tagNovels and NovellasSouthern Comfort Ch. 01

Southern Comfort Ch. 01

byholliday1960©

Meeting someone is like walking into the middle of a story; one where there's no beginning that defines who the characters are. If you're sincerely interested, you have to stick around and read between the lines, as well as spend a lot of time listening. Only then will you begin to understand what drives people to be who they are.

This story is like that. You're walking into the middle of group of people who you don't know, so it is beyond any shadow of doubt, you will be spending a lot of time listening and reading between the lines in order to get to know them even a little. That is, if you're interested.

There's a small amount of humor, some romance, and yes, erotic moments. On the flip side, there's infidelity, deceit, and a few broken hearts. Life is like that. People are like that. They rise, they fall, and then they move on.


**********

In the late seventies, New Orleans was, and always had been, the darling of the south. There's a lot of history behind the 'Crescent City', some good, some bad, but all of it interesting. It's a big city made up of diverse cultures. People make New Orleans what it is; not the food, and certainly not the industries that support the area. But, people are its backbone, and there are a lot of them there.

I wasn't born there, so I wasn't considered a native. I was raised in the Deep South, and I came to New Orleans in the late seventies. I was married at the time, and had two very small children. My husband went to work in the oil industry, and like every other outsider, New Orleans adopted us into their family of what they referred to as 'oil-field trash'.

I held that honor for the duration of my short-lived marriage. That was, until I caught my husband cheating with more than half a dozen women, one of which was my best friend. Hell, everyone was cheating on someone in those days, but I was one of those young, naïve oil-field wives who didn't, or wouldn't, believe it could happen to me. Finding out about his infidelity changed my outlook on life in more ways than one.

Within two years, I found myself the divorced mother of two, and no longer in the protective circle of the other oil-field families. I was on my own, and I was scared to death, but I was determined not to go running back home with my tail tucked between my legs. That would have been admitting defeat, and I wasn't about to do that.

So, I moved in with another oil-field castaway, a divorced mother of two as well, and we toughed it out for a while together. We took turns babysitting and working. She worked days, and I worked nights. I was a cocktail waitress. I was married before I graduated high school, so I didn't have the experience to do much more than that. My experience was limited to being a wife and mother up until then.

Strangely enough, that combination of living with a friend who still had some connection with the oil industry, and taking a waitress' job afforded me the opportunity to meet a man. By coincidence, he worked with my roommate, and he drank for recreation at the lounge where I went to work. He was a nice guy; he was a very nice guy. We soon began dating.

It wasn't long before he asked me to move in with him. I think it was more for the sake of convenience than anything that prompted him to ask. Or, maybe he was just one of those nice guys who was prone to being a 'rescuer', and no one was more of the proverbial 'damsel in distress' than I was at that time. He stepped right into the shoes of husband and father without a second thought and without the actual benefit of a marriage license.

Within six weeks, things changed between us. He was still a nice guy, of course, but he focused more on being single than he did on being a live-in husband. He still went out with his friends nearly every night, and he didn't include me in those outings. It came to a head when he told me I needed to find my own friends, because I didn't fit in with his. He also told me that he didn't enjoy coming home to a wife who wanted to have sex every night. That was all I needed to hear.

I began to formulate a plan for moving out, but when he realized my intentions, he adamantly insisted that wasn't what he wanted either. He just wanted to be a devoted dad to my kids and for me to leave him alone otherwise. We declared a truce based upon what he said he wanted.

By late November, I decided to go back to school and earn a degree so I could eventually support my kids on my own. Roger was in favor of that to some extent. I wanted to go to law school. He agreed to pay for it on one condition. I had to take a two-year trade course and complete it first. I settled on legal secretarial school. At the same time, I traded my job for another higher paying one.

I took a part-time position at a local restaurant that specialized in decent food for an affordable price. It had a tavern with a large clientele comprised of both professionals and working class. They had live entertainment on weekends. I began working as a cocktail waitress with aspirations of moving up the ladder eventually.

It wasn't long before I fell into a short-term relationship with one of the band members. He also seemed to be a fairly nice guy, although much younger than was my taste in men. He was older than I was by only a year or two, but still, he was what I considered a kid since he had never been married or even in a stable relationship.

