Hey, Folks. This one is a nice midwinter pot boiler. It's a little bit long and it gets crazy near the end. It's just the thing to keep you entertained during these snowy winter afternoons. SS06
I had just finished wheeling the stretcher from my last patient out of the examination room, when it happened. I walked into the control room between the two examination rooms and noticed the look on Rachel's face. Something about her expression put me on edge.
As she hit the switch to expose her patient, I thought I heard her say something under her breath. After the exposure, Rachel looked at her screen. Whenever we worked together, I used the CR room and Rachel took the DR room which she preferred. The DR room was digital, so there was no need to run cassettes. Another advantage was that the images came up on the screen almost immediately.
For the first time that I can remember, Rachel cursed. She actually whispered the "F" word before going back to the examination room to position her patient. It shocked me because usually Rachel's "F" word is "fudge."
For her to be that upset, it had to be something that she could personally relate to. I began to think that maybe this was one of those cases where she might need a shoulder. I imagined that she was probably doing x-rays on a person that she knew personally and that her images indicated a pathology that might be hard or life threatening.
While Rachel positioned her patient, I looked at her orders. The woman she had on the table was only twenty two years old. She'd been in and out of the hospital for the past three years. The ER doctor had ordered x-rays on her chest, clavicles, her right shoulder, humerus, forearm, wrist and hand.
Rachel's images showed several fractures and a peek into the room showed a lot of bruises. The door to the outside hallway opened suddenly. That shouldn't have happened because there was a light just above the door that warned everyone outside that X-rays were present inside of the lab. Anyone with common sense would have realized the danger of being exposed to radiation and stayed out of the room.
The guy who opened the door was probably deficient when it came to common sense. He was tall and thick, with a rat-like appearance. He had more tattoos than sense and looked around for the woman on the table. From his nervous appearance, I got the idea immediately that he was the reason she was here.
"Sir, you can't be in here while the exam is going on?" said Rachel.
"Are you done? Is anything broken? I want to see the x-rays," he said nervously.
"Her doctor will go over the x-rays with her," said Rachel. The guy was steadily approaching and had paid no attention to Rachel informing him that he couldn't be in the room
"I said I want to see the x-rays," he said again.
"I can't allow you to view them," said Rachel. There was fear in her voice and the asshole, like a rabid dog sensed it and tried to take advantage of it. I punched a code into the phone for our security team and went into the room.
"It's against hospital protocol," said Rachel.
"Rules were made to be broken, right sweetie," said the asshole, backing her up to the wall. "I've been breaking rules since I was..."
I was in the room before he could finish his sentence. Seeing another man come into the room, especially one who was nearly his size changed his entire demeanor.
"Get out of the examination room, sir," I said. I emphasized the word "sir." I was trying to remain professional.
"I was just saying that I wanted to see my wife's x-rays," he said politely. "Is there a problem with that? I'm worried about her. I came home from work and she had fallen down the stairs. I rushed her here and..."
I stepped closer to him inserting myself between him and Rachel. "You need to stay home from now on then," I said. "Because her bruises and contusions don't look like they came from a fall." His face got a completely different look then. He was nervous. He was bigger than I am but I'm more muscular. I think he realized that in a fight, things might not go his way. And even if they did, he wouldn't come out of it unscathed. He started to back off.
"As a matter of fact," I continued. "It looks like some big, dumb assed, chicken shit, coward beat the shit out of her. So you should probably stay home with her from now on." He looked towards the exit.
"I think that the doctors are required to report injuries like those to the police," I said. His face turned three shades paler while I watched.
"Uhm, I'll wait outside in the hall," he said. He turned and headed for the door that he'd just come in through. As he opened it he found the four huge guys from our security team and a smaller man with graying hair, who wore a suit and glasses.
The security guys came into the room just as he was going out. "What's going on Mark?" asked the first man though through the door. His name was Goren Merpyle, but we just shortened his first name to "Go."
