"You know," He finally became philosophical. "you only knew her for 4 weeks, dude. She practically grew up with him."
I knew what he was alluding to. "Yeah," I reasoned, "but it was a hell of a four weeks."
"Apparently so." He chuckled. "You going to be okay then?"
I nodded my head. "Yeah, I do believe I will." I studied him thoroughly. "I owe you one." I gave him another hug.
"You'd do the same for me." He figured as much. When we released, I started to walk away, back to the apartment when he called out. "What? No kiss goodbye?"
I stopped and turned around. "Come here you big lug."
He waved me off. "Fuck that." And he slid into the driver seat, closing the door. I laughed it off as I watched him pull out.
I went back upstairs and took a shower. There was a knock on my bedroom door. It was Glen. "You're old lady is here." He announced. I had just put on my shirt. Confused, I made a quick move to investigate. I stepped out onto the deck and there she was. She was standing there smiling with sunglasses on, and holding Bernie. "Lorraine?" I immediately reached for him as Lori made the transfer. "We haven't heard from you lately so we thought we would drop by."
"How did you know where I lived?" I asked, giving Bernie a kiss and bouncing him in my arms.
"You know how word travels." She replied, before spilling the real beans. "Bonnie told me."
"It's good to see you two." I finally acknowledged, leaning over and giving her a kiss on the cheek.
"Hungry?" She asked me. "We're going to go get lunch. Join us?"
"Absolutely." I ushered, letting her lead the way.
We took her car. We ended up at a small diner, sitting outside and sucking on chili dogs. "I hope I didn't interrupt anything." She just happen to say.
"No, of course not." I answered. "You didn't interrupt anything."
"I wasn't so sure about popping in like this after I heard about the harem you had staying with you."
"It wasn't a harem." I rolled my eyes. "Kaps sisters and his ex came to stay for a couple of weeks. That's all. Nothing exciting."
She nibbled her food with one hand while holding it in the other. "That's not my understanding of it."
I stared at her. "Then what is your understanding of it, Lori? I would really like to know."
"I don't want to argue." She quietly moaned. "God, why do we always get into arguments?"
"I'm not arguing." I insisted. "Are we friends or what? And if so, then friends don't need to tiptoe around shit like we seem to do. If you want to know something, just ask."
"Okay." She half smiled.
"Good." I half smiled with her. "Now what did you want to know? Did I hump any of the girls?"
"I don't want to know, I don't want to know." She waved me off. I shook my head grinning. "We're a piece of work, you know that?" I told her, then diving into her personal life a little more. "How are things with Van?"
She went into full body spasms with that question. "Oh God, can I pick'em or what?"
"That well, huh?" I joshed.
"He left his wife shortly after New Years. I thought ...." She said before stopping mid sentence to contemplate her next words, which never did come. I finished it for her. "You thought he was going to move in with you?"
"I dunno. Maybe. I guess we're still dating."
A slight pause in our conversation allowed me to work up the courage to ask a question. "What are you looking for, Lori? I mean honestly, what are you looking for? Marriage? A father for Bernie? What?"
"I don't know." She wavered. "Maybe I'm looking for the same thing everybody else is looking for, someone to love and to love me in return." Then she flip flopped it back to me. "What are you looking for?"
"I'm not looking for anything." I told her. She wasn't buying it. "Oh bullshit, Carroll. Everyone is looking for something."
"Fine." I caved in. "I'm looking for myself. I'm looking for a good time."
"Oh." She grunted. "I see."
I didn't like the sound of that. "What?"
"Nothing." She fluttered.
"No, tell me." I pushed. "What?"
She grazed her eyes back and forth from the chili dog she held in her hand, to me. "I guess I was kind of hoping you were gonna say you were looking for me."
I leaned over and reached for her hands. After placing the chili dog down, she took them. "Finding you was a happy accident." I tenderly stressed. "I wanted to keep you."
"But you didn't. You walked out on me. On us."
"No." I challenged. "I walked out of the situation. I'm still here for you and Bernie."
"Then why haven't you come around to see us?"
"I had to let some time pass." I said. "And hey, look at us now, two friends having lunch." We both showcased a smile before I made her a promise. "I'll start swinging by more, okay? Especially now that I know Van isn't there."
"Do you even know why I came by today?" She was coy with her facial expression. "This time one year ago, you woke up on my back pier, remember?"
"Our first night together, right." It was all coming back to me now. That sly girl.
Okay, so she was sentimental at heart I suppose. We continued our conversation and finished eating when she drove me back home. I gave Bernie kisses bye bye, and I leaned over from the passenger side and planted a nice long one on her. When we broke apart, she was all smiles. "Should friends kiss like that?" She wondered.
"We can." I told her. "We're allowed to. After what we have been through?"
She accepted that and before I knew it, she was pulling out of the parking lot too, after having left me with the final word, "Come see us sometime."
I rushed back upstairs to the apartment. While I was finally beginning to feel a little more like my usual self, I still had remnants of Teresa still left inside that had to be dealt with. I still felt lonely inside at nights while laying in bed. I still didn't feel like drinking during this time, but I was beginning to pull myself out of it. After that week sailed by, and Friday night came, all hell was to break loose. I had one week of barber school left before starting laundry school, but when I got out of the shower after work that Friday, I was greeted by a little surprise. I heard some rustling sounds coming from Glen's room. When I called out to him, asking him if he wanted me to throw a steak on the grill for him, he poked his head out the bedroom door. "Sure."
