Mr E and the Guilty ConsciencebyTx Tall Tales©
What does he know? What will he do?
Again, something a little out of my normal wheel well - but then again, there's been a lot of that lately, hasn't there? Mister E is a new character that's a bit out of the ordinary, and this is the first of a series of unusual adventures I have lined up for him. I hope you enjoy.
Another difficult one to categorize. I chose Loving Wives, even though there's not much sex in it, and no cheating. Could have been humor or Non-Erotic. Let me know what you think about the category choice.
This is an entry in the 2013 Summer Lovin' Contest.
* * * Now * * *
It was a small summer barbecue party, a few of our closest friends hanging out in our backyard, enjoying the bay view.
I'd never been that social, and was enjoying the camaraderie, the easy laughter, the comfortable give and take that happens between friendly couples. It was all so new to me, and I have to admit I enjoyed it. All thanks to my amazing wife Sue.
We have a large outdoor prep table where Sue and I were finishing the preparations before putting the food over the coals. She was fixing a huge salad, while I took care of the chicken.
"You heard that Bill Davis moved out?" Annie, one of the wives gossiped.
Our guests were all gathered on the back deck, while we were assisted in our endeavors. Dale, Annie's husband was trimming and seasoning steaks for those who wanted them. Marie, the youngest in our small crowd, was mixing some kind of salad dressing. Rabbit food, not my favorite. Her husband Mark was sitting on a stool, watching. I couldn't blame him. The three bikini tops deserved the attention.
My wife Sue laughed. "No surprise. I heard the bastard's been cheating on her with one of the office bimbos for over a year." She rolled out a couple of cherry tomatoes onto the heavy oak slicing board. "You know what I'd do if I caught him cheating?" she asked, grinning. She pulled out the tenderizing mallet and slammed it down hard on the pair of tomatoes and smashed them to a pulp.
The ladies laughed, as did I. Dale said 'Ouch!' earning more giggles, and a pretty loud guffaw from me.
Annie looked at me. "You think that's funny?" she teased.
"Yeah. Anyone screwing around deserves what they've got coming." I was working on slicing up a chicken, and thought I'd try to be part of the fun. "If I caught someone cheating," I said, and then I lifted the chicken by the legs, spun the butcher knife across my fingers and over my palm, in my best Benihana style, razor sharp blade glinting in the sun. I lifted it high and then brought it down the center hard, between the legs and slicing the chicken neatly in half with a satisfying thunk that left the blade stuck about 1/2 an inch into the butcher block.
I didn't get the laughs I expected, although both Annie and Marie chuckled. Oh well, I was never very good at humor, and with two quick strokes, carved the other two chickens neatly in half, so they could be grilled.
I spread out the chicken halves, and realized it had gotten pretty quiet. Sue looked pale, and she abruptly dropped what she was working on and went back indoors. The group split up, only Marie and I continued working alone.
"Not funny I guess," I muttered. Damn, I sucked at socializing.
Marie giggled. "I thought it was," she said, pouring her homemade dressing into a decanter. "I don't know what got into them. She started it."
I had patted the halves dry, and was adding salt and pepper. I liked things simple, always did. Kind of surprising that my life had gotten as complicated as it had, although I wasn't complaining.
* * * Then * * *
Like I said, I'd never been very social. Pretty quiet, a nerdy outsider, I'd never been popular. Not a jock, not a ladies' man, not in any clubs. In high school I was just doing my time, with no plans for the future. I was uncomfortable in large groups, but did just fine one-on-one or with a couple of friends. I wasn't anti-social, I just preferred quiet.
I went to community college, and got a job at my father's business nights, doing wiring and installation for networking, fire alarms and security systems. The work was done after-hours, and that was perfectly fine by me. It paid extra, and I was left alone. After a couple of months I had to fill out some paperwork, and learned I'd be getting a security clearance to do the installation work for a large government contract. Dad already had a clearance, and apparently that made getting mine easier.
