Esther and Me Ch. 04bySlirpuff©
I dragged myself up into a sitting position and rubbed my eyes finally looking at my watch, seven thirty. Then I saw her. She was still asleep in the lounge chair next to mine under a blanket. I looked at her and thought back to last night and cringed. I didn't remember much from the last couple of hours but did remember in vivid detail our last conversation and wasn't looking forward to what I figured was going to be the conversation this morning.
I thought about all my options listing them in my head: getting another room, packing up and catching a flight out at today's port of call, or just toughing it out for the last four days together, that last one wasn't too appealing to me.
When she started to stir I ran out of time to think of any others.
"Are you alive?"
"Define alive. I'm upright, breathing, but have one hell of a hang over, besides that I'm not sure."
"I waited in our room and when you didn't make it back by twelve I got two stewards to help me find you. I got scared because I didn't think you were even breathing when we found you. They said you were passed out and got me a couple of blankets. Don't ever do that again, you hear me?"
"What do you mean, why?"
"It's not a hard question or it didn't use to be anyway."
"I care about you, that's why," she replied.
"Like you care about a pet or something like that?"
"I think you're still drunk because you are not making any sense."
"Catherine, what are we? We use to be lovers and I thought much more, but after three days on this cruise I'm not so sure anymore. I'm just too old to be playing cat and mouse games. I've told you more than once how I feel about you, and if you don't feel the same way oh, well. Life is too short for me to be pining over some woman who doesn't return my feelings. I think it would be wise if we just part now and this way we can still remain friends before something else happens between us and I end up angry like I was last night."
"Are you sure that you only hurt your ankle when you fell that first day and not your head too? I do love you, how can you doubt that? I'm not the type of girl who jumps into bed with the first guy I meet if you haven't noticed."
"But, for the last few nights you've ignored me over your new party group. I meant it when I said I knew how you must have felt when your husband was hitting on all those other women. There have been four or five guys hitting on you for the last three days if you haven't noticed. There's one thing I've realized about myself, I'm a very selfish and jealous lover."
"Steve, there are six and you don't have to worry about any of them."
"Please, don't talk to me like I'm some sort of naïve kid. I saw you." She was now laughing and looking at me.
"I don't think it's very funny," I said getting angry all over again.
"Steve, they are all gay. They are dance instructors from Minneapolis, Denver, and Newark. And if you haven't noticed, there are ten other couples with them floating around."
"Don put together this little group and he wasn't checking me out, he was probably looking at you." She started laughing all over again. "You can imagine their surprise at your little outburst last night. When they asked if I had told you they were gay, I said it had never really come up. I like to dance, and who better than with a gay dance instructor." She continued laughing.
"Look, I love you and want to be with you but how we're going to figure it out I don't have a clue. So, if you're done being angry with me, I know something we haven't done much of since we got on this damn boat and I'm about to change that right now." We passed on the ruins and spent the rest of the day in our cabin.
I can attest to the fact that two people can fit in one of those little showers but it does flood the bathroom. By the time we were dressed for dinner we'd completely run out of clean towels.
That night at dinner, she was wearing a dress that hid almost nothing and all, and I do mean all, the men in the dining room looked when she walked by. When she smiled and whispered that she wasn't wearing any underwear I did a quick feel just to check. She parted her legs slightly and I copped a feel of her warm bald mound. I got a hard-on. The food was great as usual and the conversation lively until we got to the dessert, then I took it up a notch. She turned her head to talk to the woman next to her and on her empty plate I put the ring box. To my horror when she turned around Catherine didn't even notice, but almost everyone else at our table did. I tried to hold my excitement in.
When they started to bring out the desserts she finally looked down at her plate. I made sure I wasn't looking at her when she opened the ring box and went nuts. She grabbed me, kissed me, and jumped onto my lap. I stood her up, dropped down on one knee, and proposed—she teared up.
"Yes, yes, hell yes," came out of her mouth. Everyone at our table, and every table around us, started to clap and congratulate us. Someone ordered a couple bottles of champagne and we closed up the dining room.
