tagNon-EroticBlack Friday

Black Friday

byqhml1©

This was supposed to come out, you guessed it, Black Friday. But, apparently my recent illness not only affected my dexterity, it also affected my acuity. I wrote the whole thing with little punctuation, and it got rejected for poor grammar. I hope I got enough fixed that you can actually read it. Enjoy.

................................................

The alarm went off at three in the morning. Why otherwise sane, intelligent women get up at such an ungodly hour, fight massive crowds, all just to get a 'bargain' is beyond my ability to comprehend.

But my wife loved it, and of course I loved my wife. So much so, that I got up with her, and cooked a massive breakfast while she got ready.

"Hey" called out my stepdaughter Amy, stepping into the kitchen and grabbing a cup of coffee.

"Hi, baby," I said, as she kissed my cheek. "Ready to conquer the masses?"

"Ha!" she cried. "We have a plan. And I have on the right shoes this time."

Last year an enormously obese woman stepped on her toes. They were bruised for weeks. As a joke, I bought her a pair of steel toed shoes. I was really surprised when she liked them enough to wear them.

"Morning Dad!," came a cheery voice, as my other stepdaughter Jane breezed in. I had the water heated and the lemon sliced, and soon she was sitting at the kitchen table with her Earl Grey, checking sales papers, reaffirming their route. I shook my head. If she could plan military campaigns as effectively, General Jane would rule the world.

"Uncle Frank!," my nieces Lori and Sandy came in next, kissed my cheek, poured coffee, and sat, looking over the plan Jane had set up. I made another pot of coffee.

My wife Debbie stumbled in, not quite awake despite the shower. She kissed me, demanded coffee, and took a seat. The other part of the group wasn't here yet, but since they were always late, and had been threatened with being left behind, I started plating breakfast. Eggs scrambled, if you wanted over easy you could cook them yourself. Bacon, sausage, and ham. Home fries, rice and gravy. And of course, two large pans of homemade biscuits. By the time I had finished serving, Amy's friend Jean and her mom Alice were sitting down, digging in without ceremony.

The last of the troop to arrive dashed in.

"Damn! Almost overslept, again. Did I miss breakfast?"

I laughed at my ex. She would be late for her own funeral. I handed her a sausage and egg on toast and a travel cup of coffee, grinning as she tried to eat and walk at the same time.

I was left with a massive pile of dirty dishes and lipstick smears from the kisses. Why in the world makeup was necessary at that time in the morning was a mystery.

I wiped my cheek while an enormous grin split my face. I was the luckiest man in the world.

Instead of going back to bed I sat in my recliner, thinking about how I got here and how lucky I was, before I dozed off.

...............................................

I didn't always feel that way. eight years ago I considered life to be a miserable experience.

My wife had just left me. Not because she wanted to be with someone else, but because she just didn't want to be with me anymore. It wasn't totally unexpected, I knew something wasn't right, but never expected that. Seventeen years, shot to hell.

I was never exactly what she wanted, but she seemed happy. It was her second marriage, Amy was five and her ex had just disappeared, so maybe she considered me a fall back.

Amy was Amy, a sweet little girl without a mean thought in her mind. We were hesitant at first, I had no experience being a Dad, and she never really remembered her biological father, so we were on even footing. Pretty soon though, she was a true Daddy's girl. I coached her softball teams, cheered her at soccer, growled at her boyfriends when she was old enough to have them, and gave her away with tears in my eyes at her wedding. I think her mother was actually jealous at times.

She was a secretary, I worked in maintenance in the local factory. She studied at night and got her degree, something we were both proud of. I had an associates' degree in management, certificates in welding and plumbing, and was a licensed electrician. And to be an old guy, I was pretty decent around a computer. She still though her four year degree raised her slightly above me.

We saved, at my insistence, had 401 programs, she even had a profit sharing program at her job. On reflection, I really think she was just waiting to cash out. I didn't really fight it, just made sure it was an even split. I didn't want the house, so we sold it and split the money.

She went on a cruise, got a nice apartment and a new car, and lived the life of a comfortable divorcee.

I went back to work, got promoted to maintenance manager, rented a small house and saved. It was just me.

I didn't date, just had no interest. At forty six, I was so out of practice I didn't know where to start. I'd probably have died a lonely old man if I hadn't gotten cut at work and had to go to the emergency room.

