Hi folks, sorry for the lack of a story last week. I'm very appreciative of all of you who emailed me to offer suggestions on my ongoing editor search. As of yet I'm still looking, so this story is probably going to be full of punctuation and grammar errors. That was a warning, please take it into consideration. Anyway, a reader suggested this piece almost a year ago, and I rolled it over in my head for a while and almost wrote it a couple of times. I wish I could find the email he sent me where he suggested it so I could give him credit, but hopefully after reading this he'll know who he is and know that I did love the idea, and the song. SS06
As I walked towards the door of the café with my phone held up to my ear in one hand and my purse in the other, I didn't even think about the door. I never even slowed down as I approached it. From the time that I was fifteen years old, men of all ages have constantly been making fools out themselves trying to get my attention.
I smiled. The funny thing was that I didn't even smile directly at any of them, but three men jumped up to try to open the door for me. I breezed into the café and looked around to find which table my girlfriends were sitting at.
As I scanned the room, all I had to do was look in the same direction all the guys were staring at and I found the three of them. A voluptuous raven haired vixen, a tall lanky redhead with a complexion to die for, and a tawny haired, self-admitted slut all sat together at one table. I smiled again as I joined them. I caught the attention of our waitress and just nodded. She knew what to bring me already. It was especially delicious since our waitress was Jo Anne Hart.
Ashley, the brunette, Eva, the redhead, Betty, the slut and I all went to school with Jo Anne. Ever since my parents had moved us down here to Texas, when I was fourteen, we've known Jo Anne.
We'd tormented her all through school. Jo Anne was just not like us. There was something wrong with her. She was pretty enough, I suppose, but unlike us, she just didn't have the knack for using what she had to get what she wanted.
Jo Anne was also pretty stubborn when it came to certain things. Like in high school, if you wanted to be a cheerleader there were certain things you had to do. In my case, since I was dating the captain of the football team, my making the squad was a foregone conclusion. Even though the head cheerleader at that time didn't like me much, she knew which way the wind was blowing. And Eva and I have been friends ever since. Getting Betty and Ashley on the team was also simple. I just mentioned it to Eva and she handled it.
Everyone else on the team knew that they had to kiss a certain amount of ass to get on the team and that was only right. It's the way that life works. People who are beautiful or rich get what they want and everyone else simply fights over what's left.
Anyway, Jo Anne showed up at the tryouts and after years of gymnastics and dance classes, she was great at all of those flips and all of that high kicking stuff. On the basis of athletics and dance, she could have been one of the best, if not the best on the team. She probably could have made our squad a lot better from a performance standpoint. Unfortunately, she was terrible at the sucking up and kissing ass portion of the tryout. So in the end, she didn't get on the team. Some of those southern belles are simply too sassy for their own good.
I felt sorry for her, so I went over to her, to offer her some words of encouragement. The coach of the team was trying to talk to her too.
"Hey, Jo Anne," I said. "I'm sorry you didn't make it. With a little bit of attitude adjustment, I'm sure you'll make it next time."
She turned and looked at me and smiled at me very sweetly. "Fuck you, Connie," she snapped.
"My name is Constance," I said. The bitch really pissed me off with that. My name actually was Connie. But I'd changed it myself, although not legally. But all of the teachers and even my parents called me Constance. It sounded so much classier than Connie Page. Since we'd arrived here in Texas, I was Constance Pagé. I pronounced my last name "pa jhay," as if I was French. That and the fact that any northern accent just sounds sophisticated in Texas made me more noticeable. My nearly white-blond hair also made me stand out. And the fact that I have a spectacular body also helps.
But ever since the days of the cheerleader tryouts, my friends and I have done whatever we could to help Jo Anne. In fact, we sometimes went out of our way to help the poor girl. Like when we had to stay up nearly all night to call or text everyone in the school to make sure that not a single person voted for her to become class president. That job would have been too much for Jo Anne, but she didn't know it at the time. The hardest part was convincing the nerd who was in charge of counting the votes to make sure that the votes from her really close friends weren't accepted.
