It was raining hard. I watched the light traffic roll by fifteen stories below. My place wasn't exactly a penthouse; there were but three of those in the building, and they were on the eighteenth floor; but what the heck, I liked my place. Four bedrooms, three baths, a kitchen I could play tennis in; well, if I even liked tennis, and a really well appointed wet bar.
The streets of our little town—Granby Station, Ohio, population forty-some thousand—used to be heavy with cars and bikes and all manner of people on Saturday nights even when it did rain. But, with the price of gas these days, people didn't seem to do as much cruisin' as they used to. It was what it was.
I liked being inside in the rain. Great to watch, the rain, but no fun to drive in, not for me. Anyway, it was soothing to watch the clouds empty their contents on the earth below; that while holding a very well made manhattan in its hugely expensive crystal stem glass. Life was pretty good overall. The dim light of the street lamp a block distant lent an almost surreal aspect to the scene. I consciously sighed.
Tonight was a time for me to remember. I wondered what she was doing tonight. And, I wondered what she was wondering about or if she wondered at all. I supposed not, not about me at any rate; I was sure of that, well, pretty sure.
I'd not seen her in nine years; not since she left me and screwed me over in the divorce. Hate her? On some level, yes. No, that's not right, I didn't hate her; I just couldn't; I was kidding myself there. And no, it's not logical, not after what she did to me. The betrayal, the cold way she'd done me in the divorce: I still had a hard time getting my head around that.
My name is Richard Cort. My ex-wife? Her name was Winifred Cort, nee Williams, and yeah, Win, or Winnie for short. Winnie and I had met in school, Excelsior Community College: she a nursing student at the time; and, though she eventually graduated; she'd failed the NCLEX and had just given up on nursing. The blow to her ego, as I saw it, was too much for her. She'd got herself a job checking at Rogers' Supermart, and continued to live with her parents.
Me, I was an Accounting major. After my time at ECC I'd gone on to the university, gotten my B.A., and later my M.B.A in Accounting, passed the CPA exam, and set up an independent shop in a small office in town. I did good too, well, eventually I did. I eventually would create something of a niche for myself specializing in business taxes and financial management for small to medium sized, mostly family owned, local companies. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Winnie and I had dated off and on the whole time we'd been at Excelsior, and thereafter as opportunities allowed. Then, done with academics, and opened for business, I'd asked her to marry me. She'd taken a little time to think about it, which fact kinda bothered me, but had eventually said yes. We were commonly twenty-five years old at the time. Her parents, Melba and Michael Williams, again with whom she'd been living, were thrilled with her decision.
We'd struggled some in those early years as I worked horrendous hours to get my business going. And just as we were about to break out of the tough times, she hit me with it.
Five years into married bliss, and it had been blissful in my opinion; I was served with divorce papers. I was stunned, hurt, and angry. At first I thought she was dumping me for another man, but no, there was no player waiting in the wings. Her declared reason for ending us? She wanted to find herself. And how did she intend to find herself? Why in the all-enveloping embrace of the Army! She was going to be all she could be.
She got the house in the divorce, our only significant asset though the equity wasn't all that much after just five years of paying. She hadn't been making much at the time either, so she also got nominal alimony, and a piece of my 401k, and half of our savings. What did I get? Why my car, and my clothes and seventy-five percent of my 401k and half of our savings. She actually smiled at me and wished me well when we left the courthouse. I told her to fuck off; well, I was angry. She looked genuinely surprised, hurt. It was some six months later, that she left for boot camp—at her age twenty-nine, almost thirty. I prayed that she'd sprain her ankle on the obstacle course.
Of course I hadn't seen her in nine years, but at the time of the divorce, Winnie'd been pretty. At five-nine, one-thirty, short raven black hair, and a generally slim figure: oh yeah, she'd been pretty all right.
Me at the time? Five-eleven, one-seventy, thinning hair; and well, not especially pretty. Now? I'm still five-eleven, but now one ninety, mostly bald on top, and still not especially pretty. I do make some pretty good bread though—now. Female companionship? None worth mentioning; there'd been a few short term relationships over the years, but again, none worth mentioning. I'd spent most of my efforts trying to make a buck. At any rate, Winnie had spoiled me for other women. I just couldn't get over her; I couldn't.