Debbie was my nurse. She dressed my wound, after the doctor put in ten stitches, giving me a sympathetic pat on the wrist. That probably would been it if she hadn't gotten stranded.

It was pouring rain, and being late October it was also cold. She was standing outside the door on her phone.

"Damn it!" she said, starting to cry. I'm a sucker for a crying woman, couldn't help it. I took her arm gently. She looked around in surprise.

"Are you all right?" I asked, as gently as possible.

I think the sympathetic look pushed her over the edge.

"NO, I'm not all right. My piece of junk car just stopped running, leaving me without a way home and my daughter without a way to class. To top it off no bus runs near my house, and I don't have money for a cab. I don't even have an umbrella."

She looked borderline hysterical. I took both her hands, shocking her a bit, I think.

"Hush now. No man with any decency would leave a nice woman like you stranded. If you can put up with riding in an old truck with someone who isn't exactly the greatest conversationalist, I'd be honored to escort you home. Please. I couldn't rest tonight if you refused."

I think that last part got her. She looked at me and actually giggled.

"I'd hate to come between a man and his rest. It isn't far, if you really don't mind."

"Please," I said, "I'd be honored. Now you stay here in the dry while I pull around."

Her eyes widened a little when I pulled up. I don't know why, I wasn't lying about the old truck. I just didn't tell her it was a '61 Studebaker, completely restored to showroom condition. My pride and joy, and my main hobby for the last year.

"My great uncle had one of these. Didn't look nearly as nice as yours," she said, after settling in.

"My latest project," I told her proudly. "I usually restore something and get rid of it, but just can't seem to do it with this one."

This led to an interesting discussion about old cars and favorites we had owned in the past. All too soon we were at her apartment. She seemed reluctant to get out.

"Thank you so much," she said, about to open the door, "and thanks for letting me ride in this cool truck."

I looked at her and decided to be honest.

"Look Debbie, I'm probably going to suck at this because it's been so long since I've done it, but would you like to have dinner with me some evening? Provided of course you're not married or in a relationship. It's been a long time since I've been around anyone as nice as you, and I'd love to get to know you."

She was probably offended, given the stare she was giving me. I guess I made a mistake.

Suddenly she started talking.

"I don't see a ring. Are you married?"

I shook my head.

"I was, for seventeen years. Haven't been for the last two. Amazingly, there was no cheating, no horrible fights. She just woke up one morning and decided she wanted to be single again. Refused counseling. Refused to talk about it. In the end she hinted that she was just bored. Took a long time to come to grips with that."

Her eyes had widened.

"That seems even more painful than if she had cheated. My story is much more mundane. He wanted to stay married, and date regularly. When I objected, loudly, he disappeared. We haven't seen him in twelve years."

She shrugged.

"What was, was, for both of us. Come in, meet my daughter, have a cup of coffee. I'll give you my decision before the second cup. I even have homemade pound cake."

She introduced me to her daughter Jane. She was studying nursing, with an eye towards being a nurse practitioner when she was done. Carrying on the family tradition.

The apartment was small, but neat as a pin and had a really homey feel. She made a good cup of coffee and the cake was excellent. I told her so. She was so pleased she gave me two slices to take home, even happier when I didn't even pretend to object.

Jane was preoccupied, worried about school.

"I have a way home, I just need to get there."

Her class started in forty five minutes.

"How do you feel about old trucks?" I asked, while her mother smiled. "If your mom will accompany me, I'll take you."

She must have really wanted to get to class, because she started gathering her things.

"I'm sure your truck is just lovely," she said, while Debbie grinned.

She was impressed, I could tell. Debbie didn't seem to mind in the least sitting close to me. I quietly said a prayer in praise of bench seats. I was disappointed when Jane got out and she moved over.

I stopped in front of her apartment. She sat for a minute before reaching over and giving me a nice kiss on the cheek.

"Friday. Six o'clock. I really like seafood." And then she slid out of the seat and almost ran into her apartment.

I grinned all the way home.

.................................................

I went into work the next day, more to avoid having my accident written up as lost time than anything else. I stayed until lunch, and then took the rest of the day off. It occurred to me we hadn't exchanged numbers, so I went by on the off chance she was there. She wasn't, but Jane was. She was outside, her head under the hood of a car.

