The woman closed the door of the Jag softly behind her. The slim tall heels of the silver tipped black boots clicked quietly as she walked along the cobblestones to the door. She raised an eyebrow at the overly ornate heavy brass door knocker before giving it two sharp raps.

"Good evening." She said in a slightly clipped manner to the man who opened the door. "Mr. Remminton?"

He noticed first the black, narrow, wrap around dark glasses and next the row of earrings which were just a few more then he could immediately count. His glance wandered down the slim black leather tie on the starched white men's shirt topping a rather too short also black and also leather skirt before returning to the dark hair pulled back severely and pinned under the suede roadster's cap. She stood just a bit taller then he. A situation he found rather disconcerting at best.

"Yes." He said in his coldest most distant manner.

"Would you please tell Mr. Remmington that his car is here."

Obviously she wasn't talking about him. His wife referred to William as "Our eccentric son". His knuckles whitened around the door handle as he contemplated what the boy was up to now. His eyes strayed to the dark green Jag XJ-7 parked in his driveway. He couldn't decide if he thought the woman in front of him owned the car or not.

"Who are you." He said it like a statement, rather then a question.

"Cassandra Piremides." She said. Still clipped and painfully polite. "Please inform Mr. Remmington that his car is here."

The name sounded familiar to him and he was quite sure that he should recognize it and was equally sure it wasn't hers. He had the vague feeling that it was a joke, or an insult. Or a clue.

She saw William come around the corner of the hallway, his well known cat-ate-the-canary grin in place as ever.

"Good evening Mr. Remmington. I trust you are well?"

"Who is this William?" His father demanded.

"I called a car."

"Are you ready to depart Sir?"

"I'll get my things."

The older man stood blocking the doorway. He stared hard at the woman and was more than a little annoyed that he could tell nothing from her expression. He was sure that she was staring at him in return, and it aggravated him further that he couldn't tell.

"Where are you going?" He demanded as his son started past him.


"Not with her you're not."

"I'm not?"

That same polite clipped speech, "Shall I stand by the car Sir?"

"No, I'm coming."

"Can I take your bag Sir?"

He casually handed her the athletic bag. "Good evening father." William said, a bit too politely.

Reginold watched them walk away. His son was not tall, and the woman stood, quite literally, a head above him. He was displeased with the image. He watched as William stood patiently as the woman put the bag in the trunk and opened the door for him.

"Will he watch us until we leave?" she asked, the light tone of her soft voice in sharp contrast to her still formal demeanor.

"And then some." He replied. He was glad he was facing away from his father. He knew a wide grin had broken out over his face.

"Should I break character when I get in, or keep it up until we're out of site?"

"Keep it up." The grin wider then ever.

"Very good sir." She said formally as he got into the car and she closed the door carefully behind him.

He sat quietly as she turned the car around and drove, just a bit too slowly, out of the drive. He maintained the serious stance until she brought the car to a halt two blocks away. She broke into laughter as she pulled off her boots and casually tossed them into the back seat.

"What are you doing?" Joy plastered all over his face.

"You try driving with 6" heels!"

He slid a hand appreciatively across the well kept tan leather. "Where did you get this?"

"It belongs to a friend and I'm late getting it back. Got lost a few times trying to find that place. Just sheer luck I was able to get it. It's not likely I can again. You can't keep letting your parents do this to you, you know."

"I know Cecilia." He was suddenly serious. "I appreciate your coming out to get me."

She didn't understand it. Even knowing the saturation. His limited sight kept him from driving and his parents house was five miles from the bus station. His parents occasionally took up the notion that he should stay for the entire weekend. Once he was there, they would tell him that they couldn't drive him back until Sunday evening. It was a power play and everyone involved knew it. She didn't know the specifics of how it worked, but it seemed to her that it could only happen because William let it. She wouldn't let her parents do it to her. But, to her, her parents were just other people that she knew. She was aware that to William, his father was a demi-God and his mother a saint.

But then,to her parents, she was just another person also. Her parents didn't pay the rent on a lavish penthouse apartment.

William knew she was unhappy with him. He wasn't happy with the situation himself, and her disapproval hardly improved his mood. When he had called Cecilia to tell her he couldn't meet her because he was stuck in Monterey again, she had offered to come and get him. He had thought it was a small victory against his father. But, as much fun as it had been, he had the feeling when he left that he had started a war that he would feel like he lost - no matter the outcome.

"Buckle up snug boy!" She was bringing the smile back into the air. "This chariot's got t'grow wings and fly home."

The late 40's Ford truck rattled up the cobblestones. Straw filtered out of the high wooden side racks from the bails that were stacked over the top of the cab. The woman slammed the door hard as she got out and pulled a piece of straw to chew on as her bare feet padded up to the house. She pounded the brass knocker several times in quick succession.

"G'd evein' Randy!" She said rather loudly. "Wer's Willy?"