As I watched the rain, still wondering, I made an on the spot decision. I'd not only not seen Winnie in the last nine years, I hadn't been back to the old neighborhood either.
Grabbing my coat, I went out into the rain, got in my restored '56 Chevy Belaire, and headed east across town.
The old neighborhood was still alive at 8:00PM. I saw the house. Lights were on in the living room. Somebody was home. Winnie? Or, had she sold the place? Did I have the guts to find out? Well, nothing ventured nothing gained.
I got out and walked hesitantly toward my goal. What the hell, at worst all she could do, if it was her, was tell me to get lost. I smiled. Of course if she were married...
Approaching the door and ignoring what the rain was doing to my clothes and by inference me, I rapped on the door.
Nothing, no answer. I rapped again. I was turning to leave when the door opened and the warmth and the light from the living room flooded the space around me.
"Yes," she said. I turned to see her. Her face took on an expression that I shall likely never forget and couldn't adequately characterize.
"Sweet Jesus in heaven! Is that you, Richard?" she said.
"Uh—yes," I said.
"You're soaked. What are you ... come in, come in before you catch your death," she said.
She took my coat and went to get me some towels. Back, she helped dry me off as best she could.
Five minutes later, I was seated at our old dinette table with a cup of too-hot-to-drink tea in front of me, and a very curious ex-wife across from me.
"Well, mister, I don't know what brought you to these environs on this absolutely awful night"—she was I was sure referring to the weather—"but I'd sure like to know," she said. I was rotating the cup in front of me. I looked up at her, spread my hands in an I-wish-I-knew gesture.
"I wish I knew," I said. She smiled. As she did, I took in the picture. Longer hair now, still slim, still A-cups, still pretty, and yes, still in charge of my heart.
"Well, it's nice to see you. It's been forever," she said. "How are you doing?"
"Relative to what?" I said.
"I'm doing okay. Live on the other side of town now. Got an apartment; it's in the back of the shop." For some reason, I'm not really sure why, I didn't tell her about my almost penthouse at the Florian Estates.
"Things are good for me overall. You?" I said. I saw her swallow. There was something wrong, but what. She looked toward the back of the house.
"Okay, I guess. Eating. Paying the bills—usually."
"Usually?" I said.
"Had some problems. But, like I say, things are mostly okay now."
"Problems? What kind of problems," I said.
"Richard ... there's been ... well a lot of history..." she started.
"Yes, well, I guess that's so," I said.
"Richard why have you come here tonight? I mean it's been so long," she said.
"Winnie, the truth is I don't know. You divorced me. I mean I have no business, no right. But, well, I have never stopped thinking about you, and—"
"And?" she said.
"And, I needed, still need, to know why, Winnie. I mean why was I not enough for you. Why did you leave me? I mean really," I said. "You never said, and I—well—I never asked, not then. But since then, well, almost every day. I mean I ask myself why. I mean, well I mean, you know..."
"Oh, Richard. That was so long ago. I'm not sure..."
"Winnie, please. I can take it. Really I can. I know it wasn't another man. I mean but the Army!" I said. She smiled a wan smile.
The Army was the..."
"The?" I said.
"It was my means of escape," she said.
"Escape from me?" I said.
"Richard this is not necessary. Really it's not. I'm not the same as I was then. Neither I suspect are you," she said. I snickered.
"No, no, I am not the same, I guess. Less hair," I said. Her turn to snicker.
"You know what I mean," she said. I went pensive. She knew I needed to hear the truth. The truth and only the truth. She sighed.
"It was a lot of things, Richard. I'd failed the nursing exam. No children."
"And me?" I said.
"Richard, I mean..."
"Winnie—and me?" I said.
"Richard, you were boring. In bed not very satisfying. We'd go to parties and you'd kinda smile a lot and engage in or say little or nothing. At home you were always working. During the day you were always—well—working at your office. It seemed, at the time, to be an endless chain of things that led nowhere. I had to get out. And, you are correct about other men; there weren't any. Not then." She said.
