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lachlan

The Robe:

The Robe.
    (not the one by Lloyd C. Douglas, another one, newer, not biblical)

Old Bill lived in a small town. To say that everyone called him "old Bill" would be exceedingly misleading, but some folks did, I suppose. Not the neighbourhood kids and not the people who frequented the senior centre, both of those groups called him "Bill"; he liked that, especially from the kids.
For many months Bill had thought of himself as old. He wasn't sad, he kept himself quite active with "bridge", the game Somerset Maugham urged people to learn if they wished to avoid, "the tedium of old age".
He did feel that romance would never again be fully enjoyed. Nostalgia did not play a part when his memory took him back in time, on the contrary all of his recollections in regards romance were fond and he was very grateful for all that went before.
He lived in "Urbania", a small town surrounded by fertile fields which produced an abundance of corn, soya beans, tomatoes, wheat and a few fields of tobacco, a good place populated by some of the nicest people on God's earth. Bill liked those people and they treated him well.
Urbania had a large number of widows and Bill was "unattached"; some of the ladies did show an interest and there was talk, more at speculation really. Sometimes, after bridge and the coffee was poured, and Bill had left the building, his name was brought into play.
On one of those days, Mabel said, "that man needs a woman" and there was general agreement.
Home for Bill is a one bedroom apartment, newly painted when he moved in. His is an end unit  in a  row of six and his kitchen window gives him a view he enjoys; a small field separated from a much larger field by a row of bushes intermingled with trees. The second field rising slightly in the distance with the far side bordered by maples, silver probably but too far to tell: and beyond, the lake, Erie, unseen but no more than three or four miles away.
Ridge Community Estates is made up of six buildings, each having six apartments, and being in a cul-de-sac Bill often thought "enclave" but nothing hostile around or near.
The tenants are a mix of older singles, couples with family and more than their share of single ladies with children. People a little down on their luck who never fail to nod hello or stop to chat. And Bill has favourites, much drawn to the folk who have animals and the ones who have children.
lachlan

The Robe2

Urbania is part of what was once known as "the snow belt", an area which ran from London to Tilbury, a distance of eighty miles. The past few years snow has been scarce; good for some, disappointing for the kids.
This year the predictions have us getting a lot of snow, leastwise a lot more than last year which saw us receive only two snowfalls; not near enough to build an outdoor rink; not cold enough either.
October of this year saw us with a lot of sunshine, rained mostly during the night and many were happy with this; Bill didn't complain but he was looking forward to a few turns around an outdoor rink; he owned a pair of skates, Eastons, the first really good skates he has ever owned.
The town arena opened in the early part of October and by the second Sunday Bill couldn't resist; skates in a carrying bag with a pair of his thinest socks and away to the arena.
He is ten minutes early and watches a kids hockey team finishing a practice session from behind a glass partition which separates the ice area from the foyer. A lady next to him says, "one of them yours" and he smiles and replies, "very gracious of you but all a little young to be mine", and she grins and says, "I knew that, your Bill and one of my sisters says you play bridge, very well". He smiles and replies, "graciousness must run in the family, and seeing as you know who I am perhaps you will tell me your name". She removes one of her gloves, holds her hand towards him and says, "i'm Blanche but answer to Marg". Bill shakes her hand saying, "well, I'm Don Ameche but answers to Bill and Bill would love to have you join him for a coffee at Timmies, after the skating".
A warm smile from Marg and she agrees to have coffee, with the condition that Bill explain Don Ameche..
Bill said, "deal" and a man behind the glass tapped it and indicated to Marg she should enter the skating area: the man was at least ten years younger than Bill and Bill's thought was, "oh well". But he felt Marg's hand on his arm and she said, "brother-in-law, see you on the ice" and he replied, "probably flat on the ice, i'm not much of a skater".
Bill laced up. He had the end of a bench and was putting his jacket and shoes in a tidy pile when he heard, "gramps, you should have a helmet". He was then hugged by six grandchildren, two extras who were wards of Children's Aid, a daughter-in-law and a son who handed a helmet to him and said, "we stopped at your place and a neighbour told us you were here, the helmet is now yours, please use it".
The kids were arguing as to who would be skating with Bill. The D-in-L intervened and said, "Dad, are you with someone" ? Bill said, "sort of, the lady's name is Marg and she is already inside".
D-in-L and son look through the glass and both smile. Son says, "Marg Racine" and D-in-L says, "she might be able to teach you how to stop", then she gathered the kids around and told them to get the skates on because the doors were opening.
Bill watched Marg for a few minutes before venturing on to the ice. He was holding on to the boards when Marg arrived at his side, saying, "i too am an iffy skater so perhaps we should hold on to each other". He laughed, guffawded, chortelled, whatever takes your fancy and said, "Marg, I watched you for a few minutes, you help one kid to get off his ankles and smooth a turn for another, a guess says you teach power skating, well perhaps not a guess because my son knows who you are and he attended power skating taught by a woman...AND...I like you, hope we will become friends, friends who can be completely honest with each other.
lachlan

The Robe3

They were ready to skate, together, holding hands. Bill's look took in most of the other skaters on the ice and his thought was, "this old man is with the best looking woman in the joint" and he felt good.
Marg skated on the outside, closer to the boards than Bill. She squeezed his hand and said, "you had a bit of a smile so tell me, what were you thinking" ? And he laughed and answered, "no, ehm, nothing really, nothing important, i'm eh just feeling good".
They were nearing the bench on the far side and Marg tugged his hand, stopped and opened the bench door, saying, "in and sit"; and he obeyed. She closed the door, slid the bolt across, leaned over the boards and said, "you were thinking something pleasant and I want to share", and Bill laughed.
He leaned forward, placed his hands on top of hers and said, "c'mon Marg, give this old man a break, I am constantly accused of far too much flattery so what say we skate", and he made to rise. Marg said, "not so fast, just tell me, and stop with the "old man" bit".
He told her. She looked around at the skaters then looked at Bill and said, "thank-you".
Just before they  resumed skating she had him un-zipper his jacket and she moved to the inside, took his left hand in her left hand and slid her right hand under his jacket and held his sweater in a bunch. I think you might be ready for a tiny cross-over step, just take a couple of minutes and look at the couple skating together. Bill looked and muttered "my God" and it was Margs turn to grin and she answered him with, "we will start a lot slower, sort of slow motion". Ten circuits and they were progressing. Marg whispered, "coffee time" and Bill replied, "two more turns but I want my arm around you". Marg was skeptical but willing: they fell before the first turn.
And so to Timmies.
lachlan

The Robe4

They left the ice, Bill back to his corner of a bench and Marg towards a side room; she said, "five minutes" and Bill nodded agreement.
His skates were off, wiped dry and placed in his bag. He was one of those people who never seem to be in a hurry and this day was no exception. The laces of his first shoe were being tied when he heard Marg say, "howdy slow poke, I have been watching you for the past five minutes, what was going on in that mind of yours (?)", and in his best western drawl he answered, "hon, ah was thinkin of you, thinkin thit jist maybe, you and me could skip timmies, go to my hacienda and you could show me how to W*** one of them there new fangled machines what sucks the dust right outa them thair carpets".
She leaned down, cupped his chin in her hand and said, "no chance Mr. Cheapskate, you invited me, you pay and your chances of getting into my good books will increase a lot if a "boston cream" donut is included, PLUS, your to explain Don Ameche.
Timmies was just the other side of the arena parking lot and Bill left his skate bag in his car. He asked Marg about her skates but she has a locker inside the ladies dressing room. He looked at her and she said, "it's one of the percs for being part of the arena "in crowd" and Bill answered, "figures".
Timmies was not too crowded. They went straight to a cashier and she was one who knew Bill, she smiled, said, "hi Marg, what's your secret, half the women in town are after this one" and Marg answered, "my good looks, charm and i'm going to teach him how to stop"...and the cashier with hand on hip said, "hells bells, my idea would be to get him going and you want him to stop, different strokes, I suppose"....Bill held up a hand and the cashier added, "I know, I know, extra small double-double in a china cup, so you go sit down and Marg will bring your coffee and her own, French Vanilla supreme with a Boston Cream" then she held out a hand for the money...Bill paid and went to a table.
lachlan

the robe

5
Marg placed the tray on the table. She placed the extra small in front of Bill, also a plate with an apple fritter, served herself and put the tray on an empty table. Bill nodded towards the apple fritter, asked, "why an apple fritter". And a beaming Marg said, "because I am told that you make those for breakfast and I have never before met a man who baked apple fritters, besides, Lynda (the cashier) told me that you liked them...would you have preferred a dutchie" ?
Bill was laughing so much he couldn't speak but he held up his hand and Marg waited, a little puzzled at his re-action. Finally Bill could talk. He told Marg "the fritters I make for breakfast are not apple and my fritters are part of a joke, or perhaps a fantasy". She wanted more of an explanation and he said, "how about we save that for another day" ?
He was not completely finished laughing. Marg touched his hand saying, "I want to know what is so funny", and Bill said, "why don't we start with Don Ameche" ? Marg was fine with that but knew she would not let the other go.
lachlan

The robe

6

Bill explained Don Ameche, parts of which were simply his own opinions. Ameche's early successes were in radio. He might have had parts in movies but he did have a resemblance to Gilbert Roland, a heart throb from the silents through the early talkies, which may have not worked in his favour.
One of the half hour radio shows featured a fifteen minute segment named, "The Bickersons"; the name says it all and the stars were Don Ameche (John, the husband) and his long suffering wife, Blanche, read by Frances Langford. This segment eventually made it as a half hour TV presentation and very popular it was, the era being the middle fifties.
Marg stared at him for a minute then said, "you think I was named after a character on TV" ? to which he answered, "perhaps, it really isn't a common name and were you not born in the fifties" ? She smiled and said, "you I could fall in love with, however, by the time the middle fifties had arrived, I was ten years old".
Bill processed this information, nodded and then said, "i'm not very good at women's ages", to which Marg said, "I think you do fine, but for the record, my next birthday cake will need 67 candles".
When Marg mentioned her age, Bill said nothing. Marg watched as he seemed to withdraw. He lifted his coffee mug towards his mouth but did not sip. Marg said, "Bill, where are you, I feel as if you have gone; is it my age (?), surely that cannot be a problem, you are older than I am and middle sixties is no longer considered old". Bill put his mug down and said, "no, no, ehm, I really have no problem with your age, I eh, I have no problem with anything about you", and Marg nodded.
A small sigh escaped Bill but only Marg noticed it. He said, "should we be leaving here or would you care for another coffee". Marg answered, "I am not in a rush  but don't really want another coffee;  I was going to ask something but feel like I should just shut up, I am lost, Bill, and I was thinking we were getting along".
Bill apologized, said, "Marg I have really enjoyed meeting you, would love to see you again, it is just that the day seems to have caught up with me, blame it on my age, I am just plain tired".
They returned to the arena parking lot and Bill walked Marg to her car. She unlocked her door and looked at Bill, saying, "are we going to see each other again" ? Bill said, "I hope so, I have duplicate tomorrow afternoon and, lets see". Marg put two fingers up to his mouth and said, "I have been told that you enjoy the lemon chicken at the "tasty", tomorrow at 5.30, seniors menu and my treat". He looked to be readying an excuse and she kissed him very lightly on the lips, said, "do not be late", got into her car and drove away........she glanced into the rearview mirror and he hadn't moved by the time she had turned onto the street.
Bill climbed into the "Aztec", banged his head on the mirror, saw his reflection and thought, "that woman is out of my league".
lachlan

