Thank You Ronnie Milsapbyadevilru12©
I would like to take time to thank all those who read, voted and commented on my first submission, "The Gift." I learned something from every comment, even those that weren't so positive. Many commenters said I needed an editor, so I took their advice. I want to thank HMauthor for all the help and guidance provided. Their knowledge of English, grammar and punctuation are excellent. Responses were quick and accurate. When I saw the number of corrections made I am sure they turned this from something barely readable into something I hope you will enjoy. I never knew I could make so many mistakes! I would like to clear up some questions that were asked by the commenters. Besides a very short story not seen by anyone, "The Gift" really was my first submission anywhere. The second question, who was the girl in the date scene? In my mind it was Grace. I tried to put some clues in; would any woman on a date allow her date to talk with women she didn't know? She also seemed to understand what he was going through. With that finished I hope you will enjoy my next story called ...
It was six o'clock Monday morning. I was backing my car out of our garage on my way to catch the six forty five train to my job in Manhattan. We lived in the small suburban community of Nassau Shores on the south shore of Long Island, just outside New York City. I stopped in the driveway to make sure the garage door closed before I pulled away from the house. The one time I forgot to check was two weeks ago. I received a phone call at work from an incensed Loren accusing me of not caring about her. Anyone could have walked in and attacked or murdered her while I was gone. Of course I knew she was right, and I explained I just forgot and would make sure I would not forget again.
That calmed her down some but she still went on and on about how careless I had been. Didn't I care about her at all? How stupid could I be? I tried to calm her down reminding her that I had not done it in the three years we lived in the house and I would definitely make sure not to do it again. The last two weeks she seems to still be holding the mistake against me. Things have been decidedly cool at our house and for the life of me I could not figure out why she was still having these feelings toward me.
My name is Jeff Carlson and my wife is Loren. I am twenty-seven years old. I am five foot eight inches tall. I have light brown hair that I wear long but not long enough to put in a pony tail and have a closely cropped beard. I run the foreign exchange desk at one of the largest commercial banks in the country. In effect we take advantage of the constantly shifting values of currencies around the world. The basic idea is to buy a currency low and when the value increases to sell and make a profit. It's an occupation not for the faint of heart. In essence we are gambling with the banks money. It calls for a very refined sense of intuition and good timing.
Buying too soon or too late or selling too soon or too late could cost the bank hundreds of thousands of dollars, maybe even millions. The reason I received two promotions in the last two years is that my intuition is very good. Somehow I can see when to buy and sell. I don't understand how my mind does it. Just looking at the trends I get a feeling it is right to buy or sell and my guesses have been right most of the time. The few times I guessed wrong did not matter when the bank execs figured out how many millions of dollars I actually made for them over the last four years.
Loren is also twenty-seven, although a few months older than me. She stands five foot six with jet-black hair worn just below her shoulders. She has a round face with soft Italian features. With her olive Mediterranean skin she is visually striking to look at. At least I think so. I may be prejudiced. She has smallish boobs, 34B with a thin waist, nice butt, not too big, not too small. She works locally in Huntington NY, a town situated on the North Shore of Long Island approximately twenty five minutes from our home. She works for a national medical insurance carrier. They are part of FEHBP. They provide medical insurance coverage to federal and state employees.
Most of her job is in the office in Huntington but sometimes they go to gatherings of many insurers and deal directly with employees to try to entice them to sign up during the "open season". She has been there for two years now.
Her direct supervisor is Jim Beckman. She has been working for him since she was hired. I have met him once or twice at company functions in the past two years. One was a Christmas Party and the other a company picnic. He was bigger than me, at six foot two inches tall and every bit over 200 lbs. It is quite obvious he works out regularly. He never did anything, but I just did not like him. Something bothered me about him. It was my intuition acting up again. There was something out of place and it bothered me. But not that much to make me mention it to Loren.
