Thanks to my dear friend blackrandl1958 for giving me the basis for this story, her advice, input and, of course, her editing. Thanks toTodd172 and Crkcppr for beta reading.
I was in the mood for some fishing, so I loaded my gear in my truck and left Austin bound for Round Rock. There was a small river with some decent fishing. I had been there before and that was the reason I chose that particular conservation access. I wasn’t going to stay near the car anyway. I was going fishing. There were maybe twenty cars around the gravel parking lot on the small river. I always hate leaving my car there. The kinds of riffraff that hang around those accesses are the kind that don’t mind slamming their door up against yours when they get out, leaving you cursing at the chipped paint and dents when you get back.
They don’t have jobs so they can’t go anywhere that costs money. They manage to scrape up enough money for a case of cheap beer and enough gas to get them to the creek and they get knee-walking drunk and throw their trash in the bushes. I just wanted to get away and fish. I need the time to unwind. I have a high stress job and I just wanted to be alone, running things around in my own head until I’m at peace and just thinking about my next cast.
I was twenty miles from home. I live on the outskirts of a small city, about 150,000, and this was in the middle of nowhere. The people hanging around were likely all local. There were a dozen fat, hairy backed, skinny legged, assholes there drinking and talking at the top of their lungs. The men were even worse, and there weren’t twenty teeth in the whole bunch. There were probably twice that many waif-like kids. One fat broad with huge boobs had a can of beer perched between them, held up by her straining halter-top. I chuckled to myself as I got my rods out of the back. I had on a pair of denim cutoffs and I tied a plastic store bag with some extra tackle on one of my belt loops, pushing my spinning rod into one back pocket and carrying my casting rod in my hands.
I could feel every eye on me as I walked down to the river and started wading upstream. I guess they had never seen a black woman before. Maybe they didn’t think I was smart enough to be fishing. Several men made comments under their breath. I waded across the stream and made my first cast. There was a young girl swimming not too far away. She looked like she was seventeen. She stood up and waded over to me.
“Hi,” she said, “you catching anything?”
“I just got started,” I told her. “I plan to catch some though. Do you fish?”
“I’d like to,” she said, “but I don’t know how.”
I noticed a young man wading toward us. “Claire, why you talking to that nigger?” he snarled.
Stuff like that stopped bothering me years ago. I reeled my spinner bait up to the end of my pole and started to move up the river. It’s always better just to move on if you can.
“You’re such an asshole,” Claire said to him. “I’ll talk to anyone I want to, Danny. I’d a hell of a lot rather talk to her than you.”
He had reached her by that time and grabbed her by the arm. “Shut the fuck up!” he told her.
“Stop it, you’re hurting me,” she yelled.
I sighed. This was just great. I waded back toward her and stopped about four feet away.
“The lady asked you to let her go,” I told him.
“This ain’t none of your affair, bitch,” he growled. “You better get your black ass on out of here.”
“Claire, do you want me to help you?” I asked.
“He’ll just hurt you,” she said. “I don’t want you to get hurt, but I want him to let go of me.”
That was all I needed to hear. I swung that fishing pole like a whip right across his face, leaving an angry red stripe from the bottom of his left ear, across his mouth and onto his chin. The hook of that heavy spinner bait stuck in the side of his neck and the line broke. He screamed and fell down into the knee-deep water, going all the way under. He came up sputtering and I curb stomped him in the face, He went under again and began to scramble backward like a crab. He didn’t want any more but about five of his buddies were now moving toward us. I broke my rod in half and had a very good clubbing or stabbing weapon in one hand and a very good whip in the other. That pissed me off too. I loved that rod and you couldn’t get them anymore. Claire splashed over to the shore behind me and came back with a hefty stick.
I heard a shout from the parking area and a young guy in a uniform came running down the ramp. He was huge, muscles bulging all over him and it seemed like the locals recognized him and they didn’t want to tangle with him.
He waded across the creek and when he got closer, I could see he was a conservation agent. “You girls okay?” he asked.
“I am,” I said. “You okay, Claire?”
