Chance: A Day in May Ch. 02bythe Troubador©
No sex in this chapter.
Chapter 02 - Enjoying a 'Burger
I hadn't gone 5 miles before spotting a small blue car pulled off about a mile ahead, the hood raised. Drawing closer, it began looking a lot like Helen's BMW.
Sure enough, as I drew closer I saw it was hers. Helen and Gerald were standing in front of the car, looking helplessly into the opened engine compartment. Pulling up in front of them I stopped close to where they were studying the dead engine. Shutting down my rig I climbed carefully out. There wasn't a lot of traffic on I-90 here, but it was all traveling fast, 70 MPH or better, and I didn't want to play matador to some farmer's broken down pick-up truck.
As I pulled in Helen looked over at me desperately. Her husband was almost apoplectic. The man was ranting at her, shouting over the noise of the traffic streaking by on our left. HE had wanted to take the Cadillac, not that antique thing SHE drove. IF he HAD his cell phone they would already have help on the way. Then he started on a litany of the problems his missing the flight from Spokane was going to cause, etc., etc. It seemed everything was Helen's fault, including global warming. If you counted the heat coming from her husband's choleric red face, maybe he was right.
Looking at Helen, but addressing Gerald to keep the lid on the pot, which was boiling madly away there beside the road, I asked what the problem was.
"This junk heap broke down, and now I'll miss my connecting flight in Seattle. I've told her to get rid of this antique, but she has some kind of fixation because it was the first decent car she could buy on her own money. I ask you, what kind of drivel is that over a machine?"
Ignoring his slander of Helen's beloved car, I consoled the oaf over his predicament. Then, "Hey, Gerry, I tell you what. Why don't you two lock up the BMW and climb into my rig. I'll give you a ride to Ritzville. You can arrange transportation to Spokane from there and Helen can make arrangements to get the car taken care of. You'll be able to get to Spokane with plenty of time. That sound OK with you folks?"
"Oh my god, man! You've saved my life," from the husband.
Helen smiled gratefully at me. I had them fetch their suitcases then led them to the motorhome. As I expected, Gerry took the passenger seat up front next to me, leaving Helen to get comfortable on the furniture in the living area behind the step-down into the driving compartment.
As I was pulling back onto the Interstate behind a big eighteen-wheeler Gerald asked me, "Where is your wife? Lovely woman! I saw her at the front table in Hawaii. Someone told me you took her every place you went." Without taking a breath and certainly not letting me answer he babbled on, "I can understand that, she's a real looker. In some ways it keeps the expenses down on those long trips, eh?" I thought he was going to reach all the way over to nudge me in the ribs before adding, "As we get older though, the old 'needs' do seem to fade away. I will admit it's nice not to be governed by those urges, though their loss is missed on occasion I suppose. Isn't that what you have found?"
Shocked at the crudeness of his remarks, particularly in front of his wife, I needed a minute to reply. Before answering, I adjusted the inside mirror. It was really only there to allow me to see what was happening behind me in the rig as I drove and I turned it so I could see Helen where she was sitting behind her husband on the right side. Of course, she could see me in the mirror too and knew I was looking at her.
"Well, you are right. Those urges do reduce as we get older," was my answer, sticking my tongue in my cheek and looking in the mirror to be sure Helen saw me do so. "When those urges go, they would be missed, of course," I added.
Looking in the mirror I saw Helen point a finger at me, then rub a finger over it from the other hand. Damned if she wasn't giving me the old grade school 'Naughty, Naughty' sign!
What I had to say next was still difficult even after two years. "I'm afraid Jamie can't come with me on these trips any more. And you are right; she always came with me everywhere. She died two years ago, and I've been alone ever since." Thankfully the man was at a loss for words, but I saw Helen's comforting look and felt the hand she reached to rest on my shoulder, giving me a soft squeeze.
We were in Ritzville in 20 minutes, stopping at the Texaco station on the east edge of town. Gerry went inside to made arrangements to be driven back to Geiger Field, the Spokane airport. He ended making a deal with a teenage boy just getting off work at the station. I never said anything, I think he could have taken a limo for less than he was paying the kid.
