him.
He knows she won't forget his kindness.
The kittens were newborn, tiny and mewling and blind. And one of them was dead. He watched the mother cat drag it away from the nest in the corner of the hay mow, drop the stiff little body at the bottom of a stack of bales, and start eating it. He paid close, if detached, attention to the process of the meal--the flash of the cat's teeth, the blood on its fur, the neatness of its paws--until Bobbi arrived, babbling excitedly about the litter. When she saw what he was looking at, she flew into a frenzy and ran at the cat, cursing and kicking; it abandoned its supper and dashed away into the rafters.
Bobbi fell to her knees next to the half-eaten corpse and, with the tip of one trembling finger, petted the fur still clinging to its skull. "Poor little thing," she crooned, and Jimmy left her alone to mourn.
She came downstairs at midnight that night, looking for a glass of milk. Jimmy thought about parents consuming their young while she fucked him on the kitchen floor.
It's his third visit to the institution. The last time he was there, he asked about her father and she became unreasonable; this time, she swears and leaps from her chair as soon as she sees him, her fingers curled into claws. He catches her by the wrists and holds her at bay, standing immovably in the face of her very physical rage.
Judith Meltzer reminds him of her younger sister: they have the same eyes, the same cheekbones, the same colour hair, and the same instinctive distrust of Jim Profit. They have their dissimilarities as well, of course, but to Jim's mind there's only one thing that marks them, very clearly, as utterly distinct individuals: the belt-sized bruise on Judith's throat.
In dark moments, he's considered trying to provoke Joanne into attempting suicide; inevitably, he comes to the conclusion that Joanne wouldn't be nearly as easy to push to the edge as Judith. Which is a blessing and a curse, really: if Joanne were to make an attempt, he's certain it would be a successful one.
There was only one bed in the house, and Bobbi liked to see him in it, naked and sprawled on top of the covers while his dad was out. "That's right," she crooned from the chair in the corner while his hand moved on his dick and sweat beaded all over his skin. "Yeah, Jimmy, just like that. Lord, you're pretty. I like lookin' at you." He didn't mind; it never took her long to remember that she liked touching him, too.
Right on cue, she slunk out of her chair and came to the side of the bed, grinning hungrily. Her fingers stroked down his throat and onto his scrawny chest; his hand sped up, and she let out a rusty chuckle. "Mmm, such a bad little boy. So eager." She pulled her hand away. "Don't go gettin' too far ahead, now," she said, raking him with one more promising look before turning and hurrying for the bathroom. "You just wait right there. Mama's gotta put her diaphragm in!"
Jimmy waited, stopping his hand with admirable willpower and leaning his head back so he could stare at the ceiling. He was panting, his pulse raced in his ears, and he didn't hear the footsteps dragging down the hall until it was too late.
"What the--shit!" Jimmy sat up; his dad stood in the doorway, swaying slightly, his face contorted blearily in furious disgust. "In your own daddy's bed. I swear by Jesus, you are a goddamn abomination!"
Jimmy drew his knees up and watched his dad's face shading to puce. At least, he thought calmly, he could count on Bobbi to stay in the bathroom.
"Nothin' to say?" Before Jimmy could move, his dad threw his keys, hard; despite the drink, his aim was good, and Jimmy's chin split and bled. "'Course not," he growled, staggering into the room and over to the bed. "There ain't nothin' you can say. Dirty little sonofabitch." Wrapping one beefy hand around Jimmy's arm, he hauled him to his feet.
Jimmy didn't bother trying to struggle. Instead, balancing as well as he could against the force of his dad's grip, he looked up placidly into his bloodshot eyes and said, "'When he went in unto his brother's wife, he spilled it on the ground lest that he should give seed to his brother.'"
Jimmy's world went dark for a second. "I'll take that smartass mouth right off, you try that again. Christ, boy, onanism's a damn sin! You'd know that if you'd ever got proper religion!" Suddenly his pocket knife was in his free hand; shifting his hold, he took Jimmy's right wrist in a grip that made Jimmy's hand tingle. Then, with a flick of his thumb, he folded out the blade. "I think it's high time somebody gave you some."
When Jim gets home from work, Bobbi's there, stretched out on the sofa, flipping idly through a magazine. She's been there a while: there are three cigarette butts sticking out of his Zen garden.
"Well, it's about time!" she exclaims, tossing the magazine away and sitting up. Crooking one finger at him, she grins. "Come give mama some sugar, sugar."
Jim stops deliberately at the end table, removes his jacket and starts working on his cufflinks. "Shouldn't you be welcoming Chas home from Tokyo right now?"
"His flight got delayed," she says, sliding to her feet and prowling closer. "'Sides, I'd rather be here. You know I cried, first time me and Chas got naked together? Well, despite what I led him to believe, those were not tears of joy." Her fingers slide into Jim's belt loops and she presses herself flush against him; he breathes in her expensive perfume--more than likely a gift from Chas--and the cheap scotch on her breath. "Gives me a whole new kinda sympathy for Constance."
"And yet he's got all that money." He gives her a solemn look and commiserates, "That must be so difficult for you."
She rolls her eyes. "The one has its ways of makin' up for the other, believe me. Still, I do have needs..."
He chuckles; she starts pulling at his belt. "Whatever would you do without me, Bobbi?"
"Uh-uh." The belt falls to the floor. Her fingers find other things to do. "The question is, what would you ever do without me?"
Notes: for Slodwick's Worst Case Scenario Challenge. Title paraphrased from John Knox's "The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women".
Please post a comment on this story.
Fandom: Other (Profit)
Title: Another Blast of the Trumpet
Author: Jayne Leitch [email] [website]
Details: Standalone | R | het | 12k | 09/18/05
Characters: Jim Profit, Bobbi Stokowski
Summary: Happy he, with such a mother!
Notes: Spoilers for the whole series. Content some people will find disturbing.
Disclaimer/Other: Usual disclaimers apply: Jim and his harem do not belong to me, however their dysfunctions were simply too fun for me not to play with them.
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