Edited by the incomparable “Wires”. His assistance improves my work drastically. I appreciate all he does for me.
Jason Lowery IV moved quietly down the hallway that connected ‘the children’s wing’ to the rest of the house. He snorted when he thought that. Both of his parents liked to put on ‘airs’ as his grandmother called it. They did live in a somewhat nicer house than some but it was still a house, not a mansion. It had a split bedroom design with the master on one end of the house and the other three bedrooms on the other side. His parents always made out as if the house was much more pretentious than it actually was. After all, they were the city’s (actually a small town of just over 10,000) bankers.
Jason was dressed in old faded jeans and a threadbare blue chambray shirt. His athletic shoes showed signs of hard use and age. Just as he reached the door to his sister’s room he heard the door thump and the lock clicked. He froze a moment in fear of discovery. He was just about ready to run for it when he heard his sister Chastity say, “Wait Tiff. I don’t like this gown either. Can you help me find something else to wear?”
Tiffany sighed and pushed the door until he heard the latch catch once again. He heard steps moving away from the door deeper into Chastity’s room as Tiffany said, “Come on Chas, you look fantastic in that outfit. You’ll knock them dead in it. We’ve tried almost all our gowns on already. We’re going to be more than fashionably late if you keep dithering around. What’s the problem anyway?”
“I just want everything to be perfect. Donald’s going to be there and I want to make the right impression. He’s not dating anyone since he and Amber broke up. I need to snare him before those other bitches get their claws in him.”
Tiffany laughed and said, “Oh, take it from me sis. When he sees you he’ll never notice anyone else. All you have to do is play your cards right; maybe show a little tit or thigh, and you’ve got him in the bag. Now come on, let’s go.”
Jason was moving once again as his sisters discussed their dress. He barely heard the end of the conversation and knew he had to exit the hallway fast or they would come out of and catch him before he got away. He had to be out of sight when they and his parents made it into the main part of the house. He was supposed to accompany them to the Country Club for a dance and that was the last thing he wanted to do. His dad and mom were always trying to fix him up with the daughter of one of their friends or business acquaintances and, frankly, none of those bitches interested him in the least.
When he got to the end of the passageway he slowed down even more. He was almost creeping by the time he got to the end of the hallway. He stopped and strained his ears for the slightest sound but heard nothing. Quietly, carefully, he moved so he could see into the main part of the house. He saw no one; nor did he hear a sound indicative of anyone’s presence. He heaved a silent sigh of relief and moved like a wraith toward the door that would take him first into the large lavishly decorated dining room and, ultimately, the kitchen of his parent’s huge home.
Jason knew he would catch hell when everyone got home that night but he just didn’t care. If he was lucky he might put off the ass chewing until Saturday morning but he was sure he would receive one. His father had his life planned out for him and refused to consider what Jason wanted. His father had selected his college, his course of study, and was even trying to select his girlfriends and future wife. Jason did want to go to college but he had no desire to study business and finance. His father insisted on that because he intended for Jason to take over the family business. The family owned a chain of three small banks. His father was president of the holding company, and his grandfather was the chairman of the board. Other family members worked in various positions in the holding company or one of the individual banks. At least gramps wasn’t a total asshole about Jason’s future like his father was. Gramps said there was a position in the company for Jason if he wanted one but he didn’t insist Jason go into the business.
Jason managed to move through the dining room and kitchen without getting caught. He closed the outside door and moved rapidly toward his old Ranger FX4 and freedom for another night. He had a date, just not with a girl his father would approve of. Oh, there was nothing wrong with Jody except her parents had no money or social standing in the town so she wasn’t ‘right’ for Jason.
Just as Jason started his truck his father came boiling out of the house. He could hear him yelling as he drove down the driveway. “Jason,” he screamed. “Get your ass back here right now. I told you you’re supposed to meet Melissa Tamerlain at the club this evening.”
Jason continued driving as his father yelled but he didn’t slow down. He had escaped and wasn’t about to return for a confrontation or to accompany the family to the club. He could see his father in his rear view mirror. He was still yelling and his face was red.
