Chapter 15Content: mf rom
Meanwhile, football practice went on, the participants blithely unaware of the other sports being pursued. Vince played right into Toby's hands...
"Hey," he muttered, reaching for the water bottle in Toby's hand as he settled onto the bench.
"Yeah?" Toby responded.
"Just so you know, I'm not going with that pissant Eddie Ray any more."
"Okay," Toby shrugged. "Who's the replacement?"
Vince did a double-take. "Uuhh. Shit."
'That pretty much confirms Vince's IQ,' Toby thought. "Don't have one, do you?"
"How hard was it to find Eddie Ray?"
"We kinda fell into it."
Toby let Vince stew for a while, then muttered, "I might know someone..."
"Not me! Don't look at me like that!" Toby sputtered.
"Okay, good..." Vince eyed him sidelong.
"Tell you what -- I'll talk to this person, and if it's cool, I'll hook you up for after the game Friday night..." Toby offered.
"Hey, that's cool of you!" Vince grinned.
"Well, we're providing girls..."
"Yeah -- you're doing that." Vince swatted Toby on the shoulder and headed back out.
Twenty minutes later, Eddie Ray plopped down on the bench. "Vince says you got him a date!" Eddie Ray hissed.
"I did," Toby replied. "Want one, too?"
"Well, yeah! Fuck yeah!" Eddie Ray took to the novel idea immediately.
"Okay. I'll hook you up Friday after the game."
"This isn't some trick, is it? It isn't Vince?" Eddie Ray asked suspiciously.
"Nope. Older guy," Toby told him. "Construction dude."
"Oh, okay." Eddie Ray bounced up, satisfied.
Ten minutes later, Vince was back. "What the fuck did you hook up Eddie Ray for?"
"Hey, if it's good for you..." Toby replied. "You don't have to be a jerk about it -- let Eddie Ray play, too!"
"Shit. All right." Vince went off, grumbling.
Word of the confrontation between Randy and Marcel drifted in as the guys hit the showers; several people were instantly concerned, but a call to the Hayes home found Alyssa there. "He's fine. She's fine. They're in his room, fucking. It'll probably be all over school tomorrow," Alyssa related. "Somebody might want to go up to the campsite and see if Bernice is still there and in one piece -- they were banging her when we left." Terence and Clint and Bonita and Brenda took a ride up to the campsite, but the only remaining evidence was goo on the mattresses.
Adele got home to find a white girl sitting on the floor between Randy's legs, watching TV. "Who's this?" she asked Alyssa.
Alyssa shook her head and pointed at Randy. "Not my problem."
Bemused, Adele turned to her son. "Randy?"
"This is Miriam," Randy announced, his hands on the girl's shoulders. "She's my..." He thought about it for a moment, looking for the proper term, "...woman." The girl looked up at Adele and smiled shyly.
"I see," Adele murmured, then, "No, I don't, actually. What are we talking about here?"
"She's mine," Randy related, realizing that it probably wasn't amplification enough. "You know how Alyssa is Damian's? Miriam is mine."
Adele crossed her arms. "So, she's a fuck toy?"
"No! Well, maybe -- but she's more."
"Define more," Adele pressed.
"She's mine," Randy repeated.
Adele shifted her attention to Miriam. "I'm his," Miriam agreed.
Adele rolled her eyes. "As in he owns you?"
Both of them opened their mouths, then shut them. They communicated by look for a moment, then Randy agreed, "Yeah, sort of."
Adele turned her attention to Miriam. "What do your parents think of this?"
"They don't know," Miriam replied, "yet."
"Don't you think you should tell them?"
"Yes. Tomorrow." Miriam nodded.
"And what is their likely reaction?" Adele pressed.
"They're... not going to be happy, initially," Miriam admitted.
"Do you figure that will change?" Adele asked.
"Yes." Miriam nodded.
"What if it doesn't?"
"I hope it won't go that far," Miriam muttered.
"Miriam," Adele chastened. "You can't live in a fantasy world. If your parents don't approve..."
"I'll have to live in Randy's room," Miriam finished.
"Actually, that simplifies things." Miriam dimpled.
"I DON'T THINK SO!" Adele erupted.
"No? Why not?"
"You're telling me that given a choice between your parents and Randy..."
"Well, I wouldn't LIKE it, but they're the past -- and Randy is the future," Miriam announced, rubbing Randy's hand.