The robe

7

Bill drove straight to the apartment, the ranch, the hacienda, his place, his place and only his place. As soon as he steeped inside he was ready to leave, ready to visit the variety store for a scratch ticket because he did one everyday. But today, he thought, no scratch ticket.
He turned the computer on. Took his shoes off and walked into the bedroom and sat on the edge of his bed. He slid his feet into his slippers. He was facing his closet, a large enough affair with three sliding doors; more than enough room for his needs.....and a small voice said, "be careful old man, the past is past": but memories are sometimes difficult to suppress.
He made a pot of tea and sat at his computer. Marg, Marg, Marg, sixty-six; certainly doesn't look it; but then again a lot of women don't look their age. And very, very attractive. Good body, athletic, a lot fitter than himself. He shook his head and thought, we must nip this in the bud, if needs must then find someone nearer his own age....besides, no guarantees  that everything will W***.
He logged on to a few web sites but his mind kept wandering. He chided himself but knew what he had to do....he has a problem, he calls or writes to Stan, a valued friend for many years.
No answer.
No answer makes Bill wonder; Stan is in his late seventies.  E-mail will have to do and Bill does believe that if the absence of Stan was because of something serious, they would have let him know.
Bill sat and looked at this keyboard. No idea what he was going to say but was comfortable, the thing between he and Stan had to do with trust and Bill knew that Stan, whatever his answer, would have the best interests of Bill in his mind.
Bill typed three pieces of e-mail and settled on the following. Stan: I have met someone (pay attention, I distinctly heard, "again, you lucky son of a gun"). The someone is eight years younger than me, (again). But this time I am more than a bit apprehensive, something I wasn't the last time.
This lady is Marg, gorgeous in every way, perhaps too good to be true. And then again I think to myself, why not just go for it ? And the answer is, because the endings ain't easy to take. And another thing is why is this so very different from the last time...the last time I wanted everything instantly, I even knew, very early on, that what I felt was not what the lady felt.....
Do you think that I am afraid ? That didn't occur to me until now. Honest to God, Stan, she meets the first criteria in that she is absolutely likable, someone I could talk to, someone to share time with....Stan I just don't know.
I am supposed to meet her for dinner, tomorrow. Perhaps I should cancel...
Bill
lachlan

The robe

8

An hour later the following e-mail hit Bill's in-box.
You horses ass...you poor sap..."perhaps I should cancel" he whines...I was thinking of not answering because you are already hooked; enjoy my friend, life is very short.
Stan
Bill sat at his computer. He visited a couple of web sites, checked his e-mail and played some freecell. If he were asked what he had read in the past fifteen minutes he would have no answer, he had no clue.
He did a shut down, switched the TV on and sat watching it. He returned to the computer and noticed the small red light on his phone, flash; a call but by the time he answered, the caller had hung up and Bill remembered that his hearing aids were not in his ears.
He returned to the TV, put the hearings aids in and sat, paying no attention to the box. He berated himself, his thinking was, "this is really stupid, surely I am not nervous" and then he laughed and said aloud, "ridiculous"...he decided to polish his shoes.
Polishing his shoes always took Bill back in time, more than fifty years, his time in the Air Force. A time full of promise, a time when he started drinking, a time when opportunity was ignored; also a time when his shoes were always shined.
He brought his shoe polishing bag from the cupboard and started. A small brush coated both shoes with a slight amount of polish. The same brush was used as a buffer and a soft, white cloth usually finished the job; this time there was an extra buffing.
In his bag he kept a pair of red silk boxer shorts. These had started to fray and Bill thought to throw them out. He included them in a load of washing and when they were dried he thought they would make a good polishing cloth, kept them with his shoe polishing paraphernalia. Memories were good but the past is past and this would be the first time the boxers would do what they were saved for.
He then did his dress shoes and began planning what to wear for his date; he smiled at the thought of having a date. A look at the clock said it was too early for dinner but he felt the need to do something; couldn't think of a better thing to do than another trip to "timmies".
lachlan

robe 9

9

Some of the nicest people you will ever meet, W*** at timmies, and W*** they do, very little chance for a break because timmies is really under staffed. Bill parked, not in a space by the building but one across the small lot where he liked to back in, so much easier when leaving.
The time was nearing 6.00 PM and the thought occurred that he would probably be questioned about his earlier visit; do I or don't I came to mind. And as he sat, a change of shift took place.  Lynda saw him, waved and gave a thumbs up; Bill got out of the Aztec and yelled thank-you, before going inside.
He was glad of the shift change, thinking nobody would ask about Marg. The cashier welcomed him with a smile, said, "extra small, double-double in china", took his money and handed him his change before adding, "I hear you are seeing Marg, you certainly can't do better, treat her nice Bill, she is special". And as he took his coffee he said, "we had a coffee, only a coffee, we are not exactly "seeing" each other"...and the grinning young woman said, "you make a nice couple".
He sat. Silently cursed himself for not buying a ticket. Another member of staff was mopping the floor and stopped by his table...."you and Marg making plans" ? and he laughed and said, "no, I don't think so, I wanted to be married in Beirut and she wants a Vegas wedding"; and all she said was "oh".  
He finished his coffee and left. Stopped at his bridge partners house and once inside said, "are we still on for tomorrow" ? And the reply was, "ay, why shouldn't we be" ? to which Bill said, "no reason, just making sure".
Then the lady of the house came through the front door, smiled and said, "I heard, you and Marg, about time"; his partner chimed in with, "you and Marg, God, surely wur no gonnae go through whit we did when you wur seeing the other" and Bill, quite vigorously said, "we had a coffee, that is all, end of story, I'm out of here". The last thing he heard was, "don't be late for the "tasty".
Back to the apartment, pulled into his parking space and turned the motor off. His mind registered "shoot" because he had meant to stop for a scratch ticket and here he was without one. He re-started the engine and turned his head to whoever had tapped on his window; a neighbour, an elderly widow who was always in a good mood: she was grinning ear to ear and motioned for him to roll the window down.
He shook his head no, turned the car off and stepped out. He smiled at her and said, "God, this really is a small town, isn't it (?) and you want to know who I had coffee with"....her reply, "of course not, I knew about Marg before you got home the first time, I just wanted to say that many of us think it's about time". He started to state his case that he was fine, perfectly happy with his life, when she waved a dismissive arm and said, "phooey", before returning to her place.
Bill did not go to his apartment, he felt the need for a walk and a little time with himself, plus a walk to the variety store would not only give him a bit of exercise it would also give him the chance to get a scratch ticket.
He was deep in thought, three quarters of the way to the store when he heard, "hello Romeo", Jake, one of the bridge players was walking towards him. "C'mon Jake, I had a coffee with the woman, that is all" and Jake said, "she is one sharp looking lady and will no doubt help you to forget Myrna, now, before you run off, come up to my place, the better half is dying to talk to you but, we must say that you are with me to help with the damned lap top".
In the elevator, Jake said, "Gemma has phoned your place three times, she is quite excited that you have finally found someone. And when the elevator stopped at the fourth floor, Bill was saying, "Jake, please listen, I had a cup of coffee with a lady, we are not ready to elope or anything else"....but Jake held up the key to his apartment and said, very quietly, "shoosh, remember you are here about the laptop". The door was opened and Jake yelled, "Gemma, we have company".
lachlan

robe 10

10

Jake kicked off his shoes, walked to the living room and Bill, undoing his laces heard Gemma, "so who is the company" and Jake said, "I met the fella while I was walking and he is going to help me with the damned laptop". Gemma sighed, "give it up Jake, you do not have enough patience and watch your mouth, no need to swear".
Bill walked into the living room and Gemma's smile radiated, "Bill, you just come over by my chair, sit on the couch, we need to talk" and Jake said, "just a minute, he is here to help me" to which Gemma replied, "oh hush Jake, you just go and make the coffee, the damn laptop is a waste of time anyway"....Jake smiled said to Bill, "such language eh, and from a lady"...but he quickly went to the kitchen.
Gemma began, "I have heard a few things but you tell me, is Marg going to be special" ?...and she patted his hand...."Gemma, we had a coffee, we are having a meal at the tasty" and Gemma interrupted with, "tonight?, your meeting at the tasty tonight ?" and he said, "no, tomorrow...Gemma, everyone is blowing this all out of proportion and besides she is much younger than I am", and Gemma patted his hand again and said, "so was Myrna and that didn't stop you from flying here there and everywhere to see her.....Marg is local, and, you may not have noticed, but Marg is better looking".
At this point Jake returned from the kitchen and said, "not too sure about that,  differences for sure but Myrna was very attractive....and Gemma told Jake, "hush, any woman under ninety is attractive to you, Marg is local and don't you dare tell me that you haven't given her the eye".
Jake went to pour the coffee.
Coffee, biscuits and a look at the laptop. Bill had turned the laptop on and asked Jake for the password, which Jake had saved in a small note pad. Bill looked at the password for a few minutes and said, "this is the password for your e-mail, we need the password for your wifi" and Jake's response was, "I don't even know what that is".
Bill was no expert and he asked Jake who had put him on line because Bill had received e-mail from him. Jake gave him the name and Bill said, "okay, almost sure we can find your wifi connection without calling anyone". He clicked to see the hidden icons and there were five connections to choose from; one was J_M123 and that was the one needed for the apartment.
Jake was truly amazed while Gemma could not have cared less. Bill showed Jake the other icons and told him he could use the laptop at timmies and McDonalds, the other two were unknown and the laptop was bought second hand.
Bill was ready to leave and Gemma said, "Bill I really think that you and Marg will be good for each other, of course I do remember when you first met Mary, boy, that was long before Myrna and I thought you were quite taken with her". Bill said, "I do remember, also remember thinking she was a lot younger than she really is....a long time ago", and he took his leave.
He did think of Mary on his way home; a missed opportunity (?) perhaps, but he always felt that she would have declined any advances.
lachlan

