At first, Edward Hunter was surprised to hear that Calvin’s parents were not doing very well, but he relented and granted him a three-day leave as requested. He warned him, however, that time was of the essence and he needed to be prepared to be at his new position in ten days. Calvin thanked his boss profusely and assured him that everything would be ready in time. When he called Tracy to say he would come over, she sounded very pleased. Calvin expressed his reservations about staying at her house; maybe he should just go back to the hotel and they could meet there rather than at her place. That would be expensive but he would soon be earning a lot more money. If he were going to travel to see her regularly, he realized that these trips would be expensive.
No, no, Tracy insisted. She had worked out a plan where he wouldn’t be visible to the neighbors. Anyway it was none of their business what she did. He would be much more comfortable staying with her than downtown. It would be wonderful to have him with her now that she needed someone to lean on. For a while, he felt that she was pleading with him to come over. Calvin, once again, sensed that he was being manipulated by a very controlling and possessive woman that he would follow anywhere. He felt extremely vulnerable in her hands.
On Tuesday morning he set out for Clarksville. The students were on spring break and the town would be peacefully quiet during the week. Kaitlin and Scott would be on vacation with their father and the house would be the perfect place to be together. Calvin was divided between his normal insecurity and the prospect of an unforgettable stay with the woman he was deeply attracted to. Luckily the weather would be perfect for the entire week.
Tracy met him at the hotel parking lot as planned and led him back to the house driving her own car. She was dressed in a pants suit that fit her snugly and her hair was tied back in a pigtail. She had been running errands around town during the morning before his arrival. Calvin was impressed by the large homes that comprised Tracy’s neighborhood. Some of them were “historical” mansions with commemorative plaques and others were more recently constructed to modern standards. It was obviously a very wealthy part of town. This only heightened Calvin’s sense of inadequacy.
The inside of Tracy’s home was very upper class. There were French armoires and nineteenth-century furniture that were most likely heirlooms. The living room was richly decorated and spacious. An enormous gilt-edged mirror was on display in the dining room that was obviously an antique as well.
She had him park his car in the garage so it would be out of sight for any curious onlookers. He installed his suitcase in the guest bedroom upstairs. Tracy said he would most likely be more at ease there than in the master bedroom where she slept. There was an ornate four-poster bed with a silk canopy in his room. When he thought of how modest and poorly kept his own apartment was, he was relieved he had taken Tracy to the hotel downtown during their first meeting.
In the backyard there was a large swimming pool that had been covered with a tarpaulin during the winter months. Tracy said it was popular with the children and their friends. She admitted that she frequently took a dip in the evenings when the weather was nice. There was a bathhouse nearby where guests could change when they used the pool.
Seeing all this, Calvin had to struggle to maintain his composure. She was far, far out of his league. How could they envision a long-term relationship when their social and economic differences were so evident? This is something he would bring up when the time was right, but not during his stay.
Tracy said that she had prepared a picnic lunch they could enjoy at the local park very close to a nearby lake. She also emphasized that she would be driving for convenience sake since Calvin didn’t know anything about the city. The sun was baking down on joggers and mothers with baby strollers in the municipal park. He put on a little sun screen and offered some to Tracy. They both stretched out on the grass and he delighted in her presence by his side. It seemed almost too perfect for someone as paranoid as he. He massaged her back and she settled into his arms.
For a long time, they chatted, barely mentioning the convention and her personal problems. Calvin told her a great deal about his personal ambitions, family, and his first marriage. She gave the impression of being very interested in what he was saying. His description of what led up to his divorce triggered a sympathetic chord and Tracy patted his arm to reassure him. Nonetheless, he knew that in time Tracy’s social background and educational level would keep them apart. He reveled in the moment and held her close, trying to push negative thoughts aside.
Back at the house, Calvin offered to help in the kitchen as she prepared the food she had bought for the evening meal. She poured a glass of red wine which they sipped while talking. He tried to kiss her but she pushed him gently away and said, “let’s do that later.” Calvin noted that her kitchen was filled with expensive pots and pans and a collection of knives and copper kettles that you would only see in society magazine advertisements. Every aspect of her home and manner of dressing was reflective of a privileged background. They sipped more wine and talked leisurely for the entire evening; Calvin learned that she was very concerned about the reaction of the children to her right-wing tendencies and the people she associated with. She was also angry at Charles who had become her nemesis in parenting. He contradicted everything she communicated to Scott and Kaitlin about conservative ideals and the fate of America. Moreover, the custody procedures had drained all her emotional reserves. Calvin’s presence was a welcome reassurance. They could talk politics and not scream at each other.
