"Okay, he's gone, satisfied?" she said.
"Yeah, sorry for interrupting you two.
"But satisfied? You mean satisfied that he is no longer doing you in our front room in the middle of the day? You mean satisfied because of that?" I said. "I mean how could I not be satisfied. I mean I did stop you from cheating on me—for the moment."
"You're over reacting, Scott. So, Humphrey fucked me. We didn't do it in our bed, yours and mine. And, it's wasn't cheating on you, not to my mind," said Kendra Nelson, nee Fairchild, my wife and love for the past sixteen years.
"Overreacting? How do you figure?" I said, and that not unreasonably. She sighed.
"It's only cheating if the stud of the moment has some hope, however vague, of replacing the husband of the moment. Humphrey Westmoreland has no such hope, not even," she said. He fills a need that you don't. Sorry, Scott, but you're boring! And, I wouldn't be surprised if I bore you! It's nature I guess. We've been married a long time; boring is part of the equation.
"Boring am I? Oh and, I must say that you are more than creative in your definition of cheating. I do believe that if we looked it up in the dictionary that we'd discover that the accepted definition is a helluva lot different than yours, my love," I said.
"And that's exactly it, Scott, I am your love—not his. Not ever his, believe it," she said. "You and I will grow old together as we should. Faithful to a fault in the real definition of the term."
"And, if I take exception to your definition of things? Well, what does that mean for us?" I said. She went pensive on me.
"I guess it means that you will have to leave," she said. She'd surprised me, stunned me, stopped me; but, only for the moment.
"Am I hearing you right? You plan to divorce me if I don't accept Humphrey and you getting it on? Is that really what you're saying," I said.
"No, no, no, no, I'm not saying that at all. Divorce would have to be your choice; I will never opt for a divorce if it's up to me. I'm just saying that unless you are okay with me; well, playing with Humphrey on the side, that you cannot stay here in the house until you 'are' okay with it. I can be very patient with you on this, Scott; but I will not allow you to stay here and be a wet blanket on everything and everyone that comes around," she said, "you'll have to shack up somewhere else until you get your head on straight." I almost laughed, but not quite, not yet.
"Let me get this straight. One: you plan to continue fucking him whether I like it or not because I'm boring? Two: you're kicking me out—if you can—if I do not agree to like it? That about the size of things?" I said.
Yes, more or less," she said, "pretty much. The house was my parents; it belongs to me, not us. So never doubt that I can get your jealous butt booted, at least for the short term. And, I say the short term because I know, that as time wound on, you'd come to your senses and realize that me doing Humphrey would be a good thing for you as well as for him and me."
"Really. Well, let me ask you. What if I decide to get me a little strange on the side? I mean accept your little dalliance and require you to do the same? How about that!" I said.
"Do it!" she said, without hesitation.
"Yeah, you say that because you know I never would. Right?" I said. She snickered.
"You still haven't lost all of your hair, your looks either. Just do it. I can't very well object to you playing if I'm doing it," she said. My turn to snicker. I knew she was the draw not me. I might be able to find me a woman whom I didn't actually turn off, but it would be a lot harder for me than for her, and she knew it would be harder for me. But, even given all of that, I wouldn't do it anyway. It wasn't right.
"Hmm, and what about Marylou?" I said. I was playing my hole card. Marylou was our eighteen year-old daughter, now a senior at Central High. My wife's whoring around was not going to sit well with her. Of that, I was certain to an absolute degree. My wife snickered.
"Marylou already knows. She caught me and Humphrey months ago," said Kendra. My mood darkened.
"What did you say?" I said. My tone now bespoke shock and disbelief.
"Oh, don't get your panties all in a wad about Marylou. Yes, she knows, but she made me promise not to hurt you or rub your nose in what I was doing with him. So you see, she loves you enough to want to protect you. That should make you feel good. Right, I mean about her?" she said.
"Well, even if you're not lying in your teeth, you seem to have broken your agreement with her. I mean I am hurt, and you are rubbing my nose in it even now," I said.
"No I'm not, well, not on purpose. I guess I have to admit to hurting you. You really didn't need this—mess," she said. I ignored her more than flawed logic.