"I think you're being unrealistic," Adele argued. "You can't really make that decision."
"Um, Mom, I've seen her do some pretty heavy stuff, once she makes up her mind to," Alyssa interjected. "I'm not so sure..."
Adele waved her off.
"Let's wait and see how things go," Miriam proposed.
Randy, glaring, grunted, "Yeah. Let's wait and see." Adele opened her mouth, and Randy pointed to the kitchen with his head. Adele pursed her lips and nodded, then headed off. Randy climbed out from behind Miriam. "I'll be back." Miriam watched him go, her expression worried.
Randy didn't waste time on pleasantries. "So what the fuck is wrong with Miriam?"
Adele fell back on carping at vulgar language, "Randy!"
"Answer the question!"
"Well, she's white..."
"That's STILL a problem in this day and age!"
"Not with me and not with her," Randy replied. "Besides, that's not as big as it once was. You see it -- a lot."
"The girls involved get a reputation," Adele pointed out.
"Which doesn't mean a damned thing if they're with one guy!" Randy retorted. "So what's wrong with Miriam?"
"I don't even know her," Adele replied, "but I can tell you this -- there will be trouble with her parents!"
"We'll work through it."
Adele gave him the look -- that 'you're hopelessly naive' look.
Randy bridled. "You don't get it, so I'm gonna talk baby-talk. Miriam is THE ONE! You need to stop worrying about bullshit and go meet her and not talk down to her because she's GONNA BE AROUND!"
"What's so special about Miriam?"
"For one thing, she's the ONLY woman around here who DOESN'T GIVE ME SHIT ALL THE TIME!" Randy roared. He saw red; and started shaking as the rage built.
Adele was shocked! Her son was on the ragged edge of violence!
"It will be all right," said a soft voice from the doorway. Randy whirled. Miriam stood there, eyes slightly downcast, watching him.
"This crap happens ALL THE TIME! She has NO FUCKING IDEA what you've gone through for me! She just runs her mouth..." Randy slowly wound down to something approachable, and Miriam approached him and wrapped her arms around him.
"I just did what you needed for me to do..."
"Nobody else would do that. Nobody." Randy settled down, returning the hug.
"Mom, you need to shut up," Alyssa declared from the kitchen door. "I mean, you REALLY need to shut up!"
"Why should I?" Adele bridled, "and why should I let you talk to me like that?"
"Because you don't know what's going on, and while you're running your fat mouth, nobody can fucking TELL you!" Randy snapped, not looking at her.
"Randy! That's enough!"
"Not even close," Alyssa leaped in. "Mom -- we've had conversations like this before -- do you remember what usually happens? You give Randy shit and in the end HE'S RIGHT! Forget the canned parent shit and LISTEN TO HIM!"
"It's always the same shit. Randy's a fuck-up. Randy's too young to know what's up. Randy wouldn't know which end of a girl to poke..."
"Well?" Randy snapped, still not looking at Adele. "We go around and around all the time because you think I'm a fuck-up and you know what's best. You don't listen, you just walk in the door and start talking without any idea what's going on. I go to school and everybody gives me shit and treats me like a loser who nobody has to pay any attention to except maybe to laugh at. Nobody gives me any respect -- well, almost nobody." He stood there, hugging Miriam.
"All right, so what am I supposed to be hearing?" Adele replied.
"Talk to her -- I'll just lose my temper again," Randy told his sister.
"You have to lighten up on Big Bro before he blows a gasket, Mom!" Alyssa pounced. "You KNOW that! The only thing maybe you DON'T know is that the one person between Big Bro and the nuthouse is Miriam!"
"Where did Miriam come from, anyway?" Adele whined. "Suddenly, she's just there..."
"Well, it's not that suddenly, actually, Mom," Alyssa replied. "She was here last Thursday, but you weren't. She's uh, a club girl. A volunteer."
"What do you mean, a volunteer?" Adele asked.
"She asked to join. In fact, she went through all kinds of hoops, to join," Alyssa replied.
"That certainly simplifies things, but I don't see how it changes anything," Adele replied. "I mean, I don't have anything against her -- I don't KNOW her -- but if her parents have a fit, it's over. I won't be killing it -- it'll just be over."
"That's really up to Miriam, isn't it?" Alyssa asked carefully.
"It is and it isn't," Adele replied. "That's my point. She can't just walk away from her parents -- and because she can't, it's silly to talk about what will happen if she does."