I didn't consider it cheating. By my estimation, cheating involved a partner or spouse who actually cares. That didn't apply in my case. The simple fact was, I didn't even consider it dating. It was just one of those things that happens. A fling. And, as much as he said he wanted it to be a permanent relationship, it was destined to end abruptly. One door closes, and thankfully, another door opens.

You are about to meet the doorman. Granted, none of us knew it at the time, but the door was a revolving one. People came and went through it often, and they all went their own directions eventually, but for a time, we seemed to congregate in one place, just for a few laughs and some good companionship.

It was a strange and unlikely man who held the door open for me. Ivan was a regular customer. He was thirty-eight, six-foot-three, black-haired, brown-eyed, with a well-groomed full beard. He was extremely handsome, and always impeccably dressed. I had become acquainted with Ivan under unpleasant circumstances a month prior to my break up with the member of the band. Ivan and I reluctantly became friends who loved to hate each other.

I looked up one night to find my service area filled by several large men. It made it difficult to maneuver around them and do my job efficiently, and it was compounded by the fact that they were grossly drunk and Ivan was going out of his way to harass me.

At first, Ivan merely introduced himself, but it progressed from there. He was leaned against the bar eyeing me every time I walked past. Next to him was a man who was another inch taller than Ivan, and if it is possible, who was better looking. The two of them looked so similar that they easily could have been brothers. In fact, I thought they were brothers. I heard them talking about me under their breath several times before Ivan made his first move.

"Hey, there. You're new, aren't you?" Ivan asked nonchalantly while chewing on a toothpick.

"Not really. I wasn't born yesterday. I'm almost twenty one," I said snottily without looking up. His companion chuckled lightly at my humor. I wasn't laughing. I was annoyed that they had set up housekeeping in my service area.

"Well, I'm Ivan. So, what's your name, honey?" he pressed. He was handsome, but not enough to excuse his drunkenness.

"Well, it's not honey, Ivan," I said shaking my head. "Ivan Hoe, just like out of the storybook, huh?" My sarcasm was only slightly veiled.

"What's your name?" Ivan demanded again, propping himself against the bar and undressing me with his eyes. I wondered what it was he thought he saw beneath my outrageously unfashionable uniform.

"My name is Cindy, Ivan Hoe." Maybe if I answered him, he would lose interest and go away. My feet ached already, and it was going to be a long night ahead.

"Well, Cindy, this is Jon. He's got the hots for you, but I told him you were already otherwise occupied." Ivan indicated the other man and grinned. Jon glanced at me, smiled, and dropped his gaze to the floor. Interesting response for someone who 'has the hots' for me, I thought.

"Nice to meet you, Jon," I said softly and quickly turned my attention back to Ivan. "So, you told him I was otherwise occupied, did you? What made you think that, Ivan Hoe?" I asked.

Jon laughed an uneasy laugh and stood up straight. I figured from his laugh he was at least sober enough to pick up on my current mood. Ivan clearly was not.

"Nothing really," Ivan shrugged.

"So, you just go around making it your business to stick your nose in my business? We just met, Ivan Hoe, so how would you know how I choose to occupy my fucking time?" I snapped.

It was Ivan's turn to stand up straight and he looked stunned for just a few seconds. Jon was laughing openly at my bravado. I took my tray and left to deliver another round of cocktails. When I returned a few minutes later, Jon was eyeing me with something akin to admiration. His smile was captivating and I wondered why I had never noticed it before. I'd seen him around a few times. Usually, with a different girl each time.

"Why are you being such a bitch, Cindy?" Ivan asked interrupting my thoughts. He was beginning to slur his words. The time for cutting him off was drawing closer by the minute. "Jon here just said he'd like to meet you, and I was only trying to do my brother a favor."

I put down my tray and looked straight at them both for the first time. "Are you?" I asked.

"Are I what?" Ivan was eyeing me in confusion.

"Are you brothers?" I asked. Jon burst into laughter, and Ivan's eyes got wide with surprise. They both grinned at me.

"Something like that. Yeah, he's my brother." Something in the way he said it made me think he wasn't strictly telling the truth. I was uncertain, and I never liked not being completely sure of myself about anything.

Ivan saw my frown and he suggested, "Let's try this whole thing again, shall we?"

