Special thanks to Mikothebaby, who almost lost a keyboard and monitor editing this story. All and any errors are mine
"Toasters kill more people than sharks."
This was my sister-in-law Beth talking. I saw my wife roll her eyes at Beth's' statement.
"No really it's true! I read on the internet that last year over 150 people died in toaster related accidents. The same year, only 3 people were killed in shark attacks."
In the Army, there is nothing more dangerous than a newly minted 2nd lieutenant with a map and a compass. In civilian life, people with a high speed internet connection and time on their hands, pose the greatest threat to society today. Sometimes a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
Beth, my brother's wife, lived next door. She was in our kitchen trying to corral my young, grade school age kids, along with her children to eat breakfast before school. As most parents know, the morning school routine is like herding cats. The kindergarten kids were dressed in those stupid "Too Ugly To Die" oversized tee shirts that were all the rage. My wife had got a bunch of them from an Eastern European anesthesiologist lady she worked with at the hospital.
Now, both my wife and I love our sister in law, Beth. She is a good wife to my younger brother William; the two of them are made for each other. As different as my brother, William and I are, our wives are just as varied.
I managed to squeak by in school. Mostly enjoying the sports side of high school, playing football, wrestling, even boxing a bit. I was not really very good due to my short size. But my fireplug like build, along with a stubborn streak, inherited from southern Greek parents, served me well. Meanwhile my younger brother William excelled in school. William was the National Honor Society, chess club and merit scholarships galore. I joined the merchant marine the day after I graduated, did a few years, and saved some cash. Now, I run a small contracting business. Mostly in home and home improvement construction. William did the whole professor thing. He got his doctoral on the writings of poet Basil Buntings. William teaches at the local university, and he seems to be well respected by his peers.
I met my wife in the emergency room, during a visit for a construction related accident. My wife is a no nonsense type of lady, with a sarcastic sense of humor, plus a real world view of life. My brother, William's wife Beth, was a daycare assistant. Beth is the most pleasant female. It is a real bonus having them live next to us. I know she wants the best for my brother William and their two children. However, let us just say that Beth is a little on the naïve side, living a bit in the Ivory Tower.
Today Beth was spouting some information about how dangerous toasters are.
I poured myself some coffee. "Beth, if toasters are more dangerous than sharks, then logically a shark with a toaster is the worse menace on the planet."
Beth put a plate of bacon in front of my son and gave me a look. My young son took a bite of the bacon then spit it out. "Yeech Aunt Beth! This bacon tastes bad!"
Beth patted my son on his head. "It's Tofu Bacon. Contains none of that nasty chemical filled meat. Meat is the cause in one out of every ten deaths."
Naturally, I could not resist the obvious comeback. "If meat is responsible for 1 in 10 deaths, does that means tofu, fruits and vegetables are responsible for the other nine deaths?"
My wife reached over to my sons plate, then stuffed a piece of the tofu bacon in her mouth. She made a face before swallowing. "Beth, It is easier to change a man's religion then his diet."
Beth just sighed, than clapped her hands. "OK, Kids, time for school. Everybody into the Prius."
I picked up my smallest son and his cousin in a bear hug. "You sit and visit Beth. I'll take the kids to school."
Beth waved her hand. "No, It's OK Ron. I do not want you wasting gas in that big truck of yours. The children can fit into the Prius."
I lifted the giggling boys over my shoulder, onto my back. "Beth I am running on my own homemade Bio-diesel, so no worries." I threw both boys into the air before catching them. "How about we let the boys decide?"
I put the kids down, kneeling in front of them. "What do you say MEN? You wanna ride in Aunt Beth's hybrid, spewing kittens and butterflies out the tail pipe?" I then lowered my voice several octaves to a growling baritone. "Or do you want to cruise in Uncle Ron's MANLY, Testosterone dripping, Smoke belching, Tire squealing, Hulking, Powerful Ford F250 Pickup Truck, with extended cab, Powerstroke engine, and enough torque to pull a house down the street!"
"Truck! Truck! Truck!" The kids chanted, jumping up and down.
"I want Testrone too!" My youngest son piped in.
I put my arms around all the now giggling children. "Sorry Beth, the masses have spoken."
Both my wife and Beth were smiling as I corralled the children out the door, wrangling various cartoon themed backpacks as we left.
After dropping the kids off at school, I headed home. Today was "paperwork" day, to be spent doing invoices, orders, payroll, etc., so I would be working from my home office over the garage. I was headed into the kitchen from the garage when I heard my wife's voice.
"Oh Beth, I could never do that to Ron."
Now I know it is not polite to listen in on private conversations. But Hell, it was my house. Silently I moved closer to the door in time to catch Beth speaking.
