This ongoing story is a fantasy based very loosely on actual events and real people. As always, any similarities to any persons, places, or things, or anything you have heard before is a complete accident.
Thank goodness the next day was Friday.
I lay in bed for hours after I left Jamie’s apartment, my heart pounding. A messy divorce like mine was would cause a fear of relationships in anybody who had an ounce of self-awareness. This relationship I was getting into with Jamie, was it a good idea? It was a disaster waiting to happen, I kept thinking. It was going to end badly. We both wanted different things out of life, we had to. Jamie was 15 years younger than I was. She had her whole life ahead of her. I was 40, basically middle-aged. I had been around the block already. I should stop this before it gets any further; I thought ruefully, and find somebody my own age.
It was after 1am before I finally got my mind to stop charging around in circles and I fell asleep. I was able to pull myself out of bed in the morning and go off to work, but I knew I only had about a half a day’s worth of energy. Luckily my attorneys were all off at court that day and there wasn’t much to do at the office. By the afternoon I was in a stupor, staring blankly at my computer screen. At one point it started to go into sleep mode, which meant I had been doing nothing but staring at the screen for a full 15 minutes.
I made a stop off at the drugstore on the way home to get condoms. It was the first time I had gone shopping for condoms in at least 5 years. When you had sex with your wife once a month, a 36 pack of condoms would last a while. I stared at the myriad brands and varieties and sizes. Do I get a small box? Do I get a basic box of Trojans or something special? I was so wracked with indecision that I almost walked away empty-handed. No, I stopped myself. I had to get something. Tonight could be the night with Jamie, I thought, remembering our goodnight kiss. I need to be prepared, so I grabbed a big economy box of Trojans and went to pay for it.
I picked up some fast food for dinner and ate it when I got home. It was barely 6pm when I settled into my recliner. Maybe Jamie will come looking for me early tonight, I thought. No, she worked until 7, I remembered, her dentist’s office had late hours. Resigned to having to wait for Jamie, I found myself dozing in front of Seinfeld reruns.
I was startled awake by knocking. I glanced at the clock. It was a little after 8. How long was I asleep? Was it Jamie? Where was the knock coming from? I heard another knock. It was coming from the door. Then I heard Jamie’s voice. “Hello, are you in there?” She asked.
I leapt out of my recliner and over to the door, trying to shake off the effects of my nap. I opened the door and saw Jamie standing there. She was dressed, well, nicely, wearing a blue top and black slacks. Her curly dark hair was cascading down around her shoulders. She made an effort to look good for me, I was thinking to myself. Tonight is going to be the night.
“Hey,” Jamie said. “What, were you asleep in there? Taking your nap old man?”
“No,” I said defensively. “I was in the bathroom,” I added. Yeah, that was much better, I thought sarcastically.
“Whatever,” Jamie said. “So…” she said, and paused.
Here it comes, I thought to myself.
“Do you remember Chris? Jamie asked.
Wait, what? I thought. “Umm yeah,” I said.
“Well, he’s having a few friends over tonight, and I told him I’d stop by. You’re welcome to come too,” Jamie said.
“Err…” I mumbled. It was so unexpected it took a few moments to get my mind around it. “Wait, a party? Here?” I asked. We lived in an apartment complex that had strict guidelines regarding noise.
“Well I wouldn’t call it a party,” Jamie said, “Just some friends and some folks from the building. Usually the party crowd will hang out for a bit and then go out. Call it a social gathering.”
“Umm… okay,” I said, wondering what this meant for us tonight. Hang out there for a bit and then go back to her apartment maybe? It couldn’t hurt to get out and meet some of my neighbors, I thought. “Sure,” I said.
“Okay, cool,” Jamie said. “Go change.”
I reflexively looked down at myself. Right, t-shirt and shorts, I thought, noting how Jamie was dressed. “Oh yeah,” I said. I invited Jamie inside with a wave of my arm and closed the door behind her. I wandered off to the bedroom and picked out a blue polo shirt and khaki slacks. I was pulling down my shorts when I realized that Jamie was standing in the doorway watching me. “Hey!” I said.
“It’s not like I haven’t seen it already,” Jamie said with a grin.
I shrugged and went back to pulling on my khakis. I pulled the polo shirt on right over the t-shirt I was wearing. I slapped on a belt and slipped on my loafers. I was ready to go.
“Wow that was fast,” Jamie said, and she started moving toward the door. We got to my door and I froze. “Wait, should I bring anything?” I asked. I tried to remember Trabzon Escort what was in my refrigerator. I didn’t have any beer, I thought.
