Tales from the Flipside (5: Impact)
> Valley High School Valedictorian and State Chess Champion
> Computer Hacker-At-Large (handle: Crosscheck)
> Escaped Mental Patient
Danielle “Dani” Marquis
> Valley High School Homecoming Queen, Prom Queen, and Head Cheerleader
> Former Maid to the Alto Family
> Potential Heiress to the Marquis Fortune
It has been 30 days since this estranged husband and wife have seen or spoken to each other. Up to 30 seconds ago, Dani had believed Jono to be a patient in a psychiatric hospital in America. Which is exactly where he was for the past ten days, until he decided he had another more pressing place to be. “Jono, how are you here?” “Apparently your parents think they’re so untouchable they don’t need to lock their door.” The mention of ‘parents’ prompts Dani to back up to her bedroom door and fumble with the lock until it is securely in place. A difficult feat considering she can’t take her eyes off her husband as he stands and approaches her.
“I mean how did you get here—to France—how did you do that?”
“The Pennylane Institution of Psychiatric Services paid for my plane ticket. I’m supposed to be attending a convention… something about a suspected kleptomania epidemic within the service industry. But I think I’m going to skip it.” Dani tries to process what he just said. To do that, she’d have to get past the fact that he is here at all, and so far, she can’t. Especially now that he is standing directly in front of her. “Dani, I’m sorry. For everything. Please come home.” The real significance isn’t how he is here, it’s why he is here. He cares for her still, it is all over his face, he is apologizing to her, and now she can’t even hold eye contact with him for more than a few seconds without looking away. There is a long list of reasons for this, but all of them can be summarized with just one word: Guilt. Over the ten months prior to leaving her family for France, Dani had for all appearances given up on repairing her relationship with Jono. They always slept in separate rooms. They had nothing to say to each other that wasn’t strictly necessary, and even that often ended in an argument. Dani was sure Jono hated her, and she behaved as though she didn’t care. Amplifying their problems was the fact she’d been drinking far too much for far too long. She’d started that habit at work, just to take the edge off, just to make it tolerable. Sober, her employer had become insufferable to her. Mopping someone else’s floors and scrubbing someone else’s toilets was headache to her pride enough, let alone dealing with her boss having a thing for all his female house staff. She should have just quit, preferably three years ago when she and her husband were still on pleasant speaking terms. There were a lot of things she should’ve done but didn’t do. Instead, she worked a job she despised, allowed her boss to make passes at her as the urge took him, went home less and less sober… …and looked for more palatable affection where she had no business looking for it. For as long as Jesse Simanski had known her, his sister-in-law had been an unabashed flirt, particularly in her cups. Jesse had put up with Dani’s escalating flirtation for months because she was family, he felt sorry for her (knowing his brother was actively recoiling from her touch), and he saw her as no real threat to his conscience. But it had never been as blatant as the night of The Unthinkable. “You were way out of control earlier tonight, Dani. You still are. You know Jules is practically talking, right? You really want to have a conversation with him about why his mama is hitting on his uncle and not his dad?” She was quick to tear up, but Jesse knew better than to take that as a sign she was sobering up. On any given day, Dani could fairly be called over-emotional. Under the influence, her waterworks were on a hair-trigger.
“Aw, come on, Dani, don’t start crying—”
Then she did it. The Unthinkable. She kissed him not-like-a-brother. Jesse responded with full-throttle panic. Family or no family, he shoved her away.
“Dani! STOP! You are seriously screwing it all up here! You and me—that can’t happen—EVER!”
The shove got through where reason hadn’t been reaching. In a fortunate but sadly belated flash of sobriety, Dani realized what she’d just done. The line she’d just crossed, and what Jesse would do about it. He would tell Jono, because he told Jono everything. Good or bad, he confessed it directly into the ear of his twin. Dani begged Jesse not to tell. In truth, it wasn’t merely to protect herself from having to face Jono with that information. She was that sure he already hated her. But Dani did not hate Jono, and no matter how indifferent she behaved, she was all too aware of how close her husband was to a mental freefall. She thought this news might represent the last push he could take. Back and forth they went. But Dani had made the final mistake of dumping a huge slice of her own guilt pie onto Jesse’s plate. No one ever hears “so-and-so kissed so-and-so” and doesn’t serve it up as “they kissed”—not in Jesse’s book. He wasn’t going to tell on her, he was going to tell on himself. There was nothing Dani could say to change his mind. It took ten days for the impact of that night to come to bear. Long enough that Dani was (foolishly) allowing herself to think that Jesse hadn’t told Jono. In the meantime, Dani made good on the long overdue decision to stop drinking altogether. This of course was an excellent life choice for her in the long run, but in the short sprint it had her constantly on her last nerve. She lost control spectacularly at work, but did manage to quit before she heard the words “You’re fired!”
