A Likely Story
No sooner had the key turned off in the ignition than I saw disaster about to strike. Snatching open the car door, I raced across the street.
“Wait!” I yelled as I Olympic-hurdled a lawn sprinkler.
Three feet up a ladder, Mrs. Kemp turned to look at me. She smiled and stepped back down. “Hey, Jimmy. When did you get home?”
Panting to catch my breath, I gave her a grin. “Came in… late last night.” I pointed over my shoulder at my car. “Mom had me to go grab a few things at Wally World for her.”
Mrs. Kemp nodded then looked back up the ladder towards her gutters.
“Well, if I had known I would have asked you to get me a few things for me as well. Save me the trip in the rain later.” She sighed. “I hate to rush you off, Jimmy. I would love to talk, but I have got to get this corner gutter cleaned out before the rain gets here. I had a waterfall on my roses this morning!”
It was easy to see what she meant. Her rose bushes, long prized for their massive flowers, were stripped of every petal, and the ground under them showed signs of new dirt being added. As I looked, she started back up the ladder with her left hand clutched around a garden trowel.
“Let me get that,” I urged, catching one side of the ladder to steady it. “I know you hate heights.”
“I do hate heights, but I love my roses more than I fear anything.” With shaking hands she took another step up the ladder. I saw her pause, close her eyes, and take a slow breath. She was all of five feet from the ground, with fifteen more to go to get to the corner gutter.
“Mrs. Kemp, come back down here. Let me do that. I’m not afraid of heights.”
Her hands and legs shook with fear she slowly did as I asked. When her feet touched the ground she turned away with tears in her eyes. I heard her mutter a curse word under her breath.
“I’m sorry … Here you are. And thank you.”
Taking the trowel she handed me, I shot up the ladder as the first drops of rain were starting to fall. Quickly, I gave up on the garden tool though and started to pull soggy handfuls of dead leaves from the drain. A tangled mess, soon revealing itself to be a bird’s nest. I unblocked the drain hole, and even as the downpour started, I was done.
“Come down here before you get struck by lightning!” she yelled up to me as the sky lit up above us. I was down when the thunder rumbled off the siding in front of me. I pulled the ladder back down, laid it on the grass, and then we scrambled to get out the rain even as the bottom fell out. We didn’t make it.
Laughing, and getting soaked, Mrs. Kemp and I ran up onto her porch.
Slicking my hair back, I looked at her smiling face as she used the palms of her hands to brush back her hair. I had to do my best to not look down as I could see that she was plastered wet. She noticed, and with a blush, pulled her T-shirt out from her chest a bit.
“Didn’t mean to get you soaked like this,” she apologized.
“I’ll live. It’s just water.”
“Let me get you a towel,” she offered, her hand going to the door.
“No point. I still have to get the groceries out the car,” I said.
We both flinched as lightning popped off in the distance a bit.
“Maybe you should wait.”
“I have butter and frozen fish sticks. And ice cream. If it melts it will be all over my back seats.” With a shrug, I looked up at the pouring sky. “Oh well.”
Stepping inside, she handed me out a large umbrella from the ceramic urn just inside her door.
“Thanks,” I told her as I shook it out. “I’ll get it back to you just as soon as I’m done.”
Her face fell a bit. “There’s no rush. It was Mitchel’s. I don’t use it.”
Opening the umbrella, I nodded understanding and looked her in the eyes. Those sad, blue eyes that look so much like her daughter’s. Her face isn’t that different either. Given how badly my heart had been broken, I should resent anyone with that face but … no. Not Mrs. Kemp. Through all the crap I got handed to me by her child, she had been there for me. On my side, or so it had seemed at the time.
“I’ll get it back to you, soon.”
Leaving my ex-girlfriend’s mother standing there, I went across the street.
** ** ** ** ** ** **
Mom was pissed that it took me so long to go get a few things. I blamed the lines at Walmart for that.
“It’s those stupid self-checkouts!” she said; now mad at someone other than me.
Mom, busy with dinner, went into her normal rant about the ills of Walmart. I tuned her out as my mind fell backward into memories of the past year. Looking around the kitchen, it felt surreal that I was back home. The long months living in the dorm, study till my eyes burned, seemed far more real than this place. My home.
When Lynn, my high school sweetheart, decided that we could not stay together with us at separate colleges and had broken off a three-year relationship with me, I simply crashed. Emotionally, mentally, and physically. It took me a few days to realize that drinking till dawn then drinking till canlı bahis dusk was not going to take away the pain. When the hangovers cleared, I buried myself in my studies. I hid myself in books.
