**Disclaimer: Murad Cigarettes featured some of my favorite early twentieth-century advertisements. Hopefully you'll enjoy these examples, here and here. As for the second section, I have every intention of seeing "Revolutionary Road" when it comes out later this year and the trailer certainly influenced this turn story-wise. For better or for worse...no inadvertent puns intended. Language advisory.** **Opal City, Maryland** Oliver IV set his hat on the stool and leaned onto the counter, “Did you order anything?” Andy frowned at his glass, “Just milk and two donuts…thank you for dropping by with such short notice.” He accepted a cigarette and a light from his fourth cousin, “I don’t understand why you visit the extended family. You know perfectly well they’ll never accept either of us.” Oliver spun once then twice on his stool and ran a hand over his light blond hair, “Lord Pierce is nice, and so is his wife, Lady Angela. You know you might find that it’s really only the older ones who still look down their noses at us, if you ever bothered to find out at all.” “I honestly have little to no interest in that branch of my bloodline, that’s all,” Andy studied the little white stick, “Where on earth did you find these? They’re good.” “Star City. Murad’s. I always take a box when I travel. They’re practically extinct these days…as are milk bars last I heard,” Oliver let his eyes roam over the two bow tied attendants in white shirts and starched white caps serving ice cream to another man reading the evening paper and a woman with a baby in a carriage down the bar. “One of two left on the East Coast. The other is in New York.” “Speaking of dying eras, why the hell did you send a telegram of all things? I thought there were prohibitively expensive,” then he spied the cuff of a cashmere sweater sticking out from Andy’s coat sleeve, “Never mind. What was all that about small favors anyhow? I thought you were still nursing a boyhood grudge against me.” Andy nodded, “I am. You’re a snobbish brat.” “So are you.” “I may be one or the other but I am not both,” Andy sent a sidelong glance down the bar, “It’s simple really. I need you to seduce a girl away from me.” Oliver gave a short, snorting laugh and a line of smoke poured out of his nose, “Whom?” “My roommate’s sister.” Oliver grunted, “Don’t tell me now, she’s homely as sin.” Andy shook his head sadly, “No, nothing like that. She’s actually quite the dish.” “So what’s the matter?” Andy shrugged, “I’m betrothed.” Oliver snorted again, “Don’t b*llsh*t me.” Andy lightly elbowed him, “Watch the language guy, there’s an ordinance in this town against swearing in front of women and children and the beat cops around here love petty offenses. Anyhow, it’s true.” “Why so glum? Who’s the lucky girl?” Andy looked full on down the counter and gestured at the young woman and the baby and Oliver blushed deeply, “Lord Chr*st, don’t tell me it’s yours. Well then you are betrothed.” Andy shook his head, “He’s not my kid, not yet. And it’s not the way it sounds.” “Does anyone know about this?” Andy gave a raspberry, “Not on my life. And don’t get excited. I’ve been in love with her since I was ten years old.” “That’s cute Andy. That’s downright adorable.” Andy frowned, “Well her mother didn’t approve and she married some older guy, a soon-to-be-stockbrokering Yallie.” “I don’t see why you’re making such a fuss for a girl who tied the knot behind your back. A girl you haven’t even seen in ages? It’s freezing g*ddamn it," Oliver rubbed his hands together, puffing in the cool air. Andy stopped, squinting at the neon sign above their heads "It’s not even that cold yet. You’ve spent too much time in California. And I have been seeing her. At horse shows, at hunting parties when I've been home, at skating parties now that the season’s arrived. She skates with her girlfriends and I stand back with the other fellows. But I didn’t speak with her for more than ten minutes until all of this blew up." "Honorable." Andy placed one hand atop his head, "Her baby stays home with its nurse, but she's only hired through the day. Edith's husband wanted to live a 'sensible' life until he finished up with the Army and went back to New York. I imagine he probably wanted to see a medal or two for his troubles. Decorations play up well in the press." "They say I'm cynical. You don't like him?" "I loathe him. He never sees her or their baby. He's posted in Florida, took