Hi folks, okay let's do the disclaimer first. Please don't take this one seriously.It's just a fun Halloween piece. Thanks to Mikothebaby for editing this while struggling with a Migraine. Some of you who've been here for a while might recognize this story. Anyway, this one is that subtle kind of scary, so grab someone to hold onto while you read it. SS06
Okay, I'm rich, but don't hold it against me. I made my money the old fashioned way; I inherited it. My company, DMI industrial, was started by my great grandfather and a few of his friends before my grandfather was born. Over the decades, the name had been changed as certain partners were bought out and others bought in. As a matter of fact, the original name of the company was Melvin, Dwapps, Bennett & Company. Later on, the Iovine family merged with us, along with several other investors who were all covered by the "& company," tag.
During the Second World War, there was a big scandal and the Bennetts were thrown out of the company. My grandfather, Robert Dwapps, shored the company up during those perilous financial times by loaning the company a part of his personal fortune to see us through some of the more difficult times. In exchange for that, he got more of the company's stock and a bigger stake in the way things were run. The company name was changed to reflect that and also to reflect the fact that we were a bigger company. We became Dwapps, Melvin, and Iovine Industrial. During the 90's my dad shortened the name to DMI Industrial because it was easier to say and to remember.
Over the past twenty years, the Iovines had been hit with a series of set-backs and ended up selling off the majority of their stock. My dad was only too happy to acquire it. As a result, the Dwapps family now controls 78% of the company's stock. The Melvins control approximately 18% and the Iovines the remaining 4%.
Except for the fact that I make a shitload of money, I'm just like you. I go to work every day and I work hard. Just like you, I have people to answer to, our customers. They want more and more from us every year and they always want a discount or lower prices. I have to keep coming up with ways to cut costs and yet, keep the quality of the products either the same for less money, or better.
At the same time, I have to answer to my employees, who each year expect more money in the form of raises and bonuses, while they want to have more time off and more benefits. The two things that are killing me right now are unions and rising health care costs. Anyway, this story isn't about business. It's about my life and my marriage and how just a little while ago both of them sucked.
My name is Wayne, I'm 27 years old. I'm reasonably good looking and in shape. As mentioned before, I'm financially well off and most would have expected me to be happily married. I wasn't.
"I'd been married to Aida, whom our friends call "Ai", for short, for about four years when the trouble began. The thing about Ai, which is pronounced "Eye," is that she is very beautiful and very charming. In fact, she's too beautiful and too charming for me. As I said, except for the fact that I'm filthy stinking rich, I'm a normal guy. I go to the bar and hang out with a lot of the guys who work for me. I don't ride around in a limo like Thurston Howell III, I drive a Mustang GT. And I don't sit around in suits eating caviar and drinking champagne. Most of my day is spent at one or another of the plants my company runs. And I'm usually on the floor making sure that things are running well and that problems are being solved. If I'm not doing that, I'm in the offices making sure that the people who make sure we get paid and pay our bills are doing their jobs.
Anyway, Ai was the prettiest girl in town all through school and college and I guess no one expected the two of us to end up together. She was always the sweetheart of some dashing young football player or something like that. I usually dated nice girls all through school until the middle of high school. My last two years of high school, I didn't know that Aida existed. She was around and she was still beautiful and built like a brick ship yard but when a man is in love, nothing else mattered. And all during the eleventh and twelfth grades, I was in love.
The subject of my affection was Maria Hess. She and Aida couldn't be less alike. Where Aida is taller and more voluptuous; Maria was shorter and waif like. Aida is blond and tan; Maria had that very pale, very creamy Irish skin and a smattering of freckles. Her fiery red hair went halfway down her back and was naturally curly, where Aida's was straight.
From the first day that Maria came into our school, I was hooked. When she walked over to me and said that the teacher had told her to ask me to show her around, I was hooked further. We had a brief rough patch when she asked me what my name was. "Wayne Dwapps," I said smiling at her. When she erupted in laughter and turned me red in the face with embarrassment, I almost walked away. She grabbed me by my hand and pulled me back. Her touch was electric and I wasn't the only one who felt it. When she looked into my eyes to apologize, something special passed between us.
It was then that I noticed that she hadn't let go of my hand. I walked her around the school and showed her where everything was. We saw the cafeteria, the ladies locker room, the science labs and every other point of interest around the school.
