Zeb and Frances MercerbyMatt Moreau©
Frances and Zebulon Mercer, that's us. Married thirteen years, about to be divorced. Frannie is now 42, me 43.
We met in high school as seniors when I transferred in to Morningside High. She the prototypical homecoming queen: tall, pretty, popular, rich parents. I the prototypical nerd: short, singularly unlovely, not popular—practically invisible really—and poor. But, I had one redeeming quality: I carried a Stanford Binet intelligence quotient of one-sixty same as my weight if it matters.
Frances Parker's daddy, Roger Parker, owned a half dozen car dealerships in the state, and had done very well for himself in the business. His wife, Caroline, had died giving birth to Frances, and her dad Roger had never remarried. I'd learn later that Roger and Caroline Parker had been true soulmates: it was impossible for him to love another.
My dad got a job as a janitor at the high school, and thereby the reason why I'd transferred there in my senior year. My mom had died too, a few years before, Cancer, and I missed her terribly. But, dad and I managed. I sometimes helped him out after school if my schedule allowed. He was all for me doing well in school: nothing else mattered. I suppose the good news was that I felt the same way and never let him down. My dad was proud of me, and I was inordinately proud of that great truth.
Okay, so you're wondering how a short, ugly guy, with no money, no car, no social standing, nothing really, except that I was well read; could possibly have hooked up with miss all-everything. Simple I was handy and pliable. Boy was I pliable.
During my senior year I had had no dates whatsoever. None! I had, however, been invited to a couple of parties, attended both, and achieved whatever the male equivalent of wallflower status is. Hell, I hadn't even gotten drunk. I was a disgrace. And then it was May: prom time. I wasn't going. My dad pressed me to ask a girl and to go, but I'd demurred; I wasn't into the humiliation thing.
"Oh, there were a few girls in the same boat as me that I could've asked, and I considered it. But, I couldn't dance, alcohol at that age upset my stomach, and talking and socializing were not part of my skill set; some good news though: I got used to alcohol when I got older—a lot more used to it actually. Oh, but did I mention that I was a straight-A student—yippee-eye-o-kai-yay!
As it turned out, May was also finals month. And, as it also turned out, Frances Parker was not a straight-A student. She was in fact a gnat's eyelash from failing both Chemistry, and this was her second go at that one, and Math-II. Guess who she asked to help her through those two horrendous finals. Yeah, well, I wasn't about to turn her down. Just being around her, smelling her, was wonderful. At any rate she did what I told her to do, and she passed, and I got a kiss for my efforts—on the lips—one of the few kisses from a girl that I had ever gotten; I didn't wash my face for a week.
Two weeks before the prom, she was waiting for me.
"Hi, Zeb, got a minute?" she said.
"Yes, Zeb, Frances, me. Got a minute?" she repeated.
"Yes. For you, of course," I said. She smiled indulgently.
"Zeb, you know my boyfriend, Trey Mitchel, right?" she said.
"I know he's the star quarterback and about all everything else," I said "But, know him? No, we travel in different circles, actually." I got a look from her for my remarks.
"Well, yes, he is kind of the man about campus, I guess," she said. "Anyway, he was going to take me to the prom, but he can't go; has to see his grandma upstate; I think she may be dying or ill or something; Trey wasn't sure. Anyway, I need a date for the prom. You wanna volunteer to help this girl out?"
"Huh?" I said.
"You know take me," she said. I stood there staring at her. I just could not seem to process her words. Helping her with a Chem exam was one thing; I was good at Chemistry, but taking her to a formal dance and the inevitable all night parties afterwards just did not process, not for me.
"Huh?" Now I was repeating myself. She snapped her fingers.
"Look, Zeb, I need a date. I know you don't have one; I asked around. Any of the other guys who might want to take me, and who don't already have dates of their own, are either on Trey's shit list; or they're, quite frankly, afraid of me. You know me. We've worked together on those exams. We're on pretty good terms. Right," she said. "And my dad liked you, trusted you. So whaddya say?"
"Absolutely!" I said, all too enthusiastically. "But, I should tell you one thing."
"What?" she said.
"I'm afraid of you too," I said. She laughed.
"Yeah, right. The school egghead is afraid of little 'ole average me," she said. She was getting a pain in her side she was laughing so hard. I didn't know what was so funny, but I began to laugh too. It was cathartic.
