I'm a sixty year old man who had lost his wife two years ago. She was too young to die at sixty-three. Everyone said she rocked the cradle because she was five years older than me. Cancer has a tendency to cut a lot of lives short. We were a good couple. We were probably typical of most older couples. I did most of the outside stuff like mowing the grass or shoveling the snow. I took care of anything electrical. She had trouble setting an alarm clock.
She, on the other hand, was as artistic as they come, decorating for all the holidays, and there wasn't anything she couldn't cook. We were married for thirty-eight years. It was funny - well, maybe sad now - our kids were going to have a big 40th anniversary bash. That would have been this year.
We had a good life. We traveled somewhere each year. We also each did our own thing. We learned early in our marriage not to pressure each other into doing things we didn't want to do. So in that respect we got along fine.
Our sex life in our early years was the greatest. I guess that's the way it is with most everyone. Then came the children and the sex life diminished quite a bit. Again another expected consequence of raising a family. It is kind of sad though. If I had to do it all over I would have probably tried to make love more often. Don't let life completely take you over, have time for one another.
We both made our mistakes in life but I'm not going to get into that. It's nothing that can be changed now. I guess my problem now is I feel pretty healthy. I might be sixty but my libido seems to be working overtime. I wonder if that comes with getting older. Maybe I'm looking for a last hurrah or something.
As I mentioned earlier my wife was the cook. I can fry an egg or make a sandwich but if I want a real meal I go to the corner restaurant. I'm probably in there at least a few days a week. I also visit the kids and get a good meal. I have four that were kids at one time. They are all grown up and one even has a grandkid of their own. I try not to bother them much. I pretty much just do my own thing. Three of my offspring live over fifty miles away, my youngest daughter lives about twenty miles from me, so of course I'm lucky to see some of them once a month. Loneliness is my biggest problem, going to a big house that is always empty. I didn't even take the time to fill the pool this year. It still has the winter cover on it. But I kept our hot tub filled. It fells good to sit and relax in it as I think of old times.
Anyway one reason I eat out is for the company. It's nice to hear all the different conversations while I'm eating. I guess I'm like a fixture in the little restaurant. Roy, the owner and head cook, is a pretty nice guy. He said he goes through a lot of help. He keeps two full-time waitresses and two part-time plus his kitchen help. He told me he tries to give people a chance. Most don't want it and become pretty lazy.
Right now his two full-time girls were Marie and Stacy. Marie had been there going on two years. She was married and worked to help pay the bills with a second income. She was nice looking and a friendly waitress. I asked Roy about Stacy. She had been there about a month then and was one of the cutest and friendliest waitresses I've had the pleasure of waiting on me. I like waitresses because they work hard for their wages and some people treat them like shit. It pisses me off when a waitress is treated badly. Don't get me wrong. Not every waitress is a saint but the majority seem to try hard.
Roy said she lived up in the projects. That's what we call the housing development for the less fortunate. Most of the people who lived there didn't have jobs or didn't care to find one and of course some were the local dope dealers. Stacy didn't seem to fit that model.
One day when she was going to be on break I asked her if she would mind sitting with me. She seemed so nice and friendly. We talked about everything from her kids at school to what the special was going to be the next day. I started to eat there almost every day. I guess I was getting a little smitten with the young lady. Each time I would come in, I would sit in her area and after she served me she would sit and talk with me. She always held her break until she saw me. It made an old man feel pretty good.
Over time we began to talk about more personal items. I told her I was a widower and about my wife and kids. She in turn started telling me about her life. She said that for some reason she trusted me, that she liked me. I told her I probably reminded her of her father. She grimaced and said she liked me a whole lot more and trusted me more than she did her father. I found that surprising but didn't reply.
I asked her about herself and she told me she was twenty-five but went through enough life to be forty. She had two kids but wasn't married. At seventeen she got pregnant and her parents kicked her out. She did stick up for them saying she was rather an unruly child and went to what she called a children's prison for a couple of years until she was sixteen. She got her shit together and moved back home and tried to live a much more normal life.
She had gone to a party with friends and they gave her some kind of drug and used her. "I guess they weren't friends after all," she mused.
She got pregnant, considered abortion not knowing who the father was, but decided to have the baby. When the baby was born she had turned eighteen and thought of giving it up for adoption but it was part of her so she couldn't do it. She looked for work and was able to get children services to help her out. A year later she was dating what she called a rat's ass and had gotten pregnant again. The minute the guy found out, he ditched her and left town. She hadn't heard from him since. That was all around five years ago. Since then, she decided to try to make a life for her and her two children who were now ages seven and five. She told me that they were her life.