“Yeah, I think my arm is going to be bruised and I think I just lost my ride home,” she said. “Thanks, Jacks.”
“You two know each other?” I asked.
“Yeah, Jackson is my neighbor,” she said. “I’m sorry I got you involved. What’s your name?”
“Slate,” I told her. “Slate Blevins, and you didn’t get me involved, honey. I should have seen this coming when I got out of the car. I should have gone somewhere else but I badly wanted to fish.”
“I’m sorry you didn’t get to,” she cried a little. “Now your rod is broken. I’m sorry he called you those names too.”
“It’s not your fault,” I said. “Jacks, are you going to arrest us?”
“Do you have a fishing license?” he asked.
I looked at him as if he was crazy and we both burst out laughing at the same time. “Yes, yes I do, as a matter of fact.” I took off my sunglasses and wiped my eyes. “You had me going there for a minute.”
Claire didn’t get the joke, but she was a happy girl and she laughed anyway. “Well, I’ll give you a ride home,” I told her. “It looks like I’m done fishing anyway. Thanks, Jacks,” I offered him my hand. “See you around.”
He took my hand and it was like shaking hands with a grizzly bear. “I’ll walk you girls back to your car,” he said. “I don’t want you killing any of those assholes on the way out.”
There was some muttering as we walked up the ramp but a look from Jacks shut that down. I put my stuff in the trunk and changed out of my wading shoes into some flip-flops. I got out a couple of towels and gave them to Claire. “Wrap up in one and sit on the other one,” I told her. “I never got my clothes wet.”
All she had on was a red bikini. She was a tiny little thing but she filled out that bikini in all the right places. We said goodbye to Jacks and she gave me directions to her house. It was a little town, maybe a thousand people. I’d been there before to the farmer’s market and it was quaint. She chattered like a parrot the whole way home and I liked her a lot.
She asked me all kinds of questions about where I lived and what I did. When she discovered I was a professor at the university she got all excited. It turned out she was going to go to school there as soon as she graduated later that year. She was a senior and her parents were buying her a car so that she could commute when she started college. I offered to be her advisor and she was ecstatic.
We exchanged phone numbers and she wanted me to meet her family. Her mother and father were a very nice couple. They were little like she was. I’m a big girl. I’m slender but tall and I felt like a giant around them. She had the cutest little sister too. She was thirteen and she was going to look just like Claire when she grew up. Claire told them what had happened and her mother scolded her for going with a bunch of “trailer trash,” according to her. They all thanked me profusely and her dad, his name was Robert, asked me what I would have done if Jacks hadn’t shown up.
“I’d have hurt some of them badly,” I told him. “There were five of them and I wouldn’t have had time to be careful.”
“Do you think you could have won a fight with five men?” he asked.
“Not without some advantage,” I told him. “Actually, I was armed and they weren’t. Claire was going to help me too, weren’t you, honey?”
“Yes, I found a solid stick,” she smiled ruefully.
“Let’s not think about that,” her mother, Martha, said. She looked genuinely horrified. “Robert is a man and he’s interested in violence.”
He laughed. “Only when it’s performed by gorgeous women,” he said. “Slate, you have to stay and eat dinner with us. It’s the least we can do to thank you.”
I really didn’t want to impose, but they insisted and I had a blast. They were funny, smart and very kind. We played board games afterward for a couple of hours and I was sorry when it was time to go. I exchanged numbers with them and Robert and Claire walked me to my car.
He fell in love with it right away. I have a 1951 Mercury Custom. I promised to give him a ride in it sometime and I drove back home. It was about nine when I got there and I jumped in the shower. I was toweling off when my phone buzzed. I didn’t recognize the number but it was my area code so I answered. Students sometimes call me at home.
I was very surprised to discover that it was Jacks. “How did you get my number?’ I asked him.
“Well, I knew your name and being in law enforcement has its advantages,” he said. “Besides, I asked Claire. Since your fishing got blown up, I was wondering if you might consider going fishing with me,” he said.