She never took her eyes off that ring. It was white gold, a little over three quarters of a karat, and had baguettes on both sides. When we passed the club she told me to wait there for one minute. Six loud and crazy guys came running out, talking all at once and shaking my hand.
"You are one lucky guy, you know that?" one and all told me. I agreed and apologized for my outburst the night before. By the time we walked away we were all friends again.
I looked at her. "Gay?"
"Gay!" she replied for the second time.
"In a dark corner on an isolated deck she rode me while I did my best to get her off. With both breasts in my hands and her grinding her pussy onto my dick we both succeeded in christening that lounge chair. In the background I could hear the outdoor movie playing, but we were creating our own love scene in a movie staring us. One couple happened to walk by when we were almost there. Embarrassed his girl looked away, but he smiled and gave me a thumbs up. Afterwards we kissed on that lounge chair for the next half hour before retiring to our room.
I wanted to make love out on the balcony but she said doing it in a chair didn't appeal to her much but would think about it for maybe tomorrow night. We did, however, talk until the wee hours of the morning about the who, what, where, when, and why of our relationship and life together. Since we were going to do this, we just had a lot of details to figure out. We missed breakfast again that morning.
In shorts, tee shirts, and flip-flops we hit the Lido Deck for breakfast instead. We ate inside and even though we were in a corner booth, more than one person came up and congratulated us on our engagement.
"Why don't we both quit work and live on love?" I suggested.
"We could have done that if we were in our twenties, but now it would be a little tough." We did decide that we both wanted to be as close to the beach as possible, but the condo route didn't appeal to either one of us.
We may not be able to get exactly what we want, but in essence we wouldn't need much for just the two of us. Two bedrooms, one bath and a large deck sounded good to me. However, she said we had to have a pool with a screen enclosure to keep the bugs out and a hot tub would be a nice touch.
"You know my mom's not going to be too surprised, She's been throwing us together since before I even came down." I laughed at that.
"That's Esther. She gets what ever she wants one way or another."
"I guess I'm like my mother in that regard," she said squeezing my hand. "I got what I wanted." We kissed again or should I say still.
At dinner we were still the big news in the dining room. The captain and the dining room steward came over and personally congratulated us. For dessert they came out with a cake with both of our names on it. The taste was something out of heaven as one and all marveled at what a good cake it was. We shared what was left with the table right next to ours and one couple said they were going to get re-engaged if we could get another cake that tasted that good.
We spent the last two days eating each other up. Catherine was going to have to fly home the morning after we got back, and I was due at work first thing Monday morning. We wouldn't have much more time together.
I was in no hurry to get off the boat. We picked up our luggage and loaded up and were on the road within an hour. Our hands never left one another's. I pulled up at Esther's shortly after one and it seemed that they were expecting us because they were in the living room just talking.
"We broke up mom. We decided that neither one of us could handle a long distance romance without going nuts. Maybe in a couple of years we'll think about it again," she said before she burst out laughing and ran up to her mother to show her the ring. Lucy just smiled.
We ate a light lunch because after eating everything that wasn't nailed down on the cruise, I would have to lose a couple of pounds. She relayed events of our cruise including my little outburst at her new gay friends.
"Steve, I'm surprised you didn't punch them out," Esther exclaimed. "My husband would have. He would never have put up with that shit she put you through. Now the big question, when do I plan for this wedding?" We looked at one another.
"Mom, that's the ten thousand dollar question. We still haven't even figured out how and where we are going to live much less get married."
"Well I'm not getting any younger, and wouldn't you feel just crunchy if I died before the two of you got hitched? I don't see the big deal. It's not like we're going to invite a million people. Steve has a couple of kids and some friends and all your family is down here. I figure fifty people tops and shit, we could do the whole thing here at the house if you wanted to." That wasn't a bad idea I thought to myself. A weekend wedding and we could always go on our honeymoon later, just not a cruise. There was no way anyone, gay or straight, was getting within ten feet of my bride this time. We spent the night in bed talking about just that.