Ten minutes later Jason pulled up in front of Jody Franke’s home. He jumped from the truck and went to the door to collect her for their date. When he rang the bell Jody opened the door. Her father was standing behind her with his hand on her shoulder. He glared at Jason but stepped back when Jody asked him to come into their house. Jason entered the nicely decorated home and followed Jody into the living room. He saw her mother sitting on the couch and said hello to her.
Jody’s father followed them into the room and took a seat in the chair he normally used. Mr. Franke sat looking at Jason for a moment then sighed. He said, “Jason, this has gone on long enough. I don’t want you seeing Jody any more. I don’t know where you get off thinking you can treat girls like you do, but I do know I’m not going to let you treat my daughter this way.”
“What do you mean, sir? I’ve always treated Jody like a lady. I don’t understand.”
Jody took his hand just as her father answered. He said, “I’ve just been on the phone with your father son. He told me what you’ve done to these girls and I just don’t approve. Just how did you plan to manage two dates for the same evening anyway? He says you have a date with Melissa Tamerlain as well as Jody here. What were you thinking? Well, it doesn’t matter what you were thinking. You need to go on home and dress for your other date. We don’t want to see you hanging around Jody again.”
“Daddy, it’s not like that. Jason doesn’t-”
Her father cut her off saying, “Yes, it is like that. Mr. Lowery told me Melissa was supposed to meet Jason at their club this evening at 8:00 p.m. for the dance. I suppose Jason was going to be with you for a while, then dump you and go to his other date. Well, that just doesn’t cut it here.”
Mr. Franke interrupted Jason and said, “That’s enough. You need to leave now.”
Jody was crying and said, “No, Daddy, Jason told me about this. It’s not what you think. His father wants him to date Melissa and made the date for him. He and I have always planned to go out together tonight. His father is trying to break us up because he thinks I’m not good enough for Jason.”
Jason said, “That’s right, sir. I don’t have two dates tonight. I only have the one with Jody here.”
Mr. Franke sighed and said, “Well, that’s not the story your father told me. Be that as it may, he doesn’t want you dating Jody and I’m not going to be responsible for trouble in your family and I certainly don’t need your family angry with me. I do too much business with your banks to take a chance by angering your father. Now, you need to leave son.”
A crying Jody saw Jason to the door. She stepped outside with him and gave him a hug and kiss before she disappeared into her house. Jason stomped down the walk to his truck. As he drove away he thought he saw his parent’s car turn onto the street down the block. Jason spent the rest of the night driving around hanging with his friends. It was almost three a.m. when he returned home.
When Jason entered the house his father met him at the door. He grabbed his arm and pulled him the rest of the way into the house and down the hallway to his office. He pushed Jason onto the couch and stood in front of him breathing heavily. “This is the last straw young man. Give me your keys. You’re grounded until you decide to obey me. Your graduation ceremony is in two weeks. You will escort Melissa to the graduation and festivities associated with it. You will work in the bank this summer before you go to college and you will take the courses we have agreed on. If you don’t, you are finished here. I’ll stop the money and you can find a way to support yourself. Do I make myself clear?”
“Perfectly. Goodnight, father,” Jason said as he got up and headed for his bedroom.
Jason undressed and climbed into bed but he didn’t sleep well. He was furious with his father and had trouble getting to sleep. He woke several times throughout the night thinking about his overbearing father. The last time he woke it was nearly 6:30 a.m. He was still trying to return to sleep when he heard his father up and moving around shortly after seven a.m. His father had an early tee time at the club and was off to play his golf and “network” as he called it with his cronies. He wouldn’t be home until late afternoon and he would probably be three sheets to the wind, in other words, nearly drunk. It was a good thing his father was a big duck in the little puddle. The local police never seemed to ‘see’ him driving drunk.
As soon as his father left, Jason got out of bed and began packing. He decided he was done here. He took everything important to him and loaded it into his truck. He didn’t worry about being caught. He knew from past experience his father wouldn’t be back until late afternoon and his siblings and mother would sleep until nearly noon.
