I sat in the booth at the bar and looked at the envelope sitting in front of me. Ami kept stopping by and checking on me. It seemed she knew that the envelope and what it might contain distressed me. Every time she passed her hand would come up to rest on my shoulder and offer comfort. I could see she wanted to offer more, but if she stood by me for too long, Harvey, her boss, would shout for her to keep moving around and taking orders.
I watched her ass swing back and forth as she walked away. The three-inch heels she was wearing always left her ankles sore at the end of the night, but she insisted on wearing them at the bar, even though Harvey did not demand them of the barmaids. Ami's skirt was also always the shortest of any of the barmaids and more than a few drunks had deliberately dropped bills on the floor in front of her, hoping she would bend over to fetch them.
Three hours had passed with me sitting there and staring at the envelope. I was treating it like it might contain a bomb. My mind was in such turmoil that I did not notice when Ami pushed me over and slid into the booth next to me, putting an arm over my shoulder.
"Richard," she whispered in my ear. "You've only managed to finish one beer in three hours, although you have a second turning warm in front of you. Everyone here can see that this envelope is disturbing you. What is it?"
I turned to look into Ami's dark, almond shaped eyes. She had her long hair up in a French bun to protect it and herself from the grabby hands of some of the men visiting the bar, but I knew that she would gladly let it down if I asked. However, normally we pretended to be no more than friends at the bar. To have her sitting next to me like this was extremely unusual.
"Ami, what are you doing sitting by me? You've always said that revealing you had favorites would cut into your tips."
She snatched the envelope from my hands. "This!" she said, turning it to read the return address. "Richard, I've never asked what brought you in that night fifteen months ago when you tried to drink the bar dry. Nor why you refuse to move in with me or let me move in with you. I've seen enough broken hearts to recognize one, but you have to let me in!"
I sighed. Ami was a twenty-one year old barmaid going on fifty somedays and it seemed like I was at my worst on one of the days when she was at her strongest. I still tried to avoid answering by taking a sip of the beer and looking into space, but Ami's voice broke my concentration.
"What's this? Who is Janet Cutter? Your last name is Cutter. Is she your sister? Mother? Richard, what have you not told me?" Ami started spewing a series of questions.
Another sip of my beer did nothing to calm my nerves, but did give me a moment to take a breath and turn to look at Ami. "Not here," I said. "I'll be going. You're right that I'm not really in the right mood to be here. I'll wait at the bench by the mailboxes of your apartment complex. We can talk when you get off work."
Ami looked at me. She seemed to be carefully scanning my face. Finally, she gave me a kiss and stood up, taking the envelope with her. "Fine, keep a secret. But you don't get this letter back until you tell me the story."
She walked over to the bar. As she did her ass had an extra wiggle and once she arrived at the bar she turned to give me a wink. It was clear she wanted me thinking of her until her shift ended. I turned back to my beer, but with everything on my mind adding more alcohol to my system seemed like a bad idea so I stood up and headed for the door of the bar.
As soon as I exited the cold night air broke through my sorrow. I shivered for a moment and burrowed my hands deeper into the jacket's pockets while looking around. The parking lot was quiet so I turned to start walking towards Ami's apartment. When I had found the letter in my mailbox upon arriving home from work today I had known that getting drunk was likely so I had taken a cab to the bar. Now I had a two-mile walk to Ami's apartment complex and a conversation I was not looking forward to.
The walk did give me time to think about my relationship with Ami. Fifteen months before I had stumbled into the Cock and Balls tavern desperately needing to get as wasted as possible as fast as possible. I had about three hundred in cash on me, and while I do not remember the evening, the fact that I had less than fifty when I woke up on Ami's couch suggests that I did manage to reduce myself to unconsciousness.
Waking up with a hangover is never fun, but I had the dubious pleasure of waking up in an unfamiliar room while a furious five-foot-four Asian girl glared at me. I had not even managed to sit up before she was screaming in my face about showing up at the bar and drinking my life away.