"Boring? I was boring?" I said. "You left me because I was boring?" She looked away.
"For godssake," I said. "I could have changed. Why didn't you give me a chance to change? Why!" I said, raising my voice a little too much.
"Richard, I don't mean to demean you. But—you're an accountant. Richard—I mean an accountant! There are few occupations that breed boring more certainly than that. At the time I felt that I had to escape," she said.
"At the time?" I said. She looked sad.
"I was younger. Thought I needed something different. I was just twenty-nine. The young don't always do things the smart way."
As I listened to her, I was beginning to think that she was regretting having left me. Wishful thinking on my part? Maybe.
"Miss me? I mean after the fact," I said, changing the subject, getting to the point, more or less radically.
"Not at first. You knew I did go into the Army."
"Yes. And—can I ask? Did you ever sprain your ankle? I mean in boot camp?" I said. She looked at me strangely. Well, the question was kind of a strange one I suppose.
"No, broke my thumb and got battered up in training some. But, no, no ankle injury? Why do you ask a question like that?" she said. I smiled.
"It doesn't matter," I said.
"I was in for four years. Did a tour in Iraq. Mustered out. Got married a year later. Had the babies. Divorced a year ago now."
"Winnie, you mentioned problems." She gave me a look. And, yes, I heard her remark about having babies, plural.
"Like I said I was married. For three years. Had three children," she motioned toward the back of the house. "He left me. Served me right I guess after what I did to you." I gave her a studied look.
"You have anyone now?" I said, and I could feel my blood pressure go up as I did. I left the question as to why she was abandoned and divorced by husband number two for another day.
"No, not too many men want a woman with my baggage," she said. "I date on a rare occasion, but nothing comes of any of it. Dates, like I said, but no relationships if that's what you're asking?" I nodded.
"Sounds like my situation. I mean dates, but no relationships," I said. Her turn to nod.
For the next minutes the silence was thunderous.
"Winnie, I don't know what's happening here, but whatever it is, it leads me to ask a question," I said.
"Yes, well mister boring here would like to ask you for a date. And, in so asking, might mister boring expect a positive response to his request?" I said. She gave me a look, a smirk, then a genuine smile.
"Yes, miss Winnie would be happy to make you happy with a positive response," said my ex-wife. My turn to smile. The date would be for the following Friday evening. For this one I would be putting on dog. Oh yeah. Boring it definitely would not be.
I maybe should note here that, in spite of having three kids, Winnie had changed hardly at all. Maybe an extra ten pounds—maybe. But, everything else the same as far as I could see.
We were pushing forty the both of us, but tonight we were like teenagers feeling our way through a first date. We were at The Post, a small but very high priced bistro just outside of town.
Our wines in front of us, I kept playing with mine, turning the glass, squeezing the stem.
"Richard? What are you doing?" said Winnie. I sighed.
"Win, I'm so freakin' nervous, I can't even begin to tell you. I'm terrified that I might bore you, and I am not kidding," I said. There, I'd said it; I'd gotten it out. "I guess I just don't really know how to act around a woman of your quality, or any woman." She smiled, and it was an indulgent smile.
"Richard, I'm a lot easier to please than I was years ago. Just be yourself. Tell you what, if you do something really boring, I'll let you know. Okay?" she said. I looked up at her.
"Okay," I said. "Would you? I'd actually appreciate it." She broke out laughing.
"Richard, you're a ding dong, you know that. And, I still very much love you for that quality. Yes, I said love you. You were always the best, just, well..."
"Not enough at the time?" I finished for her. She tendered me a quizzical glance.
"You know—yes—at the time. But this is now. I'm older. I know better. So, stop worrying about being boring. I'll sigh real loudly if you begin to put me to sleep. That'll let you know. Okay?" she said.
"Yes, okay," I said.
The steaks were great. The dancing was really great—God the feel of her body against mine—it was indescribable. We went out for coffee afterwards.
"Have fun?" I said.
"You bet, sailor," she said. "Most in a long time."
