Bettina’s church

The worship team opens the service with St. Francis of Assissi’s All Creatures of Our God and King, and everyone gradually stands, following Lana and Bettina’s lead.  There’s a commotion behind them as Simon steps over several pews to land next to Lana.  She smiles at him and gives him a quick side hug as Bettina gasps in surprise.  Simon starts nodding his head to the drumbeat and soon joins Lana and Bettina in the chorus.   As the drums cut off the worship leader goes silent, and the congregation keeps on echoing Alleluia as one guitar strums.  The lights fade on the worship team, and the music stops.

Then a video skit comes on the big screen in the darkened auditorium.   With diverse individuals talking about the Bible and what it means to them.  Then the lights turn on as the pastor bounds unto the stage.  Hold up your Bible.  Hold it up high, he says in his southern twang.  Now repeat after me: This is my Bible…

Now turn around and greet each other, the man says.   That was such an awesome song, Simon tells Bettina’s father, as they shake hands.

The pastor comes back and sits on his bar stool, and people return to their seats.  Simon looks at the man’s distressed jeans and untucked shirt.  I’m dressed better than he is, he whispers to Lana, who starts to shake with suppressed laughter.   Bettina looks over at them, and Lana shakes her head in a don’t ask gesture.

***

So how was it?  Toni asks Jax when he gets back from the Catholic church service. Lana’s mom was really nice.  I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, lotsa kneeling.  Did you go out to eat after?  There was a covered dish meal at church afterwards.  Was it worth it?  Definitely.  This is my daughter’s boyfriend, Jaxton, she told all her friends.  And everyone said how they missed seeing Lana, and asked how she was.  The heat is on that priest; I could see it.  Toni grins, and gives Jax a high five.  Good job. How was brunch with your dad?  Alright.  Simon back yet?  Toni shakes her head no.

***

Do you like to golf, Simon?  I do, but it’s so expensive.  They make me pay for the damage to the green, and some of my clubs usually end up in the water traps.  Lana shrieks with laughter, and Bettina and her father join in.  I’ve got a foursome coming up.  Do you want to join in?  As long as there is an ambulance to cart off any spectators that get wounded.  Lana starts breathing in gasps.  I can bring my Mark 12 and provide alligator watch though.  Lana breaks out into fresh laughter.  Promise…me…that I get to be…your caddy.  She manages to say.

After they’ve ordered, Bettina’s father speaks up:

So what’s next, Lana?  She puts her head in her hands.  I’m getting spread too thin, sir.  I’ve been so hungry for so long, that it’s tough to say no, which is what I should be saying to outside work.  I know exactly what you mean, Bettina says.  Everyone wants to talk to me now, when before they wouldn’t give me the time of day.

What are you going to do when you marry Jax?  Simon asks Lana.  Lana gives him a puzzled look.  I mean, are you going to be a housewife like Bettina, or are you still going to work as a PI?  My former fiance and I fought over this, Lana admits.  He wanted me to give up my badge and be a housewife; while I wanted to work until we had kids, then I’d be a stay at home mom.  He said I had to give notice when I got pregnant.  And we left it at that.  But I was planning on secretly taking birth control pills when I got married, Simon.  I loved being a cop, and I didn’t want my mother’s life.  And God chastened me for it: I lost both my badge and my fiance, who was a decent man.

You didn’t answer my question.  Simon says.  Bettina’s right, season’s change.  I’m not going to wear the pants in my family.  You lead; I’ll follow.  Bettina’s dad gets up abruptly and heads to the bathroom.  I wish I met you first, Simon tells Lana. That’s a sweet thing to say, Lana tells him.  You two do get along really good, Bettina admits.  So why haven’t you fallen for Rolf like Bettina?  Simon asks Lana. That’s a great question, Bettina echoes.  You have to consider the context in which I met him; I was hired to do a job; I’m the help.  I really needed the work, and it was an easy gig; I wasn’t going to do anything to jeopardize that.  And I don’t think you understand how much of a private person Rolf is, Lana tells Bettina.  He’s more like Jon than Jax.  But you haven’t been just the help for a long time, Simon says.  You guys are tight; anyone can see that.

I’m so grateful to him.  He helped me to stand on my own two feet again, instead of being a burden to my parents.  It was so nice to tell my dad that I had steady work, and didn’t need his support anymore.   Bettina’s dad comes back to the table, and she takes his hand.