“Jacks, you seem like a nice guy. I’m grateful for you helping us, but I have a boyfriend,” I told him. “The whole ‘law enforcement’ thing kind of throws me off, too.”
“I don’t understand that last bit, but I wasn’t planning to seduce you,” he said. “I have two fishing kayaks and I thought I’d show you some of the best smallmouth and rock bass fishing in the country.”
That did sound very good and I was tempted. “Okay, but I’m warning you, Jacks, if I hear any banjos playing you’re the one that’s going to be squealing like a pig,” I told him.
He laughed and it was this thrilling, big bass rumble. “I was planning to play banjo all day,” he said. “I guess I’ll just have to fish. I promise I’ll put you on at least forty fish. Say, Slate, you don’t happen to have a truck or something with racks on top, do you? It isn’t necessary, but it would save time.”
I did have a truck. I don’t drive the Merc in inclement weather. I have a four-wheel drive Ram with the little hemi in it for that. We agreed on a time and place to meet and ended the call. This was going to be fun!
School was out of session for me. I don’t do summer classes. I spent the week getting caught up on stuff around the house and working on my latest paper. If you don’t publish, you die in the academic world. I went out with some old friends Thursday and with my boyfriend, Ty, Friday night. I hadn’t been all that happy with him lately. He seemed to be kind of taking me for granted. When we first started dating he was all romance, but he sat across from me all evening with his phone out. There’s nothing that pisses me off more than that. My phone stays in my purse when I’m eating or having personal interactions with people I’m interested in.
My phone isn’t attached to my hand. It’s a personal convenience and I only use it when I want to. If someone calls me, I choose whether to answer or not. If I’m doing something else, they’ll have to wait until it’s convenient for me, not them. My time is my own and they’ll have to wait until I want to talk or text. Ty spends hours managing his fantasy football team, texting his boys and taking stupid looking selfies for Snapchat. I finally had enough and I dropped a twenty on the table and got up to leave.
He looked up from the latest stupid grin for Snapchat and tried to get me to sit back down. “I’ll put it away,” he said. “Sorry, Slate, I wasn’t meaning to be rude.”
“Well, you were whether you were trying or not. I have people that actually like talking to me I could be spending time with, Ty,” I said.
“I like talking to you,” he protested. “Come on, baby, give me a chance here.”
“Too late,” I said. “If you decide to call me again and ask me out, if I see your phone I’m going to have to ask myself seriously if you’d rather take selfies or be with me.”
“Let me come over and make it up to you,” he was pleading now.
“No thanks,” I said. “Maybe some of your boys might miss your stupid faces.”
I spun on my heel and walked out fuming. This was just great. I had spent the last six months with this guy. I guess he was just trying to impress me at first. Now he just bored me. I went home and ran myself a bubble bath. I got a glass of some good, dry, white wine and relaxed in the tub. I was playing Elle King on my iPod and I felt the tension melt away. When the water started to cool, I got out and dried off. I looked at myself critically in the mirror. A thirty-year-old woman was looking back at me. Where does the time go? It seemed like only yesterday I was in high school. I needed to get moving in my life before some of those dreams I had started disappearing over the horizon. I still looked young, I decided. I work out very hard and it showed. I was still within five pounds of what I weighed as a college sophomore. The five pounds was all muscle and it looked good.
I cupped my breasts and pinched my nipples. The girls weren’t sagging. I wear good bras and my small C cups were still firm and resisting gravity. My waist was firm and tucked in and my belly was muscular too, maybe even more than I wanted. My hips flared out and I checked out my butt. No cellulite and it showed the hours I work on it. I had a well-trimmed pubic patch of black curls and I slid my hand down and my middle finger into my slit, rubbing my clit on the way down. That made me shiver and I felt a little moisture that had nothing to do with the bath. Damn, I had been planning to bring Ty back home and fuck him all night.
I sighed. Oh well, it looked like I was going to have to make myself happy again. I’ve always had men swirling around me, but I’m not a slut. I’d had three long-term relationships and I really, really like making love but this was getting ridiculous.
