Frances and Zebulon Mercer, that's us. Married thirteen years, about to be divorced. Frannie is now 42, me 43.
We met in high school as seniors when I transferred in to Morningside High. She the prototypical homecoming queen: tall, pretty, popular, rich parents. I the prototypical nerd: short, singularly unlovely, not popular—practically invisible really—and poor. But, I had one redeeming quality: I carried a Stanford Binet intelligence quotient of one-sixty same as my weight if it matters.
Frances Parker's daddy, Roger Parker, owned a half dozen car dealerships in the state, and had done very well for himself in the business. His wife, Caroline, had died giving birth to Frances, and her dad Roger had never remarried. I'd learn later that Roger and Caroline Parker had been true soulmates: it was impossible for him to love another.
My dad got a job as a janitor at the high school, and thereby the reason why I'd transferred there in my senior year. My mom had died too, a few years before, Cancer, and I missed her terribly. But, dad and I managed. I sometimes helped him out after school if my schedule allowed. He was all for me doing well in school: nothing else mattered. I suppose the good news was that I felt the same way and never let him down. My dad was proud of me, and I was inordinately proud of that great truth.
Okay, so you're wondering how a short, ugly guy, with no money, no car, no social standing, nothing really, except that I was well read; could possibly have hooked up with miss all-everything. Simple I was handy and pliable. Boy was I pliable.
During my senior year I had had no dates whatsoever. None! I had, however, been invited to a couple of parties, attended both, and achieved whatever the male equivalent of wallflower status is. Hell, I hadn't even gotten drunk. I was a disgrace. And then it was May: prom time. I wasn't going. My dad pressed me to ask a girl and to go, but I'd demurred; I wasn't into the humiliation thing.
"Oh, there were a few girls in the same boat as me that I could've asked, and I considered it. But, I couldn't dance, alcohol at that age upset my stomach, and talking and socializing were not part of my skill set; some good news though: I got used to alcohol when I got older—a lot more used to it actually. Oh, but did I mention that I was a straight-A student—yippee-eye-o-kai-yay!
As it turned out, May was also finals month. And, as it also turned out, Frances Parker was not a straight-A student. She was in fact a gnat's eyelash from failing both Chemistry, and this was her second go at that one, and Math-II. Guess who she asked to help her through those two horrendous finals. Yeah, well, I wasn't about to turn her down. Just being around her, smelling her, was wonderful. At any rate she did what I told her to do, and she passed, and I got a kiss for my efforts—on the lips—one of the few kisses from a girl that I had ever gotten; I didn't wash my face for a week.
Two weeks before the prom, she was waiting for me.
"Hi, Zeb, got a minute?" she said.
"Yes, Zeb, Frances, me. Got a minute?" she repeated.
"Yes. For you, of course," I said. She smiled indulgently.
"Zeb, you know my boyfriend, Trey Mitchel, right?" she said.
"I know he's the star quarterback and about all everything else," I said "But, know him? No, we travel in different circles, actually." I got a look from her for my remarks.
"Well, yes, he is kind of the man about campus, I guess," she said. "Anyway, he was going to take me to the prom, but he can't go; has to see his grandma upstate; I think she may be dying or ill or something; Trey wasn't sure. Anyway, I need a date for the prom. You wanna volunteer to help this girl out?"
"Huh?" I said.
"You know take me," she said. I stood there staring at her. I just could not seem to process her words. Helping her with a Chem exam was one thing; I was good at Chemistry, but taking her to a formal dance and the inevitable all night parties afterwards just did not process, not for me.
"Huh?" Now I was repeating myself. She snapped her fingers.
"Look, Zeb, I need a date. I know you don't have one; I asked around. Any of the other guys who might want to take me, and who don't already have dates of their own, are either on Trey's shit list; or they're, quite frankly, afraid of me. You know me. We've worked together on those exams. We're on pretty good terms. Right," she said. "And my dad liked you, trusted you. So whaddya say?"
"Absolutely!" I said, all too enthusiastically. "But, I should tell you one thing."
"What?" she said.
"I'm afraid of you too," I said. She laughed.
