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On the Rocks

On the Rocks

 It seems so small now.  Like everything does when you look back.

Just after foreclosure, the agent listing the house decided to buy it.  And why not?  She was very familiar with it and had always liked the layout. Even as a girl.  The payments would be a little steep at first, but the real estate market was very predictable on the Cape, and lately things seemed to be moving at record speeds and prices.  It would be a smart move to grab this one before too many people walked through.  She cancelled the open house and marked the listing as “under contract.”  The listing wasn’t posted on her broker’s Web site yet, so she should be able to close the deal quickly and quietly.

Kim was in her twenties now and it was time to get serious.  And if things did get really tight she could always ask her parents for a loan.  Hopefully she would never have to do that.  Especially since her mom had made it clear she thought Kim was getting in over her head taking on a mortgage by herself.  She would hate to have to go back for the “I told you so” speech.

But honestly, Kim was thankful she had that security blanket.  Her parents were very careful with their money, and had instilled in her the same sense of financial responsibility.

They lived only four miles down the road and close to the beach.  Perfect she thought.  She loved them very much and was glad to have found a home so close.   And since they would never come by unannounced, there was always time to air out the house from her occasional Marlboro Light, or that Saturday night spliff.  Perfect.

Although she was given the listing directly from the bank after the foreclosure, she wasn’t told what had happened with the previous owners.  They had owned the place for 25 years, and Kim had gone to school with Ray and Scott, the third and fourth of the Parks kids.  She remembers spending Halloween there back in ‘85 when she was a sophomore.  She and Ray were in the same grade, and Scott was a year younger and in her homeroom.  Scott was the funny one, and at one point she thought she might have a crush on him, but he was way too thin, and there was something about him she just couldn’t put her finger on.

Her mom Denise worked with their mom Gail at Cape Cod Hospital for what seemed forever, but the two women were never close.  Actually they couldn’t have been more different, and outside of work, their paths would only cross twice over the next 20 years and that was just by happenstance in the produce section at Angelo’s super market.

The word was that Gail had moved out in the late 80’s while the kids were still living there, and that Ray was the last to go around ‘95.  The postman would say that renters came and went over the next couple of years, but that even today creditors still send certified letters addressed to Ray to this address.

Kim hadn’t seen any of those letters.

Either way, it didn’t matter.  The house was hers, and it was on a nice quite street with nice quite neighbors.  The chief of Police and Fire Department were only 3 and 4 doors down respectfully.  Perfect.

Kim would never miss a payment, and she would never have to go to her parents for that loan.  In fact she was making the payments ahead of schedule and at this rate, it would be paid off in 15 years instead of the 30-year term she had agreed to with Bass River Savings Bank.

And for the first time in 15 years, the VP at BRSB was pleased to be able to take the file for 80 Cranberry Lane off of the Collection Manager’s desk, and put it safely along side the other colorless folders that crowded his small oceanfront office.


Chapter 1


Gail and Ray Jr. decided to celebrate their fifth anniversary at home.  Okay, Ray decided he was going to stop for a couple of beers at the Sand Trap, and Gail decided it would be no fun to go out alone.  So I guess you could say, they decided to celebrate at home, later. Too bad too, because she had been secretly hoping they would be heading to the Riverway tonight.

In 1968 the Riverway, was the place to be.  Later, the 100 or so seat restaurant would be elevated to such acclaim it would release and bottle its coveted salad dressing for sale at local grocers.  It could be found up and down the Cape, and even in some of the southern suburbs of Boston.  Gail sometimes liked to put some on her steak when no one was paying close enough attention.  And with Ray, that seemed to be all too often.

But no mind.  Finding a babysitter to watch three young kids without any notice on a Saturday, and in the middle of summer.  Forget it.

Of course, a night out would be fun.  It had been a long time.  And she was really hoping to get in one more night on the town before she started showing.  She hadn’t told Ray yet, and was almost thinking of telling him tonight, but then figured it could wait until tomorrow, or maybe even the next day.  She knew how he would react.

