I got up to go to the bathroom and I noticed that the bedside clock read 3:15. The light from the full moon was coming in the window and it showed her long blond hair fanned out across the pillow. She had kicked the sheet off and the little dangly thing that was pierced in her skin at the navel reflected the light of the moon across her flat stomach as if from a prism. I gazed at her clean shaven pubes and then at the half inch nipples on her 34D cup breasts and wondered how in the hell we had we ended up in bed together.
It started in the tenth grade when my assigned seat in English Composition was right next to Maxine Barber. Maxine, she preferred Maxi, was sixteen going on twenty-five and she wasted no time in letting the rest of us know that we were nowhere near being her equals. She hung with the seniors and was a cheerleader and that made her just so much better than the rest of us lowly sophomores.
Mrs. Harbauer was a no nonsense teacher and as far as she was concerned whatever she said in her classroom was 'law' and that was the name of that tune. We were halfway through the semester when she broke the class into teams of two and assigned each team a topic to research and do a seventy-five hundred word paper on. Lucky me, I was given Maxine as a partner. Maxine promptly protested being placed with me and Mrs. Harbauer promptly let Maxine know where the bear shit in the woods.
Well! You couldn't tell Maxine what to do so she solved the problem by not working with me at all which did not bother me in the least because Maxine's attitude toward her peers sucked and I didn't want anything to do with the bitch anyway. So I set off on my own, did the research and started the on the paper. The paper was almost done when Maxine found out that the grade on the paper would count as sixty percent of the final grade for the course. No paper meant that Maxine would fail the class and that would lead to her being dropped from the cheerleading squad because of failure to maintain a 'C' average in all of her classes.
Suddenly Maxine decided that not all sophomores were losers and that I just happened to be one of the winners. She came to me and wanted to know what I wanted her to do as her part of the paper. I laughed at her and told her that her name would not be appearing on the paper. I told her that I had done all the work and the paper was three-quarters typed and she could kiss my ass and go back to running with the seniors. That kind of set her back on her heels. She was not used to being told no. She said a few unkind words about my parentage and stalked off.
The next day she was back apologizing and then she asked me what she could do to get her name on the paper.
"You don't have that much money Max."
"I don't like being called Max."
"Tough shit Max."
"Come on Henry, there must be something I can give you to put my name on the paper."
"I don't like being called Henry. I prefer Hank."
She was on the ragged edge of giving me back my "tough shit" when she caught herself.
"How about we go out on a date or two?"
"Come on Hen ... Hank, help me out here."
"I have no reason to help you Max."
"Would a couple of hand jobs change your mind?"
I laughed at her again. "You can't be serious Max. I can do that for myself."
"Can you give yourself a blow job?"
"No, but so what?"
"How about head for my name on the paper?"
I did not want to put Maxine's name on the paper, but I wasn't stupid. I was like every other guy my age — I wanted sex! I was not a virgin — hadn't been for two years — but pussy wasn't all that easy to come by when you were sixteen. I'd gotten some, but not near as much as I would have liked. Maxine wanted her name on the paper? I'd just have to find out how bad.
"A blow job won't do it Max. The price is two dates with you to take place on the two days prior to when the paper is due."
Her face lit up and then I gave her the rest of it. "And on both of those dates you will suck my cock and give me your pussy and your ass."
"No fucking way!"
"Okay, your choice" and I walked away and left her standing there and as I walked I wondered what she would do next as the paper was due in one week.
Two days later she was back. "You have me over a barrel Hank. I guess I'll have to do it, but I have something going every night for the next week. How about we do it on the sixteenth and seventeenth?"
I laughed and shook my head no. "Tell me something Max. Why would you want to put your name on a paper prepared by some one as dumb as you think I must be? The sixteenth and seventeenth are a week after the paper has to be in. Once that paper is turned in I have no leverage and when I tried to collect on the debt you would laugh at me and tell me to piss off. It happens before the paper is due. If you have something pressing for the two nights before the paper is due pick any other two days. Just make sure that they are before the paper is to be turned in."
She was looking at me with pure hatred in her eyes and I laughed and said:
"You know what I really should do? I should find out who the next girl on the junior varsity cheer squad to be moved up to varsity is and then see what kind of deal I can cut with her to see to it you get bumped of the squad so she can take your place. Yeah. I think that's a hell of a good idea. See you around Max" and I turned and started to walk away.
