Homeless – CHAPTER 18

Adult story: Homeless – CHAPTER 18

by senorlongo

I took a few photos of Jennie and Andrea, emailing them to Toni and Mom almost immediately. Mom called and told me she had reservations to Myrtle Beach tomorrow morning, arriving around one. Then she hit me with something out of the blue. “Would it be all right it Paul came down in a few days? He’ll have a reservation for one of the hotels just in case your father—I always cringed when she called that bastard ‘your father’—has him followed.”

I explained that we had invited our friends and that they had two teenage daughters. I ended the conversation by telling her I’d call her back tonight. I explained to Jennie when she woke from her nap. She’d told me that between feeding Andrea and the hard hospital bed she’d barely slept a wink. “I think I just missed you,” she said with a wan smile. My smile in return told her the same.

We phoned Toni and the girls around five. They said they would come on the 26th if that was okay and that Charlie would be able to join us on the 30th. Christmas and New Year’s Day were on Friday this year so the girls didn’t have to be back in school until January 4th, the following Monday. Jennie explained my Mom’s situation and told her that we wouldn’t have her “friend” visit if she or the girls would feel uncomfortable. “Don’t be silly, Doug—they may go to Catholic school, but they’re hardly nuns. Actually, it might be good for them to realize that people older than their parents enjoy sex.”

“Are there any people older than their parents?” We shared a laugh before I gave the phone back to Jennie. After walking into my office I phoned my mother about arrangements for Paul to join us. I had just ended the call when Lady rushed into the room. She turned and, making sure I was following, led me to the bedroom where Andrea was just waking up. How? How did she know that?

Jennie and I talked about that over dinner. The only thing I could think of was that Lady could detect some tiny change in Andrea’s breathing. We’d never know for sure, but Lady always seemed to know when Andrea was waking up. During the day she’d run to either me or Jennie. At night she pushed her nose under my arm and she was never wrong.

I met Mom in the airport as planned. She was almost as excited as I was. I was her only child and she’d long ago given up any hopes of ever having even a single grandchild to spoil. She had been completely surprised to learn that I’d gotten married.
Paul was coming in tomorrow and had a reservation at one of the oceanfront hotels in Myrtle Beach. I agreed to drive to the hotel that evening when he took a cab to one of the local restaurants. I would follow to ensure that he wasn’t being followed by either my father or some private investigator. If he wasn’t I’d pick him up at the restaurant’s parking lot and we’d return together to my home.

Mom was thrilled to hold Andrea and even to change her. She helped Jennie bathe Andrea in the kitchen sink. Andrea was safely and snugly in her bassinette with Lady on guard when Mom told us how her divorce was going. “He acts as though he was the innocent party even though I have depositions from four of his former students stating that he coerced them into sex with him. He has also been treated for STD’s twice while I’ve always tested clean. Those are county health records. I used them to track down his lovers.

My attorney says that he can subpoena them if necessary. It’s not going as easily as I had hoped. That’s why I want to be careful with Paul. There’s no indication that he knows about us yet, but he’s totally irrational. We had one meeting with our lawyers and his had to restrain him. I won’t meet with him again and I’ll continue to refuse counseling. Incidentally, I’ll be getting another deposition from his current squeeze who described sex with him as ‘sleeping with a grunting pig.’” Jennie howled with laughter then caught herself. “Don’t worry. You’ll learn soon enough that she’ll sleep through a hurricane. That’s what babies do.” We said good night and headed off to bed.

Jennie and I were lying in bed, naked as usual when she whispered to me. “I miss making love with you. That’s the only part of having a baby that I don’t like. I can’t wait for these stitches to come out and for Dr. Cullen to give her okay. I always feel so…complete…fulfilled with you inside me.”

“I always feel so horny when I’m not. It’s clear we were meant for each other. You make me feel like I’m the luckiest man in the world.”

“That’s because you are, silly.” She leaned over to give me a kiss then settled in for…well, not the night, that’s for sure…for as long as Andrea would permit.