He didn't like his son being called "Willy", but he tried to ignore the minor irritation. He wasn't sure if this was the same one. He was looking for the earrings under the braids while he tried to remember what the woman behind the shades had looked like. But what he was sure of, was that there was manure smeared lavishly on the worn, baggy jeans.

"Who are you."

"Jane." She said, "Jane Pittman." She shifted the straw in her teeth and thrust a hand toward him. "Pleased t'meet ye!" He didn't take the offered hand so she retracted it, inspecting it briefly before wiping it on the butt of her jeans.

"Could ye git yer boy fer me?"

The name wasn't the same as she had given the time before, but it was her. This one was familiar also and he had the feeling that he was looking the fool for not recognizing it. He had the urge to slap her, and it annoyed him that he couldn't do just that. And it annoyed him further that he didn't know quite why he wanted to.

"Hey! Willy! Git yer things inna' truck ifn ya wants t' git outa here."

He turned around to see his son standing behind him with the athletic bag over his shoulder.

"Gotta run dad."

The woman hawked and spit off the side of the walk into the grass. The older man winced visibly and William had to grit his teeth to keep the grin down. His father watched with a disapproving stare as they walked to the truck. William had always been quiet concerning his private life and had said nothing of who this woman was. There was something about her manner and movements that made him decidedly uneasy. Something untouchable about her. He felt a twinge of admiration, and even envy for his son if the woman was the boy's lover. Even, (maybe more so) if she were his friend. But he refused to acknowledge the admiration. Just as he refused to acknowledge it or the pride he felt sometimes at his son's refusal to fit into the image that had been laid out for him. Despite any appearances to the contrary, he felt like he had no control over his son's actions or attitudes. So, though he felt a kind of respect for William as he walked down the driveway with this odd woman, he would never acknowledge it. Not to William. Not to himself.

"Ya gotta give 'er more muscle th'n that if'n ye want 'er t' close!" He heard her say overly loud as she opened the truck door William had just closed and slammed it shut again with enough force for the neighbors to notice. He heard the other door slam with the same force and the old Ford motor choke to a start. He wondered if the thing had a muffler and watched with no small amount of aggravation as the truck pulled out in a shower of straw.

William pulled his feet up over the large straw-covered canvas that took up most of the floor. He jumped a bit when she slammed the door after him, suspecting that there was a bit more then just show for his father behind the force of it. But he still found himself laughing to see his father's image in the side mirror glowering at the straw left behind.

"O.K." He asked as they pulled away, "Where did you get this monstrosity?"

"A guy named Mark. I would have been here sooner, but we decided to pull some straw out of the barn and load her up. His dad lent me the Levis, and his bother spread the shit on them for me."

"Such a guy."

"Hey, what are friends for?"

She pulled the truck over at the same spot she had stopped the Jag.

"Now what?" He asked, grinning but wary. He was never sure what game she was playing or when it ended.

"Well, I can't go on the freeway with a loose load. You going to sit on your butt or are you going to help?"

William felt very awkward trying to help put the tarp over the straw. He found himself feeling like an inept child and the situation annoyed him no end. He had the vague feeling that Cecilia was treating him much as his father did. And though they laughed and joked and punned all the while, he couldn't get away from the impression that she was disapproving of him. He felt somehow trapped by her disapproval, but just how or why remained rather vague.

Cecilia knew as she got back in the truck that she was annoying William. She tried to lighten up, but what she really wanted to do was to slap him. Part of her said that it was none of her concern. Told her to just pick him up when he was stuck and to stay out of the dynamics that made the situation. What made her think she knew what was best for someone else? But another part of her said that if she didn't help a friend when he needed it, even if he didn't think he did, then she wasn't much of a friend.

She was developing more then a mild headache and the smell of shit was starting to bug her.

The woman walked quietly up the driveway. Her Chinese cotton shoes slapping on the stone. She gave the brass knocker three timid knocks and stood silently.

The elderly woman who answered the door was a bit taken back by the excess of heavy jewelry and the ruffled patterned skirts. An overly bright headband made an ineffective effort to hold back the long, loose hair.

"May I help you?" She asked, polite despite her unease.

"Could you tell William I am here please?" The girl said rather timidly, her eyes never quite landing on the older woman's face.

The woman in the doorway stared for a few seconds, as if something didn't fit.

"Please come in, I'll get him. Who may I say is calling?"

"I would prefer to wait here." Came the reply, almost too quiet to hear.

"Damn right she's waiting there." William's father came quickly to the door. "Who the HELL are you!?" he thundered.

"Excuse me?" She squeaked as she shrank from him.


She jumped a bit from the force of the words. "Oh, Eve." She said looking still at the man's feet, "But you can call me Sibyl." She turned to the woman with wide eyes, "Most of my friends do. I can't imagine why."

Well, at least he knew that one.

"Could you please tell William I am here?"

There was something so pathetic about the way she shrank from him that he found himself wanting to hit her again. He saw the look his wife gave him, that accusing way she had of labeling him 'bully'. Her disapproval upset him and he stormed back into the house, pausing to stare at William as he passed him in the hallway. The two men stared at each other for several seconds before the older man continued down the hall. William said good-bye to his mother without even a trace of a chuckle.

