On the Rebound
Copyright© 2010 by sagacious
Romantic Sex Story: Chapter 1 - Surviving in war is easy compared to surviving relationships.
Oh damn, here we go again. I don't know why I let Don talk me into this anymore. It's always the same thing. These college girls always want to go out on a first date as a double. They think that it will make them safer. What it means is that Don needs someone to go with him on a blind date about once a month. Since a blind date is the only kind I can get, I get drafted to go with him.
Don is my best friend, and when girls aren't involved, he is a great guy. We can make music and develop plans for the future together with ease. The problem is that I am not very good looking, and I have trouble talking to girls; while Don is very handsome, and has lines that could make a gigolo blush.
Tonight was the same situation that happened most of the time. Don was going out with the blond goddess, and I was with her brown haired roommate. The poor girl wasn't unattractive, but she was overwhelmed by her friend.
My problem was that my date could not take her eyes off of Don. I couldn't even get her to go out on the dance floor unless Don was out there as well. Unfortunately, Don had conned me into driving, and I could not leave before he and blondie were ready to go. One thing was certain; I was not going to get caught going parking with them again. I had done that once, and had trouble sleeping for weeks afterward. What hurt the most was that I had had a crush on the girl for months, and had to listen to my best friend take her cherry. I was not going to do that again.
On the plus side, I didn't know these two, hell, I wasn't even sure of their names after being with them for over 3 hours.
Finally blondie said that they needed to get back to the dorm before curfew. They were both freshmen, and had to be back in the dorm before 1 am.
Brown hair and I sat in the car in front of their dorm as Don kissed her roommate goodbye.
"You know, all you have to do is wait a week or two and he'll ask you out. Don never dates a girl for more than two weeks. I'll let him know that you are interested."
"Do you really think that he would go out with me?"
"Don will date anything in a skirt, miss. All you have to do is to be patient."
Don was finally done feeling her friend up, so I let her out of the car as he walked back.
I didn't think anything more about the girls. Blondie would go out with him on her own now, and I would not be needed.
I forgot about them until I was reminded, that is.
Saturday morning I was heading out of my apartment to go running. I alternated running, lifting weights, and swimming to keep in shape. On this morning, a little over a week from the date with blondie and her friend, I stepped out of the door to be confronted by blondie.
"Why didn't you warn me? Why did you just sit there and not say anything?"
"If you are referring to how Don treats women, then you would not have believed me. Why haven't any of your sorority sisters said anything to you? Don has been going through your dorm floor by floor; I figured you knew all about him by now."
"Well no one ever told me, and now I have to watch him do it to my friend too. She is head over heels about him and nothing I say will help."
"Yeah, I know. I've seen it more times than I can count. Every girl thinks that she can change him. She has something that no one else has and can hold on to him. They are all wrong. I'm not sure that Don even likes girls; I think he just uses them. He is probably closet gay and doesn't know it."
"But he is your friend, haven't you ever said anything to him?"
"Not my problem sweetie. It's not as if he is taking girls away from me, after all."
"Don't you even care about how much pain he is causing?"
"He isn't causing any pain, you do that to yourselves. Don doesn't lie or promise anything. I heard him tell you that he was not looking for a long term commitment, and you ignored it. You beautiful girls take it the worst. You get a little of your own medicine and can't believe it could happen to you. Now if you don't mind, I need to run today."
I took off running and left her standing there with her mouth open. When I got back 5 miles later, she was gone. I still didn't know her name.
That afternoon I was cleaning out my car, a 1969 Dodge Dart Swinger 340. I had gotten it when a cousin had not come back from 'Nam. My aunt did not want the memories around, so she sold it to me at a good price. The car was lime green with a vinyl roof and a rally stripe across the trunk. It was a fun and cheap rocket.
I was leaning into the trunk rearranging my tools, when I heard a pleasant voice behind me inquire, "Do you really think that I am beautiful?"
Startled, I banged my head on the trunk trying to stand up and turn around at the same time.
"Oww. Damn, that hurt. What the hell do you want from me? Of course you are beautiful, but you don't need me to tell you that. You know what you look like. You've played men your whole life based upon your appearance. You just don't know how to act when someone doesn't fall at your feet. Get used to it blondie, there are a lot of beautiful women out there, and this is going to happen once in a while. Some guys are not affected by your looks and will not bow and scrape to you."
"Now I say again, what do you want from me? Are you going to keep trying to make me feel guilty for my friend's actions?"
