Doing It All Over
10-20-2012, 11:24 AM
RE: Doing It All Over
I awoke in a better mood the next morning even though nothing had really changed. Everything was falling or had fallen down around me and it was time to start picking up the pieces. I was determined to take action, to strike back at fate. During my mind session the day before I'd realized that both Anita and myself were walking examples that fate could be changed. It may not be easy to do, but it was possible. If things did not improve, or if they got worse from my interference, at least I'd be able to say that I'd tried.
After breakfast I went to our den and dug through my dad's filing cabinet. After a minute of rummaging I came up with the letter that Tracy had sent us. I opened it up and scanned through it until I found the section I wanted.
"I have a job now," I read, "working at the campus book store as a clerk. I have to..." I scanned further, skipping over the brief description of her job duties. "I work 5:00 to closing at 8:00, Monday through Friday. It's fun I suppose. At least the money will help..."
5:00 to 8:00 Tracy would be in the UC Berkeley bookstore. I memorized that information and then put the letter back.
A few minutes later I was bundling up and preparing for the long walk to school. As I stepped outside the house I was grateful to see it was not raining. The sky was a brilliant blue and the sun was so bright it took a moment for my eyes to adjust to it. It was a beautiful fall morning. Or so it appeared.
My happiness at the appearance of the sun quickly deflated when I felt the wind. It was blowing about twenty miles an hour, sending leaves and other debris parading down the street. The moving air was icy and cold, feeling as if it had just came off a glacier. My exposed cheeks immediately reddened and my eyes began to tear. With a sigh I pulled my hood tight, lowered my face, and moved out. This walking to school shit was getting old fast. One way or another, I swore to myself, I was not going to do it much longer.
My first stop upon arriving at school was the administration building. I walked into the main lobby area where two secretaries were working behind a counter. Both were banging away on IBM typewriters. Two student volunteers, both girls, one of whom had once been to my room to 'study', were doing some filing. The one I'd had relations with in the past was the only person in the room to pay my entrance any attention. She gave me a sly smile and then went back to what she was doing.
I walked up to the counter and stood politely for a few seconds. The nearest secretary continued to type, not even glancing my way, although there was no way she could have failed to notice my presence.
"Excuse me?" I finally said.
"You can't use the phone in here," she said impatiently, without even looking up or moving her hands from the typewriter keys. "There's a payphone outside. If you don't have a dime, you're going to have to borrow one from somewhere else. We're not a bank."
"I'm not here to use the phone," I said.
"Then what do you want?" she asked, continuing to type away.
"I need to see Mrs. Compleigh," I told her, referring to one of the school counselors, the one who had pushed Mike into independent study.
Her hands still blurring across her IBM, she asked, "Do you have an appointment?"
"No," I replied, "but it's kind of an emergency. I need to..."
"You'll have to schedule an appointment with her if you want to talk to her," she replied tersely. She returned her full attention to her work.
"This is an emergency," I tried again. "I need to see her now."
She gave a hiss of disgust and pushed herself away from her desk. She turned to me, her eyes full of contempt. "Look, young man," she said, projecting all of the petty authority she possessed towards me. "Our counselors are busy people and I can't just go sending kids in to them any time some student asks. Now if you could just..."
"Now wait a minute," I interrupted, using my adult voice, a voice I rarely employed anymore. It worked it's magic. She, as well as the other secretary and the two volunteers all stopped and stared at me. Concentrating my attention on the one I'd been speaking to I asked, "What is your name?"
"My name?" she asked, the first tinges of actual anger appearing in her tone.
"Yes," I said. "You know, what they call you?"
"Now you listen to me young man..." she started, but weakly. She seemed cowed by the bold way I was speaking to her. Her expression reminded me a little of how Richie had looked when he'd realized he'd bitten off a little more than he could chew.
"Your name?" I demanded, sharpening my tone a little.
"Mrs. Wilks," she finally said. "Now I really..."
"Well, Mrs. Wilks," I said, "when I went through orientation for this school it was explained to me that the school counselors existed to assist me in times of need. That they were student advocates. I was told I could talk to them at any time during the school day. Any time. Are you telling me now that that was a lie?"
"Well no," she stammered, "you can talk to them any time if there is some sort of, well, problem. It's just that for routine matters like what you're..."
"Routine matters?" I asked, exasperated. "I believe I told you twice that this was an emergency. Emergency is not a synonym for routine. Emergency means a pressing matter, a problem, something that requires immediate address by qualified people. I would like to see Mrs. Compleigh for this problem that I have. Is she here?"
"Well, yes she is," Mrs. Wilks said, looking quite dazed now.
"Good," I said. "We're getting somewhere. Would you please tell her that a student has a problem and would like to see her?"
"Uh... well, what is your name?" she asked.
I told her.
"Okay." She nodded weakly, jotting it down. "And what do you need to talk to her about?"
I looked around, seeing that our audience was raptly awaiting my answer for that one.
"That is most definitely none of your business."
She opened her mouth, seemed about to say something, and then perhaps thought better of it. She stood up and headed through a door, closing it behind her. The other three occupants of the room continued to stare at me for a moment. The two student volunteers were hiding smirks of amusement at the exchange they'd just witnessed. Finally they reluctantly went back to work.
Mrs. Wilks returned a few minutes later. She gave me a nervous look and said, "Mrs. Compleigh will see you in just a minute."
"Thank you," I said.
She didn't answer my thanks. She walked over to a large filing cabinet and, using a key from a ring, opened up one of the drawers. She fingered through it for a few seconds and finally pulled a manila file from it. My eyes are pretty sharp, always would be, and I had no trouble seeing my name printed on the tab. She carried the file back through the door from which she'd come. She returned a minute later and sat back at her desk.
Another five minutes went by and the same door opened revealing Mrs. Compleigh. She was about forty or so, with long brown hair that was tied into a bun. She wore a plain brown dress and nylons. Her eyes held a cynical gaze as she appraised me.
"Billy?" she asked. "If you would come with me?"
I stood and pushed my way through the little barrier door and then followed her through the back door. We moved down a hallway past the principal's and assistant principal's office, both of which were empty, a copy machine, a coffee maker, and finally to a door with the counselor's name printed on it. She opened the door and led me into her office.
Her office was small and cramped with a cheap metal desk taking up a large portion of the room. Two small chairs sat before the desk. Her work area was cluttered with various papers and forms although my file was nowhere to be seen there. Framed pictures of two children, one a boy of about ten, the other a girl of about fourteen or so, sat on the desk flanking her penholder. On the wall behind the desk were two framed degrees from the University of Idaho. She had a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in public education with a minor in psychology. The air in the room smelled as if she regularly violated the school no smoking policy.
She worked her way behind her desk and waved me to a seat in one of the chairs. I sat.
"Well, Billy," she started, "Mrs. Wilks is a little upset by the way in which you talked to her. She says you were getting smart with her. Is that true?"
"Getting smart?" I asked contemplatively. "Why do teachers, counselors, and secretaries tell kids not to get smart? Isn't that what we are in school for?"
This produced a few stunned seconds of The Look. Finally she kind of shook her head, as if clearing her mind of my words. "We'll discuss Mrs. Wilks later perhaps," she said finally. "I understand you have some sort of emergency?"
"Yes," I confirmed.
"I hope it's nothing serious," she told me. "You're one of our better students here. In fact, if not for some poor grades your first year, you'd probably be in the running for valedictorian. So what kind of emergency does a bright young man like yourself have?"
I looked at her in disbelief for a moment. She had rattled off my school record with the intention of making me believe that she knew who I was and how I was doing in school off the top of her head. She was trying to give me the impression that she knew all of her students by name and could instantly recall their respective records. Her psychology or education classes had probably assured her that this was a good trick to instill trust. I dismissed this without comment only reluctantly.
"Well actually," I said, "I am not the one having the problem. I came here on behalf of Mike Meachen."
Her face clouded a bit. "Mike Meachen? I don't understand."
"Mike Meachen," I repeated. "Surely you remember him? You talked him and his parents into independent study?"
"I'm afraid," she told me firmly, "that what Mike Meachen and his parents discussed with me or decided to do is none of your business."
"Is that a fact?" I asked pointedly.
"Yes, it is," she replied, annoyed. "Now if that's all you wanted to discuss, I have a lot of work to do."
"If that's all?" I asked, switching to the adult voice again. "You encourage a student to drop out of school, to destroy his life, and you wonder if that's all I want to discuss? What kind of counselor are you anyway?"
"Now wait just a minute!" she said sharply, sitting up straighter and leaning over the desk towards me. "Mike is going to independent study. He is not dropping out. He is not destroying his life."
"Don't give me that crap," I told her, holding her hostile gaze. "You know as well as I do that no one graduates from independent study. It's a holding tank where you put kids that you think are going to drop out anyway so that when they do, it doesn't go on your statistics."
She actually paled a little as I said this, her eyes telling me she knew that what I was saying was true and that she was shocked that I'd come up with this information. She quickly composed herself however and began spouting the company line. "Billy, that is simply not true. Independent study is a program designed to help students like Mike when they are struggling..."