his mistress with him. He wasn't even kind enough to hide it. Now he's gotten into...trouble," Andy handed him a clutch of newspapers that had been resting on the stool next to him. Oliver scanned them dispassionately, "Understatement my boy. It says that the girl stepped out on him, with an MP no less. And in a jealous rage, he shot them both. The very picture of tact." “Edith’s father took her to file for a divorce but immediately. Certainly understandable given the circumstances. We’re driving to his house and we stopped over tonight to see you.” “What about her mother?” “Positively scandalized, which is really something considering the line of divorces Veronica Vreeland racked up. Six I think, but no attempted murder. Bunny went straight away to Monaco. She wants this whole ‘ugly matter’ settled by the time she gets back next month.” “Battle axe?” Andy shrugged, “Human. I’ve hated her, I’ll probably hate her again sometime, but she hasn’t protested my involvement. And I’m grateful for small favors.” “And uncle Brucie?” Andy was silent for a moment, squashing the cigarette in a stainless steel ashtray standing at his left, “He reads more newspapers than I do. I’m sure he knows, and if he knows he can probably guess that I couldn’t let her sit through this alone. I just don’t know what his opinion of everything is.” “He’d stop the wedding.” “There won’t be any wedding. Not yet. Not at least until I graduate. Right now I’ll just see that she’s safely sequestered with her papa.” “Does he like you?” “He’s never disliked me. Bunny’s always made the decisions where Edie’s concerned. He’s a country gentleman of the old school. The youngest brother in a family of seven. No worries, no responsibilities. Just supporting Bunny and Edie’s every whim. He wouldn’t argue against me.” “What will you do in the meantime?” “Finish at Harvard. Take my place at Wayne Corp. What else?” “And, if I should decide to help you, how might I get close to…” “Miss Dawson. Rose Dawson. Her brother’s name is George.” “Miss Dawson then. What’s she like?” “Sporty, always up for a game, any game. Intelligent but not very bookish. Opinionated without being argumentative. She’s alright. You’d like her for these purposes.” Oliver smiled and signaled to one of the attendants, “You have a habit of throwing your girls away to your cousins. I know that’s how Matthew and Francine were started, that he had to go through Barbara Mary Cole first. Mrs. Wayne filled me in while they were touring my grandfather’s house.” “You say that to mean?” “I just hope I don’t end up drowning in holy matrimony that’s all,” he ordered chocolate milk. Andy wasn’t cheered by the light joke, “I’ll invite you out next weekend. Eliot has a hockey match against Dudley.” “Which house are you?” “Eliot.” “Are you on the team?” “No. Crew and golf. House and Harvard. I dream of rowing. Either way, come out for the spectacle. See Rose and charm her.” “Is she fast?” “No.” “Her brother will be sore.” “Maybe.” “You don’t like George?” “We were at Groton together, of course I like him. I’m rooming with him aren’t I?” Oliver considered him for a long moment, “You can be downright cold when you want something. You know that?” “You too.” Oliver nodded, taking his glass from the man in the bow tie, “I too.” Andy took a deep breath, “So, would you like to meet her?” “The lovely Mrs. Edward? I would like nothing better.” *** Terrence loosened his tie. He was freezing, snow was falling and he stood in his shirtsleeves next to one of the cars. The lights upstairs glowed. He knew June was crawling and standing and babbling nonsensically, safe with her nanny. He loved his little girl. Downstairs was another matter. He glanced over the gravel drive and the grass dusted white. The smaller feminine footsteps. She’d left her suitcase in the backseat, the side door ajar. He reached down to retrieve his suit jacket and gave something that sounded like a frustrated whimper. If he’d gotten in just ten minutes…five minutes later…if she hadn’t been kind enough to call the office first… I’m going to visit Jack in Paris for awhile, get a little shopping done… He’d spent two weeks in the city, calling every night, checking on her, on the baby. All the while she was restless. The wind tussled his hair and whipped his collar, riding the skin of his back as he looked around. Nothing. Nothing at all for miles but the occasional dot, their neighbors on the horizon. She was