"No, you are right; it is not your problem. Though I don't know how you can remain friends with him the way he treats you."
I sighed, "I don't know that I will for much longer. Don thinks that he is doing me a favor and that maybe one of these girls will like me. He doesn't realize that when we are together it just emphasizes how homely I am. He thinks that all I need to do is to have a little confidence and I will get my own dates. But then, he has never had to deal with rejection. I bet you never have either, huh blondie?"
"No, I haven't, and I must admit that it is not a very pleasant feeling. You are not homely Mark, I would say that plain is a better description of your looks, but that could be changed with a little work. I heard Don say that you were a freshman like me, but I know that he is a junior, how are you two friends?"
"I did a tour for Uncle and Don didn't. We were friends all through high school and played in a couple of bands together. He is about the only guy I knew back then who is still in town, so we hooked up when I got back. I need to get ready for work, so unless you have something else you want to say, goodbye."
"Wait, would you give me a ride back to the dorm? I had a friend drop me off here without even thinking of how to get back."
What in the hell was going on here? Either this girl was as ditzy as a basketball, or she had an ulterior motive. I just didn't know what that could be. "Yes, I'll give you a lift, but I have to get ready first. I work at Noble Roman's on the levy and I can drop you on the way. Would you like to come in while I change, or stay here with the car?"
She got a very satisfied expression. Okay, now I understood a little bit better. She was manipulating me and thought that she was back in control. Should I shock her, or play along to see what she had in mind? She didn't say anything, just smiled and pointed at the building.
I led her in, and at my apartment I waved her in through the door. "You know, if you are going to keep popping up here, I ought to know your name. I am sure Don introduced you, but I wasn't paying much attention as I didn't expect to see you again."
"Okay, that explains why you kept calling me blondie. I wondered why you were being so rude; my name is Robin, Robin Howell. I know that your first name is Mark, but Don didn't mention your last name."
"Reynolds, Mark Reynolds. May I get you something to drink? I have Coke, and Old Milwaukee. Take your choice."
Robin sat down on my wood framed couch, "Coke will be fine. This is really a very nice place. Not what I would expect from a college freshman."
I handed her a coke. "Thank you, now I really have to get ready for work. You can watch TV if you want to, or listen to some music; I shouldn't be too long."
As I was stripping down in the bedroom, I heard the stereo break out with "Question" by The Moody Blues. And that was it, a question, what the hell did this girl want?
Three songs later I was refreshed and dressed in my brown shirt and pants. It was just another uniform, like so many others I had worn.
"All right Robin, shall we go?"
She had already been in my car before, although it was the back seat last time, but she gushed over the power rumbling through the floor boards. I could see the calculating look in her eyes though; she was trying to work me.
As I pulled up at her dorm I asked her, "Am I going to be running into you again?"
"You could be seeing a bit more of me Mark. Thank you for the ride."
Work was the normal Saturday night in a college town. We sold pizza and beer and the place was jumping. I spent a lot of my time in back preparing more supplies for the pizza line. The business during the day had been unusually brisk and the prepared items were low.
At about 11:30 I was back out at the counter taking orders, when Robin came up. I had to put a stop to this. I pointed to the end of the counter out of the way and met her over there. "Look here Robin, this has got to stop. As a matter of pride, I do not go out with Don's castoffs. I know that you are feeling hurt and need to be wanted again, but you are barking up the wrong tree. I apologize if I have you wrong, but please quit following me. Unlike my friend, I am looking for a long term commitment, and it will not be with anyone who looks like you."
The betrayal in her eyes would haunt me for a while, but I had seen worse. My dreams were already pretty gruesome places; this wouldn't make much of a dent on them. My fun in the Far East for Uncle Sugar still dominated most of my nightmares.
"I though that you said I was beautiful?" The pain was strong in her voice.
"Yes, you are, and that is the problem. You have already shown yourself to be vain and shallow. Beautiful women have way too many temptations to cheat, and most do. I need someone who wants to have a stable home and take care of our children without my having to wonder where she is. You would be way too much trouble. There would always be guys flirting with you and trying to take you away from me, and at some point you would go. I don't need that kind of country western song life. If you still need confirmation of your appeal, go bat your eyes at Bill over there on the register; he'll be glad to take you out. Now I have work to do; goodbye."
