Looking for a Frugal WomanbyEgmontGrigor2011©
Riley Hall found out his Australian wife of seven months intended to divorce him for 'irreconcilable differences' and he mused about that. He had no idea what her beef about difference problems with him were but she'd become a pain in the ass in recent months, at him all the time to work longer to earn more money to buy the things she wanted.
Jesus, what a selfish woman.
Anyway, she'd left the rented house, taking most of her things, leaving just junk, and taking some of their jointly owned things as well, like their car. The note she'd left pinned to the kitchen door by the carving note read: 'I'm leaving and will divorce you on the grounds of irreconcilable differences you lazy asshole with the brain of a bird and you scratch your balls too much for my likening. I blame my mother for this. She urged me to marry you, pretending I was pregnant. Good riddance. Unloved Diane.'
Well at least she had the decency to keep her blathering short.
Riley packed his things, called their joint solicitor to give her his mother's address in America where he could be contacted about the divorce.
"Diane has moved camp, taking our only asset which is our car, and left me a note saying she will be seeking a divorce because I don't earn enough money to finance her spending aspirations."
Julie said she had no knowledge of this and Riley said neither did he until he read the note half an hour ago.
"Well you can't just clear out Riley. We'll need you to complete the legal processes if Diane goes ahead with this threat."
"Tough. She can work through those problems without me. I'm not staying around here."
"Are you returning to America?"
"I haven't decided," Riley lied and cut the call.
He'd packed two bags and would leave everything else. Diane had wanted to rent the expensive property and proceeded to complete the rental agreement without his involvement so if she didn't keep on paying the rent, she'd be the one the debt collectors would chase.
He grinned and pocketing her note took a cab to the airport and to his delight secured a seat to LA on a flight leaving just after midnight.
At the airport, Riley paid to get a photocopy of the I'm-Divorcing-You letter and posted that with a signed and dated note to Julie stating that he consented to the stupid bitch Diane (nee Banks) Hall proceeding with her intention to divorce him but as she was the initiator it was up to her to meet all costs herself.
Riley walked into the house in Kansas next evening at dinner time and said, "Hi mom."
"Omigod it's Riley. Darling what a surprise."
"Are you here for money," his dad said suspiciously.
"And hi to you dad," Riley said as his mom rushed to hug him.
"I have no idea mom. She walked out unannounced and left a note saying she wants a divorce."
"Oh no you can't do that."
"Why not mom?"
"Because I want grandchildren."
Their only child grinned.
Five days later Riley (31), who'd been lecturing at university in Australia on American Literature, secured work as a subeditor on a small town newspaper and went to Innes Falls. The editor had studied Riley's web page and although believing Riley was over-qualified for the position, hired him because applicants were few and all who'd been interviewed so far were considered unsuitable, most never having worked on a newspaper before. It also helped that Joe Lind, the editor, knew Riley' father who published a smaller newspaper.
Innes Falls was a pretty town backing on to wooded hills and had a 27-mile long lake a one end. The river had been dammed to form that lake for the generation of hydro-electricity and that was the end of the town's falls and the bickering about the loss of that natural feature had continued for about forty years. But the old diehards had mostly died or moved on and the survivors found the younger generation wasn't interested in hearing about a natural feature now buried under 20 feet of water and tons of silt.
The Bugle was a lively morning newspaper that served three other communities and a large hinterland, with 55,000-plus copies being printed daily expect Sunday.
The thin, bespectacled and balding Joe Lind eyed his new recruit who had an athletic build, stood six feet and had blond curls and blue eyes.
"Your father told me you married in Australia, so where's your wife."
"We speak American here."
"Oh yes. She walked out on me and her whereabouts is a mystery to me."
"My wife and I are left with our youngest daughter who's looking for a husband."
"Sorry Joe, I have no desire to commit bigamy. Also I'm thinking of becoming celibate."
"That's not healthy Riley."
"Oh? Tell me about it?"
"Um that's the extent of my knowledge on that subject."
"But you want me to have sex with your daughter."
"Jesus Riley, my wife would lecture me if she thought I'd suggested that to you."
"Then what are your suggesting?"