We were up an hour later, warned once again by Lady who seemed to enjoy her new job. I changed Andrea while Jennie prepared herself, pushing the pillows against the headboard and getting a cloth diaper for her shoulder—for when she burped our daughter. Back in bed twenty minutes later, I congratulated Jennie on becoming a pro. “Me? All I did was sit there while she suckled. I think you did all the work…Dad!”
She snuggled up against me and I pulled the blanket up to our chins.

All told, we were up three times that night so a nap was in order the following afternoon. I left at 5:30 for the drive to Myrtle Beach. Paul had a reservation at the Landmark and I saw him exit at exactly 6:12 with his suitcase. He was easy to identify because everyone else with a suitcase was going in the opposite direction—either checking in or going to their rooms.

I watched carefully as he entered the taxi, lying back because I knew where he was going—watching to see if anyone would follow. Myrtle Beach is usually pretty dead at this time of year. Even the snowbirds stay home for the holidays. There was no traffic even though I waited until they were almost a mile up the road before I put the car in gear. The cab pulled into the lot at Margaritas, an authentic Mexican restaurant. I picked it because the restaurant and the parking lot were small and I could get in from the back entrance, behind a jewelry store, but I doubted a private detective or my idiot father would know that.

Paul stood outside, calmly looking around as if waiting for someone to join him. I let him stand for about ten minutes before calling his cell. “I’m here…over on your left behind the jeweler. I’ll pick you up in another minute. You can put your suitcase in the trunk. I’ll have the passenger side door open for you.” I started the car and turned on the lights. Ten seconds later I pulled in front of the restaurant, the trunk already up. Paul was ready for me. I left and was back on the highway in less than ten seconds.

Mom ran out to the garage as soon as I pulled in. She hugged Paul then said, “Come meet my granddaughter. She’s beautiful, just like her mother.” Sounded just like my mom—bragging about everyone except me. There were a lot of reasons why I left Long Island. The weather, cheaper housing and living (like I had to worry), getting away from my father, and maintaining a comfortable distance from my mother; I was sure that she loved me, but she was never too expressive of her love. I’d learned not to take it to heart a long, long time ago.

Lady greeted me once I was in the house and she was followed closely by Jennie. Mom was right about one thing. Andrea was beautiful, just like her mother. Jennie’s beauty went far beyond her physical being. She was mostly a beautiful person.

We’d had no way of knowing what would happen tonight, so neither Jennie nor my mom had cooked and now it was kind of dark to grill so I suggested getting take-out pizza. Paul offered to come with me, but I thought it safer if he stayed here where we knew he wouldn’t be seen. We still had no idea if dear old Dad knew about him and Mom or if he knew about Paul’s trip near to where I lived. I had a listed phone so it would be child’s play to find me. Then again neither Jennie nor I were hiding. We no longer had any reason to.

I’d taken an online subscription to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier and I’d been rewarded with several articles on the former sheriff. The first told about how he was injured in a fight in the shower. I already knew about that. The second described another attack in the prison yard that had resulted in injuries so severe that he had been restricted to a wheelchair. There was conjecture as to whether he would ever be able to walk again. His attorney had appealed to the court to have his sentence reduced, but Judge Pepper steadfastly refused. I made a note to contribute to his reelection campaign. We needed more judges like him.

We had a wonderful visit with Paul. Jennie and I both liked him. Most of all we liked the way he treated my mother. “I don’t often run into your father, Doug. He’s in the school of science and I’m in humanities, but I have seen him often in the Faculty Senate. He has quite the reputation as a blowhard. We can always count on him to monopolize the meeting. He’ll go on and on until the president has had enough then he sits down and pouts for the rest of the meeting. He thinks he’s been discreet in his relationships with his students, but there have been rumors going around for years—almost as long as I’ve been trying to get Eleanor to divorce him.”

“You know, Mom—I’ll testify for you, if necessary. I have first-hand knowledge I can share. I’ll bet having his only child testify will drive him crazy.”

“I don’t want you to get involved, Doug.”