I remember grumbling something about why she had not just left me behind the bar and was surprised when she shook her head and offered me aspirin and a sports drink. "I never could do that," she offered. "No one at the bar knows why you came in to get smashed, but we all agreed that you needed someone to watch over you once you woke up. I lost the draw."
The hangover prevented me from shrugging, or even responding at first. Ami left me to my misery as she sat at the kitchen table with several books surrounding her. I found out that she was studying decorating and business. She was thinking of starting her own business offering room and party decoration consultancy and even had a few casual clients. The work at the bar was to help pay for her classes and the apartment while she finished her studies.
It was late afternoon before I finally had the energy to stand up and thank Ami for her support. I left her apartment feeling more miserable than I had when I walked into the bar the night before, and embarrassed that anyone had seen me so drunk. My plan at the time was to quietly vanish from her life. She was together, and at that time my life was a disaster.
My plans did not survive the next month. I left Ami's apartment planning to walk back to my car and find an apartment to live in. Finding a cheap and battered apartment was not difficult, but during the following weeks I found myself returning to the Cock and Balls every few days. At first I told myself it was just for a relaxing beer after a stressful day at the quarry where I worked digging granite from the cliff-face and loading it onto trucks that would be taking it to factories where it would be smoothed and polished for countertops and bathroom fixtures. Each cut had to be precise to give the stonecutters the maximum opportunity to produce quality products. With the managers constantly demanding increased production, there had been more than a few fights due to the stress.
However, it did not take Ami long to start sitting with me during her breaks on slow nights. She even danced with me on occasion if the night was slow enough. Soon I was spending Sunday afternoons taking her on picnics and nature hikes. She claimed to be a lifelong city dweller, but seemed to love the time we spent together. Me, I was simply enjoying spending time with someone other than my largely misogynistic and bitter coworkers. Most of them were working on third or even forth divorces and the single ones spoke of women as nothing more than pretty ways to drain bank accounts and put men in jail.
I kept my thoughts on this to myself, but I know Ami was confused about my actions. Most of our afternoon dates were my idea and during them I never refused an opportunity to hold her hand or give her a gentle hug, but we rarely kissed and I never attempted to escalate the relationship. In fact, I was completely unprepared when one afternoon I showed up, thinking we were about to take a two hour drive to a small lake I knew of and she greeted me at the door wearing nothing except a garter belt, stockings and red three-inch heels she later told me were known as "come fuck me pumps".
Neither of us left that apartment for the rest of the day, and the next morning I had to rush to the battered apartment I was calling home to change into work clothes. That day at work most of my coworkers teased me constantly about the two hickeys on my neck and the visible marks left on my cheeks and lips by the strange blue lipstick Ami had been wearing the night before, but all I did was smile.
Of course, this changed my relationship with the lovely young barmaid. We continued to visit at the bar, but now I sometimes remained until closing and drove her home. In the six months since then our relationship had grown and I was now spending the night at her apartment and in her arms three days a week, but we had never talked about our pasts.
And that was the problem. The letter had brought my past back to me, and I was terrified of how Ami would take it.
The walk did not help me calm down, but it did remind me that I should try to remain positive. It worked somewhat and when I finally arrived at Ami's apartment I spent my time sitting on the bench remembering the closeness I shared with the woman and the joy in her eyes every time I walked into the bar. The memories kept me warm and I had a slight smile on my face when Ami showed up four hours later, walking in from the parking lot.
"Now," she hissed. "Richard Cutter, something is very wrong tonight and that letter was a huge part of it. You had better be prepared to tell me everything."
I nodded. "I am," I said. "But it's a long story. I'd rather we went into your apartment so we could at least be warm while I tell you."
Ami nodded and pulled me to my feet, giving me a surprisingly loving kiss after the almost accusatory statement. "Richard, I have things to tell you once you are done," she whispered.