Any parent knows what the term prom means—expenses, big expenses, and those for both the boy and the girl. I knew my dad would fund my date; hell, I didn't have any money, but I was going to feel mighty guilty asking him.
I called Frances two days before the night of the prom just in case, just to confirm; but I only got her dad. He said she was out getting her dress fixed or something like that. So, I left him a message that I would pick her up at seven; he said that he'd deliver the message. We knew each other casually from the times when I had helped Frannie with her exam prep.
They were sitting in his dad's Cadillac's back seat. They'd been making out for some little time; The windows were steamed up.
"I am so glad you got back in time," she said. "And, your grandma's okay." said Frances.
"Yeah, she's got diabetes, Like I said, and it was touch and go for a few days, but she will be okay now if she sticks to her doctor's orders and takes her meds. My aunt Helen is staying with her for the foreseeable future. Anyway, she's okay.
"Hey, but I'm glad to be back too. We're going to the prom, right?" he said.
"You betcha stud. I was so disappointed when you thought you couldn't make it. I mean I wasn't upset or anything; your gramma is a first priority; but well, anyway, I'm just glad you're back."
He reached over to her and began unbuttoning her blouse. She smiled him her encouragement. He peeled the fabric from her shoulders. He hefted one breast then the other. "I've missed these," he said.
She giggled. "I missed your touch," she said. She raised her breast toward him. "Suck on this one, okay."
"Your wish is my command," he said. He suckled on the fleshy mound for some moments; then, switched to the other.
She pushed him away. "My turn," she said, as she unzipped his pants. He raised up to allow her easier access so that she could pull his pants down. She did. Reaching inside his underpants, she wrapped her hand around his seven-inch sex engine. She smiled. "I think junior wants me."
"More than you can possibly imagine," he said. Leaning forward, she licked the precum from his cock. She looked up into her boyfriend's eyes. "Warn me when you are about to cum. Okay?" He nodded.
She let the tip of his cock slip between her lips. Sucking on the glans for some moments, she gloried in his discomfort as he fought to endure the tickling sensation that her doing that always caused him. Then she let his cock slide deeper into her mouth and throat as she began sucking him in earnest.
"It was some four or five minutes before he shuddered and mouthed the warning that he was about to cum in her mouth. She let his dick slip from her mouth and began jerking him off furiously. His spray hit her in the face. She plucked a gob of it from her right eye with her index finger and licked it clean.
"God that was wonderful," he said.
"Glad you liked it," she said.
I arrived six minutes early. No, that's not right I didn't just arrive; I arrived in style: tux, corsage, and limousine; I'd even had my hair styled if you can believe it. The chauffeur opened the door for me and waited while I went up to get my date. Jesus was I nervous—never before and never since anything like it, not even on my wedding day.
"Hi Mr. Parker," I said, as he opened the door. He gave me a funny look.
"Zeb?" he said.
"Yeah, it's me. I look a lot different tonight don't I?' I said, smiling to beat the band.
"Well, yes, you do; but what, what are you doing here? He said. I frowned.
"To pick up Frannie for the prom. You know, I left you the message Thursday," I said. He actually looked shaken.
"Zeb, Frances went to the prom with Trey. I was sure she told you about her change of plans," he said. He looked beyond me to the ride I'd hired. "My God! That girl didn't tell you did she!"
I was sick to my stomach. I hadn't originally planned to go, but because of the chance to go out with Frances Parker, my dad had laid out $500 plus for my big night. I think all of the blood in my body rushed to my face at that moment.
"Zeb, I'm sorry, boy. If I had known that she hadn't contacted you—I—I'm sorry," he said. "Look, come in, please. You and I need to talk."
"No, no, I think I need to go," I said. "I need to go now!" I turned to leave, but two steel hands gripped my shoulders and all but yanked me into the house.
"Zeb, sit over there. I can see you're—distraught. I know you had to put out a ton for this special night, and don't worry. I will pay you back every cent. And, I can assure you I will be taking it out of the hide of our little princess," he said. I shook my head.
"Mister Parker, I can't take your money. I'll just chalk it up to experience and get on with things," I said.
"Oh no you won't," he said. "And you are going to the prom."
"But?" I said.
"Zeb, I'm a business man, a successful business man. I didn't get that way letting myself walk away from competitors who doublecrossed me. No, I dug in my heels and made them pay. That's what any successful person has to do. Zeb, you are clearly a very smart guy, but naïve as hell. You need to fight for your woman."
