Doing It All Over
10-20-2012, 11:28 AM
RE: Doing It All Over
Overnight the snowstorm we'd been experiencing developed into a full-scale blizzard. The wind tore through the Eastern Washington area, driving the snow before it. When I awoke Thursday morning it was still going strong. A look out my window, at the icy, covered streets, at the snowdrifts more than eight feet high in some places, told me that I would not be going to school that day.
My confirmation of this came when I went downstairs to breakfast and found Dad still in his pajamas and robe, his face unshaven. As a teacher Dad was probably even happier than the students were when they closed school for the day. After all, he still got paid for it. Mom too was lounging around in her pajamas. Her work had apparently decided to make it a holiday as well. I was not as happy. That meant there would be no lunch with Nina that day.
"There's lots of good news today," Dad told me as I sat down at the table.
"How's that?" I asked him, digging into the bacon and eggs Mom had prepared in honor of the non-work day.
"Looks like you were right on the mark about the latex thing," he said, sliding a section of the newspaper over to me. "Take a look at this."
I picked up the section and looked where he was pointing.
FEAR OF AIDS LEADS TO NATIONWIDE GLOVE SHORTAGE read the headline. It was an Associated Press story, which meant that it had been printed in newspapers all over the country. The text of the story told of hospitals, fire departments, and ambulance companies all ordering large amounts of latex gloves in response to fear of disease and a federal OSHA mandate that all health care providers wear gloves on every patient contact. Every patient contact! This was exactly what I'd been waiting for.
"Out of sight," I said, grinning.
"So this is going to make you some money on those stocks, right?" Dad asked.
"This is going to be like hitting the lottery," I told him happily. "Actually like hitting it twice."
"Twice?" he enquired, putting his paper down.
I nodded. "There's two aspects of stock ownership in a case like this," I explained. "First of all there's profit. Selling all of those gloves is making a lot of money for the companies I've invested in. That allows me dividends because as a partial owner of the company, I'm entitled to a cut of the profits. The second aspect is the price of the stock itself. Now it's gone steadily upward since I first invested in it but not dramatically by any means. The increase merely reflects those wise investors who have taken the time to research the company and note the recent increase in profits. But now that this story has appeared in the paper, all that will change. Everybody and their mother will know that latex is going to go through the roof and they will all rush to buy stock in it. That is going to drive the price of the stocks through the roof, therefore making my holdings much more valuable."
Dad had long since learned not to question my wisdom on the workings of the stock market. After all he saw me researching it and studying it every day. "So how much are we talking about here?" he asked.
"It would not surprise me," I said, "if the value of my stock doubled by the end of the year and tripled by the end of the following quarter. Plus I stand to receive a healthy dividend check."
"Amazing," he whispered. "And I thought you were throwing your money away."
"This also means that I need to start putting my income somewhere else, to find another trend that's about to take off."
He looked confused. "Why is that? Shouldn't you continue to invest in latex?"
"No," I told him. "As the stock goes up, putting further money in it will be futile. Remember that I now have to pay the inflated price for more of the stock. What I need to do is keep my assets in latex right where they are and let them go up. But my future income needs to be put into other places; places that are cheap now but that are likely to rise in the future. That's what investing in the market is all about."
"So what are you going to do now?" he asked.
I smiled. "I've been planning this for quite a while now," I told him. "The money from the latex investment will probably peak about the time I'm ready for college. It should be enough to get me enrolled and carry me through the first year. From now on my paychecks will be invested in something with slower, but steady medium-term growth. Something that will rise considerably over the next few years instead of months. I'll continue to dump money into those until they rise to a point where they've reached their peak of growth. It'll build me up capital for the big move I'm planning to make in a few years."
He shook his head. "What do you mean? What are you going to invest in now? And what big move are you talking about?"
"Right now I'm going to begin investing in the computer industry. Apple, IBM, and a chipmaker called Intel. Over the next few years I believe that computers are going to start appearing everywhere and they're all going to be made by a few companies."
Dad looked at me in amazement. "You think those three are going to make all of these computers and the chips? What about Atari and Commodore?"
"I think they'll be out-marketed," I said. "Just a prediction you understand, but they probably won't be able to hold their own when the computer revolution swings into full gear."
"I see," he said, looking at me strangely. "And this big move you're planning to make?"
"It's kind of complicated," I told him. "I'll know it when I see it though. You see, every computer has to have something called an operating system; software that tells it what to do."
"Okay," he said, semi-following me so far.
"The company that gets in on that market will make billions, trillions even. They'll quickly be able to dominate the software market if they make their move at the right time and in the right way." I grinned. "I imagine that there's someone out there who sees this as well as I do. I imagine that someone has probably got a company that makes software going right now, as we speak. And I imagine that someone is just waiting for the time to be right to introduce an operating system that will set the standard for all computers and make it damn near impossible to operate one without it."
"Bill, how do you know so much about this?" Dad asked me slowly.
I shrugged. "I read a lot, Dad. And I'm blessed with above average reasoning ability."
He shook his head a little. "Right," he said. He considered for a few more minutes. "You know, I have some money from each paycheck that is just going into the credit union savings account."
I looked up at him. "Yeah?"
He nodded. "Maybe I should put some of that in the stock market."
"Maybe you should."
10-20-2012, 11:28 AM
RE: Doing It All Over
By late afternoon the worst of the blizzard was past, leaving only flurries drifting through the air. The snowplows caught up with their work, clearing the roads of the city to something approaching passable. About six o'clock, after being cooped up in the house all day I was getting restless. I needed to get out and do something. An idea occurred to me. An idea that I couldn't get out of my head once it was in there.
Maybe Nina would like to go out and catch a movie with me.
It was probably too early in our reconciliation for this. It might seem I was being too forceful, pushing too hard. I might lose some of the ground that I'd gained. I probably shouldn't chance it, I finally decided.
And so thinking I went to the living room and dug out the newspaper, flipping through to the movie section. Maybe I would just go by myself. Yes, that's what I would do. I frowned as I read through what was currently playing. One of the problems of traveling back in time was that you inevitably had seen all of the movies before. I had another fifteen years to wait before something new, from my perspective, came out. I sighed.
I put the newspaper down and then picked it up again. Maybe it wouldn't hurt to ask her. She wouldn't abandon me for that would she? But then again...
With a start I realized that I was acting like what I was: a teenager trying to work up the courage to ask a girl out on a date. I'd asked girls out on dates a thousand times in my life. Chastising myself for being immature, I picked up the phone.
Thought I hadn't called it in a while, I knew Nina's number from memory. The phone rang more than eight times and I was about to hang up in frustration when it was finally picked up.
"Hello?" It was Nina. The very sound of her voice thrilled me inside.
"Hi, Nina," I said. "It's Bill."
There was a very long pause. "Oh... hi," she said finally, in a voice that sounded decidedly weird.
"Nina?" I asked, "Are you okay?"
"Uh, sure," she told me. "Listen, can I call you back in a few minutes? I'm eating dinner right now."
"Sure," I said. "But..."
"Thanks," she said quickly and the phone clicked in my ear.
Slowly I put the receiver back in its cradle. What was that all about? Why had she sounded so weird?
With a worried mind I went back to the kitchen to grab a soda from the refrigerator.
It was another twenty minutes before the phone rang. My dad picked it up and yelled for me. I told him I'd take it in the den and locked myself in there.
"Hi, Bill," said Nina, her voice sounding much more normal now.
"Hi," I answered. "You're not mad at me, are you?"
"No," she said. "Why would you ask that?"
"You just sounded kind of funny on the phone."
"Oh," she said, and then, "well, the fact of the matter is that it's probably not a good idea to call me here just now. I haven't told my parents that you and I are, uh, talking again."
"I don't understand," I told her. "Your parents liked me before. Just because we had a... well a fight and stopped seeing each other for a while, why shouldn't they like me? All teenagers do that from time to time."
"It's a little more complicated than that," she replied. "I don't really want to go into it right now. But please, don't call me at home just yet?"
"Okay," I answered, very troubled by this.
"So what did you want?" she asked brightly.
I took a few deep breaths, trying to think quickly. The don't-call-here speech had just taken the wind out of my sails, making asking her out seem a bad idea after all.
"Bill?" she asked. "Are you there?"
"Yes," I said, throwing caution to the wind. After all, I had to say something. "I was wondering if maybe you'd... uh, well... like to go out to a movie with me tonight?"
