After the fight with Lori, I went back to the ship. I woke up early. I didn't want to stay on the ship and I didn't want to go back to Lori's so i decided to go to Bonnie's house. Glen was there along with several other guys, most from my unit. They put up a volleyball net in her backyard and an all out barbeque / cookout was in full swing. The twins, Justin and Jayla, was spending the weekend at their grandparents house and wouldn't come back until later that evening.
I arrived just in time to get placed into a new game, but halfway through, I had to pull myself out. Maybe it was me being too exhausted, or maybe dehydration, then again, I also had Lorraine on the brain too so, it could have been all three of those things. There was no shortage of replacements so nobody appeared to have a problem with me quitting. It wouldn't have mattered anyway, I just couldn't continue.
I walked over to the beer cooler which was strategically placed next to Bonnie as she sat in a lawn chair. I plopped myself down on the cooler after I pulled out a cold one and popped it open. Bonnie turned to me. "You look sluggish today."
I took a long drink before responding. "Crazy night."
"Let me guess," she maneuvered, "fight with Lorraine?"
I was somewhat impressed and I'm sure my facial expression revealed that. I didn't answer though, instead, Bonnie brought me up to speed. "She called me this morning. Yes, I'm just as shocked as you are. And no, this doesn't mean she and I are friends. I still don't like her. I think she just wanted someone to talk to about it."
"She called me a boy." I finally spoke. If it was compassion from her I was seeking for, well, I didn't get any.
"Have you seen your face recently?"
This took me by surprise. "Oh, so you agree with her then?"
"Kind of, yes." She made no bones about it. "I don't care for violence either. Especially the pay-back variety and even more so when it concerns Neil."
"Then why did you invite him to this cookout?" I asked her.
She stared me down hard. "I didn't invite him, he just showed. Look, I don't hate the guy, as long as he doesn't get into a fight at my home, and certainly not in front of my kids, then he is welcomed just like all of you from S-3. Carroll, I may not care about Lorraine, but I do agree with her on this."
It appeared I was out numbered in opinions. "Maybe you're right."
"Why are you here anyway?" She continued. "Shouldn't be with her and apologizing?"
"No." I replied. "Too soon. I think we both need to calm down."
"Well, don't wait for too long, she might find someone to fill your spot. Come into the house with me for a minute, I have to give you something."
We got to our feet when I clarified for her. "I have to take a piss anyway."
We made it into the house where she led me to the kitchen table. She picked up two sheets of drawing paper. "The kids drew you a couple of pictures." She handed them to me.
"Oh, how sweet."
"They miss you. You should come around more to see them."
"I should." I mumbled, looking over the drawings. "I mean, I will. I promise."
"That's nice to hear." She said. "Will you still come around even if Glen and I break up?"
"Of course I will." I began. "I don't come by just because of him." Then it hit me. "Wait, you two breaking up?"
"If he cheats on my one more time we will be."
"He cheated on you?"
"I have caught him cheating on me a few times." She revealed. "I can't take anymore."
"You don't deserve that, Bonnie. You can get better."
"I know." She muttered, before addressing me further. "Would you ever cheat on Lorraine?"
I had to think about that one for a moment. "I don't know. I doubt it."
"All men cheat." She surmised.
I placed the drawings back down on the table to head for the bathroom. "I doubt that too. But many men do, and so do women."
She followed me to the door before heading outside again. "She loves you, Carroll, and I know you love her. Fix it. Fix it before it's too late. Besides, I really don't want her calling me anymore."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah." I concluded, then answering Mother Nature's call.
I knew Bonnie was right. Lori and I did probably love each other. The thing is, she and I never really said it to each other. It was like some forbidden word. I always thought the look in our eyes when we were together said everything that needed to be said. I knew my eyes did. Another problem between us was how fast everything was moving. Lori and I became lovers before we became friends. Looking back, that was perhaps the biggest mistake we both made. Sure, there were feelings there, maybe too many feelings between us. It was a fire burning passion, built squarely on the foundation of raw, animalistic sex. Perhaps even somewhat barbaric.
I failed to heed her advice though, as I never did go to see Lori that day. Instead, I went back to the ship. I spent the following week staying close to base when work was through. I knew Lori didn't work on Monday, but I stayed away still. To be honest, I wasn't sure what I wanted anymore. I really had to think everything over. I ended up riding with Hrisko in his car to his house Monday after our work day was done, but only after we stopped by the liquor store and we each got our favorite whiskey. Him, Jack Daniels, and I, Seagram's. We also got a two liter of Coke and Seven-up. He had two milk crates on the back floor board and we placed our bottles of whiskey and our sodas in them, and secured them. Then we placed these homemade long-ass straws in them and brought them over the front seats where we could drink from and we drove around Norfolk and Virgina Beach until long after the sun went down. We were blitzed by the time we made it to his house around midnight. We got very little sleep before we had to get up and get back to the base for morning muster.
But it was a good bonding moment for Hrisko and I. he and I would end up bonding like brothers before it was all over. he caught me on many occasions writing poetry / song lyrics in my book. He and his brothers played musical instruments and had written a few hundred songs together during their growing up. I got to listen to those songs off his cassette tapes many times. They were pretty good. I always thought I would one day read about them or him in some Teen Parade magazine someday. That would never come to be. He wanted to be a musician / songwriter so bad. I remember telling him that one day, I would write songs and books. Maybe. Now here I am, having accomplished that dream. And still accomplishing it as we speak.
The week flew by fast oddly enough. A couple nights spent in the steam room with my friend Torok, and Thursday I had fire-watch duty. When Friday came, I knew what I wanted to do.
I was parked in Lori's lot waiting for her to come home from work with a six pack in hand. I managed to drink a couple before she pulled in. I was sitting on my hood. She got out of the car and softly leaned against my front quarter-panel, passenger side. Neither of spoke a word at first until I finally cracked my mouth open. "Want a beer?"