"You're quoting directly from the pamphlets, aren't you?" I interrupted. "The ones that the school district administration gave you when they instructed you to seek out likely drop-outs and steer them into this program. I'm sure they told you all kinds of things about how it was for the protection of the school, the protection of the students, the protection of the goddamn American way of life. But I can see in your eyes that you don't really believe all the bullshit you're spouting at me. You know what I'm saying is true. You probably wouldn't admit it under torture, but you know. Don't you?"
"I would appreciate you watching your language in here," she snapped, continuing to stare at me. "I refuse to have a discussion with a foul-mouthed child who comes into my office and..."
"Yes," I continued, "you know. And part of you probably hates it, don't you? Or at least maybe you did once. How long have you been doing this? Are you numb to it now? Do you sleep well at night after you send someone to oblivion? How many kids have you steered into this program, talking to their parents like you were a used-car salesman offering a Cadillac for a hundred bucks? How many kids that you steered into this thing might have been saved if you'd have done what your job was supposed to be and helped them?"
"I think I've heard just about enough from you," she told me. "Please ask Mrs. Wilks to supply you with an office pass since you're now late for first period."
I shook my head sadly at her. "No," I said softly but firmly. "I will not leave until I've had my say."
Her face reddened this time. "Young man!" she barked. "You will leave this office right this..."
"Are you afraid of me, Mrs. Compleigh?" I asked.
"No!" she lied. "I am simply tired of having my time wasted by listening to your paranoid delusions. You are a sixteen-year-old child. You've come to some strange conclusion in your mind and you think it's the truth. Well I'm nearly forty years old and I can tell you with authority that you don't have the slightest idea what you're talking about."
"I struck a few of your chords, didn't I?" I asked, smiling. "I told you a few things about yourself that you didn't really want to hear, didn't I? If you were wise, you would sit down and listen to me for a few minutes. As you pointed out, I'm much younger than you are and you probably don't think I have anything of value to tell you, right? Well someone much younger than me, in a manner of speaking anyway, once tried to tell me something. And I figured that since I was so much more mature that she couldn't possibly be right. Well, I was wrong and I ignored what she had to say, and the consequences of that are something that still haunts me, maybe always will. Do me and yourself a favor and hear me out?"
She looked downright nervous now but finally said, "Say what you need to say."
"Thank you," I replied. "You told me a minute ago that independent study was for students that are 'struggling' in school. Correct?"
"Yes," she said carefully.
"I don't agree with independent study," I said. "I think it's an atrocity. I think you counselors and administrators spend far too much time trying to cover up for poor students instead of trying to help them. Sure, you'd lose a bunch anyway but even if you could save just one, just a single one, wouldn't it be worth it?"
Before she could answer I continued. "But I've learned that you can't change the world. I'm not trying to do that. I'm just trying to change a little part of it. Sometimes I think you can do that. You told me that Mike Meachen was a struggling student. Did you even bother to check his record before you had him and his parents in here? Did you even bother to note that he is not struggling anymore before you cut him off at the knees? His grades have come way up since last year. He was on his way to an upper 3 average for the first time in his life. He might have even made a 4.0 for the year until you kicked him out of school."
"I didn't force anybody anywhere," she protested. "Mike and his parents wanted him to go to independent study."
"No, you didn't force them," I said. "You just brought them in here and waved it in front of their faces. 'Look, Mike, you only have to go to school twelve hours a week.' 'Look Mrs. and Mr. Meachen, your child can graduate in only a few months this way. If you don't do this, he might not graduate at all.' Isn't that pretty much the line you handed them? Did I hit upon any exact quotes there?"
She was staring at me with her mouth agape, her face telling me that was exactly what she'd said.
"But since you didn't bother checking his record first, you never noticed that he was going to graduate. Not through any efforts on your part I might add, but on mine. The first time you waved this crap in front of him I talked him out of it. I got him to study, I got him to bring his grades up and focus on a goal. Things that you are charged with doing. I did them for you. He was on his way to his goals and you steered him right into oblivion. Instead of helping him, you destroyed him."
"He was smoking grass," she said defensively. "At his ROP site. You can't expect me to overlook something like that can you?"
"No," I said, "I can't. He did something stupid; I'm not saying he didn't. He did something he needs to be punished for so that he learns not to do it again. But is this the answer? Sending him out of school? Destroying his life? He didn't kill anybody for God's sake, he smoked some pot. Jesus, haven't you ever smoked pot?"
"Certainly not!" she said, much too quickly.
"Right," I said, letting that drop. "And granted, he should not be doing it on his job site. But he's a seventeen-year-old kid. Seventeen year olds do stupid things. Maybe he's got a problem with pot, maybe not. But did you even bother trying to figure that out? To counsel him, counselor? No, you just steered him off into independent study because you've been told to do that with people like Mike.
"Try to think back to when you were in school, to when you decided that being a school counselor or an educator was what you wanted to do. Back before the realities of life shit all over your viewpoint. Didn't you, at one time, want to do this so you could help kids? Wasn't that a goal at some point in your past?"
She was looking me up and down in a manner I'd seen a few times before. My history teacher had looked at me this way when I'd asked her sensitive questions. Mrs. Crookshank had looked at me this way when I'd explained about underachievers to her. Dad had looked at me this way when I'd explained why I wanted to invest in latex. The cop who had taken the assault report had looked at me this way when I'd explained what I'd done. It was the look of a person who had thought they'd been speaking to a child but who'd suddenly realized that they were, for whatever reason, talking to an intelligent and insightful adult. It was a look of confusion and growing respect and fear mixed with awe. It was an extended version of The Look.
"Yes," she finally said. "It was."
"Have you abandoned that goal completely?" I asked next.
She licked her lips for a moment. "I hope not."
"Who wanted Mike out of ROP?" I asked her next. "Was it the fire department's idea or yours?"
"Mine," she admitted. "The fire department expressed concern about the incident and requested we have a talk with him. I was the one who recommended removal from ROP."
"Why?" I asked.
"Because it was..." She paused.
"Easier," she said shamefully. "Our contract with them is delicate. It seemed the best solution to the problem was to remove Mike from the program so we didn't risk future enrollees."
I stared at her for a minute. "Easier," I finally said, snorting in disgust. "Has it ever occurred to you that you are educating the people who are going to be running the damn country in twenty or thirty years? The people who are going to be controlling your Medi-Care and Social Security payments? Do you really want them always choosing the path that is easier on them?"
She had no answer for that.
"Mrs. Compleigh," I pleaded, "can't you do something about this? Mike was trying to become a productive member of society. He was trying. He did something stupid that needs to be addressed. So address it. Talk to him about it. Let him know he did something stupid. Talk to the fire department and see if there's any way they can give him a second chance. If you do that, let me talk to Mike too. I believe I have some influence with him."
She smiled for the first time. "Billy, I believe you about that."
"If he screws up again than you can write him off as a loser and send him to independent study. But please, give him a second chance. Get his file out of the cabinet instead of mine this time. Read it. See how hard he's worked for this goal in the past year. He's trying. How about you do what your job title says and help him. Meet him half way. Please?"
She took a deep breath, her eyes softening. "You're a remarkable young man, Billy," she told me.
I shrugged, switching back to my teenager persona. "I try," I said.
"I'll do as you ask," she assured me.
10-20-2012, 11:24 AM
RE: Doing It All Over
Though she was no longer talking to me and though she no longer sat with me at lunchtime, Nina was still forced to sit next to me in the two classes we shared prior to ROP. We had picked our seats at the beginning of the semester and now we were committed to them, for better or for worse. She would typically spend each class period looking straight ahead as the teacher lectured, occasionally jotting down a note in her binder. She never looked at me or acknowledged my presence in any way.
That day was no different as I sat down for my second class of the day, and the first with her. While awaiting the rest of the class to file in and find their seats she simply stared at her notebook, ignoring the activity around her, ignoring me most of all. Had it only been a week before that we used to chat happily together during this portion of the class, discussing how our day had been until that point, what we were going to do later? It seemed like an eternity had passed since I'd last heard a kind word from her, had seen her smile.
At some point I'd stopped telling myself that I wanted our relationship to mend so Nina would not turn out to be a bitch later and started telling myself the truth; that I wanted our relationship to mend because I liked our relationship, because I enjoyed being with her. I'd never noticed before how eager I'd been for Nina to come over each day to study with me until she was no longer doing it. All of my brainstorming of the previous day had failed to produce a plan to make-up with her. I simply did not know what to do.
"Nina?" I chanced, leaning towards her a little and whispering.
She hesitated for a second, long enough to make me think that she was not even going to acknowledge my words, but finally she turned her face towards me. Her eyes were blank, revealing nothing of what was going on behind them.
"You heard what happened to Mike?" I asked her.
She nodded slowly. "Yeah. It's too bad."
"I went and saw Mrs. Compleigh today," I told her, thrilled to be even speaking to her. "I think I convinced her to let him back into ROP. He's getting another chance."
She nodded softly. "Good," she said. "I like Mike."
There was a long silence. Just as she started to turn her head back to her notebook I whispered, "I miss you."
She looked at my face for a second, her eyes still blank. Without saying anything she turned her attention back to her notebook. She said nothing.
"Nina?" I said.
She ignored me. Before I could try again the bell rang and the teacher called the class to order. He then began the day's lecture on the Principals of Chemistry.
