Help! My Mom’s a Bimbo!
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~~ All characters in this book are over 18. ~~
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It all started on a Friday evening in early March.
Max heard her come into the house, the front door slamming against the far wall, and winced. His mother had a way of letting people know when she’d had a bad day at work, and from the sounds, this had been one of the worst.
It wasn’t easy to have a mother who was a genius, especially when she expected you to live up to her reputation. But Max was smart enough to know his skills didn’t mesh with hers. Veronica Melton was a brilliant scientist, and as her voice rose up from the ground floor to his bedroom on the second level of the house, he was reminded that she was fluent in four different languages as well.
Hell, not only didn’t he understand what she was saying, he couldn’t even tell what language she was swearing in. Was that Russian? Or Polish?
“Hi, Mom,” he said, walking out of his bedroom and looking down the flight of stairs which overlooked the front room. “Bad day?”
“Those idiots,” she swore, striding back and forth across the living room, her skirt swirling around her knees, a bottle of wine held in one hand as if she intended to brain someone with it. “Those short-sighted morons! Those pathetic lickspittles! Those gutless, cowardly, ignorant tools!”
Max whistled to himself. ‘Ignorant’ was the most vile epithet his mother could throw at someone. In her mind, one couldn’t help being stupid. Intelligence was just a throw of the genetic dice, and sometimes it came up snake-eyes, which meant that you spent your life working at a dog-food factory, or something.
But to be ignorant was something else entirely. That made her lips curl into a mocking sneer and her voice drip acid. If stupidity was a random draw in a game of poker, then ignorance was the greatest sin of all. It meant that you had the ability to learn, but then chose not to.
Nothing, and he knew nothing, could draw Veronica Melton’s wrath quicker than ignorance. To her, practically everyone had the ability to learn, and a failure to do so meant that you were lacking in moral fiber, and probably had other nasty habits as well.
“All right, Mom,” he said, drawling the words, making her squint up at him suspiciously. “I’ll give you bonus points for using ‘lickspittle.’ Not enough people take the time to roll out the really good insults anymore.” He walked down the stairs. “Want to tell me what’s got you so pissed?”
She grimaced at his use of language, but didn’t give him any grief over it. Ever since he turned eighteen, his mother had seemed to hold the opinion that he could swear if he wanted to, as long as he didn’t get too crude about it.
“They’re trying to cancel my project. The new drug.”
“Okay.” His brow furrowed. “Which one?”
She snorted as she walked into the kitchen, the hem of her jacket flaring around her hips. Despite the fact that it was Friday, she hadn’t gone in for the casual look when she went to her office at Biodyne. She was dressed in the same kind of outfit she wore almost every day – a sensible black skirt or slacks, a crisp white button-down shirt, and a black suit jacket which clung close to her body.
Max had asked her once why she didn’t ever wear more ‘girly’ clothes. Not that the head researcher for Biodyne should wear a bikini or anything, but even a colored skirt and a blouse would make a welcome change, he thought.
“Max,” she had said, a tired smile on her face, “Half the execs where I work still can’t get their minds around the fact that a person can be a scientist and a woman, let alone the head of the research and development department. They keep looking at me as if one day I’ll rip off a mask like the tail-end of a Scooby-Doo cartoon, revealing that I was a man all along. If I start wearing casual clothes, especially things designed to make me look attractive, the whispers will start. That I’m trying to sleep my way up the corporate ladder.” She had tossed her honey-blond hair, which she had passed along to his older sister, but sadly not to himself. “Fuck ’em. If the price for doing some good in this world is dressing like a sexless fembot, then I’m more than willing to oblige.”
“It’s the one I’ve been working on with the Department of Justice,” she elaborated.
He had been studying for a trig test, and it took him a bit to find the right name. “Mentothal?”
She flipped a hand at him. As always, her fingers were clean, the nails trimmed neatly, the result of spending a good portion of every working day in the lab. “Until the marketing wonks come up with something better, yeah, that’s the one.” She set the bottle of wine down on the marble counter and dug through a drawer for a corkscrew. Unasked, he found one and handed it to her. “Thanks, honey.