That way, she only received one vote and everyone assumed that she'd voted for herself. That actually drove a wedge between Jo Anne and her friends. She'd disappeared for a while after high school. Then she was working in this café when we started meeting here every morning before work.
The other three girls actually have jobs in the shopping mall near the café. I really don't have to work, but I have a job in a daycare center near here to give me something to do with my days. It's also a great way to get time away from the house, while convincing my husband that I'm doing everything I can do to be the best wife and eventually the best mother I can be.
He thinks it's great that I want to work with children and in his mind it means I'll be a great mother once we start having babies. What he should be thinking is, IF we have babies. The reality of the situation is that the only way I'll ever have one of those messy, smelly, attention grabbing little brats, is if it's absolutely necessary to ensure that my marriage survives.
Having a child would really not be in my best interest. It would totally distort my body for months. Then I'd also be tied to it for years. What the hell would I do with it when I wanted to go on vacation? Then having the thing call me mommy, would just age me in the eyes of everyone who saw me. Nope, having kids was probably not on the menu of my life.
Even before I took a sip of the coffee that Jo Anne had set down in front of me, the other girls were smiling and leaning their heads in to see if I planned on doing anything to poor Jo Anne, or just letting her serve us and get off without doing anything to embarrass her or to cause her extra work.
I was trying to come up with something, when I heard it. It was a low growl that spoke of powerful mechanical force. I glanced at the window when I heard it, because it was a familiar sound.
As I watched, a heavily customized white Mustang pulled up in front of the restaurant. The Mustang had one large blue star proudly emblazoned on its hood and each door. The man who got out of the Mustang strode into the café and every head in the place turned to look at him.
The man, Danford Richards, was a decorated Afghan war veteran, a former pro football player, and the third richest man in Texas. He was forty nine years old, six feet tall with graying blond hair and steel blue eyes. Every person he met liked Dan. He wasn't the kind of man to put on airs. He was more comfortable walking around in jeans and cowboy boots than he was in a tux or a suit, so that's what he wore. Dan's the kind of guy who'll sit down with a guy he met on the street and talk about fishing for two hours, but won't spare fifteen minutes for a meeting with the CEO of a fortune 500 company, unless it's an absolute necessity.
Even the girls at my table hushed themselves when Dan walked over.
"Honey, you left your day bag on the counter again," he says to me. Then he leaned over and kissed me gently. He intended for it to be a polite peck on the cheek, but I turned and locked lips with him. I locked my arms behind his head and pushed my tongue into his mouth.
"I'll see you at home tonight," he blushed when I let him go.
"Good Lord, that's a man," says Ashley.
"You're a fool," says Eva. "I can't believe you'd risk losing that, for Todd Bridges."
"Come on Eva," said Betty. "You know Constance has always belonged to Todd. She married Dan for security and probably just to prove that she could get him, but her heart and everything else has always belonged to Todd."
"Shut the fuck up Betty," I snapped. I tilted my head towards Jo Anne who was cleaning up the dishes from a table right beside ours.
"Everyone doesn't need to know my business," I said.
"But that's only Jo Anne," laughed Betty. "She's a nobody. What can she do?"
We all laughed very loudly then. "She's probably still pissed at not getting on the cheer squad," gushed Eva, starting another round of laughter.
My name is Robert Franklin. I'm a P.I. I was hired to watch Constance Richards. To be perfectly honest, I don't understand her. I've had women on our investigative team approach her and none of them had anything good to say about her. The general consensus is that she's a bitch. On the other hand, I've personally met her husband and he has to be the most likeable guy on the planet. You see a lot of these rich guys who put on that good old boy act, but this guy isn't faking it. We also did some surveillance on him. Even when he didn't realize that anyone was watching him, he stopped and spoke to anyone who approached him. He's the real deal. The guy was a pro football player, who ended up going to Afghanistan. One of the guys he went to college with was over there and when he heard about it, he signed up too. He ended up getting the shit shot out of him and getting a medal or two for some of the things he did over there. He doesn't like to talk about it. When you ask him about it, he just says that he did his job.