"My folks don't need me," Miriam said quietly. "I'll be on my own soon, anyway. Randy needs me."
"It's more about you needing them," Adele replied. "'Soon' isn't 'today.' Could you, theoretically, leave home today? Yes. Would it be extremely painful for both sides? Absolutely. Would whatever relationship you have with my son survive it? Probably not. The level of commitment involved..." Adele shook her head.
"Um, Mom, Miriam sort of specializes in commitment," Alyssa interjected. "She's about the most committed girl I've ever seen! Like, if you want to talk about total commitment, and you look it up in the dictionary, there's a picture of Miriam on that page."
"Nobody is THAT committed," Adele argued. "But I'm missing something, aren't I?"
Alyssa flicked her eyes to Randy, who said tiredly, "Go ahead."
"Big Bro has been catching the usual crap at school -- I mean, he isn't the flake he used to be, but that hasn't really been officially recognized, you know? Today, after school, Marcel lit into him again, and claimed he'd never had sex or anything. Miriam basically took the hit, admitting that he'd fucked her..."
"Oh..." Adele blinked.
"Marcel called Big Bro a liar, basically, and called him on it. There was a crowd... Things got out of hand. Marcel said prove it..." Alyssa ran down, then gathered herself. "You know, I really don't know how much more committed you can get than fucking your boyfriend in front of two or three dozen people just to prove he isn't a wuss..."
Adele stood rooted in shock. "You DID that?"
"We tried to go step by step," Miriam replied, "but Marcel kept jacking things up. Eventually, we just did it. Marcel looked stupid..."
"Sweetie, that's going to give you an AWFUL reputation!"
"That doesn't matter if we're together." Adele got treated to Miriam's preternatural calm.
"Your parents are CERTAIN to despise Randy if they find out!" Adele erupted.
"That's a problem," Miriam agreed. "I'll live with it. It was my decision. I don't regret it."
"I do," Randy said quietly. "I was stupid to let him call me out like that. I was an idiot to involve you. I fucked up."
"You were over the edge," Miriam murmured, caressing his cheek. "So much pressure..." She eyed Adele, "Can't you see how angry he gets? No respect... It's just wrong!"
"It's true," Alyssa agreed. "Big Bro has been in a rolling boil for over a month. He needs an anchor..." She flicked her eyes from her mother to Miriam.
"This thing you did today could bring it all crashing down," Adele sighed. "Your parents..."
"Lots of stuff goes on at school that parents never hear about," Alyssa interjected. "When it was over, nobody bothered Big Bro or Miriam. Bernice Higgins, on the other hand..."
"What about Bernice?" Adele demanded sharply. Clarice Higgins was an acquaintance and sometime coffee table gossip partner.
"Bernice agreed to cover Marcel, since he undercut himself leaning on Big Bro," Alyssa related. "I think she got him to agree to take her to Homecoming or something. Basically, she had to do whatever Miriam did to keep Marcel's end up. Well, when Big Bro and Miriam went all the way, Marcel ended up looking like a fool -- and Bernice was there, naked, and sex was going on..."
"She got passed around some. I didn't hear her complaining, actually."
"Do you think I ought to say something to her mother?" Adele asked.
"Maybe somebody ought to talk to Bernice first, Mom. You know, as dumb as it sounds, just because you have sex with three or four guys doesn't mean you were raped. Bernice was, well, looking -- and she DID volunteer. Calling her mom might start something that would backfire on Big Bro and Miriam, for one thing."
Adele nodded. "Good thinking. I guess we'll leave it alone. Miriam... I really don't know how things are going to go, especially if your parents get wind of this thing. But I can see the benefits. I guess I wish us all luck."
For the record, Tyrone took Bernice home. She was a little hysterical from the effects of her leap onto the sexual scene, but otherwise mostly unharmed. It had been kind of painful, initially, and things had gone a long time before they let up, so she hadn't gotten the pleasure out of it that she might have -- but she'd glimpsed it and she'd enjoyed bits and pieces, off and on. Was it rape? Well... She'd been more than a little stupid and more than a little slow and maybe a bit gullible -- and she'd been worked up and Tyrone had been pretty slick with his hands. The pleasure had gotten in the way of her thought processes, and the next thing she knew, her cherry was dripping down the shaft of somebody's -- Tyrone's? -- dick. After that, it had all been too much -- but somehow, Bernice didn't feel particularly violated. She sneaked upstairs and ran a nice, hot bath, and avoided her folks and her little brothers until the whole thing kind of sunk in and she could get a handle on it. She'd made a bargain -- but had she kept it? Or had she ended up doing a whole lot more than she ever intended for nothing? She really didn't remember...