"So, we can... ?" I started.
"Do it again?" she said.
"Yes," I said. "Maybe next Saturday night?"
"It's a date," she said. "Rich, I really am glad you came to see me the other night, rain and all. You helped me a lot whether you know it or not. I was kinda down in the dumps, and, there you were."
"Win, I will always be there for you. Any time of the day or night. You've got my number. I hope you wake me up at 3:00AM to tell me you need me for something, anything," I said. She smirked.
"Anything?" she said. Suddenly I was a red faced teenager certain I had ruined my chances with my date.
"Don't worry, Richard, you didn't say anything wrong. Really," she said.
"I'm always doing stuff like that," I said. "Saying stuff like that. I'm well known around town as foot-in-the-mouth Ritchie." She laughed uproariously at my description of myself. And, I was red faced again. Frustrating!
I checked my watch. It was 11:00PM. We were standing in front of her house. The house that used to be our house. She had a look on her that spelled "decision time."
"You can come in, Richard. I want you to," she said. My eyes got as big as dinner plates. Could she be... "My parents have the children until tomorrow, so it's all right." I followed her in and closed the door behind us.
Have a seat, I'll be back in a minute," she said. I did as she commanded.
Ten minutes later—and yes I had been checking my watch—she reappeared in a long flannel night gown. My look must have cued her to my disappointment. She laughed.
"Don't worry, Richard, you're staying the night, and you will get to fuck me. But it's kinda cool out here, and I think we could do with a night cap or two before you take me. Okay?" she said.
"Yes," I squeaked.
"Sorry I took so long to change."
"Sure, sure," I said. "I understand."
She went to the little cabinet against the far wall. It was the same one we'd always kept the liquor in so many years ago. Some things never changed, I guessed. She poured us each a JD neat. We'd had a glass of wine at dinner, but that's all until now. She'd remembered my favorite. I wondered if she'd gotten it special for me during the week. It was a new bottle.
"You any better at screwing a woman than you used to be?" she said. I think it was a serious question.
"I don't know," I said. "But, you are for sure gonna get my A-game," I said. She smiled.
"Good," she said. She poured us a couple of refills and we sipped them, not exactly fast, but with some small degree of urgency as one might be inclined to say. Finished, she came to me.
She looked down at me sitting on the couch as I was. In one swift movement, she pulled the flannel teaser up-over-and-off of her. She had nothing underneath.
She mounted the couch on her knees, butt back and looked back at me. "You gonna stay dressed all night or what?" she said.
"I'll take the or what," I said. I have never, I mean never in my life, stripped that fast. I fell to my now naked knees and just gazed at her treasures. I leaned in to her and kissed her buttocks. Spreading her cheeks and slave-like licked and sucked on her anus. She was trying to stifle a giggle, I could tell.
I switched to her pussy. I sucked on her clit till I was sure it was raw, and enjoyed the hell out of the fact as I knew she'd cum twice because of my efforts. I knew it because she squirted. I stood and poked at her. She was no help. I had to guide my cock into her and listened as she sighed, I hoped with pleasure, and not disappointment.
I began to fuck her slowly. God she was tight. I don't think she'd had all that many dates in recent days. Beautiful though he was, she couldn't have. Well, and so what if that were the case; neither had I been getting lucky all that much. But, I wondered at it, her possible paucity of pussy pounding.
She began to squirm, to shiver, and finally to convulse; she'd made it. God did I feel good about that. In ancient times I hadn't gotten her off but once in fifty tries. But tonight, now, I had. It boded well for any hopes I had that she'd be mine again at least in some way.
"That, dear man, was very good. I needed it bad too. It'd been a while," she said. Well, that answered any doubts I had about her having been getting much; she hadn't.
We lay beside each other only mildly exhausted. It was half past twelve. "It was exceptionally good for me," I said. "God, Win, how I have missed you!"
"I've missed you too, Ritchie, really," she said.
It had been a good night, a very good night. I didn't stay the night after all; it just didn't feel right to, not yet. That, however, I knew would soon happen. I was going to make it happen.