So much for the idea of playing along. I left her crying with her head in her hands and went back into the back of the store. She was gone when I came back out. I wonder if she took my advice and approached Bill? He didn't say anything, so I guess not.
The manager's wife, Marsha, cornered me during cleanup. "I heard what you said to that poor girl Mark. You were very cruel to her, and you need to know that not all women are like that. How did someone so young get so disillusioned?"
"The number of 'Dear John' letters that arrived in country was amazing. Every one of the guys who got them had been showing pictures of cheerleaders and models. The guys with plain little homemakers were safe. That is how I got so cynical. This girl has been stalking me all day, and I had to put a stop to it. Being nice didn't do any good, so I had to get rude. I hope that it worked, because I don't need to have anything to do with a girl like her. All these prom queens are too spoiled to make a good wife; I need someone much more basic. All she is trying to do is to take revenge on my friend by dating, then dumping me. She has no actual interest in a lump like me."
"You are wrong Mark, but I can see that you're unlikely to change your mind. Please don't be too harsh with her if she persists. I'll try to watch out for her and keep her away when you are working. That is the best that I can do."
"Thanks Marsha, too bad you don't have a sister my age, I could be very interested in her."
Marsha laughed and left me to finish cleaning.
Sunday afternoon I was popping popcorn, waiting for Don to come over and watch football with me. My TV was bigger than his, and his mother would not let him keep enough beer in the house to make it all the way through two games. I had a case of Old Milwaukee in the fridge just waiting for him.
The door bell chimed, so I hollered for him to come on in. The door opened slowly, and I glanced over, only to see Robin timidly enter the room. Oh damn, what am I going to have to do to get rid of this girl?
"Robin! What in the hell are you doing here? I thought that I made it plain to you that I did not want to see you any more. You should have taken my advice and asked Bill out, he would have been thrilled." As I was saying this Don walked in through the still open door and looked at Robin in amazement. He probably thought that she was here to try and get him to take her back. I almost wished that he would. He then proceeded to say almost the same thing I had.
"Robin, what are you doing here?"
The blond looked at Don and then at me and it was obvious that she was a heartbeat away from tears.
"Ever since you dumped her she has been stalking me Don. What the hell am I supposed to do to get rid of her?"
He looked at me with amazement then. "Why would you want to? No more dates than you go on, I would think that you would welcome the chance to be with a girl like Robin."
"I can get my own damn girl Don; I don't need your fucking leftovers. The fact that she has been with you, is enough to make sure that I never want to touch her. I just can't make her understand that. She thinks that she can manipulate me like she has all the other men in her life, until she met you. Now she needs to treat me like shit to show that she still can. I don't need this, and I'm not going to put up with it."
I was very angry by this point. I had pretty much decided that I was done hanging out with Don. My conscience would not allow me to overlook his actions any more. I had been alone for a long time; I could stand it for a while longer. Most people that said they were my friends were just a drain on my time anyway. I could put more effort into my studies if I didn't have to take time with them.
Robin was standing there looking at me and openly bawling.
"That was pretty harsh Mark; I didn't know that it bothered you so much. Why haven't you ever said anything before?"
"What good would that have done? You have been the same since I met you 6 years ago. I've ignored it for the most part, but after a while it starts to get to me. I think that you had better watch TV at home from now on."
We had both been ignoring Robin during our discussion. She had been crying and looking back and forth between us as we talked. She finally spoke up.
"Mark, I came by to tell you that you had it wrong. I was interested in you, but it had nothing to do with how Don treated me. I was how you had treated me, like a gentleman. Up until last night and today you had treated me very nice, and I liked it. I wanted to see more of you and be friends."
"Yeah, I know; friend, but not boyfriend. I've heard it about a dozen times before, and it doesn't hurt any less now than it did then. I don't need your pity any more than I do Don's. Now would you both please leave? I have some school work to get done."
"Come on Robin, I think that we have exposed some very raw nerves. Mark isn't responsible for what he is saying now and we need to leave. I'll try to talk to him after he calms down." As he was saying this, Don was leading a very stunned Robin back out the door.
"DAMN YOU!! I TOLD YOU THAT I DON'T NEED YOUR GODDAMN PITY! I SURVIVED A FUCKING WAR, I CAN SURVIVE WITHOUT YOU!!"