"Where's the car?" He asked in a whisper as they walked away form the house.

"Around the corner. I had to borrow Ziggie from Sam and Julia. Doesn't have any kind of image, so I just left it out.

"All that jewelry must be Julia's."

"Too much is just enough." She said grinning with the private joke.

"Thank you for coming out to get me." He hesitated a bit uncomfortably. "I, ah, wasn't sure if you would."

"The only reason I didn't last time," she said as they climbed into the aging Volvo, "was because I couldn't. It seems to me that there is an innate flaw in the plan when the person you call to come and get out you of the middle of nowhere doesn't own a car."

More venom came out in the sentence then she had intended. She had the feeling that William was using her as an easy escape rather then directly dealing with the situation. Julia had been of the opinion that she should leave him stuck again. Even though she had made it clear that Cecilia could have the car if she wanted it, she also made it clear that she thought Cecilia was just entertaining herself showing off her cleverness.

William didn't even try to start joking this time. He knew Cecilia was mad at him and he felt she did not have the right. As a result he in turn became angry. Cecilia seemed to think that he should simply sever all contact with his dad. It seemed to him that she didn't understand how much more there was to his relationship with his father then money. He suspected it had a lot to do with the fact that she had so little contact with her own family.

He wasn't looking forward to getting back to Sam and Julia's either. He knew Julia would verbally kick his butt also. Even though he knew that a lot of her reaction was simply that Julia plain didn't like his father, he also knew that she had known him long enough to know what were really problems.

"I hate it when you're right." He had said to her many times.

A lot of people seamed to be telling him he needed to be free of his father. But they also seemed to be neglecting to tell him how to do it, or to understand what freedom could cost.

The Suzuki Katana rolled into the driveway, pulling to a stop just in front of the door. The woman swung a long leg over the back of the bike, raising the darkly shaded visor as her foot touched the ground. She removed the extra silver Bell helmet from the seat hook before walking up to the door, not bothering to remove the helmet she was wearing.

Her booted steps struck the ground hard as she ascended the steps. Her teeth were clenched tightly and her gloved fist held the extra helmet much tighter then necessary. She gave the brass knocker four had short raps. No one came to the door immediately, so she kicked it twice, rattling the heavy oak on its hinges.

"WILLIAM!" She yelled before the man answering the door had a chance to speak.

"You don't think he's leaving on that I hope." He said, leaving no doubt that the sentence was a command, and not a question.

"WILLIAM!" she shouted again. Her eyes were riveted on the man and didn't waiver.

"He's not going with you."

She saw William come quickly around the corner.

"Heads up" She said, not taking her eyes off the man as she tossed William the helmet with a fast side arm. "Get your shit."

"Didn't you hear me, he's not leaving."

"Are you holding him against his will?" She asked, icicles forming. The two stared at each other for many seconds.

"He's not leaving."

"William, are you coming?"

"I'll get my stuff."

The two stood staring at stand off for the few minutes it took William to return with the athletic bag.

His father put an arm out, blocking the door as William came to it. "You're staying here."

"Do . you . hold . him . against . his . will?" She said very deliberately.

"He's not going with you woman!" The older man said through clenched teeth.

Cecilia's arm shot out quickly and unexpectedly, catching the man off guard. 'oh shit' a voice in her head said as soon as she did it. She was aware that, despite his age, the man was fast and strong. She had only got the one blow in because he had gone to slap her in response and the helmet made him hesitate.

'Step back' the voice said. 'Apologize - he's going to hit you . . .move.' But she didn't. The resolution was clear to her now. She watched in her mind, as the game played itself out. 'Step back' it said. "He won't forgive you, you'll lose him.' But still she stood. She saw Randolph pull back to hit her, and she saw William start to move. She watched as he hit his father, coming in low. 'He can't forgive you for this.' The voice in her head said pleading.

His mother came running, screaming and begging. Cecilia put herself in between. 'This is going to hurt.' the voice persisted. And she knew it was true. But she held the woman back. Neither man would ever forgive the blows. She heard the brief exchange though a haze as she fought the tears, blindly releasing the older woman as the exchange ended.

William and his father stood facing each other, each breathing hard. His mother now stood in between.

William looked at Cecilia, steady and cold. "Mother, would you drive me to the station?"

She looked at her husband. The man's fists were still clenched at his sides and his jaw tight. "Take him."

Cecilia stepped over and picked up the helmet William had dropped. 'He's free.' she though. 'You've lost him.' the voice said.

She didn't look at William as she walked out. Let her pain show in anger. Let him think it was her who refused to continue.

William watched her replace the helmet on its seat hook and start the big bike. He willed her to turn around, to look at him. The helmeted head turned toward him, but he couldn't see past the shaded visor. She was gone.

He turned to his father. He saw the look on his face.

He felt his chest tighten. He steeled his own face to match his father's.

He'd lost the war.


By Suli Marr