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|16th Apr 2010, 11:20 PM||73: One night my Daddy came..or was it the devil? #101|
Roberta examined the nails of her right hand, thinking, and then said, “Did Machk put the baby down then?”
“Yes. He put the baby down and backed away toward the house. ‘Kid’s on the ground,’ he said. ‘No reason to shoot me. Your kid’s safe. Your money’s safe.’ ” Clarabelle lifted her chin, “He did that because he figured out right then that Cavell could blow his head off whether he had the baby in his arms or not, and that maybe he was safer without the kid after all. But Cavell just put the guns inside his shirt and told me to pick up the baby. Then he walked up to Neville and shoved him against the wall of the house. He said, ‘Where‘s my brother.’ Machk said, ‘Real sorry, Buddy. He was fighting those two men you shot and he fell off the cliff.’ Cavell leaned close, breathing right into his face, and said, ‘Go back to the casino and wait for me. And don’t screw with me, Mac, because I’ll find you no matter where you go.’ Machk looked scared and he left in a hurry, running around the side of the house toward the road.”
“I didn’t run,” yelled Neville. “But that guy was a total loony. He might have shot all of us.”
I looked around at him, “You’ve been saying Clarabelle shot those men.”
“She shot them, alright. I’m sure as hell not going to prison alone. And it looks like you’re going, too, Buster. You won’t survive long. That pretty face of yours is going to attract a lot of ugly attention.” He started laughing again.
“Gerry,” Komei caught my eye. “He’s a loser. Lies are a way of life for his type, so ignore him. Roberta will sort it out.”
I turned back to the conversation on the other side of the glass.
“…walked to the cliff and looked over the edge. He just stood there a while. I started feeling sick again and took Daniel inside and got him a bottle of milk. He went to sleep with it in his crib. I felt better and went back outside to see what Cavell was doing. He’d gotten rid of the other body. Over the cliff I figured. He was angry. He was breathing hard, panting. I started to leave again because I don’t like to be around him when he’s like that but he grabbed my arms. I said, ‘It’s OK. We’re good. I’m pregnant again. We’ll still get the money.’ So he let me go and walked back to the house where he stood next to Daniel’s crib, just staring at him. Then he looked up at me and smiled, ‘I’m his Daddy, now.’ Then he left.”
|16th Apr 2010, 11:22 PM||74: And then there's version #3 #102|
Roberta looked bored, “This is an interesting story, Clarabelle. Parts of it may even be true. It’s not the same story Machk is telling. He insists that you shot those two men, and since your fingerprints are on the gun, I’m inclined to believe his version. Either way, the two of you conspired to kill Gerry Zygmunt and ultimately killed two other men. You will go before Judge Leverton in a week and I assure you he will hold you over for trial.”
“I’m pregnant. It’s Gerry’s baby, and he doesn’t want his baby born in prison.”
“Gerry has no say in the matter. He is not your husband. Frankly, I would be surprised if the baby is even his. Social Services will arrange foster care.”
I was standing up by now. Komei had moved closer, “Easy, Gerry. The interrogation isn’t over yet.”
I stared at him and then through the glass at Roberta, shaking my head. “Foster care? She can’t! It’s Daniel’s brother, or sister!” I stepped closer to the glass. Komei came with me, and we both watched the two women on the other side.
Clarabelle slouched unhappily in her chair, stirring breadcrumbs around on the table top. “You think you know everything?” She sniffed. “You’re so smart you think you can tell what’s true and what’s not?”
“I know a snake when I meet one, Clarabelle. You’ve given birth to two children and are going to have another. You reproduce and then abandon the young to their fate, without a backward glance. What separates you from any reptile we find under a rock?”
Clarabelle rose suddenly to her feet, shouting, “I shot them! I did it. The damned fools killed Gerry, and were going to kill my baby. Do you think for one second I was going to let them do that? That I’d let them throw my baby off a cliff?”
Roberta was on her feet, too, “We caught you running away from that baby.”