"Yeah, right. The school egghead is afraid of little 'ole average me," she said. She was getting a pain in her side she was laughing so hard. I didn't know what was so funny, but I began to laugh too. It was cathartic.
Any parent knows what the term prom means—expenses, big expenses, and those for both the boy and the girl. I knew my dad would fund my date; hell, I didn't have any money, but I was going to feel mighty guilty asking him.
I called Frances two days before the night of the prom just in case, just to confirm; but I only got her dad. He said she was out getting her dress fixed or something like that. So, I left him a message that I would pick her up at seven; he said that he'd deliver the message. We knew each other casually from the times when I had helped Frannie with her exam prep.
They were sitting in his dad's Cadillac's back seat. They'd been making out for some little time; The windows were steamed up.
"I am so glad you got back in time," she said. "And, your grandma's okay." said Frances.
"Yeah, she's got diabetes, Like I said, and it was touch and go for a few days, but she will be okay now if she sticks to her doctor's orders and takes her meds. My aunt Helen is staying with her for the foreseeable future. Anyway, she's okay.
"Hey, but I'm glad to be back too. We're going to the prom, right?" he said.
"You betcha stud. I was so disappointed when you thought you couldn't make it. I mean I wasn't upset or anything; your gramma is a first priority; but well, anyway, I'm just glad you're back."
He reached over to her and began unbuttoning her blouse. She smiled him her encouragement. He peeled the fabric from her shoulders. He hefted one breast then the other. "I've missed these," he said.
She giggled. "I missed your touch," she said. She raised her breast toward him. "Suck on this one, okay."
"Your wish is my command," he said. He suckled on the fleshy mound for some moments; then, switched to the other.
She pushed him away. "My turn," she said, as she unzipped his pants. He raised up to allow her easier access so that she could pull his pants down. She did. Reaching inside his underpants, she wrapped her hand around his seven-inch sex engine. She smiled. "I think junior wants me."
"More than you can possibly imagine," he said. Leaning forward, she licked the precum from his cock. She looked up into her boyfriend's eyes. "Warn me when you are about to cum. Okay?" He nodded.
She let the tip of his cock slip between her lips. Sucking on the glans for some moments, she gloried in his discomfort as he fought to endure the tickling sensation that her doing that always caused him. Then she let his cock slide deeper into her mouth and throat as she began sucking him in earnest.
"It was some four or five minutes before he shuddered and mouthed the warning that he was about to cum in her mouth. She let his dick slip from her mouth and began jerking him off furiously. His spray hit her in the face. She plucked a gob of it from her right eye with her index finger and licked it clean.
"God that was wonderful," he said.
"Glad you liked it," she said.
I arrived six minutes early. No, that's not right I didn't just arrive; I arrived in style: tux, corsage, and limousine; I'd even had my hair styled if you can believe it. The chauffeur opened the door for me and waited while I went up to get my date. Jesus was I nervous—never before and never since anything like it, not even on my wedding day.
"Hi Mr. Parker," I said, as he opened the door. He gave me a funny look.
"Zeb?" he said.
"Yeah, it's me. I look a lot different tonight don't I?' I said, smiling to beat the band.
"Well, yes, you do; but what, what are you doing here? He said. I frowned.
"To pick up Frannie for the prom. You know, I left you the message Thursday," I said. He actually looked shaken.
"Zeb, Frances went to the prom with Trey. I was sure she told you about her change of plans," he said. He looked beyond me to the ride I'd hired. "My God! That girl didn't tell you did she!"
I was sick to my stomach. I hadn't originally planned to go, but because of the chance to go out with Frances Parker, my dad had laid out $500 plus for my big night. I think all of the blood in my body rushed to my face at that moment.
"Zeb, I'm sorry, boy. If I had known that she hadn't contacted you—I—I'm sorry," he said. "Look, come in, please. You and I need to talk."
"No, no, I think I need to go," I said. "I need to go now!" I turned to leave, but two steel hands gripped my shoulders and all but yanked me into the house.
"Zeb, sit over there. I can see you're—distraught. I know you had to put out a ton for this special night, and don't worry. I will pay you back every cent. And, I can assure you I will be taking it out of the hide of our little princess," he said. I shook my head.
