Several authors are coming out with stories based on the various versions of "Maggie May" or "Maggie Mae." The story titles will be: "Maggie May - author's pseudonym" e.g. "Maggie May — Jake Rivers"
This is my third semi-annual "invitational." The initial one was based on the Statler Brother's song, "This Bed of Rose's." The second used the Marty Robbins El Paso trilogy: "El Paso" "El Paso City" and "Faleena."
Regards, Jake Rivers
An eruption of cheers from all around her ended the thoughts that swirled in her head. The crowd shoved her from every direction as they tried to get closer to the rope that kept them off the track. Thirty four year old Liza Penwell wanted to be almost anywhere but standing right there on a sunny weekend morning.
"Here they come!"
"Who's in the lead so far?" The words were so loud that Liza cringed.
Liza took a step back as the mass of bodies moved forward once more. Shoulders and elbows bumped into her from every direction. The laughter and conversations came in every range of voice until they blended into one. For a few seconds she panicked, frozen in place, almost as if she had become a statue.
"I see him! He's in front!" Gloria screamed as she grabbed the man next to her and jumped up and down. In her excitement, she didn't even care if she knew him, he just happened to be the closest.
"Come on Erik!" Liza looked around to see who had yelled before it occurred to her she herself had. The encouragement was habit, from standing in this position week after week, giving the same boost each time.
Whistles and clapping joined the announcement given over the huge speakers hanging high above. Liza would have missed it if Gloria hadn't taken her hand right then.
"Let's go congratulate him," Gloria said as she dragged Liza along.
The crowd parted as they approached. At fifty-six, Gloria Carballo was still slender from a weekly exercise routine of tennis, swimming and the gym. The two had met a few years ago when Gloria started at the hairdresser Liza used. Liza was early for her appointment one day and the two chatted off and on. A bundle of energy and full of laughter, Gloria sparked a spot missing in Liza's life, and they'd been friends ever since.
"Erik! Great finish."
"Hey buddy! Congratulations!" Erik's friends called out as they waved.
"It looks like you're going to need another case for trophies now," Gloria said as she stopped in front of Erik.
The statement hit a sore spot between Liza and Erik that Gloria wasn't aware existed. Liza hated the rows of awards and trophies that filled every shelf and bookcase in the living room and den. They even had appeared in the china cabinet last week. That had been the last straw for Liza. It had felt as if she no longer had a spot in their home to call her own. The argument that followed had been long and heated. Things were still unsettled days later.
"Hello," Erik greeted the older woman. "You look gorgeous today, Gloria, as always."
"Of course I do, darling. I pay enough people to make me look that way." The sassy comeback came with such a straight face Erik burst out laughing.
"Gloria, I know everything's natural about you, so don't pull that one on me," Erik replied.
Liza listened to the easy interaction between her husband and best friend as she stood off to the side. So far, Erik hadn't even realized she was there. He always responded first to the cheers and applause from the people waiting at the finish line. Liza learned early in their marriage that Erik thrived on the attention and encouragement of others. Back then, she was one of his greatest admirers.
People separated into smaller groups now that the races were over and the noise level went down. Liza just wanted to go somewhere quiet for dinner and relax.
Liza stepped around Gloria and smiled. "Great race, honey."
"This is what I train for, remember?" Erik said with a sarcastic undertone.
"Your hard work paid off today, Erik," Gloria added.
"Let's celebrate. There's a great little restaurant across town with the best cheesecake ever." The offer was Liza's attempt to smooth things over with Erik.
"I can't eat that. You should know better by now. I have to eat a specific diet when I'm in the middle of a race schedule. Have you forgotten everything I've told you?"
Erik gave Liza a long glare as he spoke and then turned his back to her to gather up his gear. It took about fifteen seconds before Liza stopped pretending to be happy. She spun around and walked towards her car without saying another word.
"Liza, do you want to tell me what that was all about?" The older woman asked as she jogged up to her.
"Not now, Gloria."
"I'm your friend, Liza, talk to me." The plea from Gloria went unanswered as Liza entered her car.
Liza drove home extra slow since she knew her mind wasn't as clear as it should be. She ignored each chirp of her cell phone. The light was blinking on the answering machine when she walked into the kitchen as well. She walked right past it on her way to the dining room. Nothing was stopping her from the mission she had planned on the drive home.
A short time later, Liza closed the last box, carried it to the garage and stacked it with the other two. She reentered the house with a new sense of calm. Liza hummed as she dusted the shelves that just this morning had held row after row of trophies and awards. A few knick-knacks and photos soon lined the pristine wood.