Like I always had.
“I heard Lynn is coming home for break as well.”
I ignored my Mom’s eyes on me as I felt my hand tighten into a fist under the table. The pain tried to swell up, but I pushed it down.
“Good for her,” I muttered.
“Maybe you should ask her out. Take her to a few of the old places.” Mom’s hint hit like sledgehammers, but then they always had.
“She broke up with me,” I reminded her as I got to my feet and grabbed a soda from the fridge. I eyed my dad’s beer supply with a hungry feeling but stuck to soda.
“Yes … but maybe …”
“Mom. Drop it.” I looked her in the eyes to let her know I didn’t want to discuss Lynn. “She and I are done. She made it quite clear that she was going to be seeing others and that I should do the same.”
There was a small pause then a sigh I was not supposed to hear.
“Have you been? Seeing others?” she asked.
Looking over the rim of the soda can, I let a cold sip wash over my tongue. “Did you get laid last night, Mom?”
I gave her a few seconds then smiled. “Till you want to answer my questions about your sex life, don’t ask me about mine.” I grinned at her blush. “Okay?”
Her face still aflame Mom nodded. Her embarrassment told me I was probably right about the low moan I had heard when I was trying to get to sleep last night.
“I just worry about you,” she said after a moment. Her back to me, she had resumed cooking. “You’re my only son, and I worry. It’s what moms do.”
Getting up, I placed a hand on her shoulder. “I’m fine. It hurt. I got over it, and I’m fine. I just want to give it some time till I look for another girl to break my heart.” I grinned a bit at the look she gave me. “Besides, if you want someone to worry over, I would nominate Dad.”
She looked back at me confused.
“Well, from the sounds he was making last night, I think he needs to see a doctor.”
“Sounded like he was choking on a fish bone,” I said as serious as I could.
Grabbing my soda, I went to see what was on TV.
** ** ** ** ** **
The rain drifted east just as the sun was starting to set. The sky behind me a beautiful red to purple, I walked across the street to Mrs. Kemp’s. Her house, once the pride of the neighborhood, was showing the results of two years without a man’s hands. I could see that she was doing her best to keep it up, but there were things that she could not do. Anything evolving heights were of course at the top of the list. Trees were starting to overhang at the tops. There were even ivy plants hanging from one corner where the gutter there had become even more filled than the one I cleared earlier.
I rang the doorbell. Her dog, Gypsy, began to bark frantically. I looked around as I waited.
Still her rose bushes were healthy. The grass along the driveway was trimmed neatly. There was maybe not fresh mulch under the trees, but what mulch there was had been raked into a near-perfect circle.
I heard movement behind the door even as the barking went to apocalyptic levels.
“Back, girl. Oh, hey Jimmy, come on in.” She leaned down and caught up the little Chihuahua-mix even as the dog tried to make her escape past my leg. “Give me just a second to deal with her.”
“She’s fine. She and I are old friends. Hey, girl,” Kneeling down, I caught the little ball of fluff, tongue, and energy just as soon as Mrs. Kemp put her back down. “Who’s a pretty girl?”
All wiggles and tail, I lifted her and dropped the borrowed umbrella back into the urn at the same time.
“Brought this back.”
“That could have waited,” she said. I could see that she was torn wanting to take back Gypsy and embarrassed by the dog’s efforts to lick my face. After a second she looked up at my eyes and smiled. “Jimmy, would you like a cup of coffee?”
The look on my face must have been ecstatic because she started to laugh even as I said yes. I set the little dog down before it had a joy-gasm coronary and follow Mrs. Kemp towards her kitchen. The clicking of little-nailed feet both preceded me and followed me as she ran back and forth between us.
“So I take it your Mom is still on her say-no-to-coffee long life crusade?” Mrs. Kemp asked me as she filled the kettle with water.
“Oh, it’s starting to take on legendary proportions.” I pulled one of the tall stools out from under the kitchen island and watched her. “I heard her talking on the phone about wanting to go protest the new Starbucks they want to open.”
I almost wanted to moan as the smell hit me when she started to grind the roasted beans. A true coffee connoisseur living across the street from the queen of “I hate the bean.” It boggles the mind. I watched her get out her French press and begin to make magic. No barista could ever top this woman as she wove bean alchemy bahis siteleri upon the child of her across-the-street enemy. My mouth was salivating by the time she pressed the grind and poured us both a cup. A bit of milk froth and a dash of cinnamon, and I swear she used a swizzle to draw a heart in the foam.