"Mister Parker, I can't take your money. I'll just chalk it up to experience and get on with things," I said.
"Oh no you won't," he said. "And you are going to the prom."
"But?" I said.
"Zeb, I'm a business man, a successful business man. I didn't get that way letting myself walk away from competitors who doublecrossed me. No, I dug in my heels and made them pay. That's what any successful person has to do. Zeb, you are clearly a very smart guy, but naïve as hell. You need to fight for your woman."
"Yeah right," I said. Okay, I was a little bitter. "Mr. Parker, I'm five-four and one-sixty. Frannie is five-nine and one-forty. Trey is six-four and two-thirty. Fannie is gorgeous; Trey is arguably the hunk the girls all think he is; lookswise, I'm a turkey. The list, sir, of comparisons is long, and I lose on them all."
"Intelligence?" he said.
"Well, maybe not on that one. But, who cares about smartsos. Let me answer my own question: nobody!" I said.
"Size, numbers, popularity: You ever study history, Zeb?" he said.
"Well, yeah, I read a lot," I said.
Einstein failed his doctoral exam twice before Niels Bohr convinced him to try one more time. They finally gave it to him, accepted his dissertation, the same one he'd submitted the first two times. Oh, his topic? The Theory of relativity. A couple of other names: Alexander at Gaugamela outnumbered twenty to one; Caesar at Alesia outnumbered ten to one. Oh, and Alexander Pope was four-eleven. All out numbered, all with problems and challenges, all initially labeled as dreamers or worse; and all, found a way to overcome because they were geniuses. You wanna be the one to give geniuses a bad name, Zeb?"
"Zeb, you are going to the prom—alone. You will cut in on my daughter and the interloper. You will dance the dance with her, and ask her out for next weekend while you're at it. I know my daughter; she's no genius for damn sure, but she has got a deal of common sense. I'll bet you a bottle of Gentleman Jack—deliverable on your wedding day if I'm wrong—that she accepts the date with you, and more, that you'll have fun on it. Okay?" he said.
I was glad I had a driver for the evening. I was sure I wouldn't have been able to navigate the road myself; I was too confused, too upset, nervous. But, her dad's words had rung true. I could either crawl away with my tail between my legs or stand up for myself.
I knew I was no great shakes, brains or not. I was sure the man was right about what I had to do, but equally sure he was wrong about his predicted outcome. But, what the hell, things couldn't be much worse for me than they were.
Having a limo deliver me was a plus. I didn't have to cross the crowded parking lot on my shaky legs. He dropped me virtually at the door.
Inside I got some stares. Well, I wasn't exactly a fixture at formal soirees. I headed for the punch bowl. With any luck somebody would've spiked it. Taking a sip I was disappointed; it was punch.
I spotted my quarries across the room. They weren't quite making out, but they were close enough to each other to do so if the fancy struck them. I waited for them to start dancing. It had to be a slow dance so I could talk to her. I got lucky, the next one was, and they got up to dance. I waited a half minute or so. They were melded into each other. For some reason I was filled with the confidence of the just. Being short, I was hidden from their view pretty well. I was able to come up behind him and gently tap his right shoulder. He turned to see me. The two of them stared at me like I was toxic; it bothered me not at all.
"I believe this is my dance, Trey," I said with more confidence than I should have been feeling.
"What?" he said.
"My dance," I said. I took her hand and started to pull her away and out amongst them. She ripped her hand from mine.
"What are you doing, Zeb. This dance is Trey's," she said kinda nastily.
Her tone stung me, but I recovered. "Really, well, I guess I'll be going then. Oh, and please, next time you ask me to take you somewhere and change your mind, please let me know, okay. I mean if it's not too much trouble," I said.
"What are you talk ... oh my God! I completely forgot. Zeb..."
"Forget it, Frances, believe me you're getoverable. But, you won't be getting to ride to the parties tonight in my limo. You'll have to settle for his sport's car. Have a nice life," I said. I turned and walked away.
A number of people watched me as I walked out, and one or two of them snickered at a shrimp like me daring to upset miss perfect. But, a few others gave me a thumbs-up, but none of those were A-listers.
