The story so far… Old Wives’ Tale
When I walked into the dealership, I felt like I had walked into an episode of Leave it to Beaver. The only women were sitting behind the information desk, and all the men were dressed in outdated polyester suits.
I had to ask which office belonged to my brother, but declined the cute, red-headed secretary’s offer to escort me there. I could hear her talking to her fellow receptionist as I walked away.
“I heard they were twins,” she cooed. “I wonder if they are identical or fraternal?”
Jax was standing with his back to the door, suit jacket hanging on a rack in the corner, absently adjusting one strap of his suspenders while talking rapid-fire on the phone.
A look of shock flashed for an instant when he turned around and noticed me.
“Listen, Chet, I have to call you back.” He hung up the handset of an old desk phone, but didn’t move from where he was standing.
“Hello, Jax.” I didn’t come any further into the office, waiting just inside the door.
“I heard you were back in town.”
“I’ve been back for over three weeks now,” I said, finally taking one of the faux leather seats across from his desk. “I’m sure you’ve also heard that I’m fixing up the old home place. I’m moving back to Pendleton.”
He sat down, rolling his big chair tight against the edge of his desk.
“I hear a lot of things,” he said. “I’m kind of a big deal around here. People keep me posted on what’s going on around town. I also know you’ve been stepping out with that rat bastard sheriff. You always did have lousy taste in men.”
“Still Jax?” I relaxed into the chair, weary of his same old grievance. “I’m a grown woman, you can’t bully me about who I date.”
He pounded his fists on the desk, making the contents of his pen holder jump, spilling pencils across the surface. “I won’t have any sister of mine dating some trailer trash from across the tracks.”
I flinched. The sudden outburst of anger was out of character, even from Jax. It was then, and his use of same phrase he used so many years ago, that the realization hit me.
“Oh my God,” I whispered. “This has nothing to do with me, this is all about Marshall.”
“Of course it’s about that lowlife scum, Marshall.” Jax wiped a droplet of spittle from the corner of his mouth.
“No, it’s about Marshall and you. You’re secretly in love with Marshall. It’s not just me you don’t want dating him, you don’t want any woman dating him..”
We sat staring at each other for what felt like hours. All the anger seemed to seep out of him, and a look of desperation filled his eyes.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Jax stood up and began pacing like a trapped animal.
“How many other women have you intimidated into staying away from him?”
“You shut up!”
“Jax I feel sorry for you,” I got up to leave. “I can’t image how hard it’s been to hide from who you are all these years, all the anger and lies, but I’m not going to let you ruin this for me again. I’m back to stay, and Marshall and I have a lot of time to make up. You need to accept that.”
“Jax, you’re my brother.” I suddenly felt very tired. “I do love you. I may not always like you, but I love you no matter what.”
“How could you possibly love me?”
I walked around the desk and hugged him. Arms stiff by his side, his eyes filled with tears..
“Because we’re family.” I kissed his cheek, and left him alone in his office, closing the door behind me.