Even though it was late when we went to bed and I was exhausted, I still awoke at 7AM. It was a fancy bedroom where I woke up. It certainly wasn’t my usual bedroom. Mine with the industrial decor was a lot more dismal. It took me a minute to realize that I was in Cheryl’s bed. It took me a minute because Cheryl was nowhere to be found . So there were no clues and that morning I needed clues.
The first thing I did was go to the bathroom and drink a glass of water to dilute the funky taste in my mouth. Cheryl’s body tasted a hundred times better than any man, but it still left a stale taste in my mouth. I decided, my best move would be to put on whatever clothes I had worn over, then get my ass home. I wanted to brush my teeth first, then I wanted a shower.
As I passed through the kitchen, I found Cheryl sitting at her small glass topped iron table with matching chairs. Very chic, I would have told her had she not spoken first.
“You better hurry, if you plan to be ready for breakfast by 7:30,” she said it then turned away. Cheryl might be all about routine. It wouldn’t be unusual for institutionalized people to be heavily regimented.
That was it. No good mornings, thanks for eating me out so good. It was just hurry up or you will be late. “Right,” I said as I walked out the door in jeans and a sweatshirt no underwear at all.
The untouched coffee from the night before made it into the microwave, then into me. I carried a cup of it into the bathroom with me, while I brushed my teeth and showered. I managed to get into my bra, panties, thermal suit, jeans and a funky sweater before Cheryl knocked on the door. But I only beat her by a couple of minutes.”
“You about ready?” she asked.
“Just need to put on my parka and hood. I’ll get my bike started and meet you in the front parking lot.” I said it very much aware that Cheryl acted exactly like she had the morning before we had slept together. She had been serious when she said, it was about her biological needs. not any emotional ones. Okay I said it using different words, but that’s obviously what she had meant.
“Are you okay with last night?” I asked.
“Sure,what’s not to be okay with?” she asked genuinely surprised that I would need to ask. I knew then that I would never fully understand how Cheryl thought. Her experience base was just too different from my own. I would need some time to work that out, but I had always managed to understand people. It’s why I was successful at problem solving. It was about knowing which button to push and then hitting it with a big ass hammer.
It was a bit of a twist, instead of the tenant being upset that the relationship wasn’t all she wanted, it just might be the landlady who was upset. I obviously didn’t know how it would end, but I was pretty sure Cheryl had been correct, when she told her dad that she would manage.
The bike started right up so I was in the parking lot before Cheryl, who had to roll hers out. It was a little about being considerate of the other tenants, but a lot more about having to work the bike through the walk gate.
It was cold and the bikes were noisy, so we didn’t speak again until we arrived at the Hardee’s parking lot. “It’s kinda cold this morning,” I said.
“Yes, it is still in the low thirties,” Cheryl replied. She knew that I hadn’t meant just the temperature. Since she chose to play it that way, I was determined to go along.
“Did you see that red Ford that we passed on the square?” I asked.
“You mean the one parked on the street, across from the statue of the confederate soldier?” Cheryl turned the answer into another question.
“Yeah that was Mike, I’m pretty sure. The car is right for the rental he got.”
“Then he will show up here,” Cheryl suggested.
“I would bet on it,” I replied.
Sure enough his car drove in right after the words made it out of my mouth. I watched him park before I opened the first of the doors into the restaurant’s air lock for Cheryl. “He will probably want to film us going inside,” I advised her.
Since Mike hustled, he obviously was trying to beat us in. Even though I was cold, I gave him first shot at the second set of doors leading into the heated dining room. He took a seat with a view of the door, then pointed a tiny video camera at us as we entered.
Since our favorite booth was available, we went for it. Mike had to move to get a clear camera view. Then he pointed the camera at Cheryl as she removed her Navy Pea Coat. When that coat was gone, she was down to a tight fitting thermal top. With her over sized boobs it was a sight the TV audience was going to love. My guess is after last night and this morning Cheryl would be one of the real stars of the show. She might even outshine me, which would be just fine, I thought.
“So what are your plans for today?” Cheryl asked me.
“I don’t have any plans to be honest. I think I might play around on the computer today. Maybe find an old TV show I missed. How about you what are your plans?”
“I’m going to look for a job, I think.” Cheryl said.
“Oh do you know where yet?” I asked.
“No, I worked in the kitchen at my last gig. I could probably find something in food services. I also have a K9 trainers certificate from the cell block dog program.” she suggested.
So there it was, she had let the dog out of the bag. Nothing I could no about it now. Mike would have her complete story by sundown. I knew she wasn’t stupid so she had decided that she just didn’t give a shit.
I was tempted to suggest Helen, but it all rang too close to the Mosby thing. “Well good luck. I am sure you will find something.”
“Oh I’ll be fine. I mostly don’t like being bored,” she admitted.
“I have that same problem,” I admitted. “Oh hell, I’ll tell yo u what, if you really want to work just to pass the time, I have a friend who might still have an opening.”
“Yeah I know, Helen,” she said. “Remember, Daddy likes to know everything about everybody.”
