30 | Ally-antagonists

ally/2 collect. Kindred, relatives; associates, confederates.

antagonist/1 An opponent, an adversary; an opposing force. The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary

Lolita wouldn’t have liked anybody Duane married, because nobody was good enough.  The only person Lolita would approve of being married to Duane was herself. Cherrie Otto, 2015

I was sitting next to Duane and his mother. I wasn’t even really part of the conversation, except in a polite way. I recall her saying that it was going to be different with Stephie and Doug, and I don’t recall why, but that it would be easier. I had some impression that he might be seeing somebody else, or that he might know someone. In other words, it might be good if he saw somebody else. Lillian Shafer, 1998

In fiction the most potent antagonist is someone who was once a friend. The betrayal lands like a sucker punch. If the antagonist was your BFF or ally-for-all-time, you’re down for the count.

To Duane’s mother Lolita, Betty and her family were Bohunks. Betty’s sister Thelma said Lolita had a bitter tongue and could cut you with a remark. She and her mother went to Lolita’s gift shop in Atwood to pick out an engagement present for Lolita’s daughter Shirley. I’m always curious how cheap people are when they buy a wedding gift, Lolita told them. Lolita rode Betty mercilessly throughout her marriage to Duane. She wore a gay flowered dress to Betty’s funeral.

Soon after Betty was murdered, Lolita rolled in from Kansas like a Sherman tank. People had brought turkey and ham, but she made the kids eat liverwurst. When thirteen-year-old Greg said he didn’t like liverwurst, she said Betty had spoiled him. A day or so later my own mother flew to Denver. Doug and I took her on an outing to the foothills with Lolita and Duane.

Mom was tough, but even she fell under Duane’s domineering spell. Years later she told me he said things she would’ve hesitated or felt funny about saying herself, but that she thought he was right and she would have been wrong. What really struck her was the closeness between mother and son. Yet Lolita would be Duane’s downfall.

Why would an ally-for-all-time betray her son?

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