"The guy who brought this lady into the hospital, came into the room during the exam," I said. "He demanded to see the x-rays. I think he was worried about something."
"I'll get a copy of his license and ID," said Go. He opened the door and went into the hall. He came back a few moments later. "He's gone. Don't worry we'll get him." He pulled out his phone and started yelling orders into it. He told the members of his team who were stationed at the doors and in the parking lot to look out for the guy and gave them a description. Then he and the guys who were with him, left the area.
I went into the hallway with the older gray haired guy, so Rachel could finish her exam.
"I should have known," he said.
"Should have known what, John?" I asked.
"This was Rachel's exam and you stepped in, to rescue her," he smiled.
"John this was an unusual situation," I said. "She doesn't get paid to fight off two hundred pound gorillas. Her job is to get diagnostic images. And she's really good at her job."
"Oh shit, Mark," he said. "Don't tell me you've got it too! I guess I could use a tan, turn around."
"What have I got?" I asked. "Why the hell are you standing behind me?"
"You know what I'm talking about. Rachel thinks the sun shines out of your ass. And you're sitting here telling me how good she is at her job. It sounds like some kind of weird mutual appreciation society."
"Uh, John, can we have a statement from the representative from the sense and sanity department?" I said. "I'm fifteen years older than Rachel. I'm almost old enough to be her father. I'm also happily married."
"There is that," he said. But he didn't sound convinced. "But I'll give you to the benefit of the doubt. So let's talk about what I came here for. You know that I'll be transferring to the new hospital in six weeks. It's time for you to step into management, Mark. You can't hide in an exam room forever. I'll let you pick your own team. The hospital opens in three months. I'm only going to have a couple of weeks for the transition. We're in the interview process right now. All you have to tell me is that you want the job and it's yours."
For a few moments there was an awkward silence between us. "Come on Mark, with your daughter going off to college you're going to need more money. I see this as a golden opportunity for you. I know you don't like changes, but this one would be good for everyone concerned. You can even bring my granddaughter with you. You and Rachel can be a package deal. At least think about it."
"Alright John, I'll give it some thought," I said. I hated lying to him, but there was no way I wanted to move to another hospital. I especially hated the idea of trying to help set up the x-ray department in a new place. I had my mind on all of the arguments and nightmares that would happen during the first couple of years of operation. I wanted no part of that shit.
"So what were you and my grandpa talking about?" she asked. I turned and saw Rachel behind me. As usual she looked over me and then came to me and made a minuscule adjustment on the radiation badge on my collar. She had to reach up to do it. Rachel was barely over five feet tall. At five nine, I towered above her.
Her long blond hair was gathered into a long braided pony tail. It descended almost to her rounded butt. Her huge green eyes seemed to always be wide open. I was sure that Rachel had absolutely no idea how beautiful she was.
"We were just talking about the new hospital," I said.
"Have you made up your mind yet?" she asked.
"I haven't really given it a lot of thought," I said. "I kind of like it here."
"Me too," she said quickly. "And Mark ... thanks for helping me with that guy."
"No problem, Honey," I said. "I'm going to have Go assign a security guy to hang out here, while I'm gone."
"Where are you going?" she asked.
"Remember, I have to drive Lila up to her college. We're leaving first thing in the morning so she'll have Saturday and Sunday to settle in. Registration is on Monday and her classes start on Wednesday."
"Oh my God, I forgot," she said. "I'm going to miss her. Send her my best. And I'll see you on Monday, right?"
"Yes ma'am," I said jokingly.
I threaded my way through the maze of corridors that make up the hospital. By the time I'd made it to the parking lot, it was slightly after five. My little chat with Rachel had delayed me. I saw my Mustang in my spot in the parking lot. Every time I saw the car I smiled. The deep blue, almost purple paint gleamed in the fading sunlight. The twin rolled chrome exhaust tips gleamed brighter than the paint. Everything on the car except for the body panels was chrome. The only exception to that color scheme was my bright red brake calipers.