Joe scratched his neck and said he suggested they continue with Riley' induction.
They toured the editorial department where Riley met Joe's youngest daughter Beth, who was news editor. She had a lovely manner and a great smile. But being 5 ft. 3 in. and perhaps 30 pounds overweight she fell outside of his concept of a sexually attractive woman. No doubt she had a good brain and possibly was a great cook and liked movies and watched sport on TV, but first things first.
The chief copy-editor Meg Peebles was thin but also sexually unattractive and was introduced as Beth's best friend. Meg appeared dour and rather listless but the other four in the subbing team, Maria, Ben, Mike and Katja greeted him enthusiastically because they'd been carrying the load of being one person down for almost five months. His impression of the big-boned and blonde Katja switched on his sexual antenna and that was good. To the delight of Riley he was paired with her.
"You may call me Cath if you have difficulty with my name," she smiled as he struggled to avoid looking at great cleavage.
He said he had no problem with pronouncing Katja and asked could she manage the name Riley and she smiled and said softly, "Welcome. It gets a bit dull around here."
Then she told him she had an 18-month daughter and lived with the father who was waiting for his divorce to become absolute before marrying her.
Still Katja appeared the best partner to work with on the subbing team. He made notes as Katja outlined their systems and deadlines, instructed where to find the electronic Style Book and then Beth took him off to an interview room used by reporters and briefed him in depth. She soon found he was aware of basic procedures, having worked for some years as a reporter and then as a copy-editor on his father's newspapers during his senior high school and college years.
"You are the only one of us that has a doctorate."
"Oh god, is that a handicap?"
She smiled and said of course not.
The subbing suite was in the open work-plan news room and their chief sat facing the team who were arranged in a tight semi-circle. Riley had not seen such a layout before and initially though they were seated too closely together but in time found it worked very well as none of them was the disruptive type and inter-communication was excellent due to that layout.
After lunch Beth took a call and walked over and handed her phone to Riley, saying. "It's mom". Presumably she meant her mom.
"Good afternoon Mr Hall. This is Kitty Lind, Joe's wife. I would be delighted if you could come to dinner on Saturday and enjoy time with us as part of your settling in at Innes Falls."
"Um yes I accept with delight Mrs Lind."
"Excellent and please call me Kitty," she said and gave him the address and time.
Basically the subs worked from 2:00 to 10:00, with one on rotation working from 4 to midnight with that late-finisher responsible to deal with late-breaking news and any glitches with editorial copy detected by production people. Because there was no newspaper on Sunday the subs had Saturdays off and one other day as well. Of course they all wanted Friday night or Sunday night off to give them a two-day break but their fairly regular other day off was arranged by negotiation with Beth who managed the roster. Riley was offered Monday or Tuesday nights and chose Tuesday as his second day off.
Riley had decided to resume writing his novel while living in relative isolation and not knowing know other people apart from those he worked with, although he anticipated that would change. But first was the need to find permanent accommodation.
The next morning he called at Sampson's Realty and the Realtor Mrs Sampson attended to him because her team of six people were all out or busy.
After qualifying him she smiled.
"I own a small property that could be exactly right for you. Come on."
Riley decided no way would he be shoveled into a dump that everyone else who'd been shown it had rejected.
He assumed Mrs Sampson was lying when she said, "This was my late father's hideaway very close to our home but because my four siblings and I were female, he acquired the land and built the cabin to give himself time away from mom and their five daughters. I've known Joe Lind since we were four and at college we were lovers and I was looking forward to the probability of marrying him when Kitty O'Neill caught his eye and that was the end of me. But we remained good friends. Kitty called me this morning and said you might drop in because we are just across the street from that cheap hotel where you are staying."
"God that's a homely thing to have happened to me."
"You'll love Kitty when you meet her. She's just the sweetest person you'll ever meet. She mentioned she'd meet you at dinner on Saturday and that's good for you because Kitty as a cook is legendary."
The cabin was inside city limits, beside the river and within a grove of trees that was part of a riverside reserve that included some sports grounds that occasionally became flood ponding area during exception rain but the cabin was on higher ground and had only been flooded once to Mrs Sampson's knowledge.
