AwakeningsCh. 42

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As I was leaving my office my cell phone rang. It was Tricia. I answered it. “Hi Tricia.” “Hi daddy. I just talked to Jodie. She told me you gave her your Lexus.” Suddenly concerned that I’d misjudged Tricia’s feelings about giving Jodie a gift of that magnitude, I said, “Yes, but don’t worry, “I’ll find a way to…” “Daddy, I’m not upset. I’m glad you did it. Jodie’s a first year teacher, so is Teddy. They can use all the help you can give them. I earn a good income. My BMW is a nice car.” “Yes Tricia, it is.” “I called to tell you that I thought it was a really sweet thing to do. Daddy, Jodie is so excited. She’s never had a nice car.” “She’s just out of college.” “Yes she is, but she’s working hard and being careful with her money. The car is a nice perk for her.” “I’m glad you feel that way Tricia. I hope you know that I’ll try to find a way to do something nice for you too.” “Of course I know that daddy. You love both of us. We’ve always known that.” “I’m glad you feel that way Tricia.” “But daddy there is something you can do for me.” Assuming that Tricia wanted me to help her get in touch with Paul, I said, “Tricia I know what you want and I understand why you want me to help you, but I can’t do it. Right now Amy and Mel are taking care of Paul. We have to leave him alone.” “Daddy, I do understand that, I really do. It’s taken time, probably more than it should have, but now I get it. I screwed up. I screwed up bad. I hurt Paul and regardless of what I do or say I realize that he might never be willing to forgive me.” “I’m sorry Tricia.” I didn’t know what else to say. “Thank you.” Tricia paused. After a moment she said, “Daddy I need to talk to you.” “Of course.” “Could we talk this afternoon?” “Certainly, where would you like to meet?” “where are you now?” “I’m at Iverson’s Garage.” “Could I meet you at Morton’s Cafe?” “On Grand Avenue?” “Yes.” “I can be there in twenty minutes.” “I’ll need thirty.” “I’ll see you there.” “Thank you daddy.” Fifteen minutes later I was parking my Escape in front of Morton’s Cafe. It was 2:30. While there were several open parking spaces, the icy, dirty, late January snow that had been pushed up on the curb by the snow plows made parallel parking a challenge. As I got out of my Escape I felt the teeth of the frigid north wind bite into me. For a moment I wondered why I’d returned to Minnesota during the heart of the winter. I quickly remembered. Jeanne, Tricia and Jodie were here. They were the centers of my existence. Regardless of the season, as long as my wife and daughters were in Minnesota, I would be here too. Careful not to slip on the ice, I walked down two parked cars to a gap that had been cut through the frozen snow pile that formed a barrier that divided the sidewalk from the street. Once I was on the well shoveled side walk I hurried to the cafe, opened the door and stepped inside. The warmth of the cafe was a welcome respite from the January chill. Taking off my hat and unbuttoning my winter coat, I looked around. A heavy set dark haired man, dressed in a white cooks uniform, his arms covered with tattoos, sat at the lunch counter chatting with a plump blond waitress who was casually filling ketchup bottles from a gallon jug. They were the only two people in the cafe. Hearing me at the door, they both turned and looked at me. I said, “I’m meeting my daughter for coffee. Where would you like us to sit?” Smiling, the blond waitress said, “Honey, you can pick any table you want or you can join us at the counter.” I walked over to a table away almanbahis from the counter. As I sat down, I answered, “If I was alone I’d happily join you, but as I said, I’m meeting my daughter. We’d better sit over here.” The waitress stepped out from behind the counter. Walking over to me, she said, “I’m Rhonda. What can I get you? Marv made a chicken salad this morning. It was pretty popular at lunch, but I’m sure we still have at least two orders left.” Marv was watching from his seat at the counter. “Rhonda, I’m Michael.” I nodded to Marv. He nodded to me. Introductions complete, I said, “A cup of coffee will be fine for me. When my daughter gets here she can order what she wants.” “Michael, Marv makes a really good apple pie.” I looked at Marv. He once again nodded. I said, “All right, I like really good apple pie. I’ll try a slice.” “Can I put a scoop of cinnamon ice cream on it?” “Really? That sounds almost illicit.” I was beginning to like both Rhonda and Marv. With a twinkle in her eye, Rhonda said, “Honey it’s worse than illicit. It’s a full fledged sin.” Chuckling, I said, “I don’t plan to repent until next December so I have a full year of unbridled sin ahead of me. Definitely put a scoop of cinnamon