Under the hood, I'd detailed my engine as well. All of the support and trim panels were the same shade of blue as the body panels. Even my massive twin screw supercharger was the same shade of blue. The supercharger also had my initials painted on it.
The supercharger raised my engine to a tire shredding six hundred horsepower. I had to be really careful on the freeway because it was easy for me to let my speed go north of a hundred and forty. The faster I drove the better the engine sounded.
Of course that wouldn't be my problem this evening. Whenever I got on the freeway late, gridlock kept me to a far more pedestrian fifty miles per hour for the duration of the trip home.
As I predicted my commute ended up taking far longer than the twenty minutes I managed in the morning when the roads were clear.
I parked in my driveway and went inside of my house. I heard the voices from upstairs and went to see what was going on.
"Push your butt down on it."
"Oh, I don't think you're going to be able to get it up." I stood in the doorway and smiled. My wife Katherine was bouncing up and down on my daughter Lila's suitcase trying to close it. I walked in and sat down on the suitcase with her. It snapped closed.
"Thank you, sweetheart," purred Katherine. She wrapped her arms around me and pulled me down onto the bed for a kiss.
"Uh, roughly twenty four hours from now, the two of you will be able to do that all over the house," said Lila. "But can you at least wait until I'm gone to let your hormones take over?"
Kat made a big show of sucking my tongue. "Ewww! That's disgusting!" whined Lila.
"Oh we're gonna' get far more disgusting once you're gone," gushed Katherine.
"TMI, mom," said Lila. "I don't want to acknowledge what you do to my daddy."
"If it wasn't what your daddy is always doing to me, you wouldn't be here," laughed Kat.
"But you guys are too old to still be doing that," gushed Lila.
"Honey, when you love someone, those feelings NEVER go away," said Kat. "I've been with your daddy for most of my life. Since the day we met in college, there has never been another man for me. You and your daddy are my whole world."
Kat was always saying things like that. And every time she did, it just made me love her a little bit more.
The three of us spent the evening together. Although it was unsaid, all three of us realized that it was the last time the three of us would do that while we all lived together. Lila was a grown woman now. She was moving away to college. She was still my little girl and she always would be, but at eighteen, she was legally a full grown woman and she'd be on her own at college.
Sure, she'd come home for summers, holidays and some weekends, but for all intents, my baby was moving out. Our lives had entered a new phase. Soon she'd be out of college with a career, then maybe a husband and a child of her own.
The next morning the three of us were up early for our last breakfast together. After breakfast the two of them got into Katherine's truck and got on the road. And just as Kat had predicted, Lila couldn't get that suitcase up. She was lucky that her mom and I would be going along with her. I followed them in my Mustang. We finished the three hour drive and got there before lunchtime and unloaded the truck, which Lila would be keeping. We were scheduled to pick up Katherine's new car on Monday. Until then, she would drive my winter vehicle.
The three of us toured the campus to give Lila an idea of where everything was in relation to her dorm. There was a rather nerdy looking woman, who I noticed staring at us more than once.
When we had seen as much as Lila needed, we sat down at a small outdoor cafe to grab a bite. It was a bittersweet moment. A host of emotions went through the three of us. It was a turning point in our lives, but none of us had any idea of what was about to happen.
For Lila, it was a moment that she both dreaded and longed for. The moment was sweet because, she was going to be out on her own for the first time in her life. It was perfect because although she wouldn't have her parents living with her, the college life offered enough security and regularity to keep her both safe and busy. It was like being on her own, but with training wheels. She would also have her own vehicle and we were only a few hours' drive away.
Katherine on the other hand couldn't keep her hands off of me. She was anticipating the romantic nature of the two of us being truly alone together for the first time in eighteen years. She even had her hand in my lap under the table. As we waited for our food to arrive the three of us looked at each other. Katherine and Lila were all smiles until they looked at me and saw the first tear roll down my cheek.
"Daddy what's wrong?" asked Lila.