I was yelling at the top of my lungs by this time. I slammed the door behind them and shot the bolt home. I then leaned against the door and cried. I never cried, but that is what happened. Of course I didn't get any school work done. After a while I put on shorts and a sweat shirt and went for a run. I don't know how far I ran, but I suddenly realized that it was getting dark, and I had no idea where I was. I was lucky that instincts had taken over when I started out, because I had buckled on my fanny pack with my apartment keys, and my wallet. I remembered seeing a small shopping plaza a few blocks before I had stopped. I went back there and there was a restaurant with a pay phone. I got change and my location from a waitress and called a cab. In later years it would be learned that what I had just gone through had a name. Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Not much was known about it now, but whole books would be written about it in the future. Right now I was embarrassed by my actions, and I had no idea how to correct them. There was no way to apologize for my words. I had hurt two people with no excuse.
When I got back into my apartment, my phone was ringing. I was afraid that it would be Don, and I had no idea what to say to him; but it could be mom, and she would be worried if I did not answer.
"Mark?" Asked my father, "Are you alright? Your mother just talked to Don, and she is worried about you. Why don't you come on over to the house for dinner and we'll talk a bit."
"Okay dad, I guess that would be a good idea. I'll see you in a little while."
"Good Mark, now you drive carefully. Don't try to get rid of any anger with that hot rod you drive."
"Its okay dad, I'm not mad any more, I'll see you soon."
This was probably a good idea, as I had said. My folks were good, solid people, and if anyone could help me with this it would be them. They lived in the northern part of town just across the river. I could have lived with them, but after my stint in the Army I was used to having a lot more freedom than that would have afforded me. With the GI bill and my job I was doing okay financially and saw no reason to go back home.
I got a quick shower and drove over to my parents' house. Mom met me at the back door and gave me a big hug. I hugged her back, then picked her up and carried her into the kitchen, where I set her back on her feet next to her chair.
"Mark, you'll hurt yourself doing that."
"Aw mom, I lift more than that when I am unloading bags of flour at the pizza shop. Hi dad, I'm glad you called. I need to talk to someone, I need some help."
"The chili is in the crockpot Mark, go ahead and get a bowl and we'll talk while we eat. Would you like a cup of coffee?"
"Sure dad, that sounds good."
I gathered a bowl of chili and sat at the table. I dithered for a bit trying to get my thoughts in order.
"Your friend called Mark, he was concerned for you. Don says that he has never seen you angry like that before, and he is not sure what he did to cause it. He also says that the young lady is beside herself with grief and pain. He says that you hurt her a lot. What is going on son, what is bothering you?" My mom asked.
My folks were not demonstrative in their affections, not to each other and not to me. But I never for one second doubted that they loved me and wanted the best for me. I could see the worry in their eyes, and I was still not sure how to respond.
"I'm not sure what it is mom. It has been building up for a long time, ever since I got back, and it just exploded today. I get so frustrated by how I am treated by girls my age. They all act as if I am their brother or something, yet they fall all over Don. They all say that they want a nice guy, then go for the bad one every time. You've told me before that I just have to be patient, but it is getting old. Don thinks that he is helping me, but he just makes me more frustrated. Now this girl is throwing herself at me, and I can't trust it. I know that if I let her get to me, she'll just dump me later. For some reason it all came to a head today and I exploded. I know that I hurt them both, but I couldn't help myself. I suddenly felt so much pain and betrayal that I couldn't stand it, and I let it out at them. I would apologize, but there is nothing I could say that would help. The bad part is that I can't say that it won't happen again. I feel like a spring under pressure and I am likely to explode at any time. The best thing would be for them to stay away from me, I'm simply not stable."
"Could this have anything to do with your experiences overseas?"
"I don't know dad. That was hell and I try my best to not think about it, at least when I am awake."
"Do you mean that you are still having nightmares?"
"Well yeah, maybe not as often as I did right after I got home, but I still have them."
"I think that we need to get in touch with VA and have you talk to someone about this son. You should not be having problems like that at this late date. There is definitely something wrong."
"Okay, but can you talk to Don for me and try to explain? I don't know what to say to him, and there is no way that I can talk to Robin. She must hate me now, which is probably a good thing."
"If you just say to him what you did to us he'll understand. I'm sure that he will forgive you. Don has been your friend for a long time."
"I'm not sure that I want him to mom, I can no longer ignore his actions, and I doubt that I can convince him to change. I think I would be better off without any friends. If there is no one around me, then I can't hurt any one else."
"That's no way to live son. A man needs to share his life with people, or it has no meaning. You need to make more friends, not less."