It was a pretty miserable job, half my time up in ceilings and running fish-tape through walls. Dragging bundles of cables through undersized openings and spending hours labeling everything and punching down the connections. I didn't mind that much. I did my thinking, and methodically installed, tested and retested each wire, plug and fixture. Lots of paper work, pre-wiring layouts, office wiring diagrams, post-wiring documentation, performance analysis numbers. I wasn't the fastest, or the friendliest, but I was thorough, and never got a call-back to fix something for being installed half-assed. I almost always got us the follow on business, since I did what I said I'd do, when I said I'd do it, on time, on budget, with the gear I brought to the job.
Who knew that just doing the project correctly was exceptional in itself?
My cousin Jarrod was the one who introduced me to the opportunity that changed my life. It was pretty outlandish, moving to Antarctica, and doing a huge upgrade at a government installation on one of the most desolate locations I could think of. My clearances got me in the door, and the hardship pay made the decision easy. You don't make a lot more money than you normally would, but with food and housing paid for, you get to keep almost all of it.
I know, I sound like I'm wandering here, but it's important to explain how an under-educated, not particularly intelligent, middle class, scrawny geek could end up living on the beach, in the Florida pan-handle, in a home fully paid for, with a beautiful wife, a great job, neat toys, and interesting friends.
Not much to say about the job. Long hours. Long shifts. Some people drank, and there was a good bit of promiscuity, but not for me. I froze up around girls. Again, as a social misfit, I did my job, volunteered for some interesting tasks, and took advantage of the time and isolation to take college courses remotely, and continue to work on my degree. Strangely, I liked the life, made a few friends, and my bank account steadily grew.
After a year, I had to leave for 60 days, part of their rules. I went home, did some more work for Dad's company, and then returned to the frozen south. Most people would give the place a try for the experience, and we'd never see them again. For me the forced solitude, isolation, and shortage of 'new' people to meet was like heaven. During winter the place was mostly evacuated, and I was depended upon as a jack-of-all-trades, which I didn't mind.
With nothing to do with my spare time, I studied, worked out, and spent my off hours learning some weird stuff, from whoever was willing to teach it to me. I mean it, I had a lot of spare time, a lot, and had to do something. I got interested in magic for a while, and for the better part of a year always had a card deck and coins on me. I loved impromptu magic, doing tricks with whatever was at hand. I liked rubber band magic, and stuff with ropes and strings. Nobody had explained to me yet that magic was the kiss of death when it came to women. The ultimate badge of desperation.
I was taught to play the guitar by one of the short-timers working there. Nice guy, patient. He even sold me his old Martin when he left. He swore it wouldn't survive another change in environment. When he left, I found out from a burly Hawaiian dude that a ukulele was pretty damned similar, but easier to play, and a lot more portable. I got halfway decent on that. Thanks to YouTube, I had no shortage of instructors when he moved on.
My second Winter, when the free time was almost too much to deal with, even for me, I started studying martial arts. Not one of the typical ones, but escrima, from a funny little Filipino guy, of indeterminate age. Nicest guy I ever met, and he always wore a smile. He was part of the scientist contingent, my first introduction to that group, and we were together for three years. I never got any good at it, but I liked playing with the sticks. Yantok I should say, or Master Keno would thump me good. That and the balisong. I loved the demonstration stuff. Master Keno would always joke I'd be a guro in show-off before I won my first sparring match.
I struck up a friendship with one of the Japanese chefs, and convinced him to teach me the cool knife things he did in the kitchen. Fun but risky. For the better part of a year it seems I always wore band-aids, even using blunted blades. Just for fun, one day, he spent a few minutes teaching me how to throw them, spin and no-spin. I was hooked, and set up a 2x4 pallet at the end of my hall, and marked off the distance for one, two and three rotations spins. I'd often throw late into the night until someone bitched about the noise. In the Winter there weren't enough people around to complain. I wore out my first two sets of blades.
I'd always been dexterous, being able to spin basketballs and dining trays on my finger, flipping pens back and forth around my thumb, running coins across my knuckles. Whenever I had a spare moment I pulled out the cards and practiced lifts, false shuffles, one handed cuts, dealing seconds, and the pass, all parts of my card trick repertoire. If not the cards, I had an old Zippo lighter out doing various spins, slaps and snaps. When nobody was around, I was twirling knives, or spinning my balisong. Can't say why I always liked to have something in my hand, absentmindedly perfecting my skills, but it was a strong habit. The habit extended to making sure I always had a deck of cards on me, a Zippo lighter, a balisong butterfly knife, and a couple of custom made tactical throwing knives I used for both spinning, and practice throwing.