Thankfully, he was over 18 and through with high school so he could strike out on his own. He drove out of town headed for his refuge. His grandfather had a huge older house on 20 acres about six miles out of town on the shore of one of the largest lakes in the area. Jason loved the old place and had many happy memories of time spent there. After his grandmother died several years ago, grandfather closed the place up and moved to a small condo in the town’s most swanky senior complex. The old place was slowly deteriorating from neglect and the elements as well as from occasional vandalism.
Jason moved into the small boathouse. He had kept it in good repair over the years because he and his grandfather still came out for some weekends to fish and hang together. As far as possible, he relaxed and tried to forget the last few hours of his life. No matter what he did, however, the memory of what went on remained, as did his fury. He slept fitfully Saturday night and was awake and moving shortly after sun up. He took his soap and a towel and walked down into the lake for a quick bath. Returning, he dressed in some of his better clothes. He piddled around the rest of the day and again slept poorly Sunday night.
On Monday morning, Jason hit the golden arches for a quick, cheap breakfast then headed for the Navy Recruiting office. When he entered, the recruiter smiled and stood up. He held his hand out and said, “Good to see you again, Jason. What can I do for you today? You ready to sign up now?”
“Yeah, I think I’m ready to do it. If you still have the papers lets get it done. I’ve had all I can take around here.”
“Fine. Great. Come on back and we’ll finish everything. You still interested in the Engineman specialty? There’s still a nice enlistment bonus for that rate.”
“Yeah, I think so.” Jason spent the remainder of the morning signing papers and talking to the recruiters. He had cut school and completed the necessary testing, physicals and so forth several days before so now, all he had to do was sign the final documents and await orders to ship out.
While he waited on orders to ship out, Jason did odd jobs around town to make ends meet. He never spoke to his parents again. The night before he left he drove his truck to his grandfather’s home to get permission to store it in the garage on the out of town acreage. When he found out why Jason wanted to use the garage, his grandfather asked, “You sure about this, son? I can probably get you out of it if you want me to. I knew your daddy was being an ass about things but I would hate to think he ran you off. I’ll miss you, boy.”
“Yeah, I’m sure, gramps. I can’t afford to pay for college on my own and dad says I either go where he wants me to go and study finance or he won’t pay. He’s trying to make me date his friends daughters instead of who I want to date, and he’s trying to control my entire life. Yeah, I’m sure about this.”
“I knew things were bad between you but I’m sorry it came to this.” The old man hugged his grandson, stepped back and said, “Yeah, you can leave your truck out at the country place. You be careful now, boy, and you stay in touch.”
The next years went past rapidly. Jason did well in his specialty and enjoyed the work immensely. Of course, the tour of the world didn’t hurt, either. Jason kept in touch with his grandfather by mail and phone until, in the beginning of the third year of his enlistment, e-mail and snail mail stopped coming. His grandfather didn’t answer his phone. Finally, the last paper mail Jason sent his grandfather came back stamped “Deceased, return to sender”. His family had not even told him when his own grandfather passed away.
The evening he received the returned letter Jason found himself in a bar just outside the gates for the Pearl Harbor Navy Base. He was just barely 21 years old and now had no one in his life. Finally, he couldn’t put it off any longer. He had to piss like a racehorse as the saying goes. He knocked back the last of his drink and staggered toward the restrooms. He bounced off several chairs and tables as he made his way through the room leaving several angry people in his wake.
After he finished pissing--most of which missed the urinal--he turned to stagger out of the restroom. He barged through the door and slammed into a large man standing there. As he was falling, he recognized the man and felt fear. It was his Chief from the ship and he did not look happy.
The Chief (actually a Master Chief Petty Officer, the senior enlisted rank in the U. S. Navy) reached down to help him stand. As he lifted Jason the Chief said, “Petty Officer (PO) Lowery, you’re a disgrace to the Navy. I’m ashamed to even call you one of ours. Get on your feet. I’m going to get your ass out of here before you make another mistake. I like a drink as well as the next man but drinking like you have tonight is just plain dumb as well as dangerous. Do you have a tab we need to take care of before we go?”