"Yeah right," I said. Okay, I was a little bitter. "Mr. Parker, I'm five-four and one-sixty. Frannie is five-nine and one-forty. Trey is six-four and two-thirty. Fannie is gorgeous; Trey is arguably the hunk the girls all think he is; lookswise, I'm a turkey. The list, sir, of comparisons is long, and I lose on them all."
"Intelligence?" he said.
"Well, maybe not on that one. But, who cares about smartsos. Let me answer my own question: nobody!" I said.
"Size, numbers, popularity: You ever study history, Zeb?" he said.
"Well, yeah, I read a lot," I said.
Einstein failed his doctoral exam twice before Niels Bohr convinced him to try one more time. They finally gave it to him, accepted his dissertation, the same one he'd submitted the first two times. Oh, his topic? The Theory of relativity. A couple of other names: Alexander at Gaugamela outnumbered twenty to one; Caesar at Alesia outnumbered ten to one. Oh, and Alexander Pope was four-eleven. All out numbered, all with problems and challenges, all initially labeled as dreamers or worse; and all, found a way to overcome because they were geniuses. You wanna be the one to give geniuses a bad name, Zeb?"
"Zeb, you are going to the prom—alone. You will cut in on my daughter and the interloper. You will dance the dance with her, and ask her out for next weekend while you're at it. I know my daughter; she's no genius for damn sure, but she has got a deal of common sense. I'll bet you a bottle of Gentleman Jack—deliverable on your wedding day if I'm wrong—that she accepts the date with you, and more, that you'll have fun on it. Okay?" he said.
I was glad I had a driver for the evening. I was sure I wouldn't have been able to navigate the road myself; I was too confused, too upset, nervous. But, her dad's words had rung true. I could either crawl away with my tail between my legs or stand up for myself.
I knew I was no great shakes, brains or not. I was sure the man was right about what I had to do, but equally sure he was wrong about his predicted outcome. But, what the hell, things couldn't be much worse for me than they were.
Having a limo deliver me was a plus. I didn't have to cross the crowded parking lot on my shaky legs. He dropped me virtually at the door.
Inside I got some stares. Well, I wasn't exactly a fixture at formal soirees. I headed for the punch bowl. With any luck somebody would've spiked it. Taking a sip I was disappointed; it was punch.
I spotted my quarries across the room. They weren't quite making out, but they were close enough to each other to do so if the fancy struck them. I waited for them to start dancing. It had to be a slow dance so I could talk to her. I got lucky, the next one was, and they got up to dance. I waited a half minute or so. They were melded into each other. For some reason I was filled with the confidence of the just. Being short, I was hidden from their view pretty well. I was able to come up behind him and gently tap his right shoulder. He turned to see me. The two of them stared at me like I was toxic; it bothered me not at all.
"I believe this is my dance, Trey," I said with more confidence than I should have been feeling.
"What?" he said.
"My dance," I said. I took her hand and started to pull her away and out amongst them. She ripped her hand from mine.
"What are you doing, Zeb. This dance is Trey's," she said kinda nastily.
Her tone stung me, but I recovered. "Really, well, I guess I'll be going then. Oh, and please, next time you ask me to take you somewhere and change your mind, please let me know, okay. I mean if it's not too much trouble," I said.
"What are you talk...oh my God! I completely forgot. Zeb..."
"Forget it, Frances, believe me you're getoverable. But, you won't be getting to ride to the parties tonight in my limo. You'll have to settle for his sport's car. Have a nice life," I said. I turned and walked away.
A number of people watched me as I walked out, and one or two of them snickered at a shrimp like me daring to upset miss perfect. But, a few others gave me a thumbs-up, but none of those were A-listers.
"You do not mean that you actually forgot you had a date with the guy for the prom. Tell me you're kidding," said Cora Welcher, the Monday following her social debacle.
"Yes. I forgot, okay? And, I feel like shit about it. I mean he was so good to me when I needed him to help me pass those exams; then, I go and fuck him over like that. I was just so caught up with Trey getting back..."
"Yeah, well, you'll play hell ever doing anything worse than that to a man, to any man—ever!" said, Cora. "He'll be a while getting over it for damn sure."
"Yeah, I know," said Frances.
"Jesus, it must of cost him plenty too. I mean to get ready for the prom. You say he even hired a limo?"
