Thursday, November 10, 2011
Chapter 1.2: Can't Forget The Past
Ryder, Carmen, and Zane arrive in Appaloosa Plains today, so Scarlett decides to work an extra long shift at the ranch. Her old boss, Chuck Hobble, recently married Oriole Bird after word got out about her... condition. Although Mr. Hobble was publicly dating the famous country music star Honey Darnell, Oriole wound up pregnant with his child. Needless to say, he left the ranch and moved in with his mistress, letting his partner Johnny Johnson run the stables.
Scarlett quite likes having Mr. Johnson as her boss. Unlike his partner, Mr. Johnson takes a very hands-off approach to teaching. He often leaves Scarlett alone to tend the horses while he entertains his lady friends in the house. Scarlett pretends not to notice, but it seems as though every single woman in Appaloosa Plains has visited the ranch at some point or another. She doesn't really mind though because it allows her uninterrupted access to the horses.
As expected, Ryder drops by Elijah's house that afternoon.
"Nice to see you Ryder," Elijah greets his father gruffly. His words sound flat and hollow.
"That's the best you can do?" Ryder laughs. "A handshake?"
Elijah glares at the older man, his eyes hard. "Where's Carmen and Zane?"
Ryder looks away, trying to hide the disappointed expression on his face. "They're paying the taxi driver. Apparently the man doesn't know how to make change for a twenty."
Seconds later, the door swings open and Carmen sweeps into the house. "GODDAMN HILLBILLIES!" she yells, charging past them. "I had no idea that math was only taught in city schools!"
Ryder shoots her a withering glare, trying his best to get her to shut up, but it doesn't work.
"...I mean I know that our education system is in shambles," she rants. "But SERIOUSLY! He kept claiming that four Simoleons was the correct change for a twenty, when the fare was clearly sixteen Simoleons. I may not understand calculus, but even I know that he owed us five Simoleons. Damn hillbillies. Stupid crooks, all of them!"
Elijah bites his tongue, trying his best to avoid a fight. Carmen has only just arrived, but she's already testing his patience.
"So," Ryder jumps in, trying to ease the tension. "How is the job hunt going?"
"Fine," Elijah replies shortly.
Ryder raises an eyebrow. "Fine?" he repeats. "So you've found something?"
Eli grits his teeth, his temper wearing thin. "No," he answers slowly. "Not yet."
Carmen snorts. "That's a shocker," she mumbles.
"Right, and how long did you guys say you were staying?" Elijah asks, his eyes flashing with anger.
Carmen fiddles with her nail polish, a sour look of disinterest on her face. "Too long, if you ask me," she says before Ryder can stop her.
"Carmen, darling, why don't you go check on Zane?" Ryder glares at her and forces a smile, his tone just a little too sweet.
Carmen flounces off, leaving Ryder and Elijah alone to chat.
"About that job," Ryder begins, lowering his voice so only Eli can hear him. "I know it must be difficult to find an employer willing to hire someone with a criminal background like yours. I won't give you financial support; we had that discussion before you left Anne Arbor. But, if you want, I can maybe pull a few strings and open a few doors. I can't promise that you'd get the job, but if you'd like I can line up a couple of interviews for you."
Elijah narrows his eyes dangerously. "You don't think I can find a job on my own," he states, his voice matter-of-fact.
Ryder shakes his head. "Elijah, I didn't say that."
"No, but that's what you meant. You don't think I'm capable of making it without your help."
"Elijah!" Ryder's speaks sharply, a warning tone in his voice. "I didn't come here to argue with you."
"Hah!" Elijah laughs. "Then why are you here? To keep tabs on me? To make sure I'm not further destroying your perfect reputation? Or, was it merely because I asked you not to? Do you enjoy torturing me, father?"
Ryder stares at him sadly. "That is what you think? That I'm just some sort of sadistic monster who likes to watch his son struggle?"
"Have you ever given me reason to think otherwise?" he asks bitterly.
"If you want me to leave, I'll be gone in the morning."
Eli clenches his jaw, fighting the temptation to say yes. "I'm going to go say hi to Zane," he says at last.
Zane McKinley is Elijah's half-brother and Carmen and Ryder's only child together. He looks a lot like Ryder did at that age, but personality-wise he takes after Carmen.
"Did you know EVIL.com has a great selection of do-it-yourself guides for building short-range ballistic missiles? Pretty killer, if you ask me."
Elijah worries about about the future of Sim-kind.
Scarlett gets home late that night after Ryder and his family have already left for the hotel. Elijah sweeps her into the bedroom, eager to take his mind off their visit.
"How were they?" Scarlett asks between kisses.
"Scar," Elijah says, pushing her onto the bed. "Do we have to talk about my family at a time like this?"
That night, Ryder sleeps restlessly, dreaming about his and Scarlett's financial issues.
He wakes up early and sneaks out of the house for a jog. It's a beautiful, clear morning, but all he can think about is Kanoa Parrott's job proposal.
As a teenager, Ryder often found himself in trouble with the law, but usually it was for relatively minor offenses like breaking curfew or drinking underage. However, on his eighteenth birthday, he and Carmen got into a huge fight, and as a result he decided to steal his father's Berratti sports car, sell it for parts, and use the cash to move out of town. It was a stupid, impulsive decision, and he immediately got caught and tried for grand theft auto. He ended up spending two years in jail but was released after his father's lawyers convinced the judge to let him out on parole.
Scarlett was his high school girlfriend, and she stayed faithful to him throughout his entire stint in prison. As soon as he got out though, she made him promise that he would never break the law again.
He loves Scarlett dearly, but he desperately wants to start providing for them. If he joins Kanoa's gang, he will be breaking his word to her. He doesn't want to betray her, but he can't stand sitting around the house waiting for the phone to ring. Besides, who is going to hire a guy with a felony on his record?
When he gets home, Scarlett is still asleep. Elijah dials Kanoa's number, memorized from the business card he tried to give him.
"Mr. Parrott?" he says. "It's Elijah McKinley. I'll do it."
I plotted out Elijah's back story before I realized that Anne Arbor was unplayable and I would have to move my family right away. So I decided to use a shortened, summarized version of the plot instead. It sets up the future story very nicely, I think.
Also, I used Twallan's porter mod to move Ryder and Carmen and Zane to Appaloosa Plains along with Elijah and Scarlett and Jed and his family. I put Ryder and Carmen in a house, because (obviously) they can't actually stay in a hotel. I didn't want any surprises, at least not yet, so I set their story progression settings to disallow pregnancy and divorce. When I checked on them, they're relationship bar was completely red. They absolutely hate each other. Furthermore, I attempted to have some scenes with Elijah and Carmen talking together, but every time they interacted, Carmen ended up screaming at him. Seriously, I have never met such a cranky, unfriendly Sim before.