They had both decided early on that they wanted children, but had never really discussed how many.  They would play it by ear.   Neither was prepared for Heidi to come so soon.  Neither would have guessed that less than a year into their relationship, they would be married with a baby.   Certainly Gail’s parents, both ministers in the Salvation Army, wouldn’t have guessed or hoped for it.  They weren’t sure if they really liked Ray (and were sure to never let on to Gail or to each other how they felt).

But Gail was 22 when he proposed, and she wasn’t getting any younger they thought.

So the plans were laid (lain?).  Gail would march down the aisle with Ray on July 6, 1963 (2 months pregnant…shhhh), and promise to love honor and obey.  She would invite President and Mrs. Kennedy for novelty.  She would repeat after her father, who presided over the nuptials, and then with two words would begin her journey as Mrs. Eugene Raymond Parks.

All aboard.

Actually it was probably good that he was stopping for a couple of beers.  It would give her time to put the kids down, and she could get the house in order and avoid any arguments over her domestic management shortcomings.

Ray liked things tidy.

He had been working long hours at Erwin’s Pharmacy and was well onto his way as an established figure in Yarmouth.  He got along with everybody, was quick, and had a wicked laugh.  He was a Mason and in the Rotary club.  Ray loved entertaining, and loved being entertained.  But most of all, he loved to pick up a check.  Those being treated didn’t need to know he was dipping into bill money or would have to work an extra shift to make up the deficit.  Ray was popular.  He knew it, and he liked it.

Time to get home.

He and Gail had been renting for 5 years now.  Back and forth from Maine to the Cape, they weren’t exactly sure where they would settle down.  But with Ray’s full time (plus overtime) at the drug store, and Gail interviewing at the hospital, it looked like the planets were beginning to align, and all signs were pointing to Cape Cod as the place to raise the kids.

Once Gail gets that job, and heads back to work, they could count on two incomes again, and keep things moving in the right direction.

Let’s hope nothing gets in the way.

He was a little late coming home, but not so much because of the beers, but more because he had to pick up “chink food” from the Dragon Light.  He knew she loved the boneless spareribs, chicken fingers, pork strips, teriyaki, pork fried rice…shit, there really wasn’t too much on that menu Gail didn’t like.  He would score major points with food.  Ray was great with dates, and needed no prompting or hints from Gail.  She loved that about him.

Times were good.  They would pull out the TV trays, crack a couple of beers, watch Adam-12 and talk about the future.  Gail knew she had to tell him her news, but it was a good night, and Ray was in a good mood.  She loved it when he was like this.  He was making plans for the family and their next big step.  He was also, in his not so subtle way, dropping clues that there were no more than three children in this grand plan.  Of course, whether he liked it or not there were to be four soon enough.  Maybe next week would be a better time to tell him.

Ironically, the next day Ray had begun to bring home birth control pills for Gail.  He must have known.  Of course they weren’t prescribed, and although it was the largest pharmacy in town, there was hardly what you would call a solid inventory or security system in place.  All the pharmacists pulled from the shelves what they needed at home.  It was one of the unwritten benefits.  No one would ever question what the others may be “prescribing” for their loved ones or themselves.

Gail wasn’t ready for this little surprise, and knew she wouldn’t wait until next week to tell him that Scott would be here in 7 months.  She’d wait until after dinner while they were both on the couch and relaxed. She’d make sure The Carol Burnett Show was on and kids were in bed.  He loved that show and it was almost guaranteed that he would cry from laughing so hard.  She was going to wait for the last commercial break to tell him.

Something just got in the way.

“What?  Get off the couch.  GET OFF THE FUCKING COUCH!!!  If I sit near you any longer you’ll have fucking twins.  I can’t believe this.  How in the hell?  Are you taking some sort of fucking fertility pill?  We’ve been together five years, and you’re telling me we’re going to have four God damned kids?  We can’t afford this.  What are you fucking thinking?  You’re a nurse for Christ’s sake.”

Gail said nothing, while Ray drove off. Things went better than expected she thought.

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