Eclipse 27

  “Except Romeo and Juliet makes absolutely no sense at all,” Janie said. “I just wrote down what I memorized from those other crazy books.  You were right, Dad.  Finding those other books helped a lot, no matter how stupid they were, when I needed to write crazy stuff on my exams.  But if I had crossed out half the ‘not’s in my sentences, what I wrote would have made exactly as much sense.  The teacher said it was lots of extra books, not just one, and I could name them, so I got my A.  How did you do it, Brian? How did you pull an A-plus in that course? We read the same extra books.”

“Oh,” Brian said, “I added stuff about ‘the unbearable agony of separation’.  Whatever nonsense that is.  I lifted it from Trisha’s romance novel Pirate Lord of the Aztecan Gulf.” Janie rolled her eyes.  Brian was reading romance novels? Yuck! But it had been a pirate novel, and his last model had been a pirate ship, so it wasn’t totally stupid. 

“I only have one pirate novel!” Trisha interrupted. “It’s a reading assignment.  For my genre fiction requirement! It’s unbearably awful.  It’s even worse than that Regency romance. And I still don’t understand what ‘uninherit’ is or why it’s so terrible.  I even asked the teacher after class, not that it helped.” Trisha hoped that Dad believed her. If he thought she was reading romance novels because she liked them, he would be down on her like three tons of bricks.

“Disinherit,” Patrick corrected. “But that happened right here on this street.”  His three children had his full attention. “Marjorie Blake was your first babysitter, Trisha, though you might not remember her. She was just finishing High School.  She had a boyfriend.  They agreed to get married.  He was totally unsuitable, and didn’t ask her father’s permission before asking her to marry him. Her parents were furious. When Marjorie and boyfriend posted the banns in preparation for getting married, her parents disinherited her.  That means she had to move out of the house and never return.  Also, she was legally removed from Doctor Blake’s will; she will inherit nothing when he dies.”

“Oh, yes, thank you, Daddy,” Trisha gushed. “that makes complete sense in the Regency novel, except my teacher said my novel had to do with the Heinlein Act, which made no sense, not that I’m sure what the Heinlein Act is.”

Abigail rolled her eyes. “The Heinlein Act is that Navy monstrosity.  But you knew Heinlein, didn’t you, dear?” she asked Patrick.

“Indeed I did,” Patrick answered. “He was a fine Navy Admiral who’d won three skirmishes, officially with pirates, and retired with combat injuries.  He wanted to become a writer, but needed to support his family, so he’d read law. A few years later, along came this young lady, about the age of you three, and about as bright, who wanted Heinlein to use bad wording in a California state law to divorce her parents.  Her name is under seal; her initials were P.W. Her parents, it later turned out, were truly terrible people. Her case reached the Supreme Court.  Heinlein won his case.  Congress codified, the Heinlein Act, rules letting adult-competent children divorce truly bad parents.  Heinlein then took up writing, full-time, and made a fortune.”

“Sorry your novel was so terrible, Trisha,” a chastened Brian said. “But, you see, that novel was good for something.  You made the sacrifice, you read it, we all learned something from Dad, and it got me an A+.”

About George Phillies

science fiction author -- researcher in polymer dynamics -- collector of board wargames -- President, National Fantasy Fan Federation
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