Then one Saturday morning the phone rang. Betty answered it, and a woman asked for Wes. The phone was right there in the kitchen where Betty was finishing up the dishes, so she couldn't help but overhear Wes's end of the conversation while she dried plates and silverware and wiped off the stove.
“Of course, I'm all right, Gram.”
“Yeah, she lives here. Her whole family lives here. They own the house.”
He squirmed in his chair and turned his back so Betty couldn't see his face.
“Yeah, I'm okay.”
He shifted and ran his fingers through his hair. Betty could see his face again, could see the way his mouth tightened into a thin line.
“No, I'm not coming home. I'm fine.”
Betty concentrated on polishing the chrome trim on the stove, embarrassed to be eavesdropping on the conversation, uncomfortable with the anger on his face, but unable to make herself leave the room.
"It's not that way! I am not!"
Shaking, he slammed down the receiver, fumbling to get it in place.
"Is something wrong?" Betty asked. Then she immediately felt stupid. Of course, something was wrong.
"Gram wants me to come home." Scowling, he slid down on the chair and folded his arms in front of him. "I'm not going to."
Betty sat down across from him, the dishtowel in her hands giving her something to fiddle with as she offered timidly, "She misses you?"
"Misses me?" His sarcastic laughter filled the kitchen. "She misses me all right. Misses keeping tabs on me. Misses trying to catch me in some sin. Misses the chance to prove she's right about me being damned to Hell for the way my mother carried on and led my father to Satan."
Betty twisted the towel. Talking about Satan like he was a real person made her nervous. None of her family were churchgoers, and if anything made her more uncomfortable than boys, it was religious talk.
Then his dark mood seemed to lift, and he almost smiled. "How about going to a movie with me?"
His sudden change surprised her. Then she thought he must want to get his mind off his grandmother, and Betty was pleased he wanted to be with her.
"Yes, I’d like to," she said, already thinking about what she would wear and how it would feel to walk up to the ticket window at the theater and have him say, "Two, please," and how people nearby would see that someone liked her enough to take her out.
But his next question stopped her in mid-daydream.
"You'd really go to one of those sinful movies?" His eyes were narrowed, judging.
She swallowed hard, confused. "But—I thought you wanted—You asked me!"
"You do everything someone asks you to?"
Her face was hot. "Of course not!"
"Do you know movies lead the innocent to sin by showing people doing wrong and getting away with it? Even enjoying it?" He shrugged. "Course, I'm going to Hell anyway, because of my folks, so I got nothing to worry about. Do you?"
She ignored the question. "I've never heard that about movies before. Who told you that?"
"Gram. And Gram knows." He leaned across the table, his blue eyes boring into her brown ones. "She knows everything about sin. She says movies are the Devil's workshop. They corrupt minds and morals." He leaned back in his chair. "Still want to go?"
Was he putting her on? "I don’t know."
He shook his head, seemed disappointed. "I guess I was wrong about you. I've been watching you working around here, acting like a good daughter, never putting on makeup or worrying about some trinket to wear." He looked up, gazing into her eyes again, probing her thoughts. "I thought you were a good girl."
Her fingers clamped into the dishtowel. She looked at the floor, trying to think what to say.
He leaned across the narrow table, his mouth close to her ear. "Are you a good girl, Betty?"
Her head came up. "Of course, I am. I just never heard there was anything wrong with movies."
He moved back. "You didn't?"
She shook her head. "I sure won't go to any, now that I know."
"Not even with me?"
She hesitated and then pushed past her shyness. "I would like to go somewhere with you, but after what you said, I—well, I couldn't go to a movie."
He smiled a real smile, and she knew she'd said the right thing.
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