“Mrs. Wentz, may I come in?” a female voice asked from the door.
“Yes, Lucia. You may enter,” Ashlee replied. She was standing with her back to the door looking out of the wide window of the family room. It faced the lake. Ashlee loved carrying baby Bronx into the room and having him look out into the wide open lake. She could hear Lucia’s light footsteps and behind her she heard heavy, timid footsteps. It must be him. The carrier, their carrier.
Ashlee turned and took in the sight before her. He was a young man. He was older than herself, but younger than Pete. She wondered if he did that on purpose. This young man was short, healthy looking, had eyes that she couldn’t decide if they were green or blue in the light they were standing in, and dark blonde hair. He was cute. She hated him that instant.
Lucia took note of Ashlee’s change in facial expression from pleasant of hateful and coughed purposefully, both Ashlee and this Carrier turned to stare at her before turning back on each other.
“Mrs. Wentz this is-,” Lucia began explaining.
“I’m perfectly aware of who he is Lucia. Can you please put Bronx to sleep, I’d like to talk with the Carrier,” Ashlee said. She would refer to him as Carrier. He was an object not a person, and she would never call him by the stupid name these little whores were to be called while living in a household.
Lucia took Bronx from Ashlee’s arms and walked out of the family room as fast as she could without stirring Bronx awake.
Ashlee looked down at this person before opening her mouth to speak.
“Take your place,” she instructed and sat at her chair.
The young man’s gaze followed Ashlee until she sat and then followed her to his place. He dropped to his knees at her left side and dropped his head.
“What is your name?” Ashlee asked.
“My name is Ofwe-,” he began to say but never finished. Ashlee slapped him hard across his face, digging her nails into his flesh a little at the end.
“Not that name you whore, what is your name?”
“Patrick, I knew that. Patrick Stump, You were a musician, and a few years back you were going to be a doctor.”
“How do you-.”
“Don’t speak unless you are spoken to directly you little faggot,” Ashlee cut him off again. “Those stupid Stepmothers told you what your new name was, well fuck that shit. Here, that’s not it. You are not a person; you are an object to be used. You are a Carrier and that is the way I and the staff will address you. And don’t you even think about trying to speak to my husband at all. He is busy, and the only time he will be looking at your face is when we’re at the prayer part of the ceremony. You are only here to do what you were told to do. You understand?”
Patrick nodded once.
“Good. Now get the fuck out of my sight, and I don’t want you near me unless it’s that one goddamn night of the week. Now go. Lucia or Sylvia will show you to your quarters,” Ashlee turned away from him.
Patrick was rising to his feet when Lucia came into the room, “Is everything alright, Mrs. Wentz? May I show Ofwentz to his room now?”
“That is not his goddamn name, I told you that Lucia,” Ashlee shouted.
“But that’s what the Comm-.”
“I don’t give a shit about what he says, I make the decisions concerning the Carriers,” Ashlee stood up straight eyes tearing Lucia apart limb from limb.
“What’s going on here?” A male voice came from the doorway. There stood Pete with a confused look on his face, clearly pondering the scene before him and why there was so much shouting.
“Nothing. Absolutely nothing is going on. Lucia, take the Carrier to his room,” Ashlee instructed.
Pete looked at Ashlee then at the man in the room. Oh, he thought, this is why she’s shouting. Ashlee had hated the idea of Carriers as soon as he had explained to her what they were. She was happy having one child, but Pete thought she was angry only because someone else would have their children. Only one would theirs. The rest would be his only, biologically anyway.
Ashlee had yelled and cursed at him, while he was explaining, she’d even thrown all of his papers across the room. It had taken hours to fix them in proper order. He finally convinced her to agree only if all the wives of commanders were completely in charge of the carriers.
They chose who came in, with final approval of the commander of course, they chose what punishments to give them if the carrier should break a rule, and they together came up with rules and restrictions for the carriers. Ashlee was the head of the wives being his wife. But Pete also knew that she was angry because he had chosen the first carrier to their household without letting her knowing.
Pete looked at the young man in the room and didn’t think he was looking at the person he once knew. It was Patrick, his Patrick. He couldn’t believe his eyes. The last time he had seen Patrick was over 5 years ago, when Patrick had left him because he decided to go into politics that Patrick didn’t approve of. Only now Patrick was his.
Pete snapped out of his thoughts and looked at Ashlee who was glaring at him. He’d been staring at Patrick for the last few seconds, she was probably ready to pounce on him and dig her nails into his flesh.
“Lucia, show him to his quarters,” he urged.