"I knew today was coming," I said. "But I guess I'm just not ready to give up my baby yet." She was on me in a flash. She wrapped her thin arms around me and she reverted from the confident young woman I had just seen, into my little girl all over again.
"Daddy, I'll always be your baby," she whispered.
"Oh, for crying out loud. Will the two of you give it up," spat Katherine. "Jeez us Mark, she's going off to college, not to war. And you, Lila, would you rather stay home and go to the community college right down the road? Or do you want the best education the state can offer? You've been waiting for this for most of your life."
The waiter came back with a tray full of food, and we should have been happy but the mood had changed. Katherine scooted over beside me and whispered into my ear.
"When we get home, I'm going to suck the skin off of your dick. And then we're going to fuck until we can't move."
Her words made my balls tingle and I was suddenly glad to be sitting down. We smiled at each other like two Cheshire cats.
But when I looked up the nerdy woman was there leaning over our table staring at Katherine. "Kathy... ?" she said. "I thought it was you."
"I'm sorry, I don't ... I don't remember you are you a friend of my daughter's?" asked Katherine.
"No Mom, it's me ... Brina," she said. "I ... I never thought I'd see you again. I mean I always hoped I would, but I never expected to. What happened? Why did you leave us? My daddy never told me. But he cried for days when the two of you broke up. Do you know what it's like for an eight year old girl to have to comfort her father? I'm twenty six years old now and I can still remember the pain he went through. I can still feel it."
"I'm sorry miss, but I don't know you," spat Katherine.
"Sure you do ... Look!" said the girl. She reached into her purse and brought out a faded old picture. I recognized it immediately. It was Katherine and it was from about a year after we got married. I'd know that shitty haircut anywhere. I also noticed that in the photo she was wearing a one of a kind necklace that I'd had made for her on our honeymoon in Mexico.
"That is you, Katherine," I said. "What is going on?"
"She has me confused with ... maybe she has the dates wrong. I think her father might have been one of the guys I dated before I met you and..."
"Bullshit!" I yelled. "In that photo, you're wearing the necklace I bought you on our honeymoon. How the hell is that possible?" My heart was hammering in my chest like I had just run a marathon. I had the feeling that I my world was about to change and I wasn't going to like it very much. I turned towards the woman.
"Brina, is it?" I said. "Sit down please. Tell me about how you know Katherine. And why you called her mom."
"She isn't really my mother," she said. "My mom died when I was six. But Kathy was pretty close to being my stepmother though. And she told me I could call her mom. She loved me. Or at least I thought she did. She started dating my daddy whenever her job as a flight attendant brought her into town. After a while, she even moved in with us and stayed with us. She and my daddy loved each other."
"Whoah, slow down, Brina," I said. Things were beginning to click. Did her work schedule take her out of town for... ?"
"Yes," she interrupted. "She'd be gone for two or three weeks and then come home for a couple of weeks or so and..."
"And where did she sleep when she was with you?" I asked.
"With my dad, of course," said Brina. "They were going to get married. We were going to have the perfect family. She was going to get another job and stay with us. She'd be able to stay home with us, I was so excited. But then one day I came home and all of her things were gone. My daddy was sitting at the table with a half empty bottle of liquor and the most awful look on his face. He tried to smile at me and he took me to Disney World for a week. But I knew there was something wrong. He looked ... he looked like someone had torn his heart out. It took a long time for him to even pretend to be normal after that. He slowly came out of it. And after a lot of years he met, dated and married another woman. She's a really nice lady, but I don't think my daddy ever felt the way about her that he did about you.
I think he married her more so I'd have a woman around once I got to my teens than any other reason. But she tried her best to make him happy and to help raise me. She's a good woman and they're still together now. But I've always wondered why you left us. Did you and Daddy, have an argument? Did he do something wrong? Did I?"
"Brina, are you sure this happened when you were eight?" I asked. She nodded. I have pictures of her and my dad sitting there watching me blow out the candles on my cake. We all had party hats on and there was a big 8 on the cake. Why does it matter?"
