Welcome back to Mesa Vista, where it looks like wholesome family values are finally coming to roost.
The Goodies were looking for somewhere to spend their golden years after languishing for way too long, bored out their skulls, in Binland. When they saw the quaint little church next to the town cemetery (earned NPC lot, a slightly modified smallest one of the St Bestine series by Phaenoh at MTS), they thought Mesa Vista might suit them perfectly.
And when they found an affordable home resembling a Florida bungalow (Hollow Tree Circle by longdaysend at MTS), well, that sealed the deal for them.
"I called about that church, Faithie, and we have good and bad news."
"You know I always want to hear the good stuff first."
"It's for sale, but we're about twenty-five hundred simoleons short."
"Dear me, I thought we had a pretty good nest egg."
"And as you well know," Herbert continued a bit sourly, "the pay for elders, pardon my French, blows..."
"My point is, working won't do us much good."
They paused when the doorbell rang, and Herbert rose to answer the door.
Faith hurried out the door after hearing a mumbled curse as Herbert almost tripped over a package left at the door. She took a peek inside the box, and doubting they would ever use such a fancy-shmancy computer, took the cash instead.
It's a very comely welcome wagon, Herbert thought when he saw the two women.
"Welcome to the neighborhood, I'm Marie Sims."
"And I'm Kerie Ng," the blonde added from behind.
"Herbert Goodie, very pleased to meet you gals."
"Say, my wife and I were wondering how elders can get some decent scratch around here?"
The women's eyes met over Herbert's shoulder, and they said together, "Digging."
And so, the Goodies went to the backyard and started digging.
It was a good thing they didn't have to do too much because, by gum, Herbert kept hitting the water main like it was going out of style.
After achieving most of their goal, Faith gave Herbert a quick peck and said, "Take a break and a shower, dear, we can get the rest later."
"Thank you for the advice, we've managed to find some bones and a few treasure maps, which has helped a lot."
"I'm glad it worked for you."
"So, what do you do for a living, er, I didn't catch your name?"
"Marie, and I just opened a bakery called Just Desserts."
"Good to know, my baking skills are a little rusty at the moment. Do you have any children?"
"Not yet, maybe some day. What about you?"
"... No, no children. Herbert's and my situation... well, made it impossible. What about her over there?"
"Kerie? Kerie has a little boy, Noah, and she's working as a nurse right now. She also has a good head for money."
"Excuse me, Kerie dear? What do you think about this piece I found?"
Kerie turned back and glanced at the little Tiki. "I'm sure it's worth something."
"But it's kind of a unique find, don't you think? It doesn't look like something from around here."
"Well, I suppose, but what does it matter if you're just going to sell it?"
"Erm... I don't know, I'm getting a feeling I shouldn't," Faith confided. "Besides, we have a little extra money now."
Kerie picked up the small statue, examined it, and gave it back to Faith. "I don't think it's worth all that much, but it might be tempting to a burglar, and we don't have a police force in Mesa Vista yet."
"Then I'll keep it in my inventory where a burglar can't find it," Faith said, then added as an afterthought, "Maybe I'll surprise Herbert with it someday."
Kerie didn't care what Faith did with it, but she did notice more than a hint of determination in the elder's voice.
Pariah Korben, who was building her house across the street from the Goodies, also came over to introduce herself, and Faith enjoyed the rest of her afternoon with the trio of lovely young women, feeling very pleased with their decision to settle in Mesa Vista...
But after they left, something felt very much awry with Mesa Vista's newest arrivals.
Herbert told a dirty joke that offended Faith's sensibilities, and did she let him know it, and all the while he wondered why she was getting so upset over something as inoffensive as snowmen, snowwomen, and snowballs.
"It's a good thing those girls weren't around to hear that. Really, Herbert, what kind of an example are you trying to set?"
"Humph! I thought it was funny."
"And I didn't!"
"Then you need to get a sense of humor."
"And you need your mouth washed out!"
Faith refused to join Herbert for supper that evening, leaving him to rummage through the fridge for leftovers.
But in sleep, the afternoon's turmoil was forgotten...
They woke before dawn, both feeling a bit out of sorts and neither very rested.
"I'm going for a walk," Faith announced, not looking forward to being cooped up in the house with Herbert all day.
"So am I," he said, not liking the idea of his wife wandering around the desert alone in the dark.
The sun rose shortly after they started, and they had hiked quite some distance before Herbert asked, "Where are we going?"
"I don't know," Faith said absently, but that was belied by the purpose in her stride.
After trekking a little farther, Herbert stopped and exclaimed, "Good Wright, what is that?" He quickened his pace to keep up with Faith, who had pulled several yards ahead of him.
"What is this, Faithie? How did you know about it?"
"I didn't... except I sort of did..."
"It was like something was guiding me..."
"Oho, what is this! It looks like the Holy Grail."
"Herbert, what are doing?! Put that down this instant!"
Herbert picked it up...
"I'm warning you, old man!"
put it to his lips...
"Do you remember Indiana Jones?!"
and took a nice long pull of the cool, clear water.