"Marylou will be staying with me. I mean after I talk to her and find out just how big a liar you are?" I said. Her turn to have her mood darken: I'd shaken her.
"I'm not lying, and you are over reacting. And, there won't be any custody issue, because she's a technical adult; and, also because we are not going to be divorcing, unless you are even dumber than I was doing Humphrey here in the house today. First time by the way, and I promise you it's the last time. Dumb-dumb-dumb on my part," said Kendra.
"Not dumb, dear, arrogant and contemptuous of me is all," I said
"No! I never held you in contempt. Surely you can grant me that much, Scott," she said.
"I'm not granting you anything, but it doesn't matter. But anyway, now we at least understand each other, dear soon to be ex-wife. Get this. I am filing for divorce. I will be asking Marylou to stay with me until she heads off to state; unless that is, she opts to live with her whore of a mother instead. If that turns out to be the case neither one of you will ever see me again. I hope I'm not being vague here; I really do not want to be vague or misunderstood," I said.
"Jesus! Scott, did I say you were overreacting! I should have said that you're fucking crazy!" said Kendra.
"No-no-no, dear, you're the one that been fucking—Humphrey that is. And crazy? Maybe I am; I did marry you didn't I.
"I should have suspected it, your cheating on me. That especially given the way you've neglected me over these past weeks. I mean how long has it been for me and you, a month maybe, month and half?" I said. She looked surprised.
"Really? It's been that long. Well, I will remedy that immediately if you will allow. My bad," she said.
"Great, a mercy fuck for me, your husband. Forget it skank. I have no use for you anymore. Too bad too, you were a good wife while it lasted, the marriage that is. Well, that is I had thought you were a good wife. I guess I thought wrong. So fuck you, fuck him, and fuck anyone else who thinks that what you're doing is okay," I said.
My implication was not lost on my wife. If my daughter was actually okay with what my personal whore was doing; she was history. Yes, even my daughter. Yes, I would write off even my daughter if she was so much as tacitly okay with what her mother was doing to me. Because what her mother was doing and demanding, was utterly beyond the pale as far as I was concerned.
"Now wait a minute, Scott! You're not thinking of going off on Marylou are you? She's still a kid in high school. She doesn't have the experience to know how to make judgments or really think logically," said Kendra.
"Go off on her? Heavens no! But, she better not be okay with you cheating on me," I said. "That, I will not accept on any level."
"Jesus I wish Hump and I hadn't decided to do it here today!" she said.
"Yeah, sorry you got caught, but not sorry you did it. Not sorry you've neglected me. Not sorry you've gotten my daughter—if you're not lying—to back you in whoring around on me. You are a trip for damn sure, Kendra," I said.
We both turned when we heard the back door open and close. Marylou Nelson was home.
"Hi mom, hi dad," she said, tossing her backpack onto the couch.
"Hi honey," said her mom. I tendered her a wan smile. She picked up on the wanness.
"Dad? Something wrong?" said Marylou. I guess I was pretty transparent.
"Don't know. We need to talk you and I, but it can wait till after dinner," I said. I needed time to get my thinking straight, hence, the delay.
"Dad?" she said, concern in her tone.
"After dinner. Should be no problem the way I see things. Okay?" I said. She nodded, but it was a tentative nod.
Dinner and dishes done, I headed for the front room. Marylou followed me without my having to ask. Kendra hung back in the kitchen busying herself for the moment with who knew what.
"Dad?" said Marylou. I motioned her to sit though I remained standing.
"Just a few questions, dear heart. Okay?" I said.
"Okay," she said. Kendra had come in but just leaned against the kitchen entranceway jamb to monitor things.
"Did you know that your mother had a lover and kept that knowledge from me deliberately?" I said. She took on a stricken look.
"Kinda," she said.
"Next question: do you approve of her adultery?" I said.
"Not exactly, no, but mom explained that what she was doing was not really adultery, cheating," she said. I nodded.
"Okay, final question. Your mom and I will be getting a divorce. Who would you rather live with, her and her lover, or me?" I said. I was smiling as though I had already won the race, but the truth was I was terrified that I would lose it.