As I watched the garage door close I tuned my satellite radio to the Country Western music station. The songs there were a little darker, just the right thing to match my mood. They sang about real things, failed marriages, unrequited love and cheating spouses. As I drove down the street the first song was about some guy who loved his bar. Catchy tune but I did not get it. I came to a red light and stopped the car when the second song came on. As I sat at the light it seemed as my eyes were opened for the first time in a long time.
The singer sang about the same things that were going on in my marriage with Loren. The staring out the window, seemingly not being in the same room, little slights, and sex that was most unsatisfying. I did not realize it but I was sitting at the light with my mouth hanging open listening to the song when the cars in back of me stated honking there horns. I looked up and saw the green light and started moving forward. I crossed the street pulling into a shopping center parking lot. I sat and listened to the rest of the song play, then started going to the train station. I must have been on auto-pilot as I do not remember driving there.
I caught the earlier six thirty train to Pennsylvania Station. As I sat on the train I thought back to when I first met Loren. It was July right after my sixteenth birthday. I would be a junior in high school when school was back. I was mowing the front yard for my dad when a moving van pulled into the driveway of the Millers house two doors down. Old man Miller had died last year. Mrs. Miller was a nice but frail woman. One of her children lived two towns over and wanted her to live with them. Consequently the house was put up for sale. I watched as a new BMW followed close behind the moving van.
At the time I did not know their names but Mr. Frank Schiavo got out the drivers side door and his wife Cheryl got out the passenger door. Emerging behind her from the rear seat was the most beautiful sight I had ever seen. Loren Schiavo was a few months older than me. Her hair was cut short giving her a pixyish look. She wore tight denim short shorts and a halter-top that showed her tanned midriff. She looked over at me and gave me a smile. For me it was love at first sight.
A few days later after the move was complete I was casually walking down the street when I saw that Loren was sitting outside with her mom. I don't know where I got up the nerve to go over and introduce myself to them. Cheryl Schiavo was a beautiful woman in her own right. Loren was a miniature of her mom. Mrs. Schiavo was smart enough to know that I really didn't want to talk with her and went inside to get some iced tea for us to drink. After giving us the tea she went back inside leaving us sitting on the stoop talking. I am sure that she listened in to our conversation while we sat on the front step.
We got along great, and for the rest of that summer I would hang with Loren every day. I filled her in on the school we would both attend in the fall. There was no hugging, kissing or sex. To be quite frank I was still a virgin and very shy. I was just happy to be in her company.
July became August and then school began. We were not in the same homeroom and were not in any of the same classes but we did eat lunch together and ride the same bus home each day. After only a week at school I found out that the school was holding a Harvest dance in the middle of October.
The next day was Saturday and I saw Mrs. Schiavo and Loren come home from food shopping. I went down to their home to help bring in the groceries. After the last bag was brought in I asked Loren if she would accompany me to the dance. She glanced at her mom and said yes. Her mom smiled. I found out later she really liked me and thought I would be good for her daughter.
As September slipped by into October I began seeing less of Loren than before. She had made new friends with the cheerleaders. I knew she wanted to be a cheerleader from conversations we had during the summer, and she was doing this to get a spot on the squad. I did see her every day on the bus and we always sat together and talked.
Finally the big day came. I was going to get to show off "my girl" to all the guys at school. I am sure none of them thought that a girl like Loren would be with a nerd like me. My dad drove us to the school, as I was still too young to get a license. As we entered the dance I saw some guys from the football team look over at us, and some of them smirked and laughed among themselves. I wondered what that was all about but decided to forget it, and went to sit with my friends and have some fun. We had danced a few times and were sitting a few out when a slow song began playing.
Before I could ask Loren to dance, Billy Barber, the star linebacker was there with his hand out saying to Loren, "Let's go babe, it's time for everyone to know who you're really here with." Loren popped out her seat and walked away without a backward glance. I sat there with my mouth open. I looked around at my friends and asked, "What just happened?"
