Episode 33: Chili Powder

Smells good, Daddy.  Bettina yells when she comes into the house.  Lana heads into the kitchen.  Need help?  Yeah, find a piece of duct tape and put it on my mouth so I don’t embarrass my daughter in front of her friends.  Bettina puts her hands on her hips.  You can say whatever you want.  I’m going to get drunk tonight and embarrass you.  That will never happen on Mormon beer, her dad tells her.  Lana, you know the drill.  Make yourself at home.  Lana goes over and gives him a side hug, as he stirs the chili.  Taste?  She asks him.  It’s way too hot.  You’ll burn your mouth.

Are your parents coming?  They’re going dancing.  That would have been so much fun.  Bettina pouts.  Hey, her dad complains.  You can dance here.  That is a superb idea.  Is your recluse coming?  He never did call me back, Bettina says frowning, and I completely forgot to follow up.  I stopped by and visited Jax today while she had her lunch meeting.  Will you call him to find out?  Lana pulls out her phone and speed dials Rolf.  Tom and Bettina listen in to Lana’s side of the conversation.  It went really good.  Hey, Bettina and I are at her father’s <pause>  Simon, Jon and Sam <pause>  Yes  <pause>  Tom’s spicy chili, cornbread, AND legionnaire beer.  Lana grins at Bettina and makes a hook um horns gesture with her free hand.  From what I can see boiling in the cauldron, eye of newt and the whole of Felix; mystery solved, Lana says chuckling, grinning at Tom. <pause>  She’s thinking dancing and a drunk talk.  Lana listens.  She would be amazing at that; I don’t think Jon would play though.  Lana breaks out laughing.  I can see that happening.  The keys to a Highlander are being waved in my face.  Do you want me to pick you up?  <pause>  Good plan.  One of us will get through.  See ya.  Lana disconnects.  He’s coming.  Bettina shrieks and flings her arms around Lana.  I’ve got to call Simon to pick up Rolf.  She speed dials Simon and Bettina motions for her phone.  It rings through.  Hi, Simon.  Pick up Rolf on your way over.  Bye.  She frowns.  He’s not answering.  Try from your phone, her dad tells her.  Fine.  Bettina digs in her purse and pulls out her phone and finds Simon’s number and dials.  Hi, Bettina.  I just tried calling you on Lana’s phone and you ignored my call.  What’s up?  Stop by and pick up Rolf.  Sam’s talking to him right now.  Were you listening in to their conversation?  I was trying to, until you called.  I’ll think of a clever comeback by the time you get here, Bettina tells him.  Bye.

He ignored your call, Lana.  Bettina tells her.  Rolf wants to play Twister.  That is such a good idea, Bettina breathes.  Have him stop by Target and pick one up.  We can make our own, Lana tells her.  But I think Jon will sit it out.  Maybe Pictionary?  We have that, Bettina says.  Hmmm, let’s play it by ear.

What is legionnaire beer, Lana?  Tom asks her.  She shrugs.  Sounds a lot more appealing than Mormon beer.  You are so funny, Bettina chuckles.  Lana, you have a bright future in branding, Tom tells her with a big grin.

If you don’t need me for anything, I’m going to go lay down for a couple minutes. Sure sweetie, you can have my bed.  Do you want me to come with you?  Lana shakes her head no and walks away to head upstairs.

Is everything all right?  Bettina frowns.  I think it hurt her that Simon ignored her call.  Who did she meet for lunch?  Raul Gutierrez.  Ramon’s brother?  Bettina nods.  You met his aunt in church last Sunday. Wow.  That’s a full court press.  It’s too soon for her; I’m hoping this trip with Simon will help.  Daughter, what are you planning?  They’ve always gotten along, Daddy.  They make each other laugh.

How did her lunch with the club owner go?  He sold the club before the concert. He owns that really nice Barnes & Noble now.  Her dad looks at her with his eyebrows raised.  We’re friends, daddy, nothing more.  So her lunch?  She wants to take it really slow; she invited him to go to church with us when we get back into town.  So I’ll get to meet him.  You’ll like him, Daddy. So what is the story with your friend Samantha?  She and Jon are friends; he needs a little prodding.