Anyway, some of the big shooters attached to one of the political parties, I'm not at liberty to say which one, think he'd be a good candidate for Governor in the next election. But before they risk it, they wanted to make sure that he and his wife are squeaky God damned clean. After following him for a couple of months we're sure he might be a good candidate, so now we're on his wife. The notes that follow are my general observations on Mrs. Richards during the course of my investigation.
The thing that stood out to me first, other than the age difference between them, he's forty nine and she's twenty nine, is how good they look. Richards is a striking figure of a man, but his wife is centerfold material. Why is she with a guy who is so much older than herself?
This morning as usual she's running slightly late as she gets out of her white Cadillac and goes to the café where she has breakfast every morning. I notice a couple of things about her from the beginning.
City girls just seem to find out early, how to open doors with just a smile.
A rich old man and she won't have to worry. She'll dress up all in lace and go in style.
Jo Anne Tanner
He came into the café again this morning. Every time I see that man I just swoon. He has to be the nicest man on earth and probably the best looking. I wouldn't expect him to remember it, but he did a lot for me personally. When he came back from the war he started doing whatever he could to help other vets and their families. In a lot of cases he took money from his own pocket to help out. My case was one of those. I loved Sam for most of my life. When he signed up, my heart was in my throat. I just knew something terrible was going to happen. Early in the war things were fine. All of the battles were won with our superior technology and they even had reporters there watching. Sam often laughed when I called or emailed him, to ask if he was in danger.
He told me that the biggest danger to him would probably be if he tripped over one of the cables that provided power to the TV cameras or to one of the congressmen's RV's. A lot of the politicians were there because it looked good on their records. Most of those guys had never served themselves, but they could now say that they'd been to war. It made them seem more macho.
A couple of months after the initial assault had begun, things got more serious. The joking stopped and all of the congressmen and reporters came home. I also discovered that our last pre-deployment activities were successful. Sam had deployed a baby in my womb. When I told him about it he was overjoyed. He told his entire troop about it and they congratulated us over Skype. Three months later, heavily pregnant and out of my mind, I watched as they lowered a casket containing what was left of Sam into the ground.
He was buried with honors, the victim of some mechanical bits and pieces attached to an explosive of some type. They call it an IED, an improvised explosive device and it had wiped Sam off the face of the earth. The reports we got, from the same buddies who congratulated us on the baby, were that Sam never suffered. I'm grateful for that at least. He was just walking back towards the base, smiling and talking about what he was going to do when he went home, when it went off. One minute, he was smiling, and the next, he was gone.
His parents and I had a rough time handling it. Even during the funeral it was as if we were still in shock. It was like it was all a joke and we were waiting for the punch line. Even months after the funeral we walked around with a hole in our hearts and in our lives. Sam's dad never recovered. He lost his job and just became a totally different person. He couldn't even look at his wife. It was like seeing each other only caused them to remember what they'd lost, instead of seeing someone that they could share the pain with.
And it was just as bad for me. Since Sammy and I were never actually married. I had no status in terms of military benefits or anything else. And our daughter, she doesn't count either. Since she hadn't been born yet when Sammy died, he didn't sign her birth certificate so she gets no benefits either.
When I met Danford Richards, I was thinking about moving into a shelter for single mothers. One of the guys who'd served with Sammy, a disabled vet named Paul, had met Richards at the VA and told him about me. Richards cut me a check without ever having met me. He gave me enough money to make it through my pregnancy and the first few months of Samantha's life. It was the greatest exhibition of trust I've ever seen. Paul could have stolen the money or the whole thing could have been a hoax.