Faith closed her eyes, too afraid to watch...
When she opened them again, she didn't recognize the man standing before her.
"I feel great, hon!"
"Idiot! Why didn't you listen to me?!"
"How do I look?"
"You... where are your clothes!"
"No idea, guess it was part of the package?"
"We are about to become the owners of this town's first church, Herbert Goodie, and we have a reputation to uphold!"
"So, after what just happened, all you care about are my clothes?"
"The town will think you're a loony, strutting around in the wild in your skivvies!"
"One problem with that, dear, the town won't..."
"Is that so, Mr. Know-It-All?"
"Oh, hello, Herbert Goodie, nice to meet you."
"My wife's a bit upset right now, let's step away until she calms down, shall we?"
"Why was I brought here?" Faith implored in a whisper.
Her answer was silence, and she turned to assess Herbert, this time setting aside the clothes issue. Did he have the right idea after all? Indeed, what if this was a one-day-only chance of a lifetime? Did she want to be left behind?
After a long moment of thought, Faith Goodie, herself known as a bit of an adventurer, also partook of the grail, or more accurately, Pescado's Chalice of Days.
A few seconds later, she felt a lot younger... and a lot colder.
"Is that really you?"
"Herbert... How do I look?"
"Where are your clothes? Whatever will the town think?"
"You think this is funny, don't you?"
"Would you accept ironic? I'd prefer to avoid another lecture on what I'm supposed to think is funny."
"You haven't lectured me yet on what I'm supposed to think is sexy, though, so I'll admit... you look very sexy."
"You... you think I chose this? For you?!"
"Ah, Faithie, you know I was just teasing..." He reached for her hand, but she slapped it away.
Herbert closed his eyes for a couple of seconds, and Faith bit her lip as he sighed in resignation and walked away.
The young man eagerly took her husband's spot in front of her. "Pleased to meet you, ma'am!"
"Why you! Keep your distance, you impudent, impertinent..!"
The tirade stopped when a glass of water materialized in her hand, and you can see what she did with it.
There goes a future parishioner, she thought, though if she were being honest, she didn't really care. What she did care about was getting away from this place with all her marbles intact.
"She's usually not like this, she's just having a bad day."
"I'm going. Now," she announced, wishing mightily they had taken a cab ride instead of their walk.
But after taking the first step, Faith found herself in a somewhat eccentric but entirely presentable outfit. This was the strangest place... or maybe this was all a dream...
"Hmph!" Straightening her hat, she lifted her chin a notch and marched off the lot.
Her mood was buoyed considerably by the clothes, and they decided to visit the commercial side of town on their way home.
A clothes store! Perfect, they would have a mirror...
Herbert was very pleased indeed with his new appearance.
Faith rather liked her new hat with the other dress, but with this one, not so much. She wondered if there was someplace she could remedy that...
"Y'all have come to the right place. The price is right and I haven't had a misfire yet!"
"See, now it matches your eyebrows."
"I appreciate that."
"You sure are a pretty thang... whatcha have in mind?"
"I would like something with a different hat, please."
"Girl, if ya ask me, it's time to bare that hair!"
"... Okay, do it!"
How good it was to finally be back home!
So much had happened their first two days, Herbert had forgotten to make the call to actually buy the church, but not now! What had happened that morning had been the mother of all signs.
"Is it still available? Good, we'll take it!"
Herbert was all gung-ho now and thought it was a good idea to brush up on his couples' counseling.
Meanwhile, Faith did what she was used to doing.
A little bit of this...
A little bit of that...
The homemaking gig managed to fill most of the day as it always had, but it just wasn't as fulfilling to Faith anymore. Maybe it would be different if they had children, but she felt strangely resistant to that idea and Herbert hadn't brought it up either. Things were still strained, and she wondered briefly if she should strike out on her own, but that didn't feel right either. The truth was, right now she didn't know what she wanted.
They had enough money after buying the church building to buy a new computer. Well, not exactly a new one, an older model that was quite sufficient for their basic needs.
So much to learn... Faith hopped on the internet and searched the job listings for practice.
Suddenly she reared back as if the keyboard had bitten her fingers, and for the first time searched deep down to the depths of her being and came to the realization of what she really wanted.
"No. It's not possible," she whispered.
Go on, take it, urged an insidious voice inside her head.
"But it wouldn't be fair to Herbert. It isn't fair to me either!"
You do realize you are no longer happy with Herbert.
"But I love him. We were happy in Binland."
But you're in Mesa Vista now.
"And now he tells disgusting jokes. We haven't made love even once. I don't think this is working, I think we should go back."
You're in a BaCC, dearie, there are no round-trip tickets in Binland. There is no going back. Besides, Herbert doesn't need to know.
Faith sat for a long while staring blankly at the screen, and then that familiar feeling of being guided returned, and with a quiet "No, he doesn't," her fingers returned to the keyboard...
Fortunately for Faith's cover, the carpool looked no different than the ones for the other careers.
Despite Faith taking her dream job, life for the couple was far from a dream.