Half an hour later, Bettina gets the door and gives Sam a big hug, and motions for the others to come inside.  Hi, she says, grinning at Rolf.  What is Legionnaire beer?  Simon asks her.  You’ll have to ask Lana.  My dad likes Mormon beer, you know, the low alcohol content stuff.  Simon gives her dad a weird look.  Why have just one?  Rolf lets out a little chuckle.  Daddy!  You’re supposed to be an example.  Polygamy is wrong.  You heard it here, he says.  I get it now, Simon says grinning.  That's a good one, sir.  

Where’s Lana?  Sam asks.  She went to lie down for awhile.  Bettina narrows her eyes at Simon.  What did I do?  He asks.  Let’s go wake her up, Sam.  I’ll show you my room.

Don’t worry about it, Simon.  Tom tells him.  Bettina tends to read too much into things.  You didn’t take Lana’s call, Jon tells him.  I was trying to hear what Sam and Rolf were saying, Simon protests.  Come inspect my chili.  The coloring is from Felix the cat, by the way, Tom announces.  Simon and Jon burst out laughing.  The girls come down the stairs five minutes later.  Lana gives Rolf a tired grin, and goes over to Simon and suddenly puts the back of her hand to her forehead.  I feel faint.  And she slumps into his arms. I have you, Simon says dramatically.  My hero, but it’s too late, I…  Chili’s ready.  Tom interrupts.  To be continued, Lana says.

What do you want to drink Lana?  Jon asks.  Just a tall glass of water please, no ice.  Lana Radley, you are going to give a drunk talk.  That will never happen, Lana tells Bettina.  Send me forth on this commission, my lady.  Simon says, falling to his knees in front of Bettina.   Nay, good knight.  Thou shalt be sober and temperate.  Please.  He cries.  Bettina breaks out laughing, and points him to Lana. Please, he says, his hands clasped in supplication.  Kneel Simon Barjona.  He does so and looks at the floor.   Lana regally extends her arm and lifts up his chin with her fingertips.  Rise Valiant-For-Truth.  Everyone breaks out laughing.  You’re so good at this, Simon tells Lana after he’s gotten to his feet.

Thank you Jon, Lana tells him, as he hands her a glass of water.  Will you escort me to table?  Rolf steps up.  I claim that privilege. He whirls around so they’re facing the same direction and looks straight ahead.  And then slowly lifts up his right arm, his hand bend as if he’s got a hawk perched on it.  Lana rests her left hand on his and they walk to the dining room table, and stand behind their chairs. Simon escorts Bettina next.  And Jon escorts Sam.  Sorry to ruin the moment, lords and ladies, but it’s serve yourself.  Tom announces.  Why did you offer her your right hand, Rolf?  Bettina asks, as everyone waits to dish up their chili back in the kitchen.  Brides always stand on the left.  You’re confusing the two settings, Bettina.  The sword was worn on the left.  So it would interfere with my retrieval if Lana was there.  At a wedding, the best man is on the right, ready with his sword.  That makes a lot of sense, Bettina says.  Daddy, what were you taught growing up?  Woman on the inside.

Rolf, will you pray?  Tom asks when everyone is seated.  Rolf closes his eyes and everyone follows suit.  After ten seconds of silence, Simon hears Rolf eating.  He looks over at Lana and sees that she’s picked up her spoon.  He sees Bettina and her father look at each other, and everyone eats in silence.