When I met Richards, I didn't expect him to actually remember my name. He probably helps hundreds of people. But he knew me as soon as I spoke to him and even asked how the pregnancy had gone. When I told him how grateful I was his help, he just shrugged his shoulders and told me that the whole country was honored by Sam's sacrifice, so any small thing he could do was his pleasure.
So seeing him again today was great. The bad part of it, of course, was finding out that he was married to that fake bitch, Connie Page. As he walked out, after taking her the fancy briefcase that she'd left at home, he spoke to me. He'd smiled at me and said, "Hi Jo Anne. How's Samantha doing?"
It just amazed me, that a man that I'd only met once, could remember me and my daughter and show more concern for us than the four women I'd known for most of my life and went through high school with. Worse than finding out that he was married to Connie, of course, was discovering that she was cheating on him. It didn't come as a huge surprise since Connie wasn't the kind of woman to be faithful to anyone.
From what I heard, after we left high school, her life got even more interesting. When she turned twenty apparently Connie defied medical science because she found out some miraculous way to lose her virginity twice. There was even a fight about it, between Todd and some other guy, both of whom claimed her cherry. Somehow, it just seemed terrible that a guy as nice as Danford Richards had ended up with a snake like Connie.
The problem for me was deciding whether to let him know what I'd overheard, or just stay out of it. In a lot of cases people who received bad news wanted to shoot the messenger.
I decided to give it some serious thought. Maybe there was a way that I could tell him without the information coming from me. And for once, I really did want to do this for the best of reasons. I wanted to do it so that Danford wouldn't continue to be preyed upon by a woman who wasn't worthy of him, not as a way to get back at Connie for things she'd done to me in the past.
I was talking to Todd as I drove home. I wanted to see him so badly. He kept blowing me off. He'd tell me that we'd get together and then change his plans at the last minute. He'd done that to me several times in the last week. I always made sure to talk to him on my cell phone and not the house phone. My cell phone was in my name and I actually paid that bill myself. The bill was delivered to Betty's apartment just to make sure that Danford didn't actually look at it and then ask me about some of the numbers that I called or received calls from frequently.
Danford was pretty trusting. I'd gotten away with a lot of shit over the years that we'd been married, but I didn't want to push things too far. He'd also paid for a lot of the things I did with my friends. When he had to go to England last summer for business, he'd sent me and my girlfriends to Jamaica. We'd drunk and fucked our way across the islands for seven days. It was supposed to be a ten day trip. After a week there too many of the local men were following us around, expecting money and sex. I flew home early to avoid any embarrassing publicity.
When Danford called that evening and found out I was on my way home, he wondered why I was going home early. "I miss you so much, I can't stand it," I said. "I'm going home and then flying to England. I'll sit outside of your meeting rooms and wait for you."
"But Constance," he'd said. "By the time you got here, it would be time for me to fly home anyway. Why don't you just wait for me at home and then maybe you and I can take a trip together."
I sat at home for two days waiting for him to come home. During that time, I fantasized about all of the guys we'd had in Jamaica, both other tourists and local guys. I was all fucked out for a while after that trip.
Ashley, Eva and Betty were already asking me when we could do it again. I told them that trips like that one had to be very few and very far between, because I couldn't do anything that might arouse Danford's suspicion.
I guess they really couldn't understand that I really do love Danford. He's the exact man that I'd like to someday settle down and live out my life with. He's caring and kind, he's generous and for his age or really any age, he's very good looking. The problem we have though is that I met him too early my life. I'm not really ready to settle down and commit yet. I'm not ready to be a mommy or a wife or any of that shit. But on the other hand he was too good a guy to let go of. He's kind of like when you go to the mall and they have boots on sale. It's the middle of the summer and you're not going to be wearing any boots anytime soon. But you buy them anyway and hold onto them until winter comes. Danford is my on sale boots.