“Don’t worry about it,” Jamie said, opening my door. I let her usher me out and I followed her down the long hallway. I had no idea where Chris’s apartment was. I was listening for sounds of a wild party but I heard none. Finally we reached a door near the opposite end of the building. Jamie knocked and I moved up beside her. Now that we were right by the door I could hear voices inside.
After a few seconds the door opened. It was opened by a woman who looked like she just stepped off of a runway in Paris. She had long blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes. She was as tall as I was, dressed in a loose shiny top and a tight, short skirt and high heels that showed off her long legs. She was dressed for clubbing. I watched her glance quickly at me and then over to Jamie.
“Hi Caitlyn,” Jamie said, and the name clicked. This was Chris’s girlfriend. I tried not to stare at her, but it was like trying not to look at bright headlights coming straight at you. “This is Rich,” Jamie said, gesturing to me.
“Nice to meet you Rich,” Caitlyn said, and she held out a dainty hand. I took it and shook it carefully, afraid I was going to break her. “Come on in,” she said to both of us, and I followed Jamie into the apartment. They had one of the two bedroom apartments, I quickly realized, noting the different layout and the door leading to the extra bedroom. The living room was larger too, as well as the kitchen area. I felt a pang of jealousy. I couldn’t afford a place like this anymore.
The living room was full of people, standing, sitting, talking. They were mostly 20-somethings, mostly dressed for a night out. I started to feel underdressed even in a polo shirt and khakis. I felt monumentally out of place, and anxious. I wondered how long Jamie was going to want to stay here.
I was scanning the room, looking at faces. There were one or two people that I remembered passing in the hallways. I didn’t say much more than hello to anyone but Jamie in the two months or so I lived there. I wasn’t a talkative or social person. I didn’t know anybody’s name. I felt Jamie’s presence at my right side and I was determined to stick by her. She was my lifeline.
I noticed Chris, remembering him from our brief encounter in the laundry room. He was making his way towards us. He looked bigger than I remembered. What was he, 6’2? 6’3? I felt a pang of jealousy, knowing that his girlfriend was Caitlyn. “Hey Chris,” Jamie said as he reached us. He leaned down and hugged her. I noticed he had a beer in each hand.
“‘Sup bro,” Chris was saying to me. “Want a beer?” He asked.
I didn’t, not really, I thought to myself. I wasn’t much of a drinker, but it was the social convention, I guess. Most of the people I saw were holding a beer. “Sure,” I said, and I took the bottle from Chris.
“Nice turnout,” Jamie said to Chris.
I saw Chris turn and scan the room. “Totally,” he said, his head bobbing. I shouldn’t judge him too harshly, I thought idly. I’m a man of few words too.
I heard a commotion and realized someone was rushing towards us. It was a woman, short and stocky and a riot of color. She had strawberry blonde hair and was wearing a multi-colored top and green pants. I got a look at her face and she had blue eyeliner and bright red lipstick that was smeared. This girl’s appearance just shouted ‘I’m a mess’ and I guessed she was Jamie’s friend Sue. “Jamie!” She squealed, and I watched, startled as she grabbed Jamie in a bear hug.
“Oh, hey Sue,” Jamie said nonchalantly. Sue must nearly tackle her every day.
“Oh my God, I’m so glad you’re here,” Sue said. “I have so much to tell you.” I watched as Sue took Jamie by the shoulder and started to lead her away. “I had a long talk with Brad last night…”
They were already moving away into the crowd. Jamie turned and looked at me apologetically. I was able to track them with my eyes until Sue pulled Jamie into one of the bedrooms, and then they were gone.
What do I do, do I follow them? Here I was, alone at this party where I didn’t know anybody except for Jamie and… Chris. I realized that Chris was still standing beside me. He was shaking his head. “Chicks, man. Chicks,” he mumbled, and then he took a swig of his beer and started walking away, leaving me alone.
Yeah, this was a nightmare, I was thinking to myself. I started out thinking that this would be ‘the night’ with Jamie, and instead I was standing here alone at this party. Well, it could still happen, I thought, I just had to be patient and wait for Jamie. I was still standing by the door, and I started to move cautiously through the crowd, careful not to bump into or make eye contact with anyone. It seemed like a nice enough group of people, I was just too much of an introvert to want to mingle.