I heard you stopped and saw Jax today, Jon says, glancing over at Bettina.  How’s he doing?  I wanted to say goodbye before he heads out of town.  We had a really good visit.  Get this, he saw Mike and Toni happening way before I did.  Sam, I love what you’ve done with him.  The two girls snicker.  You haven’t heard the latest.  I got the idea from Raul, she admits.  She lifts up her hand.  So we’re on our first and ONLY date – everyone but Tom breaks down laughing at her inside joke – AND he tells me that he’s the manager of the bookstore across the way from where we’re eating.  And that there’s a lot of traffic on Friday nights because they bring in a celebrity chef to prepare dessert.  And he explains to me how a book swap works.  That a couple will agree to read a book that the other picks out for them, no matter what.  And I tell him that I have no idea what book I’d get for a guy.  And he tells me that I’m not alone in this, and that women come up to the help desk and ask him for a recommendation for their boyfriends all the time.  Sam chuckles at the memory, and everyone around the table grins at her.  That way they can blame him if the boyfriend doesn’t like the book.  Well, he told me that he recommends Amish romances with titles like Harvest of Blessings.  Everyone laughs.  Then I ask him if he’s ever gotten feedback, and he tells me that he’s been thanked repeatedly. Tom starts howling with laughter.  “He loved it and he’s been such a gentlemen ever since”, Sam says with finger quotes and keeps laughing.  So when Mike asked me what he should do about Toni, I got him that book.  This is playing for keeps, I told him with a straight face.  Everyone laughs.  She lifts her hands.  Hey, it’s working. Bettina looks at Jon and sees that he’s beaming at Sam.

Bettina tries to catch Rolf’s eye but he ignores her.  Lana gives her a tiny head shake.  Best chili I’ve ever had.  Simon announces.  And sir, I’d put a four letter word in front of chili for emphasis if I wasn’t in mixed company.  What can he possibly mean, Daddy?  Bettina asks in Southern belle.  Everyone chuckles.  Thank you Simon - for the compliment and your consideration.  Rolf, I think my daughter wants to stare at you.  That’ll be my cue to leave, Rolf remarks.  Bettina frowns.  Is it so difficult talking to him aloud, daughter?  Rolf.  Yes, Bettina.  Come with us this weekend; we need a fourth.  Jenny and I have made plans.  How is she?  Lana asks softly.  The sharp knife of a short life, Rolf replies.  Jon glances up at Rolf with a puzzled expression on his face, and then reaches for his phone.  Sam puts her hand on his and shakes her head no.

Do you want to go for a walk?  Rolf asks Lana.  Sure.  Let me grab my gun and my flashlight from my car. Jon glances over at Sam and sees that she’s smiling to herself looking down at her plate.  Lana, can I talk to you for a minute?  Bettina asks, pulling back from the table abruptly.

What are you doing?  Rolf wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t important.  Bettina rolls her eyes.  But I thought we were going to play Twister.  After chili and beer?  I’ll be farting like a horse.  Bettina breaks down laughing and they come back into the dining room.  Bettina keeps on laughing as she sits down, and looks over at Lana and starts to gasp, pl-ea-se.  You’ll be breaking all the covenants of the sisterhood if you do, Lana warns her sternly.  So I can tell Sam?  Lana shakes her head no.  Rolf, you have my permission to stare at my daughter.  Lana puts her face in her hands.  Rolf bursts out laughing ten seconds later.  No hints, Lana announces out from beneath her hands.  Sure, hoss. Rolf tells her.  Bettina howls with laughter and tears come to her eyes.


Rolf and Lana come back an hour later, to find Bettina and Jon playing the piano together, and the others sitting on the couch.  They sit next to Tom and listen in silence as Jon finishes playing around Bettina’s leitmotif.  You are amazing, Bettina whispers to him as she rubs his back when then they’re done.  He grins at her.  They’re back, Simon announces, from the corner of the couch, where he’s sitting with a beer in his hand and with his other arm outstretched behind Sam.