robe 11

11

Bill arrives back at his flat, 9.30 PM, dark and he wonders where the time has gone.   He thinks, "perhaps an early night, the walk, the fresh air and maybe, just maybe he will fall asleep"...he didn't think so and decided to have tea. Kettle plugged in and one of those useless conversations with himself, "kettle, this is not a kettle, a kettle has a spout which lets the water sprinkle out of when it has come to a boil, or, like my Mums, it has a cap on the spout and the cap contains a whistle" and he had to smile at the memory....a sigh because the water in the plastic thing was heating up.
He made tea and thought of, "tomorrow". A morning walk wouldn't hurt, bridge in the afternoon...and...Marg....."why oh why did I not say no, i'm busy, a need to visit Grande Pointe, anything".
He went to bed, tried to read, tossed and turned, got up around six, found his tea untouched in his mug and warmed it in the microwave. He stared out of his kitchen window but it was too dark to see anything.
He went on line, played freecell. Checked his in-box and had one message from Amazon and one from a friend....nothing more and this usually pleased him, but not this morning.
He went into his bathroom and brushed his teeth, had a good look at himself and had to laugh, and thought, "Marg my dear, we are having dinner, just you and me, and you are beautiful, I am not....AND, I am not falling for another beautiful woman cos I been there and done that....time for breakfast...beans on toast with a fried egg.
8.30 AM, Bill is doing his breakfast dishes. His kitchen window overlooks a field of soya beans, fully grown and waiting to be harvested. One field over is the same crop and beyond that field is the lake, Erie. A misty morning but not for long, the thermometer is on the rise and a high of 16C is expected; Bill takes in the beauty of the scene but his thinking is, too damned warm for this time of year.
Bill wonders what Marg is doing, realizes he doesn't know where she lives and picks up his phone book. He finds two Racines, both with rural route 1 addresses, but only one with the initials B. M. He dials and hears the ringing at the other end. That little voice says, "what in hell are you doing, suppose she answers" and before he can hang up, "hello"?
"Ehm, Marg (?), it's, a, Bill, i'm a" and before he can add anything, Marg cuts in. "Bill, I have ident-acall but that only helps if the number is one I would recognize....you sound tongue tied, it sounds as if you have called and now that I have answered you are at a loss". He is silent. Marg waits in silence, but soon says, "Bill, I did push for our dinner date", I thought we would both enjoy it, I'm sorry, you want to cancel and I understand". She was about to hang up when Bill yelled, "NO, WAIT, I did not phone to cancel, I phoned because of my view" "your view" from Marg..."yes, the view from my kitchen window overlooks a couple of the fields owned by the family who live in the big house just past Maple Street, I didn't and still not sure where you live and my morning view is always spectacular", and, so help me she started to giggle.
Half a minute later she says, "Bill, I love the way your mind works, I really do...and, after dinner we will drive by my house.
Bill nods as if Marg could see him and then says, "there are two Racines in the phone book, are you related" ? Marg answers "yes, the other is my sister and we both were divorced and took back the family name"......then added, "bye, Bill, don't be late".
lachlan

robe12

12Bill plans to stay home all morning. He could do a load of wash but that would mean visiting the community estate office which also houses washing machines and driers, but, he would run into some of the neighbours and they would be sure to ask about Marg. So, two hours later he is busy with freecell, not really paying attention.
His vacuum cleaner is within view and he uses it, ten minutes and he  has done half of his bedroom. Back to freecell and a hundred questions about Marg are needing answers, or perhaps not. The thing is, what does he need to know ? Five seconds and his first question is, "would she go to bed with me......no, no, no, a ridiculous question, doesn't deserve an answer", and he wonders again if he is afraid.
Time passes and he realizes he will need to hurry if he is going to be in time to help with the set up. Dressed and must take the car lest he be late. Finds a parking place and goes to the post office for his mail. Then to the centre and Wendy has all the tables in place and most of the chairs; Angus is helping her finish and Bill makes coffee.
Wendy is everyones favourite young person. Good looking, bright, cheerful, always available and she seems to like the old folk. This is one senior centre which has been very lucky with co-ordinators, three since Bill arrived and all very well liked. Wendy is married, happily married and all the men respect that. Of course, she, and many another good looking female will always remind our senior men of days gone by.
Bill and Angus sit with a coffee and Angus says, "you gonnae be thinking bridge" ? And Bill says, "of course, a dinner with a younger woman is simply that"...."so" says Angus, "it's no like when you were seeing Myrna, ah mean, your game isnae going to be wandering aroond in outer space, issit" ? And Bill says, "surely I wasn't that bad" and Angus answers, "ye wur".
The first hand went very well; opponents bid to a four level (means they need to take ten tricks) and took only eight tricks. Angus says, "not bad but you take your ace of diamonds and they are down three, bridge my man, think bridge".
Second hand was played by Bill, three no trump and he went down four, mainly because he thought hearts were trump. The afternoon was very long.
Bridge was over and Angus put the tables and chairs away in record time, said to Bill, "lets have a coffee and a chat" and led Bill to the other room.
They sat away from the others and Angus said, "I would love to see you in a serious  relationship with Marg". Bill said "och" with more than a wee bit of anger. Angus continued, "hear me oot....when ye started tae get serious aboot Myrna, which happened awfy fast, as I recall, your game went south, but no aw the time, ye see when she was here, your game was as guid as it has ever been, mibee ye wur content, so, dae ye get my point". Bill nodded agreement.
Then Angus said, "ahm no trying tae interfere, ahm just wanting tae see ye settled, and no just for your guid". "Ah know" says Bill, "yur a guid friend but am not too sure aboot Marg, awfy attractive and awfy young".
Angus headed for his home and Bill sat for a few minutes with Jake. Jake says, "you were bloody awful, today, I think you might need a woman in your life". Gemma said, "hear, hear" and Bill said his farewells.
He was home by five and decided to walk, the "tasty" was a seven minute stroll but he stretched that to fifteen minutes, arriving ten minutes early.
lachlan

Robe13

Julie greeted him as soon as he entered the "tasty". She came from behind the counter with two menus in hand, walked up to Bill and said, "come", leading him to a far table which was close to the fireplace. She said, "you want lemon chicken but tonight you should have a menu"...she smiled, added, "you meeting Mahg Rahsin, allus Chinese know Mahg, she nice lady, you be lucky man"...and Bill answered, "us Scots will try to be grayful....and", to which Julie said, "I know, I know, you want lemon chicken and two glass water", then he asked for a coffee. Julie raised her eyebrows and said, "coffee, I bring coffee and it is on house".
Bill sat and read the menu, cover to cover, Got up and walked to the window farthest away from him. Time passed. He searched for a clock and Marg was late, ten minutes late. Julie was behind the counter and he looked directly at her and she shrugged.
His mind wandered back many years when he was supposed to meet a date at a half way point between where he was living and her home; and she didn't show. He was angry that time until he learned that the lady had been in a car accident, spent two weeks in a hospital and he had made no inquiries.
His mind was made up, "not this time", he thought, "five more minutes and I phone, Marg, her sister, anyone who might know anything. One minute and Marg walked in, stomped might be more accurate; she walked right to Julie and in a few seconds she followed Julie's pointed finger. Bill and Marg stared at each other and then she came to him. He stood and she said, "where is your car, I have driven around the block ten times, I thought you were going to be a no show, so why no car" ? Bill sat, leaned back in his chair and said, "you are late, Marg, I have been here waiting, perhaps you should stop this little tirade, you are completely out of line and if you wish to cancel, so be it".
She sat and leaned forward, her eyes ablaze, staring daggers at him said, "cancel (?) don't even think of it, I will buy your meal, we will eat and then continue this conversation, perhaps later I will demonstrate a tirade.
Bill nodded to Julie and she came to take the order, saying, "Marg, Bill having lemon chicken, what for you" ? and Bill reached over and took one of Marg's hands into his and said, "the lemon chicken is very good, but only served to ladies who can smile". Marg closed her eyes and said, "yes, lemon chicken, please, I thought you had been in an accident, I don't know why".
This was the "tasty chicken", "oriental cuisine", both knew that their food would not be there in a flash. Bill was looking at Marg and Marg was looking at the table cloth, the fireplace, the wall behind Bill until Julie placed a coffee in front of her. Julie, very softly, perhaps tentatively, said, "okay" ? and Marg laughed and said, "yes, yes, I am fine, feel a little stupid but fine now".
She took one sip of coffee and looked at Bill who was grinning ear to ear. "What, now what, I already said I was sorry" and Bill said, "me too, I also thought you had an accident" and both started to laugh. Marg reached his hand, squeezed and said, "thankyou".
They ate, neither disappointed with the food, neither had ever been disappointed with the "tasty". And they talked. Bill mentioned her hair, "don't know why but thought you might have a pony tail under the touque you wore on Sunday". Marg answered, "of course you know why, i'm a skater and many, many chorus line skaters had pony tails, only the olympic champion lead skater was allowed short hair, she made that cut famous". Bill shook his head, smiled and said, "folk do tell me things and you were more than chorus line, a comedy skit which became very popular, TOO popular". And she smiled and said, "I suppose, but it did bring me home and I have no regrets".
It was past eight o'clock when Julie came to their table. "We empty, no one but you two, you want more coffee (?), if not we want to go home". Marg payed the bill and Bill supplied the tip and they left, climbed into Marg's car and she said, "where to" ?
lachlan

Robe14

Bill thought about it, easy to say, "your place or mine", but, but, but. Marg touched his arm. He was facing her and she shrugged and said, "well (?), up to you, your place is closest and i'm sure you are not going to come on to me hot and heavy; are you" ? Bill said, "don't know, I do know that I wouldn't promise not to come on to you, and besides, my place is, shall we say, "lived in".
Marg laughed and said, "you are being very cautious, lived in sounds fine, can't see your place being grubby". Bill replied, "timmies, please, on the double, I need a washroom"...she laughed and added, "Bill, that is more information than I need".
Marg steered onto Main Street and as they passed the war memorial Bill asked if any relatives were listed, "just the one", she said, "one of my Mums cousins, brothers were too young and a lot of farmers in my family, many exempt from the war, I have been to a few of the remembrance day services; it's the first war which really gets to me; don't really know why, just seems so much more vicious, cruel, I don't know...she shivered....Bill said nothing but silently agreed.
As they passed the arena Bill said, "your home away from home" and she answered, "yes, I suppose it is....if you are doing nothing tomorrow morning, early, seven AM, I will be there, alone and ready to show you how to stop.....but there is a price....I want YOUR version of the fritters". She backed into a parking space and on the way in said, "my treat, you wanna dutchie" ? He nodded and said he would grab a table.
They were seated at a corner table, a view through the front and side windows. Marg bit into her Boston Cream and the front of her blouse received it's share. She said, "damn, I need a serviette" and Bill obliged, also offered to remove the cream without using it; Marg declined his offer, "perhaps a little too public" and she winked.
Boston Cream and Dutchie finished, then Marg said, "fritters". Bill complied, the story being that he did make fritters, a recipe for the batter from his ex-wife to one of his daughters, to him...and the joke was that any lady, spending the night at the hacienda, and happy in the morning, would earn fritters in bed for breakfast; he added that no one had taken him up on the offer.
Marg nodded, "pretty much what I heard but no one is saying whether you had takers or not, surely someone" and Bill replied, "I seem to recall taking a few fritters to the centre, perhaps for Wendy or maybe the lady before her, and, yes, I did cook a few at the centre, definitely when Wendy was working".
Another nod before Marg said, "what about your visitor" ? To which bill said, "a long time ago"...he did not look happy and Marg said, "Bill, don't you freeze up on me, i'd sooner you said, "not your business", but it is a simple question and I am wondering if that episode is really over".
He leaned back in his seat, looked her straight in the eye and said, "yes, one lot of fritters not for breakfast and they were a disaster and yes it is over, well over, and it was a long time ago". Marg said, "okay" and then her eyes opened wide and she said, "oh my God, my ex with his latest partner, please just don't ask". Bill smiled and said, "not a word, promise"...then Marg added, "don't look so smug this is not some sort of trade-off where you don't ask about him and I receive no information about , oh damn, here they are".
lachlan