I inched my way over to an unoccupied spot by a wall and leaned up against it with a sigh. I had a prop beer and Escort Trabzon a spot all to myself. I was set, content to stand quietly and people watch for however long I needed to. I found my gaze drifting to Caitlyn. She was hard to miss because of her height and her shiny top. She was the exact opposite of Jamie, I mused, tall and thin and blonde and flat-chested. I wondered if she had any personality at all. She and Chris seemed like a perfect couple, young and attractive and vapid.
Fifteen minutes passed, then half an hour. I started to lose track of time. People were coming and going. I kept staring at the doorway to the bedroom that Sue dragged Jamie into, but there was no sign of either of them. How long could they go on talking? I thought to myself over and over that I would just go and check on Jamie, but I didn’t want to intrude on whatever was going on in there.
I started getting tired of standing there, tired of passing time standing against a wall at a party where I didn’t really know anybody. I started thinking to myself that I would just leave, walk back down to my apartment down the hall and back to my quiet room and comfy recliner. If Jamie ever got herself away from Sue and came looking for me, I’m sure she would find me. I mean, why would she be mad if I left? She ditched me, after all.
I was in the process of psyching myself up to go when I sensed somebody moving into my personal space. I jumped, startled, and focused on the person that was suddenly beside me. It was a girl, a woman, tall and thin, with curly blonde hair down to her shoulders and bright hazel eyes, a button nose and freckles. If it wasn’t for a fashion model-caliber beauty like Caitlyn strutting around the room this woman would easily be the best looking person in it. “Hello,” she said, a little loudly, like she had to shout over a lot of noise to be heard, except it wasn’t that noisy. It was obvious she was inebriated. “Great party.”
I was so ready to leave; it took some willpower to stop myself from walking away from her. I was an introvert, but I wasn’t rude. I would humor her and when she got bored with me I would leave. “Yeah,” I said.
“You work with Chris?” She asked, and I was in such a bored stupor that it took me a moment to remember who Chris was.
“Uh, no,” I said, “I live down the hall.”
“Oh,” she said, “‘Cause you look like a guy that I used to know that worked with Chris and I thought that maybe he would be here tonight…”
She kept on rambling but I tuned her out. I was staring off at the doorway again, wondering about Jamie. What would happen if she came out just then and saw me talking to this woman? Would she be upset? Would it make her jealous? What were we anyway? We weren’t boyfriend and girlfriend, that was for sure. I felt a sudden surge of irritation toward Jamie. I was waiting for her. I was always waiting for her. To hell with it.
“… so I decided to come here for a while. You’re real quiet,” she said to me. “What’s your name?”
“It’s Rich,” I said.
“Hi Rich I’m Ashley,” she said, “I’m Caitlyn’s sister.” She held out her hand and I shook it. Her grip was a little firmer than Caitlyn’s.
I stared at Ashley. Caitlyn’s sister, huh? Now that she said it I could see the resemblance. Similar eyes, similar bone structure. Ashley was a little shorter and her blonde hair was curly. She was a little heavier, but it was in all the right places. I never went for the skinny girls anyway. Now that I thought about it, if you put Caitlyn and Ashley side by side and asked me which one was prettier, I would’ve picked Ashley.
“Are you here with someone?” Ashley asked me.
I froze. Yeah, I was here with Jamie, I said inside my head. I looked over at the doorway again. There was still no sign of Jamie. It wasn’t really her fault, a voice in the back of my head said; she’s being a good friend to Sue. She would probably rather be with me. No, it’s been what, an hour by now? She should’ve found a way to check in on me at least. For all I know she’s sitting there thinking I must have left a long time ago. “I came with my neighbor Jamie,” I eventually said lamely. There. That was a good, neutral response.
“Oh, okay,” Ashley said. “Do you want to go somewhere and talk?”
Do I? I felt a surge of self-awareness. I had a feeling that there were eyes on me now, people seeing us talking and wondering what was going on. Who is that guy talking to Caitlyn’s sister? They would be thinking. Didn’t he come in with Jamie? I wondered about Ashley. I desperately wished I had some kind of wingman with me just then for advice. Ashley might be an alcoholic, or looking to cheat on a large, scary boyfriend with a complete stranger. She might be a psycho hose beast. She might be somebody to avoid at all costs. Somebody else might already know those things. I was completely in the dark here.
“We can go to your place,” Ashley added. “It’ll be quieter there.”