"You do not mean that you actually forgot you had a date with the guy for the prom. Tell me you're kidding," said Cora Welcher, the Monday following her social debacle.
"Yes. I forgot, okay? And, I feel like shit about it. I mean he was so good to me when I needed him to help me pass those exams; then, I go and fuck him over like that. I was just so caught up with Trey getting back..."
"Yeah, well, you'll play hell ever doing anything worse than that to a man, to any man—ever!" said, Cora. "He'll be a while getting over it for damn sure."
"Yeah, I know," said Frances.
"Jesus, it must of cost him plenty too. I mean to get ready for the prom. You say he even hired a limo?"
"That's what he said," said Frances.
"I know they're poor. His dad's one of the maintenance guys at the school. I know they can't afford stuff like that," said Cora.
"Well, as for that, I'm gonna pay him back. And, I'm going to do it out of my own money. I've got a ton saved for college. A thousand bucks oughta do it," said Frances.
"Well, at least he won't be in the hole financially then," said Cora. "His pride will still be in the shitter, along with his feelings, but the money should help a little."
"Yeah, well, and I'm thinking of begging him to take me out—my treat—as kind of a makeup thing. Maybe even let him cop a feel or two. Whaddya think?" said Frances.
"A date? Hmm, maybe. But as for letting him take liberties, only if he makes a play for you himself. If you offer it to him too blatantly ... well, a guy like him, as smart as him ... well, it might hurt him more than not giving him anything at all," said Cora.
"How do you figure?" said Frances, truly not getting it.
"He'll know it'd be mercy sex because he can't get anything on his own. That would kill his very soul. Don't offer it; I'm telling you," said Cora. "Jeez, I can't believe you can't figure out some of this on your own!"
"Okay, so I'm not a smart as you. And yes, I see your point. But, if he makes the move on me, then, let him?" said Frances.
"Sheesh! Yes, but don't give it up, I mean you know what I mean, the big thing. Copping feel, maybe a little heated kissing; but that's it. Any more than that, and a guy like him will be thinking matrimony. You gotta walk a fine line with him, girl," said Cora.
"Okay, and Cora?"
"Thanks.". Her friend nodded her support.
Did I feel down? No. I mean she'd not only stood me up; she'd clearly even forgotten that she'd asked me to go! So I should have felt low, right? But no, I didn't think so. I'd done nothing wrong, and it was clear, the girl just didn't like me. Nothing to do about that but get on with things, her loss the way I saw it; well, it's what I kept telling myself.
The bad news, and it was bad news for me, was the fact that the prom occurred two weeks before school let out, that meant that I'd still be seeing her around along with everyone else who'd witnessed my humiliation.
The Wednesday after the prom, she approached me in the cafeteria. "Zeb, may I speak with you for a moment?" she said. I looked her up and down.
"No." I walked away with my tray and found a table full of social losers like myself. I saw her out of the corner of my eye debating whether to press the issue. I guess she decided not to. She walked away.
Two days later, I got an envelope delivered to me. In it was a check for $1,000. I tore it up in front of the delivery guy who'd wanted me to sign for it. He stared at me like I was crazy.
The day after that I got a call. No, not from Frances. It was from her father. He wanted to talk to me. I liked the guy, but opted not to continue with the situation. I just wanted to be left alone. He said he'd tell his daughter to back off. It turned out it was she who had written the check not daddy. I hadn't noticed that at the time, not that it would have made a bit of difference. I guess she was trying to buy a little forgiveness. Oh, I was sure she really was sorry for humiliating me, shining me on. But, I was also sure that the kind of arrogance that would take it for granted that everybody could be bought and that forgiveness and justice had a price tag, was so far beyond being acceptable to me that I considered it to be a crime in itself.
I guess her daddy got her to layoff. I didn't hear from her again until graduation day. I was valedictorian. My dad was supremely proud. Hell I was proud of me. A friend of mine, Harry Gooden, said somebody had invited me to a grad party and he'd been tasked to deliver the invitation. I opened the invite. It was from her. A party to be held at her parent's house. I threw the invite in the trash can as I was leaving the hall.