“Anyway, we’re in the middle of the clinical trials. kocaeli escort And then this fucking jackass from the dee-oh-jay waltzes in today and starts blathering on about how there’s all sorts of ethical considerations that we aren’t taking into account.”
“Oh?” Max pulled a wineglass down from the overhead rack as she popped the cork, and she splashed a generous dash of red wine into it and took a long sip, her eyes closing with pleasure. “So how’s it work?”
“Well…” she hesitated, knowing that his interest in biology, chemistry, and pharmacology was academic at best. “Mentothal works in two ways. “First, it dissolves the ego. But only temporarily,” she was quick to add. “And also, it takes away some of the higher reasoning functions, especially those that have primarily to do with…oh, I don’t know…call it being able to judge the consequences for the actions that you take while you’re under its influence.”
“What? So it makes people morons?”
“Oh, no. Not at all.” She leaned forward, caught up, as always, when her work was concerned, with the fascination of what chemistry could accomplish. “Intelligence is not affected. But things like the ability to lie and a person’s inhibitions are greatly impaired. If a subject has been dosed with Mentothal, he or she has a very difficult time putting together a plausible lie, or seeing down the road to what the possible repercussions of his or her actions are.”
“So,” he said, trying to put the pieces together, “if I took a dose of Mentothal, and I was with my girlfriend at the mall, and she asked, ‘do these jeans make my butt look fat…'”
His mother grinned. “If they did make her butt look fat, you’d say so. Because you’d have lost the ability to lie, and you also wouldn’t realize that telling Gwen that the jeans looked like she was pouring ten pounds of cement into a five-pound bag would probably earn you a good slap right across the face. Like I said, consequences and repercussions.”
“So how long does the dose last?” he asked. “Call me Mister Silly, but the last thing we need is a bunch of people who have lost the ability to tell polite lies to each other. I can just imagine it now – a guy comes into work and says, ‘How’s it going, Hank?’ and the other guy says, “You’re ugly, I hate you, and I slept with your wife last month.'”
She laughed. “Yeah. That would be a problem. But it’s only short-term. Two to four hours per dose, tops. We want to use it for police interrogations, things like that.
“But,” she made a disgusted sound, “it seems like some of the civil-rights people have caught wind of it, and they’ve got their undies in a twist. This guy from Justice was making noise about how it goes against a person’s right not to be forced to testify against himself, and his right to remain silent, and all that bullshit.”
Max bit back a grin. He and his mother might live in a big city now. But when all was said and done, Veronica was a small-town girl who had been raised by rock-ribbed, law-and-order Republicans. His grandfather, for instance, would probably go to his grave insisting that Nixon was framed. And his mother hated anything that interfered with her work. Put the two together, and she had little patience with organizations like the ACLU and with government regulations.
“I don’t know, Mom.” He took a diet soda out of the fridge. “The fifth amendment is pretty clear. If someone can’t be forced to be a witness against himself, forcing them to take a drug that might result in self-incrimination is pretty far out there.”
“That’s what he said. The guy from Justice. That even if we got past the clinical trials, no police department would ever use the drug, because they’d be scared shitless of the lawsuits. And because any convictions we got would be overturned anyway.”
She walked into the living room and sat down on a couch, toeing off her heels. They fell to the hardwood floor with a faint clatter. “Crap.” She looked up at him. “I hate it when things get political. My son, the lawyer-to-be. Why couldn’t you at least pretend to be on my side?”
“I haven’t even started college yet, Mom.” Max leaned against the doorframe. “That’s not until August. I’m not even out of high school yet. It’s a long way from here to the bar exam. Who knows. By sophomore year I might decide that what I really want is to get into landscape architecture and design golf courses.”
“You’re just trying to turn me into a bankrupt. How many years of college and law school should I look forward to paying for? Six? Eight?”
He snorted mildly. His family wasn’t Warren Buffet rich, but his mother made more money than they could easily spend. Between her salary and stock options and the money she had made off some of patents for drugs she had helped develop, it would take a couple of Kardashians to burn through what she brought home.