My friend Jack said, "It looks like you just got dumped." I looked at Loren and Billy and they were glued together as they danced to a slow number. Her hands were around his neck while his were around her waist. It became apparent this was not the first time they had danced together. I could feel the color rush to my face. I felt so ashamed; I'd been made to play the fool.
When the dance ended Billy and Loren walked over to the football team's tables. When they sat down Billy had his arm wrapped possessively around her shoulders. Billy Barber was one of the biggest guys in school. I knew I could not best him in a physical confrontation. I could do nothing but sit in my seat. I looked at the football team and they were all looking at me and laughing. Loren at least did not turn around and join them in making a mockery of me.
I sat at the table for most of the night, I wanted to run out of there but I would not give them the satisfaction.
I did get treated to Billy coming over to me, placing his hand on my shoulder and whispering in my ear "You didn't think that a wimp like you could get a girl like that, did you?"
He looked at me and laughed derisively, then walked away shaking his head. Loren never did come back to the table or talked to me for the rest of the dance. I could see she was having a great time with her new friends. I wondered if she was laughing at me too.
Finally the dance was ending. I dreaded what I had to do next. I walked over to where Loren was sitting with Billy and his friends.
"Loren my dad will be here soon and I have to take you home."
Billy responded "Get lost Carlson, she's going home with me."
"Loren," I snapped, I really don't care how you get home. If you don't go home with me, my dad will feel compelled to tell your mom that you left with someone else. You can explain to your mom why you came home with Billy."
I turned and walked away. At that point I didn't care if she walked home by herself. Soon Loren sat down in the seat beside me. She tried to make some small talk asking, "Did you have a good time at the dance Jeff?"
I looked at her with disgust and replied, "Are you from another planet? You dumped me for that asshole Billy Barber. It was obviously planned. You don't say another word to me for the rest of the dance and you ask me that? So to answer your question, no I did not have a good time tonight."
Soon I saw my dad's car pull up in front of the school. I stood up and walked towards his car. My sudden movements surprised Loren and she had to almost run to catch up to me. Dad's car had the windows open, as it was a cool and pleasant fall night. As we approached he asked us, "Did you guys enjoy the dance?" I didn't respond and he got a funny look on his face. I think he could sense something was off.
As we reached the car together she waited by the rear passenger door for me to open it and for me to get in behind her. I had other plans. I opened the front passenger door, got in and closed it leaving Loren to get in by herself.
My dad was furious. He told me to get out and open the door for my date. I told him, "I would if she was my date." I looked at my father and his look said what the hell is going on? As I sat in stony silence Loren opened the rear car door and got in. My dad shrugged and drove us home. Not a word was spoken.
When we pulled up to the Schiavos house, Loren's mom was waiting at the door. My father got out of the car as did Loren but I just sat there. Loren's mom also could sense that something went wrong. She knew I would normally walk Loren to the door. As Loren walked past her mom I turned to look at her. I could see her mom look at my dad with a quizzical look. She then looked at me. Loren turned to look back and we caught each other's eyes. We tried to read each other's faces. I could not read Loren's face at all. It was a blank page. If she could read mine it must have been filled with disgust and anger.
When dad got back in the car he asked me what happened. I just told him that she found somebody she liked better than me at the dance. I never told him about her deception. He told me "Forget her son; there are plenty of fish in the sea."
After that we did not talk much. Sometimes I would walk past her house. She might wave or say "Hi Jeff." I always ignored her. One time I went by while Mrs. Schiavo was out with Loren and they both said hi to me at the same time.
I pointedly said "Hello Mrs. Schiavo, nice day isn't it?" I said not a word to Loren. It was if she did not exist to me anymore.
Soon Loren stopped trying to talk to me. I would see her being picked up each morning by Billy Barber in his car with a bunch of other kids and being dropped off after school.
She made the cheerleading team. I made the honor roll.