"Because, when Katherine was with you and your father, she was already married to me and we had a baby who was less than a year old," I said angrily.
"It wasn't what you think, Honey," said Katherine suddenly bursting into tears.
"You have to give me a chance to explain this," she cried.
"What do you need to explain?" I asked. "How the fuck, do you explain, leaving your husband and your newborn baby daughter on a regular basis to go and screw some other guy and play mommy. Why the fuck would you need to do that. I loved you more than anything I can think of and we had a child of our own. It just doesn't make any fucking sense!"
"Mom, please tell me she's lying," said Lila. "This is some sort of joke right. Is this some sort of sorority hazing thing?"
I wrapped my arms around Lila who was nearly hysterical. "Baby girl, don't worry about this," I said. "Your job is to take care of your classes and your grades. Make some new friends and learn as much as you can. I want you to have a great foundation. You can be anything you want Honey. Now is where you start. I love you Lila, I'll call you tomorrow."
"Mark, we need to talk about this," said Katherine. Ten minutes prior to that, I'd have laid down my life for her, but I found myself disgusted by the sight of her. And she knew it.
"I'm going home," I hissed. "You can ride back to the house with me or not it's your choice. But after that ... we're done!"
She looked at me with the stupidest expression on her face. It was as if she couldn't imagine me not wanting to have anything else to do with her. I hugged my daughter and told her to call me every day. When Katherine reached for her, Lila moved away.
"You always have taken your father's side in every disagreement," Katherine said. Then she ran to catch up to me. The first hour of the drive was silent. There were several times when Katherine tried to start a conversation, but I was in no mood to talk to her.
"Mark you have to talk to me at some point," she said when we were about halfway home. "Maybe you hate me now, despite the way I feel about you. But Mark, you've always been a reasonable person. So can we just talk about this?" I didn't say anything and she took that as a yes.
"The least you could do was to disagree with me when I said that you hate me," she said. Since that didn't get a reaction, she continued to talk. "Mark, I'm not defending what I did. I was totally wrong. I betrayed you and our marriage vows. But Mark, it was eighteen years ago." She looked at me and I saw the tears in her eyes.
I was so used to comforting her when she was upset or when she cried that I almost pulled the car over and hugged her.
"Mark you're not going to understand this, but I had a mental break down at the time. I think they call it post-partum depression. In the space of two years I went from being a carefree single woman who was fresh out of college to a married woman with a baby. I felt myself being swallowed up by the whole thing. I felt like I was drowning. I just needed to have my own space. And honey you were and are an awesome father. Our daughter loves you. The two of you were fine without me. And once my depression ended, I broke it off. I've spent the last eighteen years doing my best to make you happy. I believe that eighteen years of happiness trumps a few months of mental illness. It never happened again, Mark. I know you're angry. I know you're hurt. But we love each other and we have a daughter together. It was one mistake Honey."
"You claim it was one mistake," I hissed. "That mistake lasted for months. And it smells like bullshit to me. If you were depressed because you suddenly had a family that included a husband who loved you and a baby daughter, why the fuck would you have an affair with another man, who also had a young daughter. That's like jumping from the frying pan and into another fucking frying pan. The only difference is that you don't own the second frying pan. Most people try to find something different from what they have. I think you're lying." I stared at her and she dropped her head.
Living with Kath for almost twenty years and taught me a lot of things about her. One of those things was, knowing when she was lying.
"I also don't believe that this one was the only affair you ever had," I said.
"I swear to you that I never did anything like this at any other time," she said. "You and Lila are special to me. I'd never risk our marriage again, Mark. I learned my lesson the first time."
