Once again I want to thank my editor "Wires" for his assistance with this story. His work made the final product much more readable. As always, however, any errors remaining are mine. I did tweak this one a little after he returned it.
Garrett Mans came slouching into the kitchen of his mother's house late once again for supper. The 19-year-old well-built boy was completely unable to keep to a schedule and it drove his mother into fits of anger that sometimes threatened to become uncontrollable. Wilma Mans was not an easy woman to live with at any time and when she was angry she was totally impossible to get along with. Many years ago Jerome Mans, Garrett's paternal grandfather, had completely cut his ties with the woman his only son, George, was once married to. He still managed to keep in touch with his grandson, but did not get to spend the time with him he wished he could. In fact, Garrett's tardiness this evening was because of a visit with his grandfather. They had, once again, held a clandestine visit while tromping through the woods along a stream in which they were fishing. As with many fishing and hunting trips, this one consisted of a small amount of actual fishing and a large amount of drinking and telling of lies. As happens many times the fishermen lost track of time as they depleted the stock of beer in Jerome's cooler. Thankfully to Garrett, Jerome felt he was old enough and mature enough to drink in moderation when under adult supervision, no matter what the damn law said. Of course, this did not endear him to Garrett's mother, but then nothing probably ever would.
Garrett's only father figure was his grandfather because his biological father died after he and Wilma divorced almost 16 years ago. If not for economic necessity his mother would have kept him as far away from his grandfather as she could. Even letting Garrett visit his grandparents galled her considering their mutual feelings about each other. She allowed the continued contact because she initially needed the free childcare as well as the occasional cash infusion they provided to her finances. She deeply resented the fact she had to go to work when she divorced her husband. She never admitted it was her cheating with one of the lowlifes (well, more than one, but she was only caught the one time wasn't she?) from the country club that caused the divorce. She blamed Jerome for supporting Garrett's father in the proceedings and helping him arrange things so she ended up with almost nothing from the divorce. Never mind that she got her standard fifty percent of the marital assets, she felt she was cheated. How could she know both cars and the house really belonged to Jerome and his company instead of George? He always referred to them as "our house" and "our cars". Hell, she didn't even receive any alimony because her salary was actually higher than George's. She even blamed Jerome for that. After all, he owned the business they both worked in didn't he?
Wilma managed to convince the court she was the better parent and should have custody of the children so she did receive a pittance of child support, but Garrett's stopped over a year ago when he turned 18. Now, he was just an empty hole into which she was still forced to throw her hard earned cash. She held the same job for the last 16 years and had received no raises, again, in her mind, Jerome's fault. No, it was all that asshole Jerome's fault things went to shit when she got caught cheating. She never let Garrett forget that opinion, either. After all, he was a man as well as a Mans so it was partly his fault, too, wasn't it?
Before she ever got into high school, the beautiful Wilma was known as a stone cold, calculating bitch. George was advised not to marry her by all his friends and his parents but he was in love with her beauty. Of course the fact she gave him the best pussy he ever sampled didn't hurt her case either. She managed to hide her personality well enough from him that they were married and had Garrett before he found out he had truly married the bitch his friends told him he was marrying. He took her abuse for almost four years before he had enough. Even then, he only filed for divorce after he caught her cheating.
If anything, Wilma became even more demanding and shrewish when her husband George began the divorce proceedings. She felt she was due a life of luxury and plenty because she was one of the beautiful people. In her mind anything she wanted she was entitled to. Just because her husband, the breadwinner of the family, felt otherwise was no reason for her to have to work longer or do without. After all, he promised to endow her with all his worldly goods when they married. Since he reneged on his promise to support her she decided the family could just step up and provide the living she expected George to provide. Unfortunately for her, Jerome did not choose to do that.
Many times over the past years Wilma thought she should have known she would be left out in the cold. After all, that was a family trait. Hell, during the depression the Mans owned a small bank in town. Garrett's great grandfather was killed during a robbery attempt and his Great Great grandfather just closed the bank in sorrow. He was supposedly so broken hearted from the death of his son that he simply locked the bank after the police were through inside and never opened the doors again. He made arrangements for the deposits to be transferred to another small bank in a nearby town if the customers didn't make other arrangements. Well, actually, what he did was sell the bank, less the building and contents. The successor bank only purchased the depositor accounts and liabilities. The end results were the same, however, he just closed and locked the doors and walked away from the business leaving the employees out in the cold with no job. In Wilma's mind, however, he just closed the business and walked away just as George did to their marriage. She knew the family had money, yet they refused to step up and provide for her as they should. She took her anger out on Garrett and Jerome every chance she got. Even her parent's refused to support her claiming they just did not have the money to do so. She knew better, but what could she do? At least both sets of grandparents made sure little Garrett and his younger sister Beatrice were taken care of. All she had to spend her (to her) meager salary on was herself and a few of the household bills.