"Easter weekend," we told them at breakfast. "We both get Good Friday off and we can get married on Saturday," Catherine told her mom. "This way everyone will be off and we'll take our honeymoon in June." The date was set and plans went into motion.
Esther was in seventh heaven with her, Catherine, and Lucy planning the wedding. I gave them free reign and let Catherine deal with her mom about the details. I told my kids and they said that they would for sure be there. They planned to stay with their mother, and no, she wasn't invited.
Within a month all the plans were made. The food, the cake, the D.J., the Justice of the Peace, and even the bartender were all locked up. We got our marriage license and all we had left was to wait for the date.
I was spoiled having her next to me every day on the cruise. Looking at one another on the computer screen was okay, but not like the real thing. I did sneak up three weekends later to surprise her when she got off work. We spent the weekend in bed and lived on love, Pizza Hut pizza, beer, and wine. I was counting down the days.
Esther was like the Esther of old, full of piss and vinegar taking no prisoners. We went up to the town square and she made it a point to tell one and all that her daughter was marrying a true hunk and the best guy on, "two fucking legs," as she put it. Sarah never once came over to congratulate me. I think the reason was obvious. The closer it came to the wedding the more tired Esther looked. I got concerned that she was overtaxing herself, but she said that she hadn't felt this alive in years.
"What can I do to help?" was the only statement out of my mouth to Lucy. "I don't want this wedding to kill her, do you understand?"
"Steve, everything's already done. The only thing everyone has to do is show up. I've got it on auto pilot as we speak."
"It's just that she looks weak and tired again, and I'm concerned."
"You and I should look so good at eighty-eight. Listen, I told you before, the doctor is doing everything modern medicine can do and I'm not even waking her up from her afternoon naps anymore. She needs more rest but she's fighting me tooth and nail. Something about getting all the rest she needs after she's dead and gone." I told Lucy I'd talk to her at dinner tonight.
"Mom, you're starting to look a little peeked, you feeling all right?"
"I can still run circles around you and don't get me started about being able to drink you under the table. Don't fret, I've got a damn wedding to attend and don't worry, I'm not going to fucking die on you just yet." She still had that gentle way of telling you she was doing just fine. I let it drop but kept an eye on her.
"What the fuck is this shit, near beer?" she screamed at me Saturday night. "This crap tastes like warm bunny piss."
"Esther, do you even know what bunny piss tastes like?"
"Fucking right I do, just like this shit. Now dump this O'Doul's out and get me my Bud." I did as ordered but only gave her one tonight which didn't set well with her either.
It was drizzling rain the day of the wedding. I wore a suit but no tux and Catherine wore an almond colored floor length dress that fit every curve of her body to a tee. Up at the makeshift altar I quietly asked if she was wearing panties. She just smiled and said I'd have to find out for myself.
With the 'I do's' done the party began. We took enough pictures to make an album of memories that would last us a lifetime. I especially made sure we had a good one of her mom and us, and one with just the two of us we could put on the mantel. My kids were happy for us and welcomed Catherine into the family. Lucy watched Esther like a hawk and I did something of a dance with her in her wheelchair. She had tears in her eyes when she told us how happy she was for us and that she could now die a happy woman. We both told her that she'd probably out live the both of us but looking at Lucy I weren't too sure.
When I told her that I was looking at a place I thought she'd have a coronary.
"What, you come in here, knock up my daughter and leave?"
"Catherine's a little old for me to knock up, and I think I've sponged off you long enough."
"You're family, for Christ's sakes. Who in the hell am I going to party with? Lucy? Hell, she's a lightweight at best. You're staying right here and I don't want to hear another word about you leaving." I called Catherine.
"Steve, if she wants you to stay why don't you just stay, at least for the time being. Also, Lucy said Mom is still not looking good and I'm a little concerned. Besides, if you're there I'll sleep a lot better knowing you can take care of any emergency. How are you holding up?"
"Besides walking around with a constant hard-on, no real problem."
"You got spoiled that week on the cruise." I couldn't argue with her about that.
"I've got a realtor keeping an eye out for a small place on or a block away from the beach. I gave her a fifty-mile range we'd be interested in so if she finds something I'll have her e-mail you a picture. I miss you," I told her.