I just shook my head and started to eat the meal that I had let get cold. Even cold my dad's chili was good eating.
I stayed in my old room that night. It was somehow comforting, and I slept better than I had for weeks. I had to get up early so I would have time to stop by my apartment and pick up my books and such for class.
That day and the next two I went through in a daze. I had no idea what went on in class and I was at work going through the motions. Marsha was spending a lot of time with me at work, but not talking much. I just did what I had to and nothing more.
Wednesday I was to be off work, and got home from classes not knowing what I was going to do. When I got to my door, I just stopped and stared. Robin was sitting on the floor with her back against my door.
"Please don't get upset Mark. I really need to talk to you. Marsha told me that you were off tonight and this was all that I could think of to do."
Robin looked like she had not had a very good few days either. She looked so forlorn sitting there staring up at me.
I shrugged and held my hand down for her. She took it and a shock passed through me. This was the first time that we had actually touched. I lifted her up beside me and unlocked the door. I led her in and pulled out a seat at the kitchen table then proceeded to make coffee.
I didn't know what to do, why was she here? How could I make up for what I had done?
"Will you listen to me now Mark?"
"I don't seem to have much choice here. I'd say that I'm sorry about what I said to you, but that is pretty inadequate. I don't know what set me off, but you didn't deserve what I said."
"Thank you for that Mark, but I deserved some of it. Don told me some of your history, and I can understand why you were so leery of me. Did girls actually go out with you to get you to introduce them to him? I can't believe how much that had to hurt."
"Yes, they did, and yes, it did. But that was a long time ago. It had nothing to do with you."
"You said that you had survived a war, and I asked Don about it. He told me about some of the things you hinted at from Vietnam. He said that you would never talk about it directly, but what you did say made him very glad that he was not there."
"I try not to say anything about that period of my life. My folks think I need to talk to someone about it though and they are going to get in touch with the Veterans Administration to get me some help. I was a medic flying medevac and we flew into a lot of hot zones. I saw a lot of things I really don't want to remember. You don't need to be around someone as unstable as I am."
"I'll be the one to decide that, not you. You fascinate me and I want to get to know you better. I have never met a man who could make me forget everything like you do. I know that I have been self absorbed and vain, I want you to help me be a better person."
"That's a hell of a load to place on a guy. I showed the other day that I'm not a very good person; how can I help you?"
"By not letting me get away with my shit. Every time I start acting like a prom queen, I want you to shut me down. We already know that you aren't affected by my looks, and I need that."
"Whoa there missy, I never said that your beauty didn't get to me; just that since there was no way you would want me, I could ignore it. I'll give it a try, but what happens now?"
"Well, to start with, we go on dates. We will take it slow and see just how much we have in common. I think that there will be a lot more than you believe. For right now, do you have enough supplies for me to cook dinner for you?"
"There should be, I try to keep enough here for a good meal. My folks taught me quite a bit about cooking wholesome food and I have usually eaten pretty well."
"Great Mark, your parents sound nice and I want to meet them soon. If you are willing to, on the holiday break maybe you can go to Ohio with me and meet my parents."
"Let's not put the cart before the horse Robin, if we are together I'll be glad to meet them. Does this statement by you that we are to date mean that we will be exclusive? I mean, you won't be dating anyone else?"
"No Mark, I won't be dating anyone else, would you be willing to go steady with me?"
The relief was probably evident in my expression as she giggled. I had not heard her do this before, and I felt it all the way through my being. "It's not as if I have a lot of other options. I'll gladly play along until you realize your mistake."
"No more of that self defeating attitude here buster, I don't think it is a mistake. Now let me do some cooking."
I had some hamburger in the fridge and spaghetti noodles and sauce in the pantry. While I prepared the noodles Robin fried the hamburger, drained it, and added the sauce. She went nuts in my spice cabinet and added several things to the sauce that I didn't recognize. I surreptitiously stole a taste and was astounded by what she had done to plain basic sauce. She also had me fine chop an onion and toast some bread. She made a garlic butter to spread on the bread and I pulled out a bottle of red wine to go with the meal. A small salad of lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, and celery finished off the dining experience. I was amazed that we worked together so smoothly, everything seemed to be chorused into a whole.
When we had everything assembled and on the table, I pulled out a chair for Robin, seated her and poured a glass of wine.
I raised my glass toward hers, "A toast pretty lady, to serendipity, and to possibly finding joy on the rebound."