I met Jacks at the bridge he had directed me to and we left my truck there. I loaded my tackle, lunch and my dry bag into Jacks’ truck. He put dry clothes a towel and his shoes in my truck. We drove upstream six miles and found one of those old iron bridges. There was a path down to the water beside it and we carried our gear down. The water was still very cool and I shivered a little when we got in. Jacks had very nice kayaks. He needed them with his size. He was about six four and looked like he must have weighed 250. He just had muscles on his muscles and he was pretty impressive.
There were a couple of things that I didn’t much care for. One, he was white, and two, he was a cop. I didn’t mind the first one, I’d just never been attracted much to white guys but the second one bothered me a lot. It didn’t take long for that to come up, either.
We had floated maybe a mile and I had already caught two smallmouth bass and four rock bass. If you don’t know what a rock bass is, it’s a large sunfish that looks like it’s been on a three-day bender. Their eyes are perpetually bloodshot and the locals call them “goggle eye.”
I had just taken that fourth one off the grub I caught it on and we pulled into some slack water out of the current. “Slate, what did you mean when you said me being in law enforcement was something that put you off?” he said.
“I don’t want to offend you,” I told him.
“Well, don’t be mean then,” he said. “Just tell me.”
“I’m very uncomfortable with the idea of a person that arrests other people as a job,” I said. “I just look at it as kidnapping in the name of the state. You don’t know how people like me view the police, Jacks.”
“Explain, ‘people like me’,” he said.
“Black people,” I said. “You have no idea how many times I’ve encountered the police in unpleasant situations. I fear the police, Jacks. Have you ever been accosted on your way to your mailbox because you don’t look like you belong in your neighborhood?”
He laughed. “No, I don’t suppose I have. Have you?”
“Twice,” I told him. “Once, the cop threatened to taser me because I didn’t have an ID on me. I had on my bathrobe for God’s sake. I constantly get stopped because the cops think I’ve stolen my car. It makes me wonder what kind of a guy you are. Why would you take a job that requires that you use violence against other people that aren’t harming you?”
“If no one enforced the law, we’d just have criminals free to prey on peaceful people,” he said.
“Do you really think I need you to protect me from criminals?” I asked.
He laughed again. “No, I don’t suppose you do, but everyone isn’t like you, Slate. Little old ladies don’t whip rednecks across the face with fishing poles.”
It was my turn to laugh. “No, but I would just like to see someone bother my little old neighbor lady. They would have me to answer to.”
“I have to admit you have a different way of looking at things,” he said. “I’ve never met anyone like you, Slate. You seem to be quite the idealist. Things don’t usually work like that in practice.”
“I know that,” I told him. “That doesn’t mean that we just give up. I despise the state, Jacks. I hate game laws too.”
“If I didn’t enforce the game laws people would just take hundreds of fish and animals and they’d all be gone,” he said.
“That may be the case under the present system,” I said. “What if we allowed people to own the fish and game on their land? That would ensure there was no overharvest. People own chickens and slaughter millions of them every year. I don’t hear any worries about chickens becoming extinct.”
“Jesus, Slate, you have an answer for everything, don’t you?” he said. “Okay, you’re right, but that’s just not the way things are. No matter how much you wish they were like that, we have to live with the way they are. I’ll think about what you said and I understand your position. I just think it’s impractical.”
We had stopped for lunch and we were sitting side by side on a log in the shade. It felt good. I was very comfortable with him and he seemed to like me, too. We cleaned up our trash and went back to the kayaks. “Let’s catch some fish,” he grinned at me.
We fished hard and by the time we got to the takeout I had caught 62 fish and he had 54. We practiced catch and release and it was one of the best days I ever had. People that don’t creek or river fish have no idea of the numbers you can catch. They’re not as big as lake fish but being on the clean water, seeing two eagles, not seeing another person besides Jacks all day, the deer and turkeys we saw and the beauty of the stream all just combined into a great, great day.
We packed our gear in the back of my truck and got ready to leave. We both wanted dry clothes so we changed quickly. I made him go around to the back of the truck, quickly stripped and put on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. I went around back while he changed and I’ll have to admit that I was curious. I didn’t peek though, and I hoped he hadn’t.