It had been 15 years now since his father left home and Garrett hardly remembered him. His mother still believed George was hiding from her but Garrett knew the truth from his grandfather. George Mans did, indeed, leave home after the divorce but he did not desert his family on purpose. He died in an accident while moving to another state for work. Because of his grandchildren, his grandfather chose not to completely desert Wilma in spite of her personality. He just continued paying child support per the court order as if it came from his son. Garrett knew, if not for his grandfather he probably would not have any memory of his father, or at least no pleasant memory of him. His mother spent much time trashing both his father and grandfather. She trashed his father for daring to divorce her and then disappearing. She trashed his grandfather for forcing her to work to support herself after George was killed. She thought she should receive the money from the insurance policies instead of having it placed into trust for the children. After all, she was their mother and needed the money so they could live well while they grew up.
Garrett was, truthfully, not the young man he could potentially have been. His intelligence was almost off the charts on the high side, but his motivation to succeed was almost off the charts to the other end of the spectrum. In other words, he was supremely happy to wallow in the muck of mediocrity. Hunting, fishing and camping were much more important to him than school and work could ever be. Of course, chasing women rated right up there with the other three, as did eating (and drinking when he could find someone to obtain the alcoholic beverages for him). He was attending the local Junior college and making what was once known as "Gentleman C's". He would, in time, move on to a nearby four-year institution for some kind of degree. He readily admitted his attendance at college was to keep his mother and grandparent's quiet as well as to keep him from having to find a full time job.
Garrett did work part time as a clean-up boy and "gofer" for a local building contractor to earn most of his spending money. He enjoyed the work he did for them. It didn't take any mental effort and little hard physical effort. He liked the work all right, but had no idea if he wanted to do that kind of work for a career. He even enjoyed being allowed to do some of the simpler work normally done by a carpenter or one of the other building professionals. He was learning a lot from his job and found the work fascinating—especially the remodel jobs.
In any event, this evening when Garrett entered the kitchen a screaming bitch more formally known as his mother once again confronted him. Just as he once again allowed the door to slam shut his mother rushed up to confront him as she yelled, "Garrett, where the hell have you been? You were supposed to be home before I got off work and it's obvious you weren't. None of the jobs I left for you to do have been done. You haven't even begun preparing supper as I told you to do. And just look at you! You're filthy and, if I'm not mistaken, that is water and river mud on your clothes, not dust and mud from some construction site. You snuck off and went fishing again didn't you? And you smell like a brewery. I suppose you managed to find some beer to guzzle while you were screwing off again. What am I going to do with you? Garrett, if you don't stop this loafing around no decent woman will ever look seriously at you. No woman worth having is interested in someone who can't give her the finer things in life. Now get upstairs and clean up."
Garrett was so used to his mother's attitude that he just mentally shrugged and accepted her diatribe. As he began trudging upstairs his sister Beatrice (Bitchy Bea as she was known to most of her peers) came down them. As usual, she took up all the space and pushed Garrett aside as she snarled, "Get the hell out of my way, asshole." In Garrett's opinion Bitchy Bea already exceeded his mother's level of Bitchiness by several orders of magnitude. Only the very ultra-high class (in their opinion) at school could tolerate her. She and they made existence hell for all the lesser mortals that came into contact with them. She was absolutely gorgeous, knew it, and demanded all lesser mortals bow and scrape at her feet. She was head cheerleader and used that position to help control the lesser mortals as well.
Garrett allowed Bea to brush past him with no comment as he continued on his way up the stairs. Damn, he thought, I have to find some way to get the hell out of here. I am sick to death of the attitude in this house. Maybe if I find a better job ... NAH. Assholes would expect me to work twice as hard for just a little more than I make now. Shit, something has to come along. Hope it's soon, though. I don't know how much longer Mom is going to put up with me. She is already making remarks about me contributing more to the household expenses and getting a better job. Damn.
Life continued on for several more weeks, Garrett putting up with his mother and sister while he continued to plug along taking crappy courses at school and living for the weekends when he could take off and hit the woods or streams. He and his grandfather had a couple of great places to fish and camp in the woods along a stream that ran through his grandfather's small farm.
Over the July 4th weekend Garrett and his grandfather once again went camping and fishing. For them it was the perfect way to celebrate the nation's birth. For Bitchy Bea, Wilma, and Garrett's now ex-girlfriend it was not. They all felt Garrett was being unreasonable when he refused to stay in town and serve the three women and their friends at THEIR gala affair around the pool at Wilma's parent's house. When he flat refused to be there to help grandfather Strom fetch, carry, and cook they all three unloaded on him. His girlfriend Pauline informed him he would either be there at the party for her and his sister or she would find someone who would take his place. He didn't show and she did find a replacement.
