|Subject: Chapter 236 - Part 2 (16 and above) (end of chapter 236)
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Date Posted: Wednesday, April 12, 07:22:38am
In reply to:
's message, "Dreams in the Dark (chapters 221--?)" on Monday, February 13, 07:24:07am
It took him a few seconds, but he came back to his wife, listening half-heartedly to the conversation she was having with his old friend; apparently, they had been discussing the man's tonic from earlier in the day. "Where did you learn that--and what's in it?" she was asking, making him sigh at yet another of his failures. Even in keeping his wife healthy, he had been a less-than-useful mate.
The pair before him didn't notice his concerns, Davenport smiling at the woman, answering only the last half of her question. "You don't want to know the details." Nikita looked worried, making him laugh. "It's nothing dangerous. I'll give the recipe to Michael, before we go." It was clear that he understood that the ill were often better left in ignorance of the ingredients of the tonics which aided them; his look moved in. "*You* just enjoy the results."
The actress smiled at this, as embarrassed as she still was by some of the outcomes of taking it--the "raised in a barn" feeling lingering. She had felt much better--overall--since then, had had a "booster shot," as Chris had called it, soon after they had arrived at Elena's. Still, her question hadn't been answered. "And you learned it . . .?"
Ah. The man's look fell, more saddened than she had imagined. "My sister lived with me for awhile, when she was expecting. I learned it then."
This was a very simple sort of answer, but the radioman's sorrowful mood tinged it an unpleasantly melancholy shade. She sighed, about to inquire further, when he looked up to her, forcing a smile, as he rose. "Why don't I go write the ingredients down for Michael?"
This left the poor woman rather confused, her husband taking up the empty seat beside her; her look turned to him, voice low. "I didn't mean to offend him." Her gaze was worried, trying to figure it out. "Is his sister alright?" If she had suffered from some sort of complications with her pregnancy, then she might just have unintentionally trodden on the poor man's grief.
This wasn't the sort of sorrow the radioman was hiding, however, Michael's voice also quiet, when he replied. "She's alright, I believe. She came to live with him, when her husband died." Nikita grimaced slightly, wondering if this were the truth which had put such pain in the man's eyes, but her husband went on. "But Louise was . . ."
He had found no real way to say it, trailing off; she only realized Davenport had returned when he sighed near her, handing Michael the folded paper he had prepared. He filled in for the actor, deciding to brave it out. The only other people in the room who didn't know were Shears and Adam; the latter had hopefully been raised right by Chuck and his wife. And the former . . .
All he could do was hope, the most apparently civilized people sometimes capable of transforming into monsters before your eyes, when such subjects came about--hatred and prejudice evil sorts of influences. "Louise is much . . . darker than I am." His gaze wandered, saddened to be mentioning it. "She had to pretend to be my maid." It had been the only way--the woman needing him close then to look after her. He shrugged unhappily, his gaze on Nikita. "You do what you have to to survive." And there was no other excuse for a supposedly white man and a colored woman to be living together.
This was a terrible, stupid sort of truth--the radioman's whole life a well-constructed lie, one he needed to maintain, if he hoped to keep his job or current lifestyle; he would have had trouble even attempting to socialize with these people, if anyone knew. It took him a second to find the actress's eyes again, saddened to have to explain it. But the look he found there contained nothing but absolute sympathy.
She smiled at him at moment later, doing her best to understand. It certainly weren't as though she had no experience with pretense. "I'm sure she appreciated it." After all, whatever the lies the world believed, actual devotion made up for a universe of hurt.
Chris nodded to her, thankful that she seemed to understand. That only left Shears for him to worry about--but, when he looked to him, the actor only shrugged. A veteran of the stage, he had seen far stranger things. And it wasn't as though he didn't have his own public lies to maintain.
The confession caused an awkward pause in the evening, but the gathering did continue on soon enough, most of the party quite pleasant. All of them truly understood. No one fit the world's standards completely, everyone needing to hide something from the public eye. The people in that room might have been hiding secrets more deadly or spectacular than some, but few of them were really uncommon. When society's rules were insane, it took a bit of creative lying to avoid them; Nikita looked over to her husband, squeezing his hand. And those who did so skillfully could still find a large amount of joy.
Extra note (and *many* apologies if I've mentioned this before): Davenport's confession here is a little, but not entirely, unusual for those people who were forced to live in this fashion. The actress Merle Oberon, who was half-Indian (i.e. from the country of India, not Native American), kept her mother as her housekeeper, publicly disclaiming any relation to her. Chris, here, is just a far less famous example.
[End of Part 236]
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