"Well what do you think?"
"Great location and I'll take it."
"I haven't mentioned the rent yet?"
"Mrs Sampson you appear to be a fair lady to me. Where do I sign?"
"Oooh and I like you. Please call me Cassandra. This cabin is a mess and I'll get a crew out here today to clean up. It will be ready for you from tomorrow night and so your rental week will start from the next day."
Riley was delighted. It was such a perfect setting for an author and a retreat to bring sexy women, especially if they were married and required absolute privacy. He thought if Kitty was such a lovely woman perhaps he should consider dating her wallflower daughter Beth to get regular access to Kitty's legendary cooking.
He was window shopping in the main street when a very attractive woman in a blue Fiesta tooted and waved. Riley assumed that was Kitty O'Neill. Oooh, she appeared worth dating. On Saturday evening Riley pushed the doorbell and heard light footsteps almost running. The door was flung open and the woman whom he'd seen waving on Tuesday came at him smelling of a perfume scented of lilies a smiling, holding out her hand to be shaken. Impulsively he hugged her and she patted his head and cooed, "Oooh you are the kind of man I like." That was said softly, not at all suggestive. Riley knew instantly he more than liked her.
"Come in and meet the family," she said.
The two other daughters were there with their husbands, all a little older that Riley, and Beth was there 'with her best friend' Meg and in time Riley recognized by the touches and long glances those two were lovers.
Joe took Riley's drink order (a beer) and Kitty took Riley's arm and led him over and introduced him to her friend Mabel Jack, husband Rory and their daughter Jennifer.
They appeared to be a nice couple but the daughter, Jesus. She was a real peach... peachy colored cheeks, fine blonde hair, amused blue eyes and, as far as he could see, a trim body.
"Hi Jennifer," he said, clasping her strong grip and not letting go instantly she eased her grip. "And what do you do."
"I'm an associate in my parent's law firm."
"Ah I'll need an attorney; is that why you are here?"
"Of course not. I would require a male as my attorney anyway."
The new frown was darker.
"But then again I am a big tease."
She smiled and her bemused mom said, "Well as an opening conversation, albeit mostly one-way, that would rate as original."
Jennifer asked, "Exactly was does a copy-editor do?"
Other conversations stopped and Riley knew he was now under deeper appraisal and decided not to pontificate.
"We stand between the sometimes grammatically suspect reporters and the more grammatically discerning readers, dress up their work to make it look interesting, look to detect inaccuracies or over-the-top statements in anything that comes before us and we hope to impress our beloved editor."
Jennifer said that was explicit.
"And what explicitly do you do in law Jennifer."
"I act as an intermediary between my clients and those who seek to punish them for misdemeanors. I operate at the low level of police apprehensions and court appearances at present."
"And where do you hope to end up?"
"As a senior partner in my parent's practice. And what about you, as an editor?"
"Working as a copy-editor is fine at the moment but I intend returning as a senior lecturer at university level in American literature and work for promotion. Either activity fits in with my plan to return to complete my novel."
And that brought everyone into the conversation about the unfinished novel.
Answering three questions, Riley said he was thinking of abandoning 'Josh Smith's Final Stand.'
"You see I have returned from Australia where I went to lecture and while there married an Australia girl seven months ago. She's now divorcing me, being unsatisfied that I refused to take a night job so I could earn more to pay for her increasingly expensive lifestyle. I'm now thinking of basing a novel loosely on that experience."
"Do you have a working title in mind for that," asked one of Beth's sisters.
"I do and it's for a novel based largely on what happens to the poor guy as he attempts to move forward from the collapse of his short marriage. It will be 'Looking for a Frugal Woman'.
They all laughed and Riley said, "Right, that's enough about me."
Two days later Jennifer called Riley and invited him to lunch that day.
He agreed and in surprised ask how did she get his cell phone number?
"Don't you remember Kitty asking you for it at dinner on Saturday?"
"Ah yes just as I was leaving. She would have been aware I hadn't made a move on you."
"Oh that's very astute. Yes she invited me to dinner to be introduced to you."
"Well I'm happy about that."