“To keep Cavell away from him. I loved Cavell, but he would get crazy. And dangerous. He beat me. He even hit our kid once. Zissi! Our baby! He hit her! Damn you, don't you understand? He was fascinated by Daniel, spent too much time around him. So I persuaded him to rob the bank and meet me in Strangetown.”
“What?” Neville muttered. “Now that’s bullshit.”
Roberta studied Clarabelle’s face, “And leave Daniel to Social Services?”
“To his father. To Gerry.”
“Gerry’s going to jail.”
“Whatever for? Because of Cavell? Cavell threatened the lives of everyone Gerry knows--those women he dated, you, me, but most of all, Daniel. Believe me, lady, whatever Cavell threatened, he acted on, and Gerry knew it.”
“He should have gone to the police, as he did, finally, when it was too late.”
“Too late?” Clarabelle hissed. “Are you talking about those two deadbeats who beat up gamblers? Too late for them? I killed them. Not Cavell! You got that?”
Roberta smiled, “Loud and clear. Will you sign the statement?”
“I’ll sign it on one condition,” she snorted. “You make sure Gerry gets this baby when it’s born. He’s the father.”
“We should be able to arrange that.”
Clarabelle nodded and sank wearily down into her chair. “I’m tired,” she muttered. “I want to lie down.”
Behind me, Neville said, “I’ll be damned.”
|16th Apr 2010, 11:27 PM||75: In truth, she lies #103|
Marylena came for Clarabelle and as they passed me on the way out of the anteroom, Clarabelle looked over at me and said, “Stay out of trouble.” Then she was gone.
I said nothing, still trying to understand what had happened. What had she done?
Komei said, “Roberta wants to talk to you.”
I nodded and went into the interrogation room. Roberta was sitting at the table. Before Komei shut the door she told him to turn off the speaker and the recording equipment. “This conversation is just between me and Gerry.”
I sank into a chair, “I don’t understand what happened. She changed her story. She was almost free, and changed her story.”
“Do you want to hear what I think?”
“If you can explain any of this, then yes.”
“Cavell shot those men using her gun. Her first version was what really happened. Her second version, matching what Neville has told us, is not true.”
“Wait! Stop! But you’re arresting her for murder! You can’t do that!”
“What I think and what I can prove are two different things. All the facts, for what they’re worth, as well as her statement, and Neville’s statement, point to her as the shooter. The circumstances, I’ll admit, may help her. Those men were about to kill Daniel. They had already killed you, or so she thought. All of this may help to shorten her sentence. But don‘t forget, Gerry, the two of them planned to murder you, and almost succeeded. Doesn’t matter that she might have changed her mind at the last minute. There is no way she can escape the charges of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder.”
“Roberta, go with her first version. Convince the judge. I’ll help you. I‘ll tell him about Cavell, that he was an expert shot, that he had fits of violence. She‘s innocent.”
“No she’s not! What’s the matter with you? Your ears not working? She conspired to murder you, Gerry! She is going to prison for that. You, young man, are going to do as she asked, and stay out of trouble. Based on her statement, I’m pretty sure I can keep you out of jail. On probation, maybe. Community service. Something like that, but free to raise your children. If, on the other hand, you manage to convince anyone that Cavell was the murderer, then you go to prison as an accessory. Tell me that you understand! Tell me that you want to stay out of jail and raise your son!”
“Yes,” I agreed weakly. “I do. But, she told the truth as if it were a lie, and then she lied as if it were the truth. It doesn't make any sense.”
“Yes it does. I didn't know what she was doing until the end of it. I just thought I had an incredible idiot of a woman sitting at the table. But she lost her temper just a little too quickly when I accused her of being a snake who abandoned her children. That cut pretty deep, I gather, more than she could stand, as careful as she’d been up to then. So she changed her tune sooner than she had probably planned. Worn out, I suppose. It was pretty much finished, anyway.”
I rubbed at my face and said more to myself than to Roberta, “Why?”