A week later we were sitting at the dinette, her dinette, coffees refilled.
"So tell me," I said.
"There's almost too much to tell," she said. I don't know. Hashing it over. I don't know."
"Honey girl, I need to know. I'm your new old lover. I need to you to feel safe and loved and okay. For that to happen, I need to know what you've got going and what might still be out there," I said. She sighed.
"Okay," she said. "To begin with you know I was married. He was a black guy, Richard. King sized cock, king sized ego, and a pathological wife beater. Name was Nelson Ripley. Two of my daughters are his; their names are Beth, age three; and Cali age two. Because of the beatings, I took to drinking too much. When the divorce happened he almost got custody because of that, the drinking. But he didn't; he got twenty years instead for dealing meth."
"Jesus!" I said. "But you have three daughters?"
"I do. The other one had a different daddy. He's white, and he's in the wind. We, well, we weren't married. He paid the bills when Ripley was sent up, got me preggers, and Bernice age one. One day he just took off with some teeny bopper without so much as a by you leave. His name was Gordon Manning." I nodded.
"And your job now, you haven't said," I said.
"No, no job, I'm on welfare, Ritchie. So, if you need money you've come to the wrong place," she said, smiling. She knew I didn't need her money; well, I hope she did.
"No, dear heart, I don't need any money. I am employed," I said. "We haven't talked about finances or jobs or anything like that so far, but tonight we are going to."
"Whatever," she said.
"Win, it would seem to be obvious, but can I ask. Do you still have any feeling of love for either of the babies'daddies?" I said. She gave me a strange look.
"No, none at all. The one was cruel and evil the other abandoned us. So no, none," she said. I sagged back in my chair.
"Win, I make enough to help you out, and if you will allow; I'm going to do just that," I said. She smiled, it was a condescending smile.
"I can't let you do that," she said. "I'm sure you're doing fine, but handling two households is a lot. Especially when the other household includes three growing babies.
"And, Ritchie I have some very big debts and a loan—well, a bad loan," she said.
My turn to smile. "I can afford it, and them too, and I just need you to allow me the chance to be your knight in shining armor. Okay?" I said. "And what is this bad loan if I may ask?" She didn't want to answer me.
"I needed to take the baby Melba to the doctors, asthma. I got a loan from a guy, but the interest is too great, and the bill keeps getting bigger and bigger." My eyes narrowed.
"A loan shark?" I said. She nodded.
"Yes," she said.
"How much?" I said.
"Ritchie, it's all right. I will pay it somehow. I can't ask you to take on something that large," she said.
"Yeah, well, I am," I said. "So how much? Please," I said.
"It was five thousand, but it's almost ten now," she said.
"When is it due? The first," she said.
"And, if you don't pay it back?" I said. "If you shine the guy on?" She looked away.
"I was going to take out a second mortgage," she said. "There's enough equity to pay him off."
I didn't say that that's what she should have done in the first place, not be messing with gangsters. But, I kept my mouth shut.
What I didn't want to do at that moment was to reveal to her my real financial situation. So I dodged the bullet, by ducking. "I have a friend, a banker—which I really did—who'll make you the loan real cheap and real fast. How would that be?" I said. "I may be boring, but I am an accountant and I do know a few people." I was smiling. And, so was she, but her smile was tentative.
What I had done, and that on purpose, was to leave her with the impression that I was just a bit above average income guy without actually saying such. It's where I wanted to leave things for the present.
"Anything else, any other problems," I said.
"No, no other problems," she said. "Except maybe how to thank you for still caring about me. And, I will take you up on the bank loan; that would be a godsend."
"I will always care about you, dear heart, no matter what. All I ask is that you give me a chance to show you how much," I said. She came to me and kissed me harder than I have ever been kissed even by her.
I did arrange the loan, and no her credit would not even have been strong enough to get it herself, but mine was. As for the mortgage, that's almost never a good idea for someone in her situation. It would have been her last refuge, and understanding her situation, as I now did, she'd have been back in the hole anyway in a short time—it was no win for her going down that road. At any rate, she had me now, so she was safe. Safer than she knew.