"What the hell are you doing?" demanded Erik.
The tiny angel slipped from her fingers as she jumped at the anger in Erik's voice. Her mind had wandered while she cleaned and the sounds of the doors opening never registered.
"Where are my trophies? What's all this junk doing here?"
The tone in his voice became angrier at each word. Liza took a step back when Erik walked up to her with his fists clenched at his sides. Never before in their eleven-year marriage had she felt threatened by Erik. She had really pushed him by moving his trophies.
"You have your precious awards in every room of this house and I have nothing. This china cabinet was my grandmother's, given to my mother, and now it's mine, Erik. It's my house, too, and I've taken back the dining room as mine." With each word, Liza lost a bit of her confidence, as Erik moved.
"We'll discuss this later. I need a shower."
When their bedroom door slammed shut, Liza sank into a chair and let out her breath. She tried to go back in their marriage to a time when things were happy. How long had it been since they went to dinner or a movie? Or even just out anywhere together? Erik had taken up running about seven years ago. That's when things had started going down hill.
Both the ringing of the telephone and the vibration of her cell phone caught Liza's attention at about the same time. A quick decision to ignore both came when the answering machine kicked in and she heard Erik's' recorded message. She tuned it out and went back to cleaning. Mundane chores kept her hands busy, but it would take a lot more than scrubbing shelves to help her mind right now.
There was silence from the back of the house. Liza tried to remember if she heard the shower go on but couldn't. It might have been five minutes or an hour since Erik had left the room, but she wasn't ready for him to return.
"You haven't started dinner."
"I'll take some burgers out of the freezer, or if you'd like, we can just order something to be delivered," Liza answered.
"Damnit, Liza! You know I can't eat all that junk you order. I have to work hard to keep fit for these marathons and races. Not everyone is thin like you." He opened the refrigerator and reached in for bottled water.
"Would it hurt to miss one race and spend the day at home? It's been ages since we did anything together, Erik. What happens when we start a family? You can't be gone all the time then." Her eyes begged him as she reached out to him.
"I've told you I don't have time for a family right now. You have all those first graders you teach. They should be enough for you." Erik slammed the door shut and turned to her.
"Please, Erik, can't we talk about it some more? If we don't start a family soon, we'll be too old."
His only reply was a glare as he shoved past her on his way to the garage. The automatic door opened and she heard Erik's car as he left. The tears she had held back flowed from her eyes as she slid to the floor and sobbed.
A constant buzz woke Liza. She realized it was the doorbell as she sat up. Not yet fully awake, her mind thought maybe it would be Erik, so she ran to answer it.
"I've been worried to death. You didn't answer your phones and you took forever to open the door," Gloria stated as she walked right in.
Liza followed her best friend into the kitchen and crumpled onto a chair. Fresh tears fell as she pictured the scene all over again in her mind.
"Honey, what's wrong? Are you sick? Is it Erik? Liza, answer me." Gloria's voice was frantic.
"Am I wrong to want children?"
"I don't understand. Where's Erik?" The confusion was clear on Gloria's face.
"Do you like the way I did the china cabinet, Gloria?"
"Liza, honey, start at the beginning. What happened when you came home from the race? Tell me what you did." Gloria held her friend's hand as she spoke.
"He's never home, there's always practice, or a race, or training somewhere. We can never go out to dinner. There are trophies in every room, on every shelf— everywhere I look. I'm so tired," Liza whispered.
"Did Erik come home after the race?" Gloria tried to fill in the blanks of the day.
"Why doesn't he want a baby?"
"Liza, honey, did Erik tell you that?"
"I moved some trophies and he got mad," Liza mumbled.
Gloria held her friend close and rubbed her back. The few things she had said started to make sense now. Erik's one focus in his life was his running. It was obvious to her, as well as other friends, that Liza was second. Only Liza didn't see it.
"Help me, Gloria. I don't know what to do anymore. I'm so mixed up. Please, Gloria, help me." Liza looked at her best friend and begged.
"You're coming home with me tonight. Let's go get a few things."
"I can't go anywhere. Erik will be back soon. I need to cook something." The panic returned to Liza's voice.
"No, Liza, you don't have to cook. You're coming with me. I have that big old house all to myself. You can get some sleep and tomorrow you can talk to Erik."
"No, I don't want to hear any excuses tonight. We can leave a note for Erik to call my place when he gets home. I'll explain you needed sleep and I lured you away." Gloria's tone was firm.
Liza walked to her bedroom as if in a trance. She packed a few things into a gym bag Erik had left on the bed and returned to the kitchen where Gloria had just finished the note for Erik.
