The Finer Points of Sheila Ch. 02bybluefox07©
"You'll notice that the narrative shifts for a brief moment in the story towards the end when Brett sees Doug and Sheila together at the Freeling Hotel. This is a total violation of every grammatical and literal law of the universe, but as the story is told through Doug's eyes in the first person I had no choice. It was a major plot point and I can only beg your forgiveness, dear reader...
... and the 'Born in sin' riff Doug and his friends share in the school parking lot is a reference to 'Storm of the Century.' To those who caught that, very good eye. Cheers!"
Following the return home that Sunday morning, I found my mother and father beyond irate with me. They screamed and screamed about responsibility, about the rules and how even though it was last few months of high school, by God I was still under their roof. Thus, I would follow their rules to the letter or suffer the consequences. To prove their point, I found myself on the receiving end of a week's grounding.
"Man, I am so fucked," I groaned over the phone to my friend Brett, "I go to one fucking party and play caretaker for Elle, and I get screwed."
Of course, I had been screwed in more ways than one...
"Well, what time did you get home?" Brett asked, clearly chewing something crunchy as we talked.
"It was around three in the morning," I said.
"My parents would have put my hot dog in a bun and chowed down," Brett laughed.
"I can't be stuck here, man," I said, "I have things I need to do."
"Like what? All you do is sit around and read comic books and smoke," Brett crunched as I held the phone away from my ear, "You're like a fucking Kevin Smith movie rolled into a tightly packed little toke."
"Hey, you're the one getting his meds from Dr. Wacky T. Backy," I said, praying to God no one was listening. If mom and dad found out Brett was smoking pot, even a little bit, they'd go ape shit and I'd be grounded even longer, just for being there.
"Speaking of which, I think the doctor over-medicated me," he laughed, his voice trailing off a little.
"Brett, stick with me here man," I shook the phone.
"You and Elle got something going on, man?" he asked bluntly, "I mean, all I can figure is you want to see her again for more than just friendship. Did something happen between you two?"
I paused for a minute. Something did happen that night, but not with Elle. "No," I replied.
"It did too," Brett accused me excitedly, "Holy shit, you boinked her. You fuckin boinked Elle."
"I did not," I protested, feeling I had just made my life unintentionally more complicated. As if it weren't already complicated enough. I had not only kissed Elle's mother, Sheila, but had proceeded to have sex with her in the kitchen until the table broke. But we had done something more than just fuck though, and I couldn't lie to myself about it. The passion we had shared was beyond anything I had ever known, and now I couldn't think of anything else but her.
But if Brett put the word out that I had slept with Elle, even though I hadn't, it would piss off Elle and even worse, it might hurt Sheila.
"Brett," I said over the stoner's maniacal laughing and whooping, "How the fuck do you keep top grades while you fog your mind out?"
"Wake and bake, baby," he laughed, "Was she good?"
"It wasn't Elle."
"Then who was it?"
"This girl I met at the party," I lied, pulling a story out from off the top of my head, "Uhm, she was a cousin of somebody there, I forget."
"Wow, way to go man. Was she hot?"
"Fuck yeah," I smiled, remembering how Sheila had looked when she dropped her nightgown straps down and revealed her breasts to me. The way they swayed and moved with her walking, the size of her areolas and the indescribable feeling of sucking on her nipples. "She had huge titties."
"That's my man," Brett laughed and there was a pause. When I first met Brett, I used to wonder why he always paused like that. But within three days of hanging out with him, I realized that when you inhale, you have to take a pause to get the full effect. For Brett, it was a quasi-religious experience, a reverence to each hit. There was a release of air on the other end of the line as Brett flew even higher. He said, "God I love titties."
"Me too man," I said, and looked at the clock. "I gotta go, okay?"
"Cool," Brett mumbled as he dropped the phone and then hung up.
"Shit," I sighed as I lay back on my bed, thinking of Sheila and how much it was going to suck not seeing her. I wanted her to think of me as an older man, a man without any childish rules hanging over his head.
'Groundings for a week at a time don't help convey that image,' I thought dismally. But she had been worth ever minute I was sentenced to be grounded in this room for the next week. I turned the lights off, locked the door and stripped down naked. I laid back down on the bed and thought of her, the way she kissed me, the way her pussy felt around my cock and began masturbating.