"A movie?" she asked, her voice unreadable.
"Yes," I confirmed. "If you're not doing anything else, that is."
"Are you asking me out on a date?" she asked next, seemingly puzzled.
"Well, yes. I am."
She was silent as she digested my request. Finally she said, "It's a bad idea to do this so soon, Bill."
I cringed, feeling stupid for asking, feeling ashamed of myself for pushing things. "Oh," I said. "Well maybe some..."
"But what the hell?" she interrupted cheerily. "I could stand to see a good movie tonight."
I was so overcome by the rejection that it took me a moment to process that I hadn't been rejected after all. "Really?" I finally said.
"Really," she told me and I could hear that she was smiling, I could see it. "What did you want to see?"
"Anything you want, Nina," I answered happily. "Anything at all."
"I'll borrow Mom's car and be over in a little bit."
We hung up our phones and I sat there for a moment, basking in the glow of success. She was going to go out with me. On a date no less. Things really were looking up.
Finally I stood up and headed upstairs to take a shower and get dressed.
10-20-2012, 11:28 AM
RE: Doing It All Over
The movie we decided on was one that I really had no desire to see, Flashdance. But I didn't let this bother me. I would have gone to see a four-hour documentary on the history of the ice cube tray with her if that was what she'd wanted. We took my car, leaving her Mom's parked at the curb in front of my house.
We talked of inconsequential things on the way; the storm we'd experienced, our hopes for college scholarships, how our ROP jobs were going. It was the first time since we'd come back together that there was no strain in the conversation. Our words flowed easily out of our mouths, the friendship that we'd developed in the past finally manifesting itself once more. Nina giggled frequently as we chatted, even blushing a time or two at my remarks. She seemed like she was regaining her old personality. It made me warm inside to look at her, to see her smile, to hear her laugh.
We took seats near the back of the nearly empty theater, setting down our popcorn and stowing our drinks. We reclined and munched and drank and waited for the movie to start. We talked of some of the things we'd done in the past. Going to the lake in the summer, studying during the school year, going skiing in the winter. The remember game. Just as the lights started to dim down in preparation for the ten minutes of previews that preceded every movie, I turned to her.
"I'm glad you came tonight," I told her. "And I'm glad you gave me a second chance."
Her blue eyes stared at mine, her face forming a serious smile. "Me too."
About twenty minutes into the movie, while the dancers were dancing and the music was pounding from the sound system, I reached slowly out with my left hand, putting the palm over the back of Nina's hand. She looked at me for the briefest second, hesitation marring her face, and then she turned her hand over, grasping mine, hesitation turning to contentment. Her hand was soft and dainty, fragile in mine. After all I'd experienced since my return, after all the girls and women's bodies I'd enjoyed in every possible way, you wouldn't have thought I'd get excited over the simple holding of a hand in a movie theater. You wouldn't have thought... but it was thrilling me to the core.
Later on she edged slightly closer to me, squeezing my hand a little. I was fumbling and unsure of myself, of how far to take this, but in the end I couldn't resist. I unclasped my hand from hers and put my arm around her shoulders. She stiffened momentarily, probably in nervousness as opposed to hostility, and then she relaxed, allowing me to pull her against me. She gazed up at me dreamily for a second.
"I really love being with you, Nina," I whispered to her.
"Thank you," she whispered back, nestling up against me, resting her head on my shoulder, making me happier than I'd ever been with any other person.
When the movie was over we walked hand in hand out of the theater into the frigid night. The sky had cleared of clouds, allowing the stars to shine in all their glory. The half moon drifted directly above us. Our breath puffed out before us and our cheeks turned red on contact with the air.
"Do you want to take a walk before we go back?" I asked her.
"Bill," she giggled, "it's freezing out here."
"Yep," I agreed. "So what do you say?"
She nodded. "Okay."
The theater was located in the downtown mall, near the river. We strolled off the grounds and towards the scenic bridge and the levee. Soon we were staring down at the running water, watching the moonlight shimmer off of it.
"Did you like the movie?" she asked me, nestling against me as we stood there, allowing me to feel her weight pushing at me through her heavy down jacket. I put my arm around her once again, drawing her closer. She came willingly.
Though I'd promised myself that I would always be honest with Nina, there were times when that promise could be broken. This was one of those times. "Oh yes," I told her. "It was a very good movie. That was a good choice."
She looked up at me, staring in my eyes. "Really?"
"Really," I assured her.
"I thought it sucked ass," she informed me huffily. "We should've gone with All the Right Stuff."
My jaw dropped for a second as I heard this and then I burst out laughing.
"What?" Nina asked, looking at me with amusement.
"I thought it sucked too," I told her. "I was just being polite because you picked it."
"I didn't pick it!" she said, laughing with me. "You did!"
"Only because I thought that was what you wanted to see."
"Why would you think I wanted to see that crap?" she asked, shaking her head in exasperation.
"Because every woman wants to see that crap," I told her. "It's a movie made for women."
She turned towards me, not drawing her body away, but pushing it against mine. We were zipper to zipper with our down jackets, eye to eye. She let her hands slide down until they were nestled in the large pockets on my jacket. "I'm not most women, Bill," she said softly, pulling me tighter. "You should know that by now."
"I guess I should," I answered, with a voice that was no longer steady.
Our eyes were only inches apart, our faces close enough so that I could feel her breath against me. The vapor from our exhalations combined, swirling together before drifting off into the night. I put my arms around her, feeling the curves of her body somewhere beneath all of the fabric and duck feathers she was adorned with. Our legs were pushing together. My body was tingling with anticipation and nervous desire. I was almost giddy with it.
Finally I leaned forward, moving slowly but deliberately, and touched my lips to hers. She did not resist, in fact she leaned into me, meeting me halfway. Her lips were cold and dry from the icy wind, but never had a pair felt so good against mine, never had my body reacted as it was reacting to hers. We slid our lips together softly, the kiss lasting less than ten seconds before we broke apart. But worlds suddenly changed in that ten seconds.
We continued to stare at each other for a long time after our lips parted.
"That was nice," Nina finally said, barely above a whisper.
"Very nice," I agreed.
"We've crossed a line," she told me. "I told myself that going out with you was a bad idea. That if I did, I would fall right back in love with you the way I was before. You haven't proven yourself to me yet, Bill. You haven't shown me that you're any different. You could be just putting on an act. After all, you must have a lot of charm to do the things you've done."
"Shhh," she hushed. "Let me finish."
"In the end I simply couldn't stay away from you. Except for a few rumors from school, I have no proof that you're any different. I have no proof that you've given up your old ways. Your shining ability among the girls at school was your discretion. Your downfall was that it was they who were indiscreet.
"And I was right, Bill."
"Right?" I asked.
"I fell right back in love with you. When you held my hand in the theater I almost melted. When you put your arm around me I did. And when you kissed me just now." She took a deep breath, blowing a large plume of vapor into the night. "I love you, Bill. I was starting to get over you but now I'm head over heels again. You tell me you're different now, that you've changed. I certainly hope so, Bill. I certainly hope I'm not being played for a fool."
"You're not, Nina," I answered her. "I swear you're not. I love you. I really do."
"You hold my heart in your hand now, Bill."
I nodded. "Yes I do. And I promise you won't regret giving it to me."
"I'll hold you to that," she said, leaning forward for another kiss.
10-20-2012, 11:28 AM
RE: Doing It All Over
We stayed by the water for a few more minutes, holding onto each other tightly, feeling the warmth that comes from more than just body heat radiating back and forth. We kissed a few more times, cautious, soft kisses. Nina was inexperienced at this sort of thing and I did not want to push her too fast and cheapen the magic of the night. Mostly we just held each other, her resting her head on my shoulder, me smelling the faint scent of her shampoo. I felt I could have done that forever.
Though love was in the air that night, so was a nearly zero degree wind-chill factor. Despite the down jackets and the embrace we shared, we finally began to shiver uncontrollably and our lips became so numb we could no longer feel our kisses. Reluctantly we let each other go and walked hand in hand back to my car.
We drove in silence for a bit, letting the car's heater tackle the task of warming up the interior. I glanced at her several times. She was looking out the window at the passing scenery but not seeing anything. Her eyes were shining and glazed, her expression contented.
When I got to the freeway and no longer needed to shift gears, I took her hand in mine once again, doing it carefully since that was my sore hand. She gazed at me lovingly.
"No matter what happens, Bill," she told me, "I'm always going to remember this night. My first date, my first kiss. Thank you for taking me."
