I Thought She Made You Up Ch. 07byqhml1©
Well, you asked for it. If you have an ending, please post it. If it seems rambling and disjointed, it was intentional. I was writing from the perspective of a very old man.
Leaning on my cane, I look down across the mountain into town. My town, my home for over sixty years. My daughters respect my privacy, waiting patiently by the car. Actually, only one is my blood daughter, Barbara Joanne, the other my step daughter Amy. They bring me once a month for a short visit. It saddens them, knowing they won't have to do it much longer.
I'm eighty three years old now, and reside at an assisted living facility in a small apartment. They bring me my meals and check on me periodically, just in case. It's nice, but it's not a home, more like a transition point. It reminds me of the name of that old British sitcom, "Waiting For God".
It won't be long now. I welcome it. My cocktail of current drugs do nothing but blunt the pain.
But it gives me peace, and time to remember.
I can still recall vividly the first night we welcomed CeCe back into our bed. Slow and tentative, exploring, touching the remembered with new appreciation. It wasn't the powerful couplings of twenty somethings, but mature love with all its' ramifications. Thanks to the pill Amy got me I made a respectable showing.
Habit of a lifetime, I was up first and made coffee. Amy of course was right behind me, and as we sat and sipped coffee, considering our new life, Ce staggered to the table.
After a second cup and everyone was cognizant, I asked the obvious.
Amy took the lead. CeCe was about to find out she wasn't the center of the equation anymore.
"First, we find each other again. You're not automatically moving in, CeCe. We aren't that comfortable with each other physically yet.
Emotionally, there are still some lingering issues about our breakup, especially between you and I. Jimmy can tell you I have some issues of my own that I have to deal with that have nothing to do with you. So, we talk, we talk some more, and we keep loving each other."
Another round of silence. Then CeCe had a suggestion that broke the tension.
"Can I at least buy us a bigger bed?"
Giggles and laughter, just like old times. I still had to work, so off I went, while the girls plotted out our new life. And when I got home that night, we had a new bedroom suite, that featured the biggest bed I had ever seen. At least Amy wouldn't get so hot now.
We did go slow. CeCe averaged about every other night with us for about two months before moving in permanently. The purple turtle rotation was reinstated, except now when I slept alone I did it at her condo, just for awhile, so there would be more intimacy for them. CeCe and Amy thought that it was a good idea and returned the gesture.
The only drawback was I still had to make breakfast, so I had to get up early and get them out of bed. Amy and Ce would handle dinner, and they often joined me for lunch. We still took turns doing the dishes, and as usual CeCe was always slow. Threatening to put the dirty dishes in her bed when she slept alone fixed that.
Was it all roses and happiness? No.
Amy was much more strong willed than before, and CeCe was at heart still just a spoiled little rich girl, so at first clashes could be pretty heated. CeCe got angry and stayed away for a week, and Amy refused to let her come back the week after that. I had all I could stand, brought CeCe home, sat them on the couch, and threatened to spank them like children if they didn't make up. They did, and CeCe asked if she could still have the spanking. Amy insisted she was just as bad and needed one also. THAT was an interesting makeup session.
Amy had retired from the school system and CeCe never actually worked her whole life so they started looking for things to occupy their time.
They volunteered, together and separately. Became well known around the town and college.
Barb passed away two years after we reunited, at seventy four. I was one of her pall bearers, along with two of her grandsons from her adopted daughter. She had come to terms with CeCe, never loving her like Amy but giving her guarded friendship. Our daughter and Amy rode in the family limo while CeCe and I followed.
In the will I was left "all the love she could give me" which was more precious to me than money. She gave Amy the jewelry that Joanne left her years ago, and a small amount of money to be 'spent foolishly', preferably stuffing thongs.
Barbie Jo, referred to as her 'first grand daughter' got ten percent ownership in the Ford dealership, which Barb had propelled into the largest in the southeast. The rest of her estate went to her husband Todd and her daughter.
I did get a few photos of Barb and Joanne, and Amy got the framed thong, which brought tears to our eyes and smiles to our faces.