Jason stood swaying as he thought about the Chief’s question. Finally, in exasperation, the Chief said, “Never mind. Come with me.” He turned and pulled Jason with him toward Jason’s old spot at the bar.
When they got to Jason’s spot the Chief signaled the bartender over and asked, “Does he have a tab we need to clear up? I’m getting him out of here before he does something else stupid.”
“Naw, he’s been paying as he goes. Don’t be too rough on him, Hank, he’s had a hell of a life from the sound of things. He’s a regular here just like you are, and normally he’s not a problem. I don’t know what set him off tonight. I haven’t had time to talk with him.”
“Ok, thanks.” Hank turned toward the door and pulled Jason along with him. As they walked the Chief said, “I ought to write you up for this and I still may. I can’t take you back to the ship like this or you would be written up for sure. Shit. Come on, get in the car. I’ll take you home with me.”
Jason was asleep when they reached the gate onto base. He didn’t even rouse when the Chief pushed and rolled him around to get his wallet so he could show the guard his identification card. After they got on post the Chief drove into the residential section and pulled up in front of his home.
Jason was still out of it and the Chief had to carry him into the house. His wife, Wendi met them at the door. She looked at her husband and Jason before she said, “What are you doing home so early? I thought you were at a Hail and Farewell tonight. Who do you have here?”
“I was at a Hail and Farewell, but Jonsey wanted to stop off for one after it ended. We hit the Shack and I found Petty Officer Lowery there. He’s one of mine and, as you can tell, he wasn’t in any condition to take care of himself so I brought him home with me. Mac says he’s a regular and doesn’t usually get in this condition. He said Petty Officer Lowery here had some problem and really tied one on tonight.”
“Well, bring him on. We’ll put him in Sue’s room tonight. She’s staying with Norma tonight after the dance.” Hank carried Jason down the hallway and into his oldest daughter’s bedroom. He, none too gently, put Jason on the bed. He and Wendi removed Jason’s shoes and pulled his pants off leaving him in his underwear.
The next morning Hank and Wendi were sitting on the back porch with their coffee when they heard a loud scream coming from inside the house. They quickly set their coffee down and rushed into the house and down the hallway. They found their daughter Sue standing in the doorway of her bedroom staring at a confused Jason. He was sitting on the side of the bed looking around the room while Sue yelled, “Who the hell are you and why are you in my bed? And where’s your clothes?”
Jason flushed and stammered, “Don’t know and don’t know. Who are you? Where are we anyway?”
Hank pushed Sue aside and stepped into the room. As he moved past Sue he said, “Quiet, honey. We’ll explain later.”
Jason saw him and muttered, “Oh, shit.” He swallowed visibly and continued, “Master Chief, what are you doing here? And where exactly is here, anyway? How did I get here?”
“You are in my quarters, Petty Officer Lowery. I brought you home with me last night after your disgusting display at the Shack. Mac says you don’t usually get as shitfaced as I found you last night. Why don’t you tell me why you were acting like you were yesterday before I decide whether I am going to write you up or not?”
“Crap. You’d just as well write me up. That would be just a perfect ending to a perfect week.”
“WHAT? You want me to write you up? Is that it?”
“No, but I figure you will. I suppose you didn’t get your nick name for nothing.”
“What...” Hank laughed and said, “Oh, yeah. They still call me Hard Ass Hank don’t they? Now, talk. Tell me why you made a spectacle of yourself and why I shouldn’t write you up.”
Jason spent the next few minutes explaining why he was so upset he tied one on and how he came to even be in the navy. After he wound down Hank said, “Damn, that’s cold. No one even told you your grandfather was sick or died? What about your family for God’s sake?”
“Don’t know. Like I said, I haven’t heard from them since just before I got out of high school. Gramps and I kept in touch until earlier this spring when it all stopped. I don’t even know when he died or got sick or whatever.”