She held my hand and led me to the small one-bedroom apartment we had first met in. As we entered I noticed that some of the older pictures and decorations were moved or missing and that pictures of Ami and I together had replaced them. Ami noticed my gaze and smiled enigmatically. "It's part of what I have to say," she said before pushing me down on the couch.
I thought she'd sit next to me or on the single recliner, but she followed me down and was soon kneeling astride me with her ass resting on my knees. Her eyes were filled with fear, but my one attempt to stand up and move her only resulted in her wrapping her arms tighter around me and I sighed.
"This is going to be long, as I warned you. I need to go back long before you met me. All the way back to high school."
Ami cocked her head. "You've known this Janet that long?" she asked.
"No. But I need to give you all the background as well, otherwise I'll sound like more of a git than I already know I will."
Ami giggled and offered me a tender kiss thrusting her tongue between my lips when I relaxed momentarily. "You are not a git."
I just smiled. "Keep thinking that," I whispered. Then I took a deep breath and started my tale.
"Back in high school I was a member of the marching band and the swim team. It was a strange combination, but it worked well. Marching was in the fall during football season, and then in the spring I was out at the pool doing the breaststroke and some freestyle for the team. I wasn't the only one with this strange double. Jack and Kevin were also doing both, although in different swim events, and then there were the girls, Candace, Linda and Michelle. Somehow by the end of our sophomore years, we had formed three pairs. Jack was with Candace, Kevin was dating Linda, and I had paired up with Michelle. We did a lot of group dating that summer including more than a few overnight camping trips. The overnight trips always included promises to parents that we'd have separate tents. I'm sure the parents meant boys and girls, but we brought three tents and it became a game between Jack, Kevin and I to try to make our girl give out the longest or loudest moans and screams of pleasure."
Ami giggled at this. Her hands were running up and down my back and she was tugging at my shirt, trying to free it so she could remove it.
"Well, I thought everything was perfect. As did Jack and Kevin. The girls never complained about anything. It was like a great game, each of us tried to be more romantic and caring to show up the others. I know I expected to graduate and marry Michelle and I think the other guys felt the same about their girls."
"Unfortunately, that feeling died the night of the Halloween party our junior year. As always we tried to plan ahead and dress together, but it ended being the guys planning alone and the girls planning their own costumes in private. We discarded several ideas before Kevin, who was into medieval recreations through his parents suggested that we attend as old nobility. His mother loved the idea and helped us with costumes."
I smiled. "We ended up tying for first place in the best male costume category. But that was after all of us had broken it off with the girls. The presentation was at the end of the dance. As it was, we found out the following Monday, none of us were still at the dance when the results were announced."
Ami sighed. "There were problems at the dance?"
"It went beyond problems. The girls showed up at Kevin's house about six-thirty. As this was a costume dance we all planned dinner at home and then to gather at his place to drive over in costume. Jack, Kevin and I were proud of our costumes, which were detailed and elegant. The girls..." I sighed. "The girls had decided to dress as harem belly dancers. They had silk pantaloons, but they were more bikini panties with strips of silk running down each leg and tied all the way around at four points; the waist, above and below the knee and the ankles. Their tops were the tops from the same bikinis onto which they had attached a bunch of sequins. They also had a bunch of earrings, bracelets and rings. I'll admit that it was sexy, but I found myself thinking I was taking out a cheap hooker."
"I saw the same distaste in Jack's face. Kevin ignored it all at first, just giving Linda a loving kiss and helping her into the minivan, which was our transport to the dance. I'm sure he was thinking about getting lucky."
"At first everything at the dance was fine. I danced, mostly with Michelle, but I also danced a couple times with Candace and a few times with Trixie, a freshman in the band who all of us liked."
"About an hour after the dance started I was coming off the dance floor with Trixie on my arm when Jack ran up to me. Candace was not at the table and he wanted to introduce her to Mister Edwards, a swimming scout from the University of Texas who had made a surprise appearance. I went with him to search for her."
