Amy's Smile: A Conclusion Ch. 02byOldlockguy©
Lots of folks here will agree that one of the very finest series on this site is "Amy's Smile," by jfinn. It is a superb mixture of deep feeling, humor, character development and really good sex. Sadly, it appears that the author was unable, for reasons we do not know, to finish the work. For almost eight years, Charlie, the protagonist of the stories, was left, stuck in a plane seat, desperately in love with Amy and on his way home to tell her of his love.
A few months ago I worked up the nerve to write my own ending to the series, "Amy's Smile: A Conclusion." A number of readers seemed to like my attempt and I am grateful for their kind comments, not to mention their votes. But there were a number of ideas for the story left bumping around in my brain that didn't make it into that submission. Mostly for my own pleasure, I decided to thread them into a more or less parallel story, this time narrated by Amy. I hope it gives some of you pleasure also. I think it may work as a standalone story but, believe me, you'll enjoy the whole series.
This is the positively final time I will borrow (or steal) jfinn's wonderful characters for my own storytelling purposes. But remember the old saying, "theft is the sincerest form of flattery" ... or something like that. So, be sure to read jfinn's original.
Driving up I-94 from Chicago isn't so bad when you are moving against the flow of traffic. Normally I put the Volvo on cruise control and stick a tape in the player. Today it was Mary Chapin Carpenter.
"Sometimes you're the windshield. Sometimes you're the bug." Ouch! That was too close to home because today, I was pretty sure I was the bug. So I turned off the audio - no music, just thoughts on this journey. Charlie's Mom had told me I was welcome to stop by their home in Milwaukee on my way to Green Bay in order to drop off a birthday present for Charlie. In fact, she sounded downright eager to see me. I hope that's a good thing.
This whole "birthday present for Charlie" business is my friend Miriam's idea, really. It was Miriam who figured out that Charlie was a customer at our bank and she nagged me until I checked his records. There it was, address of customer -- knew that already - , address and contact information for next of kin -father in Milwaukee - birthday... Whoa! the following Friday, as it turned out.
Miriam just wouldn't let the subject go. She kept telling me I had to go out and get him.
"Amy, the man loves you."
"Well, why didn't he tell me so when I handed him the chance on a silver platter?"
"I don't know. Lots of men are dumb bricks when it comes to talking about love."
"Miriam, whatever Charlie is, he isn't a dumb brick."
"No, it sounds as if he isn't. But for sure he's jealous of Liam and you don't get jealousy unless there's some love there too."
"Agreed, he doesn't think much of Liam, but why would he be jealous?"
"Oh, I don't know. For months you go over every other day or so to their house to fold Liam's shorts, buy his beer or cook meals for him and his bimbo, what's her face. Maybe he thinks that means you're in love with Liam. "
"But I was as clear as I could be. I told Charlie I loved Liam because you have to hold on to some kind of dream. Loved - past tense! I couldn't have been clearer with a bottle of Windex."
"Amy, sweetheart, you can't expect a man to take in fine points of grammar at a time like that!"
"But I told Charlie that he was the nicest man I had ever met and asked him to take my virginity."
"And told him it was a one off and that you knew the difference between making love and having sex. That was nuts, Amy, I gotta tell you. That's almost as bad as suggesting he has a small dick."
"Uh Oh!" I said.
"Amy, please, sweetie, pleeeease say you didn't tell him he has a small dick."
"Well, I didn't, not really. I just said it was not as big as I expected, and not as big as the cucumbers you suggested I practise with."
Miriam rolled her eyes.
"But I told him it was bigger than the zucchinis."
Miriam lifted her eyes to heaven, or at least the ceiling, and whispered. "God give me strength!"
She has a carrying whisper.
I thought about it for a minute and realized she was right. I was a complete idiot. What little hope I had that Charlie loved me was circling around the drain with a flushing sound. "I guess I blew it. I fucked it up completely."
"An appropriate choice of words, considering your weekend." At least she was smiling.
"Listen, Amy, when you were in bed with Charlie, were you making love or having sex?"
"Making love, definitely."
"Well, who knows, maybe he was too."
"That's what Charlie said."
Miriam nodded. "And whether it was love or just sex, it was damn good, wasn't it?"
"How many orgasms did he give you?"
"I don't know. Maybe ten, counting the times in the night and the next morning."
"Only ten?" she said and rolled her eyes again.