Once again she looked everywhere except for my eyes as she said it. "Katherine, this morning I really thought I was one of the luckiest men on the planet. I thought I had a wife who loved me, a daughter who was happy, healthy and at the beginning of her life and the car of my dreams. Now all I have is the car. My wife is a lying cheater. My daughter is no longer healthy or happy after finding out that her mother abandoned her regularly for no other reason than to fuck some other guy and spend time playing mommy to another little girl. And I can't trust you as far as I can throw your cheating ass. Just from listening to you talk, I know you did this more than once. You may as well come clean because now that I know, I'm going to find out everything and if you're lying to me, we're done."
"Mark stop being dramatic," she said. "You love me."
"That doesn't mean that I can't live without you," I said. "We both went to college. We will both survive. I'll pay you a very fair settlement. We'll sell the house and split the money fifty-fifty. Then you can go out and fuck as many guys as you want. It'll be better because you won't be tied down. You can go out and become as big a whore as you need to be."
"Mark, I already told you it only happened once. And it was eighteen years ago. I also told you it was a mistake. We are not getting a divorce over this. Do you realize how stupid you sound? Lila is finally out of the house. We can discover each other all over again. We can travel. We can walk around the house naked. We don't have to worry about Lila hearing us or catching us. I love you, Honey and I'm sorry. If I could take it back I would. But I think a divorce is far too extreme a punishment."
"Karen, what punishment would you consider fair?" I asked.
"Personally, I don't think there needs to be any punishment," she said. "We're adults. I've admitted my mistake. Let's move on."
"You have rocks in your fucking head," I spat, far more venomously than I intended.
"So, other than the divorce, what would you consider fair?" she asked. "I know men. I suppose you want to go out and screw some tramp for a while to make me suffer. And then for the rest of our lives, I'll catch you thinking about her sometimes and realize that it was my fault."
"Apparently you neither love me, nor do you really know me after all of this time," I said sadly. "If you loved me, the thought of me having sex with some other woman would almost kill you. You'd feel as bad and as upset about it as I do after hearing about you fucking that girl's father. If you can even suggest that, as if it's somehow acceptable or fair, you don't know me. And if you knew me, you'd also realize that just going out and having sex who some woman that I have no feelings for is nowhere near worth the pain I'm going through right now." She nodded.
"That's right, Honey," she said. "That's the same way I feel about it. What I did eighteen years ago was just sex. It is nowhere near what we do. I love you Mark. No one could take your place. As the years have gone on, my love for you has only grown."
"So you say," I told her. "But I really can't believe a word that comes out of your fucking mouth. I just don't know you anymore, Katherine. I thought I did. And I guess I loved the woman I thought I had married. But now in the cold light of day, I don't think I love the woman you turned out to be."
"Now who has rocks in their head?" she laughed. "You don't know how not to love me, Mark. You'll sulk for a few days and then things will go back to normal."
When we got to the house, I got out of the car. "Mark, aren't you going to put your Mustang in the garage?" she asked. "You know if you get dust on that car you're going to spend three or four hours washing and waxing it. That's three or four hours that we could put to better use. If you know what I mean."
I didn't say a word. I just unlocked the door and went inside the house. Once inside, I went up to our bedroom and then out again. I walked two doors down and looked into Lila's room. As usual it was a mess. It still smelled like the raspberry cocoa that she drank every morning and every evening before she went to bed. There were still piles of discarded clothing and old notebooks strewn all over.
I smiled as I caught a glimpse of the spot on the wall where we measured her height every month until she decided that she was tall enough and we didn't need to do it anymore.
"I miss her too," said Katherine from behind me. "But she can't stay a baby forever, Mark. She has to move forward in her life. And we have to take advantage of our opportunities as well. Remember how we talked about how terrible it is for some people who have lots of kids. By the time their kids are grown, they're too old to do anything. Well, Honey we hit the jackpot. We did our duty to the human race. Our daughter is a beautiful, intelligent, strong young woman who will make her contribution to society. And in the meantime you and I are still young enough to travel, the way we talked about when we first got together.
We can spend the next few years seeing everything in the world that we want to see and then sit back and grow old together while we raise our healthy, fat grandkids. I really like the travel idea. I wish I could just pack a bag right now and just go. And actually I can, Honey. You're the one with the job. And you could if you wanted to. You have so much vacation time stored up that you could take four or five months off, but you won't. You love that hospital."