Offhandedly, she mentioned that she was on speaking terms with her mother again. Her mom and dad had gotten divorced about two years ago. She called her mom one day and they got back to being friends. She had a younger half-brother and a half-sister who still lived at home. She said that her mom watched her kids while she worked. Children services helped pay for the babysitting.
Stacy told me life was far from easy for an unwed mother of two but she was doing the best she could. She went from job to job. None lasted very long. For some reason the employers figured that sex with her would become part of the work package and so she would quit. She said it was awfully hard to prove sexual harassment when it was his word against hers and she was an unwed mother. She said that she had grown up and her priorities have changed. She had a family to think of. Her wild days were all behind her now.
She was really beginning to grow on me. I looked forward to seeing her everyday. I would come in the door and see the beautiful dark haired girl with the beautiful smile and dimples. Just seeing her made my day. One day I asked her if she would like to go to the movies with me. She looked surprised and asked if she could think about it.
I told her I understood. I was just a nice old man and she was trying to let me off nicely. That was okay.
"Oh, no, Charles, you got it all wrong. I would love to go with you but I have to find someone to watch Ben and Marti. I haven't been out in what seems like ages. My kids come first and Mom has them all day and I don't know if she will want to watch them in the evening too."
"You sure it's not my age, Stacy?"
"I'm positive, Charles. I look forward to seeing you in here everyday."
"Okay then, little lady, tonight you tell Ben and Marti that we are going to take them to the movies, if you don't mind. By the way, call me Charlie. Doesn't sound as old." I could see tears growing in her eyes.
"Charlie, you would take my two rugrats too? Then, of course, the answer is yes. Saturday afternoon, the children will love it, they hardly ever get to go anywhere other than to mom's and the apartment. Thank you, Charlie" as she leaned over and kissed me on the cheek. Then she said she had to get back to work.
Saturday I pulled into the projects and looked for their apartment. I really didn't like the area. I was a retired cop and knew the types that lived up here. It bothered me that Stacy was trying to raise her kids right and it would be that much harder trying to do it living here. Way too many bad examples.
As I pulled up to their apartment unit I saw two little faces staring out through the screen door. As I got out of the car all I heard from inside was, "He's here, mom, he's here. Hurry up before he leaves."
I had to laugh - the kids were so afraid I wasn't going to wait. The little boy came running back to the door and said, "Mom will be right here, sir. I'm not allowed to unlock the door for strangers."
I smiled at the boy who must have been Ben and told him his mother had taught him right and I would wait. Then up to the door came the cutest little girl smiling. She had dark hair and dimples just like her mother. "You must be Marti," I said.
"How do you know my name? Did Mommy tell you?"
Then Ben broke in and said, "Do you know my name?"
"I sure do. I'll bet it's Ben!"
"What should we call you, sir? Mom said it's polite to call you sir but me and Marti don't like that name."
As I was thinking of a suggestion, Stacy came to the door, unlocked it and let me in. "Well, kids, if it's alright with him, maybe you could call him Uncle Charlie."
"Are you really our Uncle Charlie? I never knew we had an Uncle Charlie. All we ever met was Uncle Bob at grandma's house and he don't like kids. Do you like kids, Uncle Charlie?"
"I'm not your real uncle, just a good friend of your mother's and yes, you can call me Uncle Charlie and yes I love kids." Little Marti came up and hugged my leg."
We headed out the door. Ben kept asking questions. He was so excited, I doubt if he ever got to go anywhere. He asked if they could have popcorn and pop and candy. I laughed and told him I would get them a big extra large popcorn and he and Marti could share it. I would also get them each a drink. They could each pick out one candy apiece.
Everyone was happy as the movie started. Ben sat on my right and Marti ended up on my lap but most important Stacy held my hand through most of the movie. Marti fell asleep with her little head on my shoulder. I felt like a dad again. After the movies we went to Chucky Cheese and let the kids play while Stacy and I talked.
I asked her if she dated often. She told me that she didn't date. She wasn't the party girl anymore. If anything she was waiting for her prince to ride up on a white horse and sweep her away. The prince had to love her kids too.
After that day I stopped by every couple of days to see Stacy and the kids at the apartment. It bothered me more and more her living there with the kids. I know I'm an old man but I also knew I was falling in love with Stacy. We hadn't had sex and she never even kissed me on the lips. That's why I knew I was falling for her. I had these feelings for her even though we had done nothing intimate.
I asked her about moving out of the projects. I told her I was a retired cop and the projects were bad news. She started crying and said she knew it but children services paid most of the rent and she wouldn't be able to afford anything else.
One day I stopped at the restaurant and Stacy wasn't there. I went over to Roy and asked where she was. He told me she had called in and asked for the day off and that she sounded really distressed. He said that there was a drug raid at the apartments last night and the police broke in next door to her apartment. It scared the kids terribly and she had to be with them since they were really shaken up. After seeing the police break in next door, they were afraid of the police and that was the last thing Stacy wanted.
