At first I thought it was a fly that awoke me. I tried to shoo it away but instead got a hand full of hair. I awoke with a start since I didn't remember going to bed with a cat, dog, or rat. I looked down at the head of black hair sprawled across my shoulder and tickling my nose. The hair was so damned black it was almost blue. That hair told me it was Rose.
Now I do some pretty dumb things when I am half asleep. That morning I tried to look at the clock hanging on the far wall of my one room apartment. Since it had come from the grocery store across the street, the numbers on the clock should have been large enough to read, After all, I was told, that it had hung for ten years with no complaints.
Moving my head to look at the clock first caused my head to pound, then my stomach to turn a few loops. Shortly there after I had the urgent need to use the bathroom. All things considered waking Rose seemed to be a good idea.
"Hey Rose," I waited a moment. When she didn't stir, I gently shook her. "Rose honey, I need to use the bathroom."
"Deke, why don't you get a bigger bed. I got to get completely out of bed, so you can get out." She acted as though she had been in my bed, and in this same situation before. Which I assure you was not the case.
"Rose, I haven't exactly needed a larger bed before now you know." I stated it with a very large smile.
"Well Deke, you can't prove that. I mean, I ain't been in it before, but I expect that others have." She had a really smug look on her face, as if she knew a hell of a lot more than she was telling.
"Well if you will move so that I can get out we can discuss that later. Right now I got to use the bathroom, and I mean right now." I really wanted to duck the conversation almost as much as I wanted to use the bathroom. Just as soon as Rose sat up, I moved past her to sit on the edge of the bed. I quickly stood then walked to the bathroom which was surrounded by the only partitions in the apartment.
When I returned, I was surprised to see Rose again stretched out on the bed. When she saw me, she opened her arms in an invitation for me to join her. I did of course.
I held her in my arms even though it hurt a little. It hurt because we were laying so close. So close in fact she was forced to lay on my right arm. I rested my head against her. I had never seen her naked. I had seen her in tight jeans. Rose had about twenty pounds of extra weight attached to her hips. She was also a couple of pounds light in the chest. Still she was all woman and in my bed. Which was a definite plus for her.
What really hurt was I couldn't remember what we had done the night before. After a moment I got up the courage to ask, in a round about way. "I was pretty drunk last night Rose, I hope I wasn't too much trouble." I knew when I finished speaking just how stupid it sounded. Man if nothing else, I was not smooth at all.
"Deke, if you don't want to make love to me, now is your last chance to back out." she said it with a small quiet laugh.
"What does that mean?" I asked.
"After you couldn't get up a card game last night you began to drink. Me and you drank till closing time. You invited me here before you were so drunk you didn't know your left foot from you right hand. Anyway, when I got you here you passed out while I was in the bathroom. Not real nice of you by the way."
"So you are telling me that we did not make love last night?" I asked not really knowing how I felt about it. I mean, Rose was nice enough in that loose, divorcee hairdresser kind of way, but I wouldn't want to take her home to Ma. She was the only divorced woman I knew.
"No Deke, we did not make love, nor did we have sex. So if you want to call this whole thing off, now is your chance." She had the most amused look on her face. She looked as though she were reading my mind.
I actually gave it some thought, which shows you how sick I am. In the end I moved my hand to touch her under the sheet.
I lifted my head and I kissed her gently at first. The kiss quickly became demanding, then something with a life of it's own. I found myself moving against her body in the overheated room.
Suddenly I heard a pounding noise which seemed far away somehow. I guess I just hoped it was far away. Rose instantly stopped responding to me. Since she was ignoring me anyway, I lifted my head from her breast, The pounding continued. By that time it was clear that the pounding was at my downstairs door.
I might have ignored it had Rose not pushed me away. "Well, you better go see who that is." Her voice was more angry than frustrated. Meanwhile the pounding continued.
I didn't even answer her. I simply stood, then slipped into last nights pants. I was so groggy from the beer, and almost sex, that I actually hurried down to answer the door. Hell, ordinarily I would have ignored it for at least three more bangs. If Rose had been willing, I would have ignored it completely.