At the end of my tour, I walked her to her next class and explained to her teacher what was going on. Mrs. Mertz, her English teacher, thanked me and actually wrote me a pass for my next class. As I turned to leave, Maria came over to me and whispered that I should come back to that room after the class, so I could help her find the cafeteria for lunch. I was puzzled, because I'd already shown her where it was, but I agreed.
I met her back at her classroom and escorted her to the cafeteria. I usually sat with a group of my friends. We weren't the most popular kids in the school, but we weren't shunned either. From the moment we walked into the room, every eye in the place was on Maria. I sat down at the table and she just stood by the chair next to me, looking at me. Most of my friends around the table were too stunned by her to notice anything. I quickly jumped up and pulled her chair out for her.
Then she sat down and I introduced her to everyone at the table. A couple of the girls offered to show her where all of the things in the ladies facilities were and she thanked them. Louise Jefferson offered to show her where some of the places most of us hung out after school were too. Maria just smiled and said she had me for that. A couple of people looked up in shock when she said that. I guess it was because at that time, I usually just went out with girls as friends. I knew that we were only in high school and most of the relationships we were making wouldn't last beyond that. I thought it was kind of silly to get tied down to someone that you were only going to break up with when high school ended.
I went to most of the dances that the school held with one friend or another. Unlike today, there was no pressure for sex or anything like that. At the end of a good date, you got a good night kiss. At the end of a bad date, you got a friendly handshake. Louise Jefferson, Edith Bunker and Maude Findlay were some of the girls I usually took to the dances or often to movies or other events. Like me, they sometimes attended events with others in our circle, but there weren't really any permanent couples.
The jocks and the cheerleaders did settle into those little high school marriages but for the most part the rest of us didn't.
Maria's presence seemed to upset the way things had been from that very first day. Near the end of our lunch, we were all talking about a host of different things when Paul got up and came over to our table from the jock's table. He had a couple of the cheerleaders trailing behind him and he headed straight for Maria.
"Hi, I'm Paul Frehley," he said. "Everyone calls me Ace." He held out his hand to Maria and she shook it. I saw the end of her at our table then.
"Why do they call you that?" she asked. "Do you play cards or something? I always thought that gambling was kind of stupid."
"Uhm, no," he said. "What I play is football and..." I saw the whole thing in my mind. The quarterback of our team was a guy named Jack Daniels. Jack went out with Aida, of course, who was the hottest girl in our school. So Ace figured he'd claim Maria. I guess in that whole high school pecking order theory, it made sense.
"I hate football. It's boring," said Maria. "Do you do steroids?"
"Uhm, why would you ask me that?" said Ace nervously. He'd jammed his hands in his pockets and was looking for an escape strategy.
"I've heard they make your ego bigger, but they make your brain and your dick smaller," said Maria. She had the most angelic look on her face when she said it. Ace turned red in the face and was getting really pissed.
"Hey Ace," I said. "That was a great play you made last weekend. We would have lost for sure if their safety had gotten clear of you after that interception. All it took after that was for our defense to hold them back for two plays and the clock to run out. But if you hadn't tackled that guy and he'd gotten across the goal line, the game would have been over."
Ace stuck his chest back out and asked me if I was coming to the game that weekend. "Of course," I said. "We're at every game. We have to show some school spirit, right?"
"Right," he said. "See ya later Wayne. See you at the game." As he turned away a lot of things happened all at once. Aida, who'd heard the entire exchange, nodded her head and smiled at me. It was the first time that the school's princess had done anything that let me know that she knew I existed. A funny feeling went through me then.
At the same time, Maria noticed that Aida had noticed me and clamped down on my hand almost hard enough to break bones and glared at her.
As Ace and the cheerleaders went back to their table, several of the people at ours stifled their laughter. Maria couldn't have been any ruder if she'd planned it. It did start a trend of students in our school reacting to stupid or rude behavior by asking the person if they were on steroids. After lunch, we had an assembly in the auditorium. It was a Friday and there was a game on Saturday, so most of the assembly would be the pep rally for the game.
The principal, Dr. Smith, got up and said a few words and made a few announcements about weekend and upcoming events. He also introduced the newest member of the student body and had her stand up so everyone would see her. He said that way if she got lost or something everyone could recognize her and help her out. He asked her where she was from and if there was anything she liked about our area so far.
That was when Maria displayed her wicked sense of humor. She stood up very demurely and said that she really enjoyed the weather in our area.
Doctor Smith asked her what she liked about it since summer was gone and it was chilly and often wet.