Roy said, "You really care for her, don't you, Charlie? Just so you know, she has strong feelings for you also. I can spot it by the glow around her face whenever she sees you. Be careful, Charlie, she's a really great woman and I'd hate to see her get hurt."
I had to do something so I called one of my old buddies at the police station and explained about the drug bust and how it scared the kids. He was one of the officers who spoke to the kids at school and so I thought it would be good for him to go with me to see Stacy, Ben and Marti.
Stacy knew I was a retired cop but I don't think I ever told Ben and Marti. Ray and I went to the projects to talk with the kids. Ben came to the door and yelled to his mom that the police were back and started crying. Stacy held on to him as she came to the door. She was so happy to see me. I explained to her why I brought Ray and she invited us in.
Ray used puppets and explained right and wrong to kids. He sure was good at it. The kids calmed down and were even smiling. Ray explained about bad people and that's why their neighbor was arrested. He said that police officers were there to protect them. He really gave a nice talk to the kids on a level they could understand. When Ray finished speaking to them he asked if they liked police officers now. Ben said he thought he did but was still scared. Little Marti didn't really know what to think.
I looked at Ben and asked him if he trusted me. He said of course he did, I was his Uncle Charlie. Then I pulled out my badge and told him I was a retired police office. His eyes opened wide as he looked at my badge. He told Ray that he trusted Uncle Charlie and if I was a police officer then police officers were the good guys. He came over and gave me a hug. Marti ran over and hugged me too. She always did what her big brother did. Stacy - well, Stacy sat there with tears in her eyes.
Stacy thanked us for coming over and calming the kids down. I told her we were going to try to find her another place to live. I said she and her kids deserved better.
Finally one day, I stopped at the apartment and told Stacy I found her and the kids a place to live. It was close to the restaurant and was in a very safe neighborhood. I asked if she and the kids would like to take a look at it. She asked me how much the rent was and I told her it could be discussed after seeing the place.
I took her over to my house. I owned a three bedroom ranch home with a large backyard and a pool and hot tub. She didn't know I lived there. As we walked in she saw what a beautiful house it was and said she couldn't afford a house like this. I asked her to sit down and let me explain. I got her a beverage and just let the kids run through the house and look at it.
"Stacy, this is my house. I live here alone. It's a three bedroom home plus a full finished basement that can be made into an extra bedroom if necessary. You can have your own room. We can put two single or a bunk bed in the other room for the kids. I'll have my own bedroom.
I won't charge you anything to live here. You only have to clean up the place and help me make it a home again. I will ask nothing from you and you don't have to do anything for me. I will tell you I care for you deeply and I love the rugrats. So I guess it's up to you now."
She was crying. Ben and Marti came up to her and asked if she was alright. She told them she was and then explained as best she could to her kids that this was my house and that I had invited them to live there with me. Of course the kids jumped up and down saying yes.
"The answer is yes, Charlie, but I need to tell you a few things about me first. If the offer is still on the table when I'm finish, we will be happy to live here."
"Charlie, when I was fourteen I stole money from my parents and from one of my neighbors. I wanted to fit in with the bad kids. I was put in a youth detention home for two years. When I got out I tried to be good. My father was really my stepfather. I never met my biological dad. He died right after my birth and my mom got remarried. My step-father would hit me and try to molest me but never succeeded. I told my mother but she took his side and they kicked me out. A few years later he tried it with my younger half-sister. That's why mom divorced him and we kind of got back together. I'm trying to forgive her for not believing me but it's hard."
"Now here's the hard part, Charlie. I'm falling for you. I know you're old enough to be my father but that's not the way I care for you. People are going to talk. I don't know if I can handle that or if you can. I know your wife died a little over two years ago and you had a good life together. I can't replace her, Charlie. I'm just me, a woman with two children to raise and who has feelings for a man over twice her age. Also what are your kids going to think about their dad letting an unwed mother and her two kids live in their old house. Well, that's my side, Charlie, now it's up to you."
"Look, Stacy, I want you away from the projects. It's not a healthy place for you or for raising the kids. I don't really care what my married kids say. They have lives of their own to take care of. I promise you that you will be safe here. As far as what the neighbors think, I wish I could be lucky enough to land a good looking woman like you and, if they want to think I'm scoring, more power to me."
We decided to move her out of the projects the following weekend. I told her I would get some of my cop buddies to help out and we would rent a U-Haul. We wouldn't have to pay them anything but we would feed them all at Roy's diner. I would be willing to pay for the dinner but she had to serve it.