10-20-2012, 11:24 AM
RE: Doing It All Over
All day I dreaded what I had to do when I got from school. When I finally arrived home my mind tried to find excuses to delay or even postpone the task at hand. There was homework to be done, housework to be done, deep thoughts to think, bodily functions to take care of. The rational part of me rejected these excuses one by one and finally I put my coat back on and headed out the door.
A short walk brought me to Anita's house. I made my way to her front door, almost left again, and finally, employing my willpower, I pushed her doorbell.
She was very pleased at my unexpected arrival. It showed in her face as she swung open the door. She was dressed in a pair of baggy sweat pants and a T-shirt. It was obvious that she had no bra on beneath.
"Hi, Billy," she beamed, standing aside to allow me entry. "Come on in. What a pleasant surprise."
Her children were sitting at the dining room table working on some learning books. An array of crayons and construction paper was spread out before them. They looked up, greeted me briefly, and then went back to what they were doing. Anita, once the door was closed, leaned forward and gave me a kiss on the mouth, probing outward with her tongue for just the briefest instant. She made a point to rub her unencumbered breasts against my chest.
"Anita," I hissed. "Your kids are right here!"
"Oh, you." She slapped at me playfully, breaking the embrace. "They're going to have to get used to us eventually anyway aren't they?"
"Uh..." I started.
"So what brings you over here today?" she asked me teasingly. "Need another shower?"
"No." I shook my head quickly, banishing the image of dumping oil all over her before it could give me an erection. As I mentioned before, my mind may have been in my thirties but my body was firmly entrenched in my teens. Testosterone was surging through my veins and calmly assuring another part of my body that it wouldn't really hurt to just take a quick shower with her before we had our talk. Just to mellow everyone out a little.
"Oh," Anita said knowingly, "you want to get dirty first. Give me a minute to set up a movie for the kids. That'll keep them distracted longer."
"Anita," I said, "that's not why I came over here. I need to talk to you about something."
Perhaps catching the tone of my voice, she gave me a wary look. "What do you want to talk about?" she asked carefully.
"Can we sit down somewhere?" I asked her. "Somewhere private?" And somewhere without a lot of sharp objects, I did not add.
"Sure," she said. "Let's go to the bedroom."
I nodded. "Okay."
We went into her room and I grabbed a chair near her dresser. She gave me another concerned look as I did this. She sat down on the edge of the bed.
"What's wrong, Billy?" she asked me.
I breathed deeply and slowly let it out. "Anita," I told her, "I don't know how to tell you this but it needs to be said."
"Tell me what?"
"I suppose the best way is to just come out and say it," I said, looking at her face. "We need to end our relationship with each other."
"End..." she whispered, staring at me. Finally she gave a nervous giggle. "Billy, don't joke about things like that. It's not very..."
"Anita, I'm not joking. We have to stop seeing each other."
"You're not joking?" she asked softly.
"No." I shook my head. "I'm not."
She began to wring her hands together. "I don't understand, Billy," she told me. "Why would you say something like that? We're perfect together. We have a good thing going."
"That's just it, Anita," I explained. "We don't have a good thing going and we're not perfect together. I'm sixteen years old and you're twenty-eight. I'm a teenager in high school and you're a full-grown woman with kids."
"That doesn't matter!" she protested. "As long as two people love each other..."
"Anita," I interrupted gently, "I don't love you that way."
She stared at me for a second, the wounded expression on her face striking directly at my heart. God, how I hated doing this. "But you do," she told me. "You do love me."
"No," I said, shaking my head. "I don't. And I don't think you love me that way either."
"How can you say that?" she asked, raising her voice for the first time. Her eyes were now beginning to leak a little moisture down her cheeks. "After all we've done together, after all we've shared? How can you say that?"
"I'm sorry, Anita," I told her. "I'm sorry for what I'm telling you now and I'm sorry that I ever initiated our relationship in the first place. I shouldn't have done that."
"Yes!" she yelled. "You should have! What we have together is beautiful! You're not going to let a little age difference keep us apart are you? Billy, we're meant for each other!"
"No," I said firmly, raising my voice a little. "That's just it. We're not meant for each other. I'm a kid in high school, Anita. I should be dating girls my own age. You should be dating men your own age. While I've been having a relationship with you, you haven't been dating anyone or gone out anywhere. I'm screwing up your life, Anita. And it has to stop. Both of us need to move on."
"You're not screwing up my life!" she protested. "Is that what you're worried about? You've improved my life. I used be so lonely, Bill and then I found you. You're everything I want. Just because you're younger than me..."
"Anita," I interrupted, "I am screwing up your life. I never intended for what we had to be a permanent relationship. I was stupid and thought that there were no consequences to what you and I were doing. I figured, hey, here's a cool older woman for me to screw and she's willing to do it again and again. But there are consequences, Anita, there are. More than I imagined, more than you can imagine. We have to move on now, get back on track, don't you see that?"
"No," she told me. "You are the track that I want to be on. I do want a permanent relationship with you."
I sighed, not relishing what I had to say next. "But I don't want a permanent relationship with you."
More tears came down. "How can you say that?" she repeated.
"Because it's true," I said. "I don't love you. I'm sorry to have to say that and I know I'm an asshole. I entered into this thing without considering there might be emotional involvement. If I had known that I never would have started anything. I'm ashamed of myself, deeply ashamed that I took advantage of your loneliness, ashamed that I didn't see this sooner. I'm an asshole, Anita and I admit that freely. I'm trying to get better, trying not to be an asshole anymore. I don't like being an asshole. But before I can do that I have to be even more of an asshole and put an end to our relationship. Now, today."
She stood up and began to pace nervously, continuing to wring her hands. She chewed on her lip for a moment. "So you're saying that you want to see other people?" she asked. "To date others for a while to help strengthen the relationship?"
"No, Anita," I said. "That is not what I'm saying. I have been dating other people the entire time we've been seeing each other. There is nothing in this relationship to strengthen. I started it only for sex, don't you see that? And sex was all I ever wanted. I'm sorry. My behavior was horrid, worse than horrid. I had no right to do any of that, but unfortunately I did. I'm trying to change now and I can no longer continue to take advantage of you. We have to stop."
"I don't want to stop," she told me quietly, stopping her pacing and turning towards me.
"We have to, Anita."
"Maybe I don't mind being taken advantage of," she said, desperation in her voice. "Did you ever consider that? Maybe I want you to continue to take advantage of me if that's what you were doing. I can live with that, Billy."
"No," I said firmly, wondering how, in my supposed maturity, I'd managed to miss how deeply she'd felt about me all this time. God I was an idiot. "That won't work. I couldn't live with that. I couldn't keep doing that to you. Despite the way I've acted, I have a conscience. My conscience will not allow me to do that."
She let loose a sob. "Billy, we can't just stop!"
"We have to," I insisted.
She began crying freely now, her chest hitching up and down, tears coursing down, sobs pouring out of her mouth. I stood and put my arms around her, letting her put her head to my chest and cry on my shoulder.
"I'm sorry, Anita," I whispered to her. "I never meant for any of this to happen."
Her tears slowed down a little and suddenly her hand was around mine. Before I knew what was happening she'd pulled it under her shirt and placed it on her bare breast, allowing me to feel the familiar flesh. I tried to pull it out but she held it firmly with her hand.
"Anita," I said sharply, "let me go."
"Just one more time, Billy?" she pleaded, her free hand sliding down and tugging at the buttons on my jeans. "Just one more time?"
Again my teenaged body had ideas of its own. My teenaged body thought that one more time was a fine idea. Despite all that had just happened and had just been said, my dick stiffened up at the thought. My adult mind was appalled by this.
"No!" I yelled, slapping her hand away from my crotch a little sharper than I'd intended. I jerked my other hand free of her tit and stepped away from her.
The look in her eyes would haunt me. It was anger, hurt, and desperation.
"Please?" she pleaded.
"I have to go, Anita," I told her. "I'm sorry for everything."
I opened her bedroom door and headed for the living room. As I left she called my name again. I looked back at her.
"I'll be here for you when you want to come back," she said. "I'll always be here for you."
I swallowed nervously. "Goodbye, Anita," I finally said. "And I'm sorry."
She remained in her bedroom as I made my way out of her house. The children gave me worried looks as I left. As I closed the door behind me I could hear the sound of her sobs coming from the bedroom.
10-20-2012, 11:24 AM
RE: Doing It All Over
I only picked at my dinner that night, scraping much of it down the garbage disposal when I did the dishes. My mother expressed concern but I explained my loss of appetite away by proclaiming I felt like I was coming down with something. She felt my forehead, in the way of mothers, and told me she hoped I felt better soon.
"Me too," I said sincerely.
After the last dish was done I went upstairs to my room. I opened my closet and removed a copy of the World Almanac, that great repository of usually useless but occasionally helpful factoids. I paged through the index until I found the page for the section I wanted. I turned to the page. UNITED STATES AREA CODES read the heading. They were arranged alphabetically by state. I flipped to California and scanned down the column until I saw Berkeley. 415 was the code. I memorized this information, carefully put the book away, and then headed downstairs.