Yeah, it would, I thought idly. I did want to get out of there, and walking out the door Trabzon Escort Bayan with the prettiest girl in the room was any guy’s fantasy. What were Jamie and I really? Friends who did stuff? Neighbors who got a little too neighborly? We didn’t have a real relationship. It wouldn’t be cheating, I thought to myself firmly, although I couldn’t shake a guilty feeling. “Okay, let’s go,” I finally said. I put a hand on her shoulder and started to gently steer her toward the door.
I was hyper-alert, aware of the people that were now definitely watching us leave. I half-expected for someone to block our path and start telling me what a bad idea this was. I was also expecting Jamie to emerge at that moment, just in time to see us leaving. I glanced at the doorway again and again but she wasn’t there. We reached the door and Ashley stumbled a bit. How drunk was she? This really was an awful idea. For all I know she was just going to end up puking in my bathroom.
Suddenly we were out in the hallway. This was happening, for better or for worse, I thought. I moved beside Ashley now, taking hold of her arm and leading her down the hall. She started to lean against me, and I found myself helping to keep her upright. “I’m not really drunk,” Ashley said, although a slight slur in her speech said otherwise, “I’m just not used to walking in heels.”
I glanced down and she was indeed tottering on high heels. They were probably four inch heels. I originally thought Ashley was about 5’9, but when those heels came off she would probably be more like 5’6, maybe. “Okay, well take it easy,” I said, taking a firmer grip on her arm.
“Thanks, you’re such a nice guy,” Ashley said.
Yeah, whatever, I thought sarcastically. We were alone in the hallway, and I peeked over my shoulder once or twice, expecting to see Jamie behind us. We passed the door to Jamie’s apartment and then reached mine. “Here we are,” I mumbled and fumbled for the key in my pocket. I looked at Ashley again, her pretty face giving me the impetus to press forward, even though I thought I was probably making a huge mistake one way or another. I pushed the door open and led her inside.
I watched Ashley’s eyes as she scanned my nearly empty apartment. What was she thinking, I wondered. Then with a start I realized she was looking at the chair still sitting beside the wall in my living room. The wall that was beside Jamie’s bedroom. The chair where I would sit when Jamie and I…
“I don’t want you to think I’m some kind of slut,” Ashley suddenly blurted out. I turned to face her. “I don’t do this usually. This… isn’t me.” She started moving and I helped her over to my recliner where she sat down and immediately pulled off her heels. I quickly pulled the chair away from the wall and sat in front of her.
“I’m about to turn 35, you see,” Ashley said, “And I’ve never done a crazy thing in my life. My party girl sister Caitlyn was going to take me out tonight and get me hammered and get me laid,” she said with a smirk. “I don’t want to go through with it. I had to get out of there.”
“So, I saw you holding up the wall, and I thought to myself, there’s my kind of wallflower. You were my excuse to get out of there. I’m sorry if you thought you were picking up an easy score,” Ashley said.
“No, nothing like that,” I said quickly. “I’m not like that.”
“I didn’t think so,” Ashley said, “A nice young man like you.”
“Young man?” I blurted out. How young did she think I was? Here we go again, I thought.
“I’m sorry,” Ashley said, “You’re what, 25?”
It was my turn to smirk. “Try 40,” I said.
“Get out!” Ashley shouted. She leaned in closer to me. “I may have thought you were my age. Maybe,” she added.
“Well, you don’t look your age either,” I said quickly. “You could also pass for 25 easily.”
“Thanks,” Ashley said, and I could see her blush. “So, what are you doing here?” She asked.
I told her my story, my marriage and divorce, how I was pretty much broke and this was all I could afford. She told me hers. She was a total geek tomboy. She had a masters degree in mathematics. She was an actuary. She worked 60 hours most weeks. She owned a condo a few blocks away.
“I just got out of a long term relationship,” Ashley said, “With an attorney. I worked a lot but he never saw the light of day. We hardly ever saw each other. We would get together once a week if we were lucky. It’s probably one of the reasons why it took so long to realize we weren’t right for each other. He never committed to me in any way. You’d think after a few years we would move in together, or get engaged. I never even met his family. That should’ve been enough of a warning sign. Sorry,” Ashley said, “I babble when I drink. So why didn’t your marriage work?”
I was silent for a few seconds, trying to process what she had just said. I took a deep breath. “My wife was the old-fashioned type,” I said. “She wanted to stay home while her husband went out and brought home the bacon. Only that’s just not feasible in this day and age unless the guy is making six figures, and I didn’t and never will. She said she wanted to stay home and take care of the house and raise the kids, except she never really took care of the house and we never seriously tried to have kids. So in the end my ex wanted to do… nothing.”