Thursday was ugly. That first photo of Bernice was EVERYWHERE -- and by noon, she had a website with twenty or thirty others, the faces of the guys involved carefully blotted out. It was hard to hold her head up... Marcel laughed at her and told her that she hadn't followed through and there would be no date for Homecoming after all, so her reputation was ruined for nothing. By afternoon, all she wanted to do was cry.
Oddly, there was not one photo of Randy and Miriam posted anywhere.
That didn't mean that Miriam got off Scot free -- people knew, and some of them felt it necessary to let her know that they knew -- but she wasn't the focus of attention that poor Bernice was. Even those who felt that she'd done something foolish seemed to understand her reasons and allowed her some justification; Bernice, on the other hand, was looked upon as someone who'd gotten what she deserved; rather than giving of herself, she'd sold herself -- cheaply, as it turned out.
Trish checked on Bernice at mid-afternoon, with Alyssa hovering in the background. "How's it going?"
"You have to ask?" Bernice replied, fishing out a tissue to wipe her nose.
"So have them arrested! It was rape..."
"Was it? I got naked in front of forty people and sucked a dick -- and I was THERE to get fucked, if the dare went all the way. I don't think I'd do anything but embarrass a whole lot of people. Besides, I don't even know for sure who did what."
"No is still no," Trish argued.
"But I never SAID no!" Bernice wailed. "I was in too deep -- I was afraid if I got stupid, things would get worse..." Her shoulders slumped. "Besides, it wasn't that godawful. It's embarrassing, but I spent a lot of time looking to enjoy myself, once I decided it wasn't smart to start screaming and yelling." She sighed. "The worst of it is that Marcel says I didn't finish, so he doesn't have to take me out. Nobody ELSE is going to now..."
"What? Marcel's a fucking liar!" Alyssa erupted. "He fucked you -- not first, but he did it!"
"I don't have any proof," Bernice shifted her attention to Alyssa.
"It's on the website..." Alyssa mused.
"Faces are blanked out," Bernice sighed.
"Yeah, well, you can bet Marcel has a copy -- and someone else does, too! Come with me..." Trish led the trio off, and ended up rounding on a boy who was getting a lot of attention. "Rudy!"
"What?" the guy snarled.
"Take down the website!"
"Why should I?"
Trish stopped for a moment, and Rudy grinned triumphantly, but Alyssa said, "Because if you don't, the whole football team is gonna pay you a visit!"
"You can't swing that!" Rudy snorted.
"Oh, no?" Trish opened her cell phone.
Rudy thought about it. "Wait!"
"That's not enough," Trish insisted. "Send me a copy of all the photos -- the originals."
"Why? You gonna scream rape?" Rudy turned his attention to Bernice.
"Because Marcel is a goddamned liar, and Bernice wants to rub his nose in it!" Trish replied. "No, she's not gonna file any charges -- that would just make things worse -- unless YOU screw around with those pictures any more -- in which case, the cops will knock on YOUR door FIRST!"
"What about her folks? They might..."
"That's why you're sending them to me, not Bernice," Trish replied. "That way, they won't have any evidence."
"The cops can show up AFTER Pete Phifer stands on your face..." Trish warned. "Email them to me -- NOW!"
"Oh, all right. It ain't like there aren't a zillion copies out there." Rudy fished out his phone and started pushing buttons. "What's your number?"
Trish gave it -- and verified receipt of thirty-two pictures. "You're a regular Peeping Tom, Rudy," she commented at one point, "These are just NASTY!"
"It was public," Rudy defended himself. "I wasn't looking in windows."
"That it?" Trish asked, when he stopped. "Now delete them."
"It won't help," Bernice mused. "He knows who he gave them to."
"Rudy," Trish warned, "You REALLY don't want to get caught with those. Things could still get out of hand, and they'll come looking for you. If I were you, I'd find some software that totally overwrites your phone memory and use it, just in case. When this blows over, if you want to jack off to pictures of Bernice fucking, you can always get them back -- but for now, if I were you, I'd cover my ass!"
"Hey, that wasn't nice!"
"Neither was posting those pictures all over!" Trish retorted. "How about this? How about I get a couple of guys I know to find you in a dark alley and take pictures of you getting butt-fucked? We can post THEM on the web..."
