Apartment dwellers, yes! Friends? Yes, also; they certainly became that over the course of the year that he'd lived there and ran into her periodically. Lovers? Not yet, certainly; at this point only friends, and for a time period, merely acquaintances.
John, Jack, Warner, a robust 37 year old writer —- his, up to that point, secret.
(Secret? Well, really a matter of only being his business and not anyone else's. So, he didn't proclaim to others that he was a writer. It never really came up that much. And there was this thing about his writing: he wrote 'bodice rippers', as they were called. They were about historical ladies and their loves and follies, their flirtations and their foibles. He included good historical research —- indeed, John Warner was basically a historian with the soul of a romantic. He knew the formulas to use, and used them well. He included plenty of believable, realistic sex. He paraded, in front of the reader, scenes about lovely ladies in their unmentionables, although he never hesitated to mention and describe the underclothing that those ladies wore.)
Jack really kept to himself and coddled his companion, a large tabby cat, Socrates. He worked at home but tried to be a good neighbor. He gave himself the chance to workout and watched his diet closely. He refused to allow his life style to make him into a middle aged potato. He was, as I've said, a robust 185 pounder, just a bit over six feet tall. He had wavy, prematurely gray hair, turning already white.
He'd had a marriage in his background. But it was to 'the Harridan', as he called her, when talking about her to Socrates —- something that he rarely did any more. She'd been the product of a very, very strict home and grew up with the scars of various kinds of corporal punishment seething in her mind—- times spent kneeling in a dark closet, sometimes on hard peas, mouth rinsed out with soap now and again. Her parents were models of their kind of righteousness! They certainly produced a 'Harridan'.
She provided Jack, over a marriage of about 10 years, with years of denied sex —- yes! years! —- having learned early what a convenient power item sex was. She had constant mood swings that would serve to leave him in the cold, relation wise, now and again and were lightened by intense times of care for him. There was at least one attempt at suicide, and then a string of infidelities. He constantly gave thanks, these days, for their not having had any children. The 'Harridan' was merely, for Jack Warner now, a bad memory. But he'd learned the secret of mentally throwing such past incidents out the window and watching them go, floating away attached to balloons that would carry them far, far from his mind. It left Jack Warner pleased and pretty much at peace.
Jack cooked well, and was a great companion to his pal Socrates.
Patti Reese was one also: an apartment dweller. That is to say, of course, that it was her current reality, although she'd never given up on the idea of owning a lovely home. Thus far, it had been the apartment. She too loved animals but her crazy schedule, as a nurse at the University hospital in town, didn't leave her enough 'free time' to care for an animal well; so that, there was no comforting 'Socrates' in her life.
She was, at the time of the 'knee' incident, roughly Jack's age. But Patti, at the age of 35, was a beauty.
(There are those who have as their absolute standard of beauty, the young, slim Victoria Secrets models. But there are also those calm thinking, level headed individuals who know better, and look to a woman who is from 33 years of age or so to about 50, or even older, for the absolute standard of female beauty. Patti Reese was, at 35, the epitome of such a beauty. She had short, frosted hair —- it was easier to keep during the trying and busy times that she spent at the hospital ER. She looked positively striking, so to speak, in her 'whites', which she preferred. But she didn't dress, even in her 'down' times, in a sexy fashion. It was only the rare and privileged guy who got to look at Patti without those 'whites' on who saw that she was a goddess in the flesh —- rounded hips, melon like 36c breasts, large, responsive nipples, strong legs —- Patti too was a workout person. She was almost the complete opposite from those horribly thin underwear models, that have been mentioned.)
She and Jack lived near one another in the same apartment building. There were leaks of information about that place that it was being sold and might 'go condo' but as of yet, there was no surety about the rumor.
Patti and Jack had indeed met on occasion at periodical social functions that took place at the apartment building, in the social room for the people that lived there. They weren't held too often but they did see one another from time to time. On those occasions, they spoke, joked with one another and generally enjoyed becoming friends. They also discovered, over an amount of time, that they both attended, not regularly, the same Episcopal church, which was not far away. They did see one another there periodically, however.