"How was your day at work, dear?"
"Fine. They, um, put me in charge of accessories."
"Oop, 'scuse me!"
"Herbert, you are no longer an old man, please stop acting like one. Ugh!"
While Faith worked, Herbert started playing with the strays that wandered onto their lot.
Unlike his wife, he was quite happy putzing around the house and garden while he waited for Sunday.
(Another Knowledge Sim with a LTW to become a Mad Scientist, YAWN, that makes the fourth in Mesa Vista.)
"Hi, little fella!"
"The little fella is Grace, and I just adopted her."
"Did we discuss getting a dog?"
"A guy's gotta get affection from somewhere."
(Or did one of them tell another frigging dirty joke?! Btw, I googled some for this and discovered I don't like them either...)
It figured, every time Grace started chewing the furniture, Herbert was conveniently sleeping or taking a shower, which left Faith in the role of bad cop.
But Grace won over her heart when she valiantly tried defending the homestead against a much stronger Beasley.
"You were very brave, but I think you should be an inside girl now."
"Herbert, I just cleaned that table," Faith chided.
Does that woman have some kind of radar? He quickly brushed the crumbs over the side and said, "I'm about ready for bed, how about you?"
"Actually, I'm not sleepy at all, I'll join you later."
More often than not, Herbert awoke next to a canine bed companion.
What was that woman up to?
Most likely, it was gaining Body skill now that her job demanded more of her physically.
Faith's wholesome, girl-across-the-street looks was a definite plus, and she finally earned the privilege of carting home the coveted Lie Finder, which she made sure to put in the most inconspicuous spot along the side of the house.
Not only was it useful for lying in the line of duty (so to speak), it also helped with her deception at home.
Toward the end of the week, Herbert dragged his surprisingly (to him) reluctant bride to their church for a dry run of Sunday's sermon.
Once again I forgot to place the Visitor Controller, but in a nice little twist, the witch for once didn't leave behind any roaches.
"Are you giving a sermon today?" Kerie Ng inquired, not a glimmer of recognition in her eyes.
"Heavens no, my husband and I are just putting on the finishing touches for the big day," Faith replied with a carefree smile.
"It looks nice," Kerie said.
"Thank you. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm afraid I have more people to do the meet and greet with."
"See you Sunday then."
"See you Sunday!" Faith chirped, and wondered what she would have said if Kerie had recognized her. Her life was such a conflicted mess now, she knew she couldn't hack the rehashing of any of it at this point. She could have come up with something convincing, the Lie Finder had seen to that, but lying in church was an entirely different matter. Thankfully the point was moot now, and all that was left to worry about was how much longer she could play the role of dutiful preacher's wife before she ran screaming out the double doors, pulling at her perfectly coiffed hair.
"It's so nice that our town finally has a church to get married in. I love weddings!" Nikki Adams gushed.
"Are you married?"
"Oh yes, my husband Zach and I were married years ago in a very private ceremony. One of those side porch weddings."
"Lovely." Get me out of here...
"I'm not sure we're ready for Sunday," Herbert said soberly.
"I know we aren't."
"I've decided to change the name of the church from Mesa Vista Community Church to Good Faith Community Church."
Faith swallowed nervously. "Can... can you do that?"
"I already did. I'm not totally blind, Faith, I know things aren't normal between us right now. This was my way of showing that I'm still committed to you and our marriage."
Faith was so flummoxed, she blurted out the truth. "Herbert, it's a lovely gesture, truly it is, but it's... a horrible idea."
"Horrible, Faith? I don't understand." He didn't sound all that surprised by her reaction, and she hadn't imagined the uncharacteristic hardness in his voice.
He had caught her off guard, no doubt about it. Was this all some kind of ploy to smoke her out, or was she being paranoid? Panic began to set in until all that good stuff she had learned from the Lie Finder kicked in.
"It's just, that's an incredibly high standard to live up to, the ultimate one, really," she answered evenly.
"Translation: you're seeing someone else. It all makes sense now." He put down his spoon and slumped in his chair.
They had finally reached the crossroads Faith was dreading, but now confronted with it, the decision she'd been putting off was surprisingly easy to make. For the first time since discovering the Chalice of Days, she wanted to touch him, and she tentatively reached across the table and covered his hand with hers.
"I'm going to tell you everything, but I have to know, after this very strange week we've had, this very strange marriage we have, are you saying you're still that committed to me?"
"Silly me, eh?"
Faith gripped his hand hard and confessed, "Herbert, I haven't been forthcoming with you, but I promise, promise, I'm not seeing anyone else. It's far worse than that, and in our circumstance, unforgivable."
"What, did you rob a bank or something?"
She closed her eyes in a grimace and bit her lip. "As a matter of fact, yes..."
To be continued...
"You know, I thought I smelled a rat."
"Where do we go from here?"
"Good question, Faith. Good question."
Okay! That ends this pretty bizarre week for the Goodies.
BaCC quick stats as of the end of this round:
Sim count + graves: 37
Sim multiplier: 19
Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a happy holiday season!