Robe15

The ex, without an invitation, sat, he made no introductions and his "partner", also male, looked a little uncomfortable until Bill pulled the last remaining seat back from the table and indicated he should sit.
The ex gave Bill a dismissive glance while Bill took him in, thinning, straggly, grey hair, not shaved, shirt open to the waist showing a shaved chest and the remnants  of nail polish. And Bill thought, "the S.O.B. must have stayed in the closet until he married Marg". Bill was not a homophobe, simply objected to those who married women.
The ex was whispering to Marg and she shut him up with a forceful, "NO", looked at Bill and said, "this is my ex, haven't seen him for a year and at that time he was calling himself "Jay". Bill acknowledged "Jay" with a nod and "Jay" said, "I now use "Troy", got tired of "tweety-bird"....Marg looked at the "partner" and he said, "i'm Dave, born Dave Jones". Marg, replied, "i'm Marg and this is Bill Harris".
Dave shook hands with Bill and said, "you from Scotland" ? Bill said he was and Dave said, "I remember the name, a long time ago, might not have recognized you but I do now". Bill was puzzled and Dave continued, "Detroit, the Purple Onion" and a grinning Troy said, "oh, a gay bar, small world". But Dave cut him off, "not one of us but very glad he was there that night". He then shook Bill's hand and said, "thankyou, i'm going for a smoke".
Marg looked at Bill and raised one eyebrow, he said, "always wanted to be able to do that". She rolled her eyes and turned to Troy, "I have no money for you, none, you stuck, too bad, enough is enough, stay to hell away from me". And his reply, "please, a hundred gets us back to Toronto, we were robbed last night"...she held up a hand, rummaged through her handbag and put some bills into his hand, "$50, that is it, you need more go rob the robbers".
She looked at Bill and said, "please, lets go" and they left. Walking to the car when Dave came to them and once again shook Bill's hand and said another, "thankyou".
lachlan

14

14

Before they were out of the parking lot, Marg said, "the purple onion (?), a gay bar (?) please do not go silent on me, don't say you don't remember, you did something which pleased Dave,  c'mon, tell me".
Bill said, "sure, not a big deal". "A friend was visiting from Ottawa, we hit Lindell's AC, the National and a few others, ended at the purple onion". I had been there before when it wasn't a gay bar, had another name but cannot remember what it was".
"My buddy was a bit bigger than me, around two hundred pounds, broken nose and a few scars; he was a mover" and Marg interjected, "mover" ? Bill said, "yes, someone good to have on your side if there is a brawl, he was fast, hard and a very heavy hitter". "We had just ordered and he remarked that we were in a gay bar; neither of us cared, we planned on a couple of house specials, "grasshoppers" as I recall, before going back across the border".
"Two "straights" were being macho with a couple of gays and I asked the waiter to tell them to back off, which he did". "Both came to our table and one said something about short-asses needing a lesson". "I said, lets take it outside and his friend said, "I gotta see this" and he poked my buddy in the chest and said, "you coming". "He very quickly ended on his rear end and my buddy told him it was a private party; the other one led the way to the back door and we had a bit of a tussle, end of story".
Marg said, "I don't think so, you are the one who talks about honesty....withholding info is the same as lying".
By this time they were on the other side of Ridgetown and Bill told Marg where to turn. She parked in a visitors space and before she turned the motor off, one of Bill's neighbours was standing by the side of the car and greeting Marg. While Marg was talking to Giselle, and Bill slipped out of the car, walked around to Marg's side, said, "excuse me Giselle" leaned into the open window and kissed Marg, a long, clingy, hungry kiss; then he said, "7.30 AM and don't be late". Marg said, "wait, wait. wait" but it fell on deaf ears.
Not yet 6.00 AM, a Tuesday, middle of October and the forecast says a high of 18C, 65 the old fashioned way. Bill already out of bed and in the shower. He has made a morning commitment and briefly wonders about meditation, which he feels is wrong for him....however he does wonder about "God", wonders if there is really a plan for himself, and thinks of Marg. Asks himself, "could it be, could it be", answers, "surely not".
He shaves, starts the percolator and gets dressed; a splash of a very expensive after shave makes him smile and thinks, "no way, too young, too good looking", but.
It is nearly seven and through the gap in his bedroom curtains he sees Marg walking towards his flat. He reaches his front door, opens it as Marg is pressing on the bell. She peers at him and lifts her shoulders, "I saw you coming, thought I better open the door, the bell doesn't W***", he says, "and if it did I would not hear it until I put the hearing aids in.........come in coffees ready and I will be one minute.
lachlan

15

15
Bill is putting the hearing aids into his ears, places one of his stools beside his breakfast counter, points to it and says to Marg, "Madam". She replies, "thank you kind sir" and Bill picks up the kettle, saying, "for you I have, Tim Hortons French Vanilla Cappuccinnno", and Marg has a huge grin, she says, "you bought French Vanilla Cappuccino for me", ? And he has to admit it was already in the apartment. She smiles says, "ah, Bill, someone from your past...not asking any questions..and, I would sooner have a regular blend, much too early for something so sweet".
He poured and sat opposite Marg, he on the kitchen side and she on the living room side. One sip and she said, "I love the aroma of coffee....and...just a minute", she stood and walked around to Bill's side and put her face to his cheek, sniffed and said, "wow, that could turn a lady's head, tell me that is for my benefit and I might let you have your way, with me" but when she looked at him she continued, "oh Bill, you are blushing, i've embarrassed you and I didn't mean to, I was joking".
Bill stood, kissed her very lightly on the lips and said, "I will definitely accept your offer after you teach me to stop....on skates...now back to your own side".
She sat on her stool, touched his hand, looking him straight in the eye she said, "anytime will suit me fine".
Bill half filled the sink with soapy water and left the mugs to soak. He turned the percolator off and said, "to the arena" and Marg answered, "not without a jacket". BIll told her what the forecast called for and she said, "it is early morning, sixties this afternoon and it will be cold on the ice, cold enough for a jacket and gloves". He lifted his jacket from the back of a chair and told Marg that his gloves were in the car. Marg said, "good, then we might as well use your gas".
He parked in the arena parking lot and Marg suggested a timmies sausage in a bun before the skating, Bill said, "no thanks", Marg said, "I'll buy", Bill said "to take out or eat in", and Marg said, "leave your skates in the car and we will pick them up when we have eaten"....Bill was not about to leave his "eastons" in a car, he carried them into timmies and sat at a table, waited for Marg to bring his bun and double double extra small.
When the buns were finished and they were lingering over their coffees, Marg said, "Bill, seriously, do you think I am being pushy about, you know". Bill replied, "no, I think you are nervous and I know I am, it has been a while and at my age, who knows". She took one of his hands, said, "Bill your, "it has been a while" is measured in months, don't look at me like that, everyone in town knows when your lady last visited, and my "while" is a bit longer", then she sighed and added, "ten years".....Bill took both of her hands and said, "when the time is right, now let us skate and remember that I need to be in Blenheim by one".
lachlan

16

16
When they entered the arena the zamboni had finished re-surfacing the ice, it had been driven off and the driver was mopping the excess water at the doorway, Marg waved and the driver said, "give it a few minutes". She took Bill by the hand and led him into the change room used by referees and a few instructors.
Bill placed his skates on the bench seat, untied his shoes and felt Marg's hands on his shoulders. He looked at her and she said, "before you put those skates on, I need a down payment", and she kissed him, much in the same way he had kissed her on Monday.
She stood straight up and said, "now we are even". Bill stood, pulled her towards him and said, "not quite", before kissing her and adding, "NOW we are even, last night a light touching of tongues, your kiss was a little bolder than mine and I needed to even things up".
They put their skates on and started to leave the dressing room when Marg said, "I have a key and could lock the door" and Bill replied,"then there would be no stopping and a dressing room is not what I had in mind"......she squeezed his hand and said, "me either".
The "how to stop" lesson was short lived. Marg demonstrated and Bill tried to do exactly as she had done. Marg had stopped and Bill kept going, on his side, feet in the air, stopped when his feet hit the boards.
An explanation was supplied which he knew he could follow, "weight on left foot, lean slightly back and put the right foot ahead of the left. Bill did a turn to get some momentum, he simply started his stop much to close to the boards and the ensuing collision had him aching from his hip to his knee. Marg helped him up and suggested coffee and a snack...actually she suggested fritters  but Bill nixed that and she settled for Timmies.
lachlan

17

17

They left the arena and half way across the parking lot Marg said, "you are in a bit of pain, perhaps best I drive you home and we have a look at the damage, i'm guessing there are no broken bones". Bill answered, "okay", but once he was seated in the aztec, he added, "I'LL have a look" and heard the response, "spoil sport".
Marg had driven quite slowly, avoiding all pot holes, and when she pulled into Bill's parking space, he said, "thank-you, a very gentle drive home". She was first out and came around to his side, offered a hand which was accepted. Bill grimaced when Marg helped him to a standing position and she said, "sore"? and he replied, "a bit nippy". Marg smiled and remarked, "your accent comes and goes", and he nodded.
Two steps toward the apartment Bill stopped, held his hand out and said, "keys, my skates are on the back seat". Marg said, "i will get them" and she did, then, skates in hand she walked past him, straight to the apartment, unlocked the door and entered. By the time Bill was inside, she had put his skates put away and had two mugs of cold coffee in the microwave.
Bill made his way to the bedroom, for his robe, and the bathroom, for his self examination. He closed the bathroom door. Marg tapped and said, "are you sure you can manage without my help", and his "yes" was followed by the sound of the door being locked.
lachlan

18

18
The door was locked, Bill was free to examine himself, alone, but, it was the simple act of hanging his bathrobe on one of the hooks attached to the door that made him realize he might need help. He began to berate himself, not with much volume but loud enough to bring a smile to Marg, who was sitting at his breakfast counter with a warmed up coffee.
Bill was mumbling, moving gingerly, trying to reach his shoe laces and not being successful. He caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror and heard a tap on the door. His response to the tapping was, "i'm fine, managing quite well". Marg answered, "of course you are, i'm just wondering what glaikit means, a new word to me and you have said it three or four times".
Silence. Not a sound from the bathroom. Marg found she was holding her breath, wanted to say something but knew not what. One minute stretched to two and then Bill unsnibbed the door. They were face to face and he said, "clueless, stupid, someone unaware of what is going on around him, someone like me". He sighed, looked down at his feet and quietly said, "I cannae untie my laces and need a pair of scissors".
Marg answered, "let's not be ridiculous", dropped to one knee and had both laces untied in a few seconds. She stood and said, "enough of the macho, sit on the toilet seat and I will remove your shoes" and Bill said, "the edge of the bath will be fine", to which Marg responded with heat, "the toilet seat, not the edge of the bloody bath, the toilet seat where there is less danger of you falling in, and THEN I will leave you to get out of your jeans, put the robe on and then struggle with anything else which needs to come off.
Bill sat on the toilet seat and the left shoe came of quite easily as did the sock. The right shoe took a little longer; Bill had trouble raising his foot. Marg knew he was in pain. She stood and backed up a few steps, said, "I have an idea which you may not like, however, I need a couple of minutes to prepare and if you say no to my proposal, I will go home and leave you to get on with it". He stayed where he was and heard her in his bedroom.
Not more than five minutes later she returned and said, "I am going to help you to stand and would like to see you make it to your bed where you will be able to sit and listen to my idea". And he complied.
Marg had pulled the covers down to the foot of the bed, taken the pillows from the head and put them on the far side. She told the sitting Bill, " the right leg would have caused much pain if we try and lay you on the bed with the pillows at the head, this way you can lay back and I will try and pull you across the bed until you head reaches the pillows, but before we begin your right leg should be elevated to nearly the height of your mattress", Bill saw no harm in trying.
The leg was sore but with Marg's help Bill did manage to get it onto a chair. Marg went to the far side and did manage to pull him across. She then covered him with the sheet and he felt her hands slide up both legs until she was at his belt. NO NO NO was his response and Marg yelled, "shut up you glaikit idiot". Perhaps it was the shock of her tone but the next Bill knew was that his jeans were being pulled down and his hands were struggling to hold the sheet in place.
Marg held his jeans, winked at him and said, "I am going to my car, getting an ice bag, filling it from you freezer, leaving it with you and then I will be off for some things medicinal...back in an hour lover", and she winked again.
lachlan