Mister Ripley was history, and a friend of mine on the force was alerted to him. I figured he'd screw up sooner or later and get nailed. Well, that was the hope. I hated men who threatened women; well, it's who I am.
Things went along swimmingly for a few months. She and I didn't have anything formal worked out, but we were getting it on pretty regular, usually once a week after our dates. My long dead psyche was brought back to life, and then it wasn't.
We had planned to go dining and dancing on Friday night. I was taking her to a special place I knew of up by the lake. The view was great up there, the food good, and the music and dancing of the mellow variety.
I showed up at her place at 7:00, the appointed time. She wasn't home. I called her cell; it was off. I prayed nothing had happened to her. I'd check on her later, and yes, I was holding my breath.
No one to go out with, but dressed for a night out, I hit the nearest bar, a country western sawdust joint. I'd been there about half an hour when they came in. She was dressed nicely. He was overdressed and looked like the prototype of the drugstore cowboy: sequins and tassels on his shirt—and pants! She'd clearly stood me up, and for a serious loser at that; well, that was the way I looked at things.
My pride actually took a hit with this guy being her choice for the evening. His outfit though bespoke something else: he had some bucks. His boots were genuine snakeskin, probably in the neighborhood of $1,000 worth. I watched as he secured a table and came up to the bar to order. I smiled at him; he smiled back. He ordered two Heinekens. Goin' all out for his woman of the evening I could see.
He took his beers back to their table. I watched as he did so. When he got there, he kinda toasted me, raising his bottle in my direction and smiled. It was then that she saw me. She paled. I raised my manhattan to him and smiled back, took a sip, set the glass down, and went to pay and leave.
She didn't come after me and she didn't immediately call me or text me or anything. I went home to cry in my beer over my life and especially my boring personality. I figured she was after the guy to maybe get some security. Why not me? Didn't have a clue. Maybe she figured the guy had more bucks than I did.
I chalked it up to experience and decided to forget her, finally, and get on with my life. Well, I was hurt—okay!
I really didn't cotton to being stood up; it was a kind of betrayal the way I saw it. Maybe a minor one, but a betrayal nonetheless. If we hadn't had a date, I would have been a little disappointed, but not as destroyed as was in fact the case.
I finally got a visit a week later at the shop; she had the address. She still hadn't seen where I really lived. The room in the back had a cot, a small bathroom, and a mini-kitchen. I used it a lot during tax season. And, I had been using it more since going out with Winnie, and now that all worked for me.
It was early evening; I had just gotten done with some paperwork. The knock was light but hearable.
"Winnie!" I said. I was genuinely surprised as I answered the door.
"Persona no grata or can I come in," she said. I stared at her for a moment deciding. I left the door open and went back inside. I was still putting away papers I'd been going over. She took a seat on the rattan bench my customers used.
"Whaddya need, Win," I said. She sighed.
"So this is where you live—and work?" she said. It was clear she was not impressed with my "apparent" economic state.
"Yes," I said. Well, it was only a little lie. I did stay at the shop sometimes, kinda often of late actually.
"I'm here to apologize," she said. "I stood you up. I was a skunk. I am very sorry for doing that to you."
"That it?" I said.
"No. I'd like to take you to dinner," she said. I gave her a look that must have spelled suspicion.
"It won't happen again," she said.
"Why do you want to go out with me. Seems you already have a replacement for me," I said.
"Hardly, and certainly not with that guy," she said.
"You didn't get along with your cowboy?" I said, kinda sarcastically.
"Cowboy! Hell no, he's no cowboy; he's a building contractor. Makes some good bucks, but that's where it ends with him. Hell, he was so boring he made you look like Jason Bourne," she said. The endless hits to my ego were taking a toll, but she seemed to realize it this time and regrouped.
"I mean the old you," she said. "You're not so bad anymore. Really." Another qualified shot to my ego, but, at least qualified.
"Hmm, well thank you for that. I think," I said.
"It's true, Rich, really," she said. I shrugged.
"So, whaddya say?" she said.
"About what?" I said.
"Dinner? Tonight," she said.
"It's Tuesday," I said.