* * * Now * * *
Sitting around the deck, I had just finished putting the chicken on. Sue was showing off her one-year anniversary gift from me, a new ring that matched her engagement ring and wedding band.
Neither Marie nor Annie had seen it before. The engagement was a diamond solitaire, the wedding band plain gold. The anniversary ring was an arch of diamonds that wrapped around the single larger diamond on the engagement ring.
I remembered the old three ring rope trick that Diamond Dave had taught me. I reached over to the sun umbrella, whipped out my balisong, and after a few of the required flourishes, cut the restraining cord free. It looked about the right length. At the same time, I was working out the routine patter in my head, always essential to a good trick.
I had their attention by now, and stretched out the rope. "Sue," I said. "Place your engagement ring on the rope."
She looked confused, then smiled for the crowd, and slipped it over the end. I showed the rope to be one single, continuous piece, hiding any evidence of my deception. About a third of the way down, I tied a knot around the ring, and had Marie test it.
"What are you doing, Trey?" Marie asked.
"A demonstration," I teased. I held the other end of the rope out to Sue again. "Your wedding band, please?"
She removed it from her finger. "You know I never like to take it off," she said softly.
"You should never have to," I told her with a wink.
Her hand was shaking as she put it on the rope. She loved that ring. I loved her for that.
I tied another knot, this time in the middle, once again showing it around, and I had Annie test that one. Another little magician's secret: get your audience involved. As soon as she was finished, I released the slip knot and palmed the plain band.
That's the secret you know. They all believe the action was still to come, but the hard part had already happened, when they least expected it. When their eyes were burning my hands later, it would be too late.
"The anniversary ring," I asked Sue.
"Where's this going, Trey?" she asked.
I realized that after a year together, I'd never performed any of my magic tricks for her. That whole dating 'kiss-of-death' thing. No wonder she was confused. "Patience, beautiful."
She slipped the third ring onto the rope. I made a big deal of tying it on, then leaned across the table, to the guys. "Go ahead, test it," I said.
While I held the rope out to them, I was already loading the band I'd removed earlier under the napkin in front of them. My body covered the action beautifully. And now everyone had been part of the trick. Diamond Dave would have been proud.
Leaning back into my seat, I started the patter.
"Sue, I hope you know what those rings mean to me." I held up the engagement ring, the large solitaire prominent, still tied to the left side of the rope. "A promise," I said, showing it around.
I surreptitiously spun the ring around, exposing the back side. A simple, plain half circle. I displayed it, letting them believe it was the wedding band. Much of the rope was hidden in my hand, two equal length ends hanging in parallel, providing the illusion I was holding the middle of the rope. Such a simple elegant trick. "A commitment, our love for each other, and only each other."
She nodded, a little confusion still showing on her features.
I waved around the newest ring, the anniversary ring, stones glittering in the sun. I was proud. The trick was already over, and nobody knew it. It worked perfectly. Countless hours of practice paid off.
The end of the rope hung free, showing that this knot was on the opposite side of the engagement ring. Subtle gesture, part of the beauty of this particular routine. "A future." I said softly, mysteriously.
I gathered up the center of the rope in my fist, including the rings. I gave one end to Marie. "Marie, you were there the day Sue and I first dated. I looked at the love you had for Mark, and thought how wonderful it would be one day to have something similar. Would you do me the kindness to hold this, the symbol of our beginning, that first promise?"
She grinned. "I never knew you to be so dramatic, Trey," she said. She held the end, looking around the table.
I gave the other end to Sue, on the opposite side of the table, still clutching the middle, hiding the rings and knots. "Sue, I can depend on nobody but you for this. Will you hold this symbol of our future? Guard it?"
"Of course, honey."
I looked at the women. "Get a good grip. Firm. Don't let go no matter what. You hold my past, present and future in your hands." My hand held the middle, but my other hand slid beneath the table and took a half-dollar out of my pocket.
"Marie, you're guarding the past. Sue, you're protecting the future. But who's watching the present? If I were to turn my head, for even a second, what would happen?"