"Huh? I—I—I don't want you to get a divorce!" said Marylou.
"Your mother gives me no choice. She says she intends to keep fucking her asshole lover whether I like it or not; she says I'm boring. And, that at the least until and unless I can bring myself to agree to tolerate her adultery that I have to move out: so, a divorce is going to happen. So, which is it: her and her asshole or me" I said.
"No!" screamed Marylou. "Can't you just ignore her and mister Westmoreland? He isn't around much. Please dad?
"Dad, couples lose interest in sex, in doing it with each other after many years. As young as I am even I know that. Mom is just playing a little that's all. She told me," said Marylou.
"Not around 'much'?" I said. "Thought today was the first time, Kendra." My wife had the decency to look away. "Lose interest in doing it with each other? Who's this we you're talking about?"
"Dad!" she said. I waved her off.
"I guess I have my answer. You win Kendra. I'll be gone shortly," I said. The bitterness in my heart and soul had to be clearly apparent to the both of them.
"What! You can't mean..." started my wife.
"Daddy, you need to listen to mom. She loves you not that other guy!" said Marylou. "Hump—mister Westmoreland—isn't trying to take your place. And, even if he were, mom would never let him. Really dad!"
"Hump is it, Marylou? I snorted.
"But no, she doesn't me of that I am sure. She loves him; I'm just the one paying the bills, but no more. She and I are done, and so are you and I," I said.
And yes, dear reader, I know I was being cruel on some level. But so were they and them the more so.
My daughter ran upstairs. My wife and I heard her slam the door.
"You could have been a little less cruel," said my wife. "She's your daughter."
"The way I see it you're the cruel one. You and good 'ole Humphrey are the ones who have destroyed this family, and, my relationship with my daughter. I hope that someday you realize just how badly you've chosen—her too," I said, nodding toward the stairs.
"Oh! You are so stubborn," she said.
"Stubborn? No, but utterly intolerant of what you are doing. And, in case it matters, I am hurt and jealous and filled with hate and bitterness. Have a bad life all of you," I said. Then, I headed upstairs to get my things. I was packed and on my way downstairs in half an hour.
As I packed, Kendra had kept up an almost ceaseless barrage of ill-conceived arguments, railing at me to calm down and rethink my decision to leave. She even threw in promises of primo sex to be delivered immediately and with gusto if I'd cave—have to admit that last was tempting. Her efforts in that respect precipitated a case of the raging hornies in my pants, but I was determined to never touch her again regardless of how everything played out in the weeks and months ahead. And yes, friends, I was on the verge of breaking down, big fucking surprise.
I was gone and settled into the Rockville Lodge within an hour of having left the pair of them. Kendra's parting shot was that she would ruin me if I dared opt for a divorce. And, that was the rub.
I had adamantly held that I would be divorcing her. But, did I really want to go that route and get financially raped in the doing of it. I decided to do nothing for the present. If I met someone that I wanted to spend my life with, it might be a different story, but in the near term inaction was going to be my modus operandi. And, that regardless of the message it was likely to send to the two women now formerly in my life.
I guess I need to digress for a moment. Who the heck are we exactly, the Nelsons? Well, as to that the following might be of some utility.
Me: Scott Nelson, thirty-eight, five-eight, one-forty-five, auto mechanic, not terrible looking for a slightly balding, slightly paunchy ex-jock (track and field).
My wife: also thirty-eight, five-seven, one-twenty, housewife, very pretty dark haired ex-cheerleader with a bubble butt and really sensational B-cups.
Marylou: 18, pretty, popular, still growing in womanly terms but looking to be a mirror image of her mom. And was—and still was—the apple of my eye; that in spite of her, as I saw it, betrayal of me. I'd be a long time getting by that one if I ever could.
She kept checking her watch, and then her cell phone every two minutes as though she were waiting for delivery of her lottery winnings. She took another sip of her martini and sighed.
"How's it going Kendra," said the barkeep, coming up to her as she waited.