“To keep you out of jail, Gerry, so that you can take care of her children. That was her goal from the beginning, as soon as we caught her. I plan to go along with it. No good will come of having you in jail, and it‘s my opinion that you‘ve been punished enough for not coming to us about your brother. I assume you know better then to repeat anything you and I have discussed in here.”
“Of course, but why didn't she just tell you...”
“Think about it. When’s the last time you believed anything she told you?”
“I’m sure you did, but you barely trusted her. And with her record, we didn’t believe anything she told us. It was all suspect. So what would you do, if you knew that everything out of your mouth was assumed to be a lie? And you wanted to convince us of something, of Gerry‘s innocence, for example. She told the truth, knowing we would not believe it, and then let me force what I thought was the truth out of her, which was actually the lie that proved you innocent. Get it?”
“Out of my league.”
“Exactly right. Go home to Daniel, and do a good job by him.”
|16th Apr 2010, 11:37 PM||#104|
There's an old short story by Agatha Christie called "Witness for the Prosecution," which was my inspiration for solving Gerry's dilemma. I hope my Roberta explained things clearly enough.
Meanwhile, there will be a handful of additional chapters as we sort out Gerry's love life.
|18th Apr 2010, 05:35 AM||#105|
Join Date: Feb 2010
You stated it well enough. =D Yay, Gerry isn't going to jail!
|20th Apr 2010, 11:12 PM||76: When the phone rings #106|
“DAN!” I yelled. “Answer the phone!”
“WHY?” He yelled back from the other room.
“Because it’s RINGING!”
“But it’s Captain Kangaroo!”
I knew that, of course. The TV volume was way too high.
I kept a firm hand on the toddler in the bathtub. “Dan! Just answer it and tell them to hold! Might be about the house.”
A few moments later I heard a crash in the other room. I shouted, “Dan! You OK?”
“I’m OK. A chair fell over.”
Sure, I thought. All by itself, a chair falls over. Annie kicked at the water in the tub and managed to soak the last dry on my shirt. I decided she was clean enough, lifted her out of the water and wrapped a towel around her. When I carried her into the living room, I saw one of the kitchen chairs over sideways on the floor, near the phone. Dan lounged on the couch in front of the TV, absorbed in a noisy cartoon.
I said, “Who was it?”
“On the phone?”
“What exactly do you mean by nobody? Did they hang up before you answered it?”
“No,” he looked up at me at last. “A lady. I asked if it was about a house. She said no. I hung up.”
“Didn’t she give her name?”
“No, Daddy. You told me not to talk to strangers, even on the phone. Didn’t you tell me that?”
I sighed, “That’s what I said, and I meant it. If it’s important, she’ll call back sometime.”
Dan nodded and smiled at me. I could never be angry with him about anything, because of that smile. Unfortunately, he knew it.
The next day the phone rang while Dan was in school and unavailable for errands. I was wrestling a ticklish baby into a clean diaper. It seems, however, that her internal affairs department was not yet done, because even as I got one side fastened, the clean diaper was suddenly not clean anymore. Annie squirmed in earnest, wanting to get off the changing table and back to her toys. She started wailing. She was tired. So was I. And the damn phone kept on ringing.
I picked her up and hurried into the living room to answer the phone. As I grabbed the receiver, a partly fastened dirty diaper slid down the struggling baby’s leg and fell on the floor. Messy side down, of course.
“Hello?” I said. Annie squirmed in my arms, trying to get down. She was very loud about it.
“Gerry? Is that you?”
Annie’s squirms grew more violent, and when she arched her back, throwing herself backwards, I almost dropped her. I dropped the phone instead. Annie screamed at me.
The phone call was not about the house and I didn’t have time to figure out who it was. I got a firm grip on the toddler, picked up the receiver, and said, “Sorry. Busy. Bye.”
It took me at least an hour to give Annie a bath, put her in clean clothes, get her to bed and clean up the mess that the two of us had left around most of the apartment. I opened a couple of windows to air the place out and then collapsed on the couch.