I had them on the edges of their seats. Damn this was fun. "I'm going to lower my eyes for one moment. I want you each to pull the ends of your ropes when I do." I lowered my head, one hand still extended, providing the necessary cover. "Pull."
When they did, I lowered my head over my other hand, and dropped the coin on the glass surface. You could hear the distinctive sound of metal on glass, and they all gasped. I palmed the coin and looked up.
The rope was extended, a ring near each of the women, but the center was a single unbroken line.
"Trey!" Sue called out, her eyes searching the table surface.
"Never fear, my love. I may have looked the other away, but I never, ever lost track." I reached for the engagement ring, and with a rub of my finger I released the false knot, and the ring dropped into my hand. I showed it around, and passed it to my wife. I took her hand and slipped the ring back onto her finger. "My promise is intact."
I put my hand over the ring in front of her, and released it as well. I displayed the anniversary ring, and put it on Sue's finger. "Our future. I'll always trust you to guard it."
I gave them time to take in the rope. Two empty knots. When the tension was perfect, I took it from them. I looked around the table. "Damn it. Past and future taken care of, what the hell happened to the now, the commitment?" I tried to make it funny, and I did get a hint of a chuckle out of them.
I looked down the table. "Guys? One of you want to do me a favor, and give me my marriage back?"
They looked shocked, nervous, glancing at each other and my wife. I pointed to the napkin on the table between them. Mark lifted it, and they all saw the wedding band sitting there.
Annie and Marie were laughing, clapping. It took a few second before the guys recovered, and Dale blustered his way through, sliding the ring down the table toward me. "I think you lost this," he laughed.
I picked it up and inspected it. "Perfect, unbroken." I winked at Dale. "Never lost it. Trust me." I handed it to Sue, and she almost couldn't put it on her finger, it was trembling so much.
I held her hand. "It was only a trick, beautiful. A little joke. We both know nothing could ever interfere with our commitment. Nothing."
She nodded slowly. "I...I have to pee," she said, and got up, almost jogging into the house.
Marie was inspecting the rope. "Jesus, Mystery! Where do you come up with all this shit? That was amazing!"
I laughed. I'd learned that the little air of mystery I had surrounding my past was the most interesting thing about me. "Y'all aren't the only ones with secrets," I teased, giving her a wink.
"Refill, guys?" I asked the husbands sitting at the far end of the table, huddled together whispering.
* * * Then * * *
I never dated in high-school, and didn't have any more luck on station. I was no longer a virgin, after hooking up with a girl working on one of the tankers during her 72 hours leave. I had an interesting education through two overnight stays. She was stocky, brusque, and coarse, and for 48 of those hours, I thought I was in love.
During my final winter, I ended up in a decidedly bizarre relationship. One of the scientists, an older attractive married woman approached me out of the blue.
"May I buy you a drink?" she asked.
"I don't drink much, but I wouldn't mind having one. I insist on paying." Kind of silly, I guess. She must have earned three times what I did.
That won me a grin. I ended up buying her two long-island iced teas, before she got up the courage to move forward with whatever she intended.
"Trey, can you be discrete?" she asked me.
"Always, Dr. Ross." She wasn't completely unknown to me, an associate of Master Keno, but we were hardly friends.
"How long have you been here?" she asked. "I know you were a fixture when I arrived two years ago. Keno says you've been here longer than him."
"This will be my fifth winter."
"Five? How do you stand it? The winters I mean. Summer's not so bad."
"I like it. I have my hobbies. I'm happy with myself I guess, don't need a lot of entertainment."
She was playing with her hair, almost like a nervous teen. She scooted her chair around closer to me. "Last winter I almost went crazy. The lab was like one big ridiculous orgy. I...I can't do that. I'm married. Happily married, I like to think."
"Married? I've never seen your husband."
"He has a teaching position. The opportunity here was too good for me to pass up."
"Desperately. Could you do something for me? I know it's going to sound weird..."
It was. Katy Ross became my Pillow Princess. Forty seven years old, and so far above my station it was ridiculous. Elegant, attractive and brilliant, she fascinated me. She invited me to spend my nights with her. I serviced her orally, every night. She never reciprocated. The best she'd allow was for me to play with myself while touching her. Five long months, I pleasured her. In exchange she mentored me, got me the choicest lab assignments, and made me part of the 'in' group.