My talk stopped and I sobbed. I knew this story was going to be painful to tell, but remembering this moment and the long-term damage it did to my good friend was almost impossible without crying.
"We found her. She had left the dancehall through a back door that was being kept open to help cool the place. There was a little courtyard out there, and she was in the shadows that covered one corner. Only, she wasn't alone. We found her on her knees, giving a blowjob to Brian Conway, the starting quarterback for the football team."
"Jack howled in anguish and ran back inside. I could see Candace push Brian away and struggle to her feet, but I blocked the door to give my friend time to escape. I could hear a bit of commotion inside, but ignored it as Candace battered at me with her fists insisting that I let her pass to tell Jack that she was being forced to do it."
Ami put a finger to my lips. "Was she?"
I shrugged. "There were no bruises on her arms, and while the music wasn't quiet, it wasn't so loud that no one would have noticed her screaming had she protested. Candace was one of the best swimmers on the team and everyone knew her lung capacity. If she had wanted everyone to know that Brian was forcing her, she could have let the place know."
"All I knew was that she had cheated on Jack. He had left immediately after seeing her, and I think she slipped out searching for him once I stopped blocking the doorway. By that time Brian was protesting that she wanted it and that her claims of being forced were lies intended to cover up the fact that she had wanted it."
"Anyways, I returned to the table I had been sharing with everyone. Kevin was sitting there looking confused, but I couldn't find the other girls. He asked about Jack and I merely said he'd left early. I asked about the girls and he said that Linda had headed to the bathroom and Michelle was dancing. He pointed to the dance floor."
"I could see his finger lower slowly in shock. I turned to look where he had been pointing and found Michelle..."
I paused again. If the memory of Candace's actions were back enough this was worse. Finally I pulled myself together and looked Ami in the eyes. Her fear actually seemed to have increased during my litany of anguish. "She was dancing with Donald Welsh. He and his twin brother Dave were the school golden boys. His father had made millions in electronics years ago, and his sons were allowed everything they desired. Right then, I guess Michelle was into that because she had her back to Donald and was grinding her ass into his crotch. That would have only upset me, but his hand was under her panties and by the way her panties kept flexing it was clear he had inserted at least one finger into her pussy."
"On the dance floor?" Ami said with a gasp.
"In front of the whole school, although the lighting wasn't great and it wasn't like others weren't doing the same. However, it was definitely not something a girlfriend should have been doing with anyone except her boyfriend. I could feel bile in my throat and dashed for the bathrooms. Kevin followed me. I think he was worried. That only made things we found in the bathroom worse."
"Linda?" Ami whispered.
I nodded. "She was bent over, holding onto one of the sinks in the men's bathroom as David fucked her from behind. They were so into it that they didn't notice when we entered and only reacted because of the sounds of Kevin and I vomiting in near unison into the two toilets in the room."
"She screamed loud enough to attract half the dancers and both dance chaperones. She might have tried to run from the bathroom, but David in his infinite stupidity held onto her. He was telling her that she had wanted it too, and that she could hardly claim to be drunk since she had not participated in drinking the spiked punch that night."
Ami gasped. "She didn't claim blackmail!"
"Good guess," I said my stomach churning as I remembered the rest of that night. "She and Michelle both tried to claim that the Welsh twins had threatened to ruin them if they didn't agree to make themselves available throughout the night. God! Kevin and I ended up being held there for hours listening to the two try to get their stories straight on how and why they were being blackmailed."
"Well, that night ended our little group of six. And within a month I heard it had consequences beyond breaking up the group. Jack had a breakdown of some kind. Candace kept trying to get him to accept her claims of it being rape even though the school never punished Brian and her attempts to get the police involved fell on deaf ears. His family moved across the country at Christmas in order to get him away from Candace. He and I still exchange cards every year, but he's not the same man. At one time some people thought he'd have a shot at the Olympics. He hasn't been in a pool in seven years. Kevin and Linda did get back together, but the pain of that night put a strain on my friendship with both him and her, and I decided to drop out of band after that."