My butt was hardly on the cushion when the door opened and Dan came bouncing in. “Hi, Daddy! I’m home!” He dropped his notebook on the floor and put a hand to his nose. “Ugh! It stinks in here!”
|20th Apr 2010, 11:15 PM||77: Although I wasn't cold #107|
The landlady kindly offered to keep Annie downstairs-- “Away from the dust,” as she put it--while Dan and I packed our clothes, the dishes, the books and the toys. We were leaving most of the furniture behind as part of the deal with the landlady to help cover the final month of rent.
Coming up with the rent, in fact, had at last gotten to be too much of a strain on the wallet of a gas station attendant. It was the only job I could find, except golf caddy, which I had tried first and thoroughly hated. Pumping gas wasn’t much better, but at least my hours at the station were in the middle of the night when the children were asleep. As was the elderly nanny. I usually came home to find her snoring on the couch in front of the TV.
The phone call about the house had finally gotten through when I had both hands free. “The house,” the lawyer lady said, “is yours.”
House? I keep calling it a house, but I should probably not be referring to it that way. Not yet. It was hardly more than a shack on the beach, a shack that Cavell had apparently gotten in a legal manner, using cash. Where he got the cash, of course, was a question that would never be answered. The telephone call I had been so anxious to get was from a title that proved the house was now mine, free and clear and without liens.
I had asked the lawyer early on about the child, Zissi. Wasn’t she heir to the property? She was. But her grandparents, who were her legal guardians, “wanted no truck with anything Zygmunt,” and had signed over the deed. Didn’t they want payment? “Zygmunt money is ill-gotten. No truck means no truck, and don’t come ‘round here looking to see this child, neither.” The lawyer had quoted them without expression on either her face or in her voice and had seemed satisfied with the conclusion of the matter. I should be, too. But sometimes, as I lay alone in bed in the middle of the night, I’d think about Clarabelle, the wild child raised in a stern and uncompromising environment. I’d gotten the impression from somewhere that she had run away at a young age. Maybe if I had met her then things would have been different. I knew these were foolish thoughts, and whenever mine strayed that way, I always rolled over in bed and went to sleep thinking about our kids, instead. And our new home.
The shack had a room on the end that used to be a small shop, probably selling tourist trinkets. No trace of the enterprise remained, other than a plastic whale hanging from the ceiling in the corner. The shop had been small, but was still the largest room in the house. It was full of sunshine from its big store windows and had its own door to the porch. Dan wanted it for his bedroom and I reluctantly agreed. He was very excited about the room, the house, and especially the beach. The day we moved in, he ran everywhere, checking out everything, and I decided not to make any demands on him for a while. I only asked that he keep the noise down so that Annie would finish her nap while I unpacked. There wasn’t a lot of that to do. We didn’t own much.
We had moved in on a Monday after Dan got home from school. It was a good time for me because I didn’t have to go to work. It meant that we were all together for our first night in a strange, new environment. Good thing, because Dan shook me awake somewhere around one AM.
“Daddy? Daddy, wake up.”
“Uh…what? Dan? What’s up? What time is it?”
“I dunno, but can I sleep in here with you?”
“Sure thing. Climb in.”
He lay down close against me and I put my arm over him. He was still so small. I often forgot how young and fragile he was, because of all the energy he radiated during the day.
After a few minutes, I knew he wasn’t asleep yet. I said, “You can have this room for a bedroom if you’d rather. I wouldn’t mind moving to the other one.”
“I like my room, Daddy. I don’t want to share it with Annie. Maybe you can give her this room and you can sleep in the living room.”
“We’ll see.” I didn’t want to get into an argument with him about it. For now, Annie’s crib and changing table were in the hall. My plan was for the two of them to share Dan’s room, but it was not an issue so long as she was in the crib.
He was quiet for another few minutes. Then he said, “When’s Mommy coming back?”
It was the question I had been dreading. “I don’t know, Dan,” I said quietly. “Why do you ask?” I was certain he would tell me about something that happened at school, but that wasn’t it. Not this time.
