We headed straight to Big Red’s house. Got there around noon after leaving Madiera Beach around 8. We were brought into this large, sunny, dining area to meet Big Red, who had heard we might be coming. We asked to see Bette.
“Sure you can see Bette, somebody go tell her that her friends from New Jersey are here,” Big Red says. And when Bette shows up she seems sunny and happy and we tell her all the news from South Jersey – except we don’t yet mention her sister’s plan to have us rescue her. Bob and I were both quickly seeing this was going to have to be a psychological rescue of Bette’s mind first and foremost. So we ask if she wants to go for a ride into town with us and get something to eat.
“Can I?” asks Bette.
“Sure” says Big Red, but it troubled us she had to ask his permission – he must feel like he has a lot of control over her to let her go so nonchalantly. Later, we bring that up. “Oh,” she says, “we all kind of look up to Big Red as a father figure; and yes we all do kind of live by his rules; but there’s a lot of really great people here; and we pick enough oranges to eke out a living selling crates of them at the local farmer’s market.”
Well, by now she’s got me convinced she certainly doesn’t want to be “rescued,” and is probably doing just fine here in Florida, and if we go through with this it’ll end up on the police blotter as a kidnapping. When I privately tell Bob all this, he was so into his promise to Carol, to come through with The Big Rescue, that he didn’t want to give up. “Look,” I tell him, “it’s nightfall and we promised to deliver her back before dark, just ask her straight up, ‘you wanna go with us?’ and if she says ‘no’ we’ll have to live with that.” She said No and our Rescue Mission was over, or so we thought.
Resigned not to be on a Rescue Mission, Bob decides his next destination will be his sister’s in Denver and asks if I want to go along.
Sure, I said, but first let’s stop and say a last good-bye to Fred on the way, and shoot another game of pool or two – besides maybe my friend will show up. So we drive all night across Florida and when we get to Fred’s it’s past Midnite, so we decide to crash on the beach instead. The next morning when I wake up, Bob tells me that there’s some bad news – he thinks he’s gotten my sister into some trouble with her landlord. Fred had come by walking her Cocker Spaniel and reported the landlord was super-pissed about Bob sleeping in the driveway – and so we really couldn’t stay there anymore, but she did invite us over for dinner after she got off work and before we left town.
We spent the day on the beach at Skip’s and all day long I had to keep telling Bob, “No, we aren’t going back to Ormond Beach to make sure Bette’s all right. If she wants to leave, it’s obvious she can leave anytime. I think she’s genuinely happy being there.” When we arrive at Fred’s for supper, Bob asks if we can go buy some groceries to return the favor of her hospitality, but I demur and say I’d rather stay and visit with Fred. Fred’s boyfriend goes along with Bob to supply directions.
Tomorrow: “Could I go with you guys?!”
No virus found in this message.
Checked by AVG – www.avg.com
Version: 2013.0.3462 / Virus Database: 3658/6910 – Release Date: 12/11/13