78 back to the garage.
That bonus room over Jen’s garage got changed as often as my panties, it seemed. When I got discharged from the Air Force, it had been an exercise room. I’m not sure it ever got used for that. After I got to town, it became a studio apartment for Jen’s high school friend, me.
After I left, it became her party central room. I had gone to a couple of parties there myself. You could get ten to twenty people inside it with room to mingle a little. Or set it up for a dinner with a dozen guest.
With the addition of some furniture, borrowed from other rooms in her house, it again became my small apartment. Jen’s plan was not so much to ‘take care of me’ as to give me a space where she could check up on me easily. It was as much for her convenience, as mine. I still loved her for it.
She refused to take me to the office for the cruiser. Instead she drove me to her place. The contradiction was that she left me to climb the stairs alone. Now that was a bit painful. The incision, that the bad guy made with his dying energy, was a big nasty one. It was closed but it still had that raw feeling.
Once I was up the stairs, I decided not to go back down them for a long time. I knew that was wishful thinking, but it was what I planned. With a little luck I could manage to put it off for a while at least. Jen would probably be around long enough to bring me a pizza. I mean how much trouble would it be to carry if from the door to my over sized room. All I had to do was order it from our town’s one delivery restaurant.
It sounded like a plan to avoid those steps for at least that one evening. I sat down with the pen and note pad, from my over sized purse, to make a list of things that I needed from the store. Diet Coke topped the list. Then frozen dinners, fancy rolls, eggs, cheese, one of those picnic salt and pepper sets, paper plates and bowls (not plastic), and plastic glasses.
First I called Lucas, “At your service,” he asnwered.
“Hey, I see you figured out how to route the calls to your phone. Good for you.”
“I’m the digital genius, remember?” he actually laughed.
“So things are going alright with the business?” I asked.
“Sure, I work almost a full day every day.”
“Very good. Listen I’m at Jennifer’s house. Why don’t you stop by a grocery store and pick up few things for me. Deliver them and bring your paperwork for the deliveries. If you do I’ll write you a check.”
“Sure, is it okay if I bring Gwen?” he asked.
“Of course, she can even bring her camera, if she wants. I’ll do a sit down talk about the whole hospital experience.”
“She said, if we do that Mike is going to want to be there,” Lucas said.
“Alright bring Mike. Jen won’t mind. I’ll text you my grocery list. If Gwen thinks of anything I forgot, just buy that as well. And Luke continue to feed the cat a few more days please, but without Gwen along.”
“You got it boss.” he replied.
So I sent a text to him with the list of groceries. After that I checked out the bed and found it comfortable enough to fall asleep. I did that until Jen woke me knocking on the door. “Hey you got Greeks bearing gifts out here, open up.” she demanded.
The apartment sized refrigerator was filled to capacity by my few groceries. Jen was a little upset until I explained that the food was for breakfast and lunch when she wasn’t around. I didn’t plan to leave the house for a week. I knew my body was in no shape to do anything for at least that long.
What I didn’t tell her was that at the end of that week, I would be headed back to my own place. The thought ‘my own place’ turned my mind toward what I was going to do about the cabin. It had terrible living conditions, but it was also remote and secure. I had taken it when security was my number one concern. I wasn’t sure, if that remained the case or not. It was possible I could find a place like the Gunny’s little apartment and just buy it outright. With that I could make ends meet and be in town and nearer to everything. I had the week to decide what to do next.
The con’s little old lady mom wasn’t in a great hurry. At least that is what Ed told me at the hospital. But he also said that she couldn’t wait forever, so I had to make a decision soon or she would make it for me. Once they started to show the place, I was finished there for sure.
I sat down with Lucas to write him a check for the week I had been out of commission. In four days he had made 25 deliveries. “Okay Lucas here is how it breaks down. The fees for your deliveries run $50 each, so you earned $1250 dollars gross. Instead of the $500 I would have paid you, if we were working together. Now if this were your business, you would need to set aside the payment for rent on the office about $250 bucks for a week. Then $150 for the car payment you might have, if you were running the business. Phones of all kinds about a $100. After taxes you might get to spend about $500 on yourself.”
“I had no idea,” he said.
“Neither did I. I had to play it by ear the first year. Now I have a pretty good handle on it.”
I handed him the check for $1250. “This time you get it all, but don’t get used to it.”
“Okay, I’m going to get Gwen and take her home to change. While she does that, I’m going to go put the cat food out. I still don’t think it is a cat eating the food, but it’s gone every day so I can’t be sure.” he said.
Since Mike couldn’t make the trip, I expected that Gwen was giving Jen and update on the progress of the TV show. Marty wanted it on line the moment it was ready. He was already marketing the kits, but the more publicity the better in his mind I was sure.
“Boss, thanks for the extra money. You didn’t have to do it. I would have stayed, just because it needed to be done. It was the right thing.” He had heard that for sure from me, and most likely from Gunny as well. It was a good lesson for a young man to have learned.
For lunch I was planning a sandwich of some kind. I had intentionally left chips off the grocery list. I had a feeling that chips wouldn’t do my ragged stomach much good. I wanted to stay away from sharp things for a while.
