Author’s note – When Randi asked me to be a part of Legends Part Two I sent her four stories that I had been working on and asked her to pick the one she wanted me to submit. She chose this one and I hope you like it.
It was the tenth reunion of my high school class. It was early, and I was one of the first to arrive. I was sitting alone at a table for six when she came in. She looked around, saw me, and I saw her hesitate for a moment, and then she headed my way. As she moved toward me, I wondered why she was alone. I would have expected to see Seth with her. I stood up to greet her and she walked up to me. She wasn’t smiling, but even so, I didn’t expect the greeting I got. She slapped me! An openhanded slap to the left side of my face. My hand went up to my stinging cheek.
“What the hell was that for?” I asked
“That was for not fighting for me, asshole.”
Her name as Mary Alice Thomas, or at least it had been Thomas the last time I had seen her, but that had been five years ago and I expected that her last name was Reardon now.
Mary Alice and I had met in the seventh grade and had dated off and on through the seventh and eighth grades before deciding to go steady during the middle of the ninth. By the time we graduated from high school, we were making plans to be married when we finished college. We wanted to be married as soon as we finished high school, but that would have killed Mary Alice being able to go to college.
Her parents would not have paid for her degree if she got married. Their position was that if she married she would eventually end up pregnant, have to drop out and all the money spent on her education would have been wasted. They held that belief because that is what happened with Mary Alice’s older sister and two of her cousins. So, the long range plan was to get our degrees and then get married. We didn’t feel that it was much of a hardship. We had been making love since her eighteenth birthday and continued to do it.
Things were going along fine until the middle of our junior year. We had different majors so we didn’t have any shared classes and our times together were pretty much regulated by our class schedules, class assignments and class projects. One of MA’s classes (she preferred MA to Mary Alice), Managerial Economics if memory served, required a group project and MA had to spend several evenings meeting with her group at the library to work on their project. I didn’t think much about it because I’d had to do the same in several of my classes. Then one night when we were supposed to go to a concert, MA called me and told me that she was going to have to cancel our date. Her group project had hit a snag and her group was going to have to get together. The project was due in three days and would account for a third of her grade in the class, so surely I would understand. I told her that I understood and I did. I’d been there and done that in some of my classes, so I told her that I’d see her on Saturday.
Since the only reason I’d gotten the tickets to the concert was that MA wanted to see and hear the group, I gave the tickets to one of my friends and decided to take in a movie. I’m sure that by this point you already have figured out what comes next, but I’ll put it down anyway. There was a line in front of the ticket counter, and MA was in the line with Seth Reardon. She probably had expected me to go to the concert and she was surprised to see me when she turned and looked around the way most people do when standing in a slow moving line. Her face paled and she quickly looked away. I wasn’t the type to make a scene in public, so I just waited for my turn at the counter. I’d heard Seth say what movie (it was an eight-movie complex) he wanted and when I got to the counter, I chose a movie other than the one he chose.
When I got inside, I saw Reardon and MA standing in line to buy popcorn and a drink and I ignored them and went down the hallway to the theatre room where my movie was showing. It was ten minutes to show time, so I had plenty of time to sit and think about the situation. I was pissed and I wouldn’t even try to pretend that I wasn’t. MA had flat out lied to me about what she would be doing that night, and that, of course, made me wonder how many other times she had lied to me. How many of her trips to the library to work with her group were a lie? I had no way of knowing, but once was one too many.
What I should have done once I saw Mary Alice and Reardon was turn around, leave and save myself the price of the movie, because I didn’t enjoy it. Not that it wasn’t any good – it had gotten decent reviews – but my mind just couldn’t get into it. I sat there and thought about Mary Alice sitting next to Reardon, holding hands and her head probably lying on his shoulder, the same way she used to do it with me. Halfway through the movie I got up, left and went home. Mom was surprised to see me.
“Short concert or just no good?” Mom asked me.
“Didn’t go. Mary Alice and I broke up tonight.”
“You’re kidding,” Mom said. “You two have been as thick as thieves for almost five years. What happened?”
“I guess she found someone else she would rather be with,” I said, and then I headed up to my room.
It wasn’t until I’d undressed and was stepping into the shower that I realized what I’d just done. Without even giving it much conscious thought I’d put an end to Mary Alice and me. Without giving any thought to it, I’d just told my mom that MA and I were through. I stood there under the flow of hot water, thought on it and decided that my brain knew what had to be done and then had gone ahead and done it.
When I woke up Saturday morning, I had to decide what to do with my day. I was originally supposed to take MA to the wedding of one of her cousins, but that was off now. I decided to do some work on the car that my mom had given me as a graduation present when I graduated from high school. I’d bought seat covers for it, they needed to be put on and it was due a good cleaning, inside and out. I had just finished putting the seat covers on when Mom yelled at me that I had a phone call. I went into the house and picked up the phone.
“Where are you?” MA asked. You were supposed to be here half an hour ago.”
“I decided to let Seth take you.”
There were a few seconds of silence and then she said, “I don’t want Seth to take me. I want you.”
“You didn’t want me last night.”
“Is that what this is all about? We need to talk. Come and get me and we can talk on the way to the church.”
“Don’t think so. I’ve already made plans for the day. Goodbye, Mary Alice.”
I hung up, but then figured that she would call right back so I left the phone off the hook and went back out into the garage to work on the car. When I finished on the car I showered, dressed casual, had dinner with my mom, and then I headed out looking for something to enjoy.
I had more options since I’d turned twenty-one and could legally hit the bars and clubs. The problem I had was that I didn’t want to be alone doing whatever. I decided that what I needed to do was go somewhere where I could be with people who were having fun. The perfect place for that would be The Crystal Palace. The Palace was a country/western bar with a live band, there would be a lot of line dancing and you didn’t need a partner to line dance.
I got there early enough that the place wasn’t crowded, found an empty table close to the dance floor and settled in. I ordered a Bud Light and watched the dancers on the floor. It was a two-step and I enjoyed watching the skirts swirling and flaring as the gals went through the ladies under inside and outside turns. I wished that MA was with me so I could join in, but then I realized that that ship had sailed. I didn’t know if Reardon had gotten lucky last night or not, but it didn’t matter. What did matter was that MA had ditched me for him last night and had lied to me about her reason for breaking our date. I wasn’t worldly wise by any means, but I did know, even at that early age, that solid relationships are built on trust and it was now obvious to me that MA couldn’t be trusted.
While I’d been sitting there watching the dancers, thinking and nursing my beer, the place had filled up. When the band finished playing the two-step, they started playing Black Velvet and several people got out on the floor and started doing the Cowboy Boogie, so I got up and joined in. When Velvet was over, the band played another tune good for a two-step so I went back to my table, finished my beer and ordered another one. When the waitress brought it to me she asked me if I was waiting for someone. When I said no, she had a question.
“Could I get you to do me a huge favor?”
“Depends. I don’t think I would like it in jail so I won’t do anything illegal, but I’m open, otherwise.”
“My sister and her two friends just got here and the seats at this table are the only empty ones in the house.”
I wouldn’t mind some company, so I told her to send over her sister and her friends. When Iris (the name on her nametag) said her sister and two friends, I expected that one of the friends would be a guy. Not so. Three very sexy looking ladies showed up and one of them, a raven-haired beauty asked, “Are you sure that you don’t mind sharing?”
I looked at the three of them, smiled and then laughingly said, “I damned sure would mind sharing you three with anyone else.”
.... There is more of this story ...