Mom and Dad were both watching television, or at least sitting in front of it. Dad was correcting some papers for his classes at school. Mom was working on some paperwork for her job. I figured they were well occupied so I headed for Dad's den. I called information for the 415 area code and asked for the phone number for the UC Berkeley bookstore. This was the first time I'd called information after being recycled and it startled me a little when the operator actually read off the number to me instead of having a computer do it.
"Did you get that, sir?" she asked.
"Uh, yes," I said. "Thank you very much."
"You're welcome," she said cheerily. "Is there anything else I can help you with?"
"No, thank you."
She hung up and I dialed the number she'd given me. A man with a decidedly feminine voice and trouble pronouncing the letter S answered the phone. Ah, California.
"Bookstore, can I help you?" he chirped.
I asked for Tracy.
"Just a minute."
The phone clunked down and, instead of being placed on hold, I heard the low murmur of conversations drifting into my ear and the sound of the man who'd answered yelling for Tracy. A few moments later I heard the phone being picked back up.
"Hello?" came my sister's voice, a tinge of nervousness in it. She was probably not accustomed to receiving phone calls at work.
"Tracy, its Bill," I said.
"Bill?" More worry now. "What's wrong? Are Mom and Dad okay?"
"They're fine," I assured her. "It's you I need to talk to."
"Me?" she said. "How come? And how did you get this number? I'm not supposed to be getting phone calls at work unless it's an emergency."
"The number's a matter of public record, Tracy," I told her. "And it's the only way I could think of to get hold of you. Sorry I had to bother you at work."
"That's okay," she said. "But what's wrong?"
"It's nothing immediate," I said. "But I think that there's a chance you might be in, well, in some danger."
"Danger?" she asked, alarmed. "What do you mean?"
"It's probably not a good idea to talk about this while you're at work," I replied. "And like I said, it's nothing immediate. But can you call me tonight when you get off work? Give me a time and I'll stay by the phone."
"Bill?" she asked. "I don't understand. What do you mean I'm in danger? You're in Washington and I'm in California. How could you know anything from there?"
"Tracy, I'll explain everything when you call. Or at least as much as I can. Will you please do it?"
A sigh. "Yes, Bill," she answered. "Be by the phone at nine tonight."
"I will," I told her. "Thanks, Tracy."
At nine o'clock sharp I was positioned by the phone in the den. When it rang I picked it up before it had a chance to get half a second into the first ring.
"Hello?" I said.
The operator told me I had a collect call from Tracy and asked if I would accept the charges. I told her I would.
"Okay, Bill," Tracy said to me. In the background I could hear music and the squeal and giggles of many girls. I concluded she must be on the payphone in the dorm. "Tell me what this is all about."
"Well," I said, "do you remember when I told you before that you should not get into a car with a certain person on a certain day?"
"Yes," she answered quietly. I could almost hear the shudder in her voice.
"Some disturbing things have happened lately," I went on. "Some things that lead me to believe you are not exactly out of danger from that."
"What do you mean?" she asked. "I didn't get in that car that night and what you said was going to happen happened without me. How could I still be in danger from that? Believe me, I'm still not going to get into a car with David Mitchell."
"That's the thing, Tracy," I told her. "You didn't get into the car that night and Barbie Langston did. But Barbie didn't die in the accident. She's still alive."
"So?" Tracy, obviously uncomfortable with the discussion, asked.
"So," I told her, "some other things have happened that make me think-well this is going to sound crazy-that you were supposed to die in that car and that since you didn't, things are trying to re-align themselves the way they are supposed to be."
"Billy," she said angrily, "that is nuts. That's absolutely insane! What do you mean I was supposed to die? I didn't. And I'm not going to die."
"Just promise me something, Tracy," I asked her.
"Promise me you will never get into any car with anyone who's been drinking. Especially not your boyfriend's. Are you still seeing him?"
"Yes I'm still seeing him!" she barked at me. "What does that have to do with anything? And I never get into a car with someone who's been drinking. You should know that."
"I know, Tracy," I said. "And that's what worries me. I don't know if the drinking part is a pre-determined factor in this. I don't know much of anything about the rules. I'm not even sure there are any rules."
"Rules to what?" she asked. "Where do you come up with these things, Bill? You scare me sometimes."
"It's a long story," I answered. "A very long one. Does your boyfriend drink?"
"Does he drink?"
"Yes," she said. "He's a college student. We all drink."
"What kind of car does he drive?" I asked next.
"A Corvette," she answered. This should have made me feel better. But it didn't. "Why are you worried about Darren? What does his car and whether or not he drinks have to do with anything? I didn't die that day, Bill. Somehow, some way you knew about that. I don't know how. But it's over now. I'm still alive and nothing is going to happen to me. Nothing!"
"Tracy," I pleaded, "just promise me you won't ever get in the car with him after he's been drinking. Promise me."
"Yes, Bill," she recited. "I promise. Is there anything else you want to talk about?"
Actually there was. I wanted to talk about Nina to her, get her feelings on the matter, get advice from her, tell her that she was right and I was wrong. But she didn't seem in the mood for it just then. It would have to wait.
"No, Tracy," I answered. "I just want you to be careful. I worry about you."
"I can take care of myself, Bill," she said shortly. "I've gotta go."
"Goodbye," I said. "Thanks for talking to me."
"Goodbye, Bill," she answered. A second later there was a click in the earpiece.
I hung up Dad's phone and sat there for a few moments. I could only hope I'd done some good. Because there was nothing else I could do.
10-20-2012, 11:24 AM
RE: Doing It All Over
The next day at school I was met first thing in the morning my some of Mike's fabrications and exaggerations. I can't begin to tell you how glad I was to hear them.
"Dude," he said excitedly to me. "Guess what?"
"Hey, Mike," I greeted. "Suspension's over?"
"Yeah," he said. "But that's not all. I'm back in ROP."
I breathed a silent sigh of thanks to Mrs. Compleigh. "Really?" I asked. "That's cool. How'd that happen?" I was actually sort of curious to see how it had transpired.
"Well, I guess the battalion chief over at the fire department really racked that asshole captain's ass for yelling at me and kicking me out of there. The chief told the counselor that he wanted me back like yesterday." He gave a self-satisfied grin. "At least he knows what he's got going with me on the department."
"I guess so," I agreed.
"So anyway, they want me to go talk to the BC today and they're going to reassign me to a different station. Station 2 this time. They got a truck and an engine running out of there."
"No shit?" I said, gaining a lot of information from what he was saying despite his embellishments. Station 2, another downtown station, did indeed deploy a truck and an engine. It also was the home, at least in my when, of the battalion chief for that battalion. I figured they had probably decided to move Mike there so that more people, including the boss, could keep an eye on him. He wouldn't be trusted for a while, would in fact face a long, hard road in that endeavor. But at least he was back in.
"Yeah," he strutted. "I hear they're gonna bust that captain back down to engineer for all of this."
"Well," I answered, "that may be so, Mike, but if I was you, I'd lay off the buds while I was at the work site. I don't think they'll let you back in if they catch you doing that again. Or even if they think you're doing it again."
"Yeah, I know," he said dismissively. "That's what the counselor told me too. I guess I can wait until I get home. So anyway, they tossed out the application for independent study. So I guess I'll hang out for the rest of the year after all."
"Glad it worked out, Mike," I told him. "And if you want to keep coming over to have me help with your homework, I'm home the same hours."
"I'll be there."
As I headed to my first class of the day I had a careful smile on my face. At least I'd steered Mike back to where he'd been. The rest would be up to him and if he blew it again I would be forced to concede the inevitability of his loser status. But for now he was back on track. Or back off track if you prefer.
10-20-2012, 11:25 AM
RE: Doing It All Over
The next day, Saturday, Dad and I spent the late morning and early afternoon driving from place to place and looking at used cars. Dad showed me how to negotiate and how to check out a vehicle that you might buy. To my surprise he actually taught me a few things that I didn't already know. I was pleased with the vehicle we eventually settled upon. It was a 1976 Datsun B-210 with seventy thousand miles on it. The engine was in reasonably good shape although the paint job and the interior were in bad need of an overhaul. I paid five hundred cash for it and drove it home that day. That evening I took it to work with me. No matter what else happened, there would be no more walking to school in the rain or the snow.
A week went by and then another. Nothing changed between Nina and I. She continued to ignore me in class and to eat lunch by herself. I tried to talk to her a few times without any measure of success. I tried to tell her I missed her but she didn't listen. My hope for any future relationship began to dwindle. During this period I maintained my habit of jacking off once a day on average. I simply couldn't help it. Nina was always featured in these fantasies and most of them were not even about sex. Most of them just involved being in an intimate place with her, being together with her.
Anita continued to be a problem. She continually called my mother asking if I could come over to do little chores for her. I was fast running out of excuses for why I couldn't do what she asked and my mother, now quite plainly sensing that something was wrong, was running out of look-the-other-way-so-you-don't-have-to-address-an-unpleasant-truth. I knew I was going to have to have another talk with Anita but I wasn't up for it yet. The memory of our first talk was still too fresh in my mind. I'd experienced emotions during that talk that I'd never felt before, not even during the divorce with my wife in my previous life.
On the following Friday night, while I was adding up my stock holdings after receiving my latest paycheck from the pizza joint, the phone rang. Dad answered it, listened for a minute, and then yelled my name. I walked into the kitchen and took it from him, figuring it was probably Mike.