"You don't strike me as a mechanic," I said.

She didn't hear me coming and jumped, banging her head. That sent her into a cussing fit. Then she realized who I was and went bright red.

"What do you want?" she said with an accusing tone.

"I didn't get your mothers' phone number. We have a date Friday, I wanted to check and see if the restaurant I picked would be all right with her. Here. Ask her to call."

I handed her my business card. It also had my private numbers on it. She looked it over.

"Maintenance manager, huh? Know anything about cars?"

I just grinned.

"Let me have a look."

By the time Debbie got off I had it fixed. A broken belt. They had killed the battery but I jumped it off, had Jane drive it around awhile to charge it up. It was also two quarts low on oil, and the air filter was filthy. I replaced it and topped the oil off. I taught Jane how to check oil and transmission fluid levels, lecturing her the whole time.

She was appreciative, even hugged me.

"Have your mother call," I admonished, as she got in to drive away.

"Yes sir!" she said, grinning, "and thank you."

I grinned back. "Scoot. Don't make her wait."

I got a very nice call. She thanked me profusely, to the point of embarrassing me. Insisting she pay, she asked what the cost was.

"I'll let you in on a personality flaw. I love to barter. It gives me a lot of satisfaction to avoid paying cash and make a deal that makes both parties satisfied. Let's do that on your car."

Her voice got very cold.

"What do you want to trade for?"

Oh shit. She had the wrong idea. I paused, then thought I'd have some fun.

"Something intimate, something I hope you don't do for a lot of men."

I heard her sharp intake of breath. Before she could explode, I laughed.

"Here's the deal. I haven't had a real home cooked meal in almost two years. That's my price. And nothing fancy, meatloaf or a nice casserole, something along those lines. Dessert would be an unexpected bonus. Does that sound acceptable?"

There was silence, I thought she may have hung up.

"I make killer fried chicken. Garlic mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli good for sides?"

"My mouth is already watering. Name the time."

I could feel her smile.

"We'll decide Friday. How do you feel about chocolate pie?"

"Hold on, I'm getting light headed. I haven't had a good chocolate pie in years."

...............................................

I looked at myself in the mirror. I had no illusions, knowing what I looked like. A little belly, probably fifteen pounds overweight. Still, I was in pretty good shape, being a hands on manager. I had scars all over both arms, from working with equipment and being pretty clumsy when I was young.

I was bald and kept my head shaved. No facial hair. I had been generously described as having a rugged look. And I was terribly near sighted so I wore glasses. You wouldn't find me in a contest for Prince Charming lookalikes.

Still, I made an effort. Suit, tie, polished shoes. I even drove my car, leaving the truck in the garage.

I thought about her on the way over. She was no beauty queen. I was pretty sure she'd never see forty five again. She had the pear shape most women get with age. Maybe thirty pounds overweight, but it had settled well.

Still, she was attractive, in an older soccer mom kind of way. And there was something about her smile that made me feel warm all over, and an inner beauty that shone through.

She opened the door, took one look at me, squeaked, and ran into her bedroom. I was standing at the door trying to decide whether to leave of not when Jane came out, smiling.

"Please, come in. You'll have to excuse my mother, she just realized she was under dressed for your night out. She'll be here in a minute. Sit. Can I get you anything? Water, soda, beer?"

I sat, uncomfortably. I had the feeling she was amused.

"No, but thanks. I haven't had a beer in almost ten years."

She looked at me oddly.

"Have a problem with alcohol?"

I flushed. "Yes, I don't like the way it tastes. Other than that, no, no problem."

"Mom is gonna love that. Her last beau liked to indulge a bit too much. One of the many reasons they don't see each other any more."

Before it could get any more awkward Debbie came back out. She was wearing a burgundy dress, high neckline, two inches below the knee. I thought she looked sensational.

"You look very nice." I said, meaning every words. She colored while Jane giggled.

"I had to change" she admitted, "it's been a long time since I was out with a man in a suit."

Jane gushed, trying to ease the tension.

"I think you look very nice. You too, mom. You'll turn heads at the restaurant."

I took it as a cue to go, so I offered Debbie my arm. She stopped when she got outside, looking for the truck. I grinned for the first time that night.