"Okay, okay, you win. Tuesday and Wednesday of next week."
A wise man once said, "When it comes to pussy there is good and there is bad and the worst I ever had was wonderful" and that was true when it came to Maxine. Her blow jobs were half hearted, but I enjoyed them anyway especially since it was Miss Better Than Thou who was giving them to me. She pretty much laid there for the two times I pounded her pussy, but I could tell she was making a huge effort not to give me the satisfaction of seeing her respond. It was a different story when it came to her ass. She got really active when I pushed my way up her dirt road. She yelled and screamed and tried to pull away, but I wasn't about to let that happen. When it was over she said:
"You are a real bastard Henry."
"Hank not Henry. I don't like being called Henry."
'Tough shit. You are still a bastard."
"Maybe, but this bastard will see to it that you get to stay on the cheerleading squad and every game I go to I'll see you there and know that you wouldn't be there if it wasn't for me and you know what? Every time you look up into the stands and see me there you will know it too. You may hate it, but you will still know it."
I turned the paper in and got a B+ on it and it would have been an A if I would have spent the two nights I spent fucking Maxine on proof reading.
The semester ended and I celebrated my seventeenth birthday on the first day of summer vacation. I got a job with a landscaping company cutting grass and I spent my days working and my nights running with my buddies. One night we were in Harry's Malt Shack and Norm Prince said:
"Did you hear the latest? Maine Barber is pregnant. She told Dick Spaulding that he was the daddy and he told her to piss off. Then she went to Bert Ellsworth and told him the same thing and he laughed at her. I wonder how many other seniors nailed her and could be the daddy?"
Billy Holbrook laughed and said, "Almost all of them would be my guess."
The next day when I got home from work I saw my dad's car and a car I didn't recognize in the driveway. I wondered what was up since my dad didn't usually get home that early.
When I went into the house I found my parents and Maxine and her parents sitting there. I started for my room and my father called out:
"Get in here Hank."
I walked into the room and he pointed to a chair and said, "Sit."
I sat down and my dad said, "We have a situation here that needs to be taken care of. The young lady is pregnant and she says that you are the father."
"Bullshit! Oops, sorry for that, but it is garbage. She told Dick Spaulding that he was the father and he told her to get lost so she went to Bert Ellsworth and told him the same thing and he laughed at her. She went to a couple of others and got the same treatment. She has been spreading for most of the seniors for the last year. No way am I the father of her baby."
"Did you have intercourse with her Henry?"
"Well she says that you are the father of her child so there it is."
Sixteen was the age of consent in our state so it was as shotgun of a wedding as there ever was and my dad turned the basement into an apartment for us. Our first night as a married couple Maxine said:
"I'm sorry Hank. I didn't want this any more than you."
"Then why did you tell them that I'm the one who got you pregnant?"
"Because they were yelling and screaming at me and all the guys I'd had sex with had told me to fuck off and die and I had to tell my parents something. Besides, it could be yours. The timing is close to being right."
I shrugged and said. "This is totally fucked."
"We will just have to make the best of things Hank" and she started to unbutton my shirt.
"What are you doing?"
"Making the best of things. We have a marriage to consummate."
It was totally different from our first time. She clutched me, pulled me to her, dug her fingernails in my ass, wrapped her legs around me, moaned, begged me to go harder and faster and pleaded with me to make her cum. When it was over she went down on me to get me back up again and her blow job that time was light years ahead of the first two she had given me. When she had me hard she pulled me on top of her and we did it again and then a third time.
After that we did it on the average of twice a night for the next month or so and then it slacked off to once every night and twice a night every once in a while. That part of married night agreed with me. The other part sucked. I had to leave my summer landscaping job and get a full time job at the box factory. Mom and dad gave us free room and board so every cent that I made had to go into the bank against Maxine's coming medical bills. There was no more running around in the evening with my buddies.
Maxine got a part time job at a boutique in the mall and when she wasn't working she helped mom around the house. Married Maxine was nowhere near where high school Maxine had been. It seemed that being pregnant and having to get married changed her personality one hundred and eighty degrees. When summer vacation was over I couldn't leave my job at the box factory so I had to settle for going to night school. Maxine held onto her part time job for the weekends, but she went back to school. She stayed on the cheerleading squad figuring that it would be okay for a couple of months.