“Because I had a dream,” he said. “I thought it was real ‘til I woke up, and then I knew it wasn’t. There was a lady. She was smiling and fixing my blanket, I guess because she thought I might get cold, although I wasn’t cold.”
“It was just a dream.”
“Sure. But maybe it was her. Could’ve been her.”
“Could have been. What I think is that when you have a dream like that it’s because she’s thinking about you and wishes she could be here.”
“Really.” I waited, expecting he would want to know more, but he just sighed. His breathing slowed and I realized he’d gone to sleep. I lay there wide-awake with my arm around him, helpless to protect him from the hurt I knew was coming.
|20th Apr 2010, 11:20 PM||#108|
Thought I'd show you a couple of pictures of the shack on the beach
|20th Apr 2010, 11:22 PM||78: Solid, reliable and lonely #109|
Annie was finally asleep. At last! I studied her face. It was the face of sweet innocence when she slept. But when she woke, the solemn gaze and wrinkled brow would be there all over again. I’d never seen this with Dan. I was comfortable in the role of his Dad. His baby sister, however, confused me.
Straightening my aching shoulders, I rubbed at them and shook my head at these ridiculous thoughts. Zygmunt, you make too much of nothing. She’s barely two years old, and your only problem is that you don’t understand women. Face it! You’re going to make a complete hash of raising this girl.
I turned away from the sleeping child and walked quietly outside to the beach where I sat down to watch the waves and wait for Dan to get home from school. Dan was good for me. He was both my connection to reality, and my escape from it. Raising two kids in a shack and working a job that barely covered the grocery bill was not the future I had planned for myself. But when Dan was home, I forgot all about that. I smiled, thinking of the baseball I’d bought for him. He didn’t know about it yet.
Thinking of Dan and the baseball, I stopped worrying about Annie, and watched the waves thunder past the rocks and roll up over the beach. I became so absorbed in my daydreams that I didn’t know anyone else was there until she spoke.
“Hi, Gerry. Mind if I join you?”
“Huh? What?” I looked up. The sun blinded me for a moment, but she moved a little, throwing her shadow over me and saving my eyes from the sun. I recognized Tina.
“Why, thank you,” she said, “I think I will.” She sat down. “A rug on the beach. Good idea.”
After a moment of clumsy silence, I said, “How are you?” She’d taken me completely by surprise. Any visitor would have surprised me, but Tina was the last person I ever expected to see again.
“I’m good. How about you?” She smiled easily.
I felt awkward, not knowing what else to say. Tina, on the other hand, seemed relaxed. After a minute of watching the waves, she said, “You’re a busy man these days. I’ve called a few times to see if you needed anything, but I’ve had trouble getting through.”
“Sorry about that. And thanks for the offer, but we’re OK.”
“I know you’re OK, but no one has heard from you in months. Children can easily overwhelm a single parent and I suspect you need a break.”
“They aren’t any trouble,” I said carefully. “I’m doing fine.”
She nodded and seemed to abandon that topic, looking over her shoulder at my shack, “Nice house.”
“We like it.”
“And solidly built,” I agreed.
“Too true, but everything works.”
“Realistic,” I shrugged, tired of the word game.
She studied my face, “And lonely.”
“It’s just a house.”
“I wasn’t talking about the house.”
“Can’t have been talking about me. I’ve got plenty of company.”
“A girlfriend? I hadn’t heard. What’s her name?”
“There is none. I’m a gas station attendant with two kids. I’m broke and I have to report to a probation officer every week. The kids are great company. The probation officer, not so much. The only women who would be interested in a man like me have tattoos on both arms. Not my type.”
“That’s good, because I don’t have any tattoos at all. Not my thing.”
I sighed and stared out at the waves. “It’ll be a long time,” I said slowly, “before I have anything worthwhile to give to a woman. Right now, Annie and Dan are my whole life.”
“And when Clarabelle returns…”
“She won’t,” I said sharply, and then spoke more quietly, “She won’t be back.”
“Then why do you still wear the wedding band?”