Hank sighed and said, “Crap, that sucks. Ok, Petty Officer Lowery. I’ll let this go this time. If I find out you’ve been blowing smoke up my ass or if you ever disgrace the Navy like this again, I’ll drop the hammer on you for sure. Now, get your clothes on and come out back. We’ll have coffee, then we’ll have some breakfast before I take you back to the ship.”
The Master Chief and his wife turned away and headed for the back patio and their, by now, cold coffee. Sue remained standing just inside her room watching Jason. Finally, he said, “Do you mind? Your dad told me to get dressed and come out to where he is.”
Sue sort of blushed and replied, “So, get dressed. You’re the one in MY room half naked.”
“Hey, I’m sorry, but I’m not the one who chose to be here.”
“I’m sorry, too. I shouldn’t tease you like that. If it bothers you that much, I’ll turn my back.”
“Thanks.” Almost before Sue’s back was turned Jason had his jeans on and up. He sat back on the edge of the bed and quickly put his shoes on.
Sue heard him pulling his jeans up and doing the belt so she turned back to face him. “I’m sorry about your grandpa, and it really sucks about your family. I don’t know what I’d do without my family. Come on. Let’s get some coffee before Dad drinks it all. You know what Chief’s are like when there’s booze or coffee around. I swear I don’t know why Dad doesn’t walk around with a permanent crook in his finger from holding onto the handle of a coffee cup.”
Jason laughed and said, “Yeah, I know what you mean. You almost never see a senior Petty Officer without a coffee cup in their hand or nearby. I’m sorry I upset you earlier.”
“Hey, it’s nothing I haven’t seen before. When I was young Dad was always bringing someone home and letting them use one of us kids beds while we got to sleep on the couch or floor. At least I had a bed last night.”
“Well, I AM sorry.”
Jason and Sue moved quickly down the hallway and into the kitchen. She poured them each a large mug of coffee and led the way out the back door to the patio. They found chairs and just sat quietly for a few moments looking out across the beach to the rolling waves.
Hank finally looked over at Jason and said, “Do we need to get you some emergency leave so you can go home?”
“No, I don’t think so. I mean, how long has he been gone. I’m sure I missed the service and I sure don’t want to go back and see the ‘rents. I didn’t want to before and I sure don’t now.”
“What are your plans now, PO? If I remember correctly you only have a few months left on your enlistment. You going to reenlist or get out?”
“You know, I’m not sure. I like the Navy fine, but I’m not sure I want to make it a career. I don’t know what I’d do if I get out, either. I’ve managed to get some college credits the last three years but I have a long way to go for a degree even if I knew what I wanted the degree in. All I know now is what I DON’T want the degree in.”
“Well, you need to decide soon. I think there’s a small reenlistment bonus for your rate if you go that route. I can’t advise you about jobs on civvy street though. How many hours do you have in college?”
“After this semester ends I’ll have enough credits for a two year degree. I’ll have almost all my general education subjects out of the way.”
Sue broke into the conversation saying, “Cool. I’m going to the University of Hawaii studying Hotel and Restaurant Management. I’ll get my AA degree this semester, too. Where are you going?”
“University of Hawaii also, but I attend the classes they have on base or do it on the web. I almost never make it to the campus.”
Soon, the women went inside to make breakfast. While they were waiting on the food Jason and the Master Chief continued talking. To Jason’s surprise he found himself liking the Master Chief immensely. He wished his father were as neat as was Sue’s.
During breakfast Sue asked if she could use the car so she and her friends could go to one of the local beaches. Her father said, “No, I don’t think so honey. I need to take Jason back to the ship and your mother needs the other car this morning.”
Jason said, “Hey, there’s no problem here. I’ll just walk or get a cab. I don’t want to put you out any farther than I have.”
Sue looked at Jason a moment before smiling. She said, “Why don’t you let me take Jason back to the ship so I can use the car after? Or did you need to go in and work today, too?”
“No, I’m just going to hit the golf course this morning. I suppose I can have someone pick me up if you want to take Petty Officer Lowery back to the ship.”