"Thank you," Jennifer laughed and ended the call after telling him where to meet.
Lunch was a friendly meeting and he did say he would make an appointment soon to sign on as a client.
"What about my mother or father or one of the associates?"
"It's you I want."
"Oooh. Um Riley, I'm an upfront sort of person. I have been dating the same guy for almost four years."
"Lucky you," he smiled and soon after that she said she must get back to the office.
"This is on me," she said as she stood and grabbed the bill.
"Thanks," he smiled and moved in and kissed her, noticing she didn't look at all surprised that he did that and he felt her kissing back.
"Yes I'd like that," she said.
He went off to the newspaper offices feeling a little gutted but a couple of days later Kitty called him and asked how he was settling in.
"I heard today you and Jennifer met for lunch."
"Yeah and it went well, as far as I'm concerned, until she told me she has a long-term boyfriend."
"That could mean nothing Riley. What I'm about to tell you is between you and me. I suggest if you are interested you apply a little pressure. Her mom says Jennifer is not fully satisfied with Byron and that's why they romance has stalled."
"Thanks for telling me that. Do you date Kitty?"
She laughed, sounding very pleased with him and said, "That's enough of that you naughty young man."
Next morning a courier van arrived and the woman driver said as he came out of the cabin, "Omigod, what a wonderful retreat amid suburbia. You have it made young man."
"Thanks," he said, signing for the box.
He unpacked six jars of preserved peaches, four jars of strawberry jam, two tins of home-made cookies, a bottle of vodka and a bottle of vermouth and three packs of mixed nuts.
At the bottom of the box he found a note: "Welcome to the neighborhood you sweet man. Jennifer drinks vodka martinis. Kitty."
Jesus. Suddenly he didn't feel so much alone.
Emotionally revived, Riley booted his laptop and headed the start of his novel, 'Looking for a Frugal Woman.'
He began: 'Frugal: Thrifty, prudent. Opposite of extravagant.'
Moving down he wrote CHAPTER 1 and began with something that had been running through his head, a guy living in a foreign land being devastated to learn in a note left by his runaway wife who was becoming increasingly extravagant in her ways that she had dumped him and would seek a divorce.
As the day warmed, Riley moved outside under the shade of a tree where from the picnic table he overlooked the 50-yard wide brownish flow of water that came from the spillway of the dam five miles to the north. He smiled thinking if that dam ever collapsed he was done for but then so would many other people in low-lying areas of the city. From what he knew, the risk was negligible.
The following morning he began looking for a vehicle and by lunchtime possessed a low-mileage black Dakota ST 4x4 pickup purchased from the Dodge dealership half a mile away from the newspaper offices. His thinking was single men were comfortable driving pickups and if Jennifer didn't want to ride in a pickup they could use her vehicle. He called her and left a message.
Jennifer called back and said hi, it was good to hear from him.
"How are you settling in?"
"Fine but I'm a bit lonely."
"Oh um perhaps I could find one of my girlfriends who..."
"I want you Jennifer. But leaving that aside for the time being, I have a dinner break at 6:00. Could we meet at a bar this evening and...?"
"Yes, Frank's Place is near you. Would that suit?"
"Yes fine, I know where it is."
"I could be a little late but will be there."
She arrived dressed in a black business suit and when she sat on a bar stool facing him, Riley could see above the stocking tops to confirm she wasn't wearing tights. He was sure Jennifer had seen the longish glance but she made no effort to close her legs or to swing round to face the bar.
"You are looking very beautiful."
"Thanks Riley. I suppose you think we'd make a handsome looking couple?"
"I've thought about it. What about you?"
She looked away and their drinks arrived.
"You don't mind me not drinking from a glass?"
"No it's fine."
"So you have thought about being with me."
"I take it that's a yes."
She shifted uneasily and then smiled.
"Can we continue as friends if you push relentlessly like this?"
"Come and see the cabin and decided if you would feel comfortable moving in with me."
"Riley please. I might date you but I have no intention of moving in with you."
"How old are you?"
She smiled and set she bet he already knew and had studied her website. He said ah so she had studied his website and she looked away.