I looked down at my hand, “I wear it for Dan’s sake.” Then I took a deep breath and gave her my friendliest grin, “Listen, Tina. I appreciate your stopping by. I should’ve been a better host and offered you some juice or coffee, but Dan will be home any minute and you probably want to get going.”
“Actually, I’m not in a rush. Some juice would be great.”
“But if you’re anxious to get rid of me, and it seems that you are, I will agree to disappear quickly only on one condition.”
I shook my head anxiously, “I’m not trying to get rid of you…but…um…what sort of condition did you have in mind?”
“Go out with me. On a date.”
“Don’t look so shocked. Do I leave before Dan catches his father with a strange woman? Or do I get some juice and meet this fabulous little boy? Oops. Too late. There’s the bus.”
“Tina,” I said weakly. “I hear Annie crying.”
“Well, go take care of her, then. I’ll introduce myself to Dan.” She smiled happily.
|20th Apr 2010, 11:29 PM||79: An afternoon on the beach #110|
A picture of Daniel...
and his baby sister, Annabelle...
|20th Apr 2010, 11:34 PM||80: Yes, he owns a suit #111|
I own a suit and tie. I know for sure that I own a suit and tie. It’s just a matter of finding them.
It occurred to me, as I tore the house apart, that the suit would be too wrinkled and dusty to wear and that I was wasting time and that I would be better off taking my watch to the pawn shop and buying a new suit. But now I was in the grip of the search, and I could not let it alone because I KNEW I owned a suit and tie. I’d worn them to court a few months ago and I hadn’t thrown them out, so they must--dammit--be here!
“Daddy, your face is all red.”
“I’m hot. It‘s a hot day. What‘s your sister doing?”
“Go sit with her. Don’t give her the crayons.”
“Awww, Daddy, I don‘t want to sit with her. I want to help you find it.”
“What you’re looking for. Can I help?”
“Help me by sitting with Annie and watching the cartoons.”
“But I don’t like her cartoons. They’re stupid. They’re for babies. I’m waiting for the Ninja Llamas. They’re the best.”
The suit was not under the bed and I really knew that because I’d already looked, but you never know because sometimes things just mysteriously show up where you’ve already looked. Sitting back on my heels, I squinted up at him, “Eh? The what Llamas?”
“NIN-ja!” he shouted as he struck a strange, crouching pose with one arm extended and the other curled at his waist.
I reminded myself that I really needed to pay attention to what he watched on TV.
I got up off my knees and sank down wearily on the bed, and then started to laugh.
“What’s funny, Daddy? Tell me! What’s funny?”
“I just remembered something, and I need your help, Dan. I’m going to lift up the mattress, and I want you to get my suit out from under it.”
“Clothes.” I stood up, took a firm grip of the mattress and lifted it up, exposing the box-spring and my suit laid out neatly on top of it, pressed by the weight of the mattress. The jacket, of course, had some misplaced creases in it, but I figured a hot iron would take care of those. The tie was there, too, and a handkerchief.
“Just pick them up, please, so I can put the mattress back down.”
“Why are your clothes…”
“Don’t wad them up! That’s right. Thanks, Dan. I appreciate it. Are the Llamas on TV soon? I’d like to watch it with you.”
“Were you hiding the clothes?”
“No, I just wanted to press the wrinkles out of them before a job interview, but then I got another job and forgot about the suit.”
We both heard a crash and bang from the other room and ran in to find Annie in the middle of a pile of metal cook pans that she’d pulled out of the kitchen cabinet. At the anxious look on my face, she started to cry, but I had to laugh and tickle her. No harm done. Everything in the lower cabinets was for her entertainment, anyway. Dan yelled “Ninja Llamas!” several times at the top of his lungs as he ran to the TV and pranced around in front of it.