"Okay," she said. He, was a pro, was Calvin Wicks, head barkeep at the Clarendon Inn. He knew when to gab and when to shut up. He didn't retort that it was clear that everything with my wife was not okay. Instead he ambled off down the bar in response to a couple of raised beer mugs.
She started as another woman plopped down on the stool beside her own. "Connie! Jesus, you startled me," said Kendra.
"Sorry. Anyway, what's up. You sounded stressed out when you called," said Connie Dunn, age 36, pretty, short, and best friend of her current companion.
"Yeah, well, I am I guess," said Kendra.
"Okay?" said Connie.
"Scott caught me and Hump, and he's moved out," said Kendra.
"Oh shit. I told you doing it at your place would be a mistake. When did all of this happen?" said Connie.
"Yesterday. I don't know what I'm going to do. If he doesn't pay the bills, we'll lose the house," said Kendra.
"He'll pay 'em; it's in his best interest," said Connie.
"I don't know; he's pretty mad. I called Hump earlier, and he has offered to move in and pick up the slack if Scott doesn't return by week's end. He, Hump, does make more than does Scott, quite a bit more, but will he want to be payin' long haul. I mean will he want to keep our relationship going if he has to pay the freight for any serious length of time?
"He's not as steady or as trustworthy long haul as Scott is. It's just that Scott and I have gotten to the doldrums state of things sexually among other things. I need the variety. But now...
"What should I do Connie? I mean it'd be bad if Scott were to return and find Hump moved in. And, then there's Marylou. She and Hump get along okay; she likes him well enough, but she is kinda on the fence because of me cheating on her dad."
"I see," said Connie.
"But well, she's young, and I was able to convince her that her dad wasn't losing anything and that me doing Hump was just meaningless recreation. I got lucky with that one. She essentially even told her dad that it was no big deal. But of course, Scott was not having any of that. He's written her off too," said Kendra.
"Oh my," said Connie
"Yes, Oh my for sure," said Kendra.
"Girl, you've got to get hubby and daughter back on speaking terms. If you can do that, you might be able to claim the role of good guy and get mister straight arrow to forgive and forget. But, ten to one, good 'ole Humphrey's gonna have to end up as collateral damage in this little tableau," said Connie.
"You know, I see what you're saying, and I think you may be right," said Kendra, "But I really don't want to lose Hump either," said Kendra.
"You may not have a choice, or, better said, you may have to make a choice.
"You should wait a little bit though. Give Scott a chance to cool off. Also, maybe if he gets horny enough, that might be another chip you could play," said Connie. Her companera smiled.
"Yes, actually that was one thought that I had already. The one thing I am sure of is that it won't be too long before his dick starts doing his thinking for him. He is a horny little toad.
"Okay, I will be doing a bunch of thinking on what you've said," said Kendra.
"Yes, do. I'd hate to see you two busted up. You've always been good together in spite of you always needing to play around on the side.
"Oh, and again, you might want to wait a while longer than the end of the week before you let Humpty move in with you, a month or two at the least. And, if Scott does pay the bills while he's out there amongst 'em, Hump shouldn't be moved in at all, if you get my meaning," said Connie.
"I don't know what to do Jacob. I need my dad, but he hates me," said Marylou.
The boy laughed. "Look, Marylou, you're what, eighteen. I'm just nineteen. We're kids, at least to them, the adults. Heck you're still in high school. Look, the one thing I'm sure of is that your dad, really both our sets of parents, love us. Your dad will come around," he said.
She lazily played with his dick as it stuck out of his pants.
"You gonna do something with that or not," said Jacob. She smiled.
"You betcha," she said, She began to stroke him furiously. The spray painted the back seat of the ten year old Ford; some of the sticky white stuff even hit on the rear window.
He relaxed as she wiped his cock clean with the hand towel she'd brought with her.
She'd learned early on that her Jacob, her high school boyfriend, who was now a freshman at state, expected a handjob every time they went out. The towel was always with her anymore. She'd been more than happy to accommodate his need. That said, while she'd beat him off regularly, and while he'd been allowed to feel her up as much as he wanted; he had never gotten into her pants or seen her naked, not even her breasts; and he'd asked.
"We gotta go," she said as she zipped up his pants for him. He nodded and started the engine.