My dad had detail that night—read, he had to help clean up after the grad ceremony—so he'd left me some minutes before. I was heading for the bus stop a block away, but I never even got off school property.
As I rounded the north side of the gym, four guys, a couple of whom may have actually been homo sapiens surrounded me. Only one of them weighed less than 300 pounds, Trey Mitchel. "Goin' to the party, big guy?" said Trey.
I knew what he was talking about, but I had no idea why he was talking to me about it. Frannie was his girl. Why would he want me to be goin' to her party?
"No, big guy, I'm not," I said. The four of them were staring at me. "What? You palookas gonna make me," I said.
"Yeah, actually, we are. Frances wants you there. She wants you to want to come, you know, willingly; but if not, well then, unwillingly," he said.
"You are aware that if you force me to go someplace, that I don't want to go, that that is the very definition of kidnaping," I said. He laughed.
"I'll take my chances," he said, laughing. That was the signal for his nine hundred pounds of assistance to assist him in putting me in the black van—Jesus, what a cliché! These guys watched too many movies.
At the party I wasn't tied down, nor was I immediately accosted by her highness. I looked to see if her dad was handy. He wasn't. I was trapped, as one might say, in a gilded cage filled with high school A-listers and assorted invited outsiders. The music was loud and not to my baroque tastes. The food was a cholesterol loaded feast, and I toyed with the idea of maybe giving my heart something to complain about besides my dream girl's lack of attention. At any rate I declined to commit any gastronomic crimes and I just lolled around. The looks I got from a number of different guests were uniformly smirks. Evidently everybody knew I'd been shanghaied and probably the reason for it. I was pissed.
Somebody handed me an open beer bottle. I dropped it on the floor. It broke. I got looks for that, but nobody said anything. Well they didn't until she tapped me on the shoulder.
"Kinda juvenile of you wasn't it," she said, indicating the broken beer bottle and the now spreading mess.
"I don't want to be here, and I don't want anything from you. Nothing. Now, can I leave or are you going to sic your SWAT team on me."
"Zeb, look, I am so sorry for my thoughtless actions. I have had some sleepless nights because of them. I'd just like a chance to talk to you for a few minutes. And, no, if you really don't want to talk to me, you will not be forced to stay. Oh, and I'm sorry for today's theatrics, but I couldn't think of any other way to get you to sit down with me," she said.
"You still can't. Have a nice life," I said, and I started to walk out. I was sure that now she'd leave me alone. She detained me by very gently taking hold of my wrist.
"Look, Frances Parker, miss all everything. I know you're Trey's girlfriend. I know you don't like me. And I know, or think I know, that you feel a little bit sorry for fucking me over. But I'll live. Okay?" I said.
"Zeb, yes, I'm Trey's girl. But, it is totally untrue that I don't like you. I do like you—as a friend. And, I am more than sorry for what I did to you."
"Goodbye, okay?" I said. She dropped her hold on my wrist, and I walked out not even bothering to look back.
I walked the six miles home, and when I got there, my dad had a fit.
"Son, where have you been? You just graduated, and you disappear? Without so much as a word?" he said.
"Sorry, dad, I was shanghaied by some classmates, and I was just now able to get free," I said. Well, it was the truth. The fact that I knew for a fact that he would not believe me was, to me, irrelevant."
As valedictorian and having garnered a host of other academic honors in my high school career, I was awarded a full ride to Stanford, with Stanford Law as my ultimate goal. Yes, Law. I came late to the decision to make the legal profession my profession. By the end of my junior year, I was already accepted as one of the future big guns in that major on campus; well one of the potential big guns anyway; I still had my undergrad Philosophy major to complete. Anyway, that was the good news; and it was good news.
The bad news, as I saw it, was that both Trey and Frances were also going to be going there. Trey on a football scholarship; and Frances, as I found out later, on a prayer scholarship. Prayer scholarship you ask? Well, she was by no means qualified to be in a competitive school like Stanford, but her daddy's one million dollar donation got her in—provisionally. I presumed he'd be getting a hellacious tax write off for his largesse as well. Donation or not, Frances still had to take—and pray—that she pass all of her required classes: she was an Art History major; and again, as I found out later, she was assigned, up front, to mandatory tutoring in some of the harder Gen-Ed classes. Well, life is hard and then we die.