"Yes, but you're the boss here aren't you?" she said. I nodded.
"Okay, I guess," I said. My lack of enthusiasm seemed to get to her some. Well, it should have.
We dined and danced and went to the park for a late night stroll. "What is it you're looking for, Win? I mean really?" I said, as we strolled along. She gave me a look.
"I mean do I have a chance with you? You must have figured out by now that I want you back. But, tell me truly, am I spinning my wheels? Am I wasting my time with you?" I said. Now, she smiled.
"I still have feelings for you, Ritchie. I do. But... " she said.
"But, what? I love you, Win. I will take care of you. You and the babies. I'm employed. I do okay economically. You say I'm not as boring as I used to be. So what's the hang up?" I said.
"I don't know, Ritchie. I guess I just want to make sure that I don't blow it like I always seem to be doing.
"The other night with the cowboy, Barry Caldwell, I was with him to see if he and I would match up. He makes a lot of money. Well, and well, I'm looking out for my babies now, not just me. I want them to have what I have so far not been able to give them.
"You're a good guy, Richard. The best, really. But, I know what you make. We lived together for five years. I've seen where you live. Oh, I'm sure you're doing okay now, overall. And I have give you credit; I know how hard you work. But, Ritchie, I'm at a place in my life today where I don't want to struggle anymore. If I had the money, I guess, I'd marry you in a New York minute. But, I'm flat broke. Don't have two nickels to rub together.
"I don't want to struggle anymore, Ritchie, and I don't want to saddle you with responsibilities that are not of your making. I guess what I'm saying is that I want to wait and see before taking the plunge again. Would that be all right with you, Rich?" she said. "I mean I want to be fair to you, and frankly to myself too."
"Okay, Win. I understand. Just please, don't stand me up again, okay," I said. She gave out a small laugh.
"I won't, big guy. I was an asshole their other night. It won't happen again."
And for six months things went very well. We dated, we fucked, we got close again. And, I was thinking of actually popping the question. But then it happened—again!
This time she called to cancel; that is she didn't just not show up. I guess one could say that things were improving. Said she wasn't feeling well, and would I mind if we postponed to the following weekend, she said. I probably sounded a little grumpy, but that was because I knew she was lying. If she knew me from long ago, well, I could say the same thing about her.
By 6:00, I was parked a ways down the street where I could see her front door. A very nice Lexus pulled up in front at 6:25. She came out, hopped in, and she and whoever drove off. I went home.
I didn't call her during the week, and she didn't call me until Thursday. I didn't take the call. And, I didn't show up Friday night, the night of our scheduled, actually rescheduled, date.
I had been paying her rent and utilities since we'd gotten back to dating each other, even after our mini-breakup, but now I stopped. Her lover or lovers could do the paying now. If she didn't respect me enough to keep her promises, then I had no interest in helping her out. Well, I did, but I was simply not going to be used.
I was more or less surprised that I didn't hear from her again for three full months, not even a text message. It was clear to me that she'd deduced that I knew what she'd done and was afraid to talk to me. But three months later, after, as I'm sure was the case, she thought I'd had enough time to cool off, she showed up again. It was a Sunday morning, 9:00AM, and once again I'd been staying at the office.
"Hi Ritchie," she said. "Still mad at me?"
"Yes," I said, and slammed the door in her face. She must have been waiting. She had to have been still on the porch, deciding I guess, about the wisdom of making a second go at me. Some five minutes lapsed before she rang the doorbell again.
"I told you, yes I'm still mad at you, Winnie. Now please leave. Okay."
"Please, Ritchie. May I come in for a few minutes?" she said.
Those cow eyes she attacked me with got her in. I was still mad at her for how she'd done me, but I just couldn't resist talking to her.
"Whaddya want, Win. You did me wrong, again, and I feel like a fool having let you get away with it the first time. Who was it by the way, the contractor?" I said. She looked away.
"Yes," she whispered. "He, well he made me promises. But, he broke them all," she said.
"Kinda like you?" I said, and that sarcastically.
