The Outsider Ch. 26bycaligula97236©
Chapter 26 -- Ruthie's only choice
Throughout April, Mike quietly continued driving Sam's truck around campus and collecting money from meters. It was a routine that he started to enjoy, apart from the extra income that he was taking in. He spent his afternoons listening to news on the radio, took breaks when he wanted, and spent most of his time working alone. He could certainly see why Sam had no ambition to do anything else, because it was not a high-pressure life.
Nevertheless, Mike realized that he would need to start taking a ticketing machine with him, because the freeloaders of Lot Econ-A had noticed that he no longer was out there to harass them. Meter collections began to drop as students returned to the lot and found their cars had been parked all day and were not ticketed. No, that wouldn't do. Those meters were Mike's main source of personal income and those little bastards had no right to just sit there and not pay. Starting on the fifth week of Sam's vacation, Mike always took a ticketing machine with him when he worked the meters and spent as much time writing tickets as he spent emptying canisters. He started working hard again, not because of his old determination to persecute the rich crowd, but because he wanted to make sure the meters (especially the ones that were jammed) always got paid.
During the sixth week of Sam's absence, Mike accelerated both his ticketing and his collections. He figured out how to jam meters himself without making it look suspicious, and in doing so took in an extra couple hundred dollars per day. He assumed that Sam would be back next week and with his co-worker's return, his "perk" would come to an end.
It turned out Sam wasn't coming back. The department director took advantage of his absence to force him into retirement. Over the next several weeks Mike would hear enough rumors and gossip to figure out that Sam was forced out because of his health insurance premiums, which had been set up decades before during a time there still was money in personnel budgets for that type of thing. It was ironic that had Sam known about the health insurance issue, he easily could have paid the premiums from the money he was taking out of the meters. However, because the manager considered Sam an honest and loyal employee, he assumed that there was no way Sam had the extra income needed to pay those high premiums. It was easier to push him into retirement.
Mike was aghast when he realized what the department had done to his mentor. He also felt very guilty about his role in facilitating Sam's removal, because it was obvious that he had been selected not to assist Sam, but to replace him. Neither Mike nor Sam had any clue that was what had been plotted in the front office. When he found out the full story, he wanted to call Sam and apologize, but...apologize for what? That he had been the mope who was used by the director to make sure Sam could be pushed out the door?
Mike knew that the department, on paper at least, would save a bundle by replacing Sam with a student employee. Mike's pay went up only slightly and he was not eligible for any benefits. Also, Mike would be even easier to replace than Sam if he ever ended up costing the department too much in wages.
Throughout the final weeks of the semester Mike noticed that two other older employees of the parking department had disappeared, also forced into retirement, no doubt. By the beginning of May noticed that the dispatcher was not her usual smirky sarcastic self. At the end of the semester, she too would be gone.
Because Mike was more observant than most of the other student employees, he could understand how truly corrupt the parking department was. The department was a money-making machine, and yet it did not share any of its income with the rest of the university. Obviously a huge amount of money had been spent to build the parking garage, but a lot of that expense had been funded with credit and not paid up front. As for everything else...the parking trucks were old and in poor condition, the meters were all older (which was part of the reason some of them were always jammed), and the parking lots received only minimal maintenance. So where was all the money going? Not to the employees, that was for sure, because the students were earning barely more than minimum wage and had no benefits. Well, conditions in the main office totally contrasted with what was outside. The secretaries had the newest computers and office furniture and the director had an oak desk. Mike started noticing what the office staff was driving to work. All of them had very nice cars. So...that was what the efforts of Mike and his co-workers were paying for: a fancy office and fancy cars for the director and his favorite staff members. As Sam had said:
"Ain't spending it on us, that's for sure."
So... at the beginning of the seventh week of Sam's absence, Officer # 36's temporary assignment became permanent. Permanent, in a manner of speaking, because he could be dismissed at any moment. But, as long as he could hold onto his job, Mike would grab as much money as he could and pad his savings. He wouldn't think about the future, because the future would come soon enough. He would concentrate on the money, because to have money was to have power and control over one's own fate.
As he stared at the growing stacks of rolled quarters hidden in the wardrobe of his dorm room, a thought crossed his mind: the possibility of helping his dad make mortgage payments. Why not? If he continued with his new gig into the foreseeable future, why couldn't he use some of those quarters to give back to his dad?
Mike pondered what to do. The problem with helping his parents was that Mr. Sinclair would want to know where he was getting the money. If he suspected that Mike was obtaining his money from doing something illegal, he would angrily refuse it. Mr. Sinclair always had been scrupulously honest and would berate his son for touching "dirty money". There was some hypocrisy in his attitude, because of what he was planning to do to his lender when they foreclosed. However, he considered his slight-of-hand with the "underwater mortgage" payback to an economic system that had betrayed him, and thus different from what his son was doing: stealing money outright.
Still, it was a relief for Mike to think that he no longer was worried about his own finances and instead had enough money to start worrying about those around him. Another pleasant thought occurred to him: he now was in a position to help his girlfriend. If she wanted to, Ruthie could tell Jake Burns to go fuck himself. At the rate he was bringing in money, Mike would have enough to pay her tuition as well as his own and still have plenty to spare. As for living in the dorm next year, there would be no need for that. He'd get an apartment and simply have her move in with him.