"Awright, awright!" Rudy started deleting pictures. After a few moments, he said, "Okay, all gone."
"Show me," Trish demanded. She stepped up on Rudy's left. Bernice stepped up on his right. Trish was actually taller, so Rudy looked to his left a couple of times, but more or less settled on sneaking peeks down Bernice's blouse.
"Hey!" Bernice snapped. "Cut that out, you pervert!"
"Well, I lost my pictures..."
"That your thing? Looking at pictures?"
Trish handed the phone back. "Bernice?" She pulled her a few feet away. "You know, if you play this right... How's Rudy for a Homecoming date?"
Bernice eyed him. "He wouldn't be my first choice, but he wouldn't be my last..."
"Rudy," Trish raised her voice. "Bernice thanks you for your cooperation. In fact, she's VERY grateful..." On cue, Bernice smiled and arched herself to present her small bust.
Rudy did a double-take. "Uh, yeah. I'll uh, get on that website thing right away!" He headed off.
Trish giggled. "I guess the carrot works better than the stick. He'll be back, though."
"And?" Bernice demanded.
"It's up to you how grateful you want to be..." Trish told her. "There IS an up-side to this. Horny guys ARE going to approach you."
"Great!" Bernice muttered sarcastically.
"Hey, it's better than being ignored."
"Here it is," Trish muttered, bringing up a picture of Marcel grinning up at the camera from between Bernice's legs. "Let's go see Marcel."
"I don't want to go out with him any more," Bernice grunted.
"You can STILL have the satisfaction of calling him a liar, a cheat, and a thief in public," Trish replied. "His stock is already down -- you can get a little revenge..."
Bernice carried the ball on her own. Marcel had his little crowd around him, including a couple gathered by notoriety. "So, Marcel -- showing off that picture? The one of you doing what you LIED to me about? You agreed to take me to Homecoming if I helped you put Randy in his place -- then you LIED about having sex with me! I have the picture, too! You're a liar, Marcel. A liar, and a cheat! And you got me into trouble and just hung me out to dry! I don't WANT to go to Homecoming with you -- and no girl with any brains would want to, either! You suck!" She stomped off a few feet, then added, "Now that I think of it, it's no surprise I didn't notice that scrawny little dick of yours..." She headed off, leaving Marcel again deflated. It was one thing to jerk stupid girls around -- and another to get called on it in public. And the comment about his dick --THAT seemed to travel at the speed of light! It really didn't matter if you fucked a chick if she didn't even remember it because your dick was too small to notice... Marcel's reputation was SMASHED!
Unfortunately for Bernice, that moment was the highlight of her day; it was soon followed by a miserable several hours in the presence of her angry and upset parents. Fortunately, Rudy had been as good as his word, removing the website and the associated ammunition her parents might have used to continue the fight. Bernice took the heat, as she had decided to, telling her parents that, while things got out of hand, she'd put herself in the position and more or less invited it. And of course, she was grounded forever...
Toby made a point of chasing down Little Nicky. "You need to go to the game Friday," he told the dark-haired boy.
"You know why. Well, you don't have to go -- but you need to be here when the team gets back so I can take you to have that date..."
"Yeah, I thought you'd get that..."
"Okay, I'll be here..."
"Do you have a place to do this?"
"Huh?" Nicky's eyes popped. "No!"
Toby sighed. "It figures. I'll ask on the other end, but think about it, okay? We have a usual place for such things, but it will be VERY busy!"
Vince didn't have a place, either. He and Eddie Ray had been sneaking in a little afternoons in his basement gym -- but his parents would be alerted by the arrival of someone else on a Friday night after football. "You guys ask a lot, you know?" Toby groused. "We can't use the clubhouse for obvious reasons..."
"Yeah. Shit." Vince grimaced.
"I'll think of something. Be flexible." It was too bad that he couldn't put Vince and Eddie Ray in the same place at the same time...
Oddly, his mother provided a solution. "Robert and I want to use the dungeon," she related. "If we come Friday night, we can do a demonstration of sorts. Louise will probably want to come early, too, since late parties haven't been very productive for her."
Toby was rocked. "A demonstration?"
Beth smiled crookedly. "I haven't been whipped in a long time. Whatever else you have going, you can bring here -- If Robert and I leave the party, we'll go to his place."
