My brothers-in-law and I occasionally get together for an evening of poker. It isn't a scheduled thing. We only manage it a few times a year. It happened that our wives had gone on a shopping trip together. That made the perfect opportunity for us to get together for a few hands.
My wife, Kate, has a sister and a brother. On this particular evening, her brother, Timothy O'Malley, had invited Sean Clark to sit in on our game, which was at Tim's house. Tim sat to my left and Sean was across the table from me. Sean and Tim both were lawyers that worked at O'Malley, Preston, and Peterson. That's the area's most successful law firm. Kate's father, Joe, was one of the original partners. Joe bought out the other two years ago and now the firm was controlled totally by the O'Malley family.
Kate and her sister, Patricia, were both lawyers. Patricia, or Pat as she was known in the family, had married Donald Casey, a civil engineer. He sat to my right. He was a pretty upright guy, for an engineer. I got along with him pretty well.
Kate was stuck with me, Jason Henderson. I wasn't Irish, and I wasn't a lawyer. Those two facts had been a source of some family consternation. If Kate's mother, Rose, hadn't taken a liking to me for some reason, I never would have been able to take the shit that old Joe and his son, Tim, piled on me.
I was a mason, a man that worked with brick, mortar, blocks, and concrete. My dad had been one before me and I never really wanted to do anything else. Dad insisted I go to school to learn the trade. I had resisted because my father could lay block all the way across the state and back and be within a quarter inch of square and level. All I had to do was learn what he knew. What more was there?
Well, there was a hell of a lot more that I needed to learn, and learn I did. After two years of school, I joined Dad is his business. I was soon using my schooling to improve the materials and mixtures we worked with. I modernized and mechanized every chance I had. I showed Dad some new, faster methods to build in brick and block. He showed me the difference between slapping up masonry and true craftsmanship. Together we learned to maintain the quality of our work while doing much of it faster and easier.
The business grew and we took on three men to help keep up with the work. I was 27 years old and a partner in a productive, successful business when I met Kate. We had trouble with a supplier that took our deposit money but failed to deliver the materials. I went to the O'Malley law firm to see what options we had in the matter.
Somehow, Kate was assigned our case. She was 26 and the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. She handled our suit and we got our money back, without going to court. By that time, I was completely infatuated with her. Every time a payment was a day late or a delivery we ordered was delayed, I would try to convince my father that we needed the services of a lawyer again.
"Damn it, Jason!" he finally erupted one afternoon as we were laying blocks for a huge house in the Poconos. "Why don't you just ask her out on a date? It would save me a shit-load of money, and allow me to keep on good terms with my customers and suppliers. I can't sue every Tom, Dick, and Harry we do business with so you have an excuse to see that red-headed girl!"
I was stunned. Why did he think I just wanted to see Kate again? How could he know what I was thinking? Was it that obvious?
"You must think I'm blind or something," laughed my father. "It's pretty clear that girl has you all wrapped up. I was the same with your mother, but I didn't need some flimsy excuse to plead my case. I kept after her until she finally gave up and married me."
"She's a lawyer, Dad," I whined. "I'm a mason. She won't have any use for a guy like me."
"She'll have no use for a damn chicken-shit whiner, that's for sure!" replied my father. "You don't seem to have any idea what women really do want. I admit I'm not an expert on the subject, but I know one thing. You are a damned good mason, maybe the best I've ever seen. You'll never have to apologize to any man, or woman, for making an honest living building things with your hands. She spends most of her time with those soft, backstabbing weasels and she's probably sick of 'em. Be a man. Ask her out, and don't act like a second-class citizen when you do it. If she turns you down, ask her again in a week. It took me two months to get your mom to agree to step out with me."
I spent the rest of the week thinking about what my father had told me. It's funny how it works. When I was 17, he didn't know anything about anything. I felt like just being around him was making me dumber. How did he get so smart in the ten years since?
That Friday, I was waiting in the parking lot when Kate left her office. I hadn't had time to change after work. I was sweaty and streaked with dust from head to toe. I had made up my mind that day to ask her out and I decided if I went home to clean up first, I'd lose my nerve.