I’ve got questions for you, Rolf.  Bettina tells him.  Why just me?  Rolf replies steepling his fingers.  Bettina stares at him, and Rolf turns his palms so that they’re blocking his eyes.  Why don’t you own a car?  Bettina asks Simon.  I’ve got plenty of cars back home; you’ll see.  Everyone looks at Rolf.  It gets me out of jury duty. Everyone breaks out laughing.  Do you vote?  Tom asks Rolf.  The mayor seems like a cool guy, Rolf admits.  I asked him to give you your badge back, Lana.  Simon tells her, and he would if he could.  Tom chuckles.  Senator Johns went to bat for you with the President, Lana.  But they couldn’t do anything until the arraignment, which keep getting postponed.  Jax made it all a moot point though.  Lana looks down and doesn’t say anything.  Bettina looks over at her father and shakes her head no slightly.  Jon, what is your heart language?  He puts his head down and stares at the floor.  Your mother tongue, Lana states quickly.  That’s a really good question, Simon says grinning at Rolf.  It’s not Aramaic.  Bettina draws her head back and gives him a puzzled look.  What kind of answer was that?  Sam asks.  He doesn’t walk on water, Bettina, is what he’s telling you, Lana says, grinning at Rolf.  Wow, Tom chuckles.  That was a great answer.  I thought she had you pinned down.  Bettina looks at Sam.  Help please.  What is your gift?  She asks Tom.  Knowing when I’m in the right place at the right time.  Jon looks up at Bettina’s father.  I like that, Simon says grinning.  If Simon is Valiant-for-Truth, then who am I?  Rolf asks Lana.  Great-Heart.  You nailed it, Lana.  Simon says.  And Jon?  Silence Do-Good.  Everyone grins at Lana.  I know the first two are from Pilgrim’s Progress, but where is that last one from?  Bettina asks her.  His face is on the hundred dollar bill, Lana replies.

What happened at lunch with Raul?  Sam asks.  I told him that he needs to meet my parents.  Lana, I am so glad that you and Bettina became roommates.  Tom announces.  I am too, Lana says, as she smiles at Bettina.  So you’re going to date him?  Jon asks incredulously.  Yes.  Just to spite Jax?  What would you have me do, Jon?  Lana asks.  Anyone but him, Jon replies.  I need to talk to you alone for a moment, Jon, Sam says as she grabs his arm and drags him out of the room.  Jon, Don Ramon is done playing games.  Anyone Lana sees will be killed.  Do you understand now?


I’m sorry, Lana.  It’s alright, Jon; I know where your heart is.  Lana tells him.  You are rebounding rather quickly, Lana.  Tom tells her.  Jax and I aren’t getting back together in this lifetime, she says, looking down.  Shipwreck, tropical island paradise, and it’s just the two of you, Simon says.  What then?  You win, Simon.  Lana says.  Now Lana, if you could just have one book on this tropical island, what would it be?  Tom asks.  101 Ways to Build a Boat.  Everyone breaks out laughing.

Why does Captain Howard hate the Di – your mentor- so much?  Simon asks.  Lana and Rolf exchange a look.  She told you the story? Bettina asks.  I was curious, Rolf admits.  You tell him and yet you wouldn’t tell Sam and I when we asked you?  Bettina complains.  He’s your father’s friend, Bettina.  So what’s the answer to Simon’s question?  Tom asks Lana.  Winner’s curse, she says softly.  Rolf chuckles.   They loved the same woman, he explains.  Sam and Jon glance at each other.  You have a sharp tongue, Lana.  Tom tells her.  Daddy.  He’s right, Bettina.  I shouldn’t have said that; please don’t repeat it, Lana says with her head down.

Rolf stares at Tom.  Did you hear what I just told you?  Tom shakes his head no.  Your daughter didn’t get her ability from you then.  What did you just tell me?  You shouldn’t have asked if you couldn’t handle the answer, Tom.  They look at each other.  Fair enough, Tom admits.  How did you like the chili?  I don’t have a critical spirit, Rolf replies.  And I do?  Tom intones.  They stare at each other.

Her gift, it’s something to do with touch, with the laying on of hands.  Rolf says aloud as he stares at Bettina’s father.  A double portion of what her mother had.  Tom looks down at the coffee table.  Bettina takes her father’s hand and squeezes it.  Bettina has the spiritual gift of encouragement, just like her mother, Tom tells the others.  Her father looks up and then over at Lana.  I do have a critical spirit, Lana.  It’s hard on those around me, and why my daughter chooses to have her own apartment.  When the Duke of Wellington was an old man, someone asked him what he would do differently.  And he thought about it for awhile.  And he finally said, I would give more praise.  I’m working on this.  I meant what I said when I told you that I’m glad you became my daughter’s roommate. Lana nods.  Thank you, sir.  Please stay the night.  Lana nods.

Guys, find a tree outside if you have to use the bathroom, Bettina announces suddenly. Don’t ask why.  Everyone laughs.  Gotta go, Bettina says, as she runs out of the room.