“Cool, thanks Daddy. Are you about ready to go, Jason?”
“Uh, yeah, sure,” Jason said. He looked at the Master Chief and Wendi before continuing, “Thanks for taking care of me last night and for the breakfast. I appreciate it. I hope I wasn’t any trouble. I was having a rough time of things and really appreciate all you’ve done.”
“That’s fine, Jason, but don’t make a habit of it. Remember what I said.” The Master Chief smiled and continued, “Now, you two get outta here.”
Sue jumped up and grabbed Jason’s hand. She said, “Come on. I want to get to the beach before all the good spots are gone.” When she realized she was holding Jason’s hand she blushed and dropped it quickly. Jason followed her out the door and to the car.
As they drove the two young people talked. They talked about Jason’s home, his family and college as well as their dreams. When she pulled up at the gate onto the pier where the ship was moored, Sue said, “This has been fun. You don’t have to work or have the duty or anything today do you? If you don’t, why don’t you come to the beach with us? I know you’d like it.”
“Uh, I don’t know. I mean, what would your father think about that?”
“Oh, don’t worry about Daddy. I’m free and over 21. He can’t say much, anyway.”
“To you maybe, but he’s my boss. I don’t want to make him any more upset with me than he is now.”
“Oh, poo. Don’t worry about it. Come on. It’ll be fun.”
Jason finally agreed and went with Sue. To his surprise, her friends were way cool and they had a great time on the beach. They went to a place mostly used by local residents. The beach was really great without all the tourists and drunken military people he usually had to share a beach with. Besides, he was with a really nice, really beautiful woman.
When she dropped Jason off at his ship that evening he found he didn’t want to get out of the car. Not only had he been starved for female companionship the last three years, but he found Sue to be a fun, neat person. Oh, sure, like many sailors Jason had his share of bar girls and whores, but he did miss going out with nice girls. He turned slightly toward Sue and said, “Thanks, Sue. I really had a great time today. I forgot how much fun it was to just hang with friends and swim or talk like we did today. I’ve never been much of one to hit the clubs or get shitfaced. You and your friends were great. I don’t suppose you would go out with me sometime, would you?”
“Maybe,” Sue said with a smile. “Just when is this sometime you’re thinking about?”
“Oh, uh, maybe next weekend? No, wait, I have the duty next weekend. How about the Friday after?”
Sue smiled and said, “I think that can be arranged.”
“Great, I’ll be there. Uh, I don’t know about wheels. Oh, heck, I’ll rent a car or borrow one from someone.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’ll just use Daddy’s or Mother’s car. How about if I pick you up about five here at the ship.”
“Cool. You sure your parent’s won’t care?”
Sue smiled and said, “Yeah, I’m sure.” She rummaged around in her bag and pulled her phone out. She said, “What’s your number?”
After Jason gave her his number, she sent him a text reminding him of their date. She smiled and said, “Now, you have my number and if you get real bored you can call me, huh?”
Their next date went well. They hit a local burger joint for their meal then went to the bowling alley on base and bowled several lines. After they finished bowling they drove down beside the beach and just walked and talked for several minutes before they headed back to Jason’s ship.
At the ship, after he got to the gate onto the pier Jason stopped and turned to Sue. He placed his hands on each of her hips and looked deeply into her eyes. He said, “This was great. Thank you for going out with me. You know, I’m not ready for the night to end. Can we do this again next week?”
“I’m not ready to go, either, but we need to. It’s almost 2:30 a.m. and the parental units will be worried if I don’t get home soon. We’re going to the beach again tomorrow. You want to come with?”
Jason smiled and said, “Yeah, that’d be great. Will you pick me up again?”
“Sure. Say about 11:00?”
“It’s a date. Night.”
Jason and Sue dated steadily for the next five months. They were spending more and more time together. They were now seeing each other at least three days a week and talked on the phone almost daily. Jason had quickly become one of Sue’s “gang”. He now had friends outside the navy. Some of the group Sue hung with were other military brats, some were locals, and one was even from the mainland going to college in Hawaii. He felt as if he belonged again.