"I'll always remember this night too," I said.
A few more minutes passed, bringing my house and an end to this night ever closer. Finally I asked, "When can we see each other again, Nina?"
"I'm not doing anything tomorrow," she told me quickly.
Sadly I shook my head. "Tracy's flying in tomorrow and I promised Mom I'd pick her up at the airport. We'll be doing all the family crap. But Sunday's free and I have lots of Christmas shopping to do."
"So do I," she said. "How about Sunday morning around nine?"
"It's a date."
"I'll come over to your house again," she said. "Remember, no phone calls just yet."
"Okay," I said doubtfully. "I take it your parents would not be too thrilled to find out you're dating me?"
"I'm sorry, Bill," she said quietly. "I would just assume we keep this a little secret from them for the time being."
"They liked me before," I offered hopefully.
"That was before," she said. "Things are different now. Very different."
"What do you mean?"
There was a long pause, as if she was trying to gather her thoughts. "Bill, my parents are kind of old you know."
I nodded. "Yeah."
"My mom was 38 when she had me, my dad was 40. They'd been told that they couldn't have children and they'd lived with that for years. They'd accepted it. And then, after all that time, my mom managed to get pregnant anyway."
I nodded, not sure what to say, not sure where this was leading.
"You see," she continued, "I'm their only child and they're kind of overprotective at times. They're also from a different generation than your parents. They're as old as your grandparents are. I've always been very close to them, probably closer than a lot of kids are because of how they've always treated me. I've always been like, well a gift from God to them. Anyway, the day that you and I had our... our fight, I went home crying. I couldn't stop crying in fact."
"Uh huh," I said, feeling more than a tinge of guilt at this admission.
"Well, my mom was home. She found me crying and she asked me what was wrong. You have to understand that was a strange way for me to act. I learned way back in grade school when I was ugly, lisping Nina not to cry. So obviously, Mom knew something was very wrong with me. I cried and cried that day while she held me and finally I told her what was wrong. I told her everything."
"You mean..." I couldn't finish, so stunned was I. She had told her everything?
"Everything," Nina said. "About how I loved you. That she already knew. But then I told her about how I'd found out that you were sleeping with every girl you could get your hands on. How you had a reputation around the school for that sort of thing. About how the girls would come up to me and ask, well, you know." She smiled crookedly. "Mom was kind of upset about that. In fact, she used a few words about you that I'd never heard her use before."
"Jesus, Nina," I said quietly. She had told her everything!
"She was more upset than I ever would have imagined. I figured she would comfort me and tell me things like 'you'll be okay without him' and 'he's not worthy of you', and stuff like that, you know?"
"Mother things," I offered.
"Right," she said, cracking a slight smile. "But that wasn't what happened at all. She was outraged, angry. I don't believe I've ever seen my mom that angry before. Not even when I was playing in her car in the driveway when I was a kid and accidentally let off the emergency brake and crashed it into the neighbor's car across the street. She was almost insane with anger, Bill."
"Wow," I said, thinking it was no wonder that I'd gotten a cold reception on the few times I'd called after our break-up. "And your dad?"
"Mom told him that night," Nina said. "I heard them talking softly to each other when they went to bed. The next morning he told me that I was to 'never see that bastard again'. That's an exact quote, mind you. It was pretty plain that Dad was even angrier than Mom. Later that day Dad took me aside and had a talk with me."
"A talk?" I asked, trying to picture jovial, terminally happy Mr. Blackmore having a serious talk about anything.
She nodded. "He told me about, well, boys like you. Boys who were only after one thing. He used a lot of profanity as he talked about it and he lost his temper a few times even though he was the only one talking. He told me how they could 'fuck up my whole life' and 'destroy everything I've worked for', how they were good for nothing but destroying other people's relationships."
"It seems your parents have some rather strong feelings about this," I said, giving the understatement of the year. What she was telling me was very unsettling. Though I would have expected some depth of anger from her parents at what she had told them, this seemed a little excessive, even for older generation people who were raised in the pre-World War II era.
"Yes," she answered, "strong feelings would be a good way to put it. Thank God it was me who answered the phone today. I don't know what would have happened if Dad would have been the one."
"Are we going to keep seeing each other, Nina?" I asked her.
She looked sharply at me. "Yes," she answered. "I want to see you as much as possible. I'm already pouting to myself because I can't see you tomorrow."
"Don't you think that your parents will find out about us pretty soon?"
She shook her head. "I don't even want to think about that," she told me. "If I keep coming over to your house and you don't call me at mine, there's no reason why they need to know anything."
I opened my mouth to protest this statement. I wanted to tell her that her reasoning was flawed, that if I'd learned one thing in the past few months it was that you could not hide your activities from the people you lived with for any length of time. But before the first word could clear my lips I slammed them shut. What purpose could such a discussion serve right now? What purpose except to spoil what had been a perfect, glorious night?
"Okay, Nina," I said, giving her a smile and giving her hand another squeeze. "We'll play it your way."
We arrived back at my house a few minutes later. I walked her to her mother's car where we exchanged one more kiss, one more hug, before she climbed inside. She started up the car and drove away. I watched her until she was out of sight.
10-20-2012, 11:29 AM
RE: Doing It All Over
"This is my reception?" Tracy asked with mock indignation when we finally found each other in the crowded airport. "I faithfully call and write all the time and all they can send is you to come pick me up?"
"You're lucky you even got me," I told her. "They were gonna have you take the bus home."
She laughed and we embraced each other warmly.
"It's good to see you, Bill," she said. "And it's good to see snow on the ground. I'm so sick of rain all the goddamn time."
I stepped back from her and took in her attire. She was wearing tight jeans and a sweater covered by a light windbreaker. "I don't think you're gonna be too happy about it when you step outside. It's about twenty degrees out there. Where the hell is your heavy jacket?"
"It's in my suitcase, mother," she told me, "which is probably in the baggage carousel if it isn't on its way to Beirut or something. It never gets cold enough in the Bay Area to wear the damn thing. Every time I put it on I break out in a sweat."
"Well, you'll get some use out of it this week," I replied. "C'mon, lets go get your bag."
"You seem to be in a good mood," Tracy commented as we fought our way through the terminal full of holiday travelers.
"Really?" I asked. "Does it show?"
"You're walking around looking like someone who's in the process of getting a blowjob."
I chuckled. "Well put. Actually I am in a very good mood."
"Really? And why is that? Have there been some developments since the last time I talked to you?"
"Many," I said. "It all started with this." I held up my hand for her inspection.
"Stitches," she said after giving them a quick glance. "Mom told me the other night that you'd cut your stupid self at work. You'd think that after living in two lives you'd have learned to keep your hand away from surgical instruments. Why should that put you in a good mood?"
I told her about my make-up with Nina and about our date.
"Bill, that's absolutely radical," she squealed, giving me another hug. "Congratulations."
"Thanks, Tracy." I smiled. I knew she was more than simply happy for me, but for herself as well. My improving relationship with Nina went a long way towards confirming the theory we'd discussed at Thanksgiving. I knew my next piece of news would make her even happier in that regard.
"And there's more," I told her.
I told her what I had done for Anita. She listened with growing respect.
"Wow," she finally said. "You really are a conniving son of a bitch, little brother."
"Do you think it worked?" she asked.
I shrugged. "Time will tell. I'll keep an eye out for his car suddenly parked in front of her house. If I see that, I'll know it worked. If I don't, then maybe I'll have to come up with something else."
She giggled. "My brother," she said, "the freaking hand of fate."
As we drove towards home Tracy seemed a little fidgety, as if there was something she wanted to say but that she didn't know how to begin. Finally I told her to spill it.
"Well," she started, "I know you've been putting money into the stock market and all."
"Yeah," I agreed.
"But I was wondering if you'd really thought about, you know, taking advantage of the knowledge you have."
"What do you mean?" I asked her.
"You could do so much more than just put a few bucks into the stock market," she said. "You could actually 'invent' things that are going to be popular in a few years. You could patent them before the inventor does and then take the money from that and put it into your stocks. You could make billions if you play your cards right Bill. Billions! And I could help you. I'm going to be a corporate lawyer that specializes in..."
"Hold on a second, Tracy," I interrupted, not liking the way she was talking a bit.
"You're suggesting that I steal people's inventions and take the credit for them?"