19

19
Bill heard his door close and was grateful to Marg for not locking it; he knew it would be difficult for him to get out of bed. But laying across instead of up and down was not to his liking. Any movement was uncomfortable but he worked at it.
It took some minutes but he managed to get the pillows where they should be. Moving his body would take longer and twice the ice bag tumbled against his thigh, not the least bit funny. He had no idea as to the time but was happy with himself; two pillows at the headboard and the ice bag within reach though he had no intention of using it, old "Satchel Paige", who had been a tremendous pitcher in both the "Negro League" and the the early days of a de-segregated Major League, was not a believer in ice over heat while Bill believed in neither, all he wanted was a warm bed and sleep, and sleep he did until voices from his living room roused him.
Marg appeared at the door of his bedroom. A forced smile then she said, "a lady to see you, says she is an old friend"....and Mary came into view. "Indeed" from Bill, "a very dear friend and one helluva bridge player". Mary laughed and turned to Marg, saying, "mediocre at best, he is the bridge player and I am told, not much of a skater".
Bill told Mary to "pull up a chair" and she did, sat on the chair alongside the bed. Marg walked around to the other side of the bed and sat, careful not to touch Bill, knowing she was very near to his sore spot. Bill suggested tea or coffee but Mary declined, saying she had just stopped in for a few minutes and might return in the morning because she was sleeping over in Urbania, her new place of residence an hours drive away.
Marg told Mary she would put coffee on right away and once she had left the bedroom, Mary kissed Bill on the cheek and whispered, "I think she wants to be alone with you" before adding in a normal voice, "take care, Bill, I will try and stop by in the morning".
Marg saw Mary to the front door saying, "do you really need to go, he might like some company and I cannot stay too much longer"....Mary laughed and said, "threes a crowd".
lachlan

20

20
Marg locked the door. Wearing an ear to ear grin she walked into the bedroom and gleefully announced, "Bill, I have you right where I want you, half naked and in bed". Surprise is totally inadequate for the look on his face, incredulous much nearer, a half raised hand and "you" was all he managed before Marg cut him off. She countered with, "do not tell me I cannot be serious, don't even think it, and get that look of terror off your face, nothing is going to happen which will aggravate your painful spots".
He managed an "okay, sorry but it did occur to me that you intended to come into my bed". And a beaming Marg answered, "well done Bill you got it in one, into your bed I will be, very close to you but I shall be very careful". Bill, shaking his head said, "Marg, what are you thinking, we have only just met, we can't be" but Marg interrupted, "Bill, if we are to wait until you fall in love with me sex might never happen, you seem to have made up your mind that for you that part is over and I don't think it is, PLUS, I know what I want and it is not a slam bam thank you ma'am, afternoon, not for a minute; I am not going to speak of love because the feelings I have now are new and I am not sure about love; I married without love and had two children with a man who was married; he never knew about the children until both were in their early twenties...love was not part of that relationship.
Marg was silent, waited, thought she had divulged far too much. Bill knew he should say something, knew it had taken a lot of courage for Marg to tell all she had. He did not know what to say but he reached out for her hand. She took his hand, her eyes were glistening with un-spilled tears, said in a very small voice, "I will leave". But when she tried to stand, Bill held on and said, "no, no, no, you can't, we need to talk, i'm not sure about love either so perhaps we should stick together for a bit, and who knows" ?
lachlan

21

21
Marg stood, leaned over Bill and kissed him, very, very lightly. She stopped, looked at him and said, "you were responding", and he, quite sharply said, "nothing of the kind, no sense in...." before Marg continued, "something about kindling a fire, my sister overheard you say that at the centre".
As Marg had been talking she had gone to the other side of his bed and was undressing, dropped a cardigan, jeans, socks, t-shirt and Bill sputtered, "wait, wait, enough, we are, get dressed, you can't be serious" and Marg laughed, said, "my God, Bill, your bed, remember, I said I was joining you...AND....not getting my clothes all wrinkled.
Bill was near to surrendering but insisted she leave on what she was still wearing, "please, the bra and panties stay where they are". Marg said, "Bill, i'm the one new at this, scared, but your the one acting like a kitten confronted by a big dog" then she un-hooked her bra and let it drop, before adding, "these are not what we would call, "panties", they are fruit of the loom mens, much more comfortable, and I will leave them on....oops, forgot the spray". And before she went for her medi-kit, she remarked, "don't you leave, two squirts of a new product and your pain will ease considerably".
lachlan

22

22
Marg returned to the bedroom in less than a minute. Her med-kit was a small case, closed and held closed by one of those built in locks having a slide part which, when pushed to one side, allows the locking clip to release. She placed the case on the far side bedside table and opened it.
A heavy sigh from Bill and Marg looked at him and "now what" ? He shook his head from side to side and said, "Marg, this is crazy, you prancing around half naked and we barely know each other, to which Marg, a grinning Marg replied, "soon, Bill, have patience".
She removed a jar from her case. The jar had a spray nozzle on top. She tried to lift the sheet away from Bill but his arm on top of the sheet, held it firmly in place. She said, "BILL, don't be so obstinate, this stuff really works", but Bill wanted to know what it was called. She said, "at this time it is EC11AB but it will have a name when it arrives in the drugstores, Epi something or other, now", but she saw Bill was determined to hold the sheet in place. She held the jar aloft and said, "catch", released it and Bill caught it before it reached his bruised area....and the sheet was whisked away.
Bill dropped the jar, reached for the sheet which was too far from his hand, winced when the jar rolled against his thigh and heard Marg say, "Bill, you naughty boy, no undies, tut tut, I really do feel over-dressed"; and while speaking she had lifted the spray jar and sprayed a colourless liquid over his bruises.
She then put the jar back into her case and slid into bed, an elbow on the pillow, her head held by her hand and said, "curious, did you struggle out of your underpants or did you not wear any, today". Bill repeated his "this is crazy", before adding, "it was a struggle because you pulled them half-way down when you removed my jeans".....Marg said, "thought so".
"And now  we must talk".
lachlan

23

23
Bill looked at her, rolled his eyes and said, "I will go first because I have very little to tell; married nearly fifty years, divorce final a couple of years ago, travelled some and now content to spend the rest of my life in Urbania AND definitely not planning on moving from this apartment...........your turn, and getting dressed, sitting at the breakfast counter might not be a bad idea....dammit I am not forty years old.
Marg said, "okay, but first I must tell you something you may not believe....my being naked is, God, I don't know....you met my ex and I was never comfortable with him, anxious to get married and try all the things my friends had done while we were in high school...believe it or not but I was the NO girl, no to anything, even some of my best friends tried to talk me into saving my virginity by doing the other, but I did nothing until my stupid marriage....how I could have been so darned naive" ?
"My ex could not perform (?), told me to try the other and I did, and still he could not perform......I left when he wanted me to do things while he looked at pictures of naked men". She lay back on her pillow and Bill reached a couple of tissues for her, she sobbed and Bill held her.
Bill said, "easy Marg, that time is past, let us just get to know each other, a bit, bad memories might need to be talked out but no more today".  She turned her head into his chest and said, "thank-you, I would like to lay here, with you, unless you want to get up".....and both nodded off to dreamland, one holding the other.
lachlan