I was not at all pleased with the situation. I might have only been seventeen, but I was not a brain dead seventeen. Maxine was back in the environment where she had been a punchboard for Spaulding, Ellsworth and several others and now those assholes knew that she was pregnant and they also knew that they couldn't make her any more pregnant and she had been easy before, right? And from Maxine's point of view it would be pretty much the same. She couldn't get any more pregnant and she had taken care of them before, right? No indeed, I was not a happy camper at all, but there was nothing that I could do about it. Both sets of parents were in agreement that Maxine should stay in school until the last minute and then after the baby was born they would take turns watching the baby until she could graduate. Me? Keep working to provide for mother and child and hopefully get my diploma from night school. Once I had that diploma my dad said he would get me into the tool and die apprentice program where he worked.
For a month and a half after school started I barely saw Maxine. I got off of work at five, went home, changed clothes, got a bite to eat and then headed off to night school where I had classes from six-thirty to nine-thirty. Sometimes Maxine was there when I got home from work and sometimes she wasn't because of 'after school activities.' When I got home from school I usually had some homework so our time together consisted of an hour or so before bedtime and the weekends and I couldn't help but notice that our lovemaking slowed way down. This cutback in sex combined with her 'after school activities' and my thoughts of Spaulding, Ellsworth and the rest fed my doubts and one Saturday morning it bubbled over.
I woke up with 'morning wood' and Maxine reached for it. I pushed her hand away and got out of bed. She got up and followed me and asked me what was wrong so I told her.
"I'm tired of putting in fourteen hour days between school and work while you are spending your days at school fucking around with the same guys you fucked around with before. One of whom could very well be the father of the kid that I'm going to be saddled with. What you are doing with them during school and during your so-called 'after school activities' has me so pissed off I could scream, but thanks to you telling your parents I'm to blame and your parents running to my parents I'm fucked and there isn't anything I can do about it."
She teared up and said, "I don't believe this. You really think I would have anything to do with those assholes after what they did to me? Not that they refused to admit that they were the father, but how they treated me when they did it. Dick told me to piss off and die and Bert laughed and called me a fuck pig and said I deserved to be pregnant and you think I'm seeing them? I'm a married woman now Hank. I may still be a teenager, but I'm not single any more. As for after school activities? They are part of going to school. You had them too when you were going. I don't know what is bothering you honey, but you have nothing to worry about."
"Then why has our love making gone to pot?"
"We do plenty on weekends."
"What about during the week?"
"You come home so tired from work and school that I don't want to bother you. If you want it all you have to do is let me know."
"I want it."
"So do I" she said as she reached for my cock."
She convinced me that I was wrong and things went well for a couple of more weeks and then one Friday night I showed up at school and there was a note taped to the door that evening classes had been cancelled so I decided to go to the football game. They were five minutes into the first quarter when I got there. I took a seat and looked at the cheerleaders for Maxine, but I didn't see her. I was sitting next to a couple of my classmates from when I was in regular classes and I asked them if they had seen Maxine that night.
"Not since school this afternoon."
"She didn't come out with the cheer squad tonight?"
"No, but why would she. She quit the squad a month ago."
I felt a cold fist in the pit of my stomach. I looked all around the stands and I didn't see Maxine anywhere. According to Maxine she was still a cheerleader. According to Maxine she had been at last Friday's game cheering on the Red and Gold. Suddenly I had no interest in the game and I got up and left. Maxine wasn't home when I got there and according to mom she hadn't come home from school.
"It's a game night honey; you know she goes right from school to the game."
I gave her a bleak look and didn't say anything. The game should have ended around eight so Maxine should have been home no later than eight-thirty if she intended to keep fooling everybody, but nine-thirty came and she still wasn't home. At ten the phone rang and my mom answered it. After about twenty seconds she turned to me and said:
"It's the hospital. Maxine has been in an accident."
I hurried down to the hospital and as soon as I got to the emergency room I had to pee so I ducked into the men's room just next to the nurses station. As I came out I heard one of the nurses say:
"I sure hope that I'm not on duty when her husband gets here."
I have no idea why I suddenly stopped and stood where I was, just out of sight of the nurses, but something told me that I would want to hear what was going to be said.
"That wasn't him in the car with her?"
"Not according to the IDs."
"So why don't you want to be here?"