"They would not print it in Cosmo if it were not true. Its tricks to really fire up your bedroom time."
I heard my wife reply. "Beth, I do not need any tricks in the bedroom. I have a vagina."
"Yea sure ... but don't you want to get Ron all excited?
My wife answered. "Ron is a guy. To get a guy excited, all you need to do is take off your socks."
Beth would not let it go. "OK ... um, but this is how to make Ron scream in passion?"
My wife snorted before speaking. "I sure as hell do not want my guy screaming in passion or any other time. The only time my man should scream in the bedroom, is if a stray bullet comes through the window and hits him the ass while we are screwing."
Beth continued. "Well, at least you should know what words to say to Ron that really will give him great sex."
At that point, I walked in the door. Both Beth and my wife looked up. Giving them a look, I held up my hand in a closed fist. "Beth, let me tell you 'the guys' requirements for great sex." I lifted one finger. "Number one. Have a Vagina."
I rose up my second finger. "Number two. Do not block the Vagina."
I added a third finger. "Number three. No talk, Shhhhhhhhhhh..."
My wife just grinned, but Beth said. "Ron, all men are not like that. Take your brother, William for example..."
"Beth, you want me to take an example from a guy who let his wife put diesel fuel in their gas powered Prius Hybrid?"
Beth looked embarrassed for a moment, as I recalled having to tow them home. Then the hassle of draining the tank, and getting the Prius operational again. "Ron that was not our fault. The diesel pump was colored green. We both thought it meant the fuel was environmentally friendly."
I shook my head. "Beth, how the hell did you even get that large diesel nozzle to fit into the Prius filler spout?"
Now it was Beth's turn to grin. "Ron, women are experts at making big things fit into small openings. We ladies are just more aware of our bodies. For example women can have orgasms just from exercising."
I shrugged. "Big Deal. Men can have orgasms just by watching women exercise."
"Oh stop it Ron," Beth said. "But I am glad you are here. I cannot decide what to get William for his birthday. The cooking set he has had his eye on, or the sweater vest we saw at the University store."
"Nah Beth, forget that junk." I said. "Let me tell you what William REALLY wants."
Beth leaned forward "What? Tell me Ron, please."
"It's a well known secret Beth. The best gift you can give William..." I paused for dramatic effect. "ORAL, a nice Blow Job!"
Beth blushed as I continued. "It's always in style, it's just our size, we can never have enough, we'll never get bored with it, It always fits, we can always have another, It's just what we wanted, it's never too late for one, they are perfect for any occasion, and they go with everything. Basically the perfect gift!
My wife stifled a yawn. "OK you two break it up." She put some dishes from the table in the sink. "I'm beat from the ER night shift." She pointed at me. "You Ron, go do your paperwork. And you Ms. Cosmo Sex adviser. "She pointed at Beth. "Go bake some erotic cookies or something for your hubby William."
It was one of those wonderful Friday nights all married men long for. My wife was working the overnight shift at the Hospital. The kids were away at some Cub Scout sleepover thing, so I had the whole house to myself, plus my favorite sports team was playing on TV. Could life get any better?
Leroy, my neighbor, was sitting in an easy chair as we enjoyed the game. We were having a fun time, alternating between praising and cursing the referee's calls. You see, Leroy was an odd guy. He was queer as a three dollar bill and the first openly gay man I knew well. However, Leroy did not at all fit the stereotype of a "flaming homosexual". Leroy worked as a fireman, and was the blackest black man I had ever seen. Damn guy was also the biggest guy I ever met. Standing at 6 foot 10 inches tall, he tipped the scales at over 250 pounds, and none of that was fat. Leroy and I had bonded over our shared love of Ford Powerstroke Diesel trucks, and devotion to the local sports team.
"You know Leroy," I said, as I handed him another beer. "You gay guys may be onto something."
There was a pause as we both protested an obvious foul made by the opposing team.
I opened my beer before continuing. "I kinda envy your lifestyle Leroy. Refrigerator full of beer, you can leave the toilet seat up, and the TV is always tuned to ESPN. Hell, if it wasn't for the sex with guys part, I'd be gay."
Leroy smiled before stuffing a massive handful of chips into his mouth. "Hell, Ron you could never be gay."
I shrugged as the TV spouted out some commercial. "What do you mean Leroy? I could too be gay. There has to be a website or something I could go to. How tough could it be?"
Leroy shook his head before setting his face in a solemn pose. Then in a deep Darth Vader like voice Leroy intoned. "Ah you poor heterosexual bastard, you will never understand the ways of my people." He spread his hands. "God so loved us the Gay, he made many, many of us."
