First warning, there is no explicit sex in this story. Second warning, this is the third part to the 'Wetap' series. Each sequence has a stand alone story but intertwines characters, actions, and events from the previous stories. The reader will gain a much deeper understanding of the characters and story line if they read and have first hand knowledge of 'Binding Ashes' and 'Wasting Time.' This story is totally fictitious; any resemblance the characters might have to any person living or deceased is purely coincidental. I wish to thank the people who helped contribute to and edit this story, per their wishes, they remain anonymous. No part of this story may be published at any other site without the express permission of the author. © December 22, 2007
'Well crap ... ain't ... that ... great ... It hasn't been fifteen minutes since Steph and Marcie left to go shopping and Ken's already over here ringing my friggin' doorbell.
'Damn it ... couldn't he have waited just a little longer?' Mark silently implored. 'All I wanted was enough time to enjoy at least one good cup of coffee in peace and quiet. But nooo ... not today ... apparently that's asking too much, ' he sarcastically thought while staring at his empty cup.
Only a fellow coffee lover could appreciate the longing Mark felt as he reluctantly slid the pot back into the maker. Then with a deep sigh, he turned and headed for the front door.
On the way Mark couldn't resist humorously thinking, 'It's a damn good thing that son-of-a-bitch is my best friend. Otherwise, I'd stuff his ass in a crate, stamp 'Do Not Open till Christmas' all over it, and ship him halfway round the world ... one way ... with no return address.'
Suddenly, with a smile, he mentally confessed, 'Ohhh, that's pure bull and I know it. In fact, I can't recall a single soul who's ever been able to get past that eternal optimism of his. With Ken around, there's no such thing as having a bad day. It's been that way as long as I've known him.
'At least I can appreciate why Marcie was so enthusiastic to marry his dumb ass. She almost did cartwheels the day he proposed.'
Mark's smile faded as he begrudgingly admitted, 'Steph on the other hand was a little less stellar when I, uh ... suggested marriage. Guess that begs the question, why did she agree to marry me in the first place? Hmmm, considering the circumstances at the time, maybe I should ask, do I really want to know?'
Then he smirked. 'But, I do know ... or at least I'm pretty sure that "aggravating my ass to no end" has to be one of Ken's favorite ways to get his jollies.'
Mark chuckled to himself, "I can just picture the big lug impatiently bouncing from one foot to the other while repeatedly ringing my damn doorbell. That wouldn't be so bad if it was the only irritating thing Ken ever did, however ... he's got more tricks up his sleeve than a pharmacy has pills." He paused and thought with a laugh, 'Now there's a hell of an analogy since both are delivered at my expense.'
As Mark reached for the door handle, he realized, 'There was only one buzz ... that's odd!' His relaxed mood immediately gave way to guarded curiosity, 'Could it be someone else?'
After opening the door, Mark noticed his friend's slumped shoulders, but his only thought was, 'Thank goodness it's Ken. I don't think I'm up to dealing with anyone else this early in the morning, especially before coffee.'
Then his friend slowly looked up and Mark found himself staring at a sad, forlorn face. Caught totally off guard, he realized, 'Never in a million years would I have believed it possible.'
But, having been the target of Ken's warped sense of humor on more than one occasion, he couldn't stop from cautiously wondering, 'Is he putting on an act? Is this some sort of gag?'
Then, as if answering his own questions, Mark knew, 'No ... not this time. I can tell from his appearance there's a problem, and it's real.'
Momentarily speechless, he finally found his voice and stammered, "You look like ... like ... like a man in need of some serious coffee. I just made a fresh pot, how 'bout a cup?"
Ken listlessly replied, "Yeah ... sounds good." Yet, his eyes appeared empty and seemed to distance themselves by looking away as he squeezed past his friend while stepping through the doorway.
Unable to think of anything else to say or do at the moment, Mark told him, "Great, make yourself at home while I get the coffee."
Before going to the kitchen he noticed a large paper bag hanging at Ken's side and thought, 'He always grabs a couple of six packs on the way. From his looks, I'd say it's a good thing. It appears we're going to need them, maybe even a few more before the day is over.'
