A Gap in the Hedge
Loretta was going for the weekend; she’d been planning this trip forever, and the time had finally arrived. Freddy would take her to the airport Friday, at midnight and pick her up same time Sunday night. It was nothing more than a high school reunion, but she’d missed the last one, and had a lot of catching up to do.
“Will you miss me?” she’d asked Freddy, and he’d snorted.
“Baby, you know I will.” He sounded sincere, but she could never tell.
“What will you do?” Teasing, coaxing. He didn’t mind. Lore was always a bit insecure. He’d never given her reason to mistrust him, but he thought it had something to do with her never being able to measure up to older sisters. It did not bother him at all.
“Oh, I don’t know--hit the bars I suppose? Isn’t that what you expect me to do?” He was joking of course, and they both laughed, but he laughed more heartily than she.
“I suppose you’ll go with Tyler?” Ty was his best bud, and recently separated from his wife. As couples, they had run together earlier, but not so much recently.
“What do you think? Should we be looking for high schoolers, but be willing to settle for a growling cougar?” More laughter, this time Loretta ending with a sigh.
“Can't you even pretend you’re going to miss me?” She flashed her doe eyes at him, and he realized that he’d pushed it too far, not with the crack about the high schoolers, but because he mentioned the “C” word.
They’d spent a fair amount of time as a couple, poking fun at more mature women, out on their own at night, and assuming that one and all were out to snare a younger man. Freddy had joked that experience was better than youth, and Loretta had made a face. “How can you joke about being with an old woman?” she’d asked, and he had laughed and said, “Why not? Are you feeling threatened?” Now he repeated that same question.
To herself, she asked, “Am I?” Aloud she said, “Should I be?”
“You mean Randi?” He was cautious, because the joke was no given. And she laughed. Freddy thought just the fact that he would bring up her name, meant that this was still light and breezy. Why could this not just be light and breezy?
Any time you have a conversation that consists of nothing but questions, you might want to ask yourself why. Freddy dutifully dropped Lore off in front of the crowded air terminal, after retrieving her overnight bag from the trunk, kissing her perfunctorily, and rushing back to the driver’s door, as the nice policeman approached, brandishing what Freddy presumed was his book of citations, with quota.
Back at home he did a once-over on the house, not that it required much at all, worked on grading some essays that he had brought home from his job as a middle school teacher, and then turned his attention to the Giants/Dodgers game on at 7 o’clock that night. And thus, Saturday passed uneventfully. He had already known that Ty would be gone for the weekend to Palm Springs, not that he would have pursued that line of action, but still, he didn’t feel it was that inappropriate to have a shot of Jamie at the local pub on Sunday night. Maybe two.
But instead, he decided to grill a steak out back, and settle into his lounge chair and plug into FaceBook to catch up. He had to go get Lore at the airport at midnight, so he knew he had a ways to go, before he had to worry about that.
“Hey there, Chef. Smells good! What else you got on the menu?”
He knew it was Randi before he looked up. She had come down the sidewalk along the house, from her place next door, having slipped between the two yards through a gap in the hedge that separated the two residences.
“Thanks. I’m batching it for the weekend, with Lore gone to a reunion. How are you?” He tried not to put that extra emphasis on the word you, the way he always did, when he wanted you to feel that he was really tuned into you. He was decidedly not tuned into the reality that was Randi, standing there in front of him, in what was supposed to be her best Cougar Crawl. He stood up, as befits a gentleman, and found that he would have been staring down at Randi’s rather expansive cleavage, if his eyes did not have a hammerlock on her eyes.
“Me?” She shrugged, expressively. “Except for being a bit lonely, I guess I’m OK. Are you looking for company?” Shit, Freddy thought to himself. No pretense. No fooling around. No muss. No fuss.
“Am I looking for company?” Go ahead and stall for time, Big Guy, he said to himself. You’re going to have to look into your inner mirror on this one, and see what you got.
“Yes. I’m Home Alone, and I’m not expecting my family to come back from Paris, anytime soon, so I thought you and I, maybe, since your wife is not here, might want to get together and see what develops, if you know what I mean.” Randi sashayed toward Freddy, raising first one shoulder, and then the other, causing that expansive bosom to shift and undulate, in what she hoped was an enticing manner. Freddy found it most uninviting.
“Develops? Develops?” he asked a second time. “I can see a lot of trouble developing, Randi, the kind of trouble that ends marriages. Not interested. Sorry.” He backed away, stepping so abruptly, that he tripped over the slumping bag of charcoal, that he had set to one side, after lighting the coals. He landed on his butt, and just sat there staring up at the now comprehending Randi. But Randi was no longer looking at Freddy. She was looking at the sliding glass door, where framed in the light of the living room, was Loretta, staring there with a similar look of comprehension, and Randi understood fully what the look indicated.
“Whoopsies! Gotta go, Tiger.” And she had vanished, leaving Freddy facing a very pleased, and very secure-feeling Loretta, who seemed to want to show her affection for him in a special way.
Freddy forgot to ask her why she was home early.