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Bill was first to awaken, not his choice, he was brought out of sleep by Marg, restless, obviously encountered a situation in her dreams which was not pleasant. She held very tightly to Bill and and at times her nails dug into his arm. Her breathing became erratic and Bill whispered to her, "wakey, wakey, Marg, leave the bad dream behind" and she woke with a start, saying, "what, what is it" ? Bill kissed her cheek and answered, "you were having a bad dream".
He slid out of bed and into his robe, heard Marg say, "nice", shook his head and went into his kitchen. Marg listened and knew he was making coffee, said, "Bill, could we not leave that until a bit later, you could come back to bed and we could talk, you know, get to know each other a bit better" ? And Bill surprised her by saying, "five minutes and I will be by your side", and he was.
He placed a mug of "French Vanilla Supreme" on the bedside table by Marg and a mug of double-double medium on his side table. He took of his robe and Marg said, "you brat, PJs (?), come on Bill, i'm the one who made your pain go away", but Bill remained clothed, lay next to Marg, drew her to him and said, "talk, tell me of the children and then see how we feel...and, by the way, that stuff is miraculous".
Marg agreed and then pushed Bill on to his back, leaned over him and covered his mouth with hers. The kiss was not a short one and when it was over she said, "again", and her body moved against him, one of her hands traveled, went to the back of his neck, the other reached much farther down and she said, "oh God, Bill, please talk later", and they did.
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But the talk was more of a heated discussion. Marg was feeling wonderful, warm, loving, loved, felt satisfied in a way she hadn't really felt before and Bill, on the other hand was somewhat bewildered. He too was satisfied, surprised how easily that had happened, wished their positions had been reversed, needed to shower and to put his PJs in the wash, annoyed because of that and told himself not to assign blame.
Bill wriggled out of his PJs and rolled them into a ball. He got out of bed, took the roll and headed for the shower, saying, "i'm to the shower and you may want to use it after me, I will leave it on and you can use my robe.
Bill was very quickly out of the shower, rinsed his PJs, deposited them into the hamper and returned to the bedroom where he dressed. Marg, still in bed, said, "Bill, I feel great, come back to bed, let me hold you, why the rush" ? And Bill replied, "you are going to be treated to my speciality, potato fritters, in bed if that is your choice". She answered, "ah-ha, does that mean I was good" ? and he winked.
He had peeled the potatoes, sliced them and was mixing the batter when he felt Marg's arms around him. He put the fork he was mixing with, down and turned to her. His face was frozen and Marg said, "what is it" ? He shook his head and said, "my robe, I distinctly told you to use my robe, God, don't you listen" and then it was Margs turn to freeze.
Her voice was barely above a whisper but he heard, quite clearly, "you bastard, you rotten no good bastard, oh God, did I wear someone else's robe, perhaps someone you are OVER and when you were inside me were you thinking of her" and Bill retorted, "only at the ending" and immediately wished he could take it back. Marg's face trembled, the pain clearly showing and Bill knew all was lost, knew he had made the mistake of his life.
His mouth opened and Marg screamed for him to shut up, pushed past him and went into the bedroom, gathered her clothes, her med-case and stepped into her shoes.
Just before she reached his front door, she snatched her car keys from his coffee table then realized she could not open the door while holding everything else. Bill said, "please" and she dropped everything but her med-case, turned and looked at him then walked over to his floor lamp and decapitated it with the med-case before saying, "just shut up". She opened the door and was gone.
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Marg did not bother closing the door, just let the storm door shut itself. Bill watched and heard the storm door close, dropped into the big armchair, saw the green robe disappear behind the fence which separated his apartment from the one next door and knew he would never see it again; that robe, that bloody robe was all he could think.
He sat for a long time, idle, stupid, fanciful thoughts ran loose around his brain. He saw himself driving to Marg's house, taking her into his arms, smothering her with kisses and being forgiven. This was followed by him arriving at Margs and Marg using a shotgun on his windscreen.
The lingering foremost thought was; it is done, it is over, oh God how could you let me do that (?) but he knew who was at fault. It was dark when he finally got out of the armchair. He started to tidy his kitchen, put the half completed batter in the fridge and said to himself, "to hell with this, a time to move on, a trip to timmies and forget everything".
Timmies had very few customers, the parking lot with only four vehicles, a jeep, a Japanese car and two pick-up trucks. Lynda was on the cash and he was next to be served.
He started, "an extra sm" and she interrupted with, "I know what you want, extra small double double in china, it is all you ever want,i'm not the one who is stupid" and while she was talking she had poured his coffee,thumped it down in front of him and continued, "no charge, I forgot to ring the damn thing in what in hell have you done to Marg" ?
He shrugged, said, "I don't know, just know you are right, I am stupid, far more than you can imagine, damned if I know what I am doing" and he turned and walked out.
Drove home and no-one saw him for three days.
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Sunday. The last Sunday of October. Bill had some cleaning up to do and was about to be surprised by a visitor, someone he was meeting for the first time.
Saturday evening had been, eventful. Bill had finally talked to his friend, Stan; why he had avoided that for three days was something he couldn't explain. He supposed, "pride", and Stan would have agreed. The conversation with Stan was conducted by e-mail, Bill telling what he had said and done and the answer from Stan, very succinct, Bill:- last part of ten, "when we were wrong, promptly admitted it", just do it.
Bill laughed, thought, it's all so very simple, felt good and knew that Stan had never steered him wrong. Tomorrow will be a new day, a meeting in the morning then MARG, the very precious Marg.
He played a bit of freecell and noticed it was getting dark. Thought about a coffee and decided to brew a pot. A few seconds daydreaming, felt good, a sense of calm, everything was going to W*** out.....and then the crash, his kitchen window could not withstand the brick, which actually bounced off his counter top.
He went to his back door, opened it and saw no one, not a soul. And then his front window collapsed and he was frozen to the spot; a bundle, the colour green, his mood plunged; the awfulness of the message made it clear there would be no chance.
He went to bed, left everything as it was and thought, "thank God it isn't cold".
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Sunday morning, early, still dark, Bill is out of bed, dressed and putting the broken glass into cardboard boxes, thinking, "hadn't been for the grocery stores charging for plastic bags, I would not have had these boxes".
The brick too, was thrown in with the glass. Some of the larger pieces had to be broken and he used the green bundle to do that. He vacuumed the fragments and untied the robe, almost dreading he would find a note. No note, only a section of cement block and he saw that the robe was missing a section.
Apart from the breeze traveling through his apartment most of the evidence of an attack was gone. He was trying to erase the scratches from his counter top when Giselle called through his venetian blind, ""door unlocked" ? "Yes, come on in", and she did.
She looked at what he was trying to do with the counter top, said, "needs replaced, the estate handy man is quite good....called a grandson and he is bringing some heavy plastic sheeting for the windows, be here before nine.....you okay (?)" and Bill replied, "I suppose".
Giselle's grandson arrived when they were having coffee. He used tape to hold the plastic in place, said it was a good tape and the paint would not be damaged. He "no thanks" the offer of coffee and added, "tomorrow after dinner or Tuesday morning, I have the measurements", and he was gone.
Bill sipped his coffee and said, "you know about this, don't you", more a statement than a question. Giselle nodded, said, "some". Bill continued, "you think it's over" ? and Giselle exhaled a silent whistle lifted her shoulders before replying, "not really for me to say.....anyway, I have to go" and five minutes after she left, there was a knock on his door.
Bill yelled, "not locked". Sound from outside told him the visitor was having trouble opening the door and he was a yard away when the door opened and a woman said, "damned tight fit...and seeing you are doing home improvements, you might get it seen to"....she stepped inside, continued, "i'm Bernice, just wanted to see what sort of arse you are"...Bill flared, "not your business" and Bernice countered, "Marg is my sister, a very special person and don't you dare say she is none of my business"......Bill answered, "oh, Bernice, I hadn't realized, come in".
Bill offered coffee and Bernice said, "yes, a good idea, I do have a few things to say".
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Bill filled two mugs while Bernice moved one of his high stools to the counter. She sat, said, "nasty scratches here, not from the brick, surely" ? Bill nodded, "you were here" ? Bernice ignored the question and said, "you hurt Marg, badly, your lucky not to be in the hospital, it's maybe where you should be but Marg told us to butt out
....any idea why you did what you did or is ripping the heart out of someone a habit with you (?)....your rep says your a Mr. Nice Guy, but not so, issit" ?
Bill was angry, seething inside, ready to lash out but chose sarcasm, "Mr. Nice, issit, no, not really, hardly Mr. Nice with a failed marriage on my side of the ledger, or is that news to you". But Bernice was aware of that, a sneer on her face and said, "give me a break, most people who know you are aware of your "failure"(?), not sure about that but you have received more than your share of condolences" and she knew she had wounded him.
More softly she said, "I do know about failed marriages, about the "did I do enough" and so does my sister; she beat herself unmercifully over that damned fruit, and yes I know that "fruit" is no longer acceptable but I hated that bastard from day one. And for the first time in days, Bill saw a glimmer of hope.
He said, "where is Marg now" ? and Bernice stared at him before replying, "what business would that be of yours, your done, it is over, unless you are going to offer an apology". Bill answered, "yes I am, get down on my knees, beg, whatever it takes....you are not here to throw garbage my way, your first thoughts would have been about removing my balls with a rusty knife, now, please tell me where Marg is".....and she said, "Ottawa, might be back on Thursday but don't you hold your breath for a make-up"....and Bill said, "perhaps not but it sure as hell deserves a shot"
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Bernice was less than two minutes out the door, Bill was looking for his calling card; he had no long distance plan, cursed Bell then smiled when he found the card. But before using the phone he needed a number from his computer, an old friend, a drinking buddy from the distant past.
He found the number he was looking for, activated his card and dialed. Ten rings before an answer, "WHAT", and Bill replied, "morning to you too, Ray, how's the hangover"...and Ray replied, "where in the f*** are yuh" and Bill told him, "Urbania, south west Ontario, and I need a favour"....."of course you do, over thirty years and all I hear is you quit the drink so, because you need a favour you think of old Ray, shoot, tell me".
Bill asked if the "club" was still in existence. Ray laughed, said, "of course and same rules, only regulars on Sunday". "And" replied Bill, "Ray will be at there by one.....now here is the favour, a lady friend, special Ray, really special, is in Ottawa, she is an expert on power skating, could be for the 67s or one of the other leagues but someone at the "Montagnard" will know".
Ray said, "you in the book?....and when he heard the "yes", continued, call you before three, after three I might not know my own name", and he hung up.
Bill sat and recalled some of the old days, the club was steeped in hockey history, dated back to the 1920s, had some great teams and produced a few NHlers, anything to do with hockey in the Capitol, the club would be aware of.
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Bill was up-beat, sure that Ray would call. Busied himself in the kitchen; a cheeseburger, a few fries, a glass of pepsi and the easy chair in front of the TV. TV not watched, not really aware it was on, plans, thoughts, thinking of a good outcome; was sure he would meet Marg at the airport, apologize, beg forgiveness and, and, and, the ands bringing a smile to his face.
A quarter to three, hearing aids in place and Bill is eyeing his phone. A quarter past three and he is starting to wonder. Half past three and he is imagining putting a real beating on Ray but knows for sure that this is not a good thought.
Returns to the easy chair and changes channels. Still not paying attention but is calming down. He realizes that by now Ray has had a snootful and he should wait until tomorrow before calling again.
A quarter to five and his phone rings. From Bill, "hello", other end, "hey, buddy". Bill, "you rotten, no good, drunken S.O.B, by three you said, I should visit and kick your ass" before he could continue his tirade, Ray yelled, "i'm sober you bastard, my Sunday at the club shot all to hell because YOU need a favour, and before I forget, your ass kicking days are long past....now, just shut it and listen, someone wants to talk to you".....and another voice from years past said, "hello lover, long time no hear from you". Bill was taken aback but managed, "Nola (?) ehm, yes, a very long time, it was" but Nola, voice a little louder, said, "don't remind me".