"Hey, Billy-Boy!" a familiar female voice haled. "How you been?"
Cindy! In all of the turmoil of the recent past Cindy had completely slipped my mind. Our album sessions had dwindled once she'd started college and had all but disappeared in the last two months. I hadn't seen or heard from her since then.
"Hi, Cindy," I said carefully. If I'd learned nothing else over the past few weeks I'd learned that females you thought you were having a casual relationship with were often not under the same impression. Was another bomb about to drop on me? Had I screwed up Cindy's life as I had Anita's? I honestly didn't know. In my previous life I'd lost track of Cindy after her and Tracy had stopped hanging out together. The last time I'd seen her had been at Tracy's funeral where she'd given me a sympathetic hug and had disappeared from my life forever.
"What's up?" she asked me.
We chatted for a few minutes. She apologized for not having contacted me lately and I assured her it was okay. She told me she had a new love interest and I was very glad to hear that. Even when she mentioned that he was a professor at her college who was 'kind of married', I maintained my delight.
"That's just great, Cindy," I told her. "I hope things work out for you."
"Oh they will," she assured me. "They will. I'll see to it."
"I'm sure you will."
"Listen," she said, "the reason I called is that Maggie and I are moving into an apartment together. You remember Maggie, don't you?"
How could I forget her? She was Cindy's brunette friend who used to come over to 'study' with me on days that Cindy could not. Like with Cindy, I hadn't seen Maggie in quite a while. Was Maggie going to be the latest bomb? "Yes," I said. "I'm familiar with Maggie."
Cindy giggled. "I'm sure you are," she said. "Maggie knows your album collection almost as well as I do. Anyway, we really need someone to help us move tomorrow. We have a truck but we need help getting our shit out of our parent's house and into ours. Could you be a sweetheart and give us a hand?"
"Is anybody else going to be there?" I asked.
"Just me and Maggie," she told me. "Everyone else is busy on short notice. And if you help us out, we might give you a real special reward."
"Special reward?" I said quietly.
"Real special," she assured me. "So what do you say?"
I'd told myself that I was past my previous ways, that my days of fucking anything with a pussy were gone. I knew I should offer a sincere apology to Cindy and tell her I was busy. But I hadn't released my daily load for the day and I was feeling quite horny. The thought of Maggie and Cindy, of their tight, youthful bodies wormed its way into my mind and stuck there. I found my mouth opening and the words, "What time should I be there?" leaving my lips.
"My house," Cindy said. "Ten o'clock sharp."
"You got it," I told her.
"We'll be looking forward to it."
I hung up the phone feeling guilty about my actions. But I also did not have the willpower to call Cindy back and tell her I couldn't make it. I told myself that I would just help them move and that nothing else would happen. And I knew that I was lying to myself.
10-20-2012, 11:25 AM
RE: Doing It All Over
It was overcast the next day but not raining. I drove to Cindy's house, arriving promptly at ten, and met the two girls standing next to a medium sized U-Haul truck. They both gave me hugs for greeting and both gave my ass a discreet squeeze, making my dick, which I'd just relieved only twelve hours before, pulsate in my pants. My morals wavered.
We spent about an hour moving boxes from Cindy's bedroom in her parent's house into the U-haul. We then caravanned to Maggie's house, where I'd never been before. It took an hour and a half to move Maggie's boxes from her room. Once the U-Haul was full we drove to a large apartment complex near the college.
Like Raisin's apartment complex, I knew this one from my previous life as a paramedic. We used to go to calls to it frequently, not because it was scummy, although there was a little bit of that, but because it was huge and because it was filled with college students. College students like to drink and take strange drugs and get into fights over things like parking space ownership and who drank the last beer. I'd been here for overdoses, for life-threatening alcohol ingestion, for countless assaults, for people on acid who'd convinced themselves that they'd forgotten how to breathe, and for the occasional stabbing or shooting. I remembered it mostly because each trip into its bowels was an exercise in celestial navigation. There were no maps in the front. The buildings had no numbers on them. Even the apartment numbers themselves were marked only with a four-inch set of black numbers on the brown background of the doors. I remembered driving around in the place for fifteen or twenty minutes looking for the right apartment every time I came, and receiving angry rebuffs from the drunken college students when I finally stumbled across the right one, as to why it had taken me so long to get there. I remembered thinking that there should be a law against places such as this.
Thankfully Cindy and Maggie had been to their apartment before. They found it after only ten minutes of driving around. The U-Haul was parked illegally in a red zone and the ramp was extended. The apartment was opened up and we began picking up boxes, each of which was marked either with a C or an M or an LR or a K, into the two-bedroom living quarters. Forty minutes later the U-Haul was empty.
We sat down on boxes in the cluttered living room and Cindy opened up an ice chest, distributing wine coolers to all of us. I popped mine open and took a long swallow, feeling the fruity, sweet beverage pass my gullet. Cindy then produced a joint that we all smoked from, getting us pleasantly stoned. With each sip of wine cooler, with each toke from the joint, thoughts of Nina and fate and Julie and Anita went further and further to the back of my mind. By the time the roach was nestled safely in an ashtray and Maggie was plugging in a boom box and putting on some tunes, my dick was stiff from looking at the two girls.
Cindy made the first move. She came over and sat next to me, her left hand dropping down to the crotch of my jeans where her fingers began making sensual patterns across the bulge of my cock. "I've missed this," she said, looking down at the unnatural tightness of the denim. "That's one thing about the professor, he may be a nice guy and he sure knows how to treat me, but he doesn't know how to operate his piston very well."
"Maybe you should teach him," I said, with a voice that wasn't quite steady.
She popped the top button slowly and then gave a sharp yank, opening all the others. "Maybe I should," she said. "If he wants to keep me around he's going to have to learn a few basic skills anyway." She smiled. A smile I was very familiar with. "Maybe I should refine my teaching techniques a little."
"I'm happy," I said, watching her fingers fish through my underwear, seeking my cock, "to offer my services as a learning tool."
"Good," she said, sliding off the box and sinking to her knees before me.
She tugged at my waistline and my jeans came down, allowing my hard cock to pop out into the light. With a quick glance at Maggie, who was sitting ten feet away and watching the developments, she lowered her head and took me into her mouth. Cindy hadn't forgotten a thing about cock sucking. She bobbed up and down, teasing and sucking at the same time. I sighed as I felt her talented mouth go to work on me.
Across the room Maggie watched us and I saw a familiar shine in her eyes. Her nipples began to poke out through her sweater and she began to rub her legs together. Finally she stood up and walked over to us.
"I must say," she said, grabbing the hem of her sweater, "this is very arousing. I never thought I'd get turned on watching Cindy suck someone's cock but it's strangely alluring all the same."
"Yeah?" I said, looking at her. She was a little chunkier than Cindy was but still very attractive. She looked like a future librarian, glasses and all. She was also, I knew from previous dealings, very well read and possessed a large vocabulary that she liked to show off. Maybe she would be a writer some day. Maybe she would write about his.
"Yeah," she said, lifting her sweater up and off, revealing her bra-clad tits.
While Cindy continued to work on my cock I pulled her to me, reaching up for the clasp on her bra. In a half second it was released and the bra dropped to the floor. She stepped forward, sticking her left tit into my mouth. I began to suckle the nipple while my hand stroked up and down the smooth flesh of her stomach. My other hand was in Cindy's blonde hair while Cindy's head continued to work my dick.
After a moment Cindy pulled herself free from me and stood up. "Switch!" she told Maggie.
Maggie slipped her tit out of my mouth and dropped down between my spread knees. A second later my cock disappeared into her mouth. Cindy pulled off her own sweater and then quickly dropped her bra. While I reached out and took a tit into each hand, feeling the flesh and the nipples, she kicked her shoes across the room and unbuttoned her pants. With a quick push of her hands she was naked, her blonde bush open for my perusal.
"Did you miss this?" Cindy asked, spreading herself open and gyrating her hips.
"Yes," I lied.
"I want to sit on your face," she told me. "Maggie, let the man up."
"Mmmmm. He is up," Maggie said from around my cock.
The two girls giggled. While I shucked my pants the rest of the way and tossed off my shirt, Maggie did the same with her pants. A minute later I was naked and looking at four tits and two bushes, one blonde, one black as night. My dick was twitching with arousal. In all of the encounters I'd had since recycling and in all of the encounters I'd had before recycling I'd never had two girls at one time. I don't believe I could have resisted this is Nina had walked through the door at that very moment.
I lay on my back on the floor and Maggie dropped down again, taking my cock into her mouth. Her sucking continued while her hands fondled my balls. Her tits rubbed against my upper thighs. Cindy, her back to Maggie, eased herself down over my face, allowing her wet, juicy pussy to descend upon my mouth. I stuck out my tongue to meet it, tasting her tangy secretions and plunging in. Her pubic hair pushed into my nose as I lapped away at her, first plunging in and then going for the clit.
Meanwhile Maggie was trying her damnedest to suck a load from my cock. She drove her head up and down, sucking all the while, her hands frantically jacking. Maggie I knew, loved the taste of come in her mouth. She'd been known to come over just to give me a head job. Not that I ever complained about this of course.