ice cream on it.” I glanced at Marv. He was chuckling. Rhonda said, “Honey, if you don’t plan to repent until next December I think we should get together. I’m not planning to repent for several more years.” I took another look at Rhonda. She was my age with a body that some would call thick and others would describe as voluptuous or Rubinesque. While I happened to like Rubinesque, I was still concerned about Marv. I said, “I enjoy sinning, but I wouldn’t want to offend anyone working at this cafe.” Staring into my eyes, Rhonda unfastened the two top buttons of her blouse, leaned over and gave me a better view of her charms. “Michael honey, Marv and I occasionally sin together, but only occasionally. He has a wife and I have a husband. We’re discreet about our parties. For Marv’s sake we have to be. Can you be discreet too?” Smiling, I said, “I can, but what about your husband?” “Robbie? We don’t have to be discreet with him. He enjoys sharing me. He just wants to hear about it afterward. What about Mrs. Michael? Do we have to worry about her?” Grinning, I said, “No we don’t. My wife openly enjoys other men.” “And you don’t mind?” I actually find it exciting.” “You and my husband have a lot in common. Does your wife mind if you occasionally fool around?” “No, in fact she’s encouraging me to do it.” “I makes her feel a little better about her playing around.” “I think that’s part of it, but she also believes that sex can just be fun.” “Your wife and I have a lot in common.” Suddenly the door to the cafe opened letting in a burst of cold air. Marv, Rhonda and I all turned. Tricia was standing in the doorway. Rhonda whispered, “Your daughter?” “Yes.” “You don’t play with her, do you.” “Definitely not.” “Good, she’s a cutie.” “Thank you.” “I’ll get your pie and ice cream and before you leave, let’s exchange telephone numbers.” “I’d like that.” “So would I.” Rhonda hurried back to the lunch counter. Tricia was staring at me from the door to the cafe. She looked worried. I stood up and smiled at her. She smiled back, but it was still obvious that she was nervous. I walked over to her, took her in my arms and hugged her. As soon as I hugged her she put her arms around me and whispered, “Daddy I am so sorry.” We held each other for a moment and then I said, “Come on, let’s sit down.” Tricia almanbahis yeni giriş meekly answered, “Okay.” I led her over to my table. She took off her coat. After laying it across a chair she sat down. As I sat down, I said, “It’s nice to see you.” “It’s nice to see you too daddy.” “They’re bringing me a cup of coffee and a slice of apple pie with a cinnamon ice cream. Can I get one for you too?” “I’d love a diet Coke.” Tricia laughed. “I’d love a slice of pie and ice cream too, but I’d better not. If Paul ever does come home I don’t want to weigh three hundred pounds when he gets here.” “I’ll share mine with you.” “A taste would be nice.” Rhonda brought my pie and coffee. As she was setting it down I said, “Rhonda, could you bring Tricia a Diet Coke?” Walking around behind me, Rhonda ran her fingers through my hair and answered, “For you Sweetie, anything.” She kissed the bald spot on the back of my head and added, “I’ll be right back with it.” As soon as Rhonda was gone, Tricia exclaimed, “Daddy that woman was flirting with you!” “Yes Tricia, I believe she was.” “But?” “But what? Your mother has a boyfriend and last August you told me that these days everyone has a fuck buddy. Are you suggesting that I shouldn’t even be allowed to flirt with other women? Isn’t that a bit hypocritical?” Tricia sighed. “Yes daddy, of course it is. I’m sorry.” We stared at each other. After a moment Tricia shook her head and said, “Daddy, I’m so sorry.” In a gentle voice I asked, “About Paul?” “Yes, but Paul’s only part of it. I feel like I let you down.” “How?” Tricia whispered, “In so many ways.” “Do you want to tell me?” “Yes, that’s why I asked to meet you this afternoon.” Rhonda brought Tricia’s Diet Coke. Realizing that we were in the midst of a serious conversation she set the soda down in front of Tricia and hurried away without comment. As soon as she was gone, Tricia said, “Daddy, I’m so sorry about how we treated you when all of this started.” “What do you mean?” “Most of all it was my attitude. I was so full of myself. I encouraged mom to just lay it on you.” “I see.” “I should have understood. I should have known that she needed to prepare you, but I was too arrogant to see that.” “You’re being very hard on yourself.” “It’s what I deserve.” “I’m not sure it mattered. Your mother went through a process that led her to announcing that she was going to start dating other men. It was a personal process for her. While including me in that process might have helped me, I’m not certain that’s