One more reason his father had left them, he thought with a grimace. He had split when Linda was sixteen kocaeli escort bayan and Max was in junior high. From what his mother had told them over the past few years, it was obvious that he couldn’t deal with a woman who was smarter than he was, more successful, and pulled down more money in two months than he made in a year. His ego couldn’t handle it, and he spent half of his time on a series of affairs that had finally driven her to the point where she had demanded he either straighten up or leave. He had left, leaving her on her own with two teenage children. These days, Max was lucky to get a birthday card from the man.
“Right,” he replied finally. He glanced around the house. “It’s obvious we’re holding on by our fingernails here.”
She scowled, trying to look angry, but failed. His mother could have a killer glare when she chose, but he could tell her heart wasn’t in it. A smile tugged at the corner of her mouth. “I’m real proud of you, you know. You and Linda both.”
He shrugged, embarrassed as always when the talk turned to his supposed virtues. Linda was the real smart one, who took after Veronica in brains and looks. Max wasn’t stupid, and dogs didn’t howl in fear when he walked by, but he knew he wasn’t going to be on the cover of GQ anytime soon, either. He took after his maternal grandfather, tall and lean, with a jutting beak of a nose, rather than his attractive mother, who was still able to turn heads, even though she was over forty.
“I was going to make supper,” he said. “Any requests?”
“Something simple,” she replied immediately, swinging to one side so she could rest her feet on the couch and set her glass of wine on the coffee table. She sank down into the black leather upholstery and closed her eyes. “I just want to try to figure out a way to recover from this disaster. We’ve put five years into this project. I hate to think we’ve flushed all that money down a rat-hole.”
“I’ll put something together,” he promised. He leaned over the couch and kissed her cheek. “And I’m sure you’ll figure something out. You always do.”
“Ah, this is good,” she said, an hour later, biting into a taco. They were sitting down at the dining room table, which, since Linda was away at Minnesota State, only contained the two of them. “Takes me back to my white-trash roots. Tacos on a Friday night. All we need is to be in a big old farmhouse with no air-conditioning, and your grandpa drinking Bud Light and listening to the ballgame on the radio.”
“Grandma and Grandpa aren’t white trash,” he protested, spooning meat and onions and hot sauce into a taco shell. “Just because you grew up in a small town doesn’t automatically mean that our family is a bunch of inbred hicks who like to molest the livestock.”
“Really?” she smiled, her bad humor forgotten. Like his sister Linda, her moods were mercurial, and could turn on a dime. “I don’t know. Your great-uncle Elmer…there was always something a bit off about him, I thought.”
“Not listening,” he grunted.
Her grin widened, her blue eyes sparkling. Like his sister, his mother was a corn-fed, blond-haired, midwestern beauty. She had changed out of her work clothes into jeans, a t-shirt, and loose sweatshirt, and the only way someone could tell that she was over forty, rather than in her teens, was the faint crows-feet that peeped from the corners of her eyes when she smiled. Otherwise, she and Linda could have been taken for sisters. Veronica might be a hair taller, and Linda might have darker skin, the result of going to the tanning salon during the winter, but they both had the same curvy bodies that made them the targets of every man in sight.
Linda loved the chase. Veronica pretended it didn’t even exist anymore.
“What about your drug?” he asked, changing the subject. “Any ideas?”
“Just one,” she said. She took a bite of her salad. “Mentothal works by taking away our ability to lie, both to other people and ourselves. What if we used it as a therapy drug? You know, for people who are having emotional issues? Anger management, childhood trauma, PTSD, that sort of thing?
“I’ve talked to some people in that field. One of their hardest problems is getting their patients to open up and be honest with them. And themselves. It’s not always conscious, either. Sometimes we lie to ourselves for so long that it’s all we know. Especially for people who have been abused. And people who were in combat, for instance, and come home with PTSD. They’re so scared that being honest about their issues will make them seem weak that telling the truth about their experiences is almost impossible.”
He nodded. “It sounds like a real good idea. If you can get it past the FDA.”
“Yeah. That’s the problem,” she sighed. “We’d have to start over practically from scratch. A new set of trials, new paperwork submitted to the agency, new protocols, everything. It’ll take months just to get the process started. izmit escort The suits up in the boardroom might decide that we’re throwing good money after bad and cancel the entire project.”