"It's not really stealing," she protested. "You're just thinking of it first. And I'm not talking about the telephone patent or anything. I'm talking about shit like that." She pointed at the car in front of us. In its rear window was a small plastic sign shaped like a highway caution sign and colored yellow. It was stuck to the rear window with suction cups. BABY ON BOARD read the motto in black letters. "The fuckin' baby on board signs. Whoever invented that stupid thing must be raking it in. Something like that comes along every couple of years. There must be other stuff like that in the future, stuff you already know about. Why can't you just make the first move?"
"Tracy..." I started.
"Or what about books and music lyrics?" she went on. "You know what books are going to be best sellers! You know what songs are going to be number one hits! What if you wrote them first? What if you copyrighted the..."
"Tracy!" I barked, finally getting her attention.
"I couldn't do that," I told her.
"Why not?" she asked. "Think about how much money you could make!"
"I'll make enough money from my stocks, Tracy. I was a paramedic who was used to living on less than forty thousand dollars a year. My investments will be enough to keep me comfortable for the rest of my life."
"Fuck comfort!" she yelled. "Bill, you have the potential to become the richest man ever if you play your cards right."
"And what would that accomplish?" I asked her, surprised and slightly disgusted by this greedy side of my sister. "First of all my conscience will not allow me to do something like that. Despite what you say, what you are suggesting is stealing. Maybe the worst form of stealing a person could do."
"It is!" I yelled. "But let's put that aside for a moment. Suppose I do as you ask and steal other people's thoughts in order to capitalize upon them. We've already discovered that fucking around with fate can have disastrous consequences. You're asking me to potentially increase those consequences tenfold. How many lives could I screw up by doing that? How many people throughout history could I potentially fuck over?"
"Bill," she said carefully, "you would be helping yourself and your family by doing it. You wouldn't be hurting anybody you knew."
"Anybody I knew," I repeated softly.
"Right," she agreed.
Fighting to keep my eyes on the road to avoid glaring at my sister and to keep my voice level to keep from scaring her too badly, I said, "Tracy, when I was a paramedic I worked for a corporation. A large, faceless corporation based on the East Coast. They owned ambulance companies all over the United States, in damn near every state. And do you know what their prime motivation was? Do you know what was behind every decision they made?"
"Money obviously," she said, not getting me.
"Right," I said. "Money. Legal tender. The almighty dollar. That was what they were all about, that was their focus. Capitalism at it's finest, right?"
She shrugged. "That's what everything is all about."
I nodded. "Uh huh. It is. But you see, I was the poor slob on the bottom end of the pile, the poor slob who was just trying to scratch out a living in this huge corporation. A worker bee. And like a worker bee I was expendable. I watched what happens when some group of people or some individual is only looking out for itself. I watched what happens when someone said to themselves, 'nobody I know is getting hurt' and then signed a piece of paperwork that laid off thousands of people he would never have to look at. I saw many of my friends lose their jobs and have their lives destroyed, saw them have to go on welfare and unemployment, saw them lose their houses, their spouses even, because some fucking bean counter in corporate headquarters decided that the company wasn't making enough profit in the Pacific Northwest division. They would have to have a 'reduction in force', or they would say that 'positions needed to be eliminated'. They were rich fucks up in some office building in New York throwing around euphemisms about firing people so they could show a few extra bucks on the stockholder report."
"I've been on the wrong end of what you're saying, Tracy," I told her. "I used to think about people that sat in office buildings, making decisions based on money that would ultimately destroy people's lives. You know what I used to think about them?"
"What?" she asked quietly.
"I used to tell myself that they'd sold their souls. That they'd given up morality completely in order to be able to do what they do and sleep at night. I used to swear that there was no way I could ever do such a thing." I looked over at her. "What you are asking me to do amounts to selling my soul, Tracy. I would be taking something from someone else in order to further my own cause. I will not do that. I'll invest in stocks that I know are going to go up and I'll make money off of that. Sure, those companies are doing all of the things that I've just described to their employees. But I won't be involved in that. I will never have to knowingly destroy other people in order to get ahead. Maybe that doesn't qualify me as a saint, but at least I won't be selling my soul, do you understand?"
She looked at me for a long moment, her eyes soft and maybe showing a touch of shame. Finally she nodded. "I understand, Bill. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have brought that up."
But I wondered if she really understood. Somehow I didn't think she did.
10-20-2012, 11:29 AM
RE: Doing It All Over
Argument with Tracy aside, the Christmas break of 1983 ranks up there as one of the most enjoyable two weeks of either of my lives. I was in love and my love was being returned. It was the initial, realization stage of love, the time of discovery, a time that comes very rarely in a person's lifetime, never for some. It was a time that had never occurred in my previous life.
Nina and I saw each other whenever we could, doing whatever struck our fancy. We went Christmas shopping together, holding hands as we walked through the crowded mall. We went to movies together, cuddling against each other and occasionally sharing a kiss. We sat for hours sometimes just talking, reveling in the friendship that we shared and almost lost, just enjoying being together.
More than ever I looked forward to seeing her. More than ever I felt the pang of withdrawal when she could not make it over during the day or if she could not arrange to talk to me on the phone. These feelings were almost foreign to me, surprising in their power and depth. Nina made me realize how foolish I'd been in my previous life to ever think that I'd really been in love.
Even the feelings I once had for Lisa, my ex-wife, paled in comparison. Nina made me realize what a farce our relationship had been, how it had been a drastic mistake from the very beginning. Had I really ever thought I'd loved her?
Lisa and I had met when I'd responded to a call for a fall in a grocery store in South Spokane. Paramedics are automatically cynical of fall calls in grocery stores or other places of business. Usually what you find when you get there is someone who has accidentally or even deliberately come crashing to the ground and is seeing dollar signs in their eyes from a future law suit against the business. Such was my attitude upon entering that store that afternoon. What I'd found however was not a fat welfare recipient with visions of a six figure settlement, but an attractive stocker who had gotten her ankle caught in a ladder while putting fresh merchandise on the shelf. She had fallen, twisting the ankle into an unnatural position. She was dark haired, dark eyed, and beautiful. Being the visually stimulated person I was back then, I was immediately intrigued by her, imagining what that body looked like under her uniform. I began my exam of her, coming to a medical conclusion in less than a second. Her ankle was swollen and angulated to the left. She was obviously in pain. Her face was scrunched up and beads of sweat were standing out on her forehead. Broken tibia and fibula. Nasty and painful but not lethal or crippling.
Paramedics often measure a person's personality traits by their pain tolerance. When a person whines and moans about a simple little cut on the finger, behaving as if someone had rammed a hot poker up his or her ass, that person is judged to be of poor character. But when a person has an obviously fractured bone and declines an offer of morphine to help ease it and even offers to drive themselves to the hospital as Lisa did that day, that person is judged to be someone to reckon with. I sat in the back of the ambulance with her that day admiring her character, and her looks. This was my first mistake, rating my future wife by the black and white standards of my cynical profession.
There are of course ethical rules against asking patients out on dates. That extends to taking phone numbers, names, or any other personal information from the paperwork for later use. However if a paramedic on lunch break should happen to choose a certain grocery store to buy his deli sandwiches, a certain grocery store where a certain stocker was now working as a checker in order to keep off her broken ankle, there are no ethical concerns in that situation. Over the next month I bought deli sandwiches for lunch every day. I bought them until I was so sick of them that I would drop them in the garbage can on the way out of the store and then head for Taco Bell or McDonalds. I always chose the line that Lisa was checking, no matter how many people were in it, no matter how empty the other lines were.
I don't want to sound like I was a stalker or anything. If Lisa had given me some indication that she didn't like my flirtations I would have ceased immediately. But she didn't. She obviously enjoyed the attention she was getting from me and she shamelessly flirted back. Finally I asked her out and she accepted.
We began dating regularly, crossing over the line into the land of boyfriend and girlfriend. I took her home to meet my parents and she took me home to meet hers. Both of us at the time were living with roommates in small apartments and both of us were sick of it. It wasn't long before we decided to move in together.
It was about then that we began telling each other that we loved one another. Was it true? I thought it was then. I really did. After all, you didn't move into an apartment with a girl, you didn't share a bed with her if you didn't love her, did you? It seemed to make perfect sense. We were in love. After all, she could take broken ankle pain. What was not to love about her?
Only after spending that first night with Nina, only after I felt what true love was really like, did I realize how idiotic this supposition really was. Lisa and I didn't love each other, we were roommates. We'd enjoyed each other's bodies a few times on a purely physical level and then, to get away from unpleasant living arrangements, we moved in together and called it love. We called it love so often that we started to believe that it was love.