After graduation she went to work, I went to the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania on a full scholarship. My folks gave me a big graduation party. The Schiavos were invited as they had become close friends of my parents. Loren was not invited. My folks wanted to but I told them if she were invited I would not show up for my own party.
It was a surprise when Mrs. Schiavo sat next to me. She told me "I was so surprised when you returned home the night of that dance. I thought you two made a great couple. I am truly sorry that something happened between you that night."
We made some small talk about the Wharton school and then she finally blurted it out, "What happened between the two of you that night?"
I looked directly into her eyes. It was like looking into Loren's face, just the way she would be twenty years later. Older yet still young just as Loren would be with a smoldering sexuality. I had never thought about her that way before, and quickly put it out of my mind.
Finally I told her "We realized that we wanted certain things out of life. That night we discovered they were different things." I really wasn't prepared to tell more of Loren's deceit. She looked like she wanted to say more but decided against it. She kissed me on the cheek; wished me luck and left.
My new job with the bank started in mid June. That gave me one month to find an apartment in New York City; something close to work, finally settling on a one bedroom, one bath unit in the Soho neighborhood off Hudson square. It was a great location with everything within walking distance. There was no need for a car.
My new job was hectic, learning all of the ins and outs of my new position. It had been taking up all of my time. There had been no time for socializing. I was quickly realizing that what you learned in school and what is needed in real life situations is a totally different reality.
It had been four months since I saw mom and dad. One evening mom called to ask me home for a weekend. She told me I could stay in my old room. It would be no problem since half of my clothes were still there anyway. Plus I was missing mom's home cooked meals. Taking the train was the easiest way to get to my parents house. They lived only a short eight-block walk north of the train station.
Four blocks into my walk a car pulled up next to me beeping its horn. A high school friend named Becca was hanging out the window yelling, "Hey stranger need a lift?"
"Heck yeah," I yelled, "its hotter then hell out here!" Hopping into the rear seat I saw my old friend Jack behind the wheel. We sat parked on the side of the road and caught up on what had been going on in our lives the past four years. It was fun to be in the company of old friends.
"I didn't know that you guys were a couple, how long has this been going on?" I queried. Becca reached her left hand out to show me her wedding band and engagement ring.
"You're married?" I asked astonished.
"Two years now," Jack replied with a smile.
"I had no idea," I replied somewhat sadly. "I haven't been a good friend these last four years, have I?"
"That's crazy," replied Becca. We haven't gotten in touch with you either. It's just life."
"Thanks for that Becca," was my relieved response. "Man, it is really good seeing you guys again."
With that I could see an idea float up into Jacks mind. The kind of idea that should be given more serious thought but he just blurted it out. If he had said nothing or given it more thought I probably wouldn't be writing this story. What he said next changed my life.
"Hey Jeff, we are having a party at our place tomorrow night. Would you like to come?"
Sitting in the back seat I could see Becca turn to Jack and give him a look. It was a look men come to understand once they get married. It meant "Are you crazy? Shut up."
If I had understood the look I would have declined the invitation. Since I'm just a guy, and not knowing the meaning of the look I guess I made the wrong decision. "Sure, that's great. I'd love to. Are any of our old high school friends going to be there?"
Becca turned and gave me a meaningful look and told me, "Yes, there should be quite a few."
"Great, I can't wait. I'll bring some beer. What time and where do you guys live now?"
Jack piped up, "Seven thirty. We live at 135 Remsom Street. Not too far from your folks."
Jack put the car into gear and we continued the four short blocks to my parents' home.
I got out of the car saying, "See you tomorrow night."
Visiting with my folks was nice but I couldn't wait for Saturday night. Everybody must have changed in the last four years, I knew I had. It would be fun to see old friends and renew friendships.
At the party I was talking to Kenny Carter whose father owned a fence company. He had gone into the family business and were we discussing how the company was holding up in the economic downturn when I felt a tap on my shoulder and heard, "Hi Neighbor, long time no see."