That irked me because I thought ten was pretty good for a virgin's first time. But perhaps my guess was too low. "Maybe it was a dozen or even fifteen."
"Fifteen! God give me stre... Listen, Amy, if this doesn't work out for you, please, please, please, introduce me to Charlie!"
Charlie says Miriam has a voice like a Banshee. I never realized before that he was right. Her voice really is irritating.
Maybe Miriam could tell this wasn't the most welcome turn in the conversation. "Oh Amy, I was just kidding you. I think the man is crazy about you."
You know, her voice isn't as grating as I thought a minute ago.
"Why?" I said.
"Well, he volunteered to spend all day in a mall, shopping with you and waiting while you had your hair done."
"Amy, sweetie, men don't normally do that. They're mostly allergic to malls unless there is a special on power tools. And then he showed up at your door the same evening in the middle of an ice storm."
"As if he couldn't get enough of you."
"I don't know about that."
Miriam shook her head in disbelief.
"And he told you that story about the way that Johanna bitch treated him. I bet he doesn't tell that to everybody he meets on the street corner, but he shared it with you, just because he thought you needed help."
"Charlie is very kind. But that's the point. He's just kind to me. He doesn't love me."
I don't know how Miriam can sound disgusted just by drawing in her breath but she manages it somehow.
"After you 'had sex' "- fingers making quotation marks in the air - "Did Charlie bugger off in the middle of the night or make an excuse to slip away first thing in the morning?"
"No, he wanted to have another go with me.... and, and in the morning he told me I looked good, even in my pink dressing gown." I smiled at the memory. "And he invited me to a John Wayne film festival for that evening."
Miriam lifted her palms and raised one eyebrow as if to say, "Well, there you go."
"Amy, the man is nuts about you!"
You know, Miriam actually has quite a lovely voice when you think about.
But she's way too optimistic about Charlie. It sounds good when you put it all together the say she did. But, after all, I was there and she wasn't. I told her that.
"Amy, Charlie even told you he loved you."
"Well sure, but it was when he was cumming. That explains it."
"Nobody has ever said anything like that to me in the throes. And I've never heard of it happening to anyone else, either. "
"Really. Mostly men just grunt. Maybe they call on Jesus. But mostly they grunt." Miriam paused, for a moment and suddenly looked both thoughtful and a little bit sad.
"Amy, I think a good man is in love with you. That's never happened to me and I'm, well, kind of jealous."
"You? Jealous of me?"
"Yep, I sure am. The truth is, I'm out of my depth here. No one has ever loved me the way I think Charlie, loves you. I don't know what to say to you except one thing."
"Just say 'Yes.' Whatever he asks, say 'Yes.'" said Miriam.
I must have looked puzzled.
"If he asks you for a date, say 'Yes.' If he asks you for sex, say 'Yes.' And, above all, if he asks you to marry him, say 'Yes!' Oh, and if he asks whether he has a big dick...."
"Yes," I said.
"You're getting it."
"Well, really, I ought to be able to do that."
Miriam raised her eyes heavenward and I could see she mouthed the words, "Give me strength!"
"Give me Charlie," I thought and it was probably the most sincere prayer of my life.
So here I was on the I-94 on the way to Milwaukee, hoping to be invited to stay long enough in the McKee house, to see Charlie that evening. I decided to wear the pink sweater and tight blue jeans from the night Charlie came to my house. I doubt men remember these things, but if he did, I wanted to remind him that I was available. That was my idea, not Miriam's, by the way.
But I wasn't optimistic. After all, I'm the kind of woman who compares her lover's thing to a zucchini rather than a cucumber. I knew I didn't stand a chance.
I began humming to myself and then recognized the song,
"Sometimes you're the windshield. Sometimes you're the bug... Sometimes you're a fool in love."
I found the house with no trouble. It was a big old place with a maple tree in the front yard. I bet there used to be a tire swing hanging from that tree in the old days. It looked like a great place to grow up. Charlie's Mom must have been looking out for me because she opened the front door and ushered me in, even before I could ring the doorbell.
She wasn't fat, just spread out a bit after bearing and raising so many children. She looked like, well, she looked like a mother. "Call me Shirley," she said, "and, no, I don't even know a Laverne." But she didn't look like a Shirley. She looked like a Mom.
