"Kenny? Kenny Jacobs, is that you?"
Ken looked over at the person who had seated herself beside him on the bench. His first impression was of nice well-tanned legs in open sandals and as his gaze moved up, he saw that the rest of her was just as nice. When he got to her face he saw the lines, slight wrinkles, and the hint of gray in the brown hair indicative of middle age, nothing severe, but noticeable.
"I'm sorry ma'am, do I know you?"
"Kenny, it's Marcia Friedman, I was your history teacher at Central Coast High School. Remember me?"
"Oh, hi Mrs. F. I didn't recognize you; you look a lot different without the business dress and with your hair down. How are you doing ma'am, and how is Mr. Friedman?" Ken didn't feel that it would be polite to mention the fact that Mrs. Friedman was a lot slimmer than he remembered her being.
"Oh, I'm doing fine; and Donald left me for his svelte young secretary. I'm living with my sister now and I am much happier. How about you Kenny? The last I knew, you were on your way to school to be a mechanic. Why are you here, and in that uniform?"
"It's a long story Mrs. F, let's just say that things didn't work out and let it go at that. It's been nice seeing you again ma'am, you are looking good. I should get back to work now."
Ken stood up and placed his hat, emblazoned with "SECURITY", back on his head and made to move out.
"Wait a minute Kenny, are you having trouble? You look about as sad as I have ever seen anyone look. Is there anything I can do to help?"
Ken looked back down at the woman, "Not really ma'am, it's something that I have to deal with. I'll be okay."
"You don't act like it," she reached into her purse, "here, take this card and call me tonight. I would like to hear the whole story. Maybe you could come to dinner. My sister and I don't have company often enough. Please tell me that you will."
"You don't need someone like me around ma'am. I think I'll pass, thank you for the thought though."
"No, please Kenny, call me. I would like to help."
"I'll think about it ma'am; but I really do need to get back to work now."
Ken put the card into his shirt pocket, the pockets on his pants were too much trouble to get past his bulging waist to get into, and promptly forgot about it. Mrs. F sure did look better that she had in school; she must have lost 50 lbs or more. Though history had not been one of his better subjects, Mrs. Friedman had been one of his favorite teachers. She was not that much older than the students and had always been pleasant and willing to lend a hand when it was needed. Too bad about her husband leaving though, he must have been an ass to leave such a nice woman.
Walking around the mall didn't allow him to get away from his own troubles. This was the only job he was able to keep, and the pay sucked. There were too many bills to pay. Sally Mae was after him for the school loans, the hospital wanted payment for the birth of his daughter, and the credit card his wife had used to leave him was maxed out and screaming. The rent was due on his efficiency apartment in Seaside and the insurance was due on his old Toyota. The thing he had the most trouble understanding though, was how he was staying so overweight living on mac & cheese and ramen. He couldn't even remember the last time he had had real meat in his diet. The double cheese at Mickey D's didn't count.
This was the end of what was supposed to be his visitation weeks with his daughter. The problem with that was that Belinda had taken the baby with her to her parents' house in Idaho. Ken couldn't afford to take the time off of work, nor did he have the money required to drive all the way to Boise from Monterey. Why the hell did he have to get so drunk at that damn party? Everything would have been okay if he had just stayed away from there, or at least stayed sober enough not to sleep with the drunk girl.
Now his life was, for all intents and purposes, over. Nothing he could do now would get him out of the hole he had dug for himself.
Ken's thoughts kept going around in circles for hours trying to find a way out when suddenly his stomach growled, and reminded him of the card in his pocket. Mrs. F had suggested dinner; he was willing to bet that it would have meat in it. He hated to freeload off of someone as nice as her, but the prospect of another package of ramen made his stomach wince. Ken decided to call Mrs. F after work, he got off at 5 this evening and had two days off after that. The last thing the security company wanted was for him to get in 40 hours and have to be considered full time. If that happened the union would require them to put some money into benefits for him.
"Come on Marta, he'll be here soon. I told him 6:30 and it is after 6 now. We have to make a good first impression if my plan is to work."
Marta Horne gave her younger sister the finger as she turned to go upstairs to change into a more suggestive outfit. She wasn't sure that finding a young man to live with them was the best solution to their problem, but it couldn't hurt to try.