Jason was doing well in his job, also. His happiness spilled over into his work life and he did better because of it. He took the test for advancement to Petty Officer second-class and passed it with a very high score. If things went well he could be promoted soon; maybe even on the next list. Things couldn’t be better for a change.
On their by now carved in stone Friday night date, Jason wanted to do something special for Sue. He also wanted to celebrate his promotion so he convinced her to go to one of the more upscale restaurants. They arrived somewhat early for their reservation. After giving the maître de their name, they went to the outside beer garden to wait for their table.
Before taking a seat at an open table, Jason moved to Sue, gathered her into his arms and gave her a deep sensual kiss. She was grinding her crotch against the huge bulge he had in his pants when they heard a voice that struck fear into each of them. “Sue, what the hell are you doing here? Well, well, well, if it isn’t Petty Officer Lowery. So this is why you’ve been so happy the last few months is it? You’ve been chasing my daughter.”
When he heard the voice Jason quickly pulled away from Sue. He turned to see Master Chief Swartz standing behind him with Sue’s mother, Wendi, and another of the Chief’s from the ship and, he assumed, his wife. “Oh, shit,” he whispered.
Sue reached out and took Jason’s hand before she said, “Oh, Daddy, be nice.”
The Master Chief glared at the young couple with a stern look on his face. Finally Wendi broke into a smile and poked him in the side. She said, “Oh, stop it, Hank. Don’t pick on the poor boy. Don’t you think you’ve scared him enough?”
The four older adults broke into loud laughter. After the laughter died down, Master Chief asked, “So, how long has this been going on between you two?”
Jason glanced at Sue, straightened, and looked the Master Chief in the eyes. He said, “Pretty much since you put me to bed in her room, Master Chief.”
The other Chief (a Senior Chief or E-8) laughed and said to Hank, “What, you that worried about marrying her off, Hank? You shanghai sailors and dump them in your daughter’s bed? I have to tell this one in the Chief’s mess tomorrow. Hell, I never thought you would just dump one of your sailors into her bed like that though. Looks like it worked though, didn’t it? Maybe I should try that with my daughter. Get rid of her and I’ll have more room in the house.”
By then, Jason looked as if he wanted to crawl under a rock and hide while Sue’s super red face looked as if she could cook on it.
Wendi slapped the Senior Chief on the arm, “You behave yourself, too, Tom. Weren’t you young and in love before?” She looked at Jason and said, “Just ignore them, Jason. Their bark’s worse than their bite.”
“Uhhh, I don’t know about that. I mean, I have to work for them and...” Jason was interrupted when his pager went off. He pulled it from his pocket and quickly taking the opportunity said, “Excuse us, we have to go. Our table’s ready.”
Hank smiled and said, “Hey, no problem. We’ll just come in with you and have them pull our table next to yours. We have reservations too.” Hank and the other chief laughed loudly after he said that.
Jason stood in shock, his mouth hanging open as he tried to find something to say.
Sue looked at her father and said, “Daddy, don’t you dare!” She grabbed Jason’s arm and turned toward the door the maître de was holding open for them.
They heard a slap and Wendi said, “Hank, I told you to behave yourself. Now leave the kids alone.”
The young couple had just taken their seats when they saw Sue’s parents and guests being led to a table two down from the one they were seated at. When Jason saw that he felt a knot form in his stomach and he muttered, “Shit.”
Sue heard him and placed her hand on his forearm before she said, “Relax, Jason. That was just Daddy being Daddy. He doesn’t mean anything by it. He was just doing his version of humor.”
“Oh, I understood that. It’s just that I was going to ask you to marry me this evening and I don’t need him here...”
Sue broke in on Jason’s line and almost screamed, “What? You were? I mean, yes, uh, was that for real a proposal or...”
Jason felt his stomach lurch. His eyes flickered rapidly from the table where he had been looking, to Sue’s face then across to her parent’s table before they flicked back to Sue. “Shit,” he said. “I can’t believe I said that out loud. I...”