"Do you think you can fuck it up any less the second time?" I asked. Jon doubled over in tears of mirth. I had embarrassed Ivan, at least temporarily, by besting him in a game of words.

He nudged Jon's arm and said with a frown, "I told you to forget that one. She's a real bitch. There are plenty of others around to choose from. Forget her!" He half turned his back in order to pretend he was ignoring me.

I wasn't about ready to let him dissuade Jon's interest in me at that point. I looked up at Jon and inquired, "Do you need another drink?" He nodded. "What are you drinking?"

"Screwdriver," he said. "Ivan will have one, too."

"I didn't ask about him," I said still frowning as I wiped my tray clean. "Mary, screwdriver, please?" Jon didn't see me when I held up two fingers to Mary the bartender. She acknowledged my order with a toss of her head.

"You're not being very nice," Jon said quietly chastising me. He had a voice like Tupelo honey. It oozed slow and sweet. It was sultry.

"Neither is your brother there. And, I offered to buy you a drink. Not him," I informed him.

"You're buying me a drink?" he asked with a shy smile. He seemed pleased by the gesture. His eyes sparkled with delight. Oh, those deep brown eyes!

"Yeah. I figure you need one to be able to contend with his ass," I snorted. "I would need a goddamned fifth myself, and I still don't think it would help."

Jon burst into laughter again and Ivan glared at me. He was paying attention after all. I paid Mary for the drinks and deliberately slammed one down on the bar in front of Ivan. The other, I wrapped neatly in a napkin and carefully handed it to Jon. He acknowledged my attention with another smile. I pondered how old this man might be. He obviously was quite a bit older than I was, and I found that more than a little attractive.

"You're married," Ivan said. It wasn't a question. It was a sound statement of fact. I wondered how he knew.

"Your point?" I asked snidely. The small stir of chemistry I felt in Jon's regard made me wish Ivan had left the subject of my marital status alone.

"I heard a nasty rumor that you're dating one of the guys in the band. Care to comment?" Ivan taunted me. Jon was looking at me, expectantly awaiting my response.

"Are you holding a press conference or something?" I asked, narrowing my eyes at Ivan. Jon observed our bantering by changing his expression to an only mild interest at best look.

"Yeah. I'm with the fucking AP. So, is it true?" Ivan inquired as he attempted to match the level of my sarcasm with his own.

"Nope! For the record, Mr. AP-man, I'm not dating a member of the band," I denied.

"No?" Ivan sounded incredulous. "I don't believe you, Cindy. I've seen you leave with him many times. Many, many times," he said stressing his words and sounding highly intoxicated. "You just won't tell the truth because you don't want that husband of yours to know." His attention was on his drink as he avoided looking at me to make his accusations.

"News flash, Mr. Reporter! If I were dating anyone, I wouldn't care what my husband knew or didn't know. Are you calling me a liar, by any chance?" I asked blinking innocently at him. I had surpassed being annoyed by Ivan's rudeness, and was well on the way to being openly pissed off by his meddlesome, drunken allegations.

Jon's smile vanished. He spread his hands wide and leaned on the bar as if he was trying to separate the two of us with his elbows. The tone of the conversation had progressed from sparring sarcasm to open hostility.

"Yeah, I'm calling you a liar, because you are dating him," Ivan snorted contemptuously.

"I don't lie, and I'm not dating anyone," I said coldly. I put my hands on my hips and didn't back down.

"You are!" Ivan insisted in a loud voice. His eyes were narrow and his tone completely accusatory. The verbal sparring must have sounded to others around us like a kindergarten dispute. I didn't care what Ivan thought, or other people around us...except maybe one. At this point, it was a far-fetched maybe.

Jon interjected in a calm voice, "Ivan, be cool, my friend. This little girl is just about to rip your head off your shoulders and shove it all the way up your ass!" Jon cut his eyes warily at me. Jon had an uncanny ability to not only read other people's posture and mannerisms, but he also was able to quickly defuse most potential confrontations as well.

"Well, she is dating him, Jon. I've seen her," Ivan protested. He was far too intoxicated to comprehend and heed Jon's warnings. Men have a certain loyalty to one another. I could hardly expect my word to be taken over the word of a close friend. There had to be at least an element of truth in what I said, and there had to be proof to back it up. Or, at least a witness to testify on my behalf.

