Sunday, November 30, 2014

#46: Peter's Solution, and Regina's Solution.

After Lou slammed the front door, Regina and Peter looked at each other uncomprehendingly.

 "Well, THAT went well," Bill observed sarcastically.

"I suppose someone should go after her," Peter suggested.

Regina and Bill just looked at him.

"Aaaaaand, I guess that person is 'yours truly'," Peter said with resignation, and walked out the door.


Peter found Lou sitting alone in the small park across the street from the Utopia House.  "Mind if I sit down?" he asked cautiously.

Lou said nothing.  Peter sat down anyway.  "Want to talk about it?"

"My supposed 'best friend' got engaged and bought a house and didn't bother to tell me for 2 days," Lou said sadly.  "How would YOU feel???"


"Well, I was as surprised as you," Peter admitted.  "I knew Regina and Bill liked each other--and they have SO much in common, with the whole 'living off the grid' thing--but I didn't see this coming.  I found out just a couple hours ago when I came home from work.

"I think there are TWO reasons why she didn't tell you, Lou," Peter went on.  "One, as Regina explained, she didn't want to steal Kelly's thunder--everybody around here can sense Kelly's happiness and excitement, and we all assume she and Derek are getting married any day now.

"Two, you've just been so busy and focused on your new job and getting ahead and making game mods and plugins and everything else that I think Regina didn't want to distract you.  She knows how important success is to you."

"But," Lou whined, "if Kelly is with Derek, and Regina is with Bill, then I'm stuck with Alice.  And I don't WANT to be stuck with Alice!"

"Well, what I was ABOUT to suggest to you back at the house--before the train went off the tracks," Peter took a deep breath, "was that you and I could get a house together."

"Just as roommates," he hastened to add.  "We'll find a two-bedroom somewhere, then once you make enough money, you can always get your own place.  Or I could move out."

"I guess that could work," Lou said.  Though still upset, she sounded a bit relieved.

"Gee, thanks for your enthusiasm!" Peter kidded.  "Now let's go back to the house."

Just as they were leaving the park, Regina caught up to them.

"Oh, honey," Regina said, "I'm so sorry!" and hugged her friend.

"No, I'M sorry," Lou apologized.  "I'm really happy for you and Bill."

"It's just that I suddenly found out that you were leaving, and since Kelly's leaving, I was afraid I'd have to live with Alice!  But Peter and I have decided to share a house, so I'll be okay," Lou assured Regina.

Regina looked a little surprised by this.  "You should know, Lou, that Bill and I have decided to offer Alice a room in our house, so we can help her stay sober," Regina said.  "We just haven't told her yet."

 Now it was Lou's turn to look surprised.

"Are you sure you've thought this through?" Lou asked.  "You and Bill are starting your life together, and you're going to add Alice to the mix, with all her problems?"

"Believe me, we've talked about it a LOT," Regina assured her friend.

"I couldn't live with myself if I let Alice fall off the wagon.  I really think she's got such a good chance of finally making something of her life.  Besides," Regina laughed, "neither Bill nor I can cook, so we can really use Alice's help!"

Saturday, November 29, 2014

#45: Lou's Unhappy Surprise.

Lou arrived home from work, having been promoted for the second day in a row.  She went directly to the refrigerator.

Peter was eating dinner at the bar and, although there were empty seats on either side of him, Lou dug into her plate standing up, with her back to him.

Peter took a deep breath.  "Wanna make up?" he asked, teasing her.

"I'M not mad--YOU'RE the one who's mad," Lou replied (clearly still mad).

(Peter and Lou had disagreed a few days earlier on how to split up the Utopia House's funds.  Lou--who was in charge of managing the household's money and getting the bills paid--had seemed to take for granted that all the housemates would get an equal share, while other Utopians, including Peter, were okay with giving Derek and Kelly a bigger share so that Derek could fix up the house he wanted to buy for himself and Kelly.

(And, since Peter earned by far the most money of all the Utopians, Lou had felt she didn't have the right to overcome his objection.  And Lou was earning very little money by comparison.  And she wasn't happy about ANY of that, and had fumed about it for days.)

Lou sat down next to Peter and stabbed at her food.  "So, I have a proposal for you," he began.