Six moths later saw the start of the annual
"Barbara Jones Stripathon, the winner being judged by the number of thongs procured.
Amy, Barbie Jo, Jane[her adopted daughter],
Joanne, Barb's grand daughter, and CeCe hit the bars. CeCe and Jane tied at two, all the rest got one. I never asked, just kept bail money handy.
In terms of money, CeCe was loaded. Her Dad had split his estate up between his children on the advice of his attorney, to minimize tax impact. He was still alive when we got together, richer than ever.
I despised the son of a bitch, but no one could deny his ability to make money. Seeing the collapse of the domestic textile market coming, he sold his plants at a good price. Reinvesting in real estate, he made another fortune before that market collapsed. He was still buying properties at discount prices, sitting on them until the market came back.
It gave me a great deal of pleasure to see his face when CeCe was on one arm and Amy was on the other. I didn't rub it into his face too badly, but the smirk on my face told him all he didn't want to know.
The fact that I was a home town hero didn't help either. With monies from my writings and the book, Amy and I started a scholarship program at my old high school. Two years of community college, and if the grade average was kept up, two years at a regular college, preferably at Mountain State. In fact, I gave a talk once a year at the school on the importance of education and perseverance.
The school had a display case in the lobby beside the office that embarrassed me no end, it was almost a shrine. The logo was "Anything Is Possible", and it was photos of me from my yearbooks, one or two of me as a college student, a couple as a professor and dean, and a large one, right in the middle, of me standing in front of my old Sportster, wind blowing my hair and beard. Underneath was a copy of my book.
Life went on for several years, and the girls started asking me to retire. I was undecided until we got a new president. He was an up and comer, from a small religious school, and out to make a name for himself. By then everybody in our community and school knew about my home life. We didn't flaunt it, but we didn't deny it either.
Really, nobody seemed to care.
CeCes' daughter had bought one of those small scooters that were the rage at the time. Amy rode it and fell in love. Before I knew it, both girls were scooter shopping. I insisted they buy something with at least 150 ccs, something with enough power to get them out of the way. Soon they became a standard sight, zipping around like maniacs. I threatened to take them away if I heard one more story about how wild they were.
The president called one day and asked for a meeting. I thought it would be the standard meet and greet bullshit every department head goes through with a new leader.
After the standard platitudes and bullshit was out of the way he went into a direction I didn't expect.
"Tell me James[it was never Jimmy with these guys] isn't that your wife and her friend I see around town on those small motorcycles?"
"Yes sir, it is, although technically they're not motorcycles, they're scooters."
Tell me, do you think it's appropriate for someone like her, the wife of one of our most prominent deans, to travel about like that?"
"I never thought about it."
The surprise was evident in my voice.
"They're small, easy to maneuver on city streets, and very economical. Other than mass transportation, it's the perfect mode of urban transportation."
He seemed puzzled by my response.
"Really. I would have thought with your position you would insist in a bit more decorum."
Anger was rising. "Where are we going with this. Is she riding around naked? Hurt anybody? Damaged property? She's a grown woman and doesn't need direction from me. Do you control your wife totally? Cut to the chase here, what's on your mind?"
That was kind of a cheap shot, I knew he was recently divorced, and his wife was very vocal about the reasons. He was, according to her, a control junkie, and felt women should be totally subservient to men, with no opinions and thoughts of their own. He was a prude, a lousy lover, and an idiot, and those were the kind words.
He colored at the reference to his wife.
"Yes, you should control your wife. And the rumors you're living in sin with another woman in the same house as your wife is that true? Not a very good example to young minds, do you think?"
"Let me clear this up for you, Mr. President, sir.
My personal living arrangements are none of your business. My life once I leave these halls is none of your business. If you have examples of damage I've done to young minds, bring them forward. I have one of the best departments in the school, or even in our system. Many enroll here just for that, check the numbers. If you don't think it suitable for me to be here, fire me. Other than that, stay the fuck out of my personal business. Are we clear here?"