There will be a time when I'll be ready for him and I'll be the best God damned wife that any man ever had. But it isn't that time yet. That day draws ever closer though. I'm really beginning to get tired of Todd's shit. He needs to learn that he can't treat me like he used to while we were in college. I'm important now. My time is far too valuable for me to be waiting around for him. I guess that Todd is still pissed off that I didn't marry him and move into his one bedroom apartment with him.
I guess that he doesn't realize that living in his ground floor efficiency unit and eating pork and beans and tuna wasn't going to be enough for me. I did him a favor actually because we'd have simply grown to resent each other. Even if Todd had enough money to take care of me in the style I deserve, there would have been questions about us being together. Todd is a great boyfriend, but he simply isn't husband material. Danford is a very classy man. The emphasis is on both the classy part and the man.
Todd is more of a wild boy. Again the emphasis is on both the wild part and the boy part. Danford is better for my future and for my long range plans. Todd is great for short term satisfaction and to keep me from becoming too bored, while Danford secures that future. They both have their places and their functions.
Surprisingly, neither of them is really better at sex. Sure Todd is younger and can keep it up longer. But it's a brutal type of thing where he just pounds me like he really doesn't give a fuck about me at all. Sometimes I guess I crave that pure animalistic coupling frenzy. But when I want to be caressed and stroked and kissed and made love to, Danford is the best. He lifts me to higher places than Todd could ever dream of.
Todd finally came back on the line. "Yeah sorry babe," he said. "I really can't get together with you tonight. It's just not in the cards. Try me again tomorrow. By then..."
I hung up on him. I was pissed at him beyond my ability to convey it. Why the fuck was I waiting around for that loser when I was married to a man who'd move mountains to make me happy?
"Why the fuck are you talking to that bitch again?" Eliza screamed at me. "Didn't you fuck her enough in college?"
"We were just talking babe," I said. "Besides, don't act like you're new at this. You know that if we're going to get enough money to get out of this hell hole, I'm probably going to need to stay on good terms with her."
"I don't mind you staying on good terms with Miss Moneybags," said Eliza. "But you'd better not be fucking her."
"Liz, the only person I'm interested in fucking is you babe," I told her. "Calm down, we've been through a lot of crap together. This is all about us. I just have to do whatever it takes to secure our future. Honey, this is all about survival. If we're going to make it, if we're going to have the kind of lifestyle that we want, we're going to have to get down and get dirty. We're both going to have to put up with and do some things that we don't like. But in the end, we're going to win. So, while I may not personally like Constance; I actually think she's a spoiled little bitch and she always was. But if I have to put up with her to get what we need, I will. If she's the one standing between me and the goal posts, I'll go through her for us."
Eliza looked at me suspiciously. "Why do all of your little pep talks sound like you're still playing football?" she asked. "Just make sure you keep your dick away from her goal post."
As she turned to walk away, my phone rang again. I answered it.
"What do you want Todd?" asked a voice.
It was Ernie Marinelli. My blood went cold listening to his voice. I'd been trying to get to talk to him for weeks. This man could make or break my future.
"Todd, I ain't got all fucking day. Say something," he spat.
"Uhm Mr. Marinelli, I want to set up a buy," I said. He laughed into the phone.
"Todd, we don't work with people on your level," he spat again. "Actually, the people we work with don't work with people on your level. All of that nickel and dime shit is childish. There's too much risk for too small a reward."
"But I'm looking to raise my level sir," I said.
"Look Todd, the minimum order I can take is fifty K," he said. "And you don't have that..."
"Okay, I want fifty," I said.
"Todd, that's a lot of merchandise," he said slowly. "Your take, after disbursement, would be almost four times that amount."
"And I'll double the next order," said Todd.
"Let me check on my inventory and make arrangements for delivery," he said. "I'll get back to you. And Todd, if this deal doesn't go through, if you're just yanking my chain..."
"I'm not," I said seriously.
"It would be the ending of the saga of Todd," he said, then the phone disconnected.