"Okay..." She was serious -- Toby could tell. "Well, things will start later due to the game, but there might be more people there."
"Good. You know, some of the older women have been kind of left behind..." Beth gave Toby the eye.
"Um, yeah. I'll talk to some of the guys about that," Toby promised.
The more he thought about it, the more interesting the idea became. The whole team was due, if they wanted to play -- and most of the original guys were already locked down to young girls. And while the young girls would mostly understand, wouldn't it be better to just move things in that direction, now that they didn't have to jump through hoops to fill seats safely for either sex? First, he called Amy...
"Can we talk? It's urgent -- about tomorrow night."
"Well, okay." Amy was obviously reluctant.
"I'll meet you at Wimpy's."
When Amy arrived, she eyed him suspiciously. "What's up?"
"How well do you think we're guaranteeing the group's safety?"
"Well, I've got it tuned pretty tightly, I think. I'd like to say one hundred percent, but I guess there is always a possibility..." Amy mused.
"We both need to be on-site, I think, but I agree. I know where the girls are and what they're up to, too. As I see it, we have two problems -- we need to allow the whole team to play, and we need to guarantee some fun for the older women. Phyllis Horner hasn't been touched in a long time, and Randy's mom Adele hasn't, either. Marta is a possible, too. The guys keep hooking up permanently with girls and that leaves us without guys and without girls. Meanwhile, there are a lot of guys on the team who know that something is up, but not what -- all they know is they're being left out."
"What do you want to do?"
"Invite the older women -- and pass the word that there will be a party after the game to the whole team, preferably during the day tomorrow. You'll have to ride herd on it to keep the whole thing inside the team -- can you do that?"
"What about guys who don't want to go?" Amy asked.
"That's fine -- they just don't get to talk about it."
"Gays?" Toby sighed. "Vince and Eddie Ray are taken care of. If there are others, maybe there is a future alternate site hookup out there -- but you and I will have to work to get it set up. I've been toying with the idea of making Terence and Damian's place the alternate hook-up site."
"That might work," Amy mused. "We might want to put some controls in place to keep them from outing one another."
"If we have to," Toby nodded. "What do you think?"
"Why have you opened this up?" Amy asked. "I didn't think you approved."
"I don't, in principle -- but some of the people this whole thing was SUPPOSED to benefit are being left out. I think we can control it -- and make everybody happy."
"We COULD do away with the mask requirement," Amy mused. "We could just wipe the faces, after..."
"That's WAY too intrusive!" Toby disagreed. "But we might need to do it in isolated cases if somebody gets recognized. Let's hold it in mind for that."
"You call the girls and I'll call the guys. Too bad we couldn't do it the other way..." Toby called Lon -- and got an extremely lukewarm response. Toby couldn't blame Lon -- he just wasn't in the mainstream of things any more -- but his house was. "Do you think we can get everybody to come in for a meeting?" Toby asked. "Tonight, preferably?"
"I'm here -- no choice. I'll ask Mama." Five minutes later, he was back. "Yeah. Mama has this harangue she wants to deliver, anyway. She's calling the women right now."
"Shit," Toby sighed. "Okay. Help me call the guys? I'll get Amy on the girls..."
It took two hours to organize. For some of the girls, it was a problem -- Sally, for instance. But they slowly gathered at the Carpenter's for a grand meeting of the clan.
Rick, Teela and Sonya came as a group; Jiang Yi and Jean did not, as they were both tied to someone more or less permanently and no longer really needed the group itself. Martin came as the issue revolved around the team. Hank brought Maddie -- and Marta. Pietro got posted to the Hayes -- nobody realized how convenient THAT was. Aside from Brie, the entire Hayes clan put in an appearance -- and Randy brought Miriam. They'd waited all day for the other shoe to drop, but Miriam's parents apparently weren't adequately plugged into the grapevine, so she was safe for now. The Carters were all there -- except Fred. Bonita couldn't come, but Terence held her proxy, anyway; the same situation held true for Brenda and Clint -- Clint was present, since The Bitch didn't care where he was anyway, and he held Brenda's proxy. Trish made the meeting -- and dragged Phyllis along; the main issue being the fact that she was an adult member and needed to get deeper into things. Bobby wasn't a member, technically, and wasn't invited. Lillian was left in charge of the Horner home -- and was on the phone to someone... She'd been late getting home two days in a row, too -- and that went largely unnoticed.