"You kidding? Hubby comes in, finds wife was in an accident with a man and according to the EMTs on the scene his cock is out, her panties are on the floor of the car, her shirt is open, her bra is off and her boobs are hanging out there in the wind? The last time something like that happened we had to call the cops to come and restrain the husband."
"So you are saying that we should be somewhere else when he shows."
"You got it."
"What's his name? Who should I be looking for?"
"Wilcox, Henry Wilcox."
I stepped out of the doorway to the john and said, "Too late ladies; I'm already here, but you won't need the cops. Is she alive?"
"Yes Mr. Wilcox."
"Is she going to stay alive?"
"You will have to ask the doctor that."
"No I don't. You know and I know you know. Tell me what is going on and I'll walk out of here with no fuss."
"They looked at each other and then the older one said, "She will be all right, but she lost the baby."
I picked up a piece of paper and a pen and wrote a short note. It said:
"Don't bother bringing your cheating, lying ass home" and I signed it and asked the nurse to give it to Maxine. Then I walked out of the hospital.
Of course that was not the end of it. I don't know if the nurse gave Maxine the note or not, but Saturday I got a call from Maxine asking me why I hadn't come down and when I didn't answer she asked me to come and get her.
"Walk, hitchhike, or get whoever picks up the guy you were with last night to give you a ride to your parents house. You aren't coming back here. I'll put all your shit out on the driveway and your dad can pick it up" and I hung up on her. Twenty minutes later the phone rang and my mom took the call. She covered the mouthpiece with her hand and said:
"Its Maxi's mom. She said you told Maxi you wouldn't pick her up and that she couldn't come home."
"I did and I meant it. She can go live with her parents or the guy she was cheating on me with, but she isn't coming here."
I got up and left the room. About two hours later I was in my basement room working on some homework when my dad came down and asked me to come upstairs. I came up and found Maxine and her parents sitting on the living room couch. My dad went right to it.
"What is this nonsense about you not going to the hospital to get your wife and where do you get off telling her she could not come back here? In case you have forgotten this is not your house and you do not get to issue the orders around here."
"Okay. So what have all of you planned for me this time?"
My mom jumped in with, "What is wrong with you Henry? Your wife was in an accident and she is hurting. How can you be so cold to her?"
"I' glad you asked." I proceeded to tell them everything that I'd found out at the game and at the hospital. "You all ganged up on me and railroaded me last time, but it isn't going to happen again. She is running around just as she did before we were forced to get married and even though I'm not even eighteen yet I do know that I do not have to put up with a cheating wife."
I turned to my dad and said, "You are right. This is your house and you get to make the rules, but she is not living with me any more. You bring her back into this house and I'll move out. If she needs a place to live it can be with her folks or with the guy whose car she was half naked in last night, but she is not living with me."
Her dad started to get up off the couch saying, "You can't call my daughter names like that."
"I damned sure can. I told you back when you ran me through that shotgun wedding that she had accused half of the senior class of being the father of the baby she managed to lose last night while she was out cheating on me. She was a whore then and she is a whore now. All you have to do is check the EMT and police reports on her accident and a call to the school can verify that she quit the cheer squad a month ago. A month ago! A month of her telling us that she has been going to the games and cheering every Friday night when she isn't here. I'm not making any wild accusations here. You can check on everything I've said and see for yourself."
He sat back down, turned to Maxine and said, "Is any of what he is saying true?"
"No daddy. I didn't quit cheer squad. They dropped me because I was slowing down because of my pregnancy, but I told everyone I was still on the squad because I felt guilty for letting them down so I kept quiet about it."
"So where did you spend your Friday nights?"
"I still went to the games."
"And your after school activities?"
"I was working with the girls on the JV squad helping them get ready to move up to varsity."
"And Friday night?"
"I got sick during the game and Ralph offered to give me a ride home. We were on the way when some drunk hit us."
Maxine's mom said, "See Henry? There is a perfectly reasonable explanation for it. I think you owe Maxi an apology."
"I don't believe you people. She lies through her teeth and you tell me to apologize. First, I was at the game Friday night. I got there just after the first quarter started and I looked all over for Max and she was not there. I sat with Donny, Paul and Bev and they told me that Max had quit the cheer squad and had not been to a game since quitting. Secondly, the accident she was in happened at Thornhill and Martin Drive which is ten miles west of the school. In case you have forgotten, we live six miles east of the school. That is a hell of a way out way to be coming home from the game sick. Lastly there are the EMT and police reports."