Don’t stop.  Simon says.  I want to hear this.  She’s trying to explain why she didn’t fall for Rolf.  I’m the help is the short answer, sir.  So why Jax?  Bettina’s dad asks.  That was completely unexpected, Lana admits.  Really?  Bettina asks skeptically.  You didn’t notice the hot guy?  My mother likes to say that there’s many a deformed soul in a beautiful body, Lana replies.  My first impression was that he was an amiable dunce, and our subsequent meetings reinforced that.  Everyone bursts out laughing.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked him, and yes, found him very attractive, but I didn’t take him seriously.  Why not?  Simon says.  I thought he was a player, and I’m not going to date someone I don’t respect.  So what changed that?  Bettina’s father asks.  He helped me on a case, and I saw a different side of him, and realized just how smart he is.  And then you helped push things along, she tells Bettina.  Suddenly, I was flustered in front of a guy who I realized not only understood me, but had been deliberately going slow with me.  We went to a formal together, and he wasn’t embarrassed to be seen with me, but walked tall.  And I started to fall for him.  And that was the end of the beginning, Lana says.  Everyone smiles at Lana’s turn of phrase.

Do you approve of Rolf for my daughter?  Tom asks Lana.  Yes, but he’s not ready. Simon, what are your thoughts?  Bettina asks him.  Why is it taking so long for our food to get here?  I’m hungry.  Tom and Lana start giggling, and Bettina grins at him.

So Deluca?  Tom asks Lana when the food arrives.  Please let sleeping dogs lie, sir.  Too late.  I’ve already talked to the police captain and told him what I’d heard.  Lana looks down.  He told me that there wasn’t a doubt in his mind that you came ready to shoot, and that your stubborn refusal to admit wrongdoing had cost the city millions and had set back race relations a generation.  He’s not going to reopen the case on hearsay.  Then he said that he’d tell me the same thing he told the mayor: that all this was the fault of your training officer, who was a bad apple and should have been drummed out decades ago.

Lana puts down her fork, and rests her hands in her lap with her head down.  Let’s get out of here, Simon tells her.  Wait, Bettina says, but Lana quickly gets out of the booth and heads toward the door, and Simon slides out right behind her.

Daddy, what were you thinking?   What Ron told me has been weighing on me all week.  It just came out.  I know it sounded like an accusation; I didn’t mean it that way.  Bettina takes a deep breath and then sighs.  It’ll be alright.  I’ll talk to Lana.  Tell her I’m sorry, her father insists.  Will you tell her?  Of course, but I don’t think she’ll listen to me right now, he admits.  Bettina nods.  You’re probably right.

As they drive home together: Bettina, I’m proud of you, honey.  And I’m glad that you’ve got Lana for a friend.  Bettina nods and gets out of his Highlander.  Bye, daddy.  I love you.

Tom watches her go into the apartment, carrying a doggie bag with Simon’s food.  He chuckles to himself.  Goodbye, Rolf.  Then he sighs, poor Lana.  I’ll make it up to you.

***

How did it go?  Toni asks Simon.  He gives her a back off gesture and walks straight through the house out to the poolhouse that is his new quarters.  Toni goes up to Jax’s room and knocks on the door.  Simon’s back.  He’s upset.  She knocks on Sam’s door.  No answer.  She knocks on Mike’s door.  He comes and opens it with tired eyes.  What?  Simon’s upset.  So?  He closes the door.  She knocks on it again.  What?  Where’s Sam?  She and Jon went to a matinee.  He shuts the door.  Do I have to do everything myself?  She mutters.

She goes into her room and looks out the window, and sees Simon swimming laps in the pool.  She quickly changes into a two piece, throws on a cover then heads downstairs.  A blast of rain greets her as she opens the back door.  Uggghhh.  She yells, and slams the door, and marches back upstairs.  She looks out her window, and sees Simon still swimming laps in the downpour.  She opens her laptop and finds the weather radar, and then the hourly forecast.  Really?  She slams it shut.  Then she picks up her phone and calls Bettina.  It goes straight to voicemail.  Betty, turn your phone on.  She says at the beep, and then hangs up.  This is not the way to spend a rainy afternoon, she tells herself as she crawls into bed, and tries to take a nap.  There’s a knock on her door.  She gets up from the bed and opens it.  Whoa, cover up, girl.  Jax says, and holds his hand in front of his eyes.  Sorry, I was going to go swimming with Simon, but then it started pouring, she complains.  Want to go to the gym with Mike and I?  YES.  I’m feeling cooped up.  Downstairs in ten?  I’ll be ready in five, she tells him, and shuts the door.