He was turning on to her street when he gave her an idea.
"What you need to do is to tell your dad that you need him. Let him know that he's the man not that Humphrey guy your mom is playing with," said Jacob.
"Yes, but how to do that. He won't talk to me?" she said.
"Yes, he will. Or, maybe you could get someone else to tell him how you feel. I mean if you want I'd do it for you," he said. She gave him a look.
You?" she said.
"I can do it. I mean if you want," he said. She snickered, but then she didn't; she looked serious.
"I'll think about it," she said. And, she did.
"Yes, he left, and he's really upset. It's going to be a while before he's in a mood to even talk to me let alone return to our bed—his and mine," said Kendra.
"Jesus! How are you going to get on if he does divorce you?" said Humphrey Westmoreland.
"You get to move in and pay the bills for the foreseeable future," she said. He sighed.
"Okay, no problem. I can do that," he said.
"But, you will have to be picking up expenses right away when you do. Would that be all right?" she said. "You will be getting a lot more pussy than before though."
"Any chance of getting a little of that right now?" he said.
"Why I do think that I just might be able to accommodate you," she said. "Why don't you come over her and undress me."
He moved to her and let his hands wander down the length of her arms. He gently cupped her breasts and felt his interest grow exponentially in his pants. His eight-inch heat-seeking moisture missile was harder than steel.
He kissed her while at the same time unzipping her dress letting it fall to the floor. He unhooked her bra slipping it from her shoulder and letting it join her dress at her feet.
He left her panties alone for the moment while stripping himself naked with as little ceremony as possible. He knelt in front of her and sniffed her femaleness through her panties. God, she was a sexy woman, he thought. Her husband had to be nuts leaving her regardless of her playing around on him.
He peeled her panties down and off. Her bald and beautiful mound and its intoxicating slit at eye-level in front of him. He kissed it. He licked and sucked on it. She mooed her feelings as he worked her to her first orgasm, small though the first one was.
He pulled her down on the floor beside him. Pushing his knee between her legs he spread her wide enough to mount her. He slid into her easily. He began screwing her slowly. He wanted to enjoy the incredible feeling that this woman's body was capable of delivering.
"Get with it, big boy," she said. "I need to cum too. Okay!" she said. He began to speed up. Drilling her for all he was worth. It took him some minutes, but she finally began to buck and growl and blow bubbles from her mouth, sputtering and muttering and "cuuummmiiinnnggg!"
He stiffened as the death throes of his own orgasm gave way to indescribable relief. He rolled off of her and lay panting and gasping for breath.
"You made it," he said. It was not a question.
"Yes, finally," she said. "I needed that, especially after what my erstwhile hubby did to me the other night. I mean leaving me and Marylou high and dry like that"
"So, Marylou will be staying with us," he said, "not him, I mean if and when I do move in."
"Yes, he kinda dumped her when she wouldn't condemn me for having you on the side. The kid doesn't know what hit her, not yet at any rate," she said.
"She will," he said.
"Yes, and it won't be pretty, not for him and not for her either," she said. He nodded.
The Rockville Lodge was cheap, close to work, and had the added benefit of being next door to the Wild Horse Bar and Grill. The bar part was especially of interest to me under the circumstances. I needed to drink, I needed to drink a lot.
My daughter's siding with her mother, and more, expecting me at the least to deal with it by ignoring it, had hurt me bad, really bad. Now, I was alone. No family, no girlfriend, birth family a state ways geographically: yeah, I was alone all right. I went to work every day, claimed my seat at the Wild Horse every night, and slept. Except for eating that was pretty much my entire life at the moment. I wondered how Kendra was going to view me not divorcing her immediately as I had pretty much intimated that I would. Probably thought that I might be opting to follow her dictum, that I had to leave but just until I got my head on straight about her screwing mister Westmoreland. That she would have been wrong to so believe or think notwithstanding, I was going to be totally absent regardless and unreachable by her if indeed she even made the effort to try and contact me.
I was of the opinion, unexpressed it is true, that at some point she would be coming to me to pay the bills. That is, if she didn't go the divorce route herself and get the courts involved in that little ditty.