I took Annie over to the couch. We all watched the goofiest cartoon show I’ve ever seen. Dan’s energetic mimicking of his colorful heroes was a lot more entertaining.
|21st Apr 2010, 01:56 AM||#112|
Join Date: Feb 2010
oh yay. Ninja llamas, nice.
|27th Apr 2010, 02:11 AM||81: A Night for Dreams #113|
It was Thursday, my day off. Ms. Karen Gast showed up promptly at 5 PM and only shrugged when I said I wasn’t sure about the time I’d be home. She was the same nanny the kids always had, but they still weren’t happy with this change in the routine.
Dan demanded to know where I was going, looking almost frightened. Annie sensed his upset and whimpered. I gave them both a hug.
“Listen, you two. I’m just meeting a friend at the restaurant where she works. Miss Karen will fix you dinner. I happen to know that she’s your favorite nanny, so be nice to her.” I smiled at the unsmiling woman who only nodded as she opened the refrigerator. Flattery had no more of an effect on her dull personality than anything else I’d ever said to her. I turned my smile on the children, “OK, kids, I’ll be back later tonight, same as always.”
Dan still held onto my hand, “So why are you wearing a suit, Daddy? You wear a suit when you look for a job. Remember? That’s what you said.”
“Right you are, Dan, but tonight is special. I’m meeting a good friend, so I need to wear it.”
“Is it Miss Tina? That lady who played with us on the beach?”
“Yes,” I said casually, “it is. You like her, don’t you?”
“I guess. But she doesn’t know much, like how to build a sand castle. And she doesn‘t know anything at all about pirates and the secret caves where they hide treasures. I showed her the map I got from my friend Chandler who got it from a pirate shipwreck, and she was really, really surprised that pirates drew maps.”
“She was? Are you telling me she doesn’t know about treasure maps? That’s very strange. I’ll have to ask her about it.”
“No, Daddy. It’s OK. Don’t tell her I told you. She can’t help it. She’s like Annie.”
I wondered briefly about this odd comparison to Annie and wanted to pursue it with him, but the taxi honked, interrupting us. He followed me outside and stood on the porch. As the taxi pulled away, I waved to him and was relieved to see him wave back.
I had not been entirely truthful with Dan, not because I thought he wouldn‘t understand, but because the nanny’s ears were clearly twitching with curiosity. She rarely ever spoke more than two words to me, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t the town gossip. Anyway, I wasn’t meeting Tina at Rachelle’s Restaurant. I was picking her up at her apartment, although I planned to take her to Rachelle’s for dinner. Roberta, Marylena, Gregg, and everyone else, all praised the food and the romantic atmosphere, and I was determined to take full advantage, especially of the romantic bit.
I laid a nervous hand over the slim lump of the wallet in my jacket pocket. It held all the money I had managed to set aside over the past couple of months, money saved for the unforeseen and inevitable emergency, and I had decided that a date with Tina qualified. New parts and repairs for my pickup truck did not qualify. The Big Blue Mistake was parked on the gravel at the edge of my property and I could only wince every time I looked at it. Why had I ever bought the wretched thing?
Forget about it, I told myself. Tonight is for dreams, not regrets.
|27th Apr 2010, 02:13 AM||82: Taxi Ride #114|
I could have walked.
The taxi made three left turns and stopped in front of a four-story apartment building called the Sentinel. Walking would have saved me a few bucks on taxi fare, but I decided it would also have been a hot and dusty walk. And it would have been even worse for Tina if she had gotten all dressed up. Besides, even though I could see the back of Rachelle’s from where I stood, it was on the other side of a small, muddy field.
Zygmunt! I snorted, annoyed with myself. Stop worrying about a few bucks here and there and stay focused.
I told the driver to wait and was headed for the stairs when Tina suddenly appeared.
“I was watching from the window and saw you arrive, so I came right down. Why the taxi? Feeling lazy tonight?” She grinned wide as she walked up and kissed me lightly on the lips. Her cheeks were flushed. Her dress was red, and clung to all her soft roundness. Her hand on mine was warm.
“Er…wow,” I said stupidly, trying to clear my head. All of a sudden I was sixteen again, and as tongue-tied and nervous as I was on my first date. “Here,” I mumbled and turned to open the taxi door for her. “See? Air-conditioning. Not lazy. Special. For you.”
