I wrote this story some time ago but had trouble finishing it. With LadyC's urging, I did. I hope you like it.
Edited with encouragement by LadyCibelle.
I was sitting on a stool bellied up to the bar in a small neighborhood place near my hotel. I was in Boston; just finishing a deal that would make me penniless and allow me to do whatever the hell I wanted. The trick was to decide how to do that and still be rich. Confused? I hope so. That would mean Roxy's lawyers would be as well. All of this came about because of what I found out about my wife. That knowledge was not something I went looking for, but it found me just the same. It was complicated to say the least and my deal would make it even worse. Worse for her.
The place was almost empty, which was one of the main reasons I picked it. The barkeep walked toward me after the only other customer in the place walked out the door. It was still early so I knew I wasn't holding him up. He stopped in front of me, gave me the once over, then mentioned I had been there for some time. He told me his name was Sam and asked me mine. I figured what the hell and told him, because I was impressed that he didn't look away.
"Good to meet you Sam. My name is Jim, Jim Evans. Thanks for the ear and the beer. I don't want to go home tonight and I don't want to spend the time alone in my hotel room so this is as good a place as any, and probably better than most."
"If you're looking to get lucky Jimbo, this ain't a prime place for it. Might try the sports bar down the street." He actually had the grace not to look embarrassed when he said this.
"Sam, take a look at me. We both know that I look like something out of a nightmare so do you think I expect to get lucky? All I want is a couple of beers and some peace and quiet. Present company excepted of course."
Sam wiped the bar in front of me, and instead of responding, asked if I was ready for another. At my nod, he produced a tall, cold Budweiser. It was my fourth of the night but who was counting. When he brought it, he said I must have a story to tell and if I wanted, he'd be happy to listen. I hesitated: I was trying to come to grips with my problems but they were very personal and I wasn't sure about sharing them with a stranger.
I took the fresh Bud and pushed the empty away. I was pacing myself tonight. I certainly didn't want to keep thinking the thoughts that wouldn't let me be, but I didn't want to get drunk and pass out. The bartender took the empty and put it in an empty case, then swiped the bar once more before going back to leaning and wiping glasses. I finally said "what the hell" to myself and decided to tell him my tale. It wasn't as if he gave a shit, but I felt better talking, and a truly disinterested party was a bonus.
As I readied myself to tell him my tale, I had to admit to myself that I wasn't actually angry. That was the most surprising thing. I should be anxious, on edge, hopping out of my shoes, but I wasn't any of those things. I was just calm and cool. I guess that's what happens when your world collapses. Sam took his rag, swiped the bar in front of me, flipped the rag over his shoulder and leaned toward me. He was ready to listen as only a bartender could.
"Well Sam, it begins nine years ago when I was in college. I was fresh faced, believed in miracles and ready to grab for the brass ring. I was smart as hell, eager as the proverbial beaver and ready to make my fortune. I was working on a Master's in engineering and I was in my final year. I was just filling in my schedule since I only needed credits to fill out my minors. My major was Chemical Engineering and I had completed all of the requirements for that and was taking some easy courses. That's when I met her.
"She was an education major and I shared a class with her my senior year; a math class. For me it was a credit for a minor in math. For her it was part of her major. She was failing miserably and she saw one of my papers when the prof handed them back after a quiz. I had a perfect score, of course, while hers was a 60%. I wasn't paying any attention to her as I left class but she was right behind me. As I exited the building, trying to decide whether to head back to my apartment or go over to the student union for a coke, she caught up to me and tugged on my sleeve. I stopped and turned around to see who it was.
"Seeing her almost made me run in terror. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen and I had always worshipped her from afar, so to speak. Now here she was, right in front of me and apparently wanted to talk to me. This had to be a joke, a cruel hoax to humiliate me, so I stood stock still waiting for the other shoe to drop. I expected she would do something for her friends who were probably watching, waiting for her to humiliate the ugly guy. Then she surprised me even more: she spoke to me."
"Pardon me. I'm Roxanne Bowers and I'm in your class. The one you just left."
"As if I didn't know that, Sam! Of course I knew that! I just couldn't remember my name or where in the hell I was! I swallowed, did it again and tried to find some tiny bit of moisture that would allow my stuck tongue to break loose from the roof of my mouth. Finally, I opened my mouth and squeaked "I know. I'm J ... Jim Evans."
"Hi Jim. I wondered if I could buy you a coke and ask you for a great big favor. Would that be alright?"
"Rather than try to speak again, I just nodded affirmatively. She began walking toward the Student Union and I sort of shuffled along beside her. As we walked, she started talking and telling me about herself. I listened with intense concentration so as not to miss a single word she said. I planned on repeating this conversation verbatim to myself when my right hand and I had a date later tonight. She continued all the way to the Union and I listened just as long. By the time we arrived, I knew all about her.
"I knew her name, where she was from, that she was an only child whose parents died in a car crash when she was ten. She was raised by an aunt and uncle who were OK but didn't really know how to care for a ten year old. She was on her own a lot but she was pretty independent as a result. She did OK in school and her parents left enough in an insurance policy for her to go to college. She wanted to be a teacher, sort of. Actually what she wanted was to meet some rich boy and get married and live the life of luxury. She thought that made her a horrible person but I said it wasn't too unusual for most girls to feel that way. She said she didn't have a boyfriend and couldn't take the time since school was so hard that studying took all her free time and she really did want to complete her education.
"We got our cokes, took a table and she finally asked me if I would tutor her in math and chemistry. She was not doing well in either and she wanted to be sure she could pass. She saw that I always got perfect scores so she decided I would be the best one to tutor her. She offered to pay me the going rate and I hesitated before agreeing. I didn't need the money for a lot of reasons, not the least being I was on a full ride with a stipend.
"The other thing was who I was. I didn't look any different then as I do now, Sam. I've always been homely; too skinny; too tall; too everything bad. I'm not handsome; hell, I'm not even close to good looking. My face is long and I look like a horse, which was my nickname in high school by the way. And my personality is for shit. I clam up if I meet a girl and in social situations, I suck. As I passed puberty, I started to lose my hair and got a belly. Even though I work out a lot, it makes no difference. God gave me a body that nobody else wanted. When I met her, I didn't go out much, didn't date, wasn't in a fraternity and never left campus to go home. But with all that, and foolish as it probably was, I didn't want to discourage this opportunity.
"We agreed on the deal, she told me to come to her place for an hour each night during the week. I agreed, she gave me her address and phone number and we parted. She smiled at me, held my hand for an extra few seconds before turning and walking away. With her touch my blood had begun to course through my body with a heat that scared me. I remained rooted to the spot as I watched her walk. That was payment enough for me as I headed back to my room, my mind in a pink haze of happiness. Me and my right hand had a lot to do together that night.
"I began to teach her math my way. I think I told you that I was smart? Well, I'm sort of a genius and math was one of my first loves. I taught her tricks and showed her the neat things you could do when you understood that math was something that humans invented and it had rules. She caught on quick and soon began to find that the class was really easy when you understood the principles. Her grades picked up and she did well the remainder of the course.
"Next we took on Chemistry. This was basic chemistry and I simply had her memorize the structures, name scheme, explained the atomic structure and how reactions could be balanced and she began to slowly lose her fear of the unknown. While she didn't do as well in Chemistry as she did in math, she still passed with ease.
.... There is more of this story ...