How are you doing, Toni?  Jax asks her.  Well, at least I’m getting a free car wash, she says, as she turns the wipers to max in her Volvo.  She sighs.  Do you really want to know?  Yeah.  It sucks being sober.  I’m lonely and I’m horny.  I used to love rainy afternoons.  TMI, Mike comments.  I’m not coming on to you, Toni replies.  Just telling you how it is.  Plenty of other fish in the sea, Jax comments. Minnows, Toni complains.

I tried calling Lana, but it went straight to voicemail.  Jax says.  Same with Bettina, Toni sighs.  How’s things with Sam, Mike?  Real good.  Why is she going out with Jon?  I think Sam and Jon are kinda like Rolf and Lana, Mike replies.  That guy you sat with at the concert ever call you?  She shakes her head no.  Bettina wasn’t able to shut me up in time.  Well, you can always go to church with Bettina and Lana, Jax says.  Yeah, I really want to meet a shift supervisor at Chick-fil-A.  Mike and Jax burst out laughing.  I know I’m a horrible person, and that I’m going to end up as the cat lady.  Do you want some stale cookies, dearie?  Jax and Mike laugh even harder.  You’re a lot of fun, Toni.  Jax tells her.  Thanks for letting me stay at your place.  It means a lot, Jax.  Glad to have you onboard, Jax says with a grin.  But I just thought of one more house rule.  Oh?  No pets.

***

What are you working today?  Mike asks Jax.  I was just going to do cardio, but what are you up for?  I was thinking Shoulders, Traps.  That way I can ask Sam to give me a neck rub when we get back.  That sounds incredibly painful, Toni comments.  Let’s do it.  I’m just going to hit the elliptical, Toni says.  Jax hands the gym worker his keycard, his phone and his credit card.  They’re with me, my treat, whatever they want.  Sure, Jax.  Would you get us three Redlines please?  This stuff is potent, he tells Toni, and it won’t bloat you.  I sweat, Toni says when the worker comes back with their drinks.  Can I get a hand towel please?  The chubby gym worker looks in awe at her, and hands her one.  Toni sniffs Jax shirt.  Your shirt stinks, you need to pitch it.  Jax takes it off, and grabs one from off the rack.  Toni gives the gym worker a thumbs up and a wink.  Please sign it, the girl blurts out. He complies.  Jaxton Ayers.  

Two hours later, Toni pulls back into the mansion.  Jon’s Tuscan is back in the drive.    They go inside and see Sam giving Simon a back rub at the dining room table, while Jon sits across from him with his elbows on his armrest, and his fingers steepled against his mouth.  There is a bottle of apple cider vinegar, and one shot glass, and three glasses of kale smoothie on the table.  Hey, Hey.  Jax says.  Let me try, Toni tells Sam.  And Sam takes up her seat next to Jon, and takes a gulp out of her smoothie.  She nods at Jon in approval, who looks down and grins.  Any left?  Jax asks Jon.  Jon nods and starts to get up.  Don’t get up, I got it.  Jax says quickly.  Sorry for being rude to you earlier, Simon tells Toni.  Not about you.  I know.  She tells him.  Is everything alright?  Yeah, better than alright.  May I tell her?  Sam asks.  Simon nods.  Bettina called and asked him to lunch tomorrow.  I wish somebody would call me, Toni says wistfully.  How many guys came up to you at the gym?  Mike asks.  I was there to workout, Toni says.