“Mom, I’ve been involved for the past twenty years. I’ll only be bringing my annoyance to an end. I’ll still hate him, though it could be worse. He could be Jennie’s step-father who repeatedly raped her when she was a child.”

About a week before Christmas Mom asked why we hadn’t decorated for Christmas. I was ashamed to admit that I hadn’t done anything last year when I was alone. We put some formula into a few baby bottles and Jennie and I took our first time off as parents to do some shopping, knowing that Andrea was in good hands with her grandmother.

Our first stop was Home Depot where we bought several wreaths—a matching pair for the stone columns at the driveway and another for our front door. We even bought one for the rear gate. We bought a tree—one with the lights already wired onto the branches and dozens of ornaments. Then we went to Lowe’s and we were almost there when I remembered the Christmas shop in Calabash.

The store was expensive, but had a huge selection of everything. We bought a nativity set and a big wreath for the large stone area over our fireplace. Most of all we had some ideas we would think about for next year. The good thing about this shop was that it was open all year around. The Christmas stuff at Home Depot, Lowe’s, and even Walmart disappeared by January.

We had a lot of fun decorating with but one problem—Lady’s tail. She must have knocked twenty decorations to the floor and twice almost knocked the tree to the floor, a problem I finally solved by placing a screw eye into the wall and connecting it to the tree with steel wire.

Jennie and I did all of our shopping online, and most of it at Harry Winston’s. Jennie suggested pearl earrings and necklace for Mom. We bought similar sets of small diamond studs and pendants for Andrea and Allison. For Toni we went a bit overboard, buying what Jennie thought was an exquisite diamond and emerald pendant with matching earrings. For Paul sweaters and shirts were all we could come up with.

Charlie was a fisherman and the girls had told us of a rod and reel combo that he just drooled over—a Shimano Stella reel and matching rod—exactly what I had on my boat. Jennie insisted that she didn’t want anything so, naturally, I bought her an expensive gold and diamond watch by Movado. I had the best presents I could imagine in Jennie and Andrea.

Christmas day began like every other with Lady sticking her cold nose under my arm to tell me that Andrea was about to wake up. Fifteen minutes later Jennie carried her out to the living room. I placed a blanket on the floor as I’d done almost every day. She seemed to enjoy watching the lights and she always reached out for Lady who always lay right next to her, her dangerous claws facing away. Several times we’d seen Andrea reach over to touch Lady’s fir and she’d laughed every time.

We exchanged gifts with Mom and Paul. Jennie loved her watch. She bought me a new watch, too—a solar powered Seiko. We spent a quiet day—as quiet as a day can be when there’s a three-week old baby in the house. The Blasi’s phoned around noon to wish us a merry Christmas and we discussed their visit.

I met them at the general aviation terminal and—wow—were they excited! They had several plastic bags with brightly colored boxes in addition to their suitcase. I drove into the garage not more than forty minutes later. After hugging Jennie and being introduced to Mom and Paul the girls ran upstairs to unpack. We had planned to exchange gifts at that time, but apparently Lady had other ideas. She took Andrea’s wrist in her mouth and led her to our room, stopping right in front of the bassinette with our sleeping daughter. Andrea, Allison, and Toni stood there for a good twenty minutes

They took photos and commented on how beautiful and how tiny she was. When she woke up they commented on how loud she was. The girls asked if they could watch when Jennie nursed and we agreed. Then while Andrea was still awake they gave her their presents. Andrea had bought her a pink bear with the softest covering. It became her favorite.

Allison bought her rattle with several colorful bands on a plastic ring and was thrilled when Andrea was able to hold it. Of course, she tried to put it into her mouth. We gave them their gifts then and they were understandably pleased—more than pleased, they were ecstatic. “You shouldn’t have,” was what Toni said, but the expressions on her and her daughters’ faces said otherwise. I’d hear that expression several times over the next few months.

Charlie arrived as scheduled on the 30th and I met him in Myrtle Beach’s main terminal. The first words out of his mouth when he saw the gift from Jennie and me were—you guessed it!—“You shouldn’t have.” Yes; his face said otherwise.