I went into the hall closet and pulled out a couple of suitcases. I started throwing clothes and running gear into one. I went into the bathroom and grabbed my shaving kit and toiletries. I put more clothes and some underwear into another suitcase. Then I grabbed my long duffle bag out of the closet. I threw a bunch of shoes and lots of scrubs into the duffle bag. I grabbed my iPad and nestled it carefully inside of a rolled up set of scrubs and pulled the string tight.
"Stop joking, Mark," laughed Katherine. "As much as I would love for us to do it, we're not going on vacation. You're not that spontaneous. But thanks for the laugh. Now back in the real world, I seem to remember promising my husband that I was going to suck the skin off of a part of his anatomy and..."
I threw the strap from the duffle bag over one shoulder and picked up the two suitcases. Katherine had already dropped to her knees. She looked up at me on surprise. "Mark, what are you doing?" she whined.
"Kath, we have a lot of things to fix. I'm seriously not sure that they can be fixed. I still think that you're lying to me. I just have the feeling that you're still hiding something. I just don't trust you anymore. It's hard to love someone when you don't feel you can trust them with your heart or your happiness. I really need some time to think about this," I said.
"Why can't you think here?" she asked angrily. "We can't fix things if you're not here. And if you don't trust me, now do you know that I won't go out and screw some guy while you're not here?"
"I don't actually," I said. "And realistically, you're an adult. You can do whatever you want to do. But right now, we're hanging on by a thread. Anymore lies or anything else could break that thread. And once I make up my mind, we're over. I'm not abandoning you, Katherine. You have my cell phone number. I'm going to check into a hotel until I figure out what I want to do. I'll call you in a few days and we'll talk. So you need to figure out exactly what you want me to know."
"I want you to know that I love you and I'm sorry and that it won't happen again," she said.
"Well, I guess that's a good start," I said. "I'll call you in a few days."
With Katherine's voice pleading in the background for me not to go, I grabbed my bags and left the house. I was barely able to force the two suitcases into the Mustang's trunk. The duffle bag had to go on the back seat.
I checked into a mid level hotel downtown near the hospital I worked in. I spent the first evening eating room service food, watching crappy movies and wondering where I went wrong.
Most of the people I knew considered me a pretty smart guy. So why did I feel so stupid? Why did I feel like I had wasted most of my life? But as I reconsidered it, I realized that despite all of the bullshit that I had yet to wade through, some good had come of it. There was no way I could ever consider Lila a mistake.
As I went to sleep, or tried to, the loneliness really set in. But every time I thought about how I missed Katherine, I remembered the lies. I also remembered that I still had no idea of the extent of them.
I woke up the next morning and called Lila. She seemed as usual to be a ball of conflicting emotions. I could pick out happiness at hearing from me, sadness, and excitement all at the same time.
"I know that you have a lot to do, Honey," I said. "And it's a Saturday so I'm sure you have plans for the evening. But I need a favor and I want to take you to lunch."
"Okay, Daddy," she said.
"Don't you want to know what the favor is?" I asked.
"Do you want me to kick mom's ass?" she asked.
"No," I said sadly. "But I would like you to find that woman from yesterday and bring her to lunch with you. I'd kind of like to talk to her."
"No problem, Daddy," she beamed. "After yesterday, Brina kind of appointed herself my on-campus older sister. I'll call her and invite her. I'm sure she'll come, especially with free food available."
I ate breakfast in the hotel's cafeteria. While sipping my coffee, my cell phone rang. I looked at the screen and saw that it was Katherine.
"I've thought about several ways to make things up to you," she said.
"You were supposed to be thinking about telling me the truth," I said.
"You already know the truth," she said. "I went a little crazy after Lila was born and did something I shouldn't have. I already told you that I was sorry and that it would never happen again. What more do you want?"