The problem had begun to show within the last few months. Her older husband had died of a heart attack 3 years before, and then her sister's husband had left her 6 months later. They had combined households for convenience and to console each other. Neither of them had been left wanting financially. George had a hefty life insurance policy as well as some very good investments, and Donald had lost much of his livelihood to Marcia's lawyers. They had both started a fitness and diet program shortly after Marcia had moved in. Marcia had done the best at this, but Marta had trimmed down considerably as well. With the loss of the weight and the improved physical fitness had come urges, which were becoming more and more urgent. Neither of the sisters wanted to subject herself to the bar and dating scene; but then Marcia had come up with the idea of getting a live in companion. Finding a suitable candidate was not as easy as it seemed, but maybe this young man would do, Isobel sure thought a lot of him.
Ken arrived a few minutes after 6, and when Marcia answered the door she took his breath away. She was wearing a long green sheath dress with slits on each side nearly to her waist. The top cut across the middle of her breasts without straps showing a nice light tan skin with no lines.
When they got to the dining room table Ken was surprised again, Marta was wearing a little black dress that was short and backless displaying firm legs and very large breasts.
"Kenny, I would like you to meet my sister, Marta Horne."
"I'm sorry Mrs. F, I didn't realize that you would want me to dress for dinner. You and your sister look marvelous, I'm overwhelmed."
"You're fine Kenny; we just wanted to look good for you. It's been a long time since we had anyone to dress up for."
"Well thanks for asking me to dinner; it has been a long time since I had a home cooked meal."
"What about your family Kenny? What happened to them?"
"I don't have any family around here Mrs. F. Dad was posted to Ft. Bragg before he retired, and he and mom stayed there. My mom's people are in Massachusetts and dad has never had much to do with his family that I know of; I think most of them are in Wisconsin. I'm kind of on my own here. They don't even know what is going on as I have been ashamed to tell them. They would probably want me to move there, and I really don't want to leave California, this is the only place that has ever felt like home to me."
"Let's eat and you can tell us what has happened with you Kenny," they each sat at the large table, Marta at the end and Ken and Marcia facing each other next to her, "you said that things hadn't worked out as planned. What happened? Did you fail out of school or something? I have trouble believing that from a sharp guy like you."
Just then a dark skinned girl a bit younger than Kenny's 23 years brought appetizers out from the kitchen on a large platter. She placed servings in front of each of them before departing. Ken had been impressed when he heard the location of the house, only the very rich could afford a house near Carmel, and this one was just off Highway one, with an ocean view. The fact that there were servants was not much of a surprise.
"No, I didn't fail out Mrs. F. I just made a mistake and had to leave. I was actually doing pretty good in the classes. I had a 3.9 average for the first two semesters."
"Well what happened? Is there anything we could do to help?"
"No Mrs. F, you can't fix fat, ugly, and stupid. I'm just going to have to live with the con-sequences of my actions."
"Please call me Marcia, Kenny, and your grades show that you aren't stupid. You aren't ugly either, and fat can be fixed. Do you remember what I looked like when I was teaching? Marta was just as bad, and we were able to fix it."
"I doubt that whatever you did would work for me. I haven't been able to afford to eat much for a long time, and I walk for eight to ten hours a day. I look just like my mom does, and I always will. And if I hadn't been stupid I would never have gotten into this mess. I suppose I may as well tell you about it. After finals for the first semester, I went to a party to celebrate. I got drunk, and when I woke up there was a girl with me. I had no idea who she was, but when she saw who she had slept with, she got downright insulting. I swore off booze for a while and didn't think anything else about it, hell; I couldn't remember what happened anyway."
"Well about a month and a half later the girl got in touch with me through the guys who had thrown the party. She told me that she was pregnant and she thought that I was the father. I didn't remember having sex with the girl, but I knew that I hadn't had any rubbers with me that night, so I ended up in Vegas getting married to Belinda the next week. I had to quit school and find a job to support her and the baby."
"Oh, I'm so sorry Kenny. What happened then?"
"She left when Mallory was at about 18 months and went back to stay with her parents in Idaho. Our quickie Vegas marriage became a quickie Vegas divorce. I was supposed to be able to visit with the baby last week, but I couldn't afford to go."
"You poor thing, do you miss your wife?"