"I like the Wayne," she said.
"What is it about rain that you like?" he asked. By this time half of the students there were laughing.
"Nothing much," she said. "I just like everything about Wayne Dwapps."
With a puzzled expression on his face, Dr. Smith introduced the football coach. I don't think that I remember a single thing he said. I was too busy with my head down trying to hide my embarrassment. All of my friends were laughing and pointing at me, except for Louise. Louise and I were supposed to be going to the game that next day and I think she knew that things in our circle were due for a change.
And change they did. Over the next few weeks, several guys on the football and or basketball teams made a play for Maria and were rebuffed, sometimes embarrassingly. She was asked to try out for the cheerleading squad and declined publicly. "I am nowhere near coordinated and athletic enough for something like that," she said laughing. "Do you know how embarrassing it would be for me to jump up in the air like that and have the wrong people see my panties, or worse yet what if I wasn't wearing any? Thank you, but I'll just watch from the stands."
That puzzled a lot of people who'd seen her the weekend before. We'd had a rare spell of warm fall weather and I'd had a party around our pool. Maria had been doing nearly perfect dives off the diving board that afternoon that everyone there, including a couple of the cheerleaders had seen.
Maria seemed to be a study in contradictions. My parents loved her. My dad told me to make sure that I didn't let her get away. My mom thought the same thing. Most of my friends who were guys told me how lucky I was. Half of the girls loved her and the other half couldn't stand her. Girls who were interested in my friends found her the nicest girl on earth. We frequently doubled dated and she did all she could to help them in their quests. But any girl, including, Edith, Louise and Maude who even looked at me sideways found out, like Ace did, that Maria could be a first class bitch. And once you got on her list, there was no way to get off of it.
Edith found that out the hard way. She was used to the way we'd always done things. She came over at lunch one day and asked me if anyone had asked me to the Sadie Hawkins dance yet. No one had and it was like the air was let out of the room all at the same time. I was just about to say that no one had, when Maria answered for me in a voice as cold as ice and as hard as broken glass.
"Yes, I did," she said. And in my thinking, she was lying. "But Edith, I don't really understand you. Since I've been here, I've always thought of you as a friend. I mean we speak all the time, we've socialized, but still you go and try to stab me in the back."
Edith looked puzzled. For most of our lives we'd always been a group of friends who all intermingled. "Huh?" she said.
"You're trying to embarrass me in front of everyone here by asking my boyfriend to go to a dance with you, while I'm sitting here," said Maria.
"I didn't know that the two of you were..." began Edith.
"How could you not know?" asked Maria. "Are you doing steroids?"
"Well, all of us just go out with each other from time to time," began Edith. "And I hadn't done anything with Wayne in a while and..."
"And now you know why," spat Maria, grabbing my hand. "Wayne and I are going to every dance together and more," she said.
Not only did she cause a stir around the school, she never let poor Edith off the hook. For the next year, Edith was excluded (accidentally of course) from more parties and picnics than she was invited to. Often Edith's invitations were somehow printed wrong; like the time Edith's invitation to a formal dinner read "Costume party". Poor Edith showed up in a clown suit while everyone else was dressed to the nines.
I blamed myself for it, but I was helpless. I was so in love with Maria that I couldn't say no to anything she wanted. During our senior year, things got worse. We got to pick our classes that year and she made sure we had the exact same schedule. She even took auto shop. The two of us were together from first thing in the morning until I drove her home at night. We'd both been accepted to several of the same colleges and she'd just sprung her latest idea on me. We would work during the summers and pool our money to rent an apartment on campus.
My parents loved the idea. Even though I didn't have to worry about paying for college, my dad wanted me to learn to be responsible, so he liked the idea of me working. That was, of course, another feather in Maria's cap. My dad gave us both jobs for the summer. A lot of my friends were really jealous.
I was on cloud nine. Maria had explained to me why we needed an apartment instead of staying at the dorms. We were both still virgins, but she explained that we wouldn't be after college started and we moved into our apartment. I'd thought about the two of us many times over the two years that we'd been together. Maria always claimed that she'd just fallen for me the first time she saw me. It had taken me a couple of minutes longer but I could see that, since it was the same way I felt about her. Some of my friends thought that it was the fact that I was going to be rich, but Maria had gone gaga over me before she knew my family had money.