The party fiasco was just another in a long list of what Garrett felt to be slights and disasters caused by unfeeling, selfish women. None of them cared that he and grandfather ALWAYS spent the 4th together fishing and camping. None of them even thanked him for all the work he did helping prepare for the party before hand. Hell, he even invited Pauline to go fishing with them but she refused rather viciously.
Garrett was sitting beside the fire in the dusk of the 4th eating fresh fried, fresh caught fish, fried potatoes and onions, and pork and beans while he and his grandfather talked. He had just completed explaining his current problems with the women in his life and taken a deep swig of beer to wash down his latest bite.
Grandfather Jerome leaned back and watched Garrett for a moment then said, "Garrett, I don't know for sure what to tell you, son. I can tell you some things that might help, but you need to understand some of what I tell you may be flawed advice because of how I feel about your mother. I know I've yelled at you time and time again when I heard you call her and your sister a bitch. You need to respect your mother, son. She brought you into this world and cared for you for 19 years now. You have a sister that you owe some family care for as well. Blood is truly thicker than water.
"Now that I've said all that again I have to tell you, your mother IS a nasty, selfish, bitch and she has taught your sister to be just like her. It's hard for me to be civil to them and that's a plain fact. Your grandma felt the same way until her death. We just treated them like we would want to be treated and lived our lives the best we could in spite of them. You need to do the same.
"Now, as for the girlfriends you keep finding and losing, I can maybe help IF you really want the help and will listen to me. First off, son, the old saying IS true. Beauty IS only skin deep. You keep picking beautiful women to date, usually one of your sister's friends or one of the classy bitches from school. Now, don't get me wrong here. Lots of those women are fine honorable women. Just because they are beautiful doesn't mean you shouldn't date them. You just need to stop dating them BECAUSE they are beautiful. You need to find a woman who is kind, gentle, honorable, ethical, and who has the same or complementary interests to yours. I don't think you have done that, son. And you need to look for the inner beauty more than the outer beauty.
"You also need to think about the future too, Garrett. You're brilliant, but your grades don't show it, son. You need to do better in school. You need to settle on your life's work. No woman is going to put up with a ne'er-do-well son. I know you're still young and you want to enjoy what remains of your youth, but you are going to be 20 years old soon. When I was 20 I had a wife and child already and was working full time while I went to college nights. You have it much easier than I did and than a lot of people do. You need to choose what to do with your life. That decision will help you find the right woman. Find one who will support your work and chosen lifestyle. Find one who will be happy with the level of income your chosen profession will generate. Keep away from those high maintenance, selfish girls you've been dating and find one with substance.
"Maybe you should step back and take a breather, son. Get to know yourself and then find and get to know your woman. I done all that with your grandma, rest her soul, and we had a wonderful life together. We enjoyed the same things, we liked to camp and fish, and we worked together too. I found a wonderful woman and you can, too, son."
Garrett wanted to protest some of his grandfather's statements, but when he started to do it he thought to himself, you know, he is at least partly right. Many of the girls I've dated have been from my sister's group of friends or acquaintances or one of mom's friend's daughters. They have all been from the "upper crust" in school. All of them have been demanding and wanted only the best when we went out. None of them wanted to do the things I was interested in. Crap, maybe he's right about the rest of it, too.
After the quick introspection, what Garrett said was, "I'll think about it, Grandpa, but you sure spend a lot of time just messing around not working and you seem to do ok."
"Yeah, I do, son, but when I was young I worked. You forget I'm retired now and living off my retirement and investments."
"Ok, fine, but I remember when I was younger and you sure took a lot of time drinking coffee at the café and fishing. Why is it ok for you to do that and not me? If I'm happy with that life shouldn't I be able to live it, also?"
"A man always has the right to live his life as he wants to, son, assuming he doesn't do anything illegal or injurious to others. I just want the best for you."
After a couple more beers the two men put the fire out and rolled into their sleeping bags. The next morning they rose and enjoyed a pot of coffee while they watched the fog rise over the river. After breakfast they grabbed their beer and fished. After the fish quit biting they swam, rested, and had a little more 'hair of the dog' while they waited on the evening to come so the fish would feed once again.
After the long weekend, Garrett returned to his summer job working for the construction company. He didn't date, but spent some time with some of the girls and women that hung around the men he worked with. Many of them were nothing but bar flies. Some were either wives, sweethearts of his friends, or their friends. He noticed a distinct difference in how they acted and their wants and needs from those of the girls he hung with before. They were more like one of the guys, but with special equipment. Hell, they were fun. Maybe he HAD been fishing in the wrong hole.