During the negotiations I was standing behind Gerry where he couldn't see me, giving the kid signals as negotiations were progressing. Every time Gerry thought he had a deal, I'd signal the kid to boost it up a little. He ended up paying $125 for the trip, plus paying separately for the gas and reimbursing the kid for a couple jobs he was supposed to be doing that afternoon. I think the jobs were made up, but I was signaling so hard that he had to come up with something more Gerry could pay him for.
Helen had been standing off to the side, keeping a poker face as she watched the husband who had been treating her so condescendingly, and who then had ranted at her and her car. She was very fed up with his behavior and was enjoying his being taken by a 17-year-old high school kid. There was a sign advertising the town taxi on the wall right behind where she was standing, hidden by her back. I have no idea if Helen had even been aware of it. Nevertheless, she hid it from him all the time we were in the station.
The kid's replacement for next shift started to say something about the sign behind Helen. But before he could say anything I gave him a $20 and asked him to bring hamburgers for us from the neighboring restaurant. When I told him to keep the change there was no way he was going to blab. The station owner nodded his OK to the kid, and he was off like a bee was chasing him.
By the time he was back, Gerry and his driver had gone. Surprisingly, Helen wasn't hungry and neither was I, it was pretty early. I told the kid to eat the burgers himself. Sixteen-year-old boys are nothing but one voracious appetite.
Helen looked a little troubled. When I asked her the problem she admitted feeling guilty about the way we had treated her husband. She brightened up though when I reminded her of the way he had been acting. And lord knows they could afford it. I also suspected he would find some way to hide the expense in his travel voucher, and probably even make a profit. When he told the story it would sound like he had negotiated a tough deal in a difficult situation with a well-known con man.
After making arrangements with the station to have her BMW picked up and repaired I invited Helen to lunch. Once seated in a surprisingly dim room in a little steak house just across the road she looked at me a little puzzled and asked, "Isn't this putting a crimp in your schedule? I mean you've already spent an hour and a half just getting me and Gerry into Ritzville."
Sipping my coffee I explained that Jamie had been a partner in everything I did, including the business. She had gone with me on all my business trips, after the kids had left the nest, and I had shared the fun and problems of the business with her. After her death the joy I had taken in running my business disappeared. Since I had enough money to live reasonably well, I just retired, well semi-retired anyway. I'd turned the firm over to my employees who, as co-owners were running it now. I was on call as a consultant if they got in any binds, which was rare. I'd been careful and lucky in choosing my people and made sure they were well trained and knowledgeable.
I told her, "Helen, I have no schedule. I was heading home to Seattle after seeing my grandkids in Spokane. I'm at your service, and so far I've had fun being your knight in coffee stained armor."
"Well Duncan, I don't know what else you can do for me. The car should be ready by the time we finish our meal, so I guess I'll just enjoy your company before you head off."
"Where are you going now, Helen? It sounded like you and your husband had just started a 2-week vacation. Are you going on to Lake Chelan, returning home, or just wandering for a while?" I asked.
Giving me a quizzical look she asked, "Just wandering, Duncan? I don't think I've ever done that. Have you spent much time just poking around with no schedule?"
"Well, yes and no," was my reply. "As a kid, before I got serious about making a difference in the world, I did quite a bit of it. Just hopping in my jalopy and starting off to see what the country was like. Used to take my camera along, and for a while I thought of doing photo essays on some of the little towns I came across."
I found myself distracted as we talked, with Helen sitting across from me. She was leaning forward, and the flickering candle set in the blood red holder was casting fascinating shadow across her face. Her chin was resting on her hands and those perfect breasts kept catching my eye where her dress gapped open slightly. The shadows were more interesting than a spot light. I just hoped she wasn't noticing.
After a pause I continued, "Since I was widowed I've done a little bit of poking around the state. It's kind of fun, and I always feel like I've accomplished something afterward. I'm never sure quite what though, looking back after each trip."