I was fudging on that since I hadn't seen the reports either — if there even were any reports at all — and I was just going on what I'd heard from the nurses.
"We are expected to believe that the impact of the accident was so hard that it made Max's panties fall off of her and land on the floor of the car? The hit was so hard that it made Max's shirt come unbuttoned, her bra to unsnap, and release her breasts out into the open? The collision caused Ralph's pants to unzip and his penis to jump out? Yeah! I can see how that might happen."
I looked around the room at everyone and then said, "I don't care what you do with her cheating ass. Just keep her away from me" and then I walked out of the room and went back down to the basement. Ten minutes later my dad came down and told me that Maxine was going home with her parents and that Monday he would check around and find a councilor that Maxine and I could sit down with to try and work things out. He obviously wasn't going to pay any attention to whatever I said so I just nodded my head and said nothing.
Monday after work I stopped at the bank and took out all the money I had been saving to take care of Maxine's and the baby's medical expenses and then rented myself a room at Bailey's boarding house. Tuesday I took half a day off work and moved all of my things to the boarding house.
It took three days for my dad to figure out that I had moved out and wasn't coming back and I found him leaning on the fender of my car when I got off work on Friday. He told me how disappointed he and my mother were in me because of my failure to accept my responsibilities as a husband and then I told him how disappointed I was in him for not listening to a word I'd said.
"She is a whore and a cheat. She has always been a whore and I am done with her. If you and mom can't accept that then go on home and leave me alone and I'll make sure to stay out of your way so you don't have to look at me and feel disappointed."
I got in my car and drove off leaving him standing there.
For the next four months I went to work, went to my night classes and hung out with my buddies on Saturday nights, I never saw Maxine or heard anything of her, but then I wasn't asking about her either. I never heard a word from my parents so I didn't bother contacting them. Why remind them that they had a son they were disappointed in.
Just before spring break I was served with divorce papers and I tossed them in the trash without reading them. I kept working and going to night school and then it was June and my eighteenth birthday. I had enough regular and night school credits to take the test for my GED so I took the test and then I took my birth certificate and GED certificate down to the recruiting office and three days later I was on the way to Fort Knox, Kentucky to begin basic training.
I served my three years and then let myself be talked in to reenlisting for three more and pretty close to the end of my second enlistment — just when I was contemplating going for twenty — a new lieutenant was assigned to our unit. The man was a flaming asshole and for some reason he picked me to pick on. I received two Article 15s in a six week period and when the first shirt called me into his office and handed me the reenlistment papers I handed them back and told him no way. He tried to talk me into signing and told me that Lt. Mullins wouldn't be around forever and then I pointed out that Mullins had already given me two totally underserved Article 15s and if I stayed in all I had to look forward to was a summary courts martial or worse. Mullins would be around for at least a year and that would be more than enough time for him to railroad me into Leavenworth.
"Thanks top, but no thanks."
My last night on post I snuck over to the BOQ and poured sugar in Mullins gas tank and the next day I was riding the big gray dog on my way home.
I found a job at Wayman Industries in the shipping and receiving department and in six months I was the loading dock foreman. One year later I was chosen to fill the manager's slot. It helped that my Army time was spent in the Quartermasters and moving and handling material was what I did. I was able to find a civilian computer program that I was able to adapt the Army's inventory control program to and that saved Wayman's a lot of time and money.
When I got home I hit all of my old haunts and reconnected with some of my old buddies and started getting together with them on Friday and Saturday nights. One day I ran into my uncle Ray in Wal-Marts and he asked me if my parents knew that I was back in town and I told him probably. Two of dad's lodge brothers worked at Wayman and they had more than likely told dad that I worked with them.
"Aren't you going to get in touch with them?"
"Probably not. Don't want to remind them of the irresponsible son they were so disappointed in."
"That was years ago Hank."
"Maybe so Uncle Ray, but they have made absolutely no attempt to talk with me since I walked away from Maxine. They want to talk to me they know how to do it."
He shook his head and walked away.
It was a Saturday night and I was at Riley's Roadhouse waiting for a couple of friends. I was sitting at the bar watching the TV mounted up on the wall and nursing a Pabst Blue Ribbon when someone took the stool next to me and a voice said:
"Buy a girl a drink?"