“Yes it seems that he does at that. So, is that who you planned to go see?”
‘Yes, I think I will see if she needs any help. Unlike your last girlfriend, I am actually a cook. I’m not just a pretty face.”
“Although you are that too,” I admitted.
“Thanks,” Cheryl said unenthusiastically.
“Well, good luck with Helen she is a real sweetheart,” I said.
“So are we going to walk after this?” she asked.
“I am, and I hoped you would come along,” I said honestly.
“I’m glad that you don’t need clingy,” she admitted. “I don’t want to lose the friendship we have.”
“It works for me, but you have to know, it’s either an exclusive relationship or it’s not relationship at all,” I said honestly.
“I know that, and I don’t want an exclusive relationship. I couldn’t function that way, and neither could you. At least for more than a couple of weeks. In your heart you know that it is true.” Cheryl said.
I didn’t speak for a few long seconds, while I thought about what she said, “So what has this all been about?” I asked.
“It’s about, me wanting to be you. You can handle anything, and you can do it being in the big world. I can handle anything in a small world. I think we are alike, so I want to learn to be you in the big world.”
“I’m not sure I understand and I doubt that I need to understand. I will be here for you as much as I can, and still be me. That’s about all the open relationship that I can handle,” I said.
“That’s all I can ask,” Cheryl said.
“Then let’s go walk. There are some old men who need their morning booby fix.” I said.
“And I need the ego boost,” she admitted.
We gave Mike a chance to get ahead of us, so it was a few minutes before we actually left the warm restaurant. It was a slightly longer ride in the cold to the mall. Since I sensed that things between Cheryl and I had been defined, I enjoyed the ride. Unlike Cheryl I didn’t need a structured life, but I did need to know where I stood. Cheryl was going to need serious structure till she learned how to roll with the punches, in a world filled with chaos.
Just as I expected, the old men at the mall beamed when Cheryl passed them in that tight thermal top. I knew just how they felt, since I was also in awe of her body.
Once I got home from breakfast and our walk, I fell sound asleep in the more or less dry bed. I had a hangover, but I doubted that it had anything to do with the three beers I had the night before. I had a feeling the hangover was more from lack of sleep and too much sex.
Even though I had to taken the nap to feel close to normal for the rest of the day, it had been more than worth it. Cheryl was an experience not to be missed. Even better. we were still friends the next day. That was a novel experience for me. It seems that my life is filled with good friends, lovers, people who hate me, and total strangers. I think most people’s lives are like that.
I felt like my mind was in a heavy fog for the first hour after I awoke. The thing that snapped me out of it was a call from my Redheaded friend. “Hello Maxine, they have the job for us,” his voice over the phone informed me.
“So when am I going to find out?” I asked.
“I will be leaving here in a few minutes and it’s a six hour drive. That’s going to make it a couple of hours before midnight. I think I will spend the night with a friend and meet with you tomorrow.” he suggested.
“Oh, do I know the friend?” I asked with a laugh.
“I think so,” he replied with a laugh of his own
I settled in for the evening with a frozen spaghetti dinner and a glass of diet coke. I couldn’t really concentrate on the computer even though I tried. There was no point in trying to guess what might be in Red’s black bag, so I tried not to speculate. The unfortunate thing is that knowing I shouldn’t do it, did nothing to prevent me from speculating anyway.
It got dark early so I was a little concerned when I heard the beep of the gate lock around 7PM. I ran the security tape back and saw the young emt from the Cop Out pass through the gate. I checked the parking lot camera, which had a view of her walking past my door and down to Cheryl’s apartment.
Yes, I was jealous. But it wasn’t so much, so that I was destroyed by it. Cheryl made it clear from the beginning that it wasn’t a relationship, it was just sex. For one of the few times in my life, someone had turned the tables on me. It didn’t thrill me, but I could live with it.
I half expected them both to be at my door any minute. I had no such luck. I was debating heading back to the cop out, when the phone played Mag 7. I was sure that the caller would be Cheryl. “Hello,” I said.
“Max this is Kate, Martin asked me to call. He wanted to know if you wantedd to have a midnight supper with us?” she asked.
“And what do you want?” I asked.
“I want what Martin wants,” she said.
“You know that could go either way. You want to make Martin happy, or you really want this to happen. So which is it?”
“You are really going to put me on the spot?” she asked.
“Of course I am,” I replied.
“It is just to keep Martin happy.” she said.
“Then tell him I had to stay home to wash my hair,” I replied.
“Are you sure?” she asked with relief in her voice.
“Of course I’m sure. I don’t want to part of your power plays. not yours and not his either. So count me out. But if you ever want to do it, just to do it, give me a call.”
“If I ever do, you are the one I would call,” she admitted.
“Good, I promise I will play nice.” I was laughing at her and she knew it. It was the story of my life, a little fun for a little while, then watch everyone else having a lot of fun for ten times as long. Like my daddy said, “You win some… you lose some… some get rained out… but the best ones you don’t even dress for…”