Patrick looked up briefly before Ashlee walked up to him and pushed his head back down. Lucia tugged on Patrick’s arm and they shut the door quietly behind them.
“Well, look. We obviously already have a problem with him. He’s defiant! He knows he’s supposed to have his head down when you are in the room at all times, unless it’s that night.
We need to send him back, and I should find someone knew,” Ashlee threw her hands up in the air and turned away from Pete walking to the fireplace.
“Ashlee he just got here, don’t be so quick to judge. It’s his first time doing this, he doesn’t know what’s okay.” Pete tried to reassure her before she got too angry and sent him away. Pete couldn’t stop her from doing what she wanted with the carriers.
“Easy for you to say, you just have to fuck him once a week,” Ashlee retorted.
Pete sighed and walked towards Ashlee but she turned and walked away from him once more.
“No Pete, go away. I told you I didn’t think this was good for us, and I can guarantee you it won’t be good for any of the other wives. But you wouldn’t listen, because you only think of what’s good to ‘repopulate our country’. You went with what was easy to do. Fuck some guy we pick out because it was easier than paying a shitload of scientists and doctors to find or invent a cure to fix me so I could have more children,” Ashlee started crying.
Pete looked at anything in the room that wasn’t his wife.
“You only think of yourself and the other commanders. You all want a million little children, boys, running around, but none of you will be here to raise them. No, that’s left up to me and the maidens. Well, fuck you I had dreams, but you didn’t let me have them, because your selfish.” Ashlee finished ranting and walked out of room, slamming the door behind her.
Pete didn’t go after her, he didn’t even try to. He wanted to, but he didn’t know how to argue with what she had told him. He paced in the room for a while, thinking, and stopped paying attention to what he was doing. After his mind caught up with his actions he realized that he had just knocked on Patrick’s door.
The door opened a rack and an eye stared at him and then shifted its gaze down.
“You’re not supposed to be here, it’s against the rules,” Patrick said and closed the door in Pete’s face.
Pete didn’t actually know what the rules were with the carriers; the wives had thought them up. He had been too lazy to actually read through them when Ashlee handed him the thin journal that was filled with the rules that each family had to uphold if they had a carrier living in their households.
Pete decided it was the perfect time to read them. He began walking toward his own bedroom when Ashlee opened the door, ran past him down the stairs and headed for the door.
“Goodbye dear,” Pete told her.
Ashlee muttered a “goodbye” under her breath before stepping out.
He stared at the door questioningly for a moment, when Lucia walked right by him and said without any hesitation, “She’s going to Commander Saporta’s house, to visit Ms. Victoria.”
Pete nodded, “Where’s Bronx?”
“Upstairs napping Sir, I’m going to tend to him now, it’s just about time he woke up.”
“What time is she coming home?” Pete asked.
“I’m not sure, but she said something about the other wives being there too, so I imagine that she won’t be home until late.”
Pete spoke without thinking, “Lucia, can you run an errand for me?”
“Of course,” Lucia looked at him questioningly. Pete never really asked for help from them,
he either did them himself, or didn’t do it at all.
“Can you go out and buy Ashlee this necklace I saw outside of a store? I would do it myself but I haven’t spent any time with my son in the last few days. I’d like to compensate. Do you mind?” The lie slipped out of Pete’s mouth naturally.
“Of course not Sir, what store did you say?”
“Um, I’m not sure, but I know it’s a tiny, old shop with beautiful jewelry from ages ago. It’s near Ashland on Diversey.”
“I think I know the one you speak of, I’ll be on my way then. I just have to tell Sylvia that
I’ll be g-,” Lucia started to walk towards the kitchen.
“Take Sylvia with you, and ask the driver to take you two.”
Lucia stared into his eyes with curiosity across her features, but nodded nonetheless.
In ten minutes they were all gone. Pete looked through the curtain to make sure they were gone, and didn’t let his eyes stray away until he saw the car turn the corner.
Pete took the stairs by two, running quickly. He knew he probably wouldn’t have much time.
He knocked on Patrick’s door again. This time Patrick opened it wide without hesitation.
“You got rid of your entire staff while your wife is gone so you could come talk to me? I feel so special. How pathetic you’ve become Pete, if it’s at all possible, you’re more sad now than when I left you,” Patrick said.
Pete went around Patrick and sat on his bed.
“What do you want Pete?”
“I, uh, I don’t know,” he confessed. It was true, Pete didn’t know what he wanted, even now that he had everything.
“Huh, you have changed less than I thought then,” Patrick looked down at him.
“Sit please,” Pete asked.