"Damn, Leroy I always thought there were so many gays so you guys could redecorate the earth."
We both chuckled and then the house phone started to ring. I was going to ignore the phone. Most people who call me use my cell phone. We still had the land line house phone mainly as a back-up. Infrequent power outages too often killed our cell service. However, it might be one of the kid's camp minders, so I picked up the handset.
Before I could even say "Hello", a sorrowful wailing and crying filled my ear.
It sounded like Beth, my sister in law, but it was hard to tell through all the wailing and crying. "Ron, you gotta help me! I am under arrest!" was all I heard before more pitiful crying erupted again.
"Beth? Beth? Is that you? "I said, interrupting the wailing coming out of the earpiece. "You gotta calm down, I cannot understand a word you are saying. It sound like you said you were under arrest. Take a deep breath and slow way down."
The sniffling slowed down for a second, than Beth's voice started again. Unsteady, but at least I could understand it. "Ron, I am under arrest at Metro lock up! It is a big mistake, they think I am a hooker! They are going to charge me with prostitution! " Beth broke into what sounded like tears again.
"Prostitution!" I repeated into the phone. Leroy's ears perked up, he scrambled to grab the remote control, and muted the blaring TV set.
"Beth calm down. Where is William at?"
Beth sniffled. "I don't know where he is! William is not answering his phone. Ron you gotta come bail me out! I swear it is all a BIG mistake! They are going to cut off my call! PLEASE Ron! PLEASE! HURRY!"
The line went dead, I stared dumbfounded at the handset. After a moment I explained the situation to Leroy as best I could. Leroy whipped out his cell phone and started scrolling thru phone numbers.
"Listen Ron, one of the guys on my team from the gay softball league is an officer down at Metro lock up. Let me reach out to him, maybe he can help."
"You guys have your own softball league?"
Leroy did not look up as he punched in some number to his phone. "Yes Ron, us gay guys have our own league. What? You think we spend all our free time having sex?"
I looked at Leroy sheepishly. "Umm sort of ... I mean I know you guys have that gay parade every year ... but..."
Leroy waved his hand at me to hush up and started speaking into his phone.
After a few minutes Leroy ended his call. "OK Ron, we caught a break. My buddy knows the staff on duty today. He is going to have Beth taken to a private area and set aside the paperwork until we get down there. Let's go, I'll drive." We both stood up, as Leroy pulled car keys out of his pocket. "Beth selling her ass?" He shook his head. "Must be some kinda fuck up. Her and that brother of yours is good people. That lady got a heart of gold. Remember when I first moved in and Beth brought me something to welcome me to the neighborhood?"
Despite the situation I laughed at the memory. "If I recall Leroy, Beth brought you fried chicken, watermelon and a big bottle of grape soda."
Leroy smiled at me as we headed to the door. 'Yea Ron, but Beth did not do it in mean way. She may be clueless, but that girl does not have a mean bone in her body."
I turned off the house lights. "I know Leroy. Beth never really knew any black people growing up. When you moved in, she went on the internet to find out what to bring you."
Leroy nodded as we got into his car. "That's what I mean Ron. They just don't make people like Beth anymore. Come on lets go rescue my favorite white lady, and get this thing straightened out."
Even with Leroy's connections, it still took us several hours to spring Beth from jail. Now driving home, Beth was in the back seat and she had calmed down a bit. Both Leroy and I were trying to keep a straight face as Beth told her story for the fourth time.
"It was just role playing." Beth said while trying to fix her mascara, which with all her crying had given her the appearance of a raccoon. "Cosmo said all couples should feel free to let their partner share in each others fantasy."
Leroy kept his eyes on the dark road and shook his head. "You hetro white folks got waayyyy to much time on your hands."
I glanced at Beth through the rear view mirror, a passing streetlamp illuminated her enough to show her embarrassment. Beth was wrapped in Leroy's old jersey from the trunk of his car. The jersey was so large, Beth was swimming in it. With her small frame, Beth could have used the jersey as a blanket. The jersey was needed, because when Beth was arrested she had on only a thigh length trench coat.
"Damn Cosmo is turning all you women into sluts." I muttered.
Beth spoke as she was dialing her cell phone. "Darn it Ron! It was not my fault. That police officer got it all wrong."
"Sure Beth, you show up at a well known, pick up-slash-hooker bar, dressed only in a trench coat. Than invite an undercover police officer to come out to your car in the parking lot to join you in the back seat. Gee what could possibly go wrong?"
Leroy chimed in. "Don't forget she charged him $20."