Anyway, I never needed to worry about it because none of it ever happened. We didn't move into the apartment and we didn't live happily ever after. Less than two weeks before we graduated from high school, Maria's paternal grandmother died. Her family drove back to their home state for the funeral. Maria's dad was very upset about the passing of his mother. He drank a bit too much after the funeral. He still thought that it would be okay for him to drive the first leg of the long road trip home.
Drunk and tired he veered across the traffic lanes and was reunited with his mother in the afterlife. His wife and son went with him. The only surviving member of the family was Maria's older sister who had stayed home because she had a job she couldn't leave. Maria lingered on fighting for her life for nearly a week, but she never regained consciousness. Her injuries were too horrific and the doctors said that it was a miracle that she'd managed to keep the grim reaper at bay for that long. When she finally gave in, it was as if a piece of my heart had been ripped out. I spent the summer in my room, depressed.
I couldn't figure out how fate could be so cruel. How is it, that life lifted me to heights I never expected or reached for, only to dash my spirit against hard sharp rocks with no explanation? By the time I was able to function again, it was far too late to get a spot in a dorm. My father wasn't even sure I was ready to go to school yet, but I did. I ended up renting an apartment on my own since I couldn't get into a dorm.
My first few weeks of college were awful. All throughout high school, I'd hung with a crowd. I had a few friends who were attending the same college I was, but things were different. They didn't know how to approach me and I was still depressed. Depressed isn't really a strong enough term for it.
I walked around dressed all in black, every day. I wore a black shirt, black pants and a long black coat everywhere. If I was outside, I wore black sunglasses as well. Now that I think about it I must have invented the Goth movement single handedly.
It finally took one guy to start dragging me out of my depression. Nope I didn't turn gay; he was an old friend of mine. Ace Frehley wasn't doing well in college. He'd come into school on a football scholarship and hadn't made the transition from the high school game to the faster more brutal college game. He was, at that time, a second stringer and in increasing danger of losing his scholarship. At the same time, hanging out with the cool kids like he did in high school wasn't helping him in class. The professors expected their assignments turned in and turned in on time. Ace was losing it on two fronts.
Ace and Aida had gravitated into some sort of a relationship when they both ended up in our current school. Jack had gone into the military like his father and grandfather and had left Aida behind. Aida, as beautiful as she was, had been having too many problems in her classes to have time to go out for the cheerleading team in college, so she was concentrating on her studies. This wasn't setting well with Ace and they'd begun arguing.
I later found out that they'd had other problems as well. They had several personality issues and were probably just not suited for each other. They clung to each other because both needed the comfort that familiarity can bring in a new situation. Both of them had gone from being big fish in the high school pond to being smaller nearly anonymous fish in the ocean of college. That's often an easier transition for people who were less popular than it is for the high school elite.
At any rate, there I was secure in my depression. I'd wrapped myself in a warm cocoon of loneliness only to have it shattered one afternoon by the sound of yelling as Ace and Aida screamed at each other. Onlookers seemed to smile a bit and passed right by them. Ace reached out his hand to hit her and before I realized it, I moved.
"Ace, what are you doing?" I asked.
" ... Bitch is getting on my fuckin' nerves," he mumbled. He was clearly drunk.
"Dude, there is never any reason to hit a girl," I said. "And even if it was a guy that you were about to hit, there are too many people around here. You could get kicked off of the team. You're also drunk. If your coach gets wind of that, you're off of the team."
"You're right Wayne," he said. "This bitch ain't worth it. I'm going to class."
"Ace, if you go to class and your professor smells your breath you're history. Go back to your dorm and email him that you're sick and you couldn't make it to class. Ask him for your assignments. Then just sleep it off," I said.
He nodded his head and gave me a drunken hug and just walked away.
Aida just stood there the whole time. She looked up at me with her big blue eyes on the verge of tears. "He was ... he was going to hit me ... again," she said.
I didn't know how to react to that. I also didn't know what to say to her so I just stood there too. The next thing I knew she'd just thrown her arms around me and started sobbing. I know this will make me seem like an asshole, but she smelled really good and felt even better. For the first time in months, my dick let me know that I was human. It was even worse in my case because Maria and I had never consummated our relationship. I was at nineteen still a virgin and control over my urges was a tentative thing at best.
"Wayne ... thanks, "she said. She looked at me strangely. I thought for a second that she'd felt my dick pressed up against her. It seemed almost like she didn't know what to say.
"Wayne, we've known each other for a long time," she said. "And I've wanted to tell you how sorry I am about your girlfriend, but we've never really talked to each other. So I didn't know what to say."
