Part of the Love Gone Wrong series
All it took was Scholastica hearing of Bill's DWI in Vermont and a hasty "let's have lunch" email on her part. One thing lead to another in a Rube Goldberg-esque romance, and the way Bill tells it, the civil marriage to Scholastica went sour fast. First of all, she wasn't a silent partner, behind-the-scenes shadow wife as Bill was accustomed to. It was like being married to a 24 hour diner with clean floors and good food or the Statue of Liberty. She drew crowds.
Granted she was a stunner, both physically and intellectually, but for the sweet love of Jesus, she was wishy-washy when it came to politics. Bill was being generous when he thought of it in those words. Damn her. She had no interest in the fascinating minutiae of the government, foreign or domestic. It maddened him to distraction.
How could he tell her of all the paths she had taken, she needed to find a decent beauty salon, get a wardrobe befitting a potential candidate, then hit the trail. Leaving no crumbs. The country was practically begging for a woman president. Between the uncanny allure she had, his and her friends in high places, plus the frankly obscene amount of wealth they both had, Scholastica could certainly pull it off. She just had no desire for breathing the very air that sustained Bill. Zero. Nada. Zip. With one viral youtube clip, she would have the young adults of the entire Nation clamoring to vote for her.
Over breakfast, on her birthday, he delicately planted the seed of his gardenous idea. She was speed reading The New York Times, on a Kindle no less, given to her by some adoring research assistant. Female assistant. Scholastica's charms weren't gender specific by any means. Bill sighed. Perfectly good paper edition delivered daily, along with The Wall Street Journal and Scholastica picked and chose her articles to read as if they were Belgian chocolates, taking out only the ones she deemed delicious, thus worthy of her perfect lips. And Bill sat mesmerized, his coffee no longer even lukewarm. He still loved her lips.
God, the woman was something. In a man, it would have been called charisma. Scholastica had it in spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs. But she was sucking the very life out of him. He found himself missing his first wife. Felt like a fool and Bill Moyers did not tolerate feeling foolish.
The sunlight in the breakfast alcove skimmed her ring, sending refractions across the wall. That's when Bill decided to turn the tables, or turn the other cheek, or turn his private wheel of fortune backwards. His old friends and PBS fans noticed the change. Scholastica did not. Went on her way adding numbers 22 to 28 on the check list. Briefly considered having a child with Bill, but that idea fluttered away like a startled butterfly. She pulled a few puppet strings to get him out of the house and back on television, where he belonged.
Another talk show, just what the world needs, she thought, but better than him dusting off his Masters in Divinity. She shuddered to think what people would say if he tried to compete with that Joel Osteen preacher. Now, there was a man to be married to if you were spiritually inclined, which she was not. Though some nights when Bill was snoring away, in his flannel pajamas, on flannel sheets, she would slip out of bed to watch the show with the sound off, in one of the guest rooms. Gratifying, soothing, like the Egyptian cotton sheets and silk of her night gown.
She had married Bill in a rare moment of weakness after her brief and inconsequential affair with Charlie Rose. Bill responded to her email, bringing the rings to the lunch, had the place filled with lilies of the valley, and there was too much champagne, her one vulnerability. Their wedding rings, matching, designed by Sevan Bicakci and guaranteed to be the only such pair in existence. Ever. Broke the mold at Scholastica's request. The jeweler was smitten, not even aware he was just another joker in her deck of cards. Bill had even paid a justice of the peace to pose as their waiter. Perhaps he was smarter than she gave him credit for...
In the intimacy of the alcove, Bill thought she was still reading her Kindle, but like him, she too was wandering into dangerous territory in her mind.
It was the one thing she feared, that fine line between genius and insanity. She had seen her father cross that line and it wasn't pretty. Or elegant. Or a path she wanted any part of, but somehow The Great Bill Moyers brought her too close to that edge. This would have to stop. That plus this new blog of his. Blogging at his age.
As if in a dream, she saw herself opening a Tiffany box with another bauble from Bill. A diamond tennis bracelet? Why would she ever wear that? Tennis was a waste of precious time, even in person at Wimbledon, Bill's idea of a honeymoon gift, right after they had married. At least the champagne was worth it. She smiled at him, remembering the exquisite taste of the champagne that day, but he didn't smile back. Odd, she thought.
Bill abruptly stood up, knocking over the single white rose in his great-grandmother's crystal vase. "I need to walk", he announced, not even looking in her direction. On purpose. He had no idea she wasn't even looking in his direction.
"Take the dog," Scholastica suggested, while watching the water pool around the broken shards like blood at a crime scene under a body, usually deceased.
"I'd rather not," Bill replied, already halfway out of the front door and remembering his glory days with LBJ and that whole mess with the Kennedy kid. Catholic, like Scholastica and about the same age. Her political rise and demise would be one for the ages. Now he smiled.
Scholastica left Bill's mess on the table and went upstairs to her study to make a few discreet phone calls. After an hour or so, she heard Bill return, whistling. Her stomach felt hollow. Bill never whistled, but her father had. The tune was old, familiar, Sinatra.
..."But he's got high hopes, he's got high hopes
He's got high apple pie in the sky hopes..."
Scholastica made one more call, #29 on the list: thanking her research assistant for the Kindle.