Things are really going my way. I finished my route early today, and I’m looking forward to relaxing by the pool in my apartment complex.
I’m sure Claire has spent most of the day thinking about my offer, and what a nice guy I’ve become. I just need to make sure I hold back and let her come to me now. Being pushy and controlling are a couple of her complaints about me. She doesn’t understand that I know her so well that I know what’s best for her. The events of the past year make it painfully obvious that she doesn’t make good choices on her own.
I throw my keys on my kitchen counter and scroll through the messages on my phone. Nothing from Claire yet, but it’s early. She won’t be off work for a couple of hours.
I should go check my mail before I change into my swim trunks. Whew, I should also take a shower, even though I’ll need another one after using the community pool. At least we don’t have too many little kids in this apartment complex, but there is always the pee factor to consider in a public pool.
I purposely rented in one of the fancier communities after I moved out of our house, even though I hate to waste money. If I have to live in an apartment, it needs to be a nice one.
It’s a newer complex behind the Walmart shopping center. I know right away that makes the fancy factor plummet in a lot of people’s minds, but it’s convenient to be near some shopping, and it’s still close to work.
I grab my mailbox key off the counter and my phone starts ringing. Claire. Yes! I pick up the call and head out to the group mailboxes right across the hall from my unit. I frequently forget to pick up my mail, and then find out my driver’s license has expired or I missed out on pizza coupons.
“Hey, Babe what’s up?”
Okay, I need to dial it back a notch. ‘Babe’ is not a ‘friendly’ name. I wouldn’t ever call Mike or Mario ‘Babe.’
My assessment is confirmed as it takes a moment for Claire to speak.
“Um, hi. I just wanted to let you know that I was thinking about your offer, and I have decided to hire a painter. Not that I don’t appreciate it…”
I put the key in my mailbox a little more forcefully than necessary as Claire continues to babble nervously about how if she needs something small fixed, she might call me, but I helped her realize that the painting was the most urgent thing that needs to be addressed.
Yeah, I bet. It’s just because she knows how much I didn’t want the inside of our house to resemble the rainbow flag or a daycare center.
As I get ready to respond, I am startled by a hand on my…what the fuck?
I cover the phone as if it’s the one that was attached to the wall around the time I was born, and whisper, “Knock it off, I’m on the phone.”
Claire says, “Ron? Are you there? Who are you talking to?”
“No one, it’s just Mario.” That was smooth. Mario is clearly someone. “He came by to drop off my tennis racket. I left it at the…” I grab Stacy’s hand and guide it away from my…
“Oh, well, I’ll let you go then. But you understand about the house, right? I do appreciate you wanting to help, but I think it would be best for our…friendship…to leave it to a—”
“Yep, I totally get it.” I dance out of Stacy’s grasp and now she’s wagging a package in front of me and licking her lips. Did she just pull that out of her mailbox?
Claire pauses again and says goodbye.
Shit, I really wanted to try to talk her out of it, but…
“Stacy, what are you doing? Get inside before the kids get off the school bus, and someone calls the cops.”
She follows me into my apartment and pushes me up against the closed door, covering me with her mouth and hands.
I know that doesn’t sound bad, but I haven’t gotten a chance to address the ‘Stacy’ situation, now that I’ve decided that I want Claire back.
Just as roughly as she started molesting me, now she grabs my ear and her touch turns painful. This woman is about as opposite from Claire as I could have veered, which makes sense for a casual, rebound buddy.
I refuse to use the common term for what we’re doing because I said I would never stoop that low.
She reaches under my shirt and pulls an underarm hair.
“Ow, you’re crazy. Stop it.” I hold her arms and try to calm her down.
She says, ‘So, who were you talking to you? And why am I suddenly Mario returning a tennis racket?”
I release my grip and use this as an opportunity to get away from her, making it to the relative safety of the middle of my living room.
I’m a big guy, but Stacy is almost six-feet tall. She has chestnut brown hair (I think that’s what you’d call it), which curls into an unruly, sexy mess. Her eyes are green and her body is to die for. She’s like one of those warrior princess women on violent cable TV shows. In deep contrast to this persona, she’s a librarian.
Yep, I went with the fantasy woman.
“Stacy, you need to calm down. I was talking to Claire, if you must know, and I didn’t feel like explaining anything to her.”
“Claire? You lied about me to Claire? Since when are you all chummy with her? Is she just trying to get you to sign the divorce papers?”
Sometimes I kick myself for telling Stacy too much.
And then other times, like now, I lie.