true. Your mother and I have spent a lot of time talking about this. I think I had to go through a similar process of my own.” “That morning, the morning after mother’s first date, you were obviously upset, I mean, you’d left her. Jodie and I were so cold. We should have been more supportive.” “While I admit that I was surprised by your attitude, I don’t think there was anything you could have done to make it easier for me.” I shrugged. “And frankly, you were just telling me what you believed. You were being honest. I hope you’ll always be honest with me.” “You’re being generous. I’m not sure I deserve it.” “We all deserve generosity. We all deserve the benefit of the doubt.” “I wonder if Paul will ever feel that way.” “I don’t know.” “Daddy, I feel awful about the way I treated him.” I slowly nodded. Tricia said, “Can I try to explain what happened?” “You don’t need to do that. You’re my daughter. I’ll always love you.” “Thank you, I appreciate that, but I’d still like to try to explain it.” “Okay.” almanbahis giriş Tricia took a moment to think. Finally she said, “I met Paul during my senior year at Kelroy.” Kelroy was the private college that both Tricia and Jodie attended. “There was this guy at Kelroy, his name was Kyle Landry. He was in my class. His parents had money. During the winter of our senior year they bought a house for him.” “That’s a nice present.” “It was, it was a really nice house. That winter and spring Kyle had a party almost every Friday night. It was never a big party. Sometimes there were only eight of us, other nights there might be as many as sixteen. They weren’t wild, noisy parties. There was always beer and wine, but nobody got drunk.” Tricia quickly glanced around the empty cafe. Rhonda and Marv were chatting at the lunch counter. Seeing that they weren’t paying any attention to us, she whispered, “They were sex parties.” I nodded. “The house had a finished basement. The social party was always upstairs in the living room, dining room and kitchen. The basement was for sex. If you wanted to do it with someone, you’d just ask him if he wanted to go downstairs with you, or he might ask you. It was okay to say no, but nobody did. The whole point of the parties was to enjoy different people.” Tricia took a sip of her Diet Coke. After she set the glass down she said, “One Friday night in March there was a bigger party. It was during the NCAA basketball tournament. There were at least two dozen people there. They had two large flat screen televisions set up in the living room. There was a group watching the games.” I asked, “Was there still a sex party in the basement?” “Oh yes and it was fun because there were several new guys there.” Tricia smiled. “That’s when I met Paul.” “He was there watching the games.” “Yes, his roommate, Chad was a regular at Kyle’s Friday night parties. Paul was a big college basketball fan so Chad brought him to the party that night.” “But that was the first time he brought Paul.” “He’d invited him to earlier parties, but Paul was shy.” “Paul knew the Friday night parties were sex parties.” “Definitely.” “Had you been downstairs with Paul’s roommate, Chad?” “Yes daddy, many times. We were good friends.” “Did Paul know that?” “Yes, he did.” “So how did you meet Paul?” “I noticed him sitting in the living room right away. I’d seen him around the campus. I knew he was Chad’s roommate. Whenever I saw him I’d say, hi. He’d always nervously wave back. It was really endearing. I didn’t know how to tell him, but liked him.” I smiled. Tricia continued. “While I always thought he was cute, I also knew how shy he was. I was actually surprised to see him at the party. Anyway, he was intently watching the basketball game, so left him alone and hooked up with another guy. We chatted for a little while and then we went downstairs. The guy was really fun. We were down there for over an hour and a half. By the time we got back upstairs the basketball games were over. The living room was almost empty. Some of the people were gone, most of the others were down in the basement.” “The basement must have been crowded.” “Believe me, it was.” “When you got back upstairs, was Paul still there?” “He was, sitting all by himself on the couch.” “What did you do?” “After I kissed my recent playmate goodnight, I sat down on the couch next to Paul. He’s shy and it took a few minutes before he relaxed with me, but then we both had a wonderful time talking. Paul is funny and smart.” “Did you invite him to go downstairs with you?” Tricia smiled. “It’s strange to hear you ask me that question.” “Would you prefer that I didn’t?” “No, it’s part of my life and now it’s part of mom’s life too, so I guess that makes it part of your life as well.

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