Ami nodded. "What about Michelle?"
"What about her? Did I believe her tale? Not at all. The only person punished for that night was Linda and that was for being in the men's bathroom. Our teachers were extremely liberal and tried to pretend that the sex didn't matter. She never really pressed the blackmail story after that night, and no one had a clue what the twins could have had over Linda and her. Or at least we didn't back then."
"There was more?" Ami interrupted me.
I nodded. "Yes, but we found out about it during our senior year, and other things happened first."
Ami looked stunned, but I continued. "I was kind of the odd man out at this point. I drifted for the rest of the semester, although I did spend far more time studying than normal. I usually had almost all A's when my report cards came, but that semester I had a perfect record for the first time. It was the only thing I could think of doing. Everything else was something I had shared with the others, and the pain of all the betrayals in that one day was just too much to deal with."
"I did start dating. Most of them were blind dates set up by some of my friends in the band. The guys there did their best to support me, and even some of the girls did. The teacher refused to get involved in any conflicts, but I did notice that Candace and Linda both lost their position as band soloists to others shortly after the dance. They never regained those positions while at the school."
"Finally one of the girls I dated seemed to click with me. Her name was Cosette. She was this slender girl with black hair and a delightful French accent. We got along wonderfully. Everything I liked she appeared to like as well and a couple weeks before Valentine's we decided to make it exclusive."
Ami smiled. "You recovered fast."
"No. It was a lie. I found that out at Valentine's."
"What?" Ami screamed.
"It was a Saturday and I had decided to take a walk that morning to get some exercise. Even with all that had happened I was not willing to let down my buddies on the swim team. Without Jack the team needed every swimmer if we were to reclaim the state title. There was this wonderful trail along this creek that I was following. Ahead was one of the few nice private picnicking places in the area and I could hear two girls speaking in loud whispers. It was obvious they thought they were alone."
"Damn it, Michelle! I can't believe you are evil enough to do this to someone!" an angry girl with a French accent said. The voice was loud enough and harsh enough that I was not sure it was Cosette, but I ducked into some bushes and started trying to quickly crawl up to where they were talking. I was listening carefully.
"Oh fuck you, Cosette. Its not like you have nothing to lose. I have to get him back!" This time I recognized my ex-girlfriend, although I had no idea what she was talking about.
"But to get him drunk and then take pictures of him with a dildo up his ass! That's just too much!" Cosette said.
"Fuck him! This isn't about him anymore! That jerk dumped me! Me! And he didn't listen when I told him I was being blackmailed! So you can do it."
"Never. Richard does not deserve this, Michelle. He's a good man. I'm falling in love with him," I couldn't look up without allowing the girls to see my face, but I could almost hear Cosette sobbing between each word.
"You'll do it, or I'll make sure every boy in the school sees the pictures I have of you with Duke. You remember, the ones I took of you right after finals when you decided to do him in your backyard," Michelle said an edge of pure malice in her voice.
"I stifled a gasp. Duke was Cosette's German Shepard. I was naïve back then, but still the idea of a woman having sex with a dog disgusted me and I had to fight the urge to vomit. Fortunately that comment had broken Cosette and she ran off crying. Michelle followed a few moments later, cursing that her plans could still be ruined."
Ami squeezed me. "I can't believe that. She planned on catching you and blackmailing you into taking her back."
"I guess," I admitted. "If she did, she needed a new assistant. I finished my walk and then called Cosette for a private meeting where I revealed I had heard rumors she was having sex with her dog and that I never wanted to see her again. I promised her I'd never tell anyone, but I broke off all friendship."
"Did she accept that?" Ami asked.