I thought he might actually have a stroke. He knew he couldn't fire me without good cause, and he didn't have any. The fact that I didn't kowtow to his expectations didn't enter his mind.
"I'll invoke the morals clause! You'll be out of here so fast your head will spin. Don't you ever talk to me like that again."
I was grinning, enjoying this. He got loud so I got louder.
"Kiss my ass, you pompous little prick. Invoke the morals clause, I've got a hell of a lawyer, he lives for shit like this. I know for a fact three of your professors are openly living with students, and two more are having affairs. Kick that can of worms over, asshole. See who gets covered with shit."
"When it gets right down to it, all you can prove is that a friend for thirty years lives with us."
"Now, dickhead, are we done here?"
He couldn't make coherent sentences.
"I thought so. See you around asshole."
All right, I laid it on a little thick. The thoughts of retiring surged to the forefront, screw this shit, it was time. I went straight back to my office and started the retirement process.
When it became public knowledge it kind of hit the fan. He had left his door open, and his secretary and assorted staffers heard the whole exchange.
I got a call from the president of the college system. the big dog. I had met him several times and we got along well, except for his persistence in trying to get me to transfer to Central, his old school.
"Jimmy, is it true? Are you retiring? Think about it, we really need you. If it's just a change of venue you need, I can still get you Central."
"Thank you sir, but it's time to let the new generation come forward. I'll be pleased to stand aside and give someone a chance. We have a couple of good people here, and more scattered through the system. I'm right in the middle of writing a novel, my first, so I'll have plenty to occupy me."
There were accolades, endless rounds of goodbyes, private and public parties, and finally a formal dinner in my honor. By now the whole school was aware of the little tiff that sparked my retirement, so it was well attended. The president of the university system attended, probably to make one more attempt to get me to Central. Amy and CeCe were outraged at first, but when I reminded them they had pushed retirement for awhile now, they decided to quit while they were winning.
They had just a bit of revenge at the dinner. Clad in matching gowns, they held on to me during the socializing, and flanked me during dinner, showering me with kisses and romantic gestures.
During my speech I thanked my mentors past and present, people through the years who had helped me be a better educator. I got one last dig in.
"Most of all, ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to thank my wife by law, Amy, for standing by me all these years, guiding with her love and wisdom, and my wife in spirit, Cecelia Morgan, for her contribution in making me the man I am today. I love them dearly."
"Ladies and gentlemen, be aware I'll miss you all. It has been my sincere honor to count you as friends."
Almost overcome by emotion, I left the podium and returned to my seat, to be wrapped in two sets of loving arms. As I wiped my eyes I noticed the school president staring. He looked like he had just swallowed a pint of green persimmons.
The system president talked with me as everyone was leaving.
"Well, Jimmy, you sure know how to go out with a bang. This place is going to miss you more than they realize. And if you decide to come out of retirement, call me. Central could always use a good man."
He kissed the girls on the cheek, told them to take it easy on me, being an old retired man now, shook once more and left.
With time on my hands I joined the girls in their charity work, focusing on the university. Being semi-famous can be a help sometimes.
One thing special to us was Amys' House. We had moved to CeCe's townhouse, a mutual decision made for convenience. Our house was out in the county, and I no longer had enthusiasm for yard work.
It had four bedrooms, more than we ever needed.
We did a little remodeling, adding a bathroom and a few cosmetic changes, got the zoning waiver, and opened it to four girls on partial scholarship or in financial need, absolutely free. Amy remembered well what that was like. She became a surrogate mother, going over several times a week to cook breakfast and check on them. She kept the pantry and refrigerator stocked. Not to be outdone, CeCe developed a habit of hosting Thursday night pizza parties reviewing grades and rewarding them with weekly 'allowances'. Most of the girls loved them madly. So far, thirty two girls have lived in the house.
At the urging of both girls, I took my poem "Song of the Purple Turtles' and expanded it into a romantic novel. Yes, it was extremely autobiographical, and took three years to write. I didn't ask for permission for what I wrote, but made sure they reviewed it and got their input.