Just then our lunch arrived, and we were surprised to find we were hungry so we just fell to. After dinner I walked her back over to the Texaco station to check on her car. As we walked, Helen confessed her husband's sniping at her car was on the money. She was an accountant, a CPA actually, and the first nice thing she had purchased for herself was the BMW. After she married she invested almost all of her salary. Her husband was making far more than they needed for living expenses so she had indulged herself and had the little car rebuilt. It was a 'whole lot of fun to drive' and represented her real independence. When Gerald received an unexpected promotion to vice president accompanied by a startling increase in salary she quit her job and concentrated on running the family and handling their investments. Modestly she confessed she had 'enjoyed some investment success'. Quizzing her I discovered she had turned Gerald's income into a very tidy fortune and had fun doing it.
At the station, we found her car still up on the hoist and were told we would have a little wait before they were sure exactly what the problem was and getting her on her way.
Strolling back outside Helen took my arm, stopping me, and looked up into my eyes. "Duncan," Helen said, "it feels strange to feel the need to ask this, but give Gerry a little slack. OK? I mean, he's really a nice guy. It's just that he seems to have gotten a bit self-important the last couple of years since becoming a Vice President."
I just nodded my head. I mean, what could I say? The man had changed and she didn't want to see it. The man I met today couldn't be the man who had captivated this exotic creature. In no way did I want to upset her. I liked her as a person and when I could get away with it, I was feasting my eyes on the finest legs I ever remembered seeing. Guess I'll always be a dirty old man at heart. What it boiled down to was that she was a pleasure to be around and I didn't want to jeopardize that. She would be driving out of my life soon enough as it was without squabbling about what kind of man she had married. That way lay madness.
Instead of getting her mad, I really wanted to run my tongue all over those thighs. The backs of her knees were looking especially like dessert at the moment. As we talked I was imagining the taste as just the tip of my tongue traced and tasted that soft skin and I could almost hear her murmuring at the feeling.
Snapping out of my daze I heard her say, "Duncan, you are doing it again. Come on, be a good boy!"
Damn, she had caught me at it again! I felt the blood rush to my face, and knew I was blushing scarlet. "Helen! I'm sorry, I don't mean to be such a bore. Please forgive me?"
She chuckled, "Duncan, the way you look at me is quite flattering. I know you aren't being forward, of course you are forgiven. It's just that I am married, even if Gerry and I are really quite upset with one another at the moment.
I'm pretty dense sometimes, but suddenly things clicked into place. "Jesus, Helen! This trip was supposed to 'revitalize' your marriage wasn't it?"
"Yes, I'm afraid it was and right now I have no idea where that marriage is going. His charging off like that shows me where I stand in his universe. It's pretty discouraging," she confessed.
Right then the mechanic came out, showed us some badly worn and broken chunks of metal and told us the BMW needed some major engine work. Considering the age of the car, the miles it had on it and the way Helen liked to drive I wasn't surprised one bit.
After convincing herself the mechanic was competent, she made arrangements to have the work done here. The problem was it would be two days before the parts could get here and he could put it back together again. Three days if the parts had to come from Seattle. I suggested we just poke around Ritzville for a while today and we climbed into my rig and started poking.
I pulled my digital camera out of the back for me, and gave Helen my Nikon SLR camera to use and then we had at it. Like all old frontier western towns there were some fine photos to take, and it turned out Helen had a good eye picking them out.
Come dusk we were like two kids just putting a new toy aside for the day. Neither one of us wanted to stop, but we were so happy-tired we really had no choice. Spotting what looked like a neighborhood bar with several beat-up pick-up trucks parked around it I pulled in and we went in for a beer for me, white wine for Helen, and a chance to stretch our legs out. It was a typical friendly bar in a small Western farm town. The Bud, Pabst and Coors signs were all lit, and pool and shuffleboard were set up toward the back. A grill run by the tavern owner's wife was connected to the bar, so we ordered hamburgers and fries for dinner before settling down at a table to enjoy just sitting and relaxing in one another's company.
I was pleased with myself. During the day I had figured out what to do to keep from staring at all my companions' stareable parts. What I did was stand right next to her. In the tavern I sat down beside her at the table instead of across from her. That way, unless I tried to peek down her dress at those perfect breasts I was home free. She hadn't busted me once since leaving the Texaco station. Of course, that was because she had to turn her head and look up at me so I was given warning. The really nice part was that standing so close, it was only natural to put my hand on her shoulder or take her elbow to help her in a door or over the curb. I even put an arm around her on occasion, my hand resting on her waist.
