‘Uninvited guest: forth degree’

   “Betty was a different story entirely. She worshiped the ground that Jack walked on. Always had, but that wasn’t enough to keep them together the first time. Whatever the guide had in mind for them would have to involve some possibility of growth. Otherwise it was just another revisionist excursion and Jack had no interest in that. He wanted to make the most of his last trip. He was ‘dropped off’ near the midpoint of his relationship with her. Everything up to that point, they both shared from the past. Beyond that day, Betty had no knowledge of the events that lead to the original sour ending. It was a whole new ballgame.

   Jack had the benefit of knowing what went wrong the last time around. Assuming the new timeline retained the same pathway and obstacles, he hoped to steer the two of them out of harm’s way. That is, if the path could even be altered. He had his doubts about that.

   Betty’s mother was a major influence in her life and didn’t exactly hold Jack in high regard. The constant air of negativity directed at him permeated every layer of their relationship and caused considerable friction. He knew that winning her over was going to be very difficult. She didn’t approve of his career or financial station in life. Realistically, he knew she would never respect him completely but he hoped that one day she would adopt a more neutral stance. Even that movement of the needle would help tremendously. Previously Betty had felt emotionally forced to choose between them.

   Once backed into an ugly corner, Betty became a different person from the burden of the ultimatum. It was an unenviable position to be put into. While she reluctantly sided with him, the friction caused a collateral rift that never really healed. Jack hoped to avoid that from happening again. He felt that if he made more of an effort to reach out to Betty’s mother, she might grow to respect him a little. With any luck, the three of them could reach some symbiotic understanding. It seemed a better strategy that his previous reaction to just pretend things were ‘fine’ between them.

   “Babe, I thought your Mom might enjoy some opera tickets. What do ya think?”

   “You want to buy us Opera tickets? That’s a great idea! I know the two of you can patch up your differences if you just try a little harder with things like this. We will have a great time! When is the performance?”

   “Whoa. I meant that I was going to buy HER a ticket. I didn’t mean that we should all go together. You know the opera is not my thing. I just wanted to do something nice for her. I’d be bored to tears watching those bozos prancing around and singing in Italian.”

   Betty shot him ‘that’ look. The one which implied that he was a huge jerk. Suddenly, his inventive plan backfired. Obviously Betty thought he wanted them to all go together as a bonding exercise. By not wanting to attend the performance with her, Betty saw it as an insincere, half measure. The fact is, it WAS an insincere half measure but he hoped he would get psychological credit for even making that level of effort. It was far more than he had done to patch up things, before. At the very least, he hoped for indifference. In one fell swoop, he had managed to make things worse. 

   The universal truth was that you never marry just your spouse. By association, you marry their entire family in one sense or another. Short of locating an orphan, relatives always have to be figured into the equation. Jack made several attempts to win over Betty’s mother but each time she held him at arm’s length with unsubtle distain. The real issue was never with Betty. They might have been happy together forever but without her Mother’s approval, he’d never manage to turn the corner on the relationship. 

   Betty eventually stopped defending Jack and just avoided discussing him with her, altogether. He didn’t enjoy being a black sheep boyfriend; and had had no desire to become a black sheep husband. With Betty’s all-or-none mindset, avoiding that was becoming increasingly difficult. 

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About Bo Bandy

Just a creative soul trapped in a world of cookie-cutter pragmatism...
This entry was posted in Different Perspectives, Fiction Stories, Ghost stories, Humor, Macabre, Mystery, Science Fiction, Supernatural, Uncategorized, Whimsical. Bookmark the permalink.

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