"I deserved that," she said. "I love you Rich. I realized that after Harry, the contractor, screwed me over. Money isn't everything. I wish I had some, but it isn't everything. I realize that now," she said. "Forgive me?" she said.
God help me, she looked so helpless in that moment that I did forgive her. And, I hated my weakness for doing so. But weakness or not I could not hate the woman, and I wanted to hate her! She was an idiot and that was all there was to it. But, no, I loved her too much to not forgive her, and so I did.
My forgiveness led to several more than interesting consequences.
One, I got to see more of the babies as time went on and they were adorable. I hadn't had a chance to see all that much of them previously because I lived across town and pretty much the only times I was at her place was to take her out. But now I moved in on the weekends: her idea: it was bigger than my little mini-apartment at the office as she pointedly noted. And, it would allow me to be mnore4 confident in her faithfulness. Oh, and I should mention that in the almost a year since that rainy night; she had not yet been to my real place; but hell, I hadn't seen all that much of it either; and now it was tax season.
And then there was the second thing, she inherited a bit of money; well, if a hundred grand could be considered a mere bit. This however, her money, I did not know about for some little time.
Our dates resumed, the sex resumed, and then she was gone, again, without warning or phone call or note on the door jamb, none of it. And, my anger resumed. And then she returned, as she thought, to resume our relationship!
"Honey, honey! I've got news!" she said. My look, as I answered the door that Tuesday morning—at 6:00 fucking AM—two weeks later, must have cued her to the undeniable fact that I was more than a little pissed.
"Oops! You're pissed, huh?" she said.
"Mightily," I said. "You can leave now never to return," and I slammed the door in her face. Didn't Yogi Berra have something to say about situations like this one?
There was no five minute "thinking about it delay" this time. She was ringing the bell and pounding on the door with gusto and grim and relentless determination before I'd gotten six feet from it. I opened it again, and that with a grim determination of my own. I was not sitting still for her having found yet another "it just happened cock" to satisfy her need for that which did not bore her. I was not.
But just as I opened the door and was about to open my mouth she rushed in and commanded me to sit!
"What are you doing! I just told you to pound pavement! Go!" I said.
"No! And shut the fuck up. My grandma died," she said. She'd stopped me.
"Grandma Williams?" I said.
"No, my great grandma Dorsey, my mom's side; she was ninety-six. I'd never even met her except these past two weeks: she lived in Virginia. I was there when she died," she said.
"So you're saying you weren't out fucking another drugstore cowboy?" I said. She gave me a look that spelled volumes.
"Oh! No! No-no-no-no-no," she said.
"You should have called me, something," I said. Now she sat down.
"I didn't?" she said. It was like she didn't realize that she hadn't called me. Now I was pissed all over again.
"I didn't realize I hadn't called you. But—I didn't did I," she said, almost to herself. "Oh, Richard, I feel so bad!"
"Uh-huh," I said. "It's clear to me Win, that I am just not that important to you. You really do need to find someone else. Someone maybe a bit less boring, and less forgettable than me," I said. I was rising to get the door so she could leave.
"Sit down, Richard. I'm not leaving. In a little bit, you're going to fuck me, and I'm going to love it—and you—and we are going to resume our lives together," she said. "Uh, our married lives together."
"What? Huh? When you can't even be bothered to remember to call me when you leave town? What kind of marriage would that be?" I said.
"I know, I know. But, this was a special case. I was whisked away by mom and dad. And then I was at Grandma's bedside, and then there was the reading of the will, and the relatives and the lawyers, and the I don't know what all. And, I thought I had called you; in my mind I had," she said. "And, Richard it was all so crazy."
I sagged, I was standing next to the door, but now I sagged against it. "Okay, get it out, all of it. I'm still pissed, and you will not tell me to wait or you're tired or any of it. Just get it all out. And, I mean now!" I said. She nodded.
"Okay," she said. An hour later she was done. It was indeed quite a tale. I could see she'd been overwhelmed and she was tired. But I didn't care. I really was still pissed.
"That it," I said.
"Not quite," she said. "There is one more thing." A slight smile began it spread across her face. I looked her askance.
"Well?" I said.