"Thanks," I said. "I've been kind of out of it. For two years we just..."
"I guess this is the wrong time to tell you this," she said. "But do you remember the first day that she came to our high school?"
"I remember," I said. "It was the first time you ever noticed me
"It really wasn't the first time I noticed you," she said. "It was just the first time that I'd been close enough to you to see the kind of person you were. You really defused that situation and made it so that everyone could walk away with their pride. I wanted to talk to you after that, but uhm..."
"But uhm what?" I asked. I was really intrigued.
"You know ... Maria," she said softly.
"Well it wasn't just Maria," I said. "You were going out with Jack, too."
"No," she said. "It's different."
"How is it different?" I asked.
"Well, if I went out with someone different, Jack would have been unhappy," she began. "But as long as I was upfront with him. It would have been okay. Jack was a pretty good guy. But Maria? Unh uh."
"What do you mean?" I asked. She looked at me and smiled.
"You really don't know do you?" she asked. "Don't you remember Edith?" I shrugged my shoulders.
"Wayne, from the first day that she walked into the school, Maria made it very clear to everyone, that you were hers. She didn't want to be popular. She didn't want to be a cheerleader. She didn't care about classes or clubs. You were it for her. I used to think that the way you guys handled high school and dating was great. You were just a group of friends who all dated freely amongst themselves when we were too young to really settle down. That way you got to really learn about people and what you really wanted in a relationship but also what you didn't. It was different for my crowd because athletes are so competitive and possessive. Cheerleaders are the same way. There's that whole pecking order of equal to equal. The head cheerleader goes with the quarter back or the starting center, no one else will do."
"But then when Maria got to our school, your group changed too. Everyone else in your group seemed to still date whoever they pleased but you and Maria were a couple. And any girl who tried to date you was on her shit list. The thing about it was that she was really evil about it. It wasn't enough for her to put them in their place and let them know that you were hers. Once you got on her list, you could never get off of it. I wasn't brave enough to try. And she didn't care who it was. Do you remember when Ace tried to come over to your table on the first day? I admit that he was being an asshole with his whole, "I gonna go get her and bring her over to our table routine," but she read him like a book and went after him. She went out of her way to humiliate him. Do you remember the things she said about him before you intervened? Remember her cracks about steroids shrinking your brain and your dick? If you hadn't stepped in who knows what could have happened."
"Remember when we asked her about being a cheerleader? Everyone was talking about the way she did those dives into your pool. She'd have been a great cheerleader. But she resisted any and everything that could have possibly come between you two."
"Is that bad?" I asked.
"Maybe not," she said. "But maybe giving both of you a chance to experience someone else would have been good for you."
"I guess," I said. "All I know is that I miss her. I feel like a chunk of my heart is gone without her."
"Wayne, I know this sounds awful, but I really mean it," she began. "You do have other friends if you need someone to talk to."
"I know," I said. "But it just seems to be easier to sit there in my apartment and grieve or sulk or whatever you want to call it." Then I noticed that she was staring at me wide eyed.
"Okay, what did I do now?" I asked.
"Wayne, you have an apartment?" she asked.
"Yeah, I couldn't get into the dorms at the last minute," I said.
"Wayne, do you realize how over crowded the dorms are?" she asked. "My room has four girls in a space that was designed for two. Do you have any idea of how noisy it is, or how chaotic that is? I can barely find the room or the time to study there."
"I guess I am kind of lucky," I said.
"Wayne, you have a lot of life left," she said. "Try to enjoy some of it. If Maria really loved you, even half as much as you loved her, she'd want you to go on living for both of you." I nodded my head and waved good bye to her as I started off towards the class that I was late for.
It was roughly a day after that conversation that things started to change. I was sitting on the couch in front of my fireplace reading a chapter for one of my classes. I had a bowl of popcorn and a cold beer, although at nineteen years old, I was technically not old enough to be drinking it. But shit, it was my apartment, so I made the rules.
I heard someone knocking on my door so I got up and answered it. I opened the door and there stood Aida looking at me.
"I was debating," she said smiling.
"I thought you were a cheerleader," I said. "Wow, cheerleader and debate team member. That's a great combination."
"No," she said. "What I meant was that I was trying to decide if you were an asshole or just out of practice." I looked at her like she was crazy. And she started talking again.