going stir crazy and he knew. They’d argued in the drive as he pressed both hands on the trunk, dancing backward as she attempted to reverse. Mel, don’t do this. Do what? Leave like this. You want me home, I’ll come home. I’ll do anything just don’t—he’d panted and she’d cut the engine, gotten out and stared at him. With her hair flailing about, he couldn’t read her eyes. But this wasn’t just like any other time they’d left one another. A nonchalant excuse, a happy go lucky kiss and that was that. He couldn’t guess at how long she would stay away. Days, weeks, months? Now they had a home together, and she was his, however fractious. He thought about June. He remembered his youth and his father’s “business trips.” Years later, Warren McGinnis had confessed to staying at the downtown Hilton, that he’d just needed a break from the constant arguing. A moment without the helplessness of growing to hate someone he’d always loved. Terrence certainly didn’t hate Melanie and while he couldn’t quite say for certain whether or not she loved him, she trusted him and was patient with his tattered explanations as to his whereabouts over the past year and a half. Racquet club games, board meetings. Yes, all true. Bruce had sponsored his and Matthew’s admission into various blue blooded clubs and associations. The Athletic Club, Sons of the American Revolution, Society of the Cincinnati, so on and so forth. While Bruce had secured an exemption from service for him due to his being “essential” to war production, he found his free time being constantly usurped by this dinner or that fundraiser, in and out of town. Nearly every night he trudged to the brownstone in order to shed his jacket and black tie and don the cowl. It was exhausting. And tongues were beginning to wag, eyes wandering, wondering why he never brought the very lovely Melanie Walker to any functions. Why his adorable baby daughter didn’t make the Best & Co. Bunny Hop last Easter. Where on earth was he hiding them? He stuffed his hands in his pockets, feeling the cold as it sank into his shoes. But he didn’t move toward the yellow rectangle of their open door until he began to shiver. Melanie was in the kitchen. He noticed that she didn’t take a glass of wine when angry and was glad. He always knew his parents had argued by the tell tale sign of an upturned stem glass in the kitchen sink. She merely leaned against the counter with her arms folded, smolderingly silent. He crossed the kitchen and drew her to him, wrapping his arms about her waist. She didn’t speak, pouting instead at some indeterminate spot over his shoulder. He began to murmur against her neck, “You can come out to the city with me on the weekends if you want. You can finally finish decorating the brownstone. I like the pattern you were using for Junie’s room. That cool green with bunny rabbits. She’d love that. You can shop and—” “What do you want from me?” Uh oh. Wasn’t that supposed to be his line? Wasn’t she supposed to beg him to tighten up? He faltered, lacking a response and she set her hands on the counter behind in order to brace herself, “Junie’s not even nursing anymore. Terry, if I thought raising her with you would turn me into a virtual prisoner…I’ve actually fallen into a routine. I wake, I dress, I go riding, I wash, I have breakfast with the baby, I put her in her pram and we walk over to the library to exchange the book I read in bed the night before. We come home, have lunch, play in the nursery, read a storybook, I put her down for a nap and I wait for you to telephone. If you’re coming up, I set the menu, dress for dinner and wait. And that was alright at first, I believe that she needs a family. But I didn’t count on you plunging into society like this.” Terrence had undone the cuffs of his sleeves and was presently rolling them up, “You feel like a prisoner. Well I don’t enjoy any great deal of this either.” Melanie’s brow curled, “What does that mean?” Terrence brought a hand to his brow, “Bruce ‘encouraged’ me to take the name, the responsibilities it held. For June’s sake, I know. But now every night I’m trapped at some function with a squad of stuffed-shirts, every morning I’m sitting at a desk putting in appearances at a job I loathe. All I do is sign my name, sign my name, sign my name. Mr. Wayne, we need funding, Mr. Wayne we need your support. And do you think Bruce is interested in whether or not I’m miserable? I’m a regular