Before long we decided to get married. I didn't fall down on my knee and propose to her. I didn't hire a pilot to write 'marry me, Lisa' in the sky. Our decision to marry came about after a long discussion on how much we would save on taxes and car insurance and about how her parents would stop making snide remarks about us living in sin. We didn't even call it marriage when we discussed it. We talked of 'legitimizing our relationship'.
Even then there were strong indicators that it wouldn't work. We had different views on many things; different views which often led to arguments. We had trouble talking together at times. She had no understanding for the bizarre hours I had to work and for the frequent late calls that brought me home as much as two hours late at times. When I tried to explain some of the frustrations of my job to her she would only look at me with a blank expression and then ask what was on TV. When she tried to talk to me about her job frustrations I would do the same. We were not really living on the same planet with each other, but we were in love, weren't we? That was all that mattered, wasn't it? If I thought about these problems at all during this time it was only to tell myself that marriage would change all that. When you got married you really loved each other. That was the rules, wasn't it?
So we did it. We sent out invitations and had a large wedding at a local park in the springtime. Lisa looked ravishing in her wedding dress. I looked handsome in my tux. Some great pictures and some great video were produced from the affair. We flew off to Hawaii for our honeymoon and had some great sex. We lounged on the beach and I felt pride at the throngs of males that were admiring the view of my new wife in her bikini. I'd surely bagged a hot one, hadn't I? And we loved each other deeply of course. We said it every day.
We settled into an unpleasant routine much faster than we should have. Before three months went by I was calling her 'the old lady' to my friends and grumbling about balls and chains. Our arguments grew more frequent and more intense. We realized we could not stand even being around each other except when we were having sex, the only aspect of our relationship where no problems existed. I was eventually forced to admit to myself that I was not happy, that I was no longer 'in love' with my wife. I began to toss around the idea of divorce in my head.
Before that idea could get a firm hold Lisa began throwing up in the morning and complaining that her boobs hurt. Her period, usually as regular as the tide, did not come when it was supposed to. A simple test available at any drug store confirmed what we suspected. Lisa, despite her diaphragm, was pregnant.
Strangely enough this was the happiest time of our marriage. Lisa positively glowed at the prospect of producing a baby. Our arguments decreased to the point that I really thought that things were going to be okay between us. There was never any question about abortion, although both of us were firm believers in a woman's right to have one. During her second trimester hormones took over her body and an era of sexual delight emerged. We would do it any time, anywhere, in any position. We would sometimes drop down on the carpet and do it with our clothes on. That had to mean I was still in love, right? I shelved any thoughts of divorce I'd been having.
During her third trimester we dug ourselves in even deeper. Using money from both her parents and mine, we put down a down payment on a three-bedroom house near downtown. The papers were signed a week before she delivered and when Becky came home from the hospital it was to a piece of real estate we actually owned.
It wasn't long before the problems began again. Lisa went through a vicious period of post-partum depression that she never really recovered from. By the time Becky was six months old I realized two things. One, I did not want to live with my wife anymore because I did not love her. Two, I was hopelessly in love with the small life we'd created and I couldn't bear the thought of being without her.
I hung in there as long as I could, as did Lisa who must have realized the same things. Our arguments grew more intense once again and more frequent. I thought about divorce often but could never bring myself to do it because I knew that would mean that Becky would be taken away. Finally the breaking strain happened. During an argument over why I was spending twenty dollars a week for lunch at work, I'd let the dreaded word slip from my mouth. I'll advise any married men out there that it is not a good idea to call your spouse a 'cunt' in any circumstance. Lisa, enraged at this word, lost her temper and slapped me across the face.
I stood staring at her, my face stinging with the blow, my hands itching to return it. Sickened that we'd turned to insulting profanity and physical violence as a solution to our problems I picked up my car keys and walked out the door. The next day I filed the papers. Six months later we were officially divorced.
Thinking back upon all of that it seemed the entire thing was a bad joke. Comparing the love I felt for Nina to what I'd felt during the happiest portion of my relationship with Lisa was like comparing an orgasm to a urinary tract infection. There was no question that Nina was the best thing that had ever happened to me. Though I had no idea how she would react to having a broken ankle I knew that Nina would never strike me in anger over an argument about twenty dollars for lunch. I knew that I would never have to reassure myself that I was really in love with her. Love was a physical thing, a sensation that could not be mistaken for anything else. Once you feel its pull upon you, you are forced to laugh at all of those, including your former self, who have asked themselves, 'am I really in love'. As I found out, when you are really in love, you know it.
10-20-2012, 11:29 AM
RE: Doing It All Over
The physical aspects of the relationship between Nina and I did not progress much. We kept our affections mostly confined to brief kisses and frequent hugs at first. We stayed with the holding of hands in the car while driving or while walking together. I would be dishonest to say that I did not wish to further this-remember I had an adolescent's hormones-but I knew it was very important to let Nina set the pace of this progression. This was Nina's first trip into this land and I did not want her to feel rushed.
It was plain that she wished more also. I could feel desire radiating off of her in waves when we hugged or kissed each other. I could see the unmistakable shine in her eyes, feel the trembling of her body. But I could also feel her fear. Fear of emotions and feelings she had never felt before, perhaps had never even suspected before.
Our slow pace meant that when we did progress, the weight that each new act carried was doubled or even tripled when it was allowed to take place. That made each one special and allowed it to be burned forever into my memory as well as hers.
On Christmas Eve she came over in the early afternoon, wheeling her Mom's car to the curb in front of the house. Tracy was out visiting some old friends and my parents were out doing some last minute shopping (something that was somewhat of a tradition for my parents). Nina carried a small, wrapped package into the house with her.
"I figured that since we won't get to see each other tomorrow," she told me as we walked to the couch and sat down, "that I should give you this today."
I took the package from her. "You didn't have to get me anything," I told her.
"Now what kind of girlfriend would I be," she asked, "if I didn't buy you a Christmas present?"
I looked up at her, seeing that she was blushing strongly. That was the first time that she'd referred to herself in such a manner.
"Thank you," I said gently. "Can I open it?"
"What else would you do with it?" she wanted to know.
I grinned. "My we're getting mouthy," I said, sliding my finger under the seam of the neatly wrapped package.
"Who do you think I learned it from?" she shot back.
I opened the package. It was a new leather wallet with my initials engraved upon it. A gift that had probably cost her thirty dollars at least; a small fortune for a teenager in that time period.
"Nina, you can't afford this," I admonished, unfolding it, inhaling the scent of fresh leather.
"I know," she said conspiratorially. "That's why I shoplifted it."
I laughed, reflecting again that there had once been a Nina completely incapable of telling a joke. "Thank you," I told her. "It's very nice, much nicer than the Velcro job I have now." I leaned over and gave her a kiss on the corner of the mouth.
"Mmmm," she said, her eyes sparkling. "Maybe I'll go shoplift some more if this is what I get."
"Maybe you should," I answered, kissing her more firmly on the lips.
She kissed me back enthusiastically at first and then her circuit breaker kicked in. She pulled away, flushed. A brief moment of awkward silence ensued.
"Wait here," I finally told her.
I went upstairs to my room and opened my closet door. I rummaged around for a moment until I retrieved what I was after. When I returned, I handed a wrapped package to her.
"For me?" she asked with mock innocence.
"For you," I confirmed.
She took the package, which was the size of a paperback book, and hefted it a few times, testing the weight. "Kind of light," she remarked, jokingly.
"But it's straight from the heart," I assured her.
She began to tear into the clumsy wrap job (wrapping presents is something I've never been able to do well, in either life), revealing the plain white box beneath. When the wrapping paper was a balled up mess on the coffee table she began working on the tape that I'd placed heavily over the lid. When, after considerable effort, the lid came loose, she began pawing through the tissue paper in the box. At last she pulled a small object encased in clear plastic from the pile. It was a glass cylinder, slightly larger in diameter than a quarter, with metal threads on the bottom. She held it up to her eyes.
"It's..." she started doubtfully, her face scrunching in confusion, "It's..." A pause as she gathered her thoughts. "What is it, Bill?"
"It's a forty amp fuse," I said proudly.
"A forty amp fuse?"
"Right," I told her, nodding enthusiastically. "With that baby in your household fuse box, you'll damn near have to burn down the house before it blows. You can hook up Christmas lights, a toaster, and a dryer all to the same circuit if you want."