We drove back to his truck and traded his gear into it. He asked me if I wanted to stop for pizza on the way home and I agreed. He was a fun dinner companion and when we finished he walked me out to my truck.
“I had a wonderful day, Jacks,” I said. “Thank you. This more than made up for last week.” I gave him a hug and a kiss on the cheek. He actually blushed a little. I liked this guy!
“Slate, if I called you and happened to be in town next weekend, would you go out with me?” he asked.
“No, Jacks, I told you I have a boyfriend,” I said. “I only have one at a time.”
He grinned. “I like that,” he said. “Well, I want to go to the Bass Pro shop Saturday. Do you think you might like to go with me? It’s not a date, just two friends shopping. How about it?”
“Okay,” I said. “Just two friends. I’m not sure my boyfriend would like that, but I can have friends, right?”
“Right,” he said. “Can I pick you up?”
I told him I’d meet him there at the restaurant for lunch and then I’d see about replacing the rod I broke.
Jacks was already at the restaurant when I pulled up in my Merc. Even though he had seen it at the river, we were all still a little hyped up from the scuffle with the clods and he didn’t really have a chance to check it out, and as I showed it to him, he was quite impressed.
As much as I would have liked to show off my baby some more, I had a date with Ty later and had to get moving, so we went into the restaurant and were able to get seated reasonably quickly.
We placed our drink orders, and as soon as I opened the menu, I knew what I was ordering; their daily special, broiled lamb. I’m not usually much of a meat eater, but I love lamb and don’t get a chance to have it very often, so when I see it, I grab it. I was surprised when Jacks ordered a grilled salmon steak; he seemed more like a “meat and potatoes” guy.
Jacks ordered for both of us, getting garlic mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables for the side dishes.
While we waited for our food, I started our dinner conversation with a fairly innocuous topic.
“You surprised me when you ordered fish, Jacks,” I said, “I was sure you’d be getting a big rare steak.”
“Oh, I like steak as much as the next guy,” he said, “but I also like to take care of my body and eat healthy, as well.”
I could see I was going to have to adjust my “date meter” for Jacks.
Our meals were served, and they were just as delicious as we expected. We continued our casual conversation, and to my frustration, it was very pleasant. Why would pleasant conversation frustrate me? It was because I so wanted Jacks to turn out to be some sort of a loser so that I could justify ending what I felt was a hopeless relationship before things went too far.
Jacks dashed my hopes by being a charming dinner companion, speaking knowledgably about a wide range of subjects. The only time things got awkward was when I asked him about his family.
He pushed his food around on his plate, then said, “My family and I don’t really get along. They don’t approve of my job.”
“What’s to approve?” I asked. “I admit that cop isn’t high on my list of preferred jobs, but that’s me. I would think that most parents would be proud.”
“Well, you obviously don’t know my parents,” he said, “Maybe it would help if I told you my full name: Jackson Wallace Marlowe III.”
“Y ... You mean the...”
“Yes, those Marlowes,” he said, “My parents expected that I would be a lawyer, a doctor, or ideally, an investment banker, to groom me to eventually take my father’s place at the head of Marlowe Enterprises.
“I’m sure you can understand that they weren’t exactly pleased that I wanted to be ‘just’ a cop. That’s the main reason I came out here. Back home in Boston, they kept pulling strings to get me plum assignments, hoping to help me advance, ultimately to move into something more ‘suitable’ for a Marlowe. I always loved the outdoors, and when this opportunity showed up, I jumped at the chance and never looked back.”
“I could tell you weren’t from this part of the country,” I said, “but you don’t really have a Boston accent.”
“Well, I’ve been here for several years now, and I worked hard to suppress it. Believe me, I took my share of ribbing when I first got here, and it still sneaks out now and then.”
I smiled and nodded, knowing how hard we could be on Yankees.
“The only thing I regret is leaving my brother behind,” Jacks said, “We were very close, and I worry about him under the thumb of my parents. We do talk often, and I’m hopeful that he can resist their pressure.”