A slight nod was the only answer Liza offered. Without asking, Gloria took the bag and lead Liza to her car, locking the house on the way out. She made sure Liza buckled herself in before she headed across town to the quiet neighborhood she called home. Gloria's second husband had left her the huge old four-bedroom house in his will several years ago. It was a gorgeous place, and though she would never admit it, Gloria was often lonely there.
Gloria looked over at Liza several times. Liza sat straight up with a sad look on her face. Gloria reached over and took her hand.
"It will be fine," she said, "after you have some sleep. We need dinner first, so what do you think? How about we pig out on junk food and call it a girls' night out?"
"Erik won't eat junk food." Liza spoke so softly Gloria had to strain to hear.
"I know, Liza, but tonight it's just you and me. We're at the store now. Come on, let's go stock up on goodies," Gloria said as she parked the car.
With Liza in charge of the cart, Gloria was free to add anything and everything to it as they went up the rows in the small store. It didn't take long before Liza joined in and put some of her own favorites on top of the pile. By the time they approached the checkout, they had enough snacks for ten people, and both were laughing like young girls. Gloria could always make Liza feel better.
Back at the car, they stashed their treasures in the trunk and soon were back on the road. Gloria found an up-beat radio station and turned up the volume.
"Wake up Maggie I think I got something to say..." Liza sang along with the rock star.
"I love listening to Rod Stewart. He's so damn sexy." Gloria added in a dreamy voice. "No way does he look over sixty years old. "
"Wake up Maggie..." still singing Liza grinned and then teased, "I think someone has the hots for Rod."
"Oh I have the hots alright but it isn't for Rod Stewart," Gloria laughed.
"Tell me. Come on, you can tell me, I'm your best friend. Wait, let me guess— it's the new guy in the insurance office. He's single and about your age and cute." Liza's words came just as Gloria hit the button for her garage door to open.
"Saved by the buzzer," Gloria replied as she parked her car inside and hit the button again.
"Don't think you're getting away without answering. I'll just bug you later is all."
"Let's get this stuff inside. I'm ready for a shower, some pj's, and then I think it will be time for a nice long talk."
With the perishables stored in the refrigerator, the friends headed up the stairs to the bedrooms. Liza knew the layout of the house and went right in to the guestroom. She set the bag on the bed to find things for her shower. It suddenly hit her that she had left Erik as she reached in and pulled out a pair of his socks that were still in the gym bag.
Liza's tears fell again as she stood frozen with the memory of their words running through her. The feel of her friends' arms wrapping around her body to pull her close brought sobs. Liza leaned her back into Gloria's chest and absorbed her warmth.
"Let it out, honey. A good cry will do wonders for you."
Gloria pulled Liza around to face her and held her close. She rubbed her friends back and shoulders as the tremors continued. Several minutes passed before Liza's tears stopped.
"Come on, let's get you undressed and in the shower. When you're done we can pig out on all that health food we bought." Gloria grinned as she led Liza to the bathroom.
"Health food? The only thing healthy about it was carrying it inside."
The friends talked about their favorite foods as Gloria started the shower. Liza began to undress. When she was down to her panties, she checked the water temperature.
"Perfect," Liza said just before slipping her panties off.
"Yes, it is," Gloria's eyes took in her friends' naked body as she stepped into the shower.
Liza let the warm water run over her while she started to work the body wash into suds. The rich almond scent floated into the air around her. Soon her fingers slowed, her skin tingled and her nipples hardened. She closed her eyes and moaned.
When she heard Gloria call to be sure she was all right, Liza quickly turned the water off and reached for the towel. With it wrapped tight on her body, she left the shower and picked up a smaller towel for her hair on the way to her room.
"I'll be there in just a few minutes, Gloria," Liza yelled down the stairs to her friend.
With pajamas on and her hair brushed and left wet, Liza wandered into the kitchen a few minutes later. Already bags and boxes were open on the counter with crumbs scattered about. From the hidden speakers she heard Rod Stewart once again. Not even aware of her actions Liza had begun to clean the mess on the counter when Gloria walked in.
"What are you doing? Why are you cleaning at my house? You're here to rest."
Liza looked down at the paper towels in her hands as if just then aware that they were there. Tears welled in her eyes at the enormity of the turn her life had taken.
"What am I going to do, Gloria? I don't know how to begin to fix all this. Help me, please. Please?"
"Oh honey, of course I'll help you," Gloria replied. "That's why I took you home with me, to guide you."