"Katherine, I lived with you and loved you for twenty years. I think I know when you're lying. And when you said that you had never done it again since then, you were lying," I said. The conversation died then.
"See what I mean," I said. "Even now you can't tell me the truth. I don't think we have much future left, Katherine."
"Mark, you're being unfair. You're asking me to hang myself. I've been a good wife to you, you know it. Why can't we just agree that I fucked up and put it in the past? Mark, we're starting an entirely new phase of our lives now. Let's just start fresh and leave the past in the past," she said. Again the silence on the line was deafening.
"Mark, when are you coming home?" she asked.
"Whenever you're ready to start being honest with me," I said. Then I hung up the phone, chugged the rest of my rapidly cooling coffee and left the cafeteria.
I pulled up in front of Lila's dorm just before noon. A lot of the guys at the college looked over my car as I parked it. I called Lila and she came down and escorted me up to her room. Any hope that being in college had matured Lila, went out the window when I saw her room. It looked surprisingly like her room at home.
"I'm still in the moving in process, Daddy," she said, when she was me looking at the clutter.
"Well I guess you've been moving into your room back home for eighteen years then," I quipped.
We walked over a couple of dorm buildings and collected Brina.
Brina folded her incredibly long legs into the Mustang's back seat. Both girls chattered away like cheerful birds during the drive downtown. I had found the restaurant using an app on my iPhone that found the best restaurants in any city.
I wondered how the girls would ever stay as slim as they both were, with the way that they put away food. After lunch I drove Lila back to her dorm and promised to stay in touch with her. I was surprised when I realized that neither of us had mentioned her mother even once.
As Lila got out and went into her building, Brina got into the front seat. As she sat down her skirt rose, revealing nearly all of her long tanned legs. Brina was tall and lanky, with thick glasses and out of fashion clothes but her legs were first class.
"Well that answers that question," she smiled.
"Was there a question?" I asked. She just smiled. It was an awkward looking grimace that showed teeth. Somehow her face just didn't match those legs.
"I was wondering why you asked me along to this lunch date," she said. "But from the way you were staring at my legs..."
"Bah Bah but..." I stuttered.
"So you want to see my butt too," she said. She immediately began lifting the hem of her skirt even further.
"Hold on Brina," I managed to spurt.
"Oh, don't worry," she smirked. "I'm not going to argue with you. If you want to see me naked, it's fine with me. Of course, I'd rather wait until we get to my apartment but you're in charge baby. I'm going to give you my number though, so next time we don't have to go through Lila."
"Brina..." I tried to get her to stop. She pulled the skirt up around her waist and started trying to shinny out of her panties.
"I never thought that my first time would be in a car," she gushed.
"Uh, Brina, this isn't going to be your first time," I said.
"Yes, it is," she said. "I'm a virgin. You'll see that in a few minutes."
"Brina, what I meant was ... you're a beautiful young woman. You don't want to waste something so special on an old man like me," I said.
"So ... you don't want me?" she asked with her eyes tearing up. "It's my tits ... they're too small, right?"
"Brina, your breasts are fine..." I said.
"But you kept making eye contact with me all through lunch. You told Lila to bring me to the lunch because..." she began.
"Brina, I was looking at you because I wanted to make a good impression. I ... I need something from you. I need to get in touch with your father. You talked about how upset he was about what happened with Katherine. I'd kind of like to compare notes. I'm feeling the same way that he was right now," I said.
"Here's my phone number," she said. "I'll call my dad and talk to him. I want to make sure it's okay with him first."
"That's reasonable," I said.
"Oh, shit!" she said suddenly. "You're feeling the same way my daddy was. No wonder you don't want to do anything right now. I should have been thinking. You just aren't interested in women right now. I'll give you a couple of weeks before I try again."
She kissed me on the cheek and got out of the car. I watched those long legs churning up the pavement for a second. She turned and caught me. She blew me a kiss and waved, before going into her building.
She was one messed up young woman.