Ruthie did notice the ongoing change in her boyfriend's fortunes. Now, if he wanted something, he bought it. If she wanted something, he bought it. That became especially apparent when Mike and Ruthie went to his parents' house to celebrate Easter and Mike treated his entire family to a catered Easter dinner. The food was the best food anyone sitting at the table had eaten for a long time and must have cost Mike a small fortune. Ruthie noticed that her boyfriend's parents were grateful for their son's generosity. However, they also appeared bewildered concerning where he could have earned the money. Mike sensed his father's unease, so he talked about the change of assignment at his job as though it were a major promotion and told them that he had received a big raise.
Ruthie wondered what really was going on at Mike's job, because back in January Mike had mentioned that he was working with one of the older employees and it did not seem like his meter job was that big of a deal. Now all of a sudden it was a big deal, and there was no further mention of that older co-worker. She knew that something was going on.
However, she decided not to confront him about it. It was nice to see him not so bitter about his life, and even nicer to be dating a person that had some money and was willing to spend it on her. There was one favor in particular that convinced her to not ask questions. A few days after Easter, she had a bad toothache. Two mornings later he drove her to Santa Cruz and took her to his dentist. It turned out she needed two fillings. Ruthie objected, knowing that there was no way she could afford two fillings and X-rays. The hygienist gave her a strange look.
"Ms. Burns, it's been taken care of. Your boyfriend just paid."
"He did? How much was it?"
The hygienist looked at her clipboard. "Looks like it was $ 537 dollars."
"...and he paid it? All of it? Just like that?"
"Yes. Paid in cash. Why? Is there a problem?"
Ruthie shook her head. Bewildered by her boyfriend's generosity, she lay back in the chair and winced as the Novocain was injected into her jaw.
As April progressed and the end of the semester loomed ever closer, Ruthie understood how totally dependent she had become on Mike. There was no way she had wanted that to happen, but it seemed that her life had not given her any choice. All of her attempts to reach out to anyone other than her boyfriend were rebuffed. Most people were not nearly as rude to her as Shannon had been, but it was clear that everyone Ruthie talked to, especially other college students, simply were not interested in getting to know her.
She knew that there were guys who would have been interested in her, but only for the same reason that piece of shit at Junior Prom had been interested in her. She knew that she was physically attractive and that there were guys who would have brushed aside her creepy personality if they could use her for their own sexual relief. She wanted no part of that. The squalid experience on that dirt road two years before was a sufficiently painful lesson for her. There was no way she'd want to risk going through that again.
There were women that Ruthie looked at longingly. Jen was the one she was most attracted to, but there were others. She understood there was not a chance she'd ever connect. One unpleasant incident at the student center stood out in her mind; that involved a female customer who periodically bought coffee at Ruthie's shop. The student sat down to drink her coffee just before Ruthie went on break, so Ruthie took her snack and took a seat at the next table. She sat admiring the other woman, working up the courage to try to talk to her. Suddenly the customer stood up, approached Ruthie, and snapped:
"You got a fucking problem?"
Ruthie blushed, but was so shocked that she couldn't answer. She just shook her head.
"Then you need to stop staring at me!"
The other girl walked off and Ruthie never saw her again. It was a minor incident, but one that left her badly shaken.
So that was it. Guys didn't interest her, she could not connect with any of the women she liked, and she was becoming increasingly distant from her family...as though she were ever all that close to them anyway. She was totally alone, except for a single person who cared about her.
Mike was the only one...
At the end of April, Ruthie received a call from her mother. She was surprised, because the two women had not spoken to each other for over a month, not since the conversation when Ruthie "came out" as an atheist. When she picked up her cell phone, Ruthie tensed up, torn between wanting to make up with her mother and wanting to be firm with her opinions about religion.
To Ruthie's surprise, the topic of religion never came up. Doña Lisette had other things to worry about. Ruthie's grandfather had fallen ill, was bedridden, and required constant care. As the only daughter in the family, the responsibility fell on Doña Lisette to return to Culiacan and care for her invalid father. Of course Ruthie's cousin Alex already was right there living in his grandparents' house, but there was not a chance in Hell he'd demean himself by doing something useful for his family.
At any other time Doña Lisette would have tried to find another solution for her father's care, but at that moment she had nothing to keep her in the US. Her possessions were gone, she was estranged from her daughter, and it was very likely she'd finally be laid-off from her job by the middle of the summer. As far as she was concerned, it was time to go home.
Ruthie was trying to recover from that shock when her mother hit her with another piece of bad news. Gerardo's baby was in coma and was not expected to survive more than another day or so, which was the reason she was calling. Doña Lisette wanted Ruthie to go with her to the funeral, since that probably was going to be the last time she would have a chance to see her brother and her daughter in the same place. Ruthie responded:
"Mom...of course I'll be there. Why wouldn't I go?"
"I don't know about you, Ruthie. That's why I had to call you and ask. I never know what you're going to do. I don't really feel that I know you. You're my daughter, but I don't know who you are."