"Surely you didn't think I'd dress up in a suit and drive my old truck? Let me get the door."

I had driven my little Lincoln, pearl gray with a darker gray leather interior. It was ten years old, but I kept it spotless.

We went to the most popular seafood place in town. Debbie seemed uncomfortable when she looked at the prices.

"We could go somewhere else..."

I shut her down.

"This place is where I wanted to take you. Do not worry about the cost, and if I think you're not ordering what you really want, I'll change it to the most expensive thing on the menu. Do you understand? I don't eat out often, so I tend to go for the better places. Now let's order."

We both ended up with seafood platters, mine large, hers small. We had to get a doggie bag because there was so much left over.

I told her about my life, she told me about hers. Her ex left her saddled with debt she was just now getting out from under. She had lost her house, I could tell by the tone of her voice that had hurt her terribly. She had tears in her eyes when she described her flower beds and bird feeders.

I talked about my wife leaving me for adventure and exciting times. She had not been careful with her money, and the expensive cruises she took every year came to a halt. I talked about my little house, about my hobbies of gardening and restoring old cars. I rented space in an old garage to work on them until they were far enough along to take them home.

She seemed shocked when I told her it was the first date I had been on in two years.

"Why?" she asked, full of curiosity.

I shrugged.

"Haven't wanted to. You're the first woman I've met in a long time that interested me."

I think she smiled a little, thanking me for the honor.

We talked after I got her home, about everything and nothing, as we sipped coffee and I destroyed two pieces of cake. At eleven I got up to leave. She walked me to the door, and we shared a very nice kiss. No tongue wrestling, no groping or grinding, just a simple kiss. It still was the best thing I'd felt in ages.

After maybe twenty seconds we both pulled back, a little embarrassed. She squeezed my hand.

"I usually serve dinner around six thirty. Wednesday good?"

"For a home cooked meal I would make it good. Wednesday will be just fine. Should I bring anything?"

"A good appetite. I hate to see food wasted."

Looking around my little house when I got home, I noticed for the first time how empty it seemed. I was thinking of her as I drifted off.

...............................................

Jane answered the door with her usual grin.

"She took today off, and has been cooking since three. You better appreciate this."

"Judging by the smell, I'm sure I will. What should I do with these?"

I hated the thought of showing up empty handed, so I had stopped and bought a bunch of flowers on the way over.

"Why, give them to Mom, of course. How long has it been since you wooed a woman?"

I thought the choice of the word 'woo' was charmingly oldfashioned.

"Probably since before you were born, and I wasn't really good at it then."

Her grin got bigger.

"Don't worry about it. I'll give you a nudge now and then, to keep you on the right track. This is the happiest I've seen her in a long time."

She suddenly got serious.

"Don't hurt her, okay? Life hasn't been too kind to us in a long time."

I was about to answered when Debbie came bustling out of the kitchen.

"Jane, who was at the..."

She stopped when she saw me, and the flowers. I held them out.

"Hello, Debbie. I thought you might like these."

Her hands actually shook a little as she took them. Seems it had been a long time since anyone had gotten her flowers. I made a note to plant some flowers next spring.

"These are lovely," she said, passing them to Jane. "Honey,put these in some water, please. I have to get back to the kitchen. Supper in twenty."

I think she surprised us all when she stood on tiptoe and kissed my cheek. Then she fled back into the kitchen.

Jane and I talked. She was twenty, just starting on her second year of school. She was focused on her goal.

"Luckily, it doesn't cost much at the community college level, but it will go up substantially when I transfer. I'm hoping to get a scholarship. It'll be really hard if I don't"

Debbie called us to the table before we could continue.

The food was excellent, as I expected. We talked about everyday things, our interests, our families. I told them about my older sisters, and their family, all girls in both instances. They had no close family locally, and didn't go see them often. I don't think it bothered them much. Before the night was over, we had a date for a movie Saturday. I hadn't gone to a movie in ten years.

Report Story

byqhml1© 56 comments/ 46846 views/ 38 favorites

Share the love

Report a Bug

Next
4 Pages:123

Forgot your password?

Please wait

Change picture

Your current user avatar, all sizes:

Default size User Picture  Medium size User Picture  Small size User Picture  Tiny size User Picture

You have a new user avatar waiting for moderation.

Select new user avatar:

   Cancel