"Harlan, you don't mind do you. The children do love to be with you," she said. I looked at my wife. She was dressed to kill, but it, her efforts to kill, were not for me; she was planning on leaving me home again—to watch the kids, her sister's kids. The two women were going out to paint the town—presumably red.
No news there, it had been happening a lot lately, lately being the last several years. Except for the inevitable family gatherings, Jennifer and I had gone almost nowhere together as a couple over that period. It rankled, a lot, but she didn't exactly give me a choice. And, being the pussywhipped wimp that I was, I let her get away with it.
I'm a retired army first sergeant—twenty years active. She's an executive secretary making pretty sizable bucks working for an ad agency in town—the town being Houston, forty-five minutes from our home in the burbs. We are both forty-seven, as this story begins, and still socially active; well, she's socially active; I'm an active baby sitter and all around gofer.
Like I said, my place in this household rankles. Jenny never wants to go out with me, unless you count the two or three movies a year that she deigns to let me escort her to. I had begun to think that maybe she was ashamed of me; the theaters were dark, so she had minimum exposure to criticism being out with someone who looked like me.
Okay, me? Five-seven, one-seventy-five, thinning hair, but not actually ugly. But, not handsome either. I used to be able to dance, but I know I had to be a bit rusty now since it had been so long since I've been given the opportunity. Oh, and her? Five-nine, one-twenty-five, beautiful long auburn hair, ass and tits that are a threat to traffic. Jen is not actually movie star beautiful in the face, but she is far from unlovely. Okay, and yeah, she's taller than me; well, so the fuck what.
According to her and her sister, Marie, Marie, Wills, they don't invite me because I didn't like the kinds of places that they generally frequented. She was right about that. Sawdust joints filled with wannabe cowboys, rock clubs that I long suspected of selling more drugs than beer, and disco dance halls where the clothes made the man just didn't do it for me. A hit to my ego them always leaving me behind? You bet. Ready to do something about it? I'm getting to that point.
Marie is part of the problem. Divorced, snooty, and an all around party girl; she couldn't imagine a Saturday night without her wing-woman. But, whereas she couldn't even imagine having me tag along with the them; she was more than happy with me in the role of baby sitter. Helluva thing.
I like jazz clubs and soft music and classic cocktails rather than the yellow pepsi her circle of friends seemed to prefer. I'd gotten, what I see as my high class tastes, from my dad, a retired Navy lieutenant commander, thirty years in. He'd actually been a bandleader in the Navy. He could play several instruments and had seen to it that I had an excellent musical education since I wasn't interested in college. My instrument of choice was the piano; I was pretty good.
The kids always want me to play for them when I'm sitting. It's about the only time, apart from Christmas with the family, that I have an audience. I see the kids, Jenna (7) and Willy (8), as a definite upside even though they are not my kids per se. Jenny had not wanted kids; I did, so we didn't have any; put another way, we do what Jennifer Ann wants. Like I say, my place in the household rankles, and I have for a while been close to making a move; I'm just not hadn't been sure what kind of move. Am I the village wimp? I guess, when it comes to my wife, I am.
I love Jenny, and to be fair she always makes it a point to tell me she loves me. But, saying it and showing it are two entirely different things. Sex between us is okay, maybe once or twice weekly; but it isn't anything outrageously kinky or exciting.
I stood there in front of her. She was waiting for an answer. It came to me
"Yes," I said.
"Yes what? She said.
"Yes, I mind being a baby sitter again. Frankly, Jennifer, I am tired of being left out and never being allowed to go anywhere with you," I said. She looked at me funny. I had never said no to her for anything. She was obviously having processing this new information.
"Harlan, why didn't you say something before. You knew that Marie and I were planning to go out tonight. It's Saturday night; we always go out Saturday nights," she said.
"Yes, and always without me," I said. "Don't you think that that's kind of a weird situation for a husband and wife to be in?" I said.