Oh boy was I in trouble. I'd been sure that his minimum was going to be twenty grand. Fifty thousand dollars was more than twice what I had coming in through loans from other small time dealers and everything I'd been able to save myself. I needed to come up with thirty thousand dollars quickly. I was sure that it would take between two and three days for Marinelli to put everything together. Even if it didn't, I could stall for that long. Where the fuck would I get the rest of the cash?
Then it hit me. Constance could probably pull thirty grand out of her fancy underwear budget and not even think about it.
I tried not to let these things get to me but this time I was unsuccessful. I was in my office staring into the screen in front of me. My next meeting was two hours away and I was perplexed. I thought I heard a soft knocking on my door but I couldn't be sure. Besides what I was looking at was a matter of life and death.
"So now I know what the third richest man in Texas does all day," said a soft voice behind me. I turned and almost dropped my controller, I was so surprised.
"Jo Anne, right?" I said. "Uhm, I'm between meetings," I smiled.
"You're playing a video game," she said smiling.
"It's uhm, Skyrim," I said. "I'm trying to figure out what the hell I'm supposed to do at this party."
"Oh okay," she said dubiously.
"It's a party at the Thalmor Embassy," I said trying to explain.
"Uhm, it's still a video game," she smirked.
"But it's Skyrim," I said. "So how are you doing today?"
"Well, I was depressed when I came in here," she said. "Then I caught you playing video games on a TV that's bigger than most of the walls in my house."
I shrugged my shoulders.
"I waited outside your office for a long time," she said. "Don't you have a receptionist or an assistant?"
"She got married last week and today is my first day back," I said. "I haven't gotten around to bringing another one in."
"Mr. Richards, you helped me more than I can ever repay you when..." she began.
"Don't worry about it, Jo Anne," I interrupted.
"But that's what makes this so hard," she said. "I don't want you to hate me but I have some really bad news for you and I don't want you to think I'm telling you this out of vindictiveness or some belated revenge for..."
I smiled at her and shook my head. "Jo Anne just come on out and say it," I told her.
"Mr. Richards..." she started again.
"Call me Dan," I said. "Everyone does. Jo Anne how much do you make at the café?"
"Eight fifty an hour," she said. "But I came here to..."
"What did you study in college?" I asked. "Are you decent on a computer?"
"Liberal arts and I'm great on computers," she said.
"Hmm," I said. "Don't know what we'd use the liberal arts for, but how does sixteen an hour, full benefits and free daycare sound?"
"Great," she said. "But..."
"Good, you can start tomorrow as my new assistant. The first thing I want you to do is get on the internet and find out how the hell I get out of this party or what I have to do to get to the next battle, okay?" I asked. She nodded.
"But I..." she said softly.
"I know," I said. "You came here to warn me that your old school mate and my current wife, is cheating on me." Her eyes softened and she nodded her head.
"Don't worry Jo," I said. "About an hour ago a Private Investigator who was hired by a PAC that I'd never heard of came in and told me that his political action committee wanted to consider me for a run for governor. They'd spent months investigating me and my business and home life and thought I'd make a great candidate. There was only one problem. I have a whore for a wife. I looked at pictures and saw video, the whole nine yards. On one hand I was ready to sue them for unwanted and illegal breach of privacy. On the other I've had them continue the investigation until I figure out how I want to handle this."
"What do you mean?" she asked. "Are you thinking of counseling? Or confronting her and making her stop doing it?"
"No JoAnne," I said. "I guess I have a flaw. I tend to take people at face value. I trust everyone until they give me a reason not to. And when I fall in love, it's much worse. When I married Constance..."
"Her name is Connie," said Jo Anne. "She just calls herself Constance because it sounds classy."
"When I married her, I was so smitten by her that all I saw was forever. Against the advice of my financial advisors and my lawyers, I didn't have her sign a pre-nup. I'm worth close to a billion dollars and I don't see giving her half of it. So short of her committing a felony, I'm stuck with her until I can figure out a way to get rid of her. But I'm working on it." I smiled.