What movie did you guys go see?  Jax asks when he comes back with the blender and some glasses.  The Education of Little Tree; Jon had read the book growing up and wanted to see it.  How was it?  I wasn’t ready, Sam admits.  It was everything a movie should be.  Right on, Jax tells Jon.  He calls Lana on his cellphone.  It goes straight to voicemail.  He frowns.  Lana’s still not answering her phone.  What’s happened?   Don’t worry about it.  Simon tells him.  Lana’s tired.  Sam glances at Simon with her eyebrows raised.  What Sam?  Bettina’s dad really hurt Lana at lunch.  Simon drove her back.  You did good, she tells him, and Jon nods.  I knew you were upset, Toni says.  Have a seat, Tiger.  I’m good, and thanks.  Now each of you take a shot of vinegar, before your smoothie, or I’m not telling, Simon says.  Jax pours a glass, then holds his nose and tosses it down the hatch.  And keeps holding his nose until he’s taken a sip of his smoothie.  Pussy.  Mike says.  And holds the bottle up to his lips and starts chugging.  He gags, and rushes away. Everyone laughs.  Does it have to be a full glass?  Toni asks.  Simon shakes his head no.  She pours a splash, then hold her nose and follows Jax’s example.  Mike comes back and takes his seat.  My bad, he tells Jax, who nods, and hands him a kale smoothie.

So I go to the church and spot the girls sitting up front off to one side.  So I find a spot a couple pews behind them, and the lights go dark.  And I’m like, this is perfect, so I stand up on the pew and walk from pew to pew and then land next to Lana.  She was so happy to see me and gave me a hug as this band comes on, and starts singing a cool song with drums and guitar.  And I figured out the melody, and sang along with Lana.  Then the singer stopped, and Lana, Bettina, and I kept on singing the chorus, and our whole section joined us, and soon it was echoing across the whole dark church.  It was just like Bettina talked about…a mystical experience.

Then the pastor bound up on stage, and tells everyone to take out their Bible and hold it up high.  Of course, I don’t have a Bible, but Lana grabs my hand and we stand up as she holds up her Bible.  Now repeat after me: This is my Bible…it was just like I was back in Basic, learning The Rifleman’s Creed.  It was cool, hearing all these hundreds of people chant it and mean it.  Then we sang another song, and it was even better than the first.  I’ve never experienced anything like it.  Lana told me that it was called singing in the round.  Guys take one part, girls another, then it mixes together.  Bettina’s father and I owned it, Lana told me after.

Then a movie skit comes on the big screen.  Where the pastor is walking down a road being handed props and discarding them as he tells a Bible story about some warrior named Jonathan and his armor bearer who single handedly routed an army and became a national hero, but disrespected his father, the king of Israel.

Then the pastor comes out on stage and tells everyone to turn in their Bibles to some chapter, and to stand in honor of God’s Holy Word.  And Lana and I read along as he recites the Ten Commandments.  And he preaches a sermon on what it means to honor your father and your mother.  I didn’t have any trouble staying awake.  Lana took notes, so I remember a lot of it.  The 10 Commandments were written to adults not children.  This one was universal.  Do this and God will be pleased with you, even if you aren’t a Christian.  It doesn’t stop when they die, but only when you do.  And it means to support your parents when they are old, whatever that entails.  And then he said, let’s make it real.  Some of you come from broken homes.  One or the other left, and you’re estranged.  Or even worse, they mistreated you, they left scars that you live with to this day.  They’re not someone you want your kids to know.  Then he pauses, and you could have heard a coin drop in the auditorium.  God doesn’t give you a pass from this commandment.  If you want to live a blessed life, you must do this.  But how, pastor?    By living better than they raised you.  If this is you, hold your peace, and do not speak ill of them, and remember that they still brought you into this world.  Live better than they taught you and in that way, you’ll honor them.  Then he says a quick prayer, and then went into some ceremony called The Lord’s Table.  Lana didn’t do it either, and nobody shined a spotlight on us or mentioned it afterwards.  Then the preacher gave a blessing, and church over.  Bettina’s dad asked me if I’d join them for lunch at the Olive Garden.  And Lana said that she’ll ride over with me.

We had a really good time at lunch.  I had Lana laughing so hard that she was crying, and I could tell that Bettina’s dad liked me.

But then the conversation got serious.  My fault.  Lana told us that she’d been so hungry for so long that she had a hard time saying no, and she was taking on too much and needed to cut back.  And Bettina said the same: that everyone wanted to talk to her now whereas before they wouldn’t give her the time of day.  And I asked Lana what she was going to do when she married you.  And she gave me this really puzzled look.  And I asked if she was going to be a stay at home mom like Bettina.  And she told us that she had fought with her former fiance over this.  That she loved being a cop, but he wanted her at home.  And they finally agreed that she’d give notice once she found out she was pregnant.  Then she told us that she’d been secretly planning to take birth control pills once she was married because she loved her job and didn’t want her mother’s life.  And that God had chastened her for it, and she’d lost both her badge and her fiance, who was a decent man.  And that Bettina was right, and seasons change.  And she wasn’t going to wear the pants in her family.  And she looked at me and said, you lead, I’ll follow.  Bettina’s dad got up and left the table after she said that.