A small victory she did not get to enjoy for long. [Jono:] “Why are you home early? What happened?”
[Dani:] “I quit. I’ve had it with Alto’s hands all over me. Although maybe I should’ve just given in. The fat jerk did say he’d buy me a car, and it’s not like you let me touch you—”
[Jono:] “If you want it bad enough to consider giving it up for Nick Alto, by all means, go right ahead!”
[Dani:] “I just told you I quit that lousy job!”
[Jono:] “And I’ve told you a thousand times you didn’t have to work that lousy job!”
“Someone has to have legitimate employment around here, Jono! What happens if the next time they catch you they don’t just infect your computer—what if they figure out who you are and put you in jail? Or Jesse, if they find out that Whistler pays him in repossessions that fall off the truck?” [Jono:] “They’ll nail Whistler for that, not Jesse.”
[Dani:] “And what about you? Do you want to end up in jail? What will you do in there if yard time turns out to be mandatory, Jono?”
[Jono:] “What the hell do you care what happens to me?!”
[Dani:] “What the hell is that supposed to mean?!”
[Jono:] “You know exactly what it means, Dani!”
[Dani:] “Spell it out for me, Jono!”
“J-E-S-S-E!” There it was. Dani should have known it was coming. Had she stuck with her Simanski twins intuition and not wishful thinking, she’d have known Jesse had told Jono within four hours of The Unthinkable. So what was she going to do now? Play the under the influence card? No. She’d played that one out quite some time ago, and her best defense had always been a good offense anyway. Dani knew exactly how to verbally dismantle her husband. In any argument, on any subject. She was a natural, and she’d had a great deal of practice. Yet she did not employ that talent, not that day. She let Jono let her have it, not because she deserved it (she most certainly did, but that had rarely stopped her in the past), but because she was genuinely afraid. Not of him. For him. She knew what was going to happen to him, as clearly as she knew she’d just put herself in a position to be incapable of doing anything about it. Jono would not let her help him anymore. If that door had not closed ten months ago, it had most assuredly slammed shut today. She could stay and watch it happen—facilitate it for all the good her presence would do—or she could go and hope that Jesse could avert the disaster himself. She knows now that Jono broke less than three weeks after she left, and that she spared herself no guilt by leaving. Stay or go, she was the lynch pin either way. There is only the one saving grace; she loves him, like no other. For all the good that has ever done him. “Dani. Open your eyes. Look at me.” “I don’t blame you, Dani. I made it impossible for us, for a really long time. All things considered, Jesse was a better choice than Nick Alto.” Dani stares at him. Is he… smirking?
“How is that funny?”
“How is that not funny, if it doesn’t matter to me? I love you. I’ll do anything, anything you want, if you’ll just come home.” “You… still love me?”
“I never stopped loving you, Dani.”
“Will you… touch me?”
He is shaking like the first time. Unlike the first time, so is she. They haven’t touched like this in nearly a year. He has never been with anyone else. He has never wanted to be with anyone else. His desire to be with her now is overwhelming. And that is really all she wants and all she needs to be his.
“Jono… I love you.”
. . . . . . “Danielle! Open this door! I know you are harboring that criminal husband of yours—open this door immediately, or so help me, he won’t be the only one I throw out of this house!” “He knows I’m in here? How does he know I’m in here?” “Well, we weren’t exactly quiet the second time.” “So? Isn’t this place built out of stone?” They dress in no great hurry, regardless of the furious pounding on the door. Dani takes a good look at Jono’s shirt (something she hadn’t really noticed before) and starts laughing.
“What are you wearing, Jono? Is that pink?”
“This? This is nothing. You should see the rest of the stuff in the suitcase I picked up. Everything in it is either pink or lime green.”
“If that doesn’t teach you not to steal someone else’s luggage, I don’t know what will.”
Dani’s amusement falters when she sees Jono approach the door.
“Jono, don’t. Don’t let him in here.”
“Why not? I’m not afraid of your dad, Dani.” “No, Jono, he might have—” Jono doesn’t listen. He opens the door, and in the next second he’s cursing himself for the fool he is. Because while Marsilius Marquis may represent no threat to him, the two French cops behind him are an entirely different story. “My house this time, you little thug. And now, at last, I will see you in prison. Where you belong!” ((Special thanks to all the custom content creators that have enhanced these Flipsides (and the Tales from the Cribt series) in the past… nothing new in this one, so specific info on custom content pictured can be found in previous credits (Flipside and Cribts)… and if I have forgotten to credit anyone, please accept my most sincere apologies.
> Especially special THANKS! (times thousands) to all viewers-to-the-end-credits… you made it through another one, folks, now you’ve just got the Season Finale to go… er, once it’s filmed, submitted and approved… O.o ))
Tales from the Flipside (5)
Nov 22, 2010 by RatRaceRob
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