"Harlan, look, sit with the kids tonight, and we can talk about this tomorrow, okay? You can't just throw a monkey wrench into other people's plans at the last moment like this. It isn't fair!" she said.
I smiled. "Isn't fair. I have plans of my own tonight. I'm headin' out. You do what you want, but I'm leaving now. Have a nice time with the kids; they really are fun you know," I said.
"Wha..." She was speechless as she watched me walked out the door."
I'd had no plans, but then the military had taught me to improvise. I headed for the nearest bar. Richard's bar and Grill was the best bar in Houston as far as I was concerned. I had been there a hundred times at least, though not lately. Richard's was frequented mostly by true adults like myself; unlike the kinds of places my wife and her sister liked to go to where the clientele always seemed to be around twelve years old.
Richard's place sported an ancient piano, but one in excellent tune, and an equally ancient piano player who knew a lot of tunes. The music was mostly rhythm and blues, but some jazz if the clientele was interested enough to ask for it. The player's name was Sam, if you can believe it. And yes, Richard, the owner, was mostly referred to as Rick. Go figure.
I mounted a bar stool near the end of the bar furthest from the door. I looked around. It was still early. The place was maybe a quarter full, but I knew it would fill up pretty quick after 9:00. I smirked my satisfaction that I had had the huevos to stand up to Jennifer and leave her having to figure out what to do about the babysitting situation.
Sam began playing some romantic stuff and a few couples got up to dance. I looked around for a likely partner, saw one, and left my martini sitting on the bar as I went over to her and asked her to dance.
"Care to dance," I said to the cute maybe thirty-something blond. She looked me up and down.
"Uh—not right now," she said. I did my best not to sound desperate, but I'm sure my face must have been bright crimson at hearing her reject me.
"Oh, okay. Sorry," I said. I turned and walked away. Over the next hour and half, I asked three other women, more or less in my age bracket, to dance; I was turned down by all of them. My luck was apparently gonna be pure shit tonight, I thought.
I had been to Richard's dozens of times, but I had never asked any of the women there to dance before; this was a wakeup call for me. What was wrong with me? Was I chopped liver as the saying goes? Before, it had always just been a few drinks and some light conversation with the barkeeps or other customers seated at the bar. Now that I wanted to dance my batting average was nada. Maybe my wife and her sister knew something I didn't. I know I didn't have bad breath, or so I assumed. Looking around at the other patrons, I deduced that I was dressed okay. So what was wrong with me?
I paid the bill and left before the place got really full. Okay, yes, I was humiliated.
It was only about half past eight. I didn't want to go home. Especially not with my tail between my legs. If Jen were there, I would be catching a busload of heat; right now, I didn't need any of that. I wondered if in fact she were there, at home? It'd been around 6:30 when I'd left her; she could have gotten the neighbors kid, Rhonda, to sit if the teenager hadn't had a date herself. An idea came to me. I'd know soon enough about that, I thought, that is about whether she had gone out or not.
As bad as my luck had been tonight, I wondered about Jenny's luck. If she had gone out with Marie where would they have gone? Her favorite place, I knew, was the Hard Hat. It was across town, but I could get there in half an hour. If she had gotten a sitter, she might be there having the time of her life by now—and probably dissing me for not being cooperative. I smiled to myself. Would she be glad to see me? I was maybe about to find out.
I pulled into the parking lot and parked in the rear. My luck, good or bad was holding, Marie's car was parked two rows up from where I'd pulled in. I knew her plate number by heart, and I recognized it before I even got close. Was she alone or did she have my wife with her. I froze.
Just as I got close to Marie's car two naked feet planted themselves on the rear side window. The sounds of fucking were audible even with the windows closed. Marie had been married to a good man, Cass Wills. I doubted that Cass had come back to fuck his ex-wife in a bar's parking lot. I moved closer to the car. I heard the woman screech. It wasn't Marie; it was Jennifer.
My heart sank. My marriage was over; that was a fact. I just had one thing left to do.
.... There is more of this story ...