Beth's voice took on a whining tone. "I told you that's not what happened! William and I were supposed to meet at that bar. I accidentally locked my keys and purse in the car. I was trying to get the bartender to let me use the phone. That is when that that guy, who I did not know was a police officer, asked me what I needed. He took it the wrong way when I said I needed to get something in the back of my seat. I meant where my purse and cellphone where in the car, NOT what he was thinking."
Looking at Leroy, I could see we were both loosing the battle to hold in our giggles. "Ah Beth, what about the $20 you were going to charge him?"
Beth was getting frustrated. "Stop it you two! I did not charge that man $20 for sex! He asked how much? I thought he wanted money to get the door to my car unlocked. I said $20 because that was what I tipped the AAA road service guy last time this happened."
I started laughing so hard, tears were coming from my eyes, but Leroy had better control. "I understand Beth. Things like that must happen all the time. No doubt the main reason innocent people end up in prison." Then he began laughing. I do not know how Leroy kept the car on the road.
"That's not funny!" Beth insisted. "The whole thing was horrible! Like I was trapped in some awful movie!"
"Too bad it was not 'The Wizard of OZ'," I said, wiping the tears from my face. "You could have asked the wizard to give you a brain, like the scarecrow."
Beth tried to ignore our teasing by concentrating on her cell phone. "Why isn't William answering his phone!" Beth said as she snapped shut her cell. "I am going to kill that husband of mine!"
Leroy dropped us off in front of Beth's house. We had no sooner walked to the front door when a tow truck pulled up. My brother, William's Prius was on the flatbed with two flat tires on the driver's side, plus what looked like some minor front bumper damage. William then exited the passenger side of the tow truck. William's face looked haggard, but it was not my brother's face I was looking at. You see, my brother William was fully dressed up in a sailor suit, complete with bell bottoms. As the closest Beth and William had ever been to a ship was the inflatable chairs in their swimming pool, I did not know if I should laugh or cry.
Seeing one and another, William and Beth ran toward each other. Coming together, they started hugging as if it had been a reunion of years instead of mere hours. As I helped the tow truck driver lower William's Prius into the driveway, I could make out Beth's and William's conversation in between their kisses.
".ran off road ... avoid a squirrel."
" ... so worried ... cavity search ... handcuffs..."
" ... dead cell phone battery ... walked forever to find phone..."
" ... charges dropped ... car still at bar..."
".no call as I do not know your number, I always dial by name..."
I shook my head as I looked between my hugging, kissing relatives and the damaged Prius. The Tow Truck driver came up to me and took off his gloves.
"Hey Buddy" He said, handing a clip board to me. "Can you sign this? I mean you're related right?"
"Yeah, he's my brother." I muttered as I signed the forms and slipped him a twenty dollar bill. "But I wonder if it is too late to ask Mom for a DNA test."
A few months later, it was evening and Leroy was helping me put a Bullydog chip set in my Ford Powerstroke. My wife poked her head into the garage. "Ron, just got a call from your brother, William. He and Beth need your help at their place for a few minutes."
As the family "handyman", I was used to these calls for clogged drains, leaky faucets and such. It was kind of a trade off, as William and Beth always took our children with them on trips that involved more than Monster Truck Rallies. At first, I thought the kids would be bored at being dragged to things like a University exhibit on the Middle Ages. But Beth knew the kids, they always came back all excited about the suits of armor, and the cool collection of swords and battle axes. It was a clever way to trick them into learning.
Leroy decided to accompany me as I went over to William's house. Beth met us at the door wearing a short night robe. The inside of the living room was illuminated with lit candles and a blazing fire in the fireplace.
Leroy, ever the firefighter, raised his eyebrows at all the open flames. Beth blushed as she clinched her robe tighter. "It's our date night, we just finished decorating and got all the new living room furniture, Cosmo said we should..."
I waved Beth off. "Yea, Yea, Yea, I know Cosmo said you should bring ponies, handcuffs and trapezes into your love life. What's up? Where is William?"
"William is upstairs, we heard strange noises coming out of the attic. I called you because I do not want William to face whoever, whatever, is up there all by himself."
Leroy turned toward the door. "Ron, you go with William. I am going to look outside to see if there is any signs of break in or entrance."
I found William crouching underneath the trap door to the attic. He had a four "D" battery size flashlight in one hand, a golf club in the other hand. Intermittently, a thumping noise could be heard from the attic area.
Leroy returned to join us. "Guys I saw a small hole chewed in the outside attic screen. Looks to be a squirrel got in the attic. Best to let it find its way out." He looked at his wristwatch, which appear tiny on his huge wrist. "We can get a trap in the morning if the critter is still there, Hardware store is closed now."
Beth was peering over the top of the steps, ready to flee, as if the rodent were going to burst through the ceiling at any moment and said. "William, can't you guys get rid of it? It is freaking me out!"