I did see the dynamic duo on occasion, but Stanford is actually a small city; it was pretty easy to avoid them. Plus, the Law majors didn't mix much with Art History types, and almost never with the jocks. I never really knew how good Trey was in school; he graduated with me, but I had little or no contact with the man, and no desire to investigate his intellectual skill level. At any rate, he sure as hell wasn't in the Law program.
A request by my junior advisor in my third year of undergrad put me in a situation that I could not have foreseen nor really done much about. I had a full ride, but I also had a few obligations to keep it. One of them was to tutor the intellectually less fortunate inmates. You had to know this was coming, right? But genius or not, I didn't see it coming until I was face to face with her.
"You've got to be kidding," I said. I think my frustration was showing.
"Zeb, I didn't know it was you they assigned me to until just now," she said.
"Like I'm supposed to believe that," I said. "Well, you're here. So, tell me, Frances Parker, what is it about Linguistics that's a mystery to you?" I said.
"Zeb, look, cut the crap, okay. If you can't at least be civil, then I don't want you to tutor me. I'll just tell my advisor that we can't get along and to find me somebody else.
"Yes, I was a shit in high school, but you holding a grudge this long has got to be some kind of record. Get over it, Zeb, it really wasn't that big a deal. So I stood you up. So, shoot me in the ass. Enough already!" I looked at her and deflated.
"Okay, you're right. Forget I said anything. If you need help, I'll do my job, and I guarantee you'll pass. I'll need your availability schedule, so I can set up the times." I scribbled my email on a post it I pulled from my shirt pocket and handed it to her—well hell, I was still a nerd. "Figure it out, your availability, and email it to me. And send me your cell along with it. I'll get back to you as soon as you do."
"Okay. Will do," she said. "And, Zeb, I really am sorry about everything." I nodded and she was gone.
And that was the start of it. At some point along the way; she caught Trey with another coed and their planned happily ever after fizzled.
I tutored her. She ended up with a 2.9GPA, not too shabby, and became a teacher. Two years into her teaching career, I finished Law school with an LL.D. And, six months after that we were married. Talk about unbelievable turns of events. Oh yeah, and we had dated a bunch before that happy day. But, and you had to know it; I was a virgin on our wedding night. Just didn't want to leave anything out.
Yeah, we made up during the tutorial thing, and being the gold plated, pussywhipped, wishful thinker that I was, I let her talk me into falling in love with her. Oh, and she assured me that she loved me to death, and that she wanted to spend the rest of her life with me. Beyond belief? Hell yes, but I had no problem with consciously deluding myself; I wanted her.
The wedding was a huge affair. Her dad had spared no expense. My dad beamed. Her relatives, I'm sure, looked at me as some kind of reclamation project—a charity case. And my friends were jealous as hell.
And so did my married life, my life with Frances Mercer nee Parker, begin.
"Well, we're finally, here," she said. "I almost can't believe it."
I looked her way as I started to undress; I stopped. The reception had been big and loud and happy, and for me, a little strange. I thought about that now. "Frances?" I said.
"Yes, honey?" said my new wife. She'd also been undressing.
"I guess I'm about the luckiest guy on the planet," I said. She gave off a small laugh.
"Damn straight," she said. She saw my serious look. "I feel pretty lucky myself, Zeb: pretty damn lucky!"
I hurried up my undressing, but, she beat me. I went to her, grabbed her around her waist and pulled her to me as I went to my knees in front of her. I kissed her belly her fur, her thighs. I worked my way down her legs, finally kissing her feet. "I adore you," I said, as I straightened up. She smiled condescendingly at her new husband.
She knelt down with me. I took her right there on the floor, not expertly, but very enthusiastically. The bed was three feet away, and I took her on the stupid floor. It was—I don't know—some kind of statement, but damned if I knew what of.