"There are a bunch of your friends from high school at this school too," she continued. "So I asked a bunch of them about you. Every single God damned one of them thinks you're a really good guy. They said that even though you're pretty fucking rich, you're a normal guy. Most of them also think you're a nice guy. So I figured that you're just out of practice."
"What am I out of practice at?" I asked.
"Dealing with women," she said, walking past me and into my apartment.
"I mean you've dated some in your younger years, but for the past two, which were really the most important ones, you were pretty much taken," she said. "So you're out of practice at interpreting the signals a woman gives you."
"No I'm not," I said. "I just never learned that."
"So how did you know when Maria wanted something?" she asked.
"That was easy," I smiled. "We didn't play games like that. If she wanted something she just told me."
"Well yesterday, I hinted around about how lucky you were to have all of this space to yourself," she said. She turned around giving me a view of that impressive body. I had to admit that in terms of pure physical beauty, Aida was far prettier and built much better than Maria. "Of course that was before I saw it. This apartment is beautiful. I guess I was expecting you to say something like, "Well, if you ever need a place to study, Aida," she said trying to make her voice sound like mine. She looked me in the eyes.
"But you never invited me," she said. "You never even told me where you live."
"Sorry," I said. "Maybe I am out of practice. And that isn't just dealing with women; that's called manners."
"No harm done," she said. "I'm here now." She looked at the fireplace and the popcorn and my half-finished beer.
"So what are you doing?" she asked. I held up my book.
"I have three chapters to read before class, day after tomorrow. I was reading tonight and tomorrow I'll answer the questions at the end of the chapter."
She looked around the room. "You were sitting on the couch, right?" she asked. I nodded.
"I don't want to disturb you, so I'll take the chair," she smirked. "I like beer too you know." That evening wasn't what I expected. We barely spoke. Aida read her chapter and I read mine. Except for our eyes meeting a few times, we could have been in different buildings. When nine thirty rolled around she stretched and thanked me for the use of the room.
"I though you said your building's curfew was eleven," I asked curiously.
"I had to take three buses to get here," she smiled. "And I don't want to be out very late, alone."
I put my jacket on and told her I'd drive her home. She just smiled at me and nodded her head. "Okay," she said. "Your friends were right. You're a nice guy after all."
Aida didn't let up. She was back the next night. She knocked on the door and smiled at me. "Uhm, can I get my spot back?" she asked. I nodded and she hesitated, she didn't just walk in. "There's just one little thing," she said.
She reached around and pulled another girl into the light. The girl was slimmer than Aida and taller. She wore glasses and looked really studious. "This is Heather," Aida said. "She lives in the dorm next to mine. She can't get any studying done either and she's pre-med. The good news is that she has a car so you won't have to get up to drive me home."
Heather barely said anything. Aida took up her station in the chair and looked at me. "Where's the fire?" she asked. I lit the fire and handed her a beer. Heather opted for juice and looked around the room. I was sitting with my feet on the couch and she just sat at the other end and the three of us settled in to do our studying.
The couch was long, but it wasn't so long that Heather and I didn't over-lap when we stretched our legs out. There were several times when our legs brushed each other and we looked up. After a while, Aida noticed this and started watching us.
Just before they left they both thanked me. Heather grabbed my hand and shook it, smiling at me. "I got so much reading done," she said. "I've never been able to do that at the dorm." Over the weekend I went home. But Monday, they were back to study. Things seemed to be tenser between them though. The first thing I noticed was that Aida gave up her chair for the couch. Heather didn't seem to be happy about it, but she buried her head in her book and started reading.
This time it was me who didn't get anything done. All I had on my mind was Aida and how soft her skin was and how great she smelled. She looked up several times and smiled at me. I was so busy trying to look at her over the edge of the book I wasn't reading, that I missed all of the subtle signs.
Heather and I had made incidental contact several times during the previous hours long study session. Aida had slowly inched her legs closer and closer towards mine and once they got there she never moved them away. Even through our pants the constant contact gave me the biggest hard on ever and I could tell that not only could she see it, she enjoyed doing it.
The next evening Aida showed up alone. "Heather didn't need to study?" I asked. She shrugged her shoulders and came in.
"You don't have to drive me home," she said. "I can take the bus."
"Aida, driving you home isn't a problem," I said. "I'd much rather drive you, than have you running around at night by yourself. Plus it's really cold out there."
She smiled at that. And put her books down. She had another bag with her and she went into my small kitchen and started looking through the cabinets. She finally found the plates and put two out. She looked at the stove and finally decided to forgo it. She put a bowl into the microwave and called me.