That following Friday Elle, Brett and I all had lunch together outside in the parking lot of the school. We sat on the tailgate of my 4X4, a large pepperoni pizza opened and nearly completely devoured as we talked and laughed.
"Sorry again about your eye," Elle squinted at me, her face a perfect picture of guilt, "I didn't mean to club you."
"It's all right," I said casually through a mouthful of pizza, my black eye faded to a barely visible green stain. "Your kitchen table avenged me."
Elle rolled her eyes. "I have no memory of breaking the damn table. I mean, the thing was splintered, it was like someone would have had been fucking on it."
"Did someone meet you after I dropped you off?"
"Or did you and Doug do the nasty?" Brett chimed in.
"No," we both said in unison.
"You were really smashed, Elle," I said, "You could've crashed through the front door and never known about it."
"Mom said I was really angry," she said, looking away. "Like that bitch ever notices anything about me."
I sighed. "Don't call her a bitch, okay?"
"Why not," Elle laughed and shrugged, "She is a bitch. She's fucked me and dad over for years now, and we've finally had enough."
Brett looked at her, his eyes red-tinged and relaxed. "Whoa, you never told me your folks weren't on the level with each other. Well, I mean we all know your old man steps out..."
"Watch it, you fuck rag," Elle warned him.
"Hey hey," Brett held his hands up inoffensively, stifling back a nervous laugh, "I'm just saying maybe your mom has a reason to be angry at your dad."
"And how is it any of your business?" she glared at him. I knew this was going to get bad as Elle postured herself, her hands flat on her knees as she sat on the edge of the truck bed. Her head was cocked like a predator, waiting for the moment of the kill.
"It's not, Hotrod," Brett offered apologetically, "I didn't mean to get into your shit. Sorry."
A smile crossed Elle's face, though it didn't touch her eyes. "It's cool. I'm sorry too. I'm just really wound up lately."
Brett pointed at me, desperate to change the conversation. "D-man here scored after the party."
Elle looked at him. "I'm your best friend, and you didn't tell me?"
I shrugged, my eyes wide as I lit my cigarette. "I just..."
"You asshole, you had sex and didn't tell me? Who?" she slapped my shoulder hard, her face looking genuinely hurt.
"Hey, gentlemen don't discuss that stuff in public," I countered.
"This coming from the guy who ran around the locker room his freshman year after he lost his virginity to Carol Kinsky shouting 'YIPPEE'," Brett laughed as he took one of my Camel Lights.
"I didn't yell 'YIPPEE'," I frowned as I dragged on my smoke, "I shouted 'HOORAY'. There's a difference"
"Because 'HOORAY' is so much more dignified," Elle rolled her eyes and nodded to my cigarette, "You know that shit drug is going to kill you someday."
"Cigarettes are not in the same category as drugs," I said plainly.
"Nope, they're not," Brett agreed and then scowled at her, "You smoke too, by the way."
"Not as much as you, peace pipe," she said, "Nicotine is highly addictive, worse than heroine, so I hear."
"Where do you get your news?" Brett said under his breath.
"Addictive, yes," I nodded, "But, nicotine is not illegal, people do not get shot by cigarette dealers, there are no Colombian nicotine cartels with an iron grip on the third world and, most importantly, I won't go to jail for smoking my cigarettes in public."
"And, you can't shoot nicotine, or snort it," Brett added academically. "Or drink it... I guess alcohol counts as a drug though. Wow, I am such a druggie."
"But it is addictive," Elle stated to me, unwilling to change her opinion.
"As addictive as sex," I conceded, and then looked at her as I ate my last piece of pizza, "But cigarettes never alter your mind, or make you do crazy shit, or make you pass out at parties and have to be driven home at one in the morning and endure a hang over for good measure the next day."
"Fuck you," she laughed as she took a drag on my smoke. "How about we call it a vice?"
"Born in vice, say it twice," Brett smiled.
"Born in lust, turn to dust" Elle continued, looking to me to finish the quote.
I smiled to at the reference, "Born in sin, come on in."
We chuckled for a moment at the shared reference before Brett said, "We have got to get a fucking life."
Brett said his goodbyes and skipped out, his day over at noon already. Elle and I marveled at how he could burn as much weed as he did in a day and still pass all his classes with perfect A's. Some guys have all the luck, Elle remarked as we cleaned up our mess, tossed it into a trashcan and went back into the school.