After they had cleaned off the table and set up for breakfast, she took his hand and led him up the steps. At her bedroom she paused and explained that they would sleep better in separate bedrooms. Then, she kissed him on the cheek and excused herself. Calvin didn’t know what to expect next. Should he follow her into the bedroom or go to the guest bedroom? He wisely chose the latter.
He had been in bed for a few minutes, flipping through a magazine that was lying on the night table, when he looked up and saw her standing in the doorway. She was wearing a diaphanous nightgown that displayed her figure in a very erotic manner. He got up and took her in his arms. She let the nightgown fall to the floor and they embraced tenderly before stretching out on the bed.
Calvin had the feeling their bodies were merging together in a natural, rhythmic manner. All parts seemed to fit perfectly. Oddly enough he felt that his passion and craving were much greater than hers. Later, he asked if she had enjoyed herself and she rubbed his chest and smiled. Of course, silly, she replied. After a while, she got up and left the room putting her nightgown back on. He had, for an instant, the impression that he had served a functional purpose; he had given her something she needed to calm her nerves. It took him a long time to drop off.
In the morning, Tracy had gotten up early and breakfast was already on the table. Calvin had taken a shower and was late in coming down. Tracy warned him that the maid would be cleaning up the house so she had planned for outside activities around town. She had let the maid know that he would be visiting; there was nothing to worry about.
Tracy took Calvin to a bookstore in the downtown area. She explained that she knew the bookseller very well. He specialized in rare books, but he also had quite a collection of far-right publications—or “honest conservatism” as he preferred to call them. He was an academic-looking, middle-aged person with thick glasses and a corpulent body. He was the living picture of an intellectual. In fact he had been a history teacher in high school but gave that up to follow his passion for books of all types. Tracy was quite a fan of Jarred Taylor, the editor of American Renaissance that was one of the very best conservative sites on the Internet. There were a number of his books for sale. She recommended “Paved with Good Intentions” (the revised version) as a scholarly analysis of racial differences in violent crimes and anti-social behavior. Calvin picked up a few volumes and decided to purchase one for reading later on. Tracy thought he would like the one he had chosen.
She introduced Calvin to the book dealer and said he was an out-of-town friend who was being introduced to conservative ideas and had joined Freedom for the Right. Fred Pierce, the owner, greeted him with enthusiasm and hoped he would continue to read some of the “required literature” about the movement. Tracy selected a few books herself and they set off, as she said, to visit the city. Calvin was struck by the social divide between the downtown area and the suburbs where the wealthy lived in old-fashioned houses dating back to the early twentieth century and even earlier.
Calvin had grown up on the “wrong side of the tracks” in an industrial town in Pennsylvania where smokestacks belched toxic fumes day and night. He was the first man to have gotten a college degree in the family. His father had worked as a bookkeeper in one of the plants and his mother was a nurse’s aide in a worker’s clinic. She aspired to getting her nurse’s license but she wasn’t able to juggle her studies and other obligations. It had been a big disappointment, but she took pride in raising Candace and Calvin to be “good citizens.” His father was not vocal about his political beliefs, but Calvin knew his parents were pro-union and voted Democratic. His connection with Tracy was a proverbial slap in the face to his parents and his childhood friends who were also solidly Democratic–just as their parents were.
Calvin excelled in mathematics in high school and got a partial scholarship to Penn State. Mathematical skills were important if you wanted to be an actuarial analyst in the insurance business.
His road to embracing conservative ideals was inspired by the resentment he felt at the unfair benefits that blacks were receiving in every phase of life. Competition and meritocracy were being ignored; minorities’ test scores were doctored to give them a favored status in all fields, even the military.
Calvin began to have doubts about black physicians who were a product of “affirmative action.” He could tell that the most demanding positions in medicine were held by whites and that blacks were relegated to a lower status. The vast majority of patients weren’t comfortable with black orthopedic surgeons, cardiologists, and oncologists and their level of expertise. Just as the suburbs had become almost exclusively white for decades, people had shown they would “vote with their feet” when making professional or social choices. To his regret, even Millicent, his ex, had liberal tendencies and that exacerbated their relationship when Calvin admitted that he preferred conservative political candidates. Promotion in his insurance firm was based in part on “social sensitivity,” a code word for showing respect and deference to minorities, no matter how incompetent they were. After a few years, he had gotten to the point where he needed a shoulder to lean on: this led him to the Internet where so-called “forbidden” subjects were freely discussed.