And Marylou, my daughter? I would speak to her if she came to me, but she would have to abandon her mother as she had essentially abandoned me if she expected a positive—for her—result. I would not be my wife's willing cuckold under any circumstances.
And then, it was six months after the split; and, I did get the visit. But that from neither Marylou nor her mother. No indeed, I got it from mister Westmoreland.
It was Saturday Morning. I did have to go to work. I was subbing for Grant Shuler my partner in crime at the shop. He'd gotten married the week before to one Carrie Snodgrass, and wanted to do the honeymoon thing if it was all right with me. It was.
The knock on the apartment door, as I got ready for work, caught me mid-bite into my toast and cream cheese. I got up to answer it, the knock.
"Yes?" I said, to the well-built, dark-haired, and tallish man staring down at me.
"Mister Nelson?" he said.
"Yes," I said.
"I'm Humphrey Westmoreland," he said. I slammed the door in his face.
He knocked again, paused, knocked again. I opened the door once more.
"Get away from here asshole. I have nothing to say to you," I said.
"Your daughter sent me, not your wife," he said. He'd stopped me with that one.
"My daughter?" I said. "Tell her to come her herself if she wants to talk."
"Look, give me a couple of minutes of your time, and I will be outta your hair. Please," he said.
It'd been months since my leaving, and I did have to admit to a degree curiosity if nothing else.
I didn't respond to his request, but I did head back inside leaving the front door open. He followed me in closing the door behind him. I took a seat at the little utility table the lodge afforded and nodded toward the seat across from me for him to sit. He did.
"I guess you hate me," he said.
"Yep," I said. He nodded.
"I understand," he said.
"No you don't. If you did, you wouldn't be fucking my wife," I said.
"Mister Nelson, Yes, your wife and I do have a thing going, but it's not love nor is it likely to ever be. I guess you could say we're friends with benefits who never do anything together but the deed. We never go out, in the sense of just having fun, like dancing or bowling or whatever; all we do is, well, fuck," he said. I'm just recreation," he said.
"Get to it, Westmoreland, what are you here for? You mentioned my daughter." I said.
"Mister Nelson, Marylou, misses you. She has cried every night since you left. Your wife and I are hoping you'd be willing to mend your fences with her. Kendra, your wife, wants you to come back to the house. I've been staying there these past three months paying the bills that you should be paying, I understand your anger and your reasons for doing what you're doing. But, frankly sir, you have no right to treat your daughter as if she didn't exist. She's still just a kid. And, she needs her daddy," he said.
"Hah," I said. "Your paramour, mister Westmoreland, told me that she didn't want me around unless I was okay with her doing you. Said she didn't want a wet blanket, like she was sure I would be, hanging around being a downer all of the time. And, she was right, I would have been one helluva wet blanket and that I can guarantee you, sir!"
"Yes, she told me that she said that to you. But, she's changed her mind. She told me to tell you that you should come home, wet blanket and all. I guess you could say she is trying to come to a compromise with you," said Humphrey.
"But, you and her will still be doing the dirty, right?" I said. "And that in my house, right?"
"Yes, to the first; no to the second. We would be doing it but not in your house. What I'm saying is that she is no longer insisting that you be okay with it," he said. "She realizes that that was asking too much of you. In fact I told her as much myself."
"Damn white of you," I said. "But, no, so long as she continues to cheat on me there is no hope of us getting by this mess. I require a one man woman who actually loves me boring in bed and all."
"No way to get you to reconsider?" he said. "And she does love you as I mentioned before. And, she is in point of fact a one man woman in the true meaning of the term. I'm just recreation like I said. We have fun. There is no commitment or psychological investment in our relationship, if it even is a relationship."
"No, I will not reconsider unless my conditions are met, and maybe not even then given what's gone on so far. But, you can tell Marylou that she can come live with me if she can bring herself to break away from you and the whore," I said.
"Okay, I tried," he said. "Just please think about some of the things that I said. You'd be well advised to do so, really." I closed the door behind him as he left and leaned back against it. And, then I had another visitor, two days after Westmoreland's.
