Friday, August 6, 2010
#138 - LAURYN
I am talking about Lauryn now, who through high school lived in that company house. I may not be able to match Gillian for sexual horror stories, but I tell her that Lauryn had been molested by her brother, and that later when she was pregnant at 18 and wanted an abortion her mother talked her out of it. Her mother had flown out to Minnesota where Lauryn was in a small college. “She is my mother,” Lauryn explained later. Lauryn was anyway in Minnesota against her will, for she had wanted to go to the University of New Hampshire with her high school friends.
Lauryn was the least likely person to be found in our family. An extremely popular high school girl. She had seamlessly made the shift from Lycée and ballet to life in a New England mill town, where she had been the most sought after girl in her class. Any trace of English accent – whether the family version or the England version – had disappeared forever.
Aunt Alice had adopted Lauryn in London shortly after she had adopted Paul. The family was horrified, as it was meant to be – irresponsible, pretty Alice, widowed young, now taking on responsibilities she probably could not handle. And anyway it was easy for her since in the years after the war in England there were so many children who needed adopting. Dad spoke about post-war adoption the way he would later speak of my Cousin Margaret’s art career as not amounting to much of anything since Margaret went to the Art Students League, which was a place where anyone could walk in off the street and go to classes.
In the city I would sometimes see Lauryn at formal dinner parties at Nana’s apartment. A picture perfect and polite little girl dressed in velvet. She had been a rising star in ballet school, and was said to be doing fine in Manhattan's high toned French Lycée, when her brother Paul’s troubles led to them to flee the city.
It had started with shop lifting, when Paul was in trouble partly because of what he took from Korvette’s but mostly because he called a security guard “nigger” and said he would come back with “teddy boys” and finish him off. And on top of that, he was carrying a switch blade knife of a length that a new city law made it a felony to carry. I got him a lawyer through a Princeton classmate who was in a corporate law firm where they had criminal lawyers on call for unsavory matters.
A police check revealed Paul had been arrested the previous summer for shooting guns in New Hampshire. Aunt Alice pointed out that he had only done it in the woods owned by his grandmother. The lawyer thought that this was something best not said to a city magistrate. As for the knife felony, the lawyer was proved correct that if he issued a constitutional challenge to the knife law, as he did, the magistrate would throw out the charge rather than get into something over his head.
Later, when I was out of the country, Paul was caught again with guns, including a sawed off shotgun. This time he was in Connecticut spending a week with my parents. It seemed only a matter of time before he was convicted of something big, so Aunt Betsy gave up her place in Washington Square Village and moved Paul and Lauryn and herself up to New Hampshire. She bought a narrow mill town house on a street up above Littleton’s movie house.
I think Aunt Betsy thought she could bide her time and would eventfully come into her own in New Hampshire, where she expected support. She was living on a small trust fund so tight she could not get at the principal. None of Nana’s friends made any effort to rally around her, which she found infuriating. Also she had thought she could get the Farm House when Nana died, but the family made sure it went to my responsible twin brother. I was not brought into the discussion. I was away, working on a novel while living in a deserted old colonial hotel in the middle of Java.
Paul’s troubles had mounted. Guns again, right down to a gangster style sawed off shotgun that he carried around at the Profile Golf Club . He was covered at the Profile by a long-standing family membership, but now the club banned him for life. He had kidnapped a girl in Littleton. His mother said there was more to the story, because Paul was so handsome that girls were always after him. He had taken his victim to the Profile Club, and had held her as hostage, keeping the police at bay with his guns. The final resolution was that a judge gave Paul, who had turned 18, the choice between prison and immediate enlistment in the army.
It was only recently that the family learned, for the first time, that Paul had raped his pretty sister.
I thought Gillian would appreciate the story. Then I didn’t care what she thought of it.
I did not drive up the hill above the movie house to see if my aunt was at home.