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Nola laughed, said, "oh Bill, such a time back then, you, me and Lottie in that damned clinic and at the end of the day it was two with and two without and you were clean as a whistle". Bill chuckled and said, "a lucky time for me", followed by, "wait a minute, Lottie too was cleared". Nola continued, "yes she was, Bill, there was a woman in the General who was not cleared, and now you are wondering about privacy and how do I know, well, the lady who gave you the shot is a relative, you know how these things W***....anyway, your shot was a precaution...or...she may have wanted a look at your ass, believe what you will".
"But now you want to hear about Marg; a long time since I have seen her and don't ask me how I know her, that is her business......she is staying at my place, we get along fine, her ego has taken a beating and you may know something about that, but she flies out of Ottawa on Thursday, arriving London around noon, twelve fifteen, I think, Ray has flight information and wants to talk to you...I love the sound of your voice, often wonder what might have been, and....I am really pleased you are sober, bye lover, if things don't W*** out, get in touch".
Ray took the phone from Nola, she kissed him on the cheek and said good-bye. He said, "i'll call you" and a laughing Nola said, "heard that one before".
Ray spoke into the phone, "okay bud, i'm going to give my e-mail addy to you and when you get in touch I will reply with all the info...Marg is going to know you have called, also that you have talked to Nola, they don't keep secrets from each other....it's been years you know, anyway, you know, I got room if you ever wanna visit".
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Bill sat at his computer, added Ray to the address book. Mind reminisced, a ten minute interlude. Aloud said, "yes Mr. Dickens, good times and bad times", before he typed a message to Ray.
Bill had a good feeling about everything. He saw no problems, would meet Marg at the airport in London, perhaps dinner and a room for the night. Coffee time or perhaps something to eat; Ben Ash's came to mind, a deli in Montreal, best pastrami on rye anywhere....oh so long ago and Bill didn't know if Ben's was still there; he settled for "timmies" and their grilled chicken salad.
Timmies was uneventful, Lynda asked if he was going to manage a make-up. He said he hoped and Lynda said, she hoped too. Heading for home he felt lucky, stopped and bought a scratch ticket.
He opened his door and decided to leave it open with the storm window down to let the breeze do it's thing, weather far too warm for November. Put his ticket on one of his high stools but before he could start, the phone rang and it took ten rings before he found it. Finally, "hello" was followed by, "Don't know what your plans are but if they include picking my sister up in London, forget it, Marg called and is very clear on you staying away from her and Bill, do listen, believe me, Marg wants no part of you, she has already made arrangements"....Bill was silent....Bernice continued, a much softer tone, "Bill, maybe it was never to be but if you think there is a chance just have a bit of patience, maybe a month from now, in the meantime, take it easy" and Bill was left with the dial tone.
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Bill mumbled and grumbled to himself. He thought of the roller coaster ride he was on, flying one minute and in the pits after talking to Bernice. He was going to figure this out and came up with a number of choices; wire flowers to Marg, dial Nola's number and talk to Marg, call Bernice, do nothing until Thursday then go to the airport....perhaps call Stan.
Tillie was Stan's better half and she answered on the second ring. "Hello", "hi Tillie, can I talk to Stan", "maybe, how come you always want to talk to Stan when i'm the brains in this family, anyway, you two planning on killing me for my money"? then she broke into laughter and yelled, "Stan, your buddy ain't dead yet and needs a word, or two, or twenty minutes of your time".
"That woman is never going to change, so what's up my man" ? Bill told his tale and added, "almost know what you are going to say, "wait it out, be patient". Stan answered, "going to put you on hold, need to grab my coffee and go to the den (Tilly was heard to say, "not nice to keep secrets from a wife of fifty years you know") and Stan said to her, "need to put on my "Dear Abby" costume" and there was a click.
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Stan got right to it, "okay, a couple of points, maybe three or four, but first we repeat what we talked of many, many years ago....I talk, you listen, your choice to do what you will but", and Bill interrupted, saying, "I know, I know, short term, long term but only for my good", and Stan laughed, before continuing, "right on".
Stan recalled the early years of their friendship, though, at the time, much of their conversations were not friendly; Bill could be quite mule-headed. Stan spoke and Bill listened, "you know when you hated all the sayings, especially "let go and let God", well that is one you might consider", and Bill said "just" and that was all he got out before Stan said, "shut it, shut it right now or this conversation is over, I talk and you bloody well listen....no reply from Bill....good, now...last time you were like this you barely spoke to me, a simple explanation, you KNEW you were on a one way street, KNEW what you felt and damn well knew that the other party did not feel the same and you thought I would tell you to bail out...which I may not have".
"But this time is different because you have laid a severe hurt on someone, someone you have come to realize MIGHT have really strong feelings for you, so we MIGHT have a bit of guilt mixed in. The sister may well be right, let it go for a while, not easy for you, however you do have one thing which took time to acquire, "acceptance", member how awful that was to accept, and I had as much trouble with it as you did...and I do know you would sooner be "doing"".
"Okay here is what I think you should do....nothing for the remainder of the day, do your review of the day when you are ready for sleep and before falling asleep a small prayer to you know who wouldn't hurt...plus....first thing in the morning simply ask for acceptance, accept what others have advised and see how your day goes".
Bill said, "thanks Stan, i'm going to try"
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When Nola was leaving Ray's place, the last she heard was, "they don't keep secrets from each other" and she thought, "I wonder" because while Marg had been ranting about the rotten S.O.B., the name "Bill" did ring a bell but Nola didn't realize until later that the "Bill" was well known to her and breaking that to Marg might be very difficult.
Nola did know that Marg had taken a lover in order to have a child, knew that she had done that twice with the same man, knew that man was unaware of the pregnancies until the kids were grown. Nola had one child, conceived when she, two years before meeting Marg, had an affair with the best friend of Marg's future paramour. Marg knew this and knew that Nola had had other affairs, just didn't know that her Bill knew Nola in the biblical sense...to tell or not to tell was troubling Nola.
Nola arrived home having decided to tell Marg that she knew Bill, how MUCH she would disclose was something she wasn't sure about. She opened the door and yelled, "anyone home" and Marg answered, "just me and I am here for another hour, then being picked up for an hour at an arena in Nepean".
Marg was sitting at the kitchen table and Nola said, "I just talked to your Bill, actually I know him from many years ago, he spent time in the nations capitol" and Marg stared at her for a full minute and then said, "you slept with him, jeezuz H, why didn't you tell me", and Nola answered, "just back off, I knew him thirty some years ago, long before I met you, in fact some time before my daughter was born". At this Marg's eyes widened but before she could open her mouth, Nola, voice raised said, "no, don't be ridiculous, you know who fathered Carol". Marg retorted, "so, you knew him, you gonna fix things for Bill, in a pig's eye" and that is when she called her sister.
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Marg finished the phone call to her sister and turned to Nola, "so, you had a long affair with the rat, probably have a higher opinion of him that I do, so, time for me to pack, I will get a room"....Nola shook her head, no and Marg continued, "no, NO, the hell with your no, I do as I please" and again Nola shook her head, adding, "please Marg, not like this, I cannot change the past, wouldn't if I could, and you are part of my past, a part which is so very important, please" and Marg saw the tears, felt her own and the two held each other.
A few minutes passed, Marg whispered, "I was kidding" and Nola replied, "good" and they parted, each wearing a huge smile. Marg said, "one thing, no talk of that S.O.B."...Nola laughed, answered, "your choice but I think we have to, in fact I think we need to".
Marg was thinking "no way" when the phone rang. Nola said, "hello" and after a very short pause continued, "oh my God, Lottie" and the "Lottie" co-incided with a look at Marg, which alerted Marg. Nola continued with Lottie and after listening for a bit said, "Lottie, I will call you in five minutes, I am right in the middle of something".
She hung up and looked at Marg, closed her eyes, licked her top lip, shrugged and the second her eyes opened, Marg said, "Bastard Bill knew Lottie, slept with her too, God is there anyone he hasn't diddled" ? Nola said, "Marg it was a very long time ago, Lottie slept with everyone, but, I like her, she is loose, a flirt, loves men and she does call me from time to time". Marg said "fine, lets invite her over, tell her to bring anyone else he shagged, you lot can have a reunion, I don't care because he means less than nothing to me".
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Nola reminded Marg she was due at an arena for skating lessons. Marg said, "mh, hm, trying to get rid of me (?)...Nola, I want to meet your friend, listen to the fun the pair of you had with Bill, not a problem for me, if I ever meet him again I might drop a hint as to what I know, could be good for a laugh, in the meantime I will phone, make sure I am still needed" and when she hung up went directly to a window and said to Nola, "snow, snow, snow, first snow I have seen this year and the lesson is cancelled". Nola answered, "well, snowed a bit last week but nothing like this and the city will pray for cold, get the canal frozen, our five mile long skating rink".
Marg asked if the snow would be a problem for Lottie and was told it wouldn't; Lottie would take a bus or more likely a cab. They discussed dinner and when the doorbell rang, Nola said, "too soon for Lottie" walked down the hall and Marg heard her say, "you were quick, someone offered a ride". Marg heard Lottie laugh, heard her say, "I drove" followed by Nola and Lottie laughing.
The two came into the living room and introductions were made. Nola, anxious to hear about the "driving", said, "whats with the driving, you don't drive, never have" ?
A grinning Lottie said, "I do now, took lessons for three weeks, the instructor was great".....Marg said, "expensive ?" Lottie giggled and said, "no, only paid for one". Nola's comment was, "Lottie, surely not in one of those little cars", Lottie smiled, shrugged, answered, "somethings you don't need a lot of room for" before saying to Marg, "are you an old friend" and Marg grinned, "yes, matter of fact I am and the three of us might have something in common"; sarcasm was noticeable and Lottie looked at Nola who said, "Bill"....Lottlie laughed heartily, said, "God, I loved the old bugger, wow, three of us"....and she couldn't stop laughing but did manage...."he was something".
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Nola agreed with Lottie, "yes he was, something and someone from the past". Lottie was laughing, "oh the fun, the skinny dipping and"...but she was cut short by Nola, "Lottie, Marg has just finished with Bill, doesn't want to hear about his past, so cool it". Marg answered, "the hell I don't, come on Lottie, tell", and Lottie looked from one to the other, very quietly said, "you know, I might have had more fun with Bill than both of you, I enjoyed everything, we were lovers but not in love, I knew he didn't love me, he said he did because I told him it was what I wanted to hear; perhaps I should go, this might not be a fun afternoon".
Marg was looking at Nola, Nola shrugged, said to Lottie, "I don't want you to leave, time we lightened up, had a few laughs" then looked at Marg and said, "keep in mind that we are talking about ancient history and YES, I was in love with him, Lottie knew that, also knew that he wasn't in love with me"
And they talked.
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Marg was first, wanted to hear about the "skinny dipping". Lottie caught the look from Nola and in answer to Marg said, "wasn't such a big deal, in fact the first time" and Marg sort of lost it, said, "first time, first time, how many times did you do this", stopped when Nola slapped an open hand against the table and said, "no more, this is ridiculous, you want to hear then get bent all out of shape over things which happened thirty some years ago; your finished with him, GOOD, lets drop the whole subject.
Marg stood, looked lost, closed her eyes and said, "sorry, it's just, God I don't know, my re-actions are crazy, perhaps I cared more than I thought; tell you what, I will try to shut it", then a bit of a smile directed towards Lottie before she continued, "sorry Lottie, forgive me but I do wish you would tell about the skinny dipping, i'm sure there is a laugh there, someplace".
Lottie looked from Marg to Nola and Nola's eyes went to the ceiling and she shrugged her shoulders. Lottie said, "alright but no yelling at me, not like he, never mind, never mind; anyway". "We had been to Arnprior or someplace, he loved his ale, and on the way back I remembered about an old quarry, never thought about the water, just wanted a look at it". "We turned onto the old road and a few minutes later, the quarry was in front of us". "The day had been a scorcher and it was still very hot".
"Bill turned off the ignition and said, "what do you think" and I was naked in two seconds". "I ran straight into the water; not very deep, just past my knees". "He ran past me and dived when the water was a bit deeper". "He swam back and forth, sometimes on his back". She smiled at Nola, said, "you know how it was" and Nola crimsoned, added, "never mind just go on". Marg looked from one to the other and stayed quiet.