"Torok?" I gasped.
"Glen found a woman to hang with. He asked me if I wanted to take over his room. You don't mind, do you?"
Me mind? Was he serious? "Hell no I don't mind." I celebrated.
"Great." He exclaimed. "After we eat, we're going out to party."
And then it happened, cha-ching! Game on.
From there, it was nothing but crazy nights and fun once again. The moment we entered the Silver Saddle, the rest of the guys knew the deal. Neil may have said it best. "He's back! The kid is back! Let me buy you a drink, sir."
And yes indeed, the kid was back. It was party in the USA long before Miley Cyrus was even born. The fun didn't end with that weekend either. Even though, on Sunday morning, there were a few guys crashing on the cots again and the couch. They did get to enjoy the mini show when I opened my bedroom door to escort one of my new lady friends to the exit. She thanked me for a nice time and planted a kiss on me. I sent her on her way with a smile. Taco was one of the guys on a cot. "Lucky bastard." He mumbled over at me while I set up a bowl and spoon and opened the cupboard door for cereal inspection time. "Hey," I shouted out, "who ate all the Apple Jacks?"
My last week of barber school went flying by. I graduated with honors, I guess. I got a certificate. Whoopie for me I suppose. That alone was a sure cause to celebrate. Saturday morning, another cute female to escort out the front door as we made our way across the living room of sleeping drunks. Another "Lucky bastard" shout out from one of them and me, once again scanning my cereal options for breakfast. "Hey, who ate all the Lucky Charms?"
March arrived and I soon found myself in laundry school. There were a couple of girls in my barber class, but nothing ever developed with any of them, mostly due to Teresa and such, but the few girls who were in my laundry class, well, one of them and I took to liking one another. It was innocent at first, but by week two, I had her over for dinner and drinks. As it always was with me, one thing led to another. She was a fill in until the weekends though. A quick trip to Virginia Beach and babam! Another new friend to escort out the door in the morning. "Hey, what the hell? What happened to the Froot Loops?"
I did pop in on Lori and Bernie here and there. Mostly on Mondays when she wasn't working. A couple times on a Sunday. I would always end up eating dinner with them and hanging out. I also checked in with Bonnie and the twins. usually at night, before heading out to the bars. I think I did this because I got to spend a couple hours with the kids and tuck them into bed and read them bedtime stories. I enjoyed that. They seemed to enjoy it too. But afterwards, it was female hunting time, and there were no shortage of them by any means. Maybe it was a different time, a different society than what we have now, I don't know, but one was certain, I was taking full advantage of the situation. I had at this point pretty much swore off love and relationships. I just wanted to have a good time, and leave it at that. My little Miss laundry friend / classmate may have had other ideas swimming around in her head. During our final week of classes, she caught up with me at the base PX eating lunch with a few other male members of our class. She came over to make arrangements for her to come by my place that night, a Thursday, only I had other plans.
Poor Alyssa, she got to discover that I wasn't her true love after all. She slung some words at me like, "I thought we had something special." and, "I can't believe I slept with you." and so forth and so on. She was making a scene. Then she stormed off in a fit of rage, swearing to god that I was the devil spawn. Or something to that affect. I turned to one of my buddies. "I offered her some of my German Chocolate cake. Didn't you see me offer her my German chocolate cake? I like German chocolate cake. Where's the gratitude?"
Oh yes, I had gone full circle. From an accused asshole to an outright first class asshole. For a period there, my heart had turned to stone.
Now, you may be asking yourself, why would I turn down a sure thing where sex was concerned on a Thursday? What could I possibly have planned that night that would allow me the luxury of saying no to sex with a cute blond like Alyssa? Well, that is a good question. You see, Thursday nights was 'ladies night' at a bar Torok introduced me to. On ladies night, they held these male reviews for the ladies. Us guys would mostly go hang out by the pool tables until they were done, then when the show was over, there was a bar full of hot and horny women. See my drift? And history had shown since my rebirth that the odds I got to meet new tail was largely in my favor. Best of all, these women were full of alcohol by the time they got their male review groove on. Nice combo if you ask me. But this particular night was about to do a 360. My decision to blow off Alyssa turned into sinners gold. Man, was I loving every minute of it too!
The manger approached us about as soon as we hit the door. He knew Torok and I well by this point. "Sorry guys," he informed us. "only a few dancers showed up tonight. Looks like we're gonna have to call it off. I need at least 5 or six for a full show."
This sucked. That would mean, no ladies! Oh, hell to the no. "Well, that's just great!" Torok flared. It was time for the brainiac to come up with something. The situation called for it. i turned to the manager. "Hey Tom, what if I could get you a couple more dancers?"
He began to nod his head. "Sure. But where you going to find a couple more dancers this late?"
I elbowed Torok and gave him a sneaky grin. It took a moment before he caught my meaning. "What? No way. Are you mad?"
"Like a scientist." I replied. Tom quickly picked up on it too. "Are you serious?"
"Yes or no?" Was all I wanted to know. Tom shrugged his shoulders. "It's fine with me. You get to keep your tips."
"There's an adult store down the street." I said to Torok. "We can get some G's over there."
"You really want to do this, Carroll?" He looked at me with unfiltered eyes.
"Come on," I encouraged him, "let's go for it, dude. What the hell, you know?"
And that, as they say again, was that!
Loving every minute of it indeed! ... Ready ... aim .... fire!