This is part 3 of James Bond and the Girls of Woodstock, serial fiction I’m writing as I go, aiming for one a week. On my site, under serial fiction, I’m up to episode 70. But serial fiction works better on a blog. So I’m posting a few episodes from different sections here. If you want to read the whole story, go here. At the top of this blog, James Bond and the Girls of Woodstock appears as a page, which offers an overview.
Almost everyone involved with Woodstock’s Art Colony, 100 years old and called “The Gallery,” gathered to meditate in a barn-like building every Sunday.
Jenny Logan had been devoted to the overnight practice since high school. And while neither Brooke nor Tara had any interest in joining their mother, Jenny so clearly regarded the experience as her private thing that Brooke half-suspected if they wanted to attend, their mother just might say, “No.” Although to soften this, she would offer some non sequitur as an explanation. Saying no, especially to her daughters, ran counter to Jenny’s nature. Of course, she must have told them no when they were toddlers. But to hear her tell it, even then, Brooke and Tara usually understood more than she did, so she usually deferred to their inexperienced judgment.
Brooke wouldn’t argue that they both possessed top-notch academic abilities, which amounted to one kind of smart, the kind that isolated them from their classmates. But their mother tended to exaggerate their skills. And they soon learned how much of their supposed excellence sprang entirely from their mother’s fantasies. Nevertheless, the girls naturally, and to be honest, easily, strived to meet their mother’s vision.
Consequently, almost as soon as they were speaking, Jenny depended upon their authority. They gladly took charge, so full of their superior selves they didn’t balk at complicated responsibilities. To them, adult work felt like a privilege. By adolescence both girls believed their independence was right and good.
Sunday night after the last performance of Hamlet, and the night before school started—or rather the night before Brooke and Tara started school, having skipped the opening Wednesday through Friday because of the play—Jenny prepared for her all-night meditation. Brooke and Tara made dinner.
Then Brooke called upstairs to her mother’s dormered bedroom.
“Come on, Ma, before it congeals.”
“Thank you. How nice,” she said, sitting at the small kitchen table. They ate tuna fish sandwiches on the thick homemade bread. As a treat, Brooke had filled a serving bowl with blood-oranges mixed with beets, ready-made from Maria’s, an expensive habit she’d picked up while working for the King’s.
More sulky than usual, Tara said, “To me, a man and a teenage girl watching a movie alone together is a date.”
“Tara,” Brooke said, “nobody’s doing that. And if I ever watched a movie with a man, I’d need to invite you, too.”
“No, you wouldn’t.”
“Who knows more about movies, you or me?”
“You don’t watch movies. You watch the people watching the movie.”
“When did you watch me watching a movie?”
“What are you girls talking about?” Jenny asked. “Brooke do you have a date?”
“Of course not.”
Tara said, “Pop says no dating till we’re 18. What’s that mean?”
“Don’t tell him I said this,” their mother was pushing her finger into left-over bread crust, “but I think he means no sex.”
“Does ‘no sex’ mean no kissing or no fucking?”
“Brooke,” Jenny said, “if your father heard you say that, he’d knock you unconscious. I mean it. He stays away but you need to make a habit of being civil. The way you look—without trying; I’m not saying that—is provocative enough. You cannot afford to talk dirty.”
“And Tara looks nice but talks like the devil.”
“You’re the devil,” Tara said. “Now Ma, suppose Pop found out Brooke was watching movies with a married man.”
“Is this happening?” Jenny asked. “Because Brooke, my God! Don’t people in this town gossip about you enough?”
“That’s the danger? Tons more gossip about me.”
“No,” Jenny said. “But if you’re thinking about going out tonight—it’s my job to stop you. I’ll miss my meditation practice.”
“I forgot about that,” Brooke said. “Guess I better tell this imaginary married man, ‘No movie tonight or Ma will have to miss her meditation thing.'”
Jenny said. “Are you trying to send me into a frenzy?”
“Go meditate,” Tara said. “Sorry for mentioning the unmentionable.”
Jenny said, “Don’t tease me. You know I can’t keep up.” She was halfway upstairs to get her things. “And please clean the kitchen. You’ve no idea how depressing it is, washing dinner dishes the next day.”
When their mother had disappeared into her room, Brooke grabbed Tara’s hair. “What are you trying to do?”
“If you’re watching a movie with Jasper King, you sure as hell better invite me along.”
“I’m not watching a movie with Jasper!”
“Look at it this way, Brooke. I’m on your side. That movie star’s got no business with the babysitter. Especially since his wife and kids have left.”
“You said they did.”
“My mistake then.” Brooke stepped outside, careful not to slam the door. She ran down the outside stairs and hopped on her bike. When would people stop calling Jasper a movie star? He was a great actor.
(This introduces the two girls and their mother. It happens to be the third installment. If you want to start at the beginning, go here.)