Hello everyone. I am sorry that it has been so long since my last posting. This story is quite a bit different than some of my previous work. For those of you that liked my romantic happy ending tales, I am sorry to say that this is not one of them. I hope that you will enjoy it anyway, and please don't forget to vote. I would personally like to thank my editor, Bachgen, for putting forth the effort to help make this story a much better read. -- Double_entendre.
The bar was rather crowded for a Sunday evening, but Derek had scarcely noticed. Oblivious to the world around him, he sat staring at his beer on the table, wondering why he had even bothered to order the damn thing in the first place. Derek was never really much of a drinker, and in fact hated the taste of most alcoholic beverages, especially beer. His brew of choice this evening had more to do with his state of mind than it did to quench his thirst. As he sat nursing his beer, he suddenly heard his name being called out. The voice was so unmistakable that he immediately recognized its owner, though it had been many years since he actually heard her speak. No, this was not his cheating bitch of an ex-wife; though in his mind it was a tossup as to which woman he despised more.
"Mrs. Murphy," he replied, barely acknowledging her presence, "I'd heard you were back in town," he said in his most monotone voice.
"Hello, Derek, and please call me Joyce. I thought I recognized you sitting over here, but wasn't for sure," she told him.
"Yeah, it's me," he replied without emotion.
"It sure is wonderful to see you. I always hoped that we'd meet up again someday," she confessed.
"That makes one of us," he said, taking another pull from his bottle.
"You can't possibly still be upset about the whopping I gave you back in high school. That was over ten years ago," she reminded him.
"Hate is a hard emotion to overcome," he replied.
"You hate me?" she asked.
"I would have thought it would be obvious, oh, and while we are on the subject, twelve strokes of your cane across my barely covered ass, is hardly what any normal person would consider your average school punishment. You beat me, lady, don't even try to deny it," he sneered.
"I admit I may have taken your punishment a bit further than I normally would have, but in my defense, you did confess to putting that snake in my drawer," she reminded him.
"I had to tell you that," he told her.
"Why?" she asked.
"Because if I didn't, you would have made us lose the championship against North Valley," he said.
"Was a stupid game really worth taking a caning over?" she asked.
"I didn't give a fuck about the game, but saving Tony's life sure was," he replied hotly.
"What are you talking about?" she asked.
"Tony had already received a draft notice. The scholarship he earned that night was enough to give him a deferment. Did you know that Allen Green was scheduled to report for duty the same time Tony was. Chances are they would have been sent to the same unit as well. Allen's entire platoon was killed off in an attack two months after his deployment. Tony credits me for saving his life. I don't necessarily agree with him, but am not so sure he is wrong about it, either," Derek explained.
"But I never even suspected Tony of doing anything. I always figured it was Dan Spencer," she said.
"It sure didn't feel like you thought it was Dan all along," Derek complained.
"I was trying to get you to confess to covering up for him, but you were too damn stubborn," she stated.
"You could have beat me till I passed out, which you damn well nearly did, and I still wouldn't have squealed," he said.
"I know. I even bumped into Dan a few years back, and he told me that you were innocent," she replied.
"Yeah, Dan said he saw you. When he found out I was going to take the blame he wanted to confess right away, but I begged him not to," Derek told her.
"He admitted to me that he felt guilty and said he wanted to say something right after the game, but you told him that he shouldn't give the bitch the satisfaction of beating the both of you," Mrs. Murphy replied.
"I do believe those may have been my exact words," Derek admitted.
"I still don't get why you would want to protect Dan. The two of you obviously were not that close?" she asked.
"As good of a quarterback as Tony was, he never would have been able to win without Dan's help," Derek confessed.
"I don't understand. You had no way of knowing that Tony would have been offered a scholarship that night," she said.
"Are you really that naive? I am a stock broker, Mrs. Murphy. I have always played the law of averages. We were highly favored to win that game. Only a fool would be stupid enough to believe that there wouldn't be scouts in the attendance that evening," he exclaimed.
"Do you have any regrets," she asked.
"Well, I still hate you for what you did to me, but I reckon my godchildren were worth it," Derek said honestly.
"What are you talking about now?" she wanted to know.
"I am godfather to Tony and Miranda's two children," he answered.
"So what are you doing here," she asked, trying to change the subject.
"Celebrating, my divorce became final today," he admitted.
"Oh, I'm sorry," she said.
"Why, were you screwing my ex, too? It seems like she was fucking everyone else," he stated hotly.
"Maybe, what was her name?" she flippantly questioned.
"Debra Ann," he answered back in a half leer.