“How old is your brother?” I asked. “What’s his name?”
“Jimmy is eighteen, he just finished his first year at Boston University,” Jacks said, “Of course, his legal name is Jamison, Heaven forbid they give him a normal name like James!”
“What’s his major?”
“He hasn’t chosen one yet,” Jacks said, “He just took general Liberal Arts courses. Our parents nearly spit nails on that one. Fortunately, our college expenses are paid by a family trust that they can’t touch, so there’s nothing they can do. Our parents are putting enormous pressure on him to pick a ‘proper’ degree program, and he’s just a kid.”
“I’ve got an idea,” I said, “Why don’t you have him transfer out here? I can help with any bureaucratic issues.”
“That’s a great idea!” he said, “I’ll call him later.”
On that high note, we finished our lunch and went to the Bass Pro Shop. Jacks got a few odds and ends, and I got a new rod. It wasn’t as good as the one I broke, but it would do.
I gave Jacks my phone number and Email and told him to have Jimmy get in touch with me, and I went home to get ready for my date with Ty, something I was looking forward to even less than usual.
After a nice shower, I had a light supper. I didn’t want to have too much after my big lunch; have to watch my girlish figure!
Trying to decide what to wear, I immediately decided against my various LBD’s and decided on a more modest green number. The hem went to just above my knees and it had a modest V-neck with minimal cleavage; I was getting pretty sick of Ty and wanted to make sure he didn’t get the wrong signals, though knowing Ty, the only signal he could get is a 2x4 upside the head.
I was supposed to meet Ty at the club at eight o’clock, but didn’t get there until 8:15. I almost turned right back around, because there was Ty with his buddies and some barely dressed bimbette on his lap. He had a hand on her thigh and was already pushing it higher when the chatter at the table stopped. Ty saw the other guys looking behind him and turned around. He didn’t even bother moving the little tramp off his lap.
“Slate,” he said, “I didn’t think you were coming.”
“That’s pretty obvious,” I said, then I decided to give him a parting shot. “I usually don’t with you, anyway!” As I turned and left, I heard the guys roaring in laughter.
I was determined not to cry over that piece of shit, but we had been together for a while, and until recently, I had been thinking that he might just be “The One,” so this hurt.
Jacks might be a white cop, but he was looking pretty good to me right now. I had to be careful though; if something was there, I didn’t want him to be a rebound relationship.
I went home, ran a nice hot bath with some wonderful bath oils, put on my favorite songs, opened a bottle of wine and had a good soak.
I dried off and called it an early night, reevaluating my life as I drifted off to dreamland.
I was wakened by the ringing of my phone. I picked it up at looked at the time: 7:00 A.M.! Who the fuck would be calling me at seven o’clock Sunday morning? I was about to let it go to voice mail, then decided it might be important, so I answered.
I was startled by a very excited Claire.
“Slate, Slate,” she nearly blew out my ear drum, “I’ve got wonderful news!”
“It had better be,” I said, “to get me up so early on a Sunday morning!”
“I’m sorry, Slate,” Claire said, “but I had to call you early, because my parents said that I could invite you to join us for church and lunch today, and church is at ten.”
“I don’t know, Claire,” I said, “I appreciate the invitation, but I’m not really a church-goer. Why don’t I just join you for lunch?”
I could almost hear her disappointment. “Ple-e-ease, Slate! I’ve been telling all my friends about my cool new friend and they can’t wait to meet you.”
I could see her pleading eyes in my mind, and I simply couldn’t tell her no.
“Okay,” I said, “Where is the church?”
“If it’s not too much trouble could you pick us up? We’d all like to ride in your super cool car, especially my Dad and me.”
Oh, well, in for a dime in for a dollar, even though it was going to be a bit of a squeeze for five people. “Okay, Claire, you can stop twisting my arm now. What time should I pick you up?”
“Our church is pretty close; 9:45 should be early enough.”
“All right,” I said, “I better get moving then. Does your mother need me to bring anything?”