I looked over and saw Maxine. She looked damned good and as I was looking at her and wondering what to say the bartender set a vodka tonic down in front of her. She smiled at me and told the bartender to put it on my tab. He looked at me and I shrugged and nodded a yes.
"How have you been Hank?"
"Pretty much okay Maxi."
"That's the first time you've ever called me Maxi."
"It is the first time I've heard you say Hank without a sneer in your voice."
"Can we take a booth and talk?"
I didn't see any of the guys I was waiting for so I said okay and we moved to a booth. We sat down and she said:
"You are looking pretty good."
"You aren't looking to shabby yourself."
"No sense beating around the bush here so I'll get right to it. I'm sorry for what happened."
"Sorry for doing it or sorry for getting caught?"
She smiled at that and said, "A little bit of both." She hesitated for a moment and then said, "No, this is a time for honesty so make that seventy thirty with the seventy being the sorry for getting caught."
"So why did you do it?"
She sat there quiet for a bit and then said, "I did it because I was young and dumb. I did it because I was rebelling."
"Rebelling? Rebelling against what?"
"Against being in the situation I was in."
"I don't understand that."
"I didn't want to be married any more than you did Hank. I was forced into it the same as you were. My parents may have acted like they didn't think their little girl was a slut, but they knew the truth. I went to them, told them I was pregnant and asked them to help me get an abortion, but they refused. They made me tell them who I had been with and then they went to the parents of the guys I'd named and the guys admitted to screwing me, but said no way the baby was theirs and their parents stood behind them and told my parents to take a hike. You were the last name on the list and I hoped that your parents would stand behind you like the other parents stood behind their sons and that would force my mom and dad to arrange for the abortion, but your parents caved and we were forced to get married.
"It was just wrong Hank. We had nothing to build a marriage on. I didn't love you and you didn't love me. All there was to cement us was a baby that we both knew only had a one in seven chance of being yours. I liked you Hank. I liked being able to make love to you every night and for what it is worth none of the others was any better than you. I liked the way you stepped up even though you doubted that the baby was yours, but although I liked you I didn't love you. I did love screwing around and I loved making it with other guys.
"I was a slut Hank and I loved being a slut. I wasn't ready to stop being a party girl and go into a life where I could only have one man. I managed to be a one man woman for five weeks after we were married and then I was back to being what I was before I got pregnant. Actually it was better because I got a kick out of cheating on you and there was no shortage of guys who wanted to screw the married pregnant slut. A couple of guys were already planning a gangbang for me when I got to my eighth month and I was telling them who I wanted there and then that accident happened and everything went to shit. You walked, my parents pretty much became jailers until I graduated, got a job and moved into my own place. What about you? What have you been doing?"
I told her about my time in the service and my job at Wayman. About then the guys I was waiting on showed and I told Maxi I had to go join them. She took a piece of paper out of her purse, wrote on it, handed it to me and said:
I looked at the paper and saw that it was a phone number. I put it in my pocket and went to join my friends. I forgot about that piece of paper until I found it while doing my laundry. I looked at it for a few seconds, then muttered "nah" and tossed it into the wastebasket with the lint from the dryer's filter.
The next year flew by. The job was going well. I was dating a lot, getting laid a lot and even had two fairly long term relationships — long term if four months can be considered long term. I found a small three bedroom house with a two car attached garage that I could afford and I took on a thirty year mortgage. I turned one of the bedrooms into a home office and den and started spending my week ends improving the place.
I saw Uncle Ray every so often and he always asked if I'd seen my parents and I always said no. He kept telling me that I needed to talk to them and I kept telling him they knew where to find me.
It was another Saturday night and I was at Riley's Roadhouse with two guys I worked with. Tom and Phil were sitting across from me in the booth and I saw both of them suddenly look past me and smile just as I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned and saw Maxine standing there. The reason for Tom and Phil's smiles was obvious. Maxine looked drop dead gorgeous.
"You haven't come over and asked me for a dance so I decided to come to you."
She extended a hand and I said to myself, "Why the hell not" and I got out of the booth and we moved out onto the dance floor. A waltz was playing and as I took her in my arms for the very first time on a dance floor she said:
"You never called."
"What would be the point?"
"Who knows? It was years ago Hank and I was a wild dumb bitch then. I've grown up since then. You might even like the me I am now."