"Look, Ivan Hoe, you haven't seen anything! I'm not dating him and I can prove it," I said with a snarl.

"Well, then, go ahead. Prove it!" Ivan challenged.

"Define date," I said smoothly.

"What?" Ivan asked in surprise.

"Are you completely stupid, Ivan Hoe? I said, define 'date'. What does one do on a date?" I goaded.

Ivan looked highly annoyed by my request. "Date. You know! Go out with a companion to dinner, or the movies. Shit! I don't know!" he said throwing his arms wide with exasperation.

"You heard him," I said to Jon. "To date: to go out to dinner or the movies as companions, right?" I asked Jon. He was giving me a rather suspicious look, but he did nod in agreement to my interpretation of Ivan's definition.

I turned, making a quick scan of the bar. My guitarist friend was walking through the room on his way to the bandstand. There was my witness, and hopefully, if I knew my friend very well, my proof would be either in his pocket or in his car. "Hey, babe! Come here a minute, will you?" I called out.

"That's the one," Ivan said in a low voice to Jon. "That's the one she's dating!" Jon nodded silently and stared down at the floor. He seemed poised for whatever may come. I don't know if they thought I was stupid enough to rely on one slender young man to defend my honor against the two of them or what, but they both looked uncomfortable with me summoning my friend as backup.

The guitarist approached. "What's up?" he asked slipping his arm around my waist as a demonstration of his masculine territorial claim.

"I need a little favor," I said as I made it a point to unwrap the young man's arm from around me. I could tell Jon noted how I casually disputed the young man's claim. Jon raised one eyebrow at me and tilted his head slightly. On the other hand, the young man didn't seem to notice at all.

"Name it," my young friend replied.

"You know Ivan and Jon," I said as if we all knew each other rather well. The guitarist nodded in confirmation. "Well, Ivan has been listening to what he calls 'some nasty rumors' about us," I explained. My young guitarist looked uneasy for a moment as he eyed the two massive men as potential adversaries.

"Ivan here thinks I'm 'dating' you. He has defined dating as us going out to the movies or dinner. I think you need to clear that up for him. Tell this bozo what we do when we leave here together, would you?" I asked sweetly.

My friend cocked his head at me and narrowed his eyes. "Seriously?" he asked. There was some trepidation and a lot of relief in his eyes that my only expectation was for him to do a little boasting.

"Ivan thinks I don't want my husband to find out that I'm dating you. I told him I'm not dating you. Tell him where we go, and what we do. Don't leave anything out, now," I urged.

My friend was more than ready for me to make our affair public. It was as if he wanted the pleasure of knowing that my husband, Roger, knew about us, and anyone else who might be willing to listen for that matter. He had never dated a married woman before. It was part of the basis for his attraction to me, and it stroked his ego to think I would be willing to go public, so he jumped at the chance to brag. "You're really serious?" he asked again.

"I'm really serious," I reaffirmed.

He grinned and put one arm across the shoulders of both Ivan and Jon. He pulled them close so no one else would overhear and he began to give them details of the previous night.

Within a few seconds, Ivan gasped out loud, "No fucking way!" Jon cut his eyes at me and nodded silently at what he was hearing. He looked a little doubtful, but I could see his interest was piqued.

The guitarist finished his recital of details and Ivan was standing there with his mouth open. He scrunched up his face and shook his head.

With the inspiration of youth, my guitarist reached in his pocket and withdrew a pair of my used panties that he collected as sexual trophies. He held them up first under Ivan's nose, then Jon's.

Sarge, another regular who had been eavesdropping on the conversation, snatched the panties from him and sniffed, then handed them back. "That's fucking awesome! There ain't nothing that smells any sweeter than that, honey!" he said to me with a nod of approval. I flashed him a smile and a knowing look.

My friend took the panties back and sniffed them once again before he returned them to his pocket. "Is that all you wanted?" he asked me. I nodded. He walked away happy that his secret conquest was now known.

Jon burst into laughter. "Ivan, by your own definition, that little girl just fucked you all up, my man! You owe her an apology. She's not dating him, she fucking his brains out!" Jon ridiculed Ivan. A rather crude but accurate description I thought.

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