As I had expected, it was someone I didn't want to see. I looked at the familiar man through the screen. "Yes?" I asked pretending not to know him.
"Come on Deke, don't pretend you don't recognize me. Open the damned door and let me in."
"What in the name of God makes you think I want to see you?" I replied.
"Because, you need to talk to me before I talk to the FBI," he said with a conspirator's smile.
"I have no idea what you are talking about. But keep your voice down." I said as I reluctantly opened the door. There was a strange moment when Rose rushed past me in one direction, then Carlton Anderson pushed past me in the other. I watched Rose as she disappeared around the corner. I shook my head sadly then followed along behind Carlton. I did not like following anyone, especially Carlton.
Carlton stood at the top of my stairs without entering my apartment. He was obviously assessing the one large room. "What a dump," he finally announced.
"Thanks, now that you have seen how low I have sunk, you can leave." I didn't expect that he would. He had come too far to simply walk away. Why he had come was a totally different issue. Why he had come I didn't really have a clue.
"Why the hell are you living like this?" he asked.
"Because, I don't have a real job," I replied. "I'm kind of a fixer, and that don't pay very well." I could see that he didn't understand.
"When things go wrong with the mill workers, they come to me. Most of the time, I kind of fix things for them. You did know there is no union down here." I could see from the look in his eyes that he still didn't understand. I really didn't expect a Princeton man would. "Look Carlton, if a supervisor demands that a woman sleep with him or get fired, she sometimes comes to me. I have a talk with the supervisor, or his wife. Either way the problem usually goes away. Since these people don't have much money, I don't really get rich at it."
"What crap," he said forcefully. When he saw me looking as though I might kill him, he added. "Oh, I believe you are a fixer. You just don't do it for the money. I took a look at the FBI files before I left Washington. You've been up to your old tricks again."
"What are you talking about?" I asked it even though I knew he planned to lay it all out for me. When he did, I would know exactly what he had on me, so I waited impatiently.
"You are opening bank cans again," he declared as he picked up a shirt from my one comfortable chair. He tossed the shirt on the floor, then sat in the chair.
"Have a seat you prick," I said in a voice filled with anger.
"Thanks, now let's stop the pussy footing around. I know you have been blowing cans in Virginia, Tennessee, and South Carolina. Since that is the case, I want to know why you are living in this dump."
"Listen to me you ass. You may think I have been blowing bank cans, but I have been living right here since my discharge. While I was in Greece blowing up trains for you, I dreamed of coming home. While I was in Italy blowing up trains, I dreamed of this place. When I was in France and Poland, I dreamed of home and just living free. Do you understand. Just free to go to a movie, or to have a drink at the 'Pump Room' across the street.
When I got out, I went to live at my mother's boarding house, while I decided what to do next. I was there three weeks before the Village constable came to tell me I had to either work for the mill or leave. At first I wanted to kill him on the spot. Hell if I hadn't spent that six months in the German hospital after the war I probably would have.
"See, you are a better man because of those months," he declared it, but not too happily I noted.
"I swore I would kill you for having me committed. Since I changed my mind you need to go home Carlton, before I remember all the reasons I planned to kill you."
"Come on Deke, you know I did the best I could for you. There was just no way to help you most of the time. That's why we trained you to live off the Germans, which brings us back to the cans."
"It doesn't bring me back to the cans. I have told you, I have nothing to do with any American bank cans."
"Deke, those jobs have black ops written all over them. Add that to the fact that you live in the area and it is the only thing that makes sense." He paused a moment to allow it all to sink in. He then continued, " Now I could lose those files easily enough. Since I'm the only one looking at them. If I did, it would be safe for you to continue."
"I don't know what you are talking about, and I sure as hell don't care whether you lose a bunch of files or not." He could tell I was getting frustrated, but I could tell he wasn't quite sure why.
.... There is more of this story ...