Toby felt bad, knowing in advance that he was going to manipulate people shamelessly. But Amy agreed that it would fix the inequities that threatened the group. He opened the meeting with, "I've asked everybody here because we have some problems and issues to be dealt with and we really need to discuss them as a group, instead of throwing patches on things from subgroups. Some of the original purposes of the group are being overlooked and some other things are changing -- we need to look at where we are and where we're going." Then he released the floor to Candace, who delivered a diatribe about constant hosting on no notice and costs she'd incurred, etc. Hank raised his hand and came forward to announce, "As a result of the Vasquez incident, there are funds to cover these expenses. Mrs. Vasquez doesn't want all of the money we recovered from her husband's schemes -- in fact, she shouldn't get caught with it. We're working at making sure she has access to all of the legally traceable funds, and they're more than enough to keep her household going. The rest, we're looking for ways to filter into accounts for the group's use."
"How much money is this?" Candace asked suspiciously.
"Almost a million dollars, Toby says, scattered over several accounts, mostly offshore," Hank replied. "The group needs a bookkeeper. It would be nice, even, if we were a corporation -- maybe a non-profit."
"How would that work?" Candace asked.
"As a social club?" Hank guessed. "Based on anonymous charitable donations? At some point, we might be able to move the clubhouse from here to another location, even." He passed the ball to Toby.
"Hank's right," he agreed. "We need good, legal methods of getting the money back, but theoretically we could buy or build another clubhouse. In the meantime, we can CERTAINLY push a few bucks Candace's way for expenses. As for the hosting and organization thing -- we have plenty of people available; there ought to be enough volunteers to take the load off." Amy pinged Damian at that point, who gave Candace a significant glare. Candace said "Thank you," sat down, and shut up.
Toby then triggered Phyllis, who had the issue, but was keeping mum about it. "What about us older women? We had some promises made, sort of..." She was a bit surprised at herself, but it was out...
Louise took it up. "Pickings have been pretty slim, lately..."
Terence stirred himself, under some prodding from Amy, "Yeah, well, most of us have kind of locked in on one thing or another -- but we kinda made promises to the team..."
Toby pulled it together. "Exactly. Things are in flux -- but we're working on a new format with female volunteers and we need to open things up to the whole team. In the past, we've had security concerns that tied us up, but Amy and I have worked out a system that controls all that stuff. As a result, we can pump in anyone on the team who wants to be here -- and be safe about it. I don't want to go into details -- part of the system's effectiveness is the secrecy involved -- but basically any time Amy or I are on-site, you can be sure things are okay.
"Can you give us any details?" Martin asked.
"Individually, but not in a group like this. We can't reveal EVERYTHING in any case," Toby replied -- and both Toby and Amy leaned on their halves of the group to quell questions. "Just let us know if you have any security issues, and we'll address them. The good news is that there will be an influx of young guys looking for sex -- so all the older women should have to do is come to the parties to get it. How's that?"
"And the other girls? The volunteers?" Trish asked.
"There will be plenty to go around," Toby assured her. "As girls and guys pair up, we'll see what else we can do, but in the meantime, things should go okay."
"What about..." Clint asked, then shut down.
"The bi and gay communities?" Toby finished. "We're working on that. For now, you might want to do bi stuff somewhere private. I'm working on a site for gay stuff -- right now, the Carter home is looking good."
"What?" Louise blurted.
"Well, Fred is there -- and you SAID he could do gay stuff," Toby pointed out. "are you backsliding on that?"
"It's not that bad an idea..." Toby pressed, flicking a glance at Terence.
Louise got it. "Maybe."
"See me after," Toby said. "I'm sorry I surprised you, but I think it is a good place."
"All right, so, the next event is a BIG party after we win tomorrow night," Toby announced, then speared Phyllis with a glance. "Will you come?"
"I, ah, yes," Phyllis muttered, nearly turning purple.
"Adele?" Toby prompted.
"Ma is coming -- she and Robert are going to do some kind of demonstration in the pillory. I know some of you guys -- and gals -- are going to be interested." Toby and Amy slid the group right past debate on the subject, finessing things here and there. They got Candace abundant assistance and promised her some money soon in a separate conference; Toby thought that it might be possible to use one of Fernando's carefully-constructed cutouts for a quick withdrawal, but they were really going to have to look at setting up a business, eventually -- for tonight, Candace would have to live on promises. There were individuals to deal with and situations to quell, but it was over by eleven o'clock.
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