fish out of water. Dick’s been out of the social loop so long he can’t help me. Andy’s holed up at Harvard or someplace for some reason and won’t come home, so I’m looking after his affairs too. Matt’s training and worrying about Franny. I’m alone Mel.” Now she outright frowned, “I wasn’t aware loneliness was a two-man club.” Terrence shook his head, “No, I mean I do want you to come to the city. I just didn’t imagine it was your thing. Something you wanted to do.” “You never asked.” Terrence nodded and began to rub the back of his neck, growing more and more fatigued, “Geez, the only time I’m my old self is when I’m here or at night when I…” Melanie straightened up, “When what?” Terrence shrugged, “Sleep I guess.” Melanie stared at him, “You’re lying. You have a tell, you always bare your teeth a little when you lie.” She looked at the tiled floor, “I can’t remember the last time I heard you laugh, express any joy at all. Except with June. I know you’re going through the motions with me. And that’s fine for now, but I can’t stay locked up on this farm.” Terrence sighed, “I’m not going through the motions. Hell, you’ve been terrific, all things considered. A lot of women might have been finished with me by now. Do you need to hear me say it? Do you want me to make it official or something?” Melanie shook her head, frustrated, “There it is. Conventionality. I don’t want to marry you Terry.” That stung. That really stung though he could have expected it. He stared at her slack-jawed for a moment before speaking, “Sorry I offend you so. If you remember correctly I was all set to get married.” Melanie shrugged, looking away, angering him with her flippancy, “Do you wish you had?” “No. No. I wanted just to keep her near me. We fought a lot. I—it would have been a mistake. I loved her but…I couldn’t do that to her. June was the best thing that could have happened.” “I suppose I don’t merit the same consideration.” “Why do you have to look at it that way? I…I think I belong with you somehow.” Melanie grimaced, “Fate.” “No?” “I suppose my parents’ divorce had quite the effect on me,” Melanie surmised, “I don’t want to be chained to your hip. I tried to explain that to Jacky months ago. I want to stay because I want to stay.” Terrence’s voice was flat and angry, “And you want to leave because you want to leave.” Melanie nodded, somewhat tender, sensing that he was hurt, “Yes.” Terrence shook his head, “That’s not how it works; we’re too old for this crap. Flying off, not caring about what it does to others.” “I’m not a ball and chain.” “You’re the mother of my daughter…maybe our children. Maybe that’s not deep or confining to you, but it is to me. Now, I’m not asking you to marry me if you don’t want to, but I’m asking you to try not to feel like some caged animal. If you thought about it you’d see that there’s nothing remotely wrong with any of this. I can give you anything you need. You’ll come down to the city with the baby and we’ll spend more time together.” Melanie made a face, “That isn’t what I wanted.” “Well that’s what we have. An obligation.” “Says who?” “Decency,” he was beginning to sweat, to redden. “I don’t agree.” He ran his hands over his face, “I’ve told you everything I’ve done for you and June and you sound like you can’t meet me half-way. That you don’t even want to.” Melanie tried to be kind, stepping over to him and placing a hand at his cheek, “I don’t know what I can or cannot do. But let me go see my brother, let me have a little time away without any sort of guilt trip. Take some time for yourself. You’re running ragged, I can see it.” Terrence closed his eyes, wishing he could explain, “I can’t Mel. I can’t go anywhere; I have to stay right here.” He took her hand in his, “I belong to this city, I do what it asks me to do.” She shook her head, pitying him, “That’s your decision.” He held her face in his hands and began to kiss her, “I wish I could make you see things the way they really are.” “You’re too idealistic.” “No,” he corrected as they moved back toward the cabinets, “Fatalistic.” And he silenced her response, kissing her neck and placing his hands behind her posterior. Lifting her, he untucked his shirt and pushed down his briefs and she let down her skinny black pants, kicking them away. And he went up, up, and they moved in silence and the wind came in through the side door, still open, and snow gathered there. Melting on their kitchen floor.