“Oh, thank you,” I said in divine worship as I lifted the cup to my nose and just breathed in the steam.
Mrs. Kemp chuckled, smiled at me and took the seat opposite. For a few minutes, we sat in a comfortable silence, slowly taking sips of the wonderful coffee. Our eyes would meet, and the cups would hide smiles as she and I felt like conspirators behind my mom’s back.
I set the cup down reluctantly.
“My mom has informed me that Lynn is coming home for the break as well.” Taking a napkin, I wiped milk foam off my mustache. “When is she getting in?”
Swallowing a sip she set down her cup. “She’s not. I don’t know what rumor your mom heard, but Lynn went to Fort Lauderdale with her new ….” her voice trailed off suddenly, and I saw her grimace.
“Boyfriend?” I asked.
I nodded back with a sick wash of jealousy that churned the coffee to mud in my stomach. It passed quickly though as my rational brain looked at it. “I hope she has a good time,” I said tonelessly.
“I’m okay. It hurt when it happened, but now? Well, I just feel …” I shrugged, at a loss for the right word.
“Yeah,” I agreed softly. Looking up at her, seeing that sadness that came to her whenever thoughts of her ex-husband came to her, I smiled after a moment. “Mrs. Kemp …”
“Call me, Mary.”
“Mary? You sure?” I asked remembering an old conversation from when I was a kid.
“Yes, I’m sure. It’s my name after all.”
“Mary ….” I picked up my cup and paused for a second. “I loved Lynn.”
“I know you did.” Her hand came across the table top to mine. I noticed the lighter band where her wedding ring had once been. “It hurts so badly when someone you love tells you they don’t love you anymore. I’m sorry that my daughter did that to you, Jimmy. I know that she has had to have had second thoughts about it since.”
Chuckling, I turned my hand in hers and caught her fingers. I gave them a small squeeze. “No, she hasn’t.”
Mary’s face grew sad as she looked at my eyes. “Maybe not.”
After a second of returning that gaze with all kinds of thoughts playing behind my eyes, I gave her a quirky grin. “It’s her loss.”
Mary grinned back with that same conspirator’s look we had shared over the coffee.
Sitting together, not really talking with words, but with our eyes telling volumes, she and I sipped our way through the whole pot. Then we stood together outside while Gypsy ran out into the light drizzle to do her business. As we watched the small dog angrily chase a squirrel from “her” yard I impulsively reached over and took Mary’s hand into mine. She looked at me, startled, then smiled and gave my fingers a squeeze.
** ** ** ** ** **
The clothes in my closet still fit. That was a bit of a surprise to me I had to say. The dark gray slacks, the black suede shirt, that had always been my favorite “date-night” shirt, was a bit tight in the chest but when I looked in the mirror it didn’t look bad. In fact, it gave my chest a stronger, more masculine look.
Slipping on my few bits of jewelry I went to the bathroom and just looked at my face. I debated again if I should shave. The slight bristle gave me a roguish look that I liked. It framed out my goatee and mustache nicely. Brushing back my hair, I decided it was too late and anyway clean-shaven, clean-cut was my old look. Maybe I would even grow a beard. They were in style of late.
Slipping my wallet into my pocket, I looked at the wooden box by the sink. The pre-date ritual I had been going through for the last hour had always had a step here that I had taken. Religiously in fact, since I had a close call. Opening the box, I looked at the shiny foil packs of condoms.
“Hoping for more than you’re going to get there don’t you think?” I asked myself softly. Picking up two, I placed them into my wallet then stopped and impulsively grabbed out two more. Looking up into my own eyes, I lifted an eyebrow. “Yeah, way more.”
As I cranked the car and backed it out the driveway, all I could say was I was glad mom was gone to her scrapbooking class/meeting tonight. She had been overjoyed to hear that I had a date tonight. I had dodged her questions about with whom, but if she had seen me pull across the street to Mary’s house she would have gone ballistic.
Mary looked incredible when she opened the door.
“Wow,” I said in a whisper.
She smiled and then blushed a bit.
“Do you like?” she asked then bit her bottom lip. “I haven’t worn this in years. I was afraid it wasn’t going to fit.”
“You look stunning,” I said, breathless as I looked her up and down. The black dress wasn’t short, but it did stop above her knees and the split up bahis şirketleri the side went to mid-thigh. When she turned to pull the door closed I saw that it was low cut in the back as well as being a bit revealing in the front.