"So," she said quietly, "Who did you hook up with?"
I felt a stab of guilt and wanted to say 'Your mom...' but stopped myself. I was used to telling her everything, but this was so big, so different from anything else that had ever happened before. Elle could never understand what happened between her mom and me, what it meant. I looked ahead, my eyes focused on the buildings that composed the high school.
"Some girl, I'm not sure who to be honest," I said.
"That's not like you," she said, her voice betraying the fact that she didn't believe me. I knew she was hurt that I wouldn't tell her who it was. She felt left out of my life and that was something she had never been before. "But, I guess we can all have a fling every now and then, right?"
"We both did that night," I remarked and tossed the cigarette, stepping on it, "You remember who you hooked up with?"
Elle was quiet as she recovered from my cheap shot. "No, I don't."
I put my arm around her and held her tight. "It happens."
"Yeah, it does," she said unconvincingly,
"Do me a favor okay?" I smiled at her reassuringly.
"I'll go easier on the smokes if you go easier on your mom."
"Ah," I stopped her, eyebrows raised and my finger up, "I have one life to live, you have one mom to love and shit doesn't last forever. Deal?"
Elle hugged me, and I felt both incredibly good and guilty at the same time. Her breasts pressed against me not unlike Sheila's had the night we fucked all over her kitchen. She smiled and kissed me on the cheek. "Deal."
As I went to my locker, it occurred to me, with a degree of nausea, that the stakes had just been upped a notch as I thought about the kiss my best friend had just laid on my cheek, and the mother of that best friend I had laid a few nights back.
"Fuck me running," I muttered and slammed my locker shut.
"Doug," my mother called as I walked in the door. I looked into the kitchen and found Mom, Dad and Sheila sitting together at the table. My heart bottomed out as I wondered if our secret had been discovered, or worse, if Sheila had confessed. In my mind, I saw myself chained to a wall for life, bread and water the only luxuries as my parents broke me for fucking a friend of the family. The sign above my head would read, "ADULTERER."
I knew I was a moment away from a heart attack, and I did the only thing a man could do at a time like this.
I smiled broadly and played dumb. "What's up?"
Mom looked at me apologetically. "Sheila told us what you did."
"And that would be?" I asked, my brain ready to explode as my bladder considered a flush and run maneuver.
"You were telling the truth," Dad said, "You probably saved Elle from being hurt at that party. Sheila said you brought her home around one, but stayed to help get her into bed."
"He didn't have to stay, but he did," Sheila covered for me, her eyes saying so much to me as I felt a wave of relief wash over me. "Elle became very angry, she's not a very good drunk I'm afraid. And she's been angry about the situation between Tom and me. She actually hit poor Doug."
"I'm sorry we overreacted," Dad said and hugged me, "You did a brave thing."
I stood there, dumbfounded. "Well, what can I say Dad? It's cool."
"Your grounding is over, Doug. You're a free man."
I smiled and put my backpack down on the floor, leaning against the counter and sending mental messages of my undying gratitude to Sheila for bailing me out, even though it came a little late. I knew that she couldn't have heard me, but she nodded to me and smiled a secret smile. I felt myself relax as I forgot about the day and just basked in the happiness I felt. It was such an alien feeling, to be this happy. And I realized that it wasn't because I had been exonerated from my punishment, or that Sheila had been on the level enough to rescue me and tell a whopper of a lie, but rather that her very presence in the room was enough in and of itself.
"Will Sheila be staying for dinner?" I asked as I pulled a box of Ritz crackers down from the cupboard, "I mean, she just saved me from a week in the hole."
"I can't," Sheila frowned and looked at Mom, "I have to be in the city tonight. A prior engagement."
"Some other time then?" Mom asked hopefully.
"Absolutely," she smiled and stood up to leave. She wore a very flattering sundress, his hair pulled back and glowing in the afternoon light that flooded the kitchen. The yellow fabric was ablaze from the light as it hugged her body, the curves of her breasts casting shadows across the flat of her stomach. She hugged Mom and waved to Dad as she picked up her purse.
"Your mom has a box of dishes for me," she said to me, her eyes alive and brimming with a special yearning. "Carry them for me, and we'll say your debt to me is paid."
I hoisted the heavy box up and carried it out the door, down the driveway to her car. She popped the trunk open and I put the dishes inside. She smiled and closed the trunk, giving me a hug. I could have died right there as she embraced me, her perfume filling my nose like a faint, hypnotic mist.
