“He has Down’s Syndrome, he’s not a liar,” Jocelyn said haughtily.
“He’s not lying,” I spoke up. “I was hiding from the reality show cameras in his room one night. But go ahead and pull the tapes. You’ll see me leaving his room around 2 A.M.. But I would never behave inappropriately to Wesley. We played cards, and video games, and split some food. Nothing else.”
No one was listening to me. Certainly not the cameras, which had already swung back to Jocelyn. Had someone already called the press? Where was Michelle? How many crew members had their phones out, recording this?
This was the end of everything. My relationship. My career. The love of my followers. No one supported the seduction of a boy with disabilities.
I don’t know what Jocelyn said, I missed it in my despair, but whatever it was caused my mother to toss her wine glass forward. I watched in slow motion as the red liquid sloshed out of the wide neck of the cup and splattered over Jocelyn’s cream top and lips.
Jocelyn gawked, her chin dropping as she surveyed the damage, then let out a blood-curdling scream and rushed forward, claws extended, toward my mother.
At that point, the threats of a lawsuit got lost. Dad stood, Mr. Mitchell stood, and the cameras caught everything as food, wine, and fists began to fly.
As it turns out, trailer park and Beverly Hills parents aren’t that different. Add in alcohol and insults, and hell breaks loose.
“Gosh, that fight. It was beautiful. All of the elements you want. I mean, this was Jerry Springer stuff. We had the screaming and hair pulling, and coming from Jocelyn Mitchell. Jocelyn Mitchell! It was the most glorious footage I ever filmed, and we got it at 60 frames per second, which allowed us to slow it down later without losing quality. Unfortunately, it was only forty-seven seconds of gold before the women were out of breath, and the men were pulling them apart, but that was all I needed. Those forty-seven seconds allowed me to sell that entire season—and I did. Six languages and forty-two countries.
We tried to get the couples back into formation and talking like civilized individuals, but they weren’t having any of that. Jocelyn and Rob Mitchell swept out of that living room with threats to sue us into oblivion, while Tonya and Ted Ripplestine starting cleaning up the mess they had made. That footage helped Emma. Her trailer-trash mom with that horrible hairdo, on her knees, picking up pieces of finger sandwiches. It would have been better if Emma had been there beside her, but we lost her during the fight. Five cameras and twenty crew, and we somehow missed her exit.”
Dana Diench, Producer, House of Fame
I drove my car, with Wesley buckled into the passenger side. He fiddled with the controls, lifting the seat until it was so high he had to turn his head to one side.
I glanced at him. “Funny, bud. You like that?”
“It’s tickling my butt.” He giggled.
“Those are the seat massagers. Lower your seat a little, you’re going to hurt your neck.”
“It’s fine.” His seat reclined back a little, and I switched the visual display to show the seat controls. Tapping the screen, I lowered his seat until his head righted into its normal position.
“Awww.” He frowned.
“Think about it. You can’t eat ice cream sitting like that.”
He nodded. “Yes. Smart.”
He bobbed his head to the music and looked out the window. “Which ice cream are we going to?”
“Jeremiah’s,” he said with finality.
“Okay.” I moved into the left lane.
“I haven’t had Jeremiah’s in twenty years.”
I smiled despite the circumstances. “It hasn’t been that long.”
“Fifty years,” he corrected.
“Maybe two years.” I thought of the last time I took him out of the Ranch. It had been his birthday, and I’d taken him to the beach. He couldn’t swim, but we’d built a sandcastle and gotten a snow cone. He’d returned to the Ranch with a slight sunburn and a new Lakers jersey, one he vowed to wear every day for the rest of his life.
“We should get ice cream for Miss E.” He smoothed down the front of his shorts. “She likes strawberry with chocolate.”
My hands tightened on the steering wheel. “Wes, why didn’t you tell me about Emma—Miss E?”
He laughed. “I have told you about her.” And yes, he had, but he hadn’t told me enough, not enough for me to understand that Missy was Miss E was Emma.
“She’s my friend.” He cracked the knuckles on his left hand.
“Does she work at the Ranch?”
“Sometimes. She says it’s not like work. It’s fun.”
I slowed to a stop at a red light. “What do you and her do together?”
“Play. We’re friends.”
“What kind of play?”
He laughed. “You know!” He lifted his hands. “Play.”
“Does she ever ask you to take off your clothes?”