"I just thought it might be nice to have something to eat before we started to hit the books," she said. "Even in college we can't live on microwave popcorn and beer."
After dinner, she surprised me again. I expected with Heather not there that we'd go back to our previous arrangement. I took up my usual spot on my couch and she crawled over me into her spot. We settled in and started to read, but looked up at each other every few minutes. Every time our eyes met she smiled.
"So how's Ace doing?" I asked.
"Fine, I guess," she said. "I saw him a few days ago."
"That's good," I said.
"Why is it good?" she asked.
"I just meant that it sounds like you guys have worked everything out," I said, looking back at my book.
She pulled my book back down and looked at me. "Wayne, Ace and I aren't together anymore," she said.
"Oh, sorry," I said.
"Why?" she asked.
"Well it's never good when people break up," I said nervously.
"You haven't seemed to mind," she said smiling.
"Huh?" I said. I just didn't get her point.
"Wayne, I wouldn't be coming over to study with you most nights if Ace and I were still together. I don't know what people think and I don't care much, but I'm not that kind of girl." Then she pulled her book up and started reading it. I could see her smiling and looking at me out of the corner of her eye. Apparently, she'd given me some kind of message.
Later that evening, when it was time for me to take her home, she started talking again. "Wayne, are you going home again this weekend?" she asked.
"I hadn't really decided yet," I said. "Why?"
"Just wondering," she said. I started the car and she bit her lip. I could tell she wanted to know something.
"Spill it Aida," I said. "We are friends after all. You can ask me stuff. The worst I can say is no. and since you seem to be my only friend, except for Heather, of course, I'll probably do it."
"Well, if you're going home, I just thought I might like to go home too. And if you're not going home this weekend, I was wondering if you might want to go to a movie or something."
I turned my head back to the road. "Is the idea of going to the movies with me that bad?" she asked. "You did say that we were friends."
"Don't be silly," I said. "It's just that. Well ... there are a couple of things."
"What couple of things?" she asked.
"Well, you're like some kind of goddess. Why the hell would you..." I began.
"Don't start that shit," she said. "I'm a person. If I was all that hot, Jack wouldn't have just joined the army and left. Do you know what he said to me after all the time we'd been together? No wait ... After the prom we ended up, well ... I gave him my virginity. Do you know what he said afterward?"
I pulled over and looked at her. "Are you sure we should be talking about this?" I asked.
"Hell yes," she said. "He said and I quote, "Okay then."
She looked at me and I could see tears forming in the corners of her eyes. "He called me the next day to tell me that he was leaving. He wanted to get to the camp early so he'd know the layout and where everything was. Apparently, officer's training is very competitive. Do you know what he said to me before he left?"
"I was expecting some long, drawn out speech where he talked about what we meant to each other after going together throughout high school. Or some sensitive words to make up for the shitty reaction he'd had to the precious gift that I'd already begun to regret giving him the night before. He said, and again I quote, "Well, bye."
"Some fucking goddess," she said. I reached over and hugged her as she continued. "And Ace, he's tons worse. The first day that I got to school here, he just walked up to me and said, "Jack's in the army now. I guess it's just us."
"I saw US as being FRIENDS, but he seemed to think of it more like he'd acquired me by default. And by acquired, he seemed to think that we were supposed to have all the benefits that went with any relationship. He even told me that he knew I'd had sex with Jack. I guess Jack spoke more to him about us having sex than he did with me. I guess I'm some kind of hand me down, because Ace never treated me like I meant anything to him. I think you saw some of that. And you need to know something, Wayne. That look I gave you back in high school when you claimed that I noticed you for the first time. If Maria hadn't pounced on you, I'd have done a lot more than notice."
"What I noticed was a person, who risked getting into a bad situation himself, to provide a way out of a bad situation for two other people. Sure, maybe you were trying to calm Maria down, but you also gave Ace a way out. Because after the cracks she made, he'd probably have hit her and gotten himself expelled from school. Or you and he could have ended up fighting over it. But you kept a cool head and everyone walked away from it with their dignity intact. I never forgot that. But it was just never the right time to talk to you. She watched you like a hawk."
"And there's the other reason that it's probably not a good idea," I said.
"Wayne, I hate to sound like a hard ass about this, AGAIN," she said. "But she's gone and you have to keep on living. She wouldn't want you to be miserable. So as one friend to another, let's go to a movie."