"Not well," I replied. "But I could see the fear in her eyes when I mentioned it as a rumor. Our high school was an unfriendly place to anyone who could be isolated and there were too many students who would destroy her if they knew that she was fucking a dog. She only remained at the school until the end of the year and then took an early graduation and vanished from town."
"But it seemed as if I was plagued by relationship issues involving sex. Just before Memorial Day my parents got into a huge fight. My mother had decided to meet dad as he left work thinking they could enjoy a night on the town. She ended up watching as he walked some fifty-something businesswoman to his car and drove her to a hotel. She waited thirty minutes before bribing a maid to open the door and caught them in bed. My father was tied spread-eagled on his back while the woman rode him. Mom just turned and left."
"Father showed up at home only ten minutes after mother, and kept claiming that he had to do that or lose his job. Something about how the company had lost too many accounts and he'd been told that if he lost any they would be taken away. I guess the woman was the decision-maker for one of his customers and father claimed she said she'd pull the account if he didn't sleep with her."
Ami's jaw dropped. "Did she?"
I laughed. "She was fired. My father's boss was fired. The insurance companies covering both businesses paid my mother nearly ten million dollars covering the lawsuits and both businesses were closed due to the scandal. I think my father made about five million in his lawsuits. The marriage did not survive."
Ami wrapped me up in a hug. I sat there letting tears run down my face. I never spoke of that one year. Not even Janet had heard the whole story, only that I had some painful relationships that left me hesitant to trust her.
"There's more?" Ami asked.
"Yes. I told you that there was. But I did have a decent summer. After the disaster with Cosette I avoided dating that entire summer. In fact that was when I first started working at the quarry. I think Cosette's father knew something because it was his recommendation that landed me the job just a week before school ended and two weeks before he moved out of the area, taking his daughter away. In fact he must have said something because this quarry is over three hundred miles from my hometown, but they had no problem offering me a job and finding me a place to stay. The job was a godsend. I was kept far too busy to think about girls or all the betrayals. My mother did start dating a real-estate agent she met while trying to find a new home for us. She had been considering moving us out of the district, but finally chose just to move us to a smaller home that was closer to where she worked, but which allowed me to stay in the same school. It ended up I thanked her for that."
"Why?" Ami asked as she finally forced my shirt up. We separated long enough for her to pull it completely off and she started running a finger over my chest.
"Because Trixie and I started going out when I returned from the quarry job. If I had been going to a different school I might never had encountered her again. We ended up parting fondly at the end of the school year, but I do treasure the months we spent together."
Ami looked at me. "Should I worry that she'll return someday?"
I shook my head. "I don't think so. She joined the army and last I heard was a nurse for one of their mobile medical units. She loves the life and tells me that she has already signed up to make the military her career. We do write back and forth, but now she's the sister I didn't get to grow up with. Besides, she's very happily married to an army ranger. I wouldn't want to have him mad at me."
Ami giggled. "Sound like you've met him."
"Trixie had me give her away at the wedding. Her father passed away from a heart attack the summer after she graduated high school," I said.
"Yes. She knows this whole story, but you are going to be the only one I ever told the story to like this. Trixie got to live part of it with me. With all the tears and anguish it represented," I said with a sigh.
"Anyways, I need to talk about my senior year. For me it was pleasant, but the story of relationships collapsing and taking their toll kept on. The first was Kevin and Linda. As I said, Kevin took her back after the incident at the Halloween dance. Linda did become an outcast from many of the groups she had belonged to, which frustrated her. At the time Kevin merely thought it would make her more loyal to him and prevent a repeat."
I could see Ami shaking her head. "It didn't I bet."
"Not at all. One day just before homecoming Linda stayed home, claiming she was not feeling well I guess. All we knew was that she hadn't arrived for first period. At Lunch Kevin decided to drive over and visit. After the whole ruckus over the party, Linda's parents had given him a key. They liked him and were hoping that he and Linda could repair the damage their daughter had caused. It turned out Linda didn't know about the key, or didn't remember. Kevin found the front door locked and let himself in. It wasn't until the door opened that he knew what he would find."