"And over the next few days if you do happen to run into her, which isn't likely, since she never comes by the office, please don't let her know that I'm on to her."
"She won't hear it from me," said Jo Anne. "Hey, I have a new job! I have to go tell Sammy. She'll be thrilled, I think. And free daycare, you did say free day care. And I have to tell my boss at the café that I'm quitting. Can I work there one more day and report to you on Monday? I'd hate to leave her short-handed for tomorrow..."
Then suddenly her face fell. "What's wrong?" I asked.
"I don't have any clothes to wear for a job like this," she said. I picked up the phone and dialed a number.
I said a few things into the phone and handed her a card. "This is a ladies clothing store that the company has part ownership in. We have an account there. They'll get you set up for the workplace. Of course you'll get a substantial discount on the clothing and the cost will be deducted from your paychecks until it's paid off..." I stopped because Jo Anne was looking at me like she wanted to eat me.
"See ya Monday, boss," she said. And she left.
As I walked into the café that next morning, I knew that something was different.
There were still men staring at me as I walked towards our table. I couldn't put my finger on it. I looked across the room and made eye contact with Jo Anne. She looked away from me and continued what she was doing. That would cost her later. I sat down and began talking with my friends.
"You don't look like yourself," said Ashley.
"Oh, oh," said Betty. "Danford must have fucked the shit out her last night. Maybe she's been rode hard and put away wet."
"Betty, you seem to think that everybody gets fucked to death every night," sighed Eva
"Well, all I have to judge people by is my own personal experience," said Betty smiling like a Cheshire cat.
"I guess that's the problem," I said. "I couldn't hook up with Todd yesterday. He got my so pissed that I ended up hanging the phone up on him. Then when Dan did come home, he didn't want me either. That was the first time since we've been married that we didn't have sex when I wanted to."
"Oh shit," said Betty. "Alone and unloved, who'd a thunk it."
"Shut up Betty," snapped Eva. "She's upset."
I looked around and gestured to Jo Anne. She looked at me and started to come over to our table.
"What the fuck is wrong with her today?" I asked.
"Good Morning ladies," said Jo Anne.
"Where's my coffee?" I asked.
"Did you ask for any coffee?" asked Jo Anne.
"Jo Anne, don't give me any shit today," I snapped. "I'm not in the mood for it."
"Well please let me know when you are in the mood for shit," smiled Jo Anne. "I'll bring you a toilet full of it."
"Just get my fucking coffee, now," I said.
"You need coffee when you fuck?" she asked. She got the cheesiest smile on her face.
I didn't have any idea of what she was talking about or asking about. "Jo Anne, do you want me to have your ass fired?" I snapped. She shrugged her shoulders and looked at me.
"You can't do that," she said. "You don't own this restaurant and you don't have any connection to the people who do. But you're welcome to go ahead and try. It's not like I need a reason to beat your ass anyway." She walked away from me and went to take care of other customers.
Eva got up and went over to her and spoke to her. Jo Anne nodded her head and wrote something down.
"Constance, maybe you shouldn't be trying to please two men," said Ashley. "I mean seriously, when we were in high school and college, Todd was okay. But when you look at him now, he's kind of scuzzy looking. He's not in your league anymore. He's beneath you. It's kind of embarrassing. He doesn't have much of a future. I think that you still see the boy you used to know. Your head is still wrapped up in what he used to be like when we were all eighteen or twenty and our potential was limitless."
"Since that time most of us have realized our potential, I mean look at you. You're just as beautiful as everyone always knew you'd be. You're smart, poised and married to one of the richest men in the state, if not the country. People are wondering when he's going to run for office. Shit, Danford might even someday be the president of the United States. He's tall, he's considerate and he loves you like there's no tomorrow, but you're sitting here pinning over a guy with no job, no prospects and no assets who treats you like shit. I'm not getting this."