I began to wonder if there might be some kind of conspiracy in the works to brainwash me and get me to accept my wife's terms. But, with Westmoreland's gambit history, I figured that all hope of any kind—on the part of my wife— of reconciliation between her and me was at an end. Boy was I wrong. And my next visitor, well, I was forced by nature to take a little more seriously.
"Hi dad," said Marylou.
I jumped. "Marylou! You startled me," I said. I had been working on a transmission when she made her appearance at mid-day.
"Got time for lunch, dad?" she said. She looked hopeful. I did not answer her right away. I scooped some hand goop out of the can and started cleaning the grime off my appendages. I stared at her as I wound my hands together in my at best but partially successful efforts.
"Yeah, I guess," I said. My tone was level, not negative, but merely level, noncommittal. She tendered me a wan smile. I dried off my hands and headed back inside to grab my coat. She waited for me. She knew what I was doing; she'd been to the shop many times in the past.
It'd been more than six months since the last time I'd seen her and during that lengthy period I'd heard not a word from her. Now I had. I had to believe that Westmoreland might have had a hand in that, but who knew.
I went over to Grant's bay, where he was doing a tune up on an old Chevy, and let him know I was going to lunch. He glanced in the direction that I did and saw with who; he gave me a thumbs up. Millie the shop secretary and Grant were the only ones still around when we left. The rest of the crew and Millie's assistant were already gone to the café down the street: the sometime lunch venue for our crew. I decided I didn't want a lot of questions from my fellow workers when I got back: I had her drive to the Denny's on Maple: we'd be anonymous there.
"Nice ride," I said. "Your momma buy it for you?" She tendered me a quizzical look.
"New Corvettes don't come cheap. So?" I said.
"No, Humphrey bought it for me," she said. I think she was feeling a little embarrassed by her display of opulence.
"Hmm, nice of him," I said. My voice didn't quite sound accusatory. She didn't respond.
We pulled into the parking lot, got out and headed for the entrance. She walked slightly ahead of me. I noticed for the first time that she was dressed kind of nicely, expensively. She reminded me of the very model of the spoiled rich kid; a good looking rich kid by the way; well, she was my daughter. Whatever, all said and done, she sure as hell didn't look like the daughter of a workaday auto-mech.
The table we were escorted to was in the middle of the pack. The place was crowded; well, it was lunch hour.
I ordered a patty melt; she ordered a salad. I had to smile. The girl I used to know, or thought I knew, would have ordered a burger. I smiled at the thought.
Iced teas in front of us, she gave me the most condescending of looks I'd ever gotten from her.
"Dad, you have to go back and see mom. You just do," she said. "She talks about you almost every day. Frankly, Humphrey has told her to shut up more than once. Dad, she loves you, not him. He gets her off, but you make her day—or used to. Yes, she's selfish and she wants both things. Humphrey's easy and willing to agree to her plan. It's only you who is being so hard to get along with."
"Daughter dearest, are you actually so contemptuous of me to believe that you can come to me, after all that has gone down, and treat me like a little kid who doesn't know anything? Tell, me, I'd really like to know what your condescending attitude is based on," I said.
"Dad, I didn't mean..."
"Marylou, do you have any idea how ridiculous and odd and strange and frankly unrealistic you sound. Nobody, no husband is going to put up with being his wife's willing cuckold! None! But, she expects me to be just exactly that, and apparently, so do you!" I said.
She sighed. "Actually, I don't expect you to. It's clear to me that you are just too old fashioned to give in to her. Still, I had to give it the old college try. Oh, and you do know I started college this past quarter, right?"
"Didn't get the email. But, I knew you probably had," I said. She had the decency to look at least a little bit guilty.
"Yeah, I guess communication from our end has been kinda not forthcoming—oh—and neither has it been from your end," she said, looking more than satisfied with her retort.
"It's not me that wants to bring a cheating asshole into the family," I said. "Of course, he's apparently done a good job of buying you off."
"What the... !"
"That Vette out there for one thing," I said, more than logically.
"Huh? You think that..." she started.
"I think that the ten year old Mazda I would have given you, and kept in mechanically tight condition by the way, would have paled into insignificance compared to what mister rich man has your pretty pink ass riding in," I said.