"Thank you," I whispered to her.
Sheila broke our hug and said, "No, thank you Doug. For everything."
She opened her door and got in, and I could not stop staring at her. Her dark, beautiful eyes looked at me as she started the car. For one terrible moment, I thought she might actually drive away without another word.
"Be at the Freeling Hotel tonight, Doug. Nine o'clock."
I was speechless.
"I'll take that as a yes," she smiled and put the car in gear.
As she pulled away, I walked back up to the house and thought of an old song I had heard when I was a kid, a favorite of Dad's that seemed to sum up how I felt about Sheila Crane in a single word; unforgettable.
I spent the rest of my afternoon making plans and setting up an intricate network of lies and falsehoods so complex only a politician could have appreciated it. At least, that's what I thought as I worked my plan out for being away tonight. But as I schemed, I realized I was over-thinking it and took a deep breath. In the end, simplicity made for the best course of action, and I opted for what Brett often referred to as "The Three's Company Maneuver" rather than the "Bond Villain, Doomed-to-Failure-Overly-Elaborate-Scheme." I grabbed my phone and called Brett, who was on his fifth joint of the evening.
"Okay, I need to stay at your place tonight."
"Dude, we have not had a pajama party since we were ten," Brett said.
"Sleep over," I shook my head, "It's called a 'sleep over' Brett! And I'm not actually staying over. I just need my parents to think I am."
"You're gonna go see your mystery woman?"
"Yeah, you got it."
"But you said you didn't remember her name," Brett observed, his voice so laid back it might have fallen over.
"She called me today after school," I lied, "She wants to meet me again."
"Sweet, you lucky fuck."
"So can I count on you?"
"For sure. I just have one delivery to make tonight, but otherwise, I'm here."
"No sweat, brother."
"Hey Doug," Brett called, just as I was about to hang up.
"What's her name?"
I was brain locked for a moment, and then blurted, "Judy."
"Yeah, got a problem with that?"
"No man," he said, sounding disappointed, "I kinda thought maybe she had a name like Bambi or Alexis... I hear 'Judy' and I think... 'judge'... or 'Jetson'."
"Goodbye, Brett," I hung up the phone.
Next, I informed my parents that I would be with Brett tonight, and that maybe we would head into the city the next morning for a ball game. I gave them the number of Brett's cell phone and packed my bags for the night. My mind flooded with anticipatory images of Sheila, and I felt like I couldn't move fast enough. I glanced at the clock on my nightstand as I fumbled through my bottom drawer, pulled out the box of condoms and shoved them in the duffel bag. The red LED numbers indicated that I had exactly two hours to get to the Freeling Hotel.
I had stopped at a gas station on the way in to the city and changed into my nice evening clothes, a dark blue shirt and blazer to match with my best slacks. I had showered thoroughly before leaving home, and now felt I looked as good as I was going to get as I combed my short hair as best I could. I felt like I was in control of my life, for the first time ever as I pulled into the Freeling Hotel Parking Garage and found a space almost a full mile from the actual hotel. At least, that's how far away it felt as I walked the distance, the space number written on the back of my hand.
Once inside, I was greeted by the pretty hostess and directed to the dining room. It was luxurious, the lighting set purely for mood and thick with a cinematic atmosphere as waiters took orders and patrons laughed. The smell of cigarette smoke curled around my nose invitingly, and I felt a real rush as I walked into the crowd of people. In the center of the circular room was a large dance floor where a live band was pumping out the best of Frank Sinatra and every other crooner this side of Dean Martin for the guests. People danced briefly and then went to their tables while others just kept going, blissfully unaware of changes in songs or time.
It was surreal, a place I could have only imagined in a movie.
I looked for Sheila, scanning the tables and not having any luck at all. A gorgeous redhead bumped into me, her hand accidentally brushing my crotch as she passed. She never gave me a sideways glance as she moved gracefully through the crowd and disappeared into the sea of faces. A tall waiter with a pinched face came up to me and asked, "Do you need help? You look lost."
I smiled, speaking up over the music. "Yeah," I said, "I'm supposed to meet a friend here, but I can't find her."
The waiter looked at the ceiling thoughtfully for a moment, and then as if a light bulb had gone on over his head, he snapped his fingers. "Oh yes, this way."