He had confessed these concerns to Tracy and was relieved to note that, for the most part, she agreed with his complaints. There was a difference between voicing your disillusionment with government policies and taking effective action to change things. Tracy had taken the latter route, something that Calvin lacked the courage to do. As a result, Calvin could not shake the feeling that he was in “over his head.” If he wanted to retain Tracy’s affection and confidence, he would have to demonstrate in a convincing way his commitment to the cause they espoused.
Later in the afternoon, after touring the city and its surrounding area, Tracy drove back to the house. Calvin had noticed that Scott almost never called his mother, but Kaitlin would get in touch every few hours. Tracy was very sensitive about her daughter’s feelings and loyalty, a concern that was very obvious to Calvin. This was why the custody dispute was so upsetting for her. He knew better than to comment on this mother-daughter relationship that had been jeopardized by recent events.
Shortly after they returned to the house, the doorbell rang and Tracy was surprised to see her friend, Annabelle, at the door. She had not anticipated her visit. “Annabelle, sweetheart, please come in. How are you?” Tracy’s voice betrayed her nervousness at the presence of a talkative acquaintance who would certainly let others know what she had found. Annabelle moved into the living room and approached Calvin. “Well, I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting your friend…” Tracy’s expression hardened as she introduced Calvin. “Well, are you a friend in the area or just visiting?” Annabelle probed. Tracy answered for Calvin and then asked Annabelle what she could do for her. “Darling, you remember the recipe you said you would give me, the Italian dish that was so delicious…” Tracy escorted Annabelle to the kitchen while Calvin stayed in the living room. He could hear voices chatting for a few minutes. As they came back, Calvin shook hands with Annabelle who gave him a playful look.
Later, Tracy apologized for her friend’s inquisitiveness. She knew, of course, that her entire circle would be informed about the tall, quiet visitor she had met. Everyone in her book club would be asking questions. Calvin sensed that his very presence was a source of contention and disruption. Coming over was not a good idea; however, he had very little choice if he wanted to retain Tracy’s affection.
They poured a glass of wine (Tracy murmured she really needed that!) and stretched out in the sun room that looked out over an elaborate garden. Calvin waited for Tracy to start the conversation. Silence on his part was the best strategy. The birds were chirping and there was a feeling of serenity they both needed very much.
After a while, Tracy suggested they call out for a pizza. She could supplement that with left-overs she had in the refrigerator. Calvin was surprised, but pleased. She could be very down to earth. The local Dominos took the order and said it would be twenty minutes. Calvin insisted on paying this time. Later on, they retired to his room and as usual she left soon after their encounter, kissing him gratefully as she went to her bedroom. Calvin began to sense an odd pattern in their relationship. He wanted to sleep by her side but knew his place in the house. The guest room was an anti-chamber that drew a line between total intimacy and sexual accessibility. He wished he could impulsively go to her room and wrap her in his arms. That, of course, would be a big mistake. He dropped off a little after one o-clock.
The next morning, he got up rather late. Tracy had gone downstairs and seemed to be moving items in the kitchen. Calvin put on his robe and went down, rubbing his hands over his hair. Tracy was not in the kitchen; he wandered around and suddenly someone called out: “Hi there. Who are you?” He turned and faced a very attractive teenager, her blond hair drawn back in a pigtail, and wearing beach shorts. Before Calvin could say anything, Tracy rushed into the room. “Kaitlin! What are you doing here?” “Who’s this?” she pointed at Calvin. “This is my friend and guest, Calvin O’Connor.” It felt very odd to hear Tracy pronounce his last name. “You’ve gotta be kidding!” Kaitlin had put her hands on her hips. “This is the guy who’s been turning our lives upside down?” Tracy approached Kaitlin with her hands extended and said: “I expected you tomorrow morning. Is everything okay?” “Daddy had to come back for an emergency meeting at the office. He just dropped me off.” Calvin remained quiet and seemed a little flustered.
“Well, Mr. O’Connor is a dear friend I met at the convention. He’s also a member of our conservative group.” “Yeah, I remember what Scott said about the way you two were behaving in the lobby area.” Calvin looked at Tracy and indicated he would leave them alone. Tracy nodded and Calvin retreated to the kitchen.
Through the closed door, Calvin could catch snatches of their conversation. Kaitlin was very upset that he was “sleeping over” in her house. Tracy insisted that he was staying in the guest room. Kaitlin laughed and snapped: “Yeah, sure. I bet!” Tracy then launched into a motherly put down, reminding her that she couldn’t insult a guest in this manner. He is a very nice gentleman, Tracy emphasized, and she ought to speak to him in a respectful manner. Kaitlin then mumbled something unintelligible. “Good heavens, you just got home!” Tracy exclaimed. “Since when do you visit Niaomi at her house? Have you had something to eat?” Calvin could only get bits and pieces of what they were saying. “Well, you know what I think about having African friends. Do what you want. I want you back at the house no later than seven o’clock.” “At least my friends aren’t fascists!” Kaitlin said loudly. Calvin heard them arguing; the door shut with a bang, and Tracy shouted something at Kaitlin who jumped into the children’s car and drove off.