"Bad?" Ami asked.
"Linda was on her back on the coffee table. A black man, we never found out his name, was fucking her from his knees. And then Michelle was kneeling above Linda's head ordering her to lick her pussy. I can still remember the robotic voice Kevin used when he reported what had happened the next day."
"You didn't see him until then?" Ami asked.
I shrugged. "Well, I'm not sure anyone understands it all anymore. I guess as Kevin stood there, Michelle sat back so her ass was over Linda's breasts for a moment because Kevin said the first thing he heard was Linda speak."
"Damn it Michelle! Its bad enough you make me do this, but stop trying to suffocate me!" Linda complained.
"You love it," Michelle purred.
"I should just hang up when you call and tell me this is going to happen," Linda complained.
"You do and Kevin gets pictures of you with David. You know, the ones of the two you of together the week after that Halloween dance," Michelle said dangerously.
"Kevin tells me he stepped forward at this point and spoke. "Why should she worry about that? I have this scene to bring me enough chills."
Ami giggled. "Well that makes sense."
"The aftermath was really ugly. Kevin said little to anyone other than to confirm that he had again caught Linda cheating and wanted nothing to do with her, but this time Linda refused to be silent and accused Michelle of everything. It turned out that Michelle had sent many of the threats by e-mail and Linda had kept every one," I said.
"The police... ?" Ami began.
"They went ape. Michelle was arrested within forty-eight hours and her horrified parents were crushed when the judge set bail at one hundred thousand dollars. They might have tried to raise it, but a coalition of parents showed up and threatened to ruin them in town if they tried to defend their daughter's actions. It turned out that Michelle had blackmailed or attempted to blackmail half the girls in the senior class at school. When her parents heard this they disowned her. Last I heard she had been tried as an adult for nearly fifty counts of pandering, blackmail, sexual abuse and rape. She was found guilty of most of them, I don't know how many years she got, by then I had graduated and left town," I said.
"The fallout was worse. Kevin still lives in the town, I think. He was broken by the discovery that Linda had not come to him about what was going on. Part of him insisted that she wanted to have the sex and was relying on the claim of blackmail to get him to accept it a second time. He told her that in a very loud and nasty argument in the mall food court one day and then walked away from her. Since then he will not speak to any woman."
"How does he survive?" Ami asked.
"The school district hired him as a groundskeeper for all its schools. If you visit the town you'll find the most elaborate and beautiful gardens at each school. The lawns and fields are better kept than the greens at the Augusta Country Club. But the district makes sure that all school employees know that only a man will get a response from him. He'll listen to instructions from the woman principals and follow them, but he says nothing to them."
"His pain might be less than Linda's was though. The night after that argument at the mall, her parents were going to a meeting regarding what had happened. Many of the parents were blaming the school's acceptance of the sexual incidents from the year before as the catalyst for all that had happened. They didn't think to leave someone to watch over their daughter."
"No," I could hear Ami whisper, trying to deny what I was about to say.
I nodded. "She got in the bathtub and slit her wrists."
"At least you recovered," Ami said.
I shook my head. "I'm not sure I did. I just survived it. Heck Candace didn't make it either. She married right out of high school cause she was pregnant, was divorced three months after the baby was born and married again at twenty because she was again pregnant. That marriage lasted long enough for her to get pregnant again, but her husband wasn't the father of that child and filed for divorce the day after the child was born. I think the only thing saving me was the job at the quarry and my swimming scholarship."
"You got a scholarship for swimming?" Ami asked.
"A partial one. It was enough to get me out of town, which I needed even more after Monica, one of the cheerleaders got caught in a storeroom with Principal Lane and claimed he was going to kick her off the cheerleading team if she didn't fuck him. The team at school was a competitive one and Monica had been hoping for a cheerleading scholarship," I said. "In her case I know it was just because she loved sex, but the district came down hard on 'poor' Principal Lane."