Lou flinched at the word "proposal", but said only, "What's up?" but was unable to keep an icy tone out of her voice.

Bill was bringing dirty plates over to Regina, who was washing dishes.  'Geez, I sure want to get the heck out of here!' he thought.

"So, I was thinking," Peter continued bravely, "that, well, it seems some of our housemates are about to move out.  For Derek and Kelly, I think it's any day now, and for Regina and Bill--"

"What do you mean--'Regina and Bill'!" Lou demanded.

Regina whirled around.  "We were going to tell you," she said sheepishly.  "I was just waiting for the right moment."

"The 'right moment' to tell me WHAT???" Lou asked, already getting angry.

"Monday night, Bill and I decided we would get married," Regina said nervously.

"We've been keeping it quiet, because we didn't want to get in the way of the whole Derek-Kelly thing."

Lou looked stone-faced, and in shock.

"And you didn't think this information was worth telling your best friend?" Lou said, sounding hurt.  "For TWO FREAKIN' DAYS?"

Regina dried her hands and sat down next to Peter.  "I'm sorry, Lou," she apologized (though she didn't really think an apology was warranted).  "We didn't plan to tell anyone.  If Alice hadn't figured it out on her own--"

Peter could sense that Lou was working her way up to an epic rant, and tried to defuse it in advance.

"Look, Regina, I think Lou understands, and appreciates, your consideration of Kelly's feelings, and--"

Peter was, however, NOT successful in his efforts.

Lou jumped out of her chair.  'Oh, geez,' Peter thought.  'This is NOT going to go well.'

"Are you telling me that ALICE--drunk, stupid, hopeless, freakin' shiftless ALICE--knew you two were moving out BEFORE I DID???"

"Hey, Lou, calm down!" Regina pleaded.  "We're not about to move out, just because we bought a house.  It needs a LOT of work, so--"

The "bought a house" reference was all Lou needed to hear, before she stormed out of the Utopia House into the night.

Friday, November 28, 2014

#44: The Rivalry Continues.

Wednesday morning, after Derek, Peter, and Dude left for work, Alice practiced Mixology,

Regina gardened,

Bill crafted and sold more bathtubs,

and Kelly tried to get Lou to watch the Cooking Channel for instruction.  "Lou, you're going to be on your own pretty soon," Kelly prodded, "and it would be a good idea just to know some basic recipes."

 "There's always takeout and delivery!" Lou retorted,

and left for her job.

Once Alice and Kelly left for their first day of work as Assistant Dishwashers (at different restaurants), Bill and Regina went to the town realty office to buy the old farmhouse,

then went over to the house to begin renovating it.

"Wow--we've got a LOT of work to do here," Regina observed.

"It'll be okay--we'll just break it up into small jobs," Bill assured her.  "And Derek owes me BIG time for putting in his bathroom, so on his first day off from work, I OWN his a**!" Bill said gleefully.

Regina was very amused by Bill and Derek's relationship.  "I'm SOOO glad the two of you have each other--because it cuts down on the amount of teasing I get!" she said.

Bill started out in the large room upstairs, replacing windows,

and laying tile in the part of the room he and Regina had decided should be a bathroom.

Regina ripped the (inexplicable) clapboard off of the stairway,

and scoured the filthy sink and toilet in the powder room.

The two returned to the Utopia House before the others came back from work.

Derek and Dude had both been promoted and, hungry, headed for the fridge.

Peter hadn't been promoted, and immediately sat down at Lou's computer so he could fulfill his last "Research Art Reference" requirement.

"Wow--'Module Cleaner'," Bill razzed Derek, who was walking past him with a plate of food.  "That sounds like a REALLY impressive job!"

"Right, because it's so much less impressive than being UNEMPLOYED!" Derek shot back.

"Hey, I'm 'SELF-employed,' not 'UN-employed'!" Bill countered.

"Congratulations on your promotion, Derek!" Regina said, genuinely pleased for him.

"THANK YOU, Regina," Derek said, pointedly.  "Why do you like this a**hole, anyway???"

"Same reason Kelly likes YOU," Regina retorted.  "We must all be brain dead!"