"I miss you too but it won't be forever and besides, doesn't absence make the heart grow fonder?"
"Not in my book." She laughed and told me to take a cold shower. "Maybe we can do another video, if you know what I mean." I reminded her of that option.
"You dirty boy. I give you a little taste and now you want a regular diet of it. Maybe this weekend if you're good." I couldn't wait.
Two weeks later Esther, Lucy, and I were back in Orlando for a follow-up visit with her specialists.
"She needs more rest and if she doesn't get it, I'm going to have to admit her," the doctor told Lucy and me. "Her sugar level is way too high and she's two pounds down from the last time I saw her. Tell her lay off the beer and get her to eat more." I guess the doctor didn't know Esther very well.
A cup of hot green tea after dinner didn't sit well with her. She wanted her Bud.
"Look, Mom, if we don't put some weight on you and get your sugar in check the doctor is going to put you in the damn hospital. You want that?"
"Fuck them all. I'm not going to live forever, but I'm not going out eating mush and drinking Jap juice. Now bring me a damn beer." I brought her half a glass of Bud light.
Catherine flew down to look at two places the realtor had come up with but neither one suited us. We set up a few new parameters and told her to try again, but Catherine said she wouldn't be opposed to maybe a townhouse. We had a nice visit and tried to cram a week into two days. She left bow legged but smiling.
The heat of the summer was now gone and with it went Esther's health. I gave Catherine updates every other day and even Lucy was concerned, although she tried to never show it. After a couple of huge arguments they admitted her into the hospital for nothing more than observation. She was still losing weight because her appetite was almost totally gone. When they put in a feeding tube I thought she'd have a cow.
Somewhere around nine o'clock on a Thursday night I was reading a car magazine and sitting next to her bed; I thought she was sleeping when I felt a bony hand on my arm.
"I told you I had plans for you but you never believed me, did you?" she said in a feeble voice but with a saucy smile. "You may not believe it, but Mother still knows best. You two make a nice couple, and for the first time since I met you, I know you're happy."
"And I guess I can thank you for that," I added. "Now, why don't you go back to sleep before I have one of those nurses slip a sleeping pill down your feeding tube."
"I'd rather you poured in a Bud." We exchanged smiles.
I bent over and kissed her forehead. I told her I wasn't going anywhere and would be there when she woke up. With a gentle squeeze of my hand and a weak smile she closed her eyes.
I didn't want to make the call that morning. I still had tears in my eyes and had been up with Lucy all night in the hospital. I called a friend and had him take Lucy back to the house. She was totally drained and void of any emotions after a long night. I told Lucy I'd see her sometime later.
"Hi Babes," Catherine said all bubbly. "Thinking about me? I sure as hell thought about you last night. I think I burned up two batteries last night alone."
There was no easy way to say it. "Hon, your mom passed away last night." I heard the phone hit the floor. There were sobs then crying. Finally I heard her ask how and when.
"She died in her sleep last night. There was no pain. We were talking and when I told her to go to sleep she closed her eyes and never woke up. There is a ticket waiting for you at the Southeastern desk at the airport. The earliest flight out was two o'clock this afternoon. I'm so sorry, Hon, I just don't know what to say. Please take a cab to the airport, I don't want you driving and I'll meet you when you arrive." We talked for a few minutes more before she reminded me she had to go and make plans to leave. I called her every hour until she got on the plane.
Her makeup was all gone when she ran into my arms. Even though we all expected it sooner or later, it didn't make it any easier. She cried on my shoulder, and I did my best to be strong for her but was dying myself inside. I handed her my handkerchief and we drove in silence to the house.
Esther had all ready planned her own funeral knowing that everyone would be a wreck. The funeral home picked up the body by nine the next morning. They told us that Catherine could see her mother the following morning but to please call first. Lucy showed me the contents of a large manila envelope Esther had given her to give to me just in case. The casket, the plot, and even the newspaper release were all done. The only thing I didn't touch was a thick envelope with Catherine's name on it. On the top it said, Please Read When Alone.