Sue broke in once again, “What do you mean? You mean you don’t want to get married or...”
This time it was Jason who broke into the sentence. He said, “Yes! I do. It’s not that. I mean, I just wanted this to be perfect for you. We could celebrate my promotion and getting engaged here alone, and now ... Oh, hell, I don’t know what I mean. I’ve totally messed it up now haven’t I?”
Sue reached out and touched Jason’s forearm again as she quietly said, “Hush. You haven’t messed anything up. Especially if you mean it.”
Jason didn’t notice Sue’s parents and their friend’s stares. He was looking intently at Sue as he reached into his pocket and pulled an engagement ring from it. He opened the box and held the ring out toward Sue as he spoke. “I really did mean it, Sue. I love you and want to marry you. I just wanted it to be special for you when I asked and now I’ve screwed it all up.”
Sue put the ring on her finger, looked at it proudly then leaned over and kissed Jason deeply. When she pulled back people at the tables nearby were smiling and began clapping. When Jason became aware of his surroundings once again he saw Wendi holding Sue’s hand as she admired the ring. The Master Chief stood beside her glaring at Jason and the other couple stood nearby.
The Master Chief looked at Jason solemnly and said, “I think we need to talk tomorrow, son.”
Jason felt a surge of fear but he looked Hank in the eye and said, “Whatever you think, Master Chief, but you need to know I love your daughter and we’re getting married, as long as that’s what she wants, too.”
Sue glared at her father and said, “That’s enough, Daddy. Leave him alone.”
Finally the Master Chief grinned and held his hand out for Jason to shake. He said, “Welcome to the family, son. You take good care of my baby or we WILL have a rather strenuous discussion, though.”
“Thank you, Sir. And I will.”
“Don’t give me that sir crap. I work for my pay.”
Jason smiled at the old joke and said, “Yes, sir.” He ducked when Hank faked a blow at him.
Before the adults returned to their table, Wendi said, “When you finish here why don’t you drop by the house. We have a lot to talk about now, kids.”
The couple did go to Sue’s parent’s home later that evening. They sat on the patio once again and gazed out over the ocean. More than a few drinks were tossed down their throats while they talked and enjoyed the night. Jason found himself sleeping on the couch this time. Hank woke him the next morning when he walked through the living room toward the kitchen for his first mug of coffee. Jason quickly dressed and followed. The two men were sitting on the patio watching the ocean and talking when first Wendi, then a few minutes later Sue, came onto the patio with their coffee. Soon afterwards Sue’s two younger siblings came wandering out also.
After the women were seated Hank asked, “So, you’re a soon to be newly promoted Second Class (Petty Officer Second Class--PO2--an E5). You can get by supporting a wife on that, especially if she works, too. What are your plans now, son? Are you going to stay in the Navy? You know you’ll have to extend your enlistment for a year to sew the new rank on don’t you? That’ll give you, what? Five years in.”
“Yeah, it’ll be a little over 5 when my time’s up. I’m not sure but I probably won’t stay in. It’s no life for a married man with a family.” Jason felt some embarrassment and glanced at Hank before he continued. “Sorry, you know what I mean. You’re gone on deployment so much of the time and you miss so much. I don’t think I would like that and I don’t want to put Sue through it, either. I don’t know. I think I’ll get out when my time’s up this time. I think I want to go back home. I’ll have three years of college by then so I suppose I’ll finish my degree on the GI Bill. We’ll have to see what happens after that. I hate to admit it but I am following some of my father’s plans. I’m going to get a degree in business except it will be in management instead of finance.”
A month later, just before their marriage, Jason received a certified letter from an attorney in his hometown. The letter informed him he was listed as a beneficiary in his grandfather’s will. The estate was in probate at the present time and, because he was in the service, his presence was not required either at the reading of the will or any of the meetings. There were some papers he needed to sign enclosed in the letter. He was to sign them and return them along with the documents on an enclosed list as soon as possible. The letter requested he contact the attorney if he had any questions.