"That's what he said," said Frances.
"I know they're poor. His dad's one of the maintenance guys at the school. I know they can't afford stuff like that," said Cora.
"Well, as for that, I'm gonna pay him back. And, I'm going to do it out of my own money. I've got a ton saved for college. A thousand bucks oughta do it," said Frances.
"Well, at least he won't be in the hole financially then," said Cora. "His pride will still be in the shitter, along with his feelings, but the money should help a little."
"Yeah, well, and I'm thinking of begging him to take me out—my treat—as kind of a makeup thing. Maybe even let him cop a feel or two. Whaddya think?" said Frances.
"A date? Hmm, maybe. But as for letting him take liberties, only if he makes a play for you himself. If you offer it to him too blatantly...well, a guy like him, as smart as him...well, it might hurt him more than not giving him anything at all," said Cora.
"How do you figure?" said Frances, truly not getting it.
"He'll know it'd be mercy sex because he can't get anything on his own. That would kill his very soul. Don't offer it; I'm telling you," said Cora. "Jeez, I can't believe you can't figure out some of this on your own!"
"Okay, so I'm not a smart as you. And yes, I see your point. But, if he makes the move on me, then, let him?" said Frances.
"Sheesh! Yes, but don't give it up, I mean you know what I mean, the big thing. Copping feel, maybe a little heated kissing; but that's it. Any more than that, and a guy like him will be thinking matrimony. You gotta walk a fine line with him, girl," said Cora.
"Okay, and Cora?"
"Thanks.". Her friend nodded her support.
Did I feel down? No. I mean she'd not only stood me up; she'd clearly even forgotten that she'd asked me to go! So I should have felt low, right? But no, I didn't think so. I'd done nothing wrong, and it was clear, the girl just didn't like me. Nothing to do about that but get on with things, her loss the way I saw it; well, it's what I kept telling myself.
The bad news, and it was bad news for me, was the fact that the prom occurred two weeks before school let out, that meant that I'd still be seeing her around along with everyone else who'd witnessed my humiliation.
The Wednesday after the prom, she approached me in the cafeteria. "Zeb, may I speak with you for a moment?" she said. I looked her up and down.
"No." I walked away with my tray and found a table full of social losers like myself. I saw her out of the corner of my eye debating whether to press the issue. I guess she decided not to. She walked away.
Two days later, I got an envelope delivered to me. In it was a check for $1,000. I tore it up in front of the delivery guy who'd wanted me to sign for it. He stared at me like I was crazy.
The day after that I got a call. No, not from Frances. It was from her father. He wanted to talk to me. I liked the guy, but opted not to continue with the situation. I just wanted to be left alone. He said he'd tell his daughter to back off. It turned out it was she who had written the check not daddy. I hadn't noticed that at the time, not that it would have made a bit of difference. I guess she was trying to buy a little forgiveness. Oh, I was sure she really was sorry for humiliating me, shining me on. But, I was also sure that the kind of arrogance that would take it for granted that everybody could be bought and that forgiveness and justice had a price tag, was so far beyond being acceptable to me that I considered it to be a crime in itself.
I guess her daddy got her to layoff. I didn't hear from her again until graduation day. I was valedictorian. My dad was supremely proud. Hell I was proud of me. A friend of mine, Harry Gooden, said somebody had invited me to a grad party and he'd been tasked to deliver the invitation. I opened the invite. It was from her. A party to be held at her parent's house. I threw the invite in the trash can as I was leaving the hall.
My dad had detail that night—read, he had to help clean up after the grad ceremony—so he'd left me some minutes before. I was heading for the bus stop a block away, but I never even got off school property.
As I rounded the north side of the gym, four guys, a couple of whom may have actually been homo sapiens surrounded me. Only one of them weighed less than 300 pounds, Trey Mitchel. "Goin' to the party, big guy?" said Trey.
I knew what he was talking about, but I had no idea why he was talking to me about it. Frannie was his girl. Why would he want me to be goin' to her party?
"No, big guy, I'm not," I said. The four of them were staring at me. "What? You palookas gonna make me," I said.
"Yeah, actually, we are. Frances wants you there. She wants you to want to come, you know, willingly; but if not, well then, unwillingly," he said.
"You are aware that if you force me to go someplace, that I don't want to go, that that is the very definition of kidnaping," I said. He laughed.