Thursday, June 19, 2008

In Harness

As they drove away I went into my dorm and got busy studying. Exams were one thing-- finishing a couple of papers was the bigger thing. I got very busy and didn't have much time to think about Margery. By Tuesday night I was half way through exams and still had a big paper to finish but I took a break and called Margery and Judy's apartment. I let it ring for a while but there was no answer. This was before answering machines and voice mail-- let alone text messaging, cell phones, pagers, e-mail and instant messages. If nobody answered that was pretty much that. Thursday afternoon came and all I had left was one paper to turn in Friday morning. I called again from my dorm room and this time Judy answered. When I asked for Margery she paused for a moment and then said, "Her Dad came down from Chicago and moved her back home last night, Wil. I thought she had talked to you."
"I haven't talked to her since the weekend," I said.
"Gee, I'm sorry, but she was really busy with exams... her Dad came earlier than she thought he was going to... I'm sure she'll call you from home," Judy said.
We talked about my best friend her brother, when she was heading home, and a few other things and then hung up.
I sat down at my desk and Pete was staring at me. He was trying not to smile as he said somberly, "You poor bastard. Dumped again."
"Fuck you, Petey," I replied with great wit.

My father worked at a large chemical plant in those days. His company had a summer hire program for college kids and I was one of the lucky forty or so summer hires. The Monday after I got back from school I started working at the chem plant at 7AM. It was hot, dirty, sometimes dangerous work but the good news was that it paid a lot more than any of my buddies were making on their summer jobs. I quickly made a few friends among the other guys from different schools. The best of these new friends was Tim. We had an hour lunch break every day and a bunch of us would eat together. Several of us would often meet up for refreshments after work too. Tim was a good guy, I introduced him to my old high school buddies who were home from college too, and we all hung out a lot. Up at 6AM to get to work and clocked in by 7, home by 4:30, nap until dinner, and then out with the guys until midnight or so-- rinse and repeat daily. After a couple of weeks I realized I'd be talkin' about pussy more than I'd be gettin' any pussy. Tim, however, had a girlfriend so he didn't get out with us every night and never on the weekends.

One day at lunch everybody else had cleared out and Tim and I were getting ready to head out to the job site when he said, "Wil, Sherry wants to set you up with a friend of hers. I told her I'd ask you but you don't have to go along with this. I can tell her you're not interested."
I had met the lovely, dark, and voluptuous Sherry briefly one time when she picked Tim up after work so I said, "Is she anything like Sherry?"
"Nah. They've been friends for years but they aren't much alike. Jackie's kinda wild. She's a skinny little blond... nuthin' like Sher," Tim said.
"Hold it. Why don't you want me to go out with her? You aren't sellin' it very hard. This doesn't make any sense 'cause you'd do anything for Sherry so if she wants to set me up with this girl and you aren't pushing it... what's the problem with her?" I said.
By now we were walking out to the job. Tim stopped and said, "Look. She went steady with a pal of mine senior year in high school. When he went off to college they broke up. She isn't going to school... I dunno, it's just weird that you might go out with her since she was my buddy's girlfriend," Tim said.

"I hear you, Tim," I said very seriously, "You just said, wild, little blond. Tell Sherry I'm the guy."

We decided it would be good to meet up at the harness races as a first date. Racetracks are great for this sort of thing. There are drinks. The races and the betting give you lots to talk about. There are drinks. And it's very public so girls don't feel uncomfortable meeting a "blind date" there. The big drawback is the old burned out railbirds leering at the girls but that's solved by paying for a box. Plus waitresses work the box seats and bring you drinks. I mean, if you want to drink.
Tim and I decided we'd go Saturday night. It would be casual, no pressure. They brought Jackie with them and I drove to the track by myself. It was the first (and last) time I ever went to a racetrack by myself. I felt like a derelict. Luckily they were waiting at the front entrance when I walked up from the parking lot. Tim was right, Jackie was a skinny little blond. She was about 5'3" and couldn't have weighed more than an Irish Setter. She was cute. Not beautiful, cute. She was full of energy and nervous chatter. She was wearing very tight jeans, a yellow sleeveless top and sandals. Her hair was cut short and she had very little makeup on. Tim and I decided we should get box seats. We sat down in our box and Jackie got a waiter's attention immediately. I pulled out the racing form and Jackie huddled up with me to start studying the horses in the 1st race. She said it was her first time. She had never done this before. We had our heads together going through the races-- she had lots of questions and I pretended to know the answers to most of them. At some point I caught Sherry looking at us and she was smiling ear to ear. I frowned at her and Tim rolled his eyes. The race was on.


Kyra (the lonely housewife) said...

"...I pretended to know the answers to most of them."

"The race was on."

Wil, I adore your writing. You grab my attention and keep it. If only I got my Wil 'fix' everday...

Now get to the fucking please. I have a feeling Jackie is going to knock your socks off!


Cate said...

So sorry that Margery disappeared without even saying goodbye. That was really quite mean, but it looks like young Wil didn't suffer too much... and besides blondes have more fun!

Cate xxx

Lakey said...

I'm not sure how I'd never heard of you but I just discovered you from Kyra. What a wonderful writer you are! I'll definitely be coming back for more.

Crack The Whip said...

Thank you for the kind words Lakey. And thanks to Kyra for pointing you in my direction.