"No. I only work in a bar, I don't drink." She reminded me. And she was right, she didn't drink all that much, hardly at all.
I slid off my hood and to my feet, slowly walking around and up to her as she leaned with her arms crossed in front of her. I began rubbing her arms with both my hands. That led to me taking hold of both her hands and gently bringing her closer to me until our bodies were touching. I wrapped her arms around me before wrapping mine around her. I leaned down and kissed her on the top of her head. Then we started rubbing our heads together erotically, then our faces, cheek to cheek, and finally, our lips met. Tongues went to work to rectify the situation. Upon our release, I pulled her closer, if that was even possible. I whispered into her ear. "I'll try and do better."
She broke away and grabbed my right hand, leading me to the house. In our own way, we made up. It would become about the only thing we did well together. The sex that is. We exploded like atom bombs in the bedroom.
The next morning, we were in the kitchen making breakfast. Bernie was already eating his in his high chair. A knock on the door grabbed both of our attention. She rushed to open the door. An elderly looking man entered. He had a full facial beard and looked every bit as a Duck Dynasty cast member. He quickly got down to business. "Where's the rent?" He asked her.
"I told you, Waylon, next weekend."
"Damn it, Lorraine, this is three months in a row now you been late with the rent."
"Don't I always end up paying it, Waylon?"
His eyes quickly focused on me. Lori walked away and brushed by me as I walked up to Waylon. "How much she owe?" I questioned him. He studied me harder before answering. "Three hundred dollars."
"Carroll ..." Lori began when I quickly hushed her by lifting my arm and pointing at her. "We'll discuss this later." I said, turning back to Waylon. I reached into my pocket and pulled the money and handed it over. "That should cover it." I told him.
He counted it before looking back up at me. With a straight face, he stuck out his hand. "Waylon Sr."
I took it and we shook. "Carroll Bryant." He nodded slightly when I issued an invitation. "You want to stick around for breakfast Waylon or do you have other plans?"
He looked over quickly towards Lori before looking back at me. "I got my own breakfast." He said and then made an about face and left, with me closing the door behind him. By the time I turned around, Lori was standing there again looking a bit aggravated with crossed arms again. "Why did you do that?"
I walked up to her. "Listen Lori, if we're going to be a couple then don't you think we need to start acting like it? This is what couples do. They both contribute, correct? I'm just trying to live up to my responsibility. Isn't that what you were preaching to me last weekend?"
She hesitated momentarily before giving in. "Fine." Then she turned back to the stove to finish with the bacon. "I'm just shocked that he shook your hand."
"Why is that so shocking?" I asked, walking into the kitchen.
"Because, he never shook hands with any of my boyfriends. Not even Bernie's father."
"You never speak about Bernie's father, why not?
She simply turned around to face me. "And I never will either."
Waylon, other than being her landlord, was also her Uncle. Lori's father died when she was 8 years old. Her mother gave her up to the state at 12, and was never seen or heard from since. Waylon found out a few weeks later and went and pulled her from the children's home and raised her from that point forward. When she was 14, Waylon, in a drunken state, made a move on her. Things have been tense between them ever since.
Waylon lived in the house across from her parking lot. His house sat behind a small time bar and grill, hence the parking lot. He also had a wife twenty plus years his Jr. She was a big woman and they had five kids under their roof. The eldest, Waylon Jr., was 17 and the result of his first marriage. The other four kids were a 12 year old girl, an 8 year old son, a five year old son and a 3 year old daughter. He owned both of the houses. (The houses are no longer there, according to Google search.) He worked as a private contractor in construction.
We sat down to eat. During which I suggested we go on a little trip. Seeing how she had that Saturday off night off, after I talked her into it, I thought it would be nice if she, Bernie and I took a ride to North Carolina for the night. She thought the idea to be a little crazy but caved in to the idea. I thought it would be good for us to just get away. Even if for just one night. So we packed up some clothes and off we went.
I can't remember the name of the town we ended up in, but the next morning, we stumbled onto a fair that was going on and we spent much of the afternoon riding the carousel and Ferris wheel with Bernie and playing some carnival games. By the time we made it back home Sunday night, poor Bernie was worn out. Once we placed him in his bed, we took to ours. Once again, the fireworks were going off. The touching, the squeezing, her teeth penetrating my skin, biting me, leaving scratches all over my back from her nails. Her body was made for my hands. We could never go wrong in the bedroom.
Afterwards, we laid there, her head on my chest and both of us depleted of energy. Heart in my mouth and pulse in my head. The smell of her skin lighting up all the fires in me. Our heavy breathing soon subsided when she moved to speak. "Is this all we are?"
"What do you mean?"
She kissed me on the chest and elaborated. "This. The sex. Is this all it is for us?"
I began to wonder myself. Deep down though, I knew the answer. I decided to share it with her. "No. We're much more than that."
"Are you sure?"
I never responded out loud. I just pulled her tighter. But in my mind, I questioned my own answer. In my mind, I did answer. 'I don't know.'
This is when I recall thinking about the future for the first time. My ship was scheduled to leave port in about two months for its six month Mediterranean cruise. A deployment I wasn't looking forward to. How was I going to function without her for six long months? How was she going to function without me? I had no idea what was lurking in the future. Had I known then what I know now, I may have ended my military career right there, and just went back home. If I thought things were crazy enough, I hadn't seen shit. Things were about to get completely insane. I was looking down a barrel of a double loaded memory shotgun. And I didn't even know it. Memories and regrets that I would carry with me for the rest of my life.
Despite the fears traveling through my naked body that night thinking about it all, I kept my arms held tightly around the sex kitten they were holding. That's how I drifted to sleep that night.