“Huh. Too bad you can’t just take a pill here at home and see if it works.”
She nodded, taking another sip of her wine, then blinked, staring at him. Her eyes were suddenly intent. “Say that again.”
Max suddenly understood what it must be like to work for Veronica Melton. That sudden, laser-like focus. “Um. I just said that it’s too bad you couldn’t take one of the pills here and see what happened. Kind of like a trial run, you know? If it worked, then you could move forward, maybe. And if it didn’t, at least you wouldn’t be wasting any more time.”
“It a good idea. Damn good.” She absently took another bite of her taco, staring into the middle distance as she chewed. “It wouldn’t be scientifically valid, of course,” she added quietly. She seemed to be talking to herself. “A one-person sample-size? Hah. No way I could use that as a basis for moving forward. No responsible journal would even think about publishing my results. Especially since dosing yourself with your own product breaks so many ethical rules that I don’t want to think about it. But if I had a…a catcher, someone to observe me, then I could at least have some data to work with. And I’ve got a stash of pills in my bag.” Her eyes came back to the present. “I never took any. But I always wondered. What life would look like, if we stripped all our little illusions away.
“But it’s not going to be tonight.” She finished her taco and pushed her plate away. “Why are you even home, anyway? It’s Friday night. Shouldn’t you be out?”
“Nah.” Max leaned back in his chair. “Gwen and I are kind of cooling it down. Her choice, really. And mine. Ever since she decided she was going to Stanford and I was staying here and going to the U of M, we kind of decided that a long-term long-distance relationship wasn’t going to work for us.”
“That’s too bad,” his mother said. “She’s a nice girl.”
Max decided not to break his mother’s illusions about exactly how ‘nice’ Gwen was. The cooling-off period had also, unfortunately, included a cool-down in their after-hours activities as well. Gwen was a tall, willowy blond, whose icy Nordic beauty disguised a young woman who was an absolute wildcat in the bedroom. But she had decided (without much input from him) that if they continued sleeping together it would make their inevitable parting in August that much more difficult.
So he had swallowed his disappointment and gone on with his life. But it was hard. And in more ways than one, lately. He shifted uncomfortably in his chair as his body reacted to the memory of Gwen’s body, lying in a pool of winter sunlight on his bed one weekday afternoon last month while his mother was at work. Suddenly he was grateful that his lower body was hidden from his mother’s penetrating gaze. She wouldn’t remark on it, he knew. Her humor didn’t tend towards the risqué. But knowing that she knew would be even worse.
If this was a movie, me and three of my friends would be going out tonight. And at least two of would get laid before morning.
Real life bites.
Later that night, Veronica stepped out of the shower.
The night had passed like so many before. She and Max were comfortable with each other. Years of living together had given the two of them a shorthand that made some of her friends envious. And when they spoke of the difficulties they had with their own teenage children, she could only shake her head. By comparison, Max and Linda seemed almost indecently well-behaved.
Oh, she wasn’t stupid enough to think that the two of them were angels, pure as the driven snow. But they didn’t wallow around in a pool of their own self-indulgence, resentful of everything and everyone, either.
Like her ex-husband.
Damn the man.
Her lips pinched. Donny Wilson wasn’t a bad man. But he had been a piss-poor husband. Veronica had been accepted into the University of Minnesota when she was only sixteen, having skipped a year in grade school, and then completing four years’ worth of high school work in only three. Naïve and enthralled by Donny’s shallow charm, she had allowed herself to become pregnant with their first child, Linda, when she was only nineteen. Infatuated with the allure of the sort of picture-postcard post-college life which she had been expected to believe in, she had let herself to be talked into marriage, even though she had, even at that point, suspected that she wasn’t truly in love with Donny.
Suspicion had hardened into certainty over the next few years. She had born her child, Linda, and, two years later, another, who they had named Maxwell, after Donny’s favorite uncle. But as she finished college, then graduate school, and had set her feet on the first rungs of the corporate ladder, she had been forced to face the reality that her husband was completely unsuited for marriage. If it wasn’t his inability to hold a job for more than a year, it was his serial infidelities. It was as if Donny tried to make up for his many shortcomings by sleeping with as many women as possible.