No Mom, you really don't know me, thought Ruthie to herself. You never knew me. You never understood me, and it was the same with me and you. Our worlds are different. We'll never understand each other, but that's no one's fault. I guess it was too bad that we got separated when I was a little kid...I know that didn't help any. I know you tried with me. You did what you could, and maybe I didn't turn out so bad...not like Alex...but we're strangers, and we always will be strangers.
She would have wanted to say some of that, but all she could get out was:
"Mom...I'll be there, OK? I'll be there. You don't have to guilt-trip me about it."
A funeral is never a pleasant event, and certainly if the ceremony is to commemorate the death of an infant, that makes a funeral considerably worse. However, the baby's funeral was exceedingly somber for another reason, because it seemed to be, in a way, a funeral for the entire family. Ruthie's relatives would be going their separate ways as soon as the ceremony was over. Her mother was going to back to Mexico, her cousins Rosa and Alex already were absent, and Ruthie had heard a rumor that Gerardo and his wife were splitting up. As for herself, she had always been the outlying member of that family, the one who really never fit in. She was going away too, because with her mother departing for Mexico, she would never again have any reason to set foot in Salinas and had no intention of doing so. Whatever the future held for her, it would have to be somewhere else.
Ruthie's mother was not leaving for Mexico until the following day, but Ruthie decided to say goodbye to her after the funeral had ended and return to Davenport. They hugged each other for the last time. Whatever they needed to say to each other would remain unsaid.
That night, Ruthie decided it was time to share her darkest secret with Mike. She put her bath brush in her backpack and went over to his room. The two students stripped off their clothes and Mike assumed that they would be massaging each other shortly and that either he would get to enter her or would have to settle for a hand-job. Instead, Ruthie laid the bath brush on the spare desk next to her computer. Already Mike suspected what she wanted him to do with it, but Ruthie said nothing. Instead she told him to turn on his computer and handed him the thumb-drive she had taken to Dr. Hartman's office a few weeks earlier.
"I'm gonna trust you with something. It's something that no one, except my counselor, knows about."
Mike looked at the pictures in amazement. Ruthie noticed that, when he was about a fourth the way through, his penis started to stiffen. He was embarrassed, but he couldn't help himself. A lot of the pictures were very sexy.
"You were doing this to yourself?"
Ruthie blushed and nodded.
"With the same brush that's sitting on the desk. It's a long story. Someday I'll tell it to you, but a lot of it's in the pictures."
"It was something you got off on?"
Ruthie blushed and nodded. Then she continued:
"I...I'm feeling kinda sucky right now...I can't explain it...but I was kinda...you know...wondering if you'd like to...you know...with the brush..."
She noticed his penis was totally erect. He was blushing. She picked up the brush and handed it to him. Then she placed her hands on his bed and spread her legs.
Even though he already had spanked her once, Mike couldn't believe what Ruthie was doing. She was asking him to punish her.
Mike's mind was full of doubts over what he was about to do. Among other concerns he was wondering what would happen if Ruthie modeled in art class on Monday with bruises on her bottom. However, he was more worried about hurting her lovely body. He treasured the sight of his girlfriend's naked figure and was reluctant to do anything to injure her. And yet, at that moment he found the sight of her bent over his bed extremely erotic.
He positioned himself and touched the brush to her bottom. She was trembling slightly. He was curious and did not start spanking right away. Instead he rubbed the back of the brush over her vulnerable backside. She took a deep breath and started trembling more, but did not move out of position. Finally he was ready to begin.
He started out slowly, giving her moderately hard swats on the lower and middle part of her bottom. He was careful to hit only one side at a time and not hit anywhere near her hips or her pelvis. He suspected that in high school she had probably punished herself in rapid bursts, nerved herself for the next round, and then started with another burst. He would not punish her rapidly, but make her anticipate each swat. He struck, then rubbed the brush over the next spot where he planned to hit, and struck again. The spanking was very painful and unnerving for Ruthie. Her knees were trembling. She just wished the spanking were over with, but the irony was that it was up to her to end it. All she had to do was tell Mike to stop, and yet she was determined not to do so. She wanted the spanking to be as severe as possible.
Finally, she did break down and started crying. Mike noticed that no longer were her knees shaking from fear and anticipation, but instead her upper body was shaking from sobs. Mike was totally aroused, but he knew that, unlike the night of her birthday, she was not aroused at all. And yet, she needed a release...and was trying to find it with the bath-brush. Her bottom already was very red and swollen.
Mike didn't want to hurt her any further. He placed his hand on her shoulder.
"That's enough, Ruthie. I want you to stand up."
She obeyed him and stood up. She then hugged him and cried into his shoulder. They said nothing more.
They lay together in Mike's bed. Tears were still running down her cheeks when she noticed he was still very hard. She massaged him until he came. She didn't want sex that night, but she felt that at the very least she owed him a hand-job. When he finished and shot semen all over his stomach, she toweled him off. Then he fell asleep.
For Ruthie sleeping was more difficult because her bottom was so sore, but that feeling was what she had wanted for the past three years.