After pouring the coffee, Mark was a little bewildered to turn and find his friend sitting at the table and couldn't help wondering, 'Why?' Since, 'The recliners in the family room are much more comfortable!' Suddenly he remembered, 'Oh yeah, the beer, he probably wants to put them in the fridge.'
Shrugging his shoulders, Mark said in a joking manner, "Ok, the kitchen it is. Now tell me ... what's kicking your goose this morning."
In the ensuing silence, he set the cups on the table and took a seat across from Ken.
Even though the bag was now resting on the floor, his friend still had a tight grip on the handles, keeping it close at his side. Then leaning forward, with his free hand Ken retrieved his coffee. But instead of drinking, he just set it down and stared into the dark contents as his fingers began to slowly rotate the cup.
To the best of his memory, Mark couldn't recall ever seeing him appear so ... out of it. Lightheartedly he added, "It may be an old cliché, but you really do look like you've just lost your best friend."
Ken never looked up. But from deep in his chest came a quiet sigh as he barely whispered, "I may have."
Mark's forehead wrinkled with concern as a growing sense of uneasiness immediately began to develop in the pit of his stomach. In another attempt to lighten the mood, he teasingly said, "Ok Ken ... want to talk, or is this one of those manly things you have to work out for yourself?"
The short but lengthy pause that followed put a chill in the air, clearing away any final hopes of lifting his friend's spirits. The deafening silence was suddenly disrupted when he reassured, "Ken, you already know ... but, I'm here if you need me."
A few moments later, the once again quiet but tense atmosphere was finally ended when his friend raised his arm and set the bag on the table between them. Mark had been so distracted in his anxiety over Ken's demeanor that he had already forgotten about it.
But now, staring at the bag he somehow knew that instead of beer, it contained the reason for his friend's strange behavior. Without saying a word, Ken laid the bag on its side, reached in, and pulled out a scrapbook.
After a slight hesitation, he spun it around and shoved it across the table to Mark, who asked in a surprised voice, "What's this?"
Red faced, his friend angrily replied, "I found the goddamn thing last night in Marcie's closet. She had it damn well hidden and after looking inside, I understood why. Go ahead, take a peek. Believe me, you'll have no problem understanding why I'm so fuckin' mad I could scream." The tone of his voice left no doubts ... the contents wouldn't be pleasant.
"Ken ... are you sure I should see what's in here?" He felt compelled to ask. "It might be best to keep this just between you and Marcie."
"I've never been more ... sure of anything in my life. And no, I need you to look at it before I decide how to deal with her. I've been at a loss ever since I discovered the damn thing," his friend answered despondently.
Mark raised his eyebrows while pausing a few seconds to study the cover. It wasn't new, but he could tell it had been well cared for in spite of signs it had been handled often.
Finally, with a breath of resignation, Mark shrugged his shoulders and opened it. With a gasp he immediately recoiled in shock. The photo had literally jumped out at Mark as he found himself gawking in utter disbelief at a picture of 'Tony.' It caused the skin on the back of his neck to crawl as a deep flush spread over his entire body.
He desperately wanted to say something, hell, Mark wanted to scream. But after taking a few moments to calm down, only ended up silently pleading, 'OH GOD KEN ... not this, please ... not Marcie ... AND NOT HIM.'
It had been almost five years since he'd seen that arrogant and demeaning smile. Personally, Mark wouldn't give a shit if he never had to look at it again.
Absentmindedly, he rubbed his forehead and took a sip of coffee while fighting a losing battle with his own memories. Mark hated it as his mind flashed back to the year before his marriage, flooding his brain with mental pictures of his wife and Tony. At the same time, he was desperately trying to resist his own thoughts as they made an exerted effort to recall Steph's version of the events.
When not in class or at a sports practice, 'Anthony' could always be found sitting on 'the perch.' That's what the students called the low wall at the school's main entrance.
Normally he was surrounded by fellow jocks as they checked out the girls entering and leaving. But today Tony was alone when she came walking by. "So, you're one of those?" He popped off.
.... There is more of this story ...