"Look, I know what it's like to get cheated on. I first found out my ex was stepping out on me just before that incident back in school. Discovering it may have even been part of the reason I took your punishment as far as I did," she admitted.
"That is still no excuse. Did you know that the school nurse wanted to report you for abuse, but Principal Denials wouldn't hear of it," he asked.
"We lived in a different time back then," she said.
"How unfortunate for me," he replied.
"Yes, I suppose it was," she told him.
The pair sat in awkward silence, each lost in their own thoughts.
"Why are you here tonight?" he asked, not really caring, but unsure of what else to say.
"Celebrating, just like you, today would have been my 25th wedding anniversary," she told him.
"Would have been?" he questioned.
"Yeah, I finally divorced the cheating bastard five years ago," she admitted.
"I guess we are both a pair of losers, then," he remarked.
"It certainly looks that way," she agreed.
After finishing the remainder of her drink, Joyce turned to her former student.
"Do you want to sleep alone tonight," she asked.
"I had planned on it," he blankly replied.
"How would you like to live out every schoolboy's fantasy?" she wanted to know.
"I haven't been a schoolboy in years, and you stopped being my fantasy after the caning," he told her.
"Be that as it may, I have no intention of going home by myself. I am taking someone to my bed tonight. It might as well be you," she said.
Derek couldn't deny he was tempted. He hadn't been with a woman since discovering his wife cheating on him over nine months ago.
"That probably wouldn't be a very good idea," he finally said.
"Why, did your ex-wife leave you with a STD?" she teased.
"No, the test results came back negative," he answered truthfully.
"Well, since I am clean as well, there is really nothing preventing us from enjoying each other's company for the next few hours, is there?" she asked.
"Even if I agreed with you, it would not change anything," he warned.
"I didn't expect it to," she told him.
Since the two of them had been drinking, Joyce ended up following him back to his place as it was closer than her own. Their pairing that evening was not romantic or loving, nor did they live out any school room fantasy either of them may have had. It was simply two lost souls using each other's bodies as a means to escape the emptiness that lonely nights like these can dredge up. Derek was quite relieved to find her gone the next morning, as he realized his previous statement had been accurate, their night together hadn't changed anything.
Over the next few months Derek put Joyce of his mind. She never left a note, and he didn't have any means of contacting her anyway, not that he ever wanted to in the first place. She simply didn't matter to him.
He was sitting in his office, just getting ready to leave for the evening, when his secretary said that he had an urgent call on line two.
Hello, is this Mr. Derek Jones?" the voice asked.
"Yes, whom am my speaking with?" he inquired.
"Mr. Jones, this is Sarah from Spring Valley Hospital. Do you know a Mrs. Joyce Murphy?" she asked.
"Yes, I am familiar with Mrs. Murphy. Why do you ask?" he wanted to know.
"Sir, I am sorry to inform you that Mrs. Murphy has been in a rather serious car accident. She is in critical condition, and her chance of survival does not look favorable. She has been asking for you, and said that you worked as a stock broker. I'm afraid it has taken quite a while to hunt you down, but she is still holding on, thought just barely. "
Derek debated with himself whether or not to go to the hospital that evening. In the end he felt he owed it to himself to hear what she might have to say. Reluctantly, he finally made his way to her room.
"I wasn't sure you would come," she told him in a weak voice, almost a whisper.
"I nearly didn't. I couldn't figure out why you would call me," he questioned.
"I don't have anyone else. My parents have been gone for years, Jim and I never had any children, and he sure wouldn't care if I lived or died," she explained.
"And you think that I do?" he asked flatly.
"For some reason, I believe you do," she answered.
"You should save your strength," he told her, wanting to avoid wherever this conversation was headed.
"What for? I am going to die anyway. It won't matter if I hang on a few extra minutes," she replied.
"Alright, if you want to talk, I'm listening," he told her.
"I'm sorry for punishing you like I did. You were always one of my best students up until you admitted to putting the snake in my drawer. I was dealing with my husband's infidelity at the time, and looked on your confession as just another betrayal of the male species. Had I not been going through that whole ordeal, I am sure that your punishment would have been less severe. I probably still would have used my cane on you , though," she admitted.
"And I would have hated you for it," he told her.
"I know. You always were one to hold a grudge," she sighed.
When her breathing became more strenuous she turned to Derek. Her final words a plea for forgiveness.
Reaching over, he gently used the palm of his hand to close her eyes before bending down and placing a lasting kiss upon her forehead. As he moved to leave the room he turned back, with a single tear streaming down his cheek he whispered to her lifeless corpse "I'm sorry, Mrs. Murphy, I just can't do that."