“Of course, Sir” Patrick enunciated every word as they fell from his lips.
Pete cast his eyes to the floor.
“So this is the big plan you had for the world, huh? You wanted to control the country and its people? Nice job Pete, you got exactly what you wanted and more. I mean you even got me here, by force of course, but I’m here. How do you manage to get everything you want?”
Patrick was angry, that was obvious.
Pete shrugged, “This isn’t – this isn’t what I planned, this isn’t what I wanted.”
“That’s funny Pete, because that’s why I left you. You had this crazy idea and I didn’t follow you. I’m glad I didn’t but look at where I ended up. Does your wife know who I am? Does she know our history? Does she know that we were in a relationship, albeit a terrible one, for years? Does she know that you like it up the ass?” Patrick laughed bitterly.
Pete finally spoke, “She knows I was,” he gestured his hand in a circular motion, “promiscuous.”
Patrick laughed, a cynical but genuine laugh, “Promiscuous? Pete, you fucked any guy that gave you a look over and a smile.”
Pete looked Patrick straight in the eyes when he stopped laughing.
“I’m sorry,” Patrick said.
“No, I’m sorry,” Pete replied.
They were silent when Bronx’s wails began.
Pete got up on autopilot and went to get Bronx out of his crib. He brought Bronx back to
Patrick’s room and sat back down next to Patrick.
“Patrick, this is Bronx, my son, my pride and joy,” Pete said introducing them.
“Hi baby,” Patrick said smiling. Patrick always got mushy over babies.
Bronx stuck his hand out in what seemed to be a wave. He smiled all of his six teeth at Patrick.
Patrick couldn’t help but smile back.
“I can’t believe he’s your baby, he’s so calm, and you’re so….not calm,” Patrick said.
“Gets it from his mother then,” Pete replied.
Bronx was currently in Patrick’s arms, giving him kisses on the cheek, a new thing Bronx had just picked up.
Not much was said for a while, and when Pete was about to speak up again the front door opened.
“Sir?” Sylvia asked from downstairs.
Pete got up from the bed and hurriedly left the room, closing the door behind him without saying bye to Patrick.
“Upstairs,” he called back once he was back in Bronx’s room. He quickly sat down on the floor and knocked over some rubber blocks. Bronx picked one up and stuck in it his mouth.
Pete was taking the toy out of Bronx’s mouth when Lucia and Sylvia appeared at the door.
“Sir, we weren’t sure which necklace you wanted. There were five in the display window. So we bought them all,” Lucia explained. Sylvia nodded.
“It’s fine. Just leave them on my dresser, not Ashlee’s, I want to surprise her,” Pete looked up at them from the floor.
Sylvia walked into the master bedroom leaving the door wide open behind her, it was right across from Bronx’s, so Pete could watch if she did anything wrong or made sure that she
didn’t steal something. Not that she would, Sylvia was very trustworthy in the years she had lived with Ashlee’s family before they themselves were married.
Lucia stayed at the door looking nervous.
“Yes?” Pete asked her.
“Uh…Sir…should I…uh…begin my duties with the Carrier?” She asked nervously.
“Yes, you know that. As soon as they get in one of you dedicates yourself on some level to him, I assume you’re taking on that charge,” Pete said fluidly.
“Yes Sir, Sylvia already does everything else, and the Mrs. is here most of the day and she’s
usually with Bronx so I took the Carrier duty on myself.”
“Very well, go explain as much as you can to him, I assume he already knows most of everything, the stepmothers taught them well, but just give him a refresher.”
Lucia nodded and turned away. Pete saw her walk to Patrick’s door and knock on it gently. The door opened a crack and then opened all the way to let her in.
“Hello, my name is Lucia,” she said calmly.
Patrick looked at her blankly.
“I assume you already know why you’re here, and what to do on ceremony days correct?” Patrick nodded.
“Very well, umm…I’m just going to tell you one thing. Try, just please try to get pregnant. Pray for one if you must. It would make them very happy, well mostly Mr. Wentz, because as you now know from earlier that your being here doesn’t make the Mrs. very happy.”
Patrick tried not to snort, Ashlee not liking him was the understatement of the year.
Lucia told him his schedule and his duties other than those of trying to conceive.
Patrick nodded every so often to make her think he was paying attention, but his mind wandered elsewhere, to earlier in the day when Pete had snuck in and introduced his baby, and the true happiness that spread across his features when he just looked at Bronx. It made him sick to see Pete so happy. It made him hate Pete with every cell in his body.
It made him miss Pete more than ever before, because he was so close, and yet, further than ever before.