About the time that Cindy began gyrating uncontrollably upon my face, drenching me with her secretions, I felt my own orgasm approaching quickly.
"Yesss!" Cindy moaned above me.
"Mmmmm!" Maggie moaned from between my legs as I began to shoot my come into her throat.
"Ahhhh!" I moaned, on sensory overload from all the female fresh pressing into me.
Maggie licked my dick and balls clean, giving me the beginnings of a new hard-on. Cindy climbed off of my face and tapped her naked friend on the shoulder.
"I'll take over here," Cindy said. "Get yourself up there and get some tongue."
Maggie smiled. "If you insist," she answered, raising her head from my crotch.
She positioned herself as Cindy had, lowering her black bush and wet lips onto my face. I began eating her, both tasting and smelling the contrast between the two girls' juices. Maggie's clit was already hard so after only a brief period of licking and sucking her lips, I attacked it. Meanwhile Cindy continued to suck and slurp on my cock, bringing it back to full hardness.
Of course I couldn't see anything with Maggie's body perched on my face but soon I felt Cindy's mouth pull itself off of my cock. This was followed a moment later by the feel of her inner thighs straddling my outer thighs and the head of my dick being tickled by a nest of hair. Her hand grasped me and I felt myself moved through wet hair and into a warm set of lips. She rubbed me against her clit for a minute and then suddenly, without warning, I was engulfed in her tight body as she sank down on me.
"Ahhhhhhhh!" I moaned into Maggie's pussy.
"Keep eating me!" Maggie panted from above. "I'm almost there!"
I dove back into her pussy, sucking her clit into my mouth once again and savaging it with my tongue. Maggie verbally registered her approval while Cindy began moving up and down on my cock, gripping it in that way of hers.
Maggie was both more violent when she came and more verbal. She screamed her orgasm out to the room using gutter profanity while her pubis battered my face until I was dazed. Cindy came again at the same time, dripping a stream of juices down to my balls.
Maggie got off my face and turned around to face Cindy, who was still bouncing away, her pretty tits jiggling up and down.
"My turn with the cock," Maggie proclaimed.
"Ohhh," Cindy whined, but she pulled herself off anyway.
Maggie lay down on the carpet next to me on her back, spreading her legs wide. "I like it this way," she told me. "Climb aboard."
I rolled over on top of her and sank into her flesh. While I fucked her Cindy sat in front of us, watching with a shine in her eyes and idly stroking her pussy with one hand. In all of my fantasies that involved two women at the same time, the two women always decided to try a little girl on girl action during the event. Apparently reality wasn't the same as fantasy. The two girls seemed to go to great lengths to avoid actually touching each other. But that was fine with me. It would have been nice to watch them go at each other but what I was doing now was nice enough even without it. Who was I to complain?
Maggie had another orgasm, again announcing it to the world in a much more violent manner than Cindy with screams of profanity and claws to my back. Figuring it was now safe to come again I began driving forward towards this goal. Cindy, still stroking herself, saw what I was doing and lodged a protest.
"No!" she yelled at Maggie. "You got to take the first load. I get the second one." She dropped down to the floor next to us, presenting herself in the doggy-style position. "Switch!"
Maggie, dripping with perspiration, panting, looked at me and said, "Fair is fair."
I shrugged, not really caring whose body I came into. I pulled myself out of her with a wet squish and rose up to my knees. I eased over behind Cindy and lined up. When my cock was in the right place I drove forward into her, immediately re-establishing the frantic rhythm I'd been using with Maggie.
As I fucked in and out of Cindy, using her hips for leverage, Maggie raised up to her knees and turned towards me. She leaned over and began kissing and licking the back of my neck and near my ears.
"Come in her," she whispered over and over again. "Come in her."
It didn't take long. With a cry of satisfaction I blasted my load into Cindy's hungry pussy, triggering an orgasm from her at the same time.
Satiated, I pulled my cock out of her pussy and let myself fall backward to the floor. Maggie curled up on my left side while Cindy flipped over and curled up on my right side. I put my arms around the two girls, feeling their wet, sticky skin.
"That was fun," Cindy commented, giving me a peck on the cheek. "We double-teamed you."
"I guess you did," I agreed, basking in the afterglow.
"But you got to come three times," Maggie protested lightly, aiming her comment at Cindy. "I only got to come twice."
"Not my fault," Cindy told her new roommate.
"Maybe," I suggested, "Cindy owes you an orgasm. What do you think Cindy, want to pay up?"
They both looked at me for a moment and then shook their heads.
"Don't be a pervert, Bill," Maggie said. "You've been reading too many porno mags."
I shrugged. "Can't blame a guy for trying, can you?"
10-20-2012, 11:25 AM
RE: Doing It All Over
When I returned home that day I was sore and free of excessive testosterone but surprisingly and pleasantly guilt-free about my encounter with the two girls. Conversation with them afterward had assured me that neither one of them were following the path of Julie or Anita. Though I didn't know what path either of them had taken in my previous life since I'd lost track of Cindy and hadn't known Maggie at all, I received no ominous instinct that would lead me to believe I was pulling them away from their destinies. Chances are that Cindy had had an affair with her college professor before and that Maggie had moved in with her and had followed whatever path she was currently embarked upon. I was changing nothing with these two except for the occasional merger of my path with theirs.
And though I knew that Nina probably would not approve of what I'd done, would probably see it as further evidence of my assholery if she knew about it, I could not bring myself to feel guilt about this either. I wasn't supposed to be a freaking monk was I? Nina and I had no relationship at the moment to endanger. If I ever did manage to bring her around I hoped to have a more intimate relationship with her and of course I would have to refrain from having threesomes with attractive college students, but until then there was no harm being done as far as I could see.
I took a quick shower and then went to work. I sang happily along with the radio in my new car as I drove there.
I was awakened at 7:30 the next morning by Dad's pounding on my bedroom door.
"Bill?" he asked, opening the door and pushing his head through just as I was coming fully awake.
"Yeah, Dad," I said blearily. "What is it?"
"There's a girl on the phone for you," he told me. "She says she needs to talk to you right now, in private, and that it's an emergency."
That was strange enough to bring me fully awake in an instant. I had a sudden bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. I looked up at Dad and saw that he was worried about this also. He was probably figuring that some girl was calling to tell me that I'd knocked her up.
"Who's the girl?" I asked Dad.
"She didn't give her name," he said. "And I've never heard her voice before."
"All right," I answered, pulling myself out of bed. I threw on a pair of sweat pants and followed Dad downstairs. "Do you mind if I use your den phone?" I asked him.
"Sure," he said, waving me towards the room.
I went in and picked up the phone. "I got it!" I yelled through the closed door. A second later I heard the click of the other extension being placed back in its cradle.
I took a deep breath and said into the mouthpiece, "This is Bill."
"Hi, Bill," a completely unfamiliar voice said to me. "My name is Linda. Your sister wants to talk to you."
"Tracy?" I said, confused. "What..."
"Hang on a sec," Linda said. A second later I heard her voice say faintly, "It's him."
"Thanks," my sister's faint voice replied.
There was a long pause and I heard the sound of a door shutting somewhere in the room where Tracy was. I figured that was Linda leaving the room to give Tracy some privacy.
At last Tracy's loud voice said, "Bill?" Her voice sounded haunted, scared. What had happened?
"Yeah," I answered. "What's going on, Trace?"
"I had Linda call for me so that Mom or Dad wouldn't know it was me," she explained.
"That's fine," I replied quickly. "What's wrong, Trace? Are you all right?"
"How did you know, Bill?" she asked, demanded. "How do you know the things you know?"
"What happened, Tracy?" I asked. "Tell me why you called."
"Last night," she said, "I went to a party with Darren in the city. A frat party. There was a keg of beer there and everyone, me included, got pretty drunk."
My mouth suddenly dried up as I heard this. "Go on," I said numbly.
"When it came time to leave Darren insisted he was okay to drive. He told me he wasn't really drunk and that he was okay. My judgment was pretty screwed up by the alcohol I guess and I believed him. I believed him! We walked out to the car and I had every intention of getting into it with him. I mean he seemed fine! He was walking okay, talking okay, everything!"
"Tracy, what happened?" I asked.
"When he went to unlock the car he had trouble getting the key into the lock. Just a little bit of trouble but he couldn't quite get it to fit in there." Her voice started to break a little. "Part of me tried to ignore this. I tried to tell myself that it didn't mean anything. But I remembered what you had said to me, how you'd warned me, and at the last second I told Darren that I didn't think he should be driving."
"And then what happened?"
"We had a fight. We yelled at each other out in the parking lot and he sounded so damn reasonable that I almost got in again. But I couldn't bring myself to do it. I just couldn't! So anyway he eventually got totally pissed off and drove off without me. I caught a cab home, bitching the whole time about you and your stupid warnings, about how I was going to have to pay twenty bucks to get home when a perfectly good ride had driven off without me, shit like that."
"And?" I asked, knowing there was more or she wouldn't have called.
"I got back to the dorm safely and passed out in my bed. When I woke up this morning I was told that Darren drove his car into San Francisco Bay on his way home last night."