"No charges of statutory rape?" Ami asked.
"Monica was eighteen by then. And her claims of blackmail were quickly disproved, but the damage to his reputation was done and after the other scandals, the district got rid of him fast," I replied.
Ami stood up. I could feel some tingling in my legs as circulation returned. As I was shaking them out Ami turned to me. "How many more incidents?"
I thought for a moment counting what I still needed to say. Finally I had a count. "Three that I have to talk about. There were others, but they are more things that I heard about and how it affected others, not ones that touched me directly."
Ami walked down the hallway. I stood up to follow, but she called out. "Grab drinks for both of us from the kitchen. Anything is good."
I walked into the kitchen and raided the refrigerator for two bottles of water. Normally I avoided bottled water, but Ami's apartment did not have a filter for the tap water, and the tap water was never cold enough anyways. I was coming back with the bottles when Ami returned from the bedroom.
She called to me and I nearly dropped the bottles. During the entire session she had been wearing her usual bar outfit, which consisted of a tight fitting polo shirt with the bar's name and logo on the back and a short black skirt. She had removed those and was now wearing a lacey black bra and thong panty set. I could feel my throat go dry.
Ami looked at me, I could see the fear return to her eyes. "Richard. You need to complete everything you have to say, and then I have to show you these." From behind her back she held up a large manila envelope.
I smiled and took the envelope from her. I set it down on the table next to the envelope that had arrived from my ex-wife. Ami watched me set it there and then grabbed my arm for balance as I sat down on the couch and pulled her down to sit on my lap. Her stumble caused her to fall against me and press her breast against my arm.
"Thank you," she whispered as she put her arms against the back of the couch and sat up. This time she was sitting so her ass was on the cushion and her legs draped over mine, when I looked at her she kissed me on the nose. "Your knees are a bit too bony for me to sit on."
I returned her kiss on her nose and smiled. "It's all right. At least I hope it is. You haven't heard the rest of the story yet."
Ami hugged me close, rubbing her breasts into my left arm and chest as I lifted my bottle of water to my lips to take a gulp before continuing. "For me my time at college was in many ways blessed by a lack of emotional entanglements. I was not only on the swim team, but against the protests of the coach decided that I wanted to try to graduate with a double major in three years. I was going to major in geology and business."
"Geology and Business? That is a crazy combination," Ami said.
I laughed at this. "Hey, I was working in a quarry, and talking with some of the executives, it was the skills they needed long term. The geology would help me better understand the stone and hopefully improve the yield at the quarry. Business skills were obviously needed."
"But in the year I've known you, all you do is run the cutters at the face of the deposit," Ami replied.
I shook my head smiling. "I'm the foreman for the entire operation and the effective manager of the site. I work out at the face because it's hard and tiring work and for the last fifteen months I needed to leave work exhausted if I wanted to sleep at home. Well, not for the last six months, but for nine months before that I did. And I do put hours in the office, I just never talk about them."
Ami looked at me in shock. "Can you afford a better place?" she asked me.
"Anyway," I said ignoring Ami's question. "For me college was rather pleasant. I was far too busy with studying to have time for girls and when I wasn't studying I was at the pool or in the weight room. I was busy all the time and I wanted it that way. However, despite all that, problems found me."
I shivered, the next part of the tale still haunting me. "The first problem happened spring of my second year. By now mom had married Darren, her real-estate agent friend. The few times I talked to her on the phone she sounded so happy. She became even happier when she missed her period and began thinking she was pregnant with his child. But I guess that was the cause of the problem."
"Darren has never said what made him suspicious, but eventually he noticed that mom was having to stay late at her work twice a week. She claimed it was to help train a replacement for when she went on maternity leave. Finally he arranged to trade cars with a fellow agent and follow her one night."
Ami cringed. "Oh no."