She offered me a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies that didn't come from a bag, I swear. We made small talk for few minutes. Then Charlie's Mom sat back in her chair looked me in my eyes and said, "So, you know my Charlie."
She looked so kind and almost hopeful. It was an obvious thing for her to say, nothing more than a conversation starter. The most innocent, non-descript remark imaginable but I couldn't seem to answer. Anyone with kindergarten level social skill ought to be able to answer without a thought. Not me. I looked at her and choked a bit with the dryness in the back of my throat and I could feel my eyes grow big. I just couldn't answer and I was embarrassed about my awkwardness in front of this kind woman. And I thought about how much I love Charlie...
And then, damn it, I started to cry... the very last thing in the world I want to do... God, I hate doing that. Charlie's Mom just enveloped me in her arms. There is nothing more comforting to cry into than a large maternal bosom. Very soon, I started to feel better.
"I'll take that as a yes," she said.
After a moment of silence, she took my hand and patted it. She handed me a tissue and very gently asked, "Did Charlie hurt you?"
"Sorry, I'm just so silly, I can't believe I did that," I said, dabbing at my eyes.
She didn't respond, but just continued to pat my hand.
"No, not at all. He would never deliberately hurt me. It's all my fault. He's been the kindest, most generous, loveliest man in the world, and I..."
I couldn't continued. A sympathetic squeeze of the hand and I squeezed back.
Then, "You must think I'm a complete idiot." I held up the present and extended it towards her. "But I truly am grateful for everything he has done for me. I wonder if you would pass this on to him for me."
"No, I don't think you're an idiot, just a young woman in love."
I didn't need to answer.
"And I'm not going to pass the gift on to him for you. You're going to stay until he arrives and you're going to give it to him yourself."
She raised one eyebrow, dropped her face to look at me over her reading glasses. Have you ever noticed how hard it is to say "No" to a veteran mother with a forty inch bust?
"So, no need to ask if you're in love with Charlie. But is he in love with you?"
A pause. That really was the question, for sure.
"My girlfriend says he is, but I don't think so... He hasn't said so and I think I've given him lots of opportunities."
"Sweetheart," - somehow it felt completely natural for Charlie's Mom to call me that - "When Charlie was little his report cards all used to say, "This student has great potential but is not putting it into practice.' I think Charlie has very high love potential but..."
A shrug of her shoulders. I smiled. Her face brightened. I am pretty sure Charlie likes my smile. Maybe his Mom does too.
"Charlie was badly hurt when he was a teenager. There was this horrible girl..."
"Johanna," I said.
She looked astounded. "Charlie told you about Johanna?"
I nodded. "He thought the story would help me. He's so kind!"
"Did it work?"
"Yes, it rescued me from my version of Johanna. The only trouble is..,"
"Then you fell in love with Charlie. You're not sure he loves you and you think your heart is about to break."
"Pretty much." But then something in me flared up. I lifted my eyes and stared directly at her. "But I don't want to be loved out of pity!"
"Just loved for you. In fact, you wouldn't accept his love, if it's just pity," She said.
I nodded again, with determination.
Charlie's Mom looked pleased, as if I had passed some kind of test.
"Sweetheart, Charlie doesn't talk about Johanna with anybody. We tried to get him to go to a counsellor to talk about it when he was in high school but he always refused. Maybe he did that at Notre Dame, but I don't know for sure. I am absolutely positive of one thing. He wouldn't talk about Johanna to a girl - a woman - who didn't matter deeply to him."
Charlie's Mom seemed to gather her thoughts together. More briskly she said, "I think it's the best thing in the world that he talked about her to you. Maybe it's a sign that he's over her... And perhaps...."
She looked at me with speculation in her eyes. Just then the clock on the mantelpiece chimed."My goodness, look at that time. I can't sit talking all day. Come on into the kitchen and we'll talk while I get things ready for the party."
Charlie's Mom tells me she doesn't much like doing desserts -- you would never believe that from her brownies - so we divvied up the kitchen responsibilities. She was working on a lasagna - Charlie's favourite, she claimed - I filed that for future reference. Meanwhile, I was prepping for my cheesecake speciality and just at the busiest point for both of us, the phone rang. Charlie's Mom answered the phone.
"It's Charlie," she mouthed to me. I signed as if to leave the room to give her privacy. She shook her head and signalled for me to stay put "Son, we are so glad you can come home for your birthday party this evening. Frank's coming down from Green Bay and the twins are bringing the grandkids..."