"Maybe I love them both," I said. "I love Danford because I have to if I want to keep the lifestyle I have. Like you said he loves me. He'd do anything for me. There have been times when he's been in the middle of a meeting with dignitaries from other countries that he does business with or the heads of multi-million dollar companies, when he's excused himself in the middle of the meeting so I could text him pictures of shoes I was thinking about buying. Danford is trapped by the fact that he loves me so much and that gives me control over him. Todd on the other hand, is wild and unpredictable. I have no control over Todd. He does whatever the hell he wants to. He tells me that he loves me too. But he's so out there that it makes every second we spend together valuable. When I'm with Todd, I feel the way I used to feel back when I was in college. I feel like I have the whole world ahead of me."
"Which sounds really stupid to me," said Ashley. "It's really dumb because that's a fantasy that's left over from when we were barely adults. The reality is that you've grown up and with your husband's money you actually do have the entire world at your feet. And another thing, if Todd loves you so God damned much where is he when you need him? Most of the time he's sitting around in some bar drinking and getting high, but you have to practically beg him to make time for you. Constance, I'm your friend, but I think it's time for you to put away childish things and start working on your marriage."
"What are you saying?" I asked her.
"When your husband doesn't want sex, especially from someone who looks like you, it may be a sign that something serious is going on. It may be something that doesn't matter, like maybe he was just tired or sick or preoccupied with a business deal. But it could also mean that he's sick or has a health problem. In the worst case scenario for you, he may be getting tired of you and might be getting ready to find someone else."
I looked at her like she was crazy. "Constance you're beautiful and all of that. But Honey, there's always someone prettier, even if it's just pretty in a different kind of way. Behind every successful man, there's usually a woman. Behind every beautiful woman there's usually some guy who's bored with fucking her. If sex is the only thing you're giving Danford, he might have had his fill."
I knew what she was trying to tell me, but I saw it in a different way. I was thinking about that when Jo Anne came back to the table with the coffee. She put a cup down in front of Ashley. She put one in front of Eva. She put a cup and a donut in front of Betty and then put a second cup in front of Eva.
"Jo Anne I know you're stupid," I shrieked. "But, don't you see what's wrong with this picture?"
"Fuck you, Connie," she said. I was stunned. "Joe Anne, you're a God damned waitress. Now bring me my fucking coffee right now," I snapped.
She picked up the cup and started around the table. Then she stumbled and spilled the coffee all over my new pink dress. I was sure she'd done it on purpose. I stood up and started screaming. The chubby guy who ran the cash register and was in charge of the café ran over to our table.
"She spilled that coffee all over my dress," I said. "This dress is an original. It cost over three thousand dollars."
"I'm sure it was an accident," he said. "The café will pay the cost to have it cleaned."
"This dress can't be cleaned," I said. "And she did it on purpose."
"Did you do it on purpose Jo Anne?" he asked.
"I can't remember," she said smiling. "She was yelling at me and threatening to have me fired."
Jo Anne and the manager were smiling at each other. And I had that same niggling thought in the back of my mind that I'd had since I walked in.
"She did do it on purpose," I said.
"Jo Anne it wasn't on purpose was it?" he asked.
"I'm not sure," said Jo Anne. "I don't think so though, because if it was on purpose it would have been more like this." She took the piece of cherry pie off of the plate she was carrying and smashed it in my face and then twisted it."
"Now that was on purpose," she said. "So maybe the coffee was an accident, kind of."
"Jo Anne, you're fired," said the manager smiling. "Finish your shift and then get out."
"Okay," said Jo Anne. She walked away like it didn't really matter. I stood there with pie all over my face and my ruined dress dripping coffee. Eva took one look at me and started laughing. Betty and Ashley had to look away too. Eva stepped away from the table so she could stop laughing.
"Well you took care of her," said Ashley. "But Constance, I don't see this as being a good thing. You do know that she has a small child to take care of and you just took away her job. You've probably got ten of those dresses. This was just a case of both of you having a bad day at the same time. You've always bullied her and maybe she just didn't feel like being picked on today."