She looked at me for a moment and then back at the fuse. "A forty amp fuse," she said slowly. "Well it's... uh..."
I was going to keep up the charade a little bit longer but I couldn't contain myself. I burst out laughing. Nina looked at me and finally realized I was putting one over on her.
"You asshole," she giggled, throwing the fuse at me. It bounced off my shoulder and clattered to the coffee table.
"I'm sorry," I said, still chuckling. "But you should have seen your face."
"How would you like it if I gave you a box of tampons?" she asked. "I could tell you that 'these babies will keep your flow contained for damn near six hours in an emergency'."
I looked up at her in stunned disbelief for a moment. That was, without a doubt, the raunchiest joke I'd ever heard her crack. My laughter bubbled up again, spewing from my mouth. She joined me, slapping playfully at my arm once. Finally I took her in my arms and gave her another kiss. The seriousness of the kiss cut our laughter off like a valve.
When we broke apart once again, both of us tingling, I reached into the pocket of my sweater and pulled out another clumsily wrapped package, this one only three inches square. This one was the real gift. As I'd predicted, my stocks had risen considerably after the news article about the glove shortage. They'd inflated enough for me to cash out a few and do some reckless spending.
"Here," I said, handing it to her. "This one might be a little more pleasing."
She took it, continuing to eye me for a moment. Finally she began to pull the wrapping paper off. The package beneath was a velvet covered, hinged box from a jewelry store. She lifted the lid and stared at what was inside.
"Oh, Bill," she said softly. "It's beautiful."
Inside the box was a gold pendant in the shape of a heart. Its surface was studded with small diamonds. A gold chain was attached to it and stowed under the display partition in the box.
"I'm glad you like it," I told her seriously.
"Bill, this looks very expensive," she said, fingering it lightly.
"It wasn't too bad," I said dismissively. "I was glad to get it for you. Do you know why?"
"Because I love you, Nina," I said.
She looked at me, her face melting, a tear forming in her eye. "I love you too, Bill," she said softly. "More than anything."
We continued to stare at each other for a moment, neither of us sure what to do, both of us feeling the tingling of electricity that was building between us. I finally broke the spell by asking, "Why don't you put it on? See how it looks."
"Sure," she said, taking her eyes from me and concentrating on the gift in the box.
She extricated the necklace and pendant, gave them a quick look, and then handed them to me. "Can you put it on me?" she asked.
I took it from her and undid the clasp. She leaned forward towards me, grabbing her hair and holding it away from her neck. Our faces were less than six inches apart. Taking the ends of the chain in each of my hands I put my arms around her neck, resting my forearms on her shoulders. She gazed up at me lovingly as my trembling hands attempted to put the little clasp into the little loop. It was not as easy as it looked.
"Take your time," Nina said breathlessly, pushing herself closer to me.
I nodded, finally getting the two ends to fit together.
"There," I said, trying to pull away. But she dropped her hands from her hair and put them around my back, holding me firmly to her, refusing to let go.
"I'll look later," she said, pulling me against her.
Our lips met in a soft kiss and her arms squeezed me tight, allowing me to feel her chest pushing against mine. Instead of touching her lips to mine and then withdrawing as she usually did, she kept them there, pressing them, letting them taste me. For the first time since our first embrace by the river I felt the tip of her tongue reach out hesitantly, touching the underside of my upper lip. Her tongue was warm and soft, wet with her saliva as it touched briefly and pulled back into her mouth.
Emboldened by her first tentative move, she did it again, letting her tongue slide completely between my lips. I touched the tip of it with my own and our taste buds connected. At the touch she trembled in my arms, compelling me to pull her tighter. She pulled her tongue back again and then slid it in a little deeper, seeking and meeting mine, allowing them to swirl together for an instant. I gave her tongue a little suck with my mouth and she hummed against me, driving it further into my mouth.
We broke apart for a second and looked into each other's eyes. I saw wanting in hers, excitement, the excitement of new discovery.
"I always thought it would be gross," she said softly, her breath tickling the wetness of my lips.
"Gross?" I asked, leaning in and kissing her lightly, dabbing at her lip with my tongue, before withdrawing.
"Yes," she said. "French kissing. I always thought it would be gross. Touching someone else's tongue with yours. But it's not."
"I guess it depends on who the someone is," I said.
She leaned forward again. "Maybe that's it."
We resumed our kiss, letting our tongues glide together, holding each other tightly. Her hands came up to the back of my neck and began caressing me there, lightly rubbing with the fingertips, lightly scratching with the fingernails. The sensation sent chills down my spine and I felt myself becoming erect with frightening speed. I let my own hands drop down to her lower back, my fingers feeling the muscle and skin, the softness that existed beneath the material of her sweater.
We continued to do this for more than ten minutes, our tongues probing each other's mouths, our hands caressing. Nina seemed to relish it, to draw strength from it. She quickly learned what I liked and what I did not like and adapted her technique. She learned not to cram her tongue down my throat but to teasingly swirl the tip, gradually increasing the depth. I sucked gently on her lips for a moment, making them swell and then she did the same to mine.
My dick, which had been relieved by nothing but my own hand since my afternoon with Cindy and Maggie, was straining in my jeans, begging to be released. It was accustomed to playing a more active role in the festivities once things reached this point. It ached to be ground into her body, to have her hand upon it. But this was not Cindy or Maggie, this was not Debbie or Steph or Anita or any of the other girls I'd bedded. This was Nina, who I loved and who I was not going to push anything upon. My pants would be kept firmly buttoned, at least until after she'd left.
When we finally broke apart a few minutes later I could feel the dull ache of blue balls in my groin. Nina looked up at me, her face still flushed, her eyes shining.
"Wow," she commented, straightening herself on the couch.
I nodded, trying to adjust myself in my pants by shifting my body back and forth. It was a poor job at best.
"So that was 'making out', right?" she asked me.
I chuckled. "Yes," I told her. "That was making out."
"Hmmm," she said clinically. "I can see why people like to do it."
"It is rather enjoyable, isn't it?"
"And now that we're, uh, together, we can do that whenever we want to?"
"We should probably wait until we're alone," I said. "But yes. Anytime."
She smiled. "Having a boyfriend is pretty cool."
10-20-2012, 11:30 AM
RE: Doing It All Over
Nina left early the next morning to visit some relatives in Idaho with her parents. I would not see her for the next three days. When she returned we were only able to get together for a few hours on two different days. On one of those days we found the time and the privacy to 'make out' for a while but it did not match the passion of that first time. Not that it was disappointing you understand.
We made plans to get together on New Year's Eve, to see in the beginning of 1984 together. Tracy would be going to a party with some friends (and borrowing my car to do it so she wouldn't risk riding with a drunk driver) and my parents would be at a New Year's Eve party of their own. I had a twelve pack of beer that Tracy had scored for me and a joint of some good greenbud that Mike had scored for me. We planned to sit and watch all of the stupid shows that were on, smoke grass, drink beer, and maybe make out a little. Though it may sound unimaginably dull to some, I was looking forward to it greatly.
About six o'clock that evening, as Tracy and my parents were frantically scrambling around the house trying to get ready to go, Nina called me.
"Bill," she told me sadly, getting right to the point, "I can't come over tonight."
"You can't?" I asked, disappointed, feeling almost betrayed in fact.
"I'm sorry," she said. "My parents told me I couldn't go out tonight. They were very firm about it too." She sighed. "I don't know what's gotten into them. They've never treated me like this before. Never!"
I was silent for a moment. I knew what was happening and I had known that it was coming eventually. As I said before, you simply cannot hide your activities from those you lived with. Especially not when you had been in the habit of staying home all of the time and then you suddenly developed the urge to go out for hours at a time every day. I'd tried to bring this up to her on a few occasions but her reaction each time quickly taught me that it was a taboo subject. I knew I was simply going to have to wait until the subject came to a head. Well now it seemed as if that had happened.
"Nina," I said, "did your parents ask you where you wanted to go tonight before they said no?"
"Yes," she told me.
"And what did you tell them?"
"That some friends from school were having a party that I wanted to go to. I told them I wouldn't drink and everything and they still said no. No matter how much I..."
"Nina," I interrupted.
"They know about us."
There was silence on the line for a moment. Finally, "No, Bill, they can't. How could they know? I never tell them where I'm really going when I come over to your house."