When the burgers arrived, they really hit the spot. The beer was cold and Helen assured me the wine, which was from one of the Washington State wineries was particularly nice. As a result; good food, fine drink, and sparkling company, we weren't really paying much attention to the time or what was going on around us.
It must have been around 8:00 or 8:30 when we came in, and after the food and maybe three beers it was around 10:30 or 11:00 when we noticed the music had gotten pretty loud, the crowd had grown and the place was getting pretty rowdy. What brought us to the present was a tall husky man, looking like a real cowboy, standing beside Helen and asking her something.
"I'm sorry, what was that?" she asked.
Leaning back and looking arrogantly down at the two of us, he repeated, "Do you want to leave your dad for a couple dances, sweet thing? Got some real fine music coming up on the jukebox."
"What?" Helen sputtered. "No, I think I'll stay here with Duncan. And by the way, he's not my father."
"Oh, that explains why he's been staring down your dress. I was wondering," he replied. "But hey, you need more than an old man like him and you have the best right here beside you." With that he leaned down, slipped his hand around Helen's arm and effortlessly lifted her to her feet.
She struggled to pull her arm free, but the guy just leaned down and kissed her, putting both arms around her and grinding her body hard against his. She was struggling to get free but was completely under his control. She tried to put a knee into his groin, but he was ready for her and some one in the crowd just laughed and yelled at him, "Go break the little filly in, Chester!"
Knowing from past experience that my height wasn't impressive, I just pushed my chair back and quietly stood up. "Hey pal, let's leave the lady alone. It's one thing if she's interested, but she isn't so how about me buying you a beer and let's be friends?"
Giving a big "Haw, Haw" the guy looked down at me, "Don't worry gramps, by the time we're done she's going to be interested, ain't that right, fellas?" And he turned around, playing to the crowd.
"Hey, Chester cool it," came from the bartender. "None of that stuff tonight!"
"Can it, Jonesy. This is my thing tonight. I've had about as bad a day as can be already and you and everyone else just stay out of it! I'll remember anyone who gets in the way tonight!" was his answer.
The room got real quiet, real fast as all the men seemed to back away. Back in one corner I heard someone say quietly, "Jesus, I think he's serious about this." It was pretty obvious to me that Chester was a bad ass, and pretty mean. It looked like we might be in the soup.
"Chester, leave the lady alone and we'll be on our way," I reasoned. He just laughed at me, and he was still holding Helen in his arms and grinding his crotch into hers.
Just then Helen managed to bring her heel down hard on Chester's instep. The guy swore and loosened his grip on her allowing Helen to swing away from him, though he still had a grip her arm which she couldn't break.
Stepping forward until I was just inches from his chest I drove the heel of my open palm up under his nose as hard as I could. That got his attention, as he shrieked and grabbed his face with both hands. That particular strike can be disabling and can even kill but as I halfway expected it only seemed to enrage him.
He threw Helen out of the way with his left hand. She landed on a table about 10 feet away, slid off and ended sitting on the floor. The glance I threw at her showed her shocked and angry, but she seemed unhurt. Turning my attention fully back on our attacker I watched him draw back his right to deliver a powerhouse blow that he was sure would stop the fight. I was sure too, if it ever landed. When I saw it start forward I was already stepping to my left. Swaying under the roundhouse right, I pivoted and kicked back as hard as I could, catching him behind the knee with the back of my heel. His leg gave out and he started falling to his right. While he was on his way down I planted my right foot and swung from my knees with my left hand, catching him on the temple, using the heel of my hand again. As hard as I was swinging, I didn't want to break my hand on his skull.
For a moment I was afraid I might have killed him, with my strength plus his weight and falling momentum combining against the weakest part of the skull. Thing was, I had no choice. If this guy ever laid a hand on me the fight was over and I was sure to at least spend a few days in the hospital. I fully expected to get stomped. God knew what would happen to Helen with this animal. But we were lucky, I guess. When he stopped bouncing I checked and his breathing and heart rate seemed normal. Actually he looked pretty peaceful on the floor amidst scattered cigarette butts.