I had the frig door open and was looking inside to make the ‘what to put between the slices of bread’ decision, when I heard a knock on my door. Helen and skeeter were in the hall. I am sure skeeter was the first dog, with four legs, to ever make it inside Jen’s house.
When skeeter saw me, she was on her back legs dancing for me. I had to smile she was so happy to see me. It made me want to cry at the same time. I began to pet her and it seemed that neither of us would ever get enough.
“Be gentle,” Helen said in a stern voice and skeeter calmed right down. “God I love that dog,” she added.
“Who in world wouldn’t?” I asked.
“I am back driving the sandwich truck until I can find someone else to do it. So here is the deal. I will be by here once in the morning and once at lunch. Jen has promised to do something for your dinner. If she doesn’t I will bring dinner over,” Helen said.
“Like hell you will,” I said.”I plan to sleep till noon.”
“Okay then, I will bring your lunch,” Helen insisted.
“Helen, I have things already bought to fix my own lunch. I really want to do that.”
“Let me do something?” she asked.
“You have done more than enough by bringing skeeter over. I told you she is a natural therapy dog.”
“I know. she saved my life for sure. Now you will not go hungry, do you hear me?” Helen demanded. “If you need anything at all, you call me I will get it here somehow.”
“Not to worry, I won’t go hungry.”
“I left your dinner for tonight with Jen.” Then she began to tear up. “If anything happens to you because of me, or my family, I don’t know what I will do.”
“Plant a flower for me, somewhere flowers don’t grow. Make it a pretty one,” I said shedding tears myself.
Then Helen was gone. Dinner that night was a huge beef pot pie. It had about every vegetable known to man inside. It was delicious. I had expected no less. Bob was very uncomfortable for some reason. I didn’t ask, because I didn’t care.
“Jen, dinner was great and the company is good, but I am exhausted,” I said as I stood. I am going to have t leave you to clean the table.” I barely managed to make it back to the bed before I passed out. I’m was not sure if it was just exhaustion, or if it was something else, but I went out light a light.
The sweat shirt Jen brought for me to wear from the hospita,l was in need of a washing at the end of the day. Since I had passed out cold, it didn’t get done. So Monday morning found me sitting in one of Jen’s too small tee shirt, while the sweat shirt went through the washer, The expensive tee which I wore would be stretched, so odds weret the prissy Jen would never wear it again. It was the only solid colored one she had, so I didn’t mind taking it. All her other tees had cutsy shit on them, butterflies or some such nonsense.
Monday was boring as hell. The only person to call was Mike the producer. “Maxine, Lucas said you were willing to do a sit down interview with me?” It was a question.
“Sure, come on over.” I agreed.
That interview lasted an hour and was the only thing I did, other than watch TV all day.
Tuesday was a repeat of Monday except I washed the Tee shirt instead of the sweat shirt.
Wednesday I sat in Jen’s panties and tee shirt while I washed my jeans and the sweat shirt again. All the clothes I had at Jen’s house were developing a serious patina. They would all qualify for Antiques Road Show, on looks alone. I was doing more than it would seem on the surface, I was up and down those fucking steps more ad more times each day.
On Thursday I ventured around the block. Since the cops still had my .38 I carried my glock 9mm, brought to me by Luke with the groceries. I had bought it from the man, who won the Wilmington police department’s auction, when they switched to the 10mm. To conceal it and to keep warm, I wore one of Bob’s yard work jackets.
It felt so good to be outside that I walked the same route again that afternoon. I could tell that I was beginning to get my strength back. It felt really good to have some energy.
On Friday, I felt good enough to walk around the neighborhood for an hour at a time. I knew then that it was time to get my wheels and move home.
“Hey Lucas give me a call,” I said into the cell phone Friday afternoon. I watched TV for an hour before he returned my call. When he did I had finished with the TV and was on the sidewalk several blocks from Jen’s house.
“What’s up boss?” he asked.
“Are you in town?” I asked rather than answer.
“On my way back from Tryon. I should be there in fifteen minutes,” he answered
“Before you go to the office swing by Jen’s house please. I want to go to the office to pick up the Cruiser.”
“Actually I’m in the cruiser,” he said sheepishly.
“No problem, I will drop you at the office. You can either get your car or the van which ever you want.”
“I should be there in about twenty minutes,” he said.
“Maxine,” the receptionist said as a greeting. Damn caller I D. I thought.
“Is your boss available?” I asked.
“Sure hold on,” she said.
“Max, is anything wrong?” Jennifer asked.
“No, should there be?” I asked calming her down.
“No, you just haven’t called all week.”
“Well I have Lucas bringing the cruiser over. It’s time I headed home.”
“Are you sure?” she asked sounding a little concerned.
“Yes I’m sure. I’m going to take all the stuff from the frig, you won’t ever use it.”
“You are right about that,” she said laughing at me.
I got to the cabin at 6PM. I saw the cat come out of the woods as my car pulled in. I quickly got the food ready. It was chilly, but I pulled a chair out to watch him eat.
“So did you miss me?” He didn’t even look up. “So you are pissed because I left you. Well I sent the kid to be sure you ate at least once a day.”
I looked down at the beat up old cat and decided right then to buy the cabin. I phoned Ed to set the wheels in motion.