Tracy came back into the house. She was obviously upset and said: “You just can’t control a sixteen-year-old!” She then looked at Calvin and apologized for what had just happened. “I’m so sorry you had to witness all this. Really, she’ll be okay in a while. She just needs to get used to you and our being together.” Tracy then explained that Niaomi was a Nigerian exchange student at Kaitlin’s school. Kaitlin was very fond of her, but Tracy had discouraged their friendship and didn’t want Niaomi to be an influence on her daughter. Kaitlin was very uncomfortable with Tracy’s attitude toward minority students. However, Tracy was confident that in a few years Kaitlin would be more receptive to conservative ideals and the need for whites to resume their leadership role in America.
Calvin listened politely as Tracy vented her frustration. So many things were occurring at once; she was going from one crisis to another. Calvin began to feel out of place and unwanted by Tracy’s friends and family.
He put his arms around her and she nestled against his body in an almost submissive pose. He gently explained that she needed to be alone to take care of family matters; he was in the way and just making things worse. It would be better from him to go back now (even though they had agreed he would leave late tomorrow morning). Tracy protested but only half-heartedly. She helped him pack in the guest room. They parted with fervent promises to write and call regularly. She kissed him in a sensual manner, but Calvin felt that, in a fashion, she was saying good bye.
The trip back to his apartment was long and emotionally challenging. All he could think about was how upsetting and traumatic his visit had been. He had been soundly rejected by her children and mocked by one of her socialite friends. His feelings for Tracy hadn’t changed, but it was now obvious that they could never mesh in a social context. It would be difficult to call and pretend that nothing was out of order, or they would somehow be together in a meaningful way in the future.
The only avenue still open would be random trysts or political get togethers. Calvin also knew that Tracy would soon seek other companionship. She had shown him how sensual she could be; other men would come into her life. Who knows? Maybe she would get back together with Stephen. After all, he belonged to her class of people. Possibly she would meet someone else on line in his absence.
In his apartment, he waited for Tracy to call and encourage him to stay with her–that something could be worked out if they really cared for one another. She, of course, would be dealing with Kaitlin and Scott this evening. No call would be possible. He went to the conservative site of FFR to check if she were texting. There were only radical white advocates conversing with others of a similar bent. He shut down the computer and climbed into bed. Oddly enough, he went to sleep easily.
The next day he devoted all his time to preparing for his new job. He had been contacted by a real estate agent in his new location; she informed him that she had found a “wonderful apartment” that he would be very comfortable in. Later on, he would contact the moving company and work out the details.
Xavier and other colleagues in the office had ordered a large cake with “Good Luck!” iced in pink letters. There was a lot of horsing around; Calvin opened the greeting cards on his desk and thanked everyone. Mr. Hunter came out and wished him well. Calvin pretended he would miss them a lot; he even stated that he would probably stop by to visit if he was in town on business. He carried out his belongings in two carton boxes that Xavier helped him take down to his car. “Buena suerte, amigo,” he said while giving Calvin a very Latin hug and pat on the back. Calvin drove off with a sense of relief and finality.
In the apartment, he lay down on the bed and stared at the ceiling. He wanted to call Tracy, but she was most likely involved in family matters–trying to pacify the children. As Kaitlin had complained bitterly, he was the one who had caused all the trouble in the household. All things considered, he would wait for Tracy to get in touch when she was ready.
Once again, the feeling of isolation and abandonment welled up inside of him. Intuitively, he doubted that Tracy would call in the days to come. She had realized that he was not the masculine, steady type she was looking for. The bond they had briefly forged was fragile and based on novelty and “physicality,” as people say these days.
He got up, poured a cup of coffee, and began to search for a conservative site that he had visited before: “Whites for whites,” where you could easily hook up with conservative singles who were looking for compatible mates. A lot of the pictures looked doctored and some of the candidates were obviously middle-aged or older. He had registered here before “Right of Right”.
A picture intrigued him. An auburn-haired, late-thirtyish “Cynthia” described herself as playful, uninhibited, and very serious about her political commitments. She was looking for a forty-something, unattached male with a steady job and long-term intentions. She was looking directly at the camera with a come-on stare. Calvin wondered how she would look when she took off her nightgown.
He sighed and typed the identity code into his computer to gain access to the site. His new life had truly begun.