"Hello, Kate," I began. "I don't know if you remember me, but I'm..."
"Jason Henderson!" laughed Kate. "I remember you very well, Jason. Are you having another problem with your suppliers?"
"I'm having a problem... thinking about anything but you all the time, Kate," I answered honestly. "I was wondering if you'd go out to dinner or a movie with me?"
"I hope you'll at least take a shower first!"
I hadn't seen Kate's brother, Tim, come up behind me. He had listened to the conversation that I thought was private.
"So, Sis, are you going to go out with this hard working man? Maybe he'll take you to McDonalds and then a documentary on how the Hoover Dam was built. If he lays a hand on you, we'll all know. There'll be dusty fingerprints all over you!" he remarked snidely.
I had determined he was Kate's brother from his looks and his comments, so I knew that knocking him on his ass would be a mistake. Still, it hurt too much to laugh, so I decided to try to salvage some pride by just leaving. Then I thought about what my father had told me.
"Kate, will you go out with me?" I repeated.
Kate looked at me, and then at her smirking brother. She took my hand and tugged it.
"Walk a ways with me, Jason. We'd don't need this jackal listening in on our conversation, do we?" she asked rhetorically.
I walked across the lot with her to a small park. She sat on a bench and motioned for me to join her.
"Jason, you've just met my brother, Tim. I love him, but he's snobbish and self-centered. My dad is pretty much the same. Whenever boys, or men now, come to my house to take me out, the two of them really are like jackals. If I agree to go out with you, you'll be ridiculed and insulted by them. No matter who shows up to take out me, or my sister, Pat, they aren't good enough," sighed Kate.
"Ask yourself if you think being with me is worth the misery and torment you'll be experiencing. I'm telling you this because I'd love to go out with you, but I don't want you to take a beating from my family. If you've changed your mind after meeting Tim, and what I just told you about my family, I'll understand," she concluded.
"Would seven o'clock be okay?" I asked.
That was the beginning of a difficult courtship. Her brother and father were as miserable a pair of bastards I had ever encountered. They did everything they could think of to discourage me, but I kept coming back. I was in love with Kate and nothing could dissuade me. We were married just over a year and a half later.
It took a while, but old Joe and even Tim eventually came to accept me. I know that having the two children, Mary and Joey, sure didn't hurt my family standing any. It's funny how the worst son-in-laws can create the best grandkids. Kate's mom, Rose, had been my strongest supporter, right from the start. I never knew why, but I was grateful for her kindness. After 17 years of marriage to her daughter, Rose treated be like a son.
Kate's cousin usually made the fourth in our card games. He couldn't make it this time, so Tim had invited Sean. He was a problem. He had diarrhea of the mouth and an extremely high opinion of his persuasive skills with the ladies. He was Tim's best friend and had even dated Kate a few times before she went to law school. He was a pain in my ass!
"In the six months I've been back in Montrose, I've fucked at least ten different women," bragged Sean. "And seven of those women are married. There's something about banging another guy's wife that really gets the blood pumping."
"It sounds more than a little dangerous, Sean. If you don't get shot first, you could be involved in lawsuits and other legal problems," suggested Don. "As a professional, your reputation could be destroyed."
"No guts, no glory!" laughed Sean. "The 'bad boy' image is good for business. Men fear me. Women know I'm a fucking machine and seek my counsel."
"You could hit on the wrong wife, Sean. She could complain to the old man," insisted Don. "He'd toss your ass out in a second for bothering a married woman."
"Old Joe won't be running the firm much longer," Sean responded easily. "Timmy will be sitting in the big chair pretty soon and he'd never listen to baseless allegations made by some jealous husband, would you, Tim?"
"I'd do my best for you, Sean, but you'd be well advised to not find yourself in that position. My sisters will have a lot of input with decisions regarding the firm," reasoned Tim.
"Well, then I'd just have to fuck them into agreeing, wouldn't I?" chuckled Sean.
I tossed my cards down on the table and stood up.
"I'm through with this game, and this arrogant asshole!" I declared.
.... There is more of this story ...