"Do you think your parents are stupid, Nina?" I asked, trying to keep my voice gentle, but wanting to get this point across.
"No!" she said sharply. "But I don't see how..."
"Think about it," I told her. "You're a shy girl all of your life until you meet me. Suddenly you start going out and doing things all of the time. They like me at first so they allow it. But then we have a falling out because of, well, you know. Anyway, you stop seeing me and go back to staying in the house all of the time. They tell you that you are never to see me again. For a while you don't. And then all of a sudden you start having things to do once more. You want to borrow their car all the time so you can go visit someone. No matter what you are telling them when you come over here, I doubt if they bought it more than twice. They have common sense, Nina. They know about us."
"They do not!" she yelled angrily. "They're just afraid of me being out on a night when everyone's drinking. I was careful, Bill. They don't know about us and they won't find out!"
"I'm sorry I can't come over," she said shortly. "If you'd like me too, I'll try and come over tomorrow."
"Of course I do, Nina," I said. "But you're going to have to face..."
"There's nothing to face!" she insisted. "Do you want me to come over tomorrow or not?"
I sighed, shaking my head. "Yes, Nina," I said, more gently. "I'll see you tomorrow."
"I'll give you a call." she said. A second later the phone clicked in my ear, before I'd even had a chance to tell her I loved her.
And so it came to pass that I spent New Year's Eve alone in my parent's house. The beer did not get drank, the pot did not get smoked. I went to bed around ten o'clock. I was too miserable to even masturbate.
10-20-2012, 11:30 AM
RE: Doing It All Over
When I woke up the next morning I was not surprised to find my parent's car missing from the garage. It was a New Year's Eve tradition with them. They would get totally trashed at the school faculty party and take a cab home. The next morning they would not get out of bed until at least noon, at which point they would spend the rest of the afternoon bitching about their hangovers and swearing that they were never going to drink again. In the early evening they would pile into Mom's car and drive to wherever Dad's car had been left the night before to retrieve it. Let me tell you, anyone who thinks of teachers as stoic, sober, square people never grew up with one in the house. In my experience Dad was more the rule than the exception. He was by no means an alcoholic but he sure liked to party on special occasions.
Tracy was already up when I went down to the kitchen. She was drinking a cup of coffee and flipping through the newspaper. She was not hung over since she had not had anything to drink the night before. There's nothing like having a death sentence from fate hanging over you to keep you from driving a car while intoxicated. Too bad there wasn't some way we could do that to those that were arrested for drunk driving. It would probably drastically cut down on the repeat offender rate.
She asked how my night had gone and I told her about my conversation with Nina. She listened with concern.
"A classic case of denial," she told me when I'd finished. "But understandable. Remember, Bill, she's still, for all of her maturity and sophistication, a seventeen-year-old. Seventeen year olds are always right."
"I know," I said. "I'm sure that deep down she knows that I'm right. She just doesn't want to face it, doesn't want to confront it because she'll then be forced into a confrontation with her parents. She's very untypical of a seventeen-year-old in that regard. She worships her parents and she still thinks they're smarter than she is."
"In all except for this," Tracy said. "If I was you I'd brace myself. I think this thing might be about to explode."
"I think you're probably right," I agreed.
Tracy then turned the conversation around to her real goal of the morning. She wanted to borrow my car again to go to a football party. I had nowhere to go so I told her she knew where the keys were. Less than twenty minutes later she was out the door.
Nina called a few minutes later and told me happily that her parents had raised no objections to her going out today. She almost gloated as she told me this. When I hung up from her my mood was improved greatly. I would get to see her today. That always made me happy. And maybe I was the one who was wrong about her parents. Maybe they really had been concerned about her being out on New Year's Eve. After all, Nina knew her parents better than I did, didn't she?
I was about to head upstairs to shower when Dad came staggering into the kitchen. He was wearing his robe tied loosely around him. His hair was a tangled mess and his face was unshaven with eyes that looked downright painful.
"Ohh God," he moaned, heading for the cabinet. As he passed I could smell the odor of stale booze around him; a smell my paramedicine career had made me intimately familiar with. "Never again."
"Little too much to drink last night?" I asked him as he fumbled a large tumbler out of the cabinet and almost dropped it.
"Uhhh!" he groaned, turning on the sink and filling the glass. "Don't ever drink, Bill," he advised me. "Ever."
"I'll take that under consideration," I told him, watching as he downed the glass of water in three gulps. He refilled it and then went to another cabinet for some aspirin.
When I finished my shower and came back downstairs he was lying on the couch, a blanket wrapped around him, watching the first of many football games. He seemed semi-catatonic and I could not imagine that he was actually seeing anything on the screen. I smiled in amusement, reflecting that if I'd been a normal teenager I would have been struck with the screaming horrors at the idea of my girlfriend coming over while my dad was in his bathrobe on the couch.
"Nina's coming over in a little bit," I told him, just to give him fair warning.
"Uh," he grunted, his head never turning.
When Nina arrived we went up to my room. This was not out of desire to make out or out of embarrassment at the state of my father but simply to keep the noise level downstairs, where both my parents were, to a minimum. They probably weren't in the mood for excessive chatter.
We sat on my bed talking while a Simon and Garfunkle album played on the turntable at low volume. Since my return I'd re-discovered the fact that most music from the eighties really sucked. This was probably due to the advent of MTV, which had made it necessary for a band to look good on camera instead of to produce good music. Since I could not hear music from the nineties, when this fad had balanced out a bit, I had turned, in desperation, to listening to music from the seventies and sixties. To my surprise and delight much of it was actually pretty good and even deep. I'd even managed to get Nina interested in some of it.
We were discussing the track currently playing when the sound of the doorbell ringing from downstairs registered on my consciousness.
"So you see," I explained, "he's a musician that tried to make it in New York and failed the first time. That's what the lyrics basically say. It's the last verse that really sums it up, tells you that he was defeated but that he remains a fighter from the experience."
"It's actually like poetry," Nina, an aficionado of poetry told me.
"Yes," I agreed, "that's what any really good song lyric is like. That's what they should strive for. That's what a lot of the crap they're putting out these days is lacking in. They simply try to repeat the same phrase over and over while they dance and come up with a bitchin beat from their synthesized drums. That's not music, that just..."
I stopped suddenly, hearing the sound of raised voices drifting up from below. My dad's was one of them. He was trying to patiently explain something to someone but the someone in question kept overriding his words. When the words 'where is she' drifted up from the owner of the other voice, Nina's ears perked up.
"Dad!" she said suddenly. "That's Dad!"
"Oh shit," I mumbled, hearing my dad start to raise his own voice.
"What do we do?" Nina asked me. "What is my dad doing here?"
"I guess we'd better go find out," I said, already knowing, "before our dads start exchanging punches with each other."
"Bill?" she asked, looking really scared now.
"C'mon," I said, standing up. "My dad is younger but your dad was in the war. I don't want my dad to get hurt."
"Bill!" came Dad's voice from downstairs. "Would you and Nina come down here for a minute?"
"C'mon," I told her. "The jig is apparently up."
"Oh God, Bill," she said, shaking her head.
When we got downstairs we found my dad, still dressed in his robe, still unshaven and looking like shit, facing off against Nina's dad, who was clean shaven and dressed in slacks and a sweater, over the threshold of the front door. When he saw Nina he took an angry step forward.
"Get your butt down here, girl!" he yelled. "How dare you tell me you were going to visit a friend and then take our car over here to this slimy scumbag's house!"
"Dad!" Nina yelled back, not moving forward.
"Now just a minute!" Dad put in angrily. I could tell he was reaching the end of his fuse. "Where do you get off coming to my house and calling my son..."
"Your son is the scum of the earth!" Mr. Blackmore proclaimed. "And you, sir, are the man who raised him with the values of a rutting pig. That makes you a rutting pig in my book and I have no further words to pass with the likes of you. I have come for my daughter before your son violates her in some god-forsaken way. I only hope and pray it hasn't happened yet. Nina, get over here now!"
"Dad!" Nina cried, tears on her cheeks now. "What are you doing? I love Bill!"
"Love?" he screamed, turning to me. "You are the lowest form of life on this earth, young man. Nina, NOW!" he commanded.
She opened her mouth to say something else but I spoke first.
"You'd better go with him," I told her.
"What?" she asked, looking at me as if I'd betrayed her.
"Nothing can be accomplished right now," I said. "This situation can only get worse. Go with him and try to talk to him. Tell him what I'm like."