"Yeah! Right! I can see it now. I take you out on a date and your dad comes looking for me with that shotgun again."
"No fear of that. Dad was killed in an auto accident about a year after you left."
"Sorry to hear that. How's your mom getting along?"
"Good I guess. I haven't talked to her in a while. She remarried two years after dad died and she and her new husband moved to Canada."
I couldn't think of anything to say to that so I changed the subject. The song ended and she asked me to join her and I begged off saying that I was with friends and we had plans for the evening. She gave me a disappointed look and then said:
"Call me Hank, please?"
"I didn't keep your number."
"I'm in the book."
"I don't know your last name."
"Sure you do. You gave it to me."
I took her back to her table and was halfway back to my booth when her "You gave it to me" hit me. She still had my last name! That was something to think about. I would have thought she would have gotten rid of it and gone back to her maiden name. Then something else occurred to me. If she still had my last name it would seem that in the eight years since I walked out of my parent's living room leaving her sitting on the couch she had never remarried. Why not? She was gorgeous. She had to have at least half the single guys in town after her (and probably some of the married). Curious. Curious indeed.
When I got back to the booth Phil asked, "Who was that fox?"
"You had a girlfriend like that and you let her get away?"
"Not ex-girlfriend, wife."
"That's even worse. I have to seriously question your judgment and sanity son."
"Looks aren't everything Phil. Remember that. Words to live by."
Of course I thought about the things I'd thought about and curiosity being what it is it hung around and finally got to the point where I wanted to find out the answers. I didn't know any of Maxine's current friends and I couldn't think of any mutual friends that we might still have so the only way I was going to find any answers was to talk to Maxine and that meant calling her and asking her out.
Did I really want to do that? Was I really that curious?"
I looked her up in the phone book and gave her a call.
I was there to pick her up at six sharp and she asked me in. She apologized for not being ready to go, but her baby sitter was running late.
"Well sure. I can't leave Merrily here alone. She's only seven."
"Oh. I didn't know that you had gotten married again."
Jut then the door bell rang and it was the sitter. Maxine told her that Merrily was in the bath tub and to make sure that she was in bed by nine and we left. The plan for a night was dinner and a show. After dinner was over and we were having an after dinner drink Maxine said:
"Go ahead Hank"
"It is written all over your face. You are dying to ask questions so go ahead and ask."
I sat there trying to think of what to say and Maxine said, "Okay, I'll start the ball rolling. Merrily is seven going on eight and I am a single mom, but not by choice. Her father couldn't marry me so he finally packed up and left."
"He couldn't marry you? Why, was he already married?"
"No. I was"
"You remarried a guy with the same last name as mine?"
"Think about it Hank. He couldn't marry me because I was already married. I haven't remarried and I still have your last name. Put the pieces of the puzzle together Hank."
I sat there staring at her as what she was getting at finally dawned on me. "You can't be serious. I saw the divorce papers. You had them served on me."
"But you never signed them and sent them back."
"No way Maxi; no way are we still married."
"Way Hank. You never signed the papers and daddy, who was paying for the divorce, died and I couldn't afford the lawyer by myself so things sort of petered out. By the time I had a decent enough job and was making enough money to go back and pursue the divorce Merrily came along and I suddenly had more important uses for the money. Being a single mommy means you have to budget and a divorce was way down on the list of priorities. I have a question for you. Did you ever get married again? Did you unknowingly commit bigamy?"
"Thank God no! I came close once, but never did it. Damn. This does complicate things."
"Why? It just means that if you ever decide to get married again you will have to divorce me. Until then it doesn't really matter."
"What about you? What if you want to get married again?"
"I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. The line in front of a single mom's door is never very long and it is even shorter when the single mom has a reputation."
"You still doing that?"
"Good God no. I finally woke up to the fact that it was self destructive behavior, but the town isn't all that big and people have long memories. I never lack for dates. Guys are always asking me out hoping that I'm still the same old Maxi, but most of them end up disappointed."
"Most of them?"
"Don't act dumb and surprised Hank. I may not spread it around like I used to, but I still have needs. How about you Hank? Do you have needs?"
I just looked at her because, quite frankly, I was at a loss for what to say. She reached across the table and touched my hand and said:
"We can skip the show and go to your place." She giggled and then said, "After all you are my husband and husbands do have certain rights."