"Not really Marta, I never cared much for Belinda, I was just trying to do the right thing. I miss the baby though, she was born 7 months after the party, so I doubt that she was mine, but I really did love the little beauty. No matter how irritated I got with her mother, I never held a grudge toward Mallory. I just wish that I could have something to do with her life. The last thing I want is for her to turn out like her mother. All Belinda ever did was to insult me and complain about how useless I was. She wouldn't even let me have sex with her after we were married, and I'm pretty sure that she was cheating on me. The one time I did get to sleep with her she complained constantly about my weight and what a poor lover I was. She packed up the next day and left while I was at work."
During the recitation of agony the main course of grilled tuna had been served, but the women had no interest in food and looked like they were going to cry. Marta spoke up, "That is just not right Ken. Let me call my husband's law firm tomorrow, someone there should be able to help; after all, I still own a good portion of the firm. On anther topic, Marcia told me that you were doing something with engines, are you any good with them?"
"I'm great, I don't like to brag, but I could work in any garage in the area now. The problem is that they won't hire me without the certificate I would have gotten at school. I have been working on cars since I was 14; I can do just about anything as long as I have the tools available."
The two sisters looked at each other, "If that is the case, Ken, would you be willing to look at something for me and see if you can do anything with it? I would be glad to pay you for your time."
"Be glad to Mrs. Horne, and there is no need to pay me. This meal is worth a tune up and oil change at the least. What is it you need help with?"
"This property used to be a lodge, with a bunch of cabins and a tennis court and pool, but since my husband died it has become overgrown and rough. I have a landscaping company that comes in once a week to take care of some of it, but they seem to be doing less and less each time. My husband bought a tractor to work on the place some, but it hasn't run for years. I was going to send it to a garage in town and if it is working I can hire a handyman to get the place back up to being a place I can be proud of."
"Okay Mrs. Horne, I'm not dressed to work on anything now, but I'm off tomorrow and I can do it then. What kind of tractor is it?"
"Please Ken, call me Marta, I think the name on it was Kaborta or something, and tomorrow would be fine."
"Kubota, probably. That is a pretty good brand and parts are available everywhere. I'll come out tomorrow morning and take a look at it for you."
Marcia asked, "How much do you make as a security guard Kenny? I don't mean to get personal, but it would help if I knew."
"That's alright Mrs., aah, Marcia. I only get 9.25 an hour, and no more than 36 hours a week. After taxes I barely take home $1,000 a month. I send Belinda two fifty a month to help with Mallory, I am a couple of weeks late right now because a couple of bill collectors started getting nasty."
"Well that is going to have to be fixed, can't have you arrested as a dead-beat dad. What bills are you having trouble with?"
Ken went through the litany of the rent, insurance, hospital bill, school loans, and such. As he was talking the girl came back in and asked if anyone wanted dessert. Marta asked that it be served on the deck. "You and your mother come out and join us Connie, I want you to meet our new friend."
Dessert was fresh fruit salad with whipped cream. Kenny was introduced to Consuela and her mother Selena, who was carrying Consuela's baby boy, Stefan, on her hip.
"Did I understand that you are off for the next two days Ken?" Marcia asked.
"Yes'm, I've already worked my full week."
"How would you like to stay over in one of the cabins tonight and tomorrow? There is a task we would like you to do for us Friday morning and it would be easier for you to just stay here than drive both ways."
"That would be fine for tomorrow night as long as it is no bother ma'am. I don't have anything else to do, but I need to get my tools if I am going to work on your tractor. I'll go ahead and leave now and be back early tomorrow morning. Thank you again for such a fine meal."
After he left, the ladies talked about what a shame it was that such a nice boy was having so much trouble.
"What that bitch has done to him can't be right," Marta said, "he should not have to do without seeing his daughter, even if he isn't the sperm donor. I can't believe anyone could be so cruel."
"You should have seen some of the little horrors in the high school. I know some of them put poor Kenny down too. If he could lose some weight he would be fairly attractive, maybe we can get him to do our diet with us. Would you have a problem with him living here Selena, or you Connie?"
"He is a nice boy, he would not bother us madam. It would be nice to have someone to protect us for a change."
"I hadn't thought of that, he would be able to protect us, wouldn't he?"