Then I asked her why she wasn’t infatuated with Rolf like Bettina.  And Bettina nodded, and said that’s a great question.  And Lana said it was all in the context of how they met.  That she was the help.  And I said, you haven’t been just the help for a long time.  You guys are tight.  And she told Bettina that she didn’t understand how much of a private person Rolf was, that he was more like Jon than Jax.  And she explained how grateful she was to Rolf for helping her to stand on her own two feet again and not being a burden to her parents.  
Then Bettina’s dad came back, and asked Lana if she approved of Rolf for Bettina. Yes, but he’s not ready.

Then our food came, and he just launched into Lana.  He asked her about Deluca, and she said.  Please let sleeping dogs lie, sir.  And he told her that he’d already talked to the police captain, who told him that Lana had cost the city millions by her stubborn refusal to admit wrongdoing, and that he didn’t have any doubt that she came ready to shoot, and that it was all the fault of her training officer, who was a bad apple.  Toni covers her mouth with her hand.  Lana had her head down the whole time, and set her fork down and put her hands in her lap.  I told her, let’s get out of here, and she was gone the moment I spoke, and I was right behind her.  I heard Bettina say “Wait” but ignored her.  Lana didn’t speak a word the whole way back to her place, until she said, thank you, Simon.

You handled it perfectly, Toni says.  I was so pissed off.  It doesn’t make any sense.   He must have gotten offended when she used his wife’s line on you, Jax says.  Then why ask Lana what she thought about Rolf and Bettina? She gave a really good answer; it reflected well on both of them.  Probably just a case of foot in mouth.  He was just repeating what he heard, trying to get a reaction, Mike comments.  Sam looks at him and nods.  That’s what I think, Mike.

What did Bettina say when she called?  Jax asks.  She thanked me for coming to church, and apologized for the way our lunch ended, and asked me if I’d be willing to meet her for lunch and talk about it.  I asked her how was Lana, and she told me that Lana was really tired, and resting.  Please have lunch with me.  When and where?  And she had an answer right on the spot, so I knew she’d been mulling this over.  She didn’t want to stay on the phone.

Guys, Toni says hesitantly, I know you aren’t going to like this, and I’m probably going to get voted off the island for saying it, but the captain is right.  There’s a side of Lana that you’ve never seen.  You all think I’m a horrible person for not siding with her after the shooting.  Her perps always came in beat up, complaining about police brutality after they were booked and she wasn’t around.  Some of them needed serious medical attention.  It was always put down to resisting arrest.  Lana knows how to use her nightstick in ways that we weren’t taught at the academy.  I saw her take down a SWAT cop at her mentor’s wake.  It was awful.  She beat the man senseless, and wouldn’t stop.  I had to pull her off of him.  You know what she told me afterwards?  “Thine eye shalt not pity”.  I looked it up online.  It’s a Bible verse about killing people who deserve it.  And I’ve been a little scared of her ever since.  Because she wore blue and was a woman, she got away with it.  Until she didn’t.

Everyone is silent.  What about her fiance? Jax asks.  They were great together, so happy and devoted.  I’m not warning you off, Jax.  I now actually do believe that Tank had a gun, making it a justifiable homicide.  It makes perfect sense that Deluca would try to use it to gain a hold over Lana.  Which would never happen in a million years, she’d eat her gun first.  Why do you use that expression?   It’s one of Lana’s.  She got that from the Dinosaur; death before dishonor.  He was the last of the old breed that fought in Vietnam and then joined NOPD.

So I’m telling all of you, let sleeping dogs lie.  I don’t want Lana back on the force.  She becomes a different person when she puts on her duty belt.  <Pause>  I know what I told you sounds really bad, but only if you’re a perp.  Lana was a good cop, one of the best I’ve ever worked with, but she’s a throwback; we don’t police like that anymore.  Maybe you should, Simon comments.  I like that you’re coming to Lana’s defense, but you don’t know what you’re talking about.