"Mazda? What?" she said.
"It's at the shop. You know I keep it in primo shape all of the time in case you decide to come live with your dad. You know the one who isn't cheating on his spouse," I said.
She gave me a hard look. "I'm staying at the college dad, not with them. But, I'm there a lot mostly to help mom keep it together," she said.
"Keep it together?" I said.
"Yes, she can't get over you leaving her like that. She needs you dad. She wants Hump, but needs you. Hump's okay, but he's almost totally devoid of sensitivity. You on the other hand are 'mister' sensitive. Mom needs you. I need you," she said.
"Maybe, but not enough to shuck mister new guy," I said.
"Dad you are such a pain sometimes," she said.
"I plead guilty," I said. "But, you ain't seen nothin' yet."
"Daddy, please think about coming home. Please! Okay?" she said.
I looked at her and tried to gauge the sincerity of her request. "Maybe," I said.
"At least you didn't just blow me off," she said.
"Anyway, old Hump baby's moved in with her then? I mean full time?" I said.
"Yes," she said, "recently. He's paying the bills you should be paying."
"Should be? Not while he's getting into her pants," I said.
"Daddy! You are so darned old fashioned!" said my daughter.
"You got that right," I said. "Oh yeah."
The food having come, we talked a little longer, and I was able to get a pretty good picture of life at the other Nelson residence. It seemed as though, as Marylou described it, that good 'ole Humphrey and my wife were living in a business arrangement: polite interaction most of the time with occasional bouts of out of control passion. Marylou's position was analogous to a prized worker who made the company look good but was not necessarily indispensable.
The Wild Horse was more than a bar to me; it was place of refuge. For the first several months after the split I was more or less a solitary soul drinking, watching the dancers, occasionally talking to this or that bartender that deigned to notice my solitariness. But, then I met someone who kinda gave me a push: got me to get involved with other barflies, some of whom were women.
My inspiration was Jade Starling, and yes that was her working girl moniker: I'd learn later, much later, that her real name was Larissa Grey. Jade's day off was also Saturday, said it made her feel human to be out and about with the morally upright public. We talked a little as bar flies often do, but not about anything serious. I never asked her anything personal and she never asked me either. It worked for us. Hence, I didn't know she was a working girl, well, not right away. Then, I did.
It was late and I found her sitting on the ground, leaning back against her car, crying.
"Jade?" I said. "Can I help?"
"Huh?" she said.
"Can I help?" I said.
"My car is broken again. No one will talk to me let alone help me. Not out here on the parking lot," she said.
"Not out here? Your car is broken?" I said.
"No guy wants to be seen with a working girl out here: 'decent' people might get the wrong idea," she said, about as sardonically as I'd ever heard anyone say anything.
"Working girl? You're a..." I started.
"A whore for pay. Yes, I am," she said, almost fiercely.
"Well, I'll help you. Got a key?" I said.
"I don't work on Saturdays," she said. Her meaning was clear: I wasn't getting any tonight if that was what I was thinking.
"No-no, I wasn't looking for, well, you know. But, I do know something about cars," I said. "Your keys?"
She handed me her key ring. She'd been clutching it in her fist.
"You'll need to move, Jade, so I can get at the hood release inside," I said. She took on a sheepish look, but she rose, stood, and stepped aside.
I popped the hood and used my own key-ring flashlight to get a look under the hood. I saw the problem right away. I smiled.
"Your battery's dead," I said.
"Huh? It can't be. I've only had it a month, it's a new battery," she said.
"Yes, but your alternator belt is gone and you've been running on battery power alone, probably for the last day or two and not getting the recharge on it, the battery; and now it's dead. It's an easy fix and not expensive.
"Come on, I'll take you home and come back in the A.M. and fix it for you. How's that," I said. She gave me a look that spelled suspicion.
"No-no, Jade, I'm not on the make. Not tonight. But, it's late, and I don't want to be going back to the shop to get all of this done now. I'll do it tomorrow; I promise. Okay?" I said.
"Okay, but how do you know so much about cars?" she said.