"I know what you're like," Mr. Blackmore told me. "I know exactly what you're like."
"Now you listen here!" Dad yelled, taking a step forward. "My son..."
"Dad," I said sharply, using my adult voice, "let it go. It'll be all right."
Dad paused with his mouth open. He didn't look like he wanted to let it go and I was absurdly touched by this. My dad, one of the mildest mannered people I knew, seemed on the verge of violence because someone was slandering his son's reputation.
"It's okay, Dad," I told him again. "Let it go."
"Get out here, Nina!" Mr. Blackmore said again. "Now!"
"Bill?" Nina asked again, looking miserable.
"Go, Nina," I told her. "Talk to him. It's for the best. But wait until he's cooled down a little. And remember that I love you."
"Love?" he repeated. "You truly are..."
"Hey!" I barked, taking a step towards him, my eyes boring into his. It had the desired effect; he stopped talking and looked at me. "You have what you came for," I told him. "Nina is leaving with you, right, Nina?"
"Yes," she cried.
"You don't need to stand here and continue to throw insults at me. Just go."
We stared at each other for a moment and I could see in his eyes that he was starting to glimmer that he wasn't dealing with an ordinary teenager. Finally he nodded. "C'mon, Nina," he told her. "Let's go."
She gave me one last look and then followed her father out the door. She climbed into her mother's car while Mr. Blackmore climbed into his. A second later they were gone, leaving Dad and I standing in the doorway.
We looked at each other for a moment.
"Apparently Mr. Blackmore doesn't care too much for you?" he asked mildly.
I suppressed a smile. "Apparently not," I agreed.
He shut the door and looked at me. He rubbed his temples. "What are you going to do now?" he asked.
"Give it a few days," I said. "That's what I'm going to do. Hopefully Nina will be able to bring him around to at least tolerating me."
"And if she doesn't?"
I shrugged. "I love her, Dad," I said. "I plan to marry her some day. I don't think her dad is strong enough to keep us apart. One way or another we'll be together. Although I'd prefer to be with her with her dad's consent. If she can't bring him around I guess I'll go over and have a talk with him. Maybe that will help."
"Or maybe he'll shoot you dead on his porch," Dad suggested half-seriously.
"Ahh, Dad," I said, "at least that way I'd die poetically. In the name of love. Wouldn't that be glorious?"
Dad continued to stare at me, not even cracking a smile at my glory of love line. Finally he said, "Bill, don't you think it's about time you had a little talk with me?"
"A talk?" I asked.
"A talk," he confirmed. "I should have brought this up before now and I really wish that the straw that broke the camel's back hadn't happened on a day I was hung over, but I really think it's time."
"What are you talking about, Dad?" I asked weakly.
"You know exactly what I'm talking about," he told me. "It happened nearly two years ago now. One day you were Bill the underachiever. A nasty, typical teenager who didn't want anything to do with his parents, who hated his sister, who wouldn't listen to a word anyone told him. The very next day you were cleaning your room, improving your grades, making great strides to improve your relationship with Tracy, and..." He paused, "And you became somewhat of a hit with the girls. Much more of a hit than I've ever seen anyone be, adult or teenager. Something happened to you, something big, and it changed you completely. Sometimes you seem very adult in manner. Very adult. In fact you almost seem like someone who has seen a little bit of everything. At the same time you've made frighteningly accurate predictions about the stock market and events in the news. So how about we start to talk about it?"
"Dad," I started, not sure what I was going to say.
"Bill," he told me, "it's time. I can't go on like this any longer. Tell me what happened to you."
I frowned, looking at him. What to do? Finally I came to a decision. "Dad," I asked, "you ever smoke grass?"
He raised his eyebrows. "Excuse me?"
"Don't give me the standard Dad answer," I told him. "Tell me the truth. You grew up in the sixties. You went to college during the summer of love. You used to attend anti-war protests. Mom told me you burned your draft card and got arrested for it. I've seen pictures of you when you were in college. You looked like a hippie. So tell me, have you ever smoked grass?"
"Of course," he told me. "I used to smoke it quite a bit in college. But what does that..."
"Meet me in your den," I said, "and I'll tell you everything."
"Just do it, Dad. I have a joint upstairs. We need to smoke it together."
"You have a joint?" he asked sternly. "Bill, how dare you..."
"Dad," I said mildly, "as you pointed out, I'm not a typical teenager. If you want to hear what I have to say I think you're going to want to smoke some pot first. It's quite a story."
"I can hear your story just fine without smoking any pot, thank you," he told me. "And I want you to march right upstairs and throw away whatever marijuana you have in this house and never bring it in here again. What did you think..."
"Dad," I interrupted, "what I have to tell you is pretty mind-blowing, okay? You're going to need to put aside your parental attitude for a while. You've mentioned that I act like an adult at times. Well this is one of those times. If I'm going to tell you this story you're going to need to speak with me as an equal, not a teenager. In order to speak with me as an equal we need to be equal. Smoking pot with me will serve that purpose." I smiled. "Besides, it'll probably get rid of your hangover."
He stared at me for a moment, giving the extended version of The Look. Finally he nodded. "I guess I'll do about anything to get rid of this hangover," he said. "Meet me in there quick before my better judgment makes me beat your ass and ground you."
"Right," I said, heading upstairs.
10-20-2012, 11:30 AM
RE: Doing It All Over
We closed ourselves in Dad's den, locked the door, and I produced the joint. I lit it with a lighter, took a good hit, and then passed it over to Dad. He took it from my fingers and looked at it for a minute.
"Bill, this is nuts," he said. "I haven't done this in almost twenty years. You're my son for God's sake. Fathers are not supposed to smoke Mary Jane with their sons."
"Buds, Dad," I told him, exhaling my hit. "We call it buds these days. Take a hit."
He gave me one more doubtful look, sniffed a little at the joint, and finally put it to his lips. He inhaled, making the tip glow and then coughed a pungent cloud of smoke out.
"It tastes like a skunk," he complained. "Bill, I don't think..."
"It's supposed to taste like that," I told him. "That means its good shit. Hit it again. Slower this time."
He tried again. This time he managed to hold the hit for about fifteen seconds before he coughed it out. He passed the joint back to me and I quickly took another hit. When I gave it back to him he tried to refuse it.
"Hit it, Dad," I insisted. "If you want to hear this story you gotta be stoned. That's the rules."
"I can't believe I'm doing this," he muttered but took the joint anyway.
By the fourth hit, Dad was starting to mellow. He stopped trying to refuse the joint when I passed it to him. In fact he even began making jokes.
"Don't Bogart that joint, my friend," he sang when I took an especially long hit. He then began chuckling.
"Wouldn't dream of it, Dad," I said, feeling the drug going straight to my head.
"Wow," he said after exhaling another hit. "They've certainly made some improvements in grass since I used to smoke it. It used to take us four or five joints to get to where I am now."
"The miracles of modern horticulture," I told him and he started cracking up hysterically. I joined him, marveling that he was right, it was pretty freaking weird to get stoned with your father.
When the joint was burned down to a roach and both of us were flying high, I turned to him. "Okay," I said. "Are you sure that you want to hear this? What I'm about to tell you will change your entire opinion of me. You will no longer be able to see me as the son you've known."
He took a deep breath. "I don't see you that way now, Bill," he told me seriously. "Like I said, you changed suddenly one day. I have to say it's been for the better, but you haven't been the son I knew in quite some time. I still love you of course, don't get me wrong, but you weren't the same after that day. So give. Tell me what happened to you."
"If I tell you," I said, "you can never tell anyone else this story. No one, never! I would prefer you not even tell Mom although I would understand if you did. The consequences of anyone finding out what happened to me are potentially severe."
"The consequences?" he asked. "What do you mean?"
"I mean," I said, telling him the same thing I'd told Tracy, "that I possess knowledge that people would literally kill for. That they would stop at nothing to possess."
He raised his eyebrows a bit at that one.
"You're thinking I'm having delusions of grandeur, right?"
"It had occurred to me," he admitted.
"I'm not," I told him. "Remember the stocks, Dad? Remember how I knew a particular stock that was going to skyrocket at a particular time?"
"Yes," he said. "Are you trying to tell me that you can see the future, Bill? Because I'm not sure that I can really accept that."
"I'm not seeing the future," I told him. "I have lived through the future."
He looked at me for a moment, blinking. "Lived through the future?"
I began to talk.
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