There was silence on the line as I digested this, as shivers went up and down my body. "Tracy, Jesus," I said. "Thank God I talked to you. What happened to Darren?"
She sniffed a little. "He's fine," she told me. "He pulled himself out of the car without any problems. Of course he got arrested for drunk driving but other than that he's fine." She paused. "But I wouldn't have been, would I?" she asked me, almost accused me.
"I don't think so, Tracy," I told her.
"What is going on here, Bill?" she demanded. "I think I deserve an explanation! Is this going to keep happening over and over until finally I die?"
"Tracy, I just don't know," I said. "All I know is that you need to be as careful as you can."
"Christ!" she told me. "You're telling me that fate has got a hard-on for me, that I'm supposed to drown in a traffic accident! How can I live a normal life if I have to worry about this all of the time? Is there any way to stop this?"
"I don't know," I said in answer to both of her questions. "I just don't know."
"Tell me what you do know!" she yelled. "I have a goddamn right to this information! Tell me!"
"Tracy, I can't."
"Why not?" she asked. "You come up with all this mystical shit, mystical shit that just happens to be true, shit you have no business knowing and you won't tell me how you're getting this information?"
She had a point there. "Are you coming home for Thanksgiving, Tracy?" I asked her.
"I don't know," she said, semi-hysterically. "Is it safe for me to fly on an airplane?"
A legitimate question. "I think so," I told her, figuring that fate wouldn't kill several hundred people just to get at my sister. "Why don't you come home then? We'll have a nice family get-together and you and I will sit down and have a talk."
"And you'll tell me what you know?"
"As much as I can," I promised, although I wasn't sure just how much 'as much as I can' encompassed.
"And in the meantime?" she asked.
"And in the meantime stay out of cars with people who have been drinking. Stay out of cars completely if you can avoid it. Fate does seem to have a hard-on for you, Tracy. So don't give it an easy mark. In a way the accident that your boyfriend had..."
"He's not my boyfriend any more," she spat. "You can bet your sweet ass on that."
"Right," I said, and then continued. "As I was saying, the accident that he had leads me to believe that certain pre-conditions have to be met. I don't know this for sure so be careful with everything you do, but it seems that the factors of a car, a drunk, and water all have to be met. Just to be safe, stay away from water too. Don't go swimming."
"And if you're wrong about these pre-conditions?" she asked.
How to answer that one? If I was wrong then Tracy was probably fucked. Fate would take her at its leisure. "Let's just hope I'm not wrong, Tracy," I finally said. "Come home for Thanksgiving and we'll see what we can figure out."
"All right, Bill," she said. "What else can I do?"
10-20-2012, 11:25 AM
RE: Doing It All Over
I went with Mom and Dad to pick up Tracy at the airport on Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. For any of you who have ever been to a large metropolitan area's air terminal on such a date you can appreciate the chaos that results from having five times as many people in the building as the fire code probably allows. It was wall-to-wall people pushing from one place to the next, all of them dressed in winter clothing since an early snowstorm had decided to descend upon our fair city. The noise and the crowding were suffocating and Tracy's plane arrived nearly thirty minutes late.
But when we saw her walking out of the skyway towards us it made it all worthwhile. Unlike Mom and Dad, I had not realized how much I'd missed my sister until I saw her. Being younger I beat them to her and got the first hug of greeting.
Before Mom and Dad could reach us Tracy whispered in my ear, "You promised me a talk."
"Soon," I told her. "Soon."
It was nearly eleven o'clock before we got home that night and all of us went straight to bed. There would be no talk that night. The next day relatives began to pour in from other parts of Spokane and from as far away as Sandpoint, Idaho and Moses Lake in the southern part of Washington. Mom made a huge turkey dinner that we all demolished and Tracy and I took our turns in the barrel having our cheeks pinched and being told how much we'd grown. By the time all of the relatives cleared out it was nine o'clock and we were all exhausted once more.
Mom and Dad had a long-standing tradition that they shared with another couple, the male half of which was a private pilot. Each day-after-Thanksgiving they would pile into a rented airplane and fly to Seattle to have lunch at the space needle. It was an annual event they'd participated in for as long as I could remember. They'd even continued to do it in my previous life after Tracy's death. They'd offered, halfheartedly I might add, to cancel it this year since Tracy only had a few days with us before she returned to Berkeley, but both Tracy and myself insisted they go.
"Bill and I can find something to do," Tracy told them, looking sharply at me.
"Yeah," I agreed. "We'll keep ourselves busy."
So it came to pass that Mom and Dad piled into their car at eight o'clock on Friday morning for the trip to the small municipal airport from which they would depart. Experience had taught both my sister and I that they would not return until at least six o'clock that evening.
Their car couldn't have been more than a mile from our suburban house before Tracy got off the couch and headed up to her old room. I gave her a puzzled look that grew more puzzled when she returned carrying a twelve pack of beer in her hands.
"Okay," she told me, slapping the beer down on the coffee table, "I scored us a twelver of this imported shit back in California and brought it all the way here for this talk." She ripped open the package, which was green and contained a brand of beer I'd never heard of. She pulled out two bottles and popped the tops with a bottle opener.
"Tracy, it's only eight in the morning," I protested. "I haven't even had breakfast yet."
She smiled. "Little brother," she said, "if you want to be successful when you go to college you'd better learn to drink beer first thing in the morning. It's a requirement." She handed one to me.
I took it, surprised to find it was icy cold.
"Something else you learn in college," she told me, taking a huge swallow. "If you want to keep your beer cold in the absence of a refrigerator, store it outside in the cold. I put this on the roof outside my window last night. Thank God it didn't get below freezing."
I took a swallow, finding the beer very tasty despite the early hour. "Not bad," I told her, drinking some more.
"Okay," she said. "Enough preliminaries. Let's talk."
I set my bottle down on the coffee table, struck by the strangeness of drinking a beer while still dressed in the clothes I'd slept in, my baggy sweats and a T-shirt. Tracy too was still dressed in her customary long T-shirt, this one with the University's logo on the front. Her legs were crossed Indian style on the couch, her eyes looking expectantly at me. I still had no idea what I was going to tell her, how much I should tell her.
"Why don't we start," I told her, "with what you do know and what you think is going on here. Tell me that."
"Why do you want to hear that?" she asked.
"I just want to see how this whole thing looks to someone close to me."
She thought for a second and then nodded, taking another sip of beer. "Fair enough," she said. "Here's what I know. I know that the day you told me about the accident I was scheduled to be in the first time, your personality underwent a radical change. One day you were immature little Billy, the next day you were hugging on me, telling me you loved me, and you weren't sure of the exact date. You got into a fight with a huge bully at school, something completely out of character for you, and you put him in the hospital. You came home that day and caught us smoking pot in the living room and you reamed us for it, the same way an adult would, but also different somehow. You also made Cindy's asshole boyfriend back down, and let me tell you, he doesn't back down too often.
"So I'm forced to conclude that whatever happened to you, happened on that day. Am I right?"
I nodded. "Yes. That was the first day."
"That night you came to my room and told me that creepy-ass story about the car accident. You gave me exact details, exact, about what would happen, who would be in the car, etc. You told me things you had absolutely no right knowing and they turned out to be true.
"About the same time you completely lost all of your shyness. One day I was wondering if my little brother was ever going to get himself laid and the next day you're suddenly a male slut, bagging everything left and right and apparently, if my information was correct, doing a very good job of it.
"You also developed a sudden interest in the stock market and in finding a job. Your grades improved overnight. And I even heard that you put a few teachers in their places."
"Okay," I said, surprised at the amount of information Tracy possessed. Again I was forced to wonder just how much my parents knew or suspected. "So tell me, what do you think all of this means?"
"Well obviously something very strange happened to you on that first day," she offered.
"I think you had some sort of well, psychic flash. I think you had some sort of Scrooge type experience while you slept that night. Something that showed you what the future was going to be like and was realistic enough that you were unable to simply discount it as a dream. That doesn't explain everything of course, but I think that's something like what happened to you. I don't know how such a thing is possible, or why you were chosen to have this knowledge, but somehow, you were shown the future, including my death, and you were able to stop certain things and start others. Am I close?"
"Kind of," I said, taking another sip, surprised to find that the bottle was now empty. I leaned forward and grabbed another one, opening it up with the bottle opener. "You are somewhat on track here but the truth is actually a little stranger than that."
"So what is the truth?" she asked, grabbing a fresh beer of her own. "Like I said before, Bill, I think I have a right to this information."
"And you do, Tracy," I agreed. "You really do and I think that maybe with both of our minds working on some of the problems that have cropped up here, maybe something can be done. But there is one thing."
"If I tell you what I know, what happened to me, you can never tell anyone else. Never. If you were to do that and word about what happened got to the wrong people the consequences could be disastrous. Mostly for me, but also for our family. There are people in the world who would literally kill in order to possess the information I have. Do you understand that?"
"Yes," she said softly. "I won't tell anyone anything. You did see the future, didn't you? You do know things that are going to happen, don't you?"
10-20-2012, 11:25 AM
RE: Doing It All Over
"Tracy," I said, "I didn't just see the future. I lived through it."
She looked at me confused. "You mean when you had your dream or whatever it was like you'd lived through the future? Like you lived through the years while you were asleep?"