“I feel stunned. How did I let you talk me into this?” Her eyes, so very smoky, lingered on my face. “You look nice. Smell nice too.”
“So do you. Smell nice I mean.”
She smiled then giggled a bit. “You’re cute when you’re nervous. Well, let’s see if we can’t make a few people laugh.” She smiled when I offered her my arm. “Oh, such a gentleman.”
When I opened the door for her, I could not help but look as so-very-much of her thigh appeared when she sat down. She looked up at me with an “I caught you looking” look then settled her skirt.
The ride to the restaurant passed in near-silence with both of us feeling a bit awkward now that we were here together. I was afraid that this would continue once we were seated, but all it took was our eyes settling on each other’s and we broke into identical smiles. From that moment forward, we had an ease with each other that brought laughter easily to our lips. As we ate I caught several looks from the other tables. Some of them were clearly disapproving, but when I looked at them back they looked away.
Acting like naughty school kids caught playing doctor, we held hands as we shared a piece of Tiramisu. Then we sat sipping coffee, talking about nothing, but enjoying the time together. Her hand played with the skin over my knuckles.
When the bill came, and I took out my wallet, the shiny corner of a wrapper was peeking out from the top. After I slid the credit card into the tray and sent the waiter away with it, I looked back to her. The raised eyebrow look she was giving me was startling.
“What?” I asked.
She nodded towards my wallet where it lay beside my empty coffee cup. It was then that I saw the foil wrapper. I pushed it back in and tucked the wallet into my pocket as I blushed.
“Sorry about that,” I mumbled.
“Planning an after dinner dessert at my place?” she asked with a quirky smile.
“I … I put them in there as a just-in-case.” I shrugged. “It’s something I’ve always done on a date.”
After a moment, she reached over and took my hand. “Given that you dated my daughter, I’m glad to hear that.”
I suddenly felt awkward again. The unspoken words settled about us then as the waiter came back with my card. I signed, and we got up in silence. As I took out my wallet and went to take out bills for a tip she caught my hand. She opened the leather flap of my billfold and counted.
“Four? Now you’re bragging.”
I felt the blush rise to my cheeks. I loved the sound of her laughter even though it made me want to blush more. I caught her hand. And found my courage.
“With a woman as beautiful as you are … never. Four is just all I could fit in the wallet.”
Mary looked at my face, smiled, and then glanced around us at the other people seated. More than a few were covertly watching us. Her fingers tightened in mine.
“Take me home,” she said softly.
** ** ** ** ** **
Seeing the lights on across the street, I pulled up into Mary’s driveway and shut off the car. Mary looked over at my mom and dad’s place.
Feeling like I was walking my prom date up to her door under the watchful eyes of her parents, I had to chuckle given that she was, in fact, the mother of my prom date. She must have felt something similar, given the smile that kept tugged at her face.
“I had a great time,” she said, holding tight to my hand. I gave her fingers a squeeze.
“I did too.”
As my fingers slipped out of hers, and I started to turn, I heard her shake her keys out. Gypsy started to bark from somewhere in the house.
Looking back, I saw her looking at the door, not at me. “Yes, Mary?”
“Would you … Would you like to come in for coffee?” her voice was a soft sound with her face turned away from me. What I thought I was reading into it I could be mistaken about.
“I would love too, but I can’t.”
“Why not?” she asked after a second.
My eyes on that spectacular display of skin down her back, I told the absolute truth. “Because I would want to stay … for more than coffee.”
Mary took a deep breath and turned the key.
“Then come in.” When she turned to look at me her eyes raked me up and down. “And let’s not worry about the coffee.”
** ** ** ** ** ** **
She was warm and soft in my arms as I kissed her lips. My hands ran up that bare back even as she slipped her dress off her shoulders and let it fall to her arms. Then my mouth was on her neck, her throat. Catching her under her hips, I lifted her a bit and placed a thousand kisses across her breast then mouthed in a rosy nipple. Her arms wrapped around my head as she moaned my name.
Pulling back, I looked up at her beautiful face. Her eyes were hot with smoky eye shadow and lust when they opened.
“Jimmy… it’s been awhile for me. I might get a bit rough with you at first.” Her fingers dug into my hair.
I grinned at her.
“Don’t threaten me with a good time,” I said softly as I looked back down at her breast. “God, these are beautiful.”