We would have normally taken everyone out for dinner several times, but neither Jennie nor I were ready to take our newborn daughter out into crowds of coughing and sneezing people with colds or flu, or worse. Instead, Mom and Toni handled the evening cooking, Mom making pot roast and baked ham and Toni doing both homemade lasagna and spaghetti with homemade meatballs and Italian sausage. I handled most lunches, grilling hot dogs, homemade burgers, kielbasa, and bratwurst. We all wanted Jennie to take things as easy as possible.

The girls chipped in with caring for Andrea who we decided to call “Andi” to separate her from Andrea, her namesake. They changed her diapers and helped with her bath. They loved to hold her and did so often.

We had a great time New Year’s Eve, but when Lady ran out of the bedroom at 12:30 to get us we called it a night. All of our guests left two days later by limo. There were six of them and our largest car, Jennie’s SUV, could hold them, but not their suitcases, too. There were hugs and kisses aplenty and even a few tears, even though we assured them that we’d see them soon—Spring Break at the latest.

Jennie and I took Andi to her first doctor’s appointment about a week later. It was a well-care visit, one of many that would be scheduled over the next few years. She’d received her first shot and she wasn’t happy. Poor Andrea cried and cried even after we had left the office and were on our way home. We needed some baby powder and some ointment so Jennie asked me to drop her at Walmart. She’d go in while I waited in the car with Andi. I found a parking spot and stood outside the car so she’d be able to see me. Luckily, she wasn’t in the store too long. I waved, she saw me and we were back in the car less than ten minutes later.

I drove out toward the highway, paying keen attention to the traffic. Whoever designed this parking lot should be strung up by his balls. There are so many blind turns that anyone who does more than ten miles an hour is a fool. One of the exits requires a left-hand turn straight into entering traffic. I was almost out when I felt Jennie’s grip on my arm. “Doug!” I looked first at her then saw what she was looking at. Rather than driving to the highway I found a parking spot and walked up to the stop sign. Seated there with a homemade cardboard sign was a man—yes, it was a man this time—begging for help.

“What’s your story, Mister,” I asked as I approached.

“I lost my job…my career, actually. Then I lost my house. My family’s been staying at the city shelter for the last week. It’s dangerous there. I worry about my wife and my little girl every night. Even worse, if we don’t get there on time we have to sleep in my truck. I don’t even know if I have enough gas to get back to them.”

“What did you do for a living?”

“I was a roofer. Then I fell and broke my hip. I got workers’ comp and disability, but they’re nothing compared to what I was making. Then they dried up…fucking government—all they ever do is screw you. Can you help me? Will you…please?”

“I can and I will. It was about a year ago that I met a young woman at this very stop sign. We’re now married and we have a little girl of our own.” I reached for my wallet and pulled out ten fifties. Handing them to the man I told him, “Get your family out of the shelter and into a motel. There’s a gas station about two blocks down the highway. You might want to go there first.”

I took a business card from my wallet and wrote on the back—Blue Ribbon Cleaners—with their phone number. “I spoke to the owner just the other day. They clean our house every week and they’re in dire need of people. You can tell them I told you to call. It’s only $10 an hour, but they’ll be happy to get you. Maybe your wife would like a job, too if you can find daycare for your daughter.”

He shook my hand as he thanked me repeatedly until I suggested his wife and child needed him. He grinned, probably for the first time in weeks then jogged across the exit to an old pickup truck. I returned to my wife, realizing for perhaps the millionth time how lucky we actually were. I was barely in the car when Jennie leaned across the console, planting a huge kiss onto my lips. “You’re such a wonderful man. How much did you give him?”

“Five hundred and the phone number of Blue Ribbon.”

“Oh…good idea; no wonder I love you so much. And to think it’s our anniversary. Yes, darling—it’s exactly one year since I met you here…the very best year of my life.” She kissed me again and I drove down the highway to our home and our future.

——————

Parent Post: Homeless – by senorlongo

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