She gently steered Liza into the living room and to the huge sofa. Once snuggled into the corner she pulled Liza down to lean into her. With the feel of her friends arms wrapped snugly around her, Liza relaxed and snaked her arms over Gloria's shoulders. The women just held each other close as they listened to the music for several minutes.
Liza became aware of the soft kisses placed on her neck just as she realized Gloria's nipples were hard against her own chest. Confusion at how excited she felt ran through her mind for just a second before she tipped her head back. The feel of warm lips on her skin made her moan and brought chills to her body.
"God, that feels so good. Don't stop," Liza groaned.
With the next string of kisses left along her neck, the added touch of a hand cupping the curves of her breasts brought a gasp from Liza. With her mouth open, caught off guard, Gloria flicked her tongue into it. Liza responded with her own in a shy exploration of the new feelings running through her.
Gloria took over by plunging her tongue deeper and drinking from her friend's sweetness. Fingers spread up to tease and twist Liza's aching nipples. Their bodies shifted to allow for easier access until Liza found her own hands caressing nipples. Time meant nothing as the women learned each other's taste and feel for the first time.
When Liza felt teeth clamping lightly over her puckered nipple she dug her heels into the sofa and thrust her chest outward. The need to be closer was insane. Gloria sucked and nibbled on first one hard nub, then the other, leaving Liza writhing and whimpering.
The sound of Erik's voice broke through the haze that clouded Liza's mind. The tension that was absent just moments ago came back even before the answering machine saved his entire message.
"Oh god, what am I doing? I have to go back home. Erik needs me." Liza pushed Gloria away as she attempted to sit up and cover herself.
"Liza, honey, listen to me." Gloria reached for Liza's hands as she spoke.
"Erik is upset, I have to go. He has a race tomorrow and I'm supposed to be there. His laundry—"
"His laundry will end up all pink," Gloria interrupted. "Erik's a grown man. He can take care of himself for a few days."
Liza giggled at the idea of Erik taking pink boxers and gym clothes out of the dryer.
"He can join the girls running team and call himself Erika," Gloria decided.
"You're silly," Liza reminded her.
"Let me go get something fresh for us to drink. You relax and don't move."
As soon as Gloria left the room, Liza caught her breath, and the smile disappeared. Her body hummed with need from their time exploring on the sofa. Yet, she had never thought of her friend that way until now. She tried to sort it all out but couldn't. As Gloria returned to the room, Liza decided to not think about for now, and to just enjoy being with her friend.
The two carried on for several minutes getting more outrageous each time until Liza laughed so hard she fell to the floor. Her startled look brought another round of giggles from Gloria. Liza joined in and soon they tossed pretzels and popcorn at each other in an all out food fight. When the bag of popcorn broke, spilling it all over the floor, they burst out laughing like kids once more.
"Maid, please clean this mess," Gloria yelled out.
"You don't even have one."
"She's out with the butler. I forgot this is their night at Kelly's down on Canning Place. No, I think they work at the pawnshop on Lime Street tonight. Wait, they help the judge—"
"You're making that up," Liza broke in.
"I am not. Her name is Maggie, I mean Mae. Yes that's it, Mae. The butler is Rod. No that's not it. Stewart! It's Stewart. Stewart is the butler and Mae is my maid." Gloria sat up straight and beamed.
Liza cracked up at the silliness. It was just another thing she loved about Gloria. She sensed Liza's moods and always brought her back up with jokes. The two looked at the mess they had made and shrugged their shoulders.
"So it's you and me. Who gets the honor of getting Victor?" Gloria asked.
"Victor? Who's Victor?"
"Victor's my vacuum."
"Your vacuum has a name?" Each word Liza spoke became shriller. "You're crazy."
"Not so loud. Victor is a bit temperamental and if he hears you he might not work."
Gloria walked to the closet and peeked inside the door as she slid it open just a fraction. Liza could hear a few mumbled words but nothing that made sense. Before she could ask, Gloria had the door open and the vacuum out in the room.
"He said you look rather sexy and he'd love your hands on him tonight," Gloria deadpanned. "I think he's just a big sucker."
"My side hurts from laughing so much. Enough jokes for now," Liza gasped.
When the mess was gone, the two again relaxed, each curling up into separate easy chairs. They talked about work, life in general and dream vacations until Liza was almost asleep.
"Come on, honey, let's go to bed. We can talk more tomorrow."
Her hand reached out for Liza's as she stood in front of the chair and waited. Liza accepted the offer without a reply and the two made their way up the steps to their separate doorways.
"Goodnight Gloria. You're the best friend I could ever ask for. I love you."