"No." I shook my head. "Like I said, it's even stranger than that. I literally lived through the future in somewhat of an alternate timeline. I'm sitting here before you looking like a sixteen going on seventeen-year-old kid. But that's not what I am, Tracy. I've actually lived almost 34 years now."
She took a moment to digest that, staring at me the whole while. "I'm not sure I'm following you, Bill," she finally said.
"Okay," I started. "You've acknowledged the fact that I know aspects of the future, right?"
"The day I woke up with these startling changes. Think back to that day, Tracy. Do you remember how confused I seemed, how glad I was to see you, how I didn't know what day it was? And then later in the day, at school, I had to ask you what my class schedule was? Do you remember all of that?"
"Yes," she said, her eyes widening.
I took another sip. "The reason I was so confused and so glad to see you was that, from my perspective, I'd gone to bed the night before as a 32 year old man in the year 1999."
"1999?" she said, with disbelief.
"In the year 1999 I was a paramedic working for a private ambulance company. My sister Tracy had been killed on her graduation night and was sixteen years in her grave. My parents, after Tracy's death, had become victim's rights advocates. My friend Mike was a total loser, still living with his parents. That was my life when I went to bed that night. When I woke up the next morning, I was fifteen years old again, back in my parent's house, my sister still with the accident in her future, and I had all of my memories from my previous life still intact."
"That's unbelievable, Bill," she told me. "You're saying that you lived until 1999 and then were suddenly put back in 1982?"
"That's exactly what I'm saying," I affirmed. "That's what happened to me. The reason I told you about the accident that night was because, at the time, I wasn't sure if I was suddenly going to wake up back in 1999 the first time I went to sleep. I needed to try to prevent your death if that was the case. And though I did not go back to 1999 the next day, my little speech to you that night was apparently effective. Without any further interference from me you strayed off of the path that would have ended with you dumping into the Spokane River."
She shook her head in denial. "I'm not sure I can believe this," she told me. "You are saying that you lived until 1999? That you went day by day through this life and then suddenly you were put back in 1982? That's not possible."
"I wouldn't have thought so either," I answered. "What we're talking about here is time travel. And though the possibility exists that I simply dreamed this entire life that night, I don't believe that is the case. Too many things have come true. My memories of that previous life are too detailed, too complete. That is what happened, Tracy. I am nearly 34 years old and I lived seventeen of those years in an alternate life."
She took a huge drink of her beer, finishing half the bottle at a swallow. She then picked up another one. "This is way trippy," she told me. "If you lived until 1999, tell me who the Presidents will be."
I saw this as an interrogation technique to see if I was lying. She would be looking for any hesitation in my answer.
"Reagan won again this year," I said. "You already know that."
"It didn't take a psychic to figure that out," she said cynically.
"True," I allowed. "He'll serve out his term but the last year of it will be taken up by a scandal in which he gets caught selling arms to Iran in order to get hostages released and to fund rebels in Nicaragua after congress cut off aid to them. George Bush will be elected after Reagan. He'll gain immense popularity because of the way he handles an invasion of Panama early in his term and a war in the Persian Gulf at mid-term."
"A war in the Persian Gulf?" she asked.
"Iraq will invade Kuwait, a small country nobody has even heard of at this point in history but that supplies a good chunk of oil. Eventually American forces will bomb the living shit out of Iraq and then ground forces will go in and occupy the country. We'll lose less than two hundred people in the entire war and the country will love old George for it. For a while. Unfortunately for him he'll fuck up the economy so bad that even the success of the Gulf War won't get him re-elected. In 1992 Bill Clinton will win the presidency."
"Who the hell is Bill Clinton?" she asked, staring at me.
"Right now I believe he is the governor of Arkansas. He'll do a fairly good job of getting the economy back in shape, in fact he'll succeed in balancing the budget, but he'll also be mired down in sexual scandals his entire run. Apparently Bill has a little trouble keeping his dick in his pants and the Republicans will jump all over that. Despite this he'll be elected to a second term. When I was recycled back to 1982 he was still serving it although the Republicans had managed to impeach him because he got caught lying about getting a blow-job from an intern in his office."
"They impeached him because he got a blowjob?" she asked in disbelief.
"Well, what the charges actually amounted to was lying under oath. But yeah, it was because he got a blowjob. The House impeached him because there was a Republican majority but the Senate cleared him because, although they had a Republican majority also, it wasn't enough to add up to a two-thirds vote." I shook my head sadly. "I can sympathize with old Bill, let me tell you. You think you're having a casual little encounter with someone but it can sure come back to bite your ass."
"Wow," Tracy whispered. "You're telling the truth. You could not have made up all of those details off the top of your head."
"No," I said. "I couldn't."
She took another drink of beer. "But why did such a thing happen to you, Bill?" she asked. "Why were you picked to do this? Are there others?"
"This is how it happened," I said. "Like I told you, I was a paramedic. On the day before I came back I went to a call at a convalescent facility in North Spokane. My patient was an old Chinese man with cancer. He was dying fast. So I..." I told her the complete story. It took about twenty minutes. She listened with rapt attention throughout it.
"So you think he granted you a wish?" she asked when I was done.
"It would seem so," I told her. "The next morning I found myself back in 1982. Fifteen again, just like I'd asked, all memories intact, just like I'd asked. I don't know how he did it, but he did."
"Wow," she said.
"Do you believe me?" I asked her.
She looked up at me. "I don't want to," she said. "It's scary as hell to think that what you're saying is true. It changes my entire perspective on what's real and what's not, on what's possible and what's not."
"Uh huh," I agreed whole-heartedly.
"But all the same," she continued, "I am forced to believe what you say is true. When you explain it everything adds up. It's the only answer that makes sense."
"Yep," I agreed.
Tracy suddenly glared at me. "So here you are, a thirty-something year old man trapped in a child's body. And what have you been doing? You've been screwing sixteen and seventeen year olds! You're a fuckin' pervert, Bill."
"I agree," I told her.
"You do?" she asked.
"I'll be the first to admit that I made some poor decisions when I was given this gift. Yes, I had sex with high school girls, something I probably shouldn't have done. I abused a power that was given to me for my own pleasure, not just once but multiple times. I would like to say, in my own defense, that although my mind is that of a 32 year old, my body is a teenager's, through and through. I have testosterone surging through me like mad. I thought I was horny as a 32 year old but I hadn't seen anything. We forget what it's like to be in the middle of adolescence, let me tell you. That's not a very good excuse I know, but it's all I have to offer. I never once tried to screw an underage girl when I was an adult. Not a single time. But suddenly I found myself able to do it legally and with my body crying out for it. I didn't put up much of a fight but I couldn't help it."
"Are you saying that you are not doing that anymore?" she asked.
"I'm trying not to," I said. "It's cost me a lot. I told you that Nina and I were no longer talking to each other."
"You did. I figured it had something to do with your extracurricular activities. I tried to tell you once that she loved you. And I was pretty sure that you loved her too. You didn't listen."
"I know. And you were right on both counts," I said. "Unfortunately I waited too long to realize it. I screwed around until Nina had her eyes opened to what I was like. She basically told me to fuck off and stay away from her. She won't even talk to me now."
"I'm sorry," Tracy said honestly. "I like Nina. I thought you two were perfect together. I still think that even though I now know you're actually seventeen years older than she is. Maybe she'll come around."
"Maybe," I said. "Or maybe not. In any case, Nina is part of why I called you at the bookstore with that warning. Nina and Mike and some other things have made me realize that fate has a pattern to it. A pattern that it keeps trying to put things and people into. You are part of what has fallen out of pattern."
"Because I didn't die on graduation night?" she asked slowly.
"Exactly," I said. "In a way I'm glad that these other things have happened. They allowed me to see what was going on, that fate was attempting to re-align things. When I saw that, I was able to give you that second warning and you were able to heed it when fate took a second shot at you."
She shuddered. "I still get the creeps when I think about how close I was to getting in that car with Darren that night. Jesus. What other things have you seen as far as these patterns go? Maybe if I know how strong this thing is..."
"Okay," I said. "There's you first of all. As you know, in my previous life you died on graduation night. In this life I prevented that. But I also knew Nina in my previous life, in school of course but also years later, and that Nina was not a pleasant person at all."
"What do you mean?" Tracy asked.
"In my first life Nina was a doctor in one of the emergency rooms. And she was a total bitch. She was the shining example of a major inferiority complex. If anybody did anything good in front of her, she would find a way to criticize it. If anyone did anything wrong, she would jump down their throats. She was a miserable person and it was quite plain to me why she was a miserable person."
"Because of the way she was treated in school," Tracy said.
I looked at her, smiling. "You know, Tracy, you're pretty smart for a youngster."
She giggled nervously. "This is so weird," she commented. "Trying to adjust myself from thinking about you as my little brother. You've got seventeen years on me now."
I snorted. "Older doesn't necessarily mean wiser. Believe me. Anyway, when I came back I decided to eat in the cafeteria one day and I saw Nina sitting in there alone. That brought back memories of how bitchy she was as a doctor and led to the speculation as to its cause. So I, thinking I was the great superhero, the fixer of oppressed people everywhere, decided to befriend her and maybe change her personality a little."
"And she fell in love with you," Tracy said.
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