It was during such times and events that Jack discovered that Patti loved animals. He, after that, introduced her to Socrates, whom she absolutely adored. But, at that time, Jack was still smarting from 'the Harridan' and wasn't looking for any entangling relationships.
Patti's story simply had been one of almost total dedication to her nursing —- she'd become a floor and department supervisor at the hospital and dedicated her 'off' time to doing some teaching there. She was also a little basically shy and there simply hadn't been that many men in her life, besides the occasional fling, more occasional than regular, for sure.
It was also during that time that Jack discovered that Patti Reese had a failing, she loved pie!
One of Jack's true talents, that he'd gotten from both his Mom, Anna and his aunt Rena was the ability to make fantastic pies. He tried to not do it too often, lest he become, as he told Socrates time and again, too heavy. It was only a periodic task for him, though he did bring pies to those social events that were meant for the apartment folks. It was at one such that Patti discovered the truth about the goodies that Jack brought.
"I have to ask," she said to him on one such occasion, "Where you buy your pies. They are lovely!"
He laughed and she just gave him a curious look.
"I don't buy them!" he said, "I bake them! Use my Mom's and Aunt Rena's recipe for crust and it's easy to make the filling."
"Easy? I don't think so," she replied with a broad smile. "It's more like a talent, and it's one that I have never particularly mastered."
"Well, when you need a piece of pie, or a pie, you just let me know and Socrates and I will put our aprons on and whip one up!" he'd said to her.
(On one occasion, when she was invited to a girl's luncheon and each were bringing something, she offered to bring a pie, and he made one for her, apple. It was a huge hit.)
Patti and Jack were friends, though the thought of them being lovers was never really on their agenda. It must be said, however, that Patti, from the start, was in love with, totally smitten by Socrates. She made it her business to ask about him, when she had a chance, though her path, due to her work hours and Jack's didn't cross all that much.
A PROBLEM DEVELOPS AND A FORTUITOUS ACCIDENT:
Slowly but gradually, certainly with plain enough evidence to not be able to be ignored, Patti Reese began to develop a problem with her right knee. She put up with the pain for a good while. Her next approach to the situation was to buy a brace and use it at work. This worked for a while, but after a bit of time, she was no longer able to ignore the knee, and it's constant pain.
She visited a friend of hers, an orthopedic surgeon, who did tests and told her that her right knee was in bad shape. The doctor friend talked with Patti about a 'bone on bone' situation, and the need for a replacement. She emphasized the fact that such replacements these days were fairly common.
Patti's response was to decide to think about it. But, of course, the knee had its own opinion about things. From time to time, the knee would simply give out and Patti had to do some 'dancing' to keep from falling on her face.
It was one such event that propelled her more quickly than might have been the case toward getting something done about her knee, and caused a kind of flurry with Jack.
She was going down into the basement of the apartment building to get some laundry. At the same time, Jack was coming from the basement. He had an armful of sheets that he'd done and smiled, as he saw Patti coming down the stairs.
"Hey!" Jack said, obviously happy to see her.
"Hey, yourself," she said but that's as far as she got.It was precisely at that instant that her knee gave way. Since she was on the stairs, it pitched her headfirst down the stairs, and into Jack's waiting arms. He simply dropped his laundry and caught her, as she lost her balance, stumbled and went head long into his arms.
"Woah!" he said. "Are you alright?"
"No," she said, the pain obvious, as she sat on the stairs to get her breath. "It's this damn knee! It goes out like this time and again."
"Had it looked at?" he asked.
"Yes," she said, "I just have to take the time and get it replaced. Don't like the thought of the surgery but incidents like this one scare me."
"I guess!" he said. "Are you going to be alright?" he asked then.
"Yes," she said, working the knee a bit. "Thank you for the rescue!"
"My pleasure!" he said, "Can I, maybe, walk you down to the laundry room?" he asked finally.
.... There is more of this story ...