“Why thank you, Gerry. This is very nice.”
She settled herself gracefully onto the seat with a smooth move of her hips. The long legs followed. I blinked and took a deep breath as I closed the door, thinking, ‘Have mercy on me, Tina,’ as I went around and got in on the other side. She looked so beautiful in that red dress that I wanted to rip it off her, and it didn’t occur to me to question these contradictory feelings.
I said to the driver, “Rachelle’s.”
Tina said, “Wait. Don’t go yet.” She looked at me, “Since I work there, would you mind very much if we went somewhere else?”
I smiled, refusing to be disappointed. “The evening is entirely for you. Where do you want to go?”
“The Paddlewheeler. It’s changed hands and is under new management. No gambling anymore. I’ve heard that the food is great, and there’s dancing. It has a lovely view of the sea, too.”
“Dancing by the sea? Sounds great.” I told the driver to take us to the Paddlewheeler. As the car pulled away from the curb, I leaned back into the seat with mental fingers crossed, hoping the place was as nice as Tina imagined it to be. Dancing! Dancing with Tina! My arms around Tina! Kissing Tina!
Zygmunt! I thought. Get a grip! Don’t just sit there! Woo the woman, or you sure as hell won‘t be doing any dancing and kissing. How should I woo her? How? Are you crazy? What happened to the slick charm? It got me into deep shit, is what happened! She’s just a woman, no different than the others. She’s VERY different! Try flattery. They all like flattery. She’d see through it. Small talk about the weather. Boring! Her job. She doesn’t want to go there. Your kids. Hardly romantic.
“Gerry? Where are you?”
“Um…what? I’m sorry, I was just thinking about something.”
“About Daniel and Annie? You shouldn’t worry. They’re going to be fine. Kids are a lot stronger than we realize.” The expression on her face was simple kindness.
I realized suddenly that I was in the company of someone who already knew about the complete mess I’d made of my life. I had nothing to hide from her. I needed no pretense about who I was or where I was headed. I laughed a little, embarrassed. “I’m going to do my best to see that they are. But I wasn’t thinking about them. I was thinking that an evening with you is something I’ve wanted for a long, long time, and that it would never happen because I’ve made too many mistakes. And I was thinking…” I hesitated, but her eyes were big, waiting for me to finish the sentence. “…and I was thinking that I want you to be happy with me, and that I don’t know how to make you happy.”
There it was, my heart exposed for all the world to see. I felt cold and anxious.
“Hmm,” she squinted at me, looking worried. “Have you considered the possibility that after a couple of dates you might not care whether I’m happy or not? You might not like me at all. For example, I’m sarcastic and bossy. And I’m a know-it-all. I talk too much and too fast after only one glass of wine. Um…what else? Oh, yes! I always forget to put the cap on the toothpaste, and I always squeeze the tube in the middle. Always! I am seriously grouchy in the morning until after I’ve had breakfast. My apartment looks neat, but don’t be deceived. The drawers and closets are a total mess, and I can never find what I did with the bills that have to be paid.” She stopped, looking cross. “Are you laughing? Don’t laugh at me! I am completely serious. We’ll have fun for a couple of dates and then you‘re going to decide you've made a mistake, and you'll run hard and fast and as far away from me as you can possibly get.”
The taxi driver said wearily, “Are you two going to sit in my taxi all night, or go in and get dinner? Looks like a nice place. Why don‘t you go on in and give it a try? The fare is seven simoleons.”
|27th Apr 2010, 02:15 AM||#115|
I apologize for such a short update. RL has been hectic.
But here are a couple of pictures of the Paddlewheeler Restaurant. I built it on the beach before the Bon Voyage EP for Sims 2 came out.
|6th Jun 2010, 03:44 AM||#116|
Join Date: Dec 2009
If real life becomes less stressful...I'd be interested to see what finally happens to Gerry.
|7th Jun 2010, 06:03 PM||#117|
I also agree.