Picket Fences

With the waterside town still reeling from Connie’s attack and Madalyn’s son’s return in the past few weeks, bracing for the upcoming storm is a welcome distraction. But one resident can’t help but think of the old adage, “when it rains it pours.” 

Diahann Foster looks out the window at the dark clouds forming above in the sky with her midday vodka orange juice. “What are you looking at … I see you have your midday cocktail,” Saraya says headed into the kitchen. Rolling her eyes, Diahann takes a sip from her glass and follows Saraya. “You’re all dressed up—and that’s my sweater, by the way,” Diahann says

“You noticed? Xavier and I are going on our first night out and giving this town something good to talk about,” Saraya replies. “What! I’m sorry, come again?” Diahann gasps “… Saraya …you can’t be serious.  Connie Spalding is in a coma from being attacked in her home and Madalyn’s Prodigal son has just returned from god knows where, and you truly think dinner at Bella Siena is going to trump all that?” Diahann says in disbelief. “I should have known you would be the first one to say something negative, Mother,” Saraya states. “I’m not being negative, I just can’t believe you’re being so delusional.” Looking at her daughter and putting her drink down, Diahann moves in close to her to stress the importance of her forthcoming words. “This is not a game Saraya, this is our survival. The doors Olivia could open for us are life-changing and if you get close to him, I can get in those doors and get back what we lost when your father died,” Diahann says. 

Saraya looks at her mother, feeling her desperation. “You know, I think you need to find a husband and fast because Xavier and I won’t be together long. He’s in love with someone else and I have a feeling that no one is going to stand in his way.” And with that, Saraya takes the last bite of her apple heads out the door, leaving Diahann at the table with her thoughts.

Diahann isn’t the only one feeling desperate.

Xavier, dreading his outing with Saraya, decides to test the waters and call Payton, expecting it to go to voicemail. To his surprise, Payton picks up on the first ring. “Hello,” he hears Payton say. “I didn’t think you would pick up. It’s been over two weeks and I haven’t heard from you,” Xavier says, trying to play it cool and ignore that his heart skipped when he heard Payton’s voice. Payton pauses, “I just needed time to think, plus with Connie’s situation and Sydney popping up out of nowhere, it’s been a lot.” “I know, that’s crazy about Sydney. Is he saying anything about what happened?” Xavier asks. “I’ve heard bits and pieces but every time my mom asks, it’s the same story: he doesn’t remember. My mom did ask me to hang out with him… I don’t know, this whole thing is weird,” Payton explains. “Whatever it was, it must be dark. Hey, did you ever run the flash drive we got from Connie’s house?” Xavier asks. Payton pauses, “I was waiting for you and me to do it together,” Payton says. There is silence on the line, broken by Xavier, “Wow, yeah …okay.” “I’m kind of scared of what I  might find and I don’t want to be alone…So if you want we could run it tonight,” Payton says, hoping the answer is yes. “Um…well I kind of have a date with …Saraya tonight” Xavier replies. “Of course, yeah I can do it by myself … don’t worry about it.” Payton says, quickly hanging up the phone.  Xavier tries to say something but hears the click of the line going dead.

But Xavier isn’t the only resident looking for a connection. 

Hank Walker comes home from work to find Sydney sitting in the family room, watching the news. “Hi Dad,” Sydney says to welcome Hank home. He reluctantly replies with a cold “Hi Sydney. Where is Madalyn?” Sydney looks at Hank and corrects him, “You mean Mom, right? My mother.” Hank is taken aback by the attitude and scoffs, “Yeah your mother, where is she again?” “She’s not home yet but there’s pork loin in the oven,” Sydney replies. They both hear the oven bell. “It’s done.” Sydney jumps up to go to the kitchen and begins to plate up dinner. Hank soon follows and takes a seat at the island. You could cut the tension with a knife.

Sydney starts to talk about his day while plating the food. “I was watching the ID channel all day today and saw one where this father just disappeared.”  Hank is feeling more and more uncomfortable with every scoop of food that hits the plate. “Interesting,” Hank mutters.  Sydney continues plating. “Yeah, I thought so too. He was missing for months, and the family got so desperate they hired a diving team to dredge the river by their house, and you know what they found…Dad?” “What did they find?” Hank asks, feeling so uncomfortable he has to clear his throat. Sydney pulls the knife from the drawer to cut the pork loin. “They found him in his car with his throat cut and stabbed many times… So sad. Can I cut you a piece…Dad?” 

Desperation is a state of despair, typically one which results in rash or extreme behavior. For the residents of Benicia, desperation takes many forms. Desperate to reclaim what you’ve once had, Desperate for connection, Desperate to belong.