Rising from the floor after a brief period of huffing and puffing, we did get on the bed and she went to work on my penis. She turned out to be a regular virtuoso at cocksucking. She had me up again in short order. I took her from behind. There is just something seriously erotic about a woman pushing her hind quarters high in the air to accommodate her conqueror. I pushed into her and she groaned. My wife, unlike me, was no virgin; I knew it, and she knew I knew it, but we never made a big deal out of it. She was mine now, all mine, and that was enough for me.
We lay side by side a while later, again huffing and puffing.
"Honey?" I said.
"Why me. I'm not good looking, not tall. Why me?' I said.
"Zeb, you're not going to believe me, but this one time, I'm going to lay it out for you. I'm not very smart, not like you for sure, but I'm not a fool. I know what's in a person's heart; I can sense it.
"Zeb, you actually love me. I know you'd give up everything you have to please me, or, to save me. The reality is very few men are like that. There were a hundred guys who would have crawled from here to China to get into my pants, but once the new car smell was gone; they'd be looking for some strange real fast. I didn't want that for me," She said. I had thoughts of Trey cheating on her for the exact reasons she'd just laid out for me.
"Yes, you're short. And yes, you aren't real pretty. By the way, you are not as ugly as you always say. You're kind of—what—manly looking." She suddenly morphed to a more playful tone of voice.
"But Zeb, I will be buying your clothes from now on and telling you what to wear. You really have no taste when it comes to things like that, Zeb. Sorry, but that's a fact. So get used to the idea, bub, it's how it's going to be. Got it?" she said.
"Yeas, I get it. You can dress me any way you want. I will not gainsay you in anything. I only ask that you love me. And, you're right about the other stuff: there is nothing that I wouldn't do for you—nothing!" I said.
We got pregnant almost immediately. She'd damn near had to teach me how to stick it in because I sure didn't have any experience at it. Okay, maybe I'm kidding a little about that. But, she did teach me a lot, and especially how to do the things she liked. At any rate we were off and running in the race of life, our lives together. And, however good or not good I was in the sack; I proved more than good at producing superior offspring.
The first few years were terrific, no other terms fits. Then, as one might have expected things slowed down, and yes I'm talking about our sex lives slowed down. But, that said, things didn't stop; they just slowed down. But, what I didn't know was that in certain quarters I was considered boring.
Right after we'd tied the knot, we moved to Barton Oaks, a small town a hundred miles from where we were both raised. I was twenty-nine and Frannie was twenty-eight. We settled in and set up shop: she as a teacher at the local high school, and me in my own law practice in the center of town.
I should note that, before I'd set up shop in Barton Oaks, I'd done a two year at an all but minimum wage stint interning at a mid-sized practice in the city. At any rate, I had the urge to get out and on my own. I was smart enough, and I was willing to pay the price in the long hours and the hard work that I knew it would take to be successful.
To be honest, business at first was kinda slow. I found myself mostly doing wills and simple divorces along with the occasional partnership contract and the like. But, then I hit my stride. I hit it because of a lucky meet up with a stranger in a bar.
I was seated at the far end of the bar when a stranger walked in; well, he was a stranger to me. I was surprised when he headed straight for me and took the bar stool immediately to my left.
"Hi, my name's Mark, Mark Wilson, he said.
"Okay," I said. "Zeb Mercer, can I help you with something?"
"I expect maybe you can," he said. I looked him askance. "We have a common friend."
"We do? And who might you be referring to?" I said.
"Harry Gooden. He said you two went to school together," said Mark. I smiled.
"Yes, Harry. God I have seen him in an age. How is he?" I said.
"Good, he lives up in Fairoaks, as do I," he said. "Got a print shop."
"Really. Well, when you see him give him my best," I said.
"That I will," said Mark. "But, Mr. Mercer, I'm here for another reason, and Harry was the catalyst for it."
"I need a job. I'm good at what I do, and I thought, and Harry thought; well, that you might be a good one to ask," he said.
"Look, Mark, I'm a lawyer. I run and small shop with one part time secretary named Lois. I..."
"Sir, I wouldn't cost you much..."
"Okay, let me ask. What do you do?' I said.
"I'm an ex-cop. But, now I'm a PI," he said.