Both got upset at different passages but approved of the end product. The editor that had so brilliantly put together my compilation had moved on to a major publisher and had made me promise if I ever did a novel or wanted another compilation done to give him a call.
I sent him the manuscript. He remembered how little I cared to travel from my last book, so he came down to see me with contract in hand. On his advice I had my lawyer look it over and got an agent. After a bit more editing and polish it was released. It was very, very successful. They wanted a multi-book deal, but I wasn't sure I had another in me, so I declined.
CeCe and Amy designed the jacket and I insisted it be used or I wouldn't sign the contract.
It was a painting of Amy and I at the New Years Eve party so many years ago, done on the newspaper photo. The only alteration was CeCe being portrayed prominently in the background.
When the movie rights were sold, I negotiated a deal to overview the script, scared to death it would be reduced to a sex romp. We all went to Hollywood for four months. The girls loved the beaches, the shopping, and the inevitable parties for awhile, but soon longed to get back to reality. They actually left a month before I did, it was a miserable time for all of us. I flew home every weekend.
The script writer was very good, and the director, an up and coming woman, treated the book with the respect it deserved. After seeing a few scenes in the editing room, I went home satisfied. It didn't win any awards, but made a lot of money.
A side effect I didn't expect was the notoriety generated by the book. I was glad then that the townhouse was in a gated community. It settled down before long, in this day and age you don't get fifteen minutes of fame anymore, more like fifteen seconds.
While they loved the scooters, neither wanted a motorcycle. I had hung on to the old Sporster all this years. I almost sold it several times but Amy would throw a fit every time I mentioned it.
I had the engine rebuilt twice, but eventually old bones couldn't take the rigid frame.
We bought a series of bikes, each getting bigger and more padded. When CeCe came home we had an Ultraglide, a really nice ride.
It got complicated because they both wanted to ride. I would end up taking the same trip twice.
They did some research and solved the problem. I came home one day and couldn't get in the garage because a brand new bike sat there, complete with sidecar. Both girls were watching through the window, and when I fired it up they came running out with helments on, tossing me mine. It took a little getting used to, but soon it was a common sight to see us around town, Amy riding behind and Ce in the side car.
Just after the book came out we added a new title to our resume, bar owners. The Black Dog had gone through three owners, each successively worse.
When the current owner ran afoul of the IRS, he put it up for sale to stay out of jail. We got it for a song, and did a complete remodel, trying to hold onto the integrity of a neighborhood pub.
Todd had retired from the police force and was bored, so we talked him into managing it. Many of the old regulars had stopped coming because of the mismanagement, but returned in force once the word got out.
It was so successful we bought one near the campus and named it The Black Puppy, aiming for the college crowd. It was a smash.
We puttered along for years, happy in our love for each other. At seventy, after the second and last of my novels came out, I was asked to give a commencement speech. After it was over we found ourselves surrounded by family and friends. Many were former residents of Amys' House, some were great nieces and nephews, one grandson of ours, and two grandsons of CeCe. I don't think we ever bothered to count the number of children we sponsored, but every dime was well spent.
We were slowing down. It was a fact of life, but CeCe didn't care for it. Amy would laugh at her over every new cream and lotion she bought, but I noticed she used them also.
Amy slipped on the ice one winter and twisted her knee badly. She wore an air splint for two months and did physical therapy for three, but never gained back the full mobility she wanted.
When she was told a little surgery would relieve a lot of the pain and help with her mobility she decided to have it done. It was outpatient work, thirty minutes under the knife, six hours of rest and observation, and home to recuperate.
It was so routine she told me not to come, CeCe could handle transportation. But I had nothing better to do, so we took her, sat through the procedure, and waited for her in recovery. I was handling the paperwork, while CeCe got her ready to be discharged, when I heard the scream. I knew something was wrong.
Amy had revived, was checked over and cleared for release. we were instructed to make her take it easy for a few weeks before starting therapy.