“No, that’s okay, Mom has it covered,” she said, “See you later!
“Bye, Claire,” I said, disconnecting the call, wondering just what I got myself into. I had a fast shower and grabbed a quick cup of coffee and a couple of slices of toast before searching my closet for something suitable for church. I settled on one of my older dresses, a modest short-sleeved floral print dress.
I got dressed and just put on a little lipstick and hopped in the Merc for the short trip to Claire’s house. I had barely got out of the car when a little ball of energy slammed into me. For a little thing, she sure packed a wallop! The rest of the family followed close behind, and although Claire pouted, she had to ride with her mother and sister in the back seat while her father rode shotgun.
Except for her little sister who couldn’t care less, they were all impressed by my ride, and we drew a small crowd as we pulled into the church parking lot. I was happy to see a few dark faces, I had been afraid I was going to stick out like a sore thumb.
I was even more surprised when entering the church and being greeted by the Minister, a black woman.
“I heard how you rescued our Claire,” she said, giving me a warm handshake. “I had to practically sit on her during Sunday School to get through the lesson!” Claire had the good sense to blush at that, then took my hand to lead me to her family’s pew.
While I’m not much of a singer, I enjoyed the hymn singing, and the sermon was moving and enlightening, not all fire and brimstone. I had a pleasant time during the coffee hour, meeting Robert and Martha’s friends while waiting for Claire and Susan to finish Sunday School.
On the return trip to their house, Claire had somehow talked Robert into riding in the back, letting her sit beside me, maybe a little closer than I would have liked.
Martha served us a delicious meat loaf lunch, when she hit me with a question that caught me off guard.
“Tell me, Slate,” she said, “Do you have a boyfriend?”
“I ... I do, or I did,” I stammered, “I’m really not sure right now, he’s been acting pretty much like a jerk lately.”
“I know!” said Claire, “Jacks should be your boyfriend!”
I was uncomfortable having this conversation here, and I could see Robert and Martha exchanging nervous glances, while Susan seemed oblivious to it all.
“Claire,” Martha said, saving the day, “You’re getting a little too personal. We barely know Slate, we shouldn’t be interfering in her social life.”
“But, Mo-o-m...” Claire whined.
“You heard your mother!” Robert barked, more forcefully than I had ever heard him before. “Why don’t you and Susan go to your rooms and do your homework.”
“B ... But, Da...”
“Now!” Robert said, and both girls jumped out of their seats and practically ran out of the room.
“I’m so sorry, Slate,” Martha said.
“No,” I said, “It’s okay, it’s just that things are complicated right now. I haven’t really finalized things with Ty, though I’m pretty sure we’re through, and Jacks is whole other ball game. We actually went on a couple of, well not really ‘dates’ but last weekend he took me fishing to make up for my ruined fishing day when I met Claire, and we had lunch yesterday before shopping together, but he brings another set of complications!”
“You mean because he’s white and you’re...”
“Black,” I finished for her. “It’s all right, you can say it. There’s also his job.”
“His job?” Robert asked. “What’s wrong with his job?”
I explained my issues with law enforcement.
“Well, I can understand your feelings,” Robert said, “Even though I can’t imagine what it must be like for you. But you should judge everyone as individuals, just as you would want to be treated.”
That brought me up a little short; I had never really thought of things that way.
“Thanks, Robert,” I said, “You’ve given me some food for thought, and I will consider what you said.”
I said my good-byes to the girls. Claire didn’t want me to go, but I explained that I had housework to do, and she reluctantly let me go.
I had a bunch of missed calls and messages from Ty and deleted them all, I just wasn’t ready to deal with his shit yet. I took care of business and had another light dinner. I watched some mindless TV with a couple of beers, turning things over in my mind, and went to bed with everything still unresolved.
The sun shining through my window blinds woke me up. I was feeling remarkably refreshed considering the turmoil I was in when I went to bed.