That one stopped me. "A PI? A private investigator?" I said.
"Yes. I was bumped off the force for drinking on the job. But, I'm okay now. Been dry for a year," he said. I nodded.
"I see," I said. "Well, I'd like a little time to think about it. That be okay?" I said. I haven't had a lot of need for a PI so far, but..."
"Yes, sir, that would be fine," said Mark.
"Let me ask, what did you do, I mean when you were on the force?" I said.
"Neighborhood patrol mostly. Me and my pard, well we covered some of the inner city area. You know, the anti-gang thing," he said.
"Okay, here's my card. Call me in a couple of days," I said.
"Yes, sir, I will do that," he said. And just like that, I had a new resource with which to expand my client base and thereby my income base.
To make a long story short, Mark and I grew together, me into the top criminal lawyer in the southern half of the state, him into the Sword of Damocles hanging over the head of anybody with nasty secrets. Over time we developed a very close relationship; we trusted each other absolutely. Somebody with a big ass problem always got the both us; we were a package deal.
Things were great for Frannie and me once we got settled in to our lives. She was happy; I was happy, our two kids were happy. Well, we were all happy until the day I found out my wife had a lover. Now, all of us are in danger of becoming really, really unhappy.
Marlon Skaggs—you gotta love the name—is tall, dark, and handsome. He's got some money, not sure how much, and—well, and he has my wife's love. Well, maybe not her love, not sure about that either, but her lust at the least. He also has my undying hatred for seducing her, and putting us, the lot of us, in domestic jeopardy.
I stood there staring at the two of them fucking up a storm on the couch. He heard me, saw me, and ran from me like I carried the Ebola virus. My wife had the look of an interrupted fuckee; well, she was wasn't she. That is exactly what she was.
"Well, you certainly scared the shit out of Marlon," she said, about as casually as she ever said anything. Still naked, she'd reached for the decorative afghan that was spread over the back of the easy chair that she'd been bent over as he screwed her. She covered herself.
"What the hell was going on here, Frances Mercer," I said. Yeah, it was a ridiculous question. She laughed.
"What was going on? You're kidding, right," she said. "He was screwing me, Zebulon. He was fucking my brains out. I hope I'm not being too vague." I got quiet. What was there to say. Her attitude said it all. She didn't care what I thought. I felt my eyes begin to mist up.
"What, you're going to go all silent and cry! What a pussy I'm married to. Calm down Zebulon, you don't need to worry; I'm not going to divorce you. Actually, I'm quite fond of you. Really. I love you if you care to know. I certainly don't love that jackass, Marlon Skaggs. Good in bed, real good, but otherwise ... He's a fucking used furniture dealer for godssakes. What's to love? But, he does beat the hell outta you as far as bedroom skills are concerned."
It had taken two decades plus, but I finally got around to figuring out what it was that Frances Mercer, nee Parker was into; it was humiliating me. High school, college, now in our family life. The gods hated me; I was sure of it. Fuck!
I turned to go. I stopped, turned again, and looked her up and down. "You sure are pretty even with your makeup all messed up; I'm gonna miss you a lot. I'll have the papers filed on Monday. I'll see to it that you get free visitation with the children, but no support. You're on your own there. Don't fight me on it, the divorce I mean. You can't win." I turned once again, and I was gone.
In year one of our marriage we'd been blessed with a son, Jan Michael. In year two Valerie came along and we opted to limit ourselves to them. Two were enough. Oh, and I should mention, that at our wedding, Mr. Parker did indeed present me with a bottle of Gentleman Jack; that for guessing wrong about how Frances would react to my breaking in on her and Trey Mitchel at the prom.
Frannie's hair was long now, her stature at five-nine was intimidating to some; she was truly beautiful. Me? At five-four any number of people questioned as to how I could ever have landed such a beauty. Hell, I'd asked myself that question a whole bunch of times; I was just glad she'd opted for me instead of her then boyfriend, Trey Mitchell. Well, I had been glad. Our children now thirteen and twelve, were beautiful too and were our respective pride and joys.
Socially, we were active. The draw was always Frannie; she was the toast of whatever we did and wherever we did it.