"Agnes said that when you came to your senses you'd call her. She's staying at your mother's house."
This frightened Charlie even more. Call Agnes? Talk to Agnes? Agnes, who was even now insinuating a relationship with him and staying with his MOTHER? This was outrageous. Maybe he could just go talk to his mother and make her make Agnes give back the ring, the ring intended for Julia, the woman he was ACTUALLY sweet on.
"Mortimer, I'm going to Monkey's Eyebrow. You can hold down the fort here till I get back. And if Julia comes around, tell her I'll make it up to her. And Mortimer? . . . Don't ever let me listen to your sister again." The door jangled in punctuation as Charlie exited "Fix it or Forget it." And before the day was out, Charlie was buckled into his 1967 Plymouth Barracuda, having informed his mother of his imminent arrival, on the fast track to confrontation. And as the Arizona freeway shimmered ahead of him, Charlie had to ask himself how Agnes would stoop to doing such a thing. She was supposed to inconspicuously flaunt the ring until Julia started acting jealous. Charlie had planned to ask Julia to marry him when he knew she had feelings for him. Agnes would then assure Julia that she had been wearing the ring for safe-keeping and would never think to do so now that the couple was betrothed. Charlie pressed into the accelerator and felt his frustration mount.
As he pulled in front of his mother's house, Charlie was aware that his angst was dissolving into trepidation the closer he came to the screen door. He was also mildly surprised to see that he was not the only guest arriving at 3407 Magnolia Drive. Cars were finding parking even as couples in formal wear made their way up the sidewalk. An elderly woman greeted him at the door, exclaimed in welcome, and took his jacket. Strangers filled the hallway, sipping iced tea, milling into the living room. They all seemed to know him. They all murmured congratulations. In a stupor of confusion, Charlie barely made out a particularly enthusiastic voice calling from the living room, "And here he is now! Charles Conway, my soon to be married son!" A smattering of applause filled the spaces around him and Charlie found the source of the exclamation. His mother, holding Agnes by the arm, approached him from across the room, parting a bevy a middle-aged women with tears in their eyes. The only coherent thought that entered his mind found its way to his lips, unbidden, "my very own mother, a traitor." This produced a generally shared mirth, as the guest imagined him to be joking. His mother's eyes twinkled,
"Now Charles, do be a gentleman, and take your fiance's arm. You've so much to talk about!" And there was Agnes, smiling impishly with her hand extended.
a.) Charlie didn't stop to see how many people he had bowled over. He was carrying the screen door with him as he sprinted down Magnolia Drive.
b.) "Why, yes we do!" Charlie responded. "I'm just angry enough to say exactly what I mean, too!" The guests parted in suspended merriment as the Charlie led Agnes to the back yard.
c.) "Fiance! No one here is going to be married until I've had my say," interrupted an authoritative voice from the hallway as Julia marched defiantly into the house of well-wishers.