One thing was for sure; Ty and I were through. It wasn’t just his taking me for granted, or his messing around with other women; even though I was pretty sure he hadn’t slept with any of them, that was part of it. It was his apparent need to feel like a “playa.” He had a Masters degree and a professional job, why did he try to act like a boy from the ‘hood?
I called him, and after listening to him rant about the other night, agreed to meet him for lunch. As soon as I walked over to the table, he immediately affirmed my decision.
“Yo, bitch,” he said, “Why you have to embarrass me in front of my boys?”
“This is why!” I snapped at him, “You have an MBA and a responsible job, why do you talk and act like a high school drop out? Surely you don’t act like this at work.”
“That’s the point,” he said, “at work I have to dress ‘appropriately, ‘ speak ‘properly, ‘ act professional. I need to get in touch with my roots.”
“What the Hell are you talking about? You grew up in the suburbs; I don’t think you’ve ever even seen the ‘hood’.”
There was nothing he could say; he just sat there fuming.
“Look, Ty, it’s nothing against you, we’ve just run our course.”
He tensed up.
“‘Run our course, ‘ just what the Hell does that mean?” he said.
“It means we’re done. I’m breaking up with you, Ty.”
“Who is he?” Ty asked, “I’ll break his neck!”
“Th ... There’s no one else,” I said. ‘Where the heck did that stammer come from?’ I wondered.
“I know you, Slate,” Ty said, “You better hope I don’t find out who he is, or he’s gonna need some good insurance.” He pushed his chair back and stomped out.
‘Well, that could have gone better, ‘ I thought, ‘Was he right? Was I more into Jacks than I realized?’
I threw a few bucks down for the waitress; we never did order anything, and went home to see how much more trouble I could get into.
The first thing I did was check my Email. Most of it was junk; I should probably modify my spam filter, but then I saw one from JMarlowe2. At first I thought it was from Jacks, but then I saw the subject line: “Transfer” and realized that it had to be from Jamison.
I opened the Email, and he introduced himself and thanked me for my offer of help. It was a little later than usual for a transfer application, but we’ve had later. I replied to his Email attaching the needed forms and urged him to return them ASAP. I then made an appointment to talk to the Dean of Admissions.
I had barely made the appointment when Jacks called, thanking me for helping his brother and inviting me out to dinner.
I was still in a state of confusion after my break-up with Ty, so I begged off until Wednesday when I also might have some information from my meeting with the Dean.
My meeting with the Dean went well. He saw no problem as long as the paperwork was in order. It helped that Jimmy wouldn’t need any type of financial aid, and though I never confirmed it for him I think he put “Boston” and “Marlowe” together and was quite pleased at the possibility of a Marlowe attending our school.
Wednesday evening Jacks picked me up, we went to a fairly nice restaurant and were having a nice conversation about Jimmy over our drinks when who should come in but Ty, with the same chick that was on his lap the night of our aborted date.
Of course, he made a beeline to our table.
“Ha, I knew it!” he said, “I knew you had a man on the side. Never thought he’d be a honky, though.”
“Jacks is just a friend and we’re just trying to have a quiet meal,” I said, “Why don’t you leave us alone and go hang with your homies.”
“Have it your way, Slate, but if you ever need some real lovin’ you know where to find me.” He then walked over to his “crew,” laughing, fist bumping and high-fiving.
I thought that Jacks was going to explode, but I grabbed his hand and said, “Don’t, Jacks. He’s not worth it.”
Fortunately, our food arrived, and we ate quickly and quietly. I could tell that Jacks was seething, and as we left the restaurant, we could hear the laughter and catcalls from Ty’s table. It was all I could do to keep Jacks from going over, and who knows what would have happened.
“I’m sorry, Jacks,” I said, “I know it may sound odd, but some black guys are very racist, and can’t believe that a black woman can be satisfied with a white man.”
“How about you, Slate?” Jacks asked grinning, “Do I satisfy you?”
I gave him a punch on the shoulder.
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, Jacks,” I said, “We haven’t even had a proper date yet.”
“Well, let’s take care of that right now,” he said. He took both of my hands in his. “Slate, would you do me the honor of being my date Saturday night?”