I'm pretty sure she was going to tell Charlie about me, but she paused as she struggled to keep the cooking going while trying to talk. With one hand she stirred the tomato sauce and with the other, she switched to speaker phone. Now I could hear Charlie too.
"Mom, I'm sorry. I don't think I can make the party."
My heart stopped. Charlie's Mom frowned, paused again, and looked at me with concern. Then she turned into the phone and even I could feel the ice radiating over the phone lines to wherever Charlie was calling from. Obviously, it got through to Charlie.
"Mom, I'll tell you the truth and I know you'll understand."
"This had better be good."
"Mom, is Dad there?"
She looked over at me.
"Or Frank, or the twins or anyone else in the family?"
Charlie's Mom frowned in my general direction, as if I could stop Charlie from talking long enough to get a word in.
"Or any of the neighbors, or your bridge friends?"
"No, but I really should tell you..."
"Mom, they may call my plane any minute and my cell is almost out of power. I need to tell you why I can't come home and I need to do it right now!"
"OK, son, but"
"Mom, I'm in love."
My heart stopped. No, wait a second. It had stopped thirty seconds ago. It must have started without me noticing because for sure and certain it stopped again now. I didn't know Charlie was even dating and now he was in love with some bimbo before I even had the chance to tell him what he means to me. Life is freakin' unfair!
It all came out as a faint "eek." I hate it when I do that. There was no way in the world I could draw enough breath to say a word. But then, I wasn't the one who was supposed to be talking. Charlie's Mom was. She glanced over at me with concern, gulped, and the words came.
"Is she, is she by any chance that sweet Amy girl I talked to on the phone the other day?"
"Of course she is! Mom, she's the sweetest and kindest girl I've met in my life."
My heart started beating again. And my eyes began to run. Maybe it was the onions.
"You probably could tell she is sweet and kind, even over the phone."
"Yes, Charlie, I could."
Her eyes began to water too. By now, I was sniffling. Maybe Charlie could hear me over the phone but I swear I couldn't help it.
"And I desperately need to see her as soon as possible, to tell her I love her."
"But why does that mean you can't come to the party?"
"Because there's this ass..., this nasty, self-centered person named Liam, and Amy's been hoping for years that he would notice her.
Charlie never could stand Liam. Miriam always said it was jealousy. I didn't believe her. Maybe I was wrong.
"Liam, your roommate? The one who looks like Brad Pitt?"
I grimaced and shook my head.
"Yeah, Mom, but he never realized how wonderful Amy is because she used to dress a little funny and her hair wasn't so fashionable. But now she looks as beautiful on the outside as she always has been on the inside. Liam has noticed her. Mom, he told me she's doable and I'm afraid..."
Dress a little funny? I didn't think that was true, though the makeover helped a lot. Wait a sec... I'm doable???
"Charlie, are you telling me that you fell in love with this sweet young woman once she had a makeover and now are afraid someone else might want her? I always hoped that none of my children would be so shallow!"
"No, Mom, I swear that I loved her all along. I love her because she has the capacity to care for other people like nobody else I've ever met and I hope with all my heart that she will care for me... and for my children."
Charlie's Mom, reached out one arm and drew me in to her bosom. By now my eyes were streaming and I wasn't anywhere near the onions. Charlie's Mom could see that. What she couldn't see, was that my pussy was just as wet. Actually, knowing her as I do now, I realize she probably could have guessed that too.
"I love the way she smiles at me. Mom, she smiles at me the way you smile at Dad when you think we aren't looking."
Both arms around me now.
"If Liam gets her into bed, Mom, I would have to really work not to go postal. Do you remember when I caught the teenager next door torturing Peanut and went for him? He had a knife out and was cutting at me to make me let go? And you had to pull me away from him, all cut and bleeding? That's the way I feel when I think of Amy in bed with Liam. I just get sick to my stomach."
I shook my head in as emphatic a negative as I could. No way!
"I just need to find Amy as soon as possible and tell her I love her. The moment I have any hope that she loves me back, I'll ask her to marry me and keep on asking until she says yes."
Charlie's Mom was weeping too by now. Damn onions!
"Charlie, you don't know if you can even get back to Chicago tonight or even if Amy is in the city. Tomorrow you can go looking for her. I promise you there will be somebody here who can drive you back into the city whenever you want."