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Before Lottie could continue, her cell phone vibrated, she giggled, excused herself and walked into the living room to take the call. While she was away, Marg said, "okay, what did she mean by, "you know how that is or was or whatever she said", and Nola answered, "Marg, c'mon, it was ages ago", then she sighed, said, "later, I will explain as best I can....i'm beginning to wish Lottie hadn't come". And Lottie, returning said, "why (?), am I embarrassing you". Nola, replied, "no Lottie, it isn't you, it's me and Marg and memories of Bill, good memories for me and you but Marg is not liking what she is hearing and never mind her saying she is finished with him, if she was, she wouldn't care".
Marg addressed Nola, "THAT is nonsense, perhaps the memories are causing you to pine for something you have lost, i'm fine, dying to hear how the skinny dipping ended". Nola stood, said, "tea or coffee" ? Marg chose coffee and Lottie said, "back in a minute, I have wine in my car, not cheap stuff, a gift from my drivers-ed guy", and she disappeared down the hall, leaving two puzzled ladies, one because she knew that Lottie was not a drinker and Marg wondering about a new driver and wine.
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Lottie returned with two bottles of wine, "chianti" in the wicker basket and a bottle with half the label missing. She explained, "these are from "Alex", my driver instructor, the one without the label is "araba"....I think". Nola asked "is it Spanish, Portuguese, or what" ? Lottie replied, "definitely not Spanish, Alex is, "Alesander", a Basque, and this is a wine from where he was born, a gift from a relative who removed the label.
Marg asked for a small glass of the, "one from Tuscanny" and Lottie said, "there's only the two, one dark and one light"....Marg said, "the dark, and I am going to have a crusty bun and hope there is some cheddar". Nola poured some of the "white" and produced a can o tuna and crackers. Lottie poured a glass of the "Araba", saw the looks from Nola and Marg and said, "i'm not driving, the call, Alex picking me up here....a night at the "Chateau Laurier" and he is all a woman could ask for, doesn't need wine".
Marg nodded her head in the direction of Lottie, said. "the quarry". Lottie smiled, "no problem....I was kneeling in the water, water not even up to my belly button, Bill swam for a bit, swam to the shallower part and stood, he was getting into the mood and I was hoping he would finally, you know". Marg, a bit testy, said, "no I don't, I don't know, I guess he had an erection but what is, "finally" (?) it can't be he had never had sex with you...can it" ?
Nola put a hand on Marg's arm, squeezed and made a diving motion with her other hand, saying, "perhaps you have heard enough"....but Marg hadn't.
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Lottie was told to continue, Nola said to her, "leave nothing out, after all she is finished with Bill, might learn something she missed". Lottie looked at Marg and said, "this part you will like, you see, when Bill came towards me I was more than ready and told him what I wanted, I touched him, kissed him, you know...then he said, "back seat, I will spread the blanket", then he kissed my mouth, neck, and breast, pulled me to my feet, bent down and kissed my tummy before adding, "I go first".......I was so excited if I had touched myself it would have happened there and then....Bill was spreading the blanket and I was walking towards the car when I stepped on something very sharp, let out a yell and before I knew it, Bill was at my side".
"I fell over and Bill told me I needed stitches and all I could say was no, no, no, over and over. I begged him while he was wrapping a towel around my foot. I cursed him, said he was only half a man, finally I just cried". He drove to the "Civic" and a woman doctor used four stitches to close the gash".
"They gave me a set of crutches which had to be returned in a week". "The next stop was my place, Bill grabbed an ale and I told him I was going to pee and I expected him to finish what we had started.......when I came out of my bathroom, the bottle was empty and Bill had gone....I didn't see him for five days".
Lottie was lost in memories, a half smile on her face and Marg said, "did he ever" ? Lottie laughed, said, "almost, and if my very good friend here had done a better job of explaining what I had to do, I would have been in seventh heaven".
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Three ladies and not one an everyday drinker. Nola would have a glass of wine with a meal, Marg might have had two drinks per year and Lottie told Marg that she did not drink because it made her fall asleep and immediately after this was disclosed, Nola started to laugh, laughed a lot then said, "I remember that, you told me about the waiter who took you home", and she continued to laugh.
Marg finished her "chianti",  poured a glass of the white for herself, drank some and joined Nola in the laughter, with no idea why. Lottie wore a big smile and said, "yes, I remember telling you" and Marg wanted the details.
Lottie had spent the evening at a bar which had a dance floor. She nursed a beer for most of the night, thinking that one of the band members would take her home; she knew them quite well.
When the band had a rest, the jukebox would be plugged in and one of the band members would dance with Lottie. Near closing time and his girl friend turned up;  Lottie was going to do without....until Armando.
Armando asked Lottie if she needed a ride. She was a bit disappointed at the turn of event but not heart-broken. Armando brought a bottle of wine and off to Lottie's they went.
Armando was not sure of himself, felt he would need to get some wine into this woman in order to stand any chance of bedding her. He poured, coaxed, and no matter how many times Lottie said, "no more wine", he insisted. Finally, Lottie said, "Armando, I have had more than enough wine, lets go to bed and hope I don't fall asleep, if I do, I will make it up to you in the morning.
Lottie woke up, alone, evidence told her that Armando had enjoyed himself and she was annoyed, thought to phone him but vaguely remembered his wedding band.
A few minutes later there was the door bell. Lottie jumped up, said she had to fly. Marg said, "what about the second skinny dipping with my Bill" ? Nola giggling said, "YOUR Bill" (?), is that the Bill you are finished with" " and Lottie said, "Nola knows the story, she will fill you in".
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Lottie was gone in a flash. Nola left the kitchen and said, "gotta see what a Basque looks like". Marg joined her at the window and both saw Lottie going to the passenger side and the back of Alex as he was getting behind the wheel, As the car joined the few other cars, a hand from the passenger side was thrust into the air with one finger clearly visible; Nola laughed, said, "she will be giggling".
Back to the kitchen and each sipped their wine. Marg said, "Nola, I am alright with this, really, and I am curious; what did Lottie mean when she said, "you know how that was" ? Nola answered, "okay but, we cannot let this come between us, I will tell you what I know, some of it you may not want to hear and I am saying nothing about Bill and I, nothing, not a word so don't ask". Marg nodded, said, "lets send out for pizza".
They sipped wine, waited for the pizza and spoke of other things; Marg was not at all sure of how she felt.
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Waiting for the pizza, talk was awkward, stilted, and this had never happened before. Marg said, "okay, perhaps your right, I feel as if i'm, I don't know, intruding maybe, lets drop the history, my curiosity will not kill me". Nola replied, "good idea" then laughed, added, "you should see the look on your face......I will, as Lottie said, "fill you in", though she is really the one who should tell you about he and her".
Pizza arrived, was served, each had wine and Marg asked, "where did you meet Bill (?), all I want to know, honest, you and he are off limits". Nola answered, "office party......paused as if gathering thoughts, then.....exhaled, continued.....I picked him up, never did that before, blamed the drink, but, God, he made me feel good, my ex was in treatment, a sexless marriage, Catholic upbringing and my mom said I should pray, well I felt that my prayers were answered and I only wanted an evening, a quick fling, felt I was deserving....okay, enough about me, no more, no more, no more, this is about Lottie".
Marg lifted a hand, "what did she mean by, "you know how that is"" ? Nola rolled her eyes, "well, he ehm, this is a little awkward....okay, Lottie met Bill before I did, met him in a bar, the bar was a downtown hot spot....they spent their first night at her place and the first night ran to three nights, Lottie was out of W*** at that time and Bill skipped, said no-one would notice.......the "you know how that is" had to do with him having, ehm, sort of a swelling, the part which hadn't been removed, I forget what they call it" and Marg said, "circumcised", noted the look from Nola and added, "i'm not blind you know, I did see it".
Nola nodded, continued, "the swelling was, and this is what Bill said, because Lottie loved to be on top and her motion was a little different, more back and forth than up and down, now let us move on" and Marg said, "Nola, there is more, isn't there, c'mon, what else did he say"" ? Nola mumbled something then said, "let's finish the wine and pizza and I have a bottle of something in the cupboard". Marg retorted, "Nola, your stalling, for goodness sake tell me" and Nola said, "soon".
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Nola brought two glasses and a bottle of "Tia Marie", to the table and to Marg's "what is it" ? answered, "a healthy drink because it is mixed with milk"; Marg thought this hilarious and laughing said, "whisky and milk, I don't believe it"; "not whisky" said Nola, "a liqueur and it tastes good" and a still laughing Marg remarked," gotta be more to it than, "tashtes good". Nola put a finger across her lips and said, "sshh, a secret"......the two were laughing, obviously feeling the effects of the wine.
Nola said, "mutt" giggled, continued, "mutt, doesn't matter if you never heard of it, I will explain.....wanna try the tia" (?) to which Marg said, "no, think i've had enough". This was ignored and Nola poured two glasses, mostly milk, perhaps half a jigger of tia in each. She raised her glass, stood and said, "living room, let's get comfy".
Marg was directed to a lazy-boy and Nola sat on the couch, said, "one sip, mutt, skinny dipping, phew, a long time ago, I was twenty-seven, anyway,"bottoms up" and she took a tiny sip, put her glass down, watched Marg take a lip smacking drink and smiled, "good girl".
She opened her memories, began to speak and very soon the slurring of her speech had gone. "Mutt" was her starting point, "not sure how it is pronounced but Bill told me what it was, just remember this is about Bill and Lottie, they met a few weeks before I was with Bill".
"Lottie was and is totally uninhibited, she loves it, everything, I told her once that she, more than likely, was the only woman interviewed by men's magazines which says "women love doing" you know what....and she does love being on top, though her favourite thing is something else"; Marg said she could guess, but there was a smile in her tone.
"Mutt is the way is sounds, spelling is m a h o u t  which I thought was mahhoot, but Bill uses mutt, the man who works with elephants, the guy who sits with his knees behind the elephants ears and thrusts backwards and forwards....and that is the way Bill saw Lottie when she was, you know".....Marg was not the least bit upset, between bouts of laughter said, "can see me doing that then saying, "remind you of anyone" ? then quickly added, "i know i know i know, this is just between us girls.
Nola to herself said, "she ain't done with Bill".
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Nola stood, drink in hand and said, "had enough, for now" walked through to the kitchen and placed her glass of, "tia and milk" in the fridge. In answer to Nola"s, "want to save yours" (?), Marg said, "no, never had this before, it's good".
Nola then comfied herself on the couch and said, "where was I" ? Marg answered, "the swelling" and Nola laughed, "no no, enough about that, skinny dipping, this time in a swimming pool".
"A Friday afternoon and Lottie phoned Bill, told him that a friend, Margo, was house-sitting for a week, the house belonged to her sister and had a pool....she suggested he visit his social club then walk over to the bar, around eight...Bill hesitated and Lottie added, Margo is meeting the drummer, she is really nuts about him but figures he might not want a date, unless he thinks a party is going to happen.....Bill said he would meet them".
"At this time, Bill and I hadn't...anyway, their evening was a bit of a bust, the drummer's girlfriend showed up and Margo was quite upset....Margo had her sister's car and on the way to the parking lot said something about a threesome, but, she got talking to a guy in the parking lot and a minute later he had joined them".
"Now, remember, this is from Lottie, I wasn't there...she said, arriving inside the house, Margo immediately un-capped a "fifty" for Bill and the other guy, then she and Lotie got naked and the new guy looked like he couldn't believe it, the girls went into the pool and very soon Bill and and the other guy joined them, Bill getting very close to Lottie and Lottie knew "it" was going to happen because Bill made a number of underwater visits".
" Lottie stayed with her back against the side of the pool and after one of Bill's "dives" he put his back against the pool wall and said, "your turn". Nola gave Marg a description of the pool saying, "the pool was mostly four feet deep, and it was only under the diving board where you couldn't touch bottom".
"Bill and Lottie had worked their way down to the far end, still at the side and a few feet from the diving board. And Lottie was more than ready, wanted Bill out of the pool or at least her out of the pool with Bill being extremely attentive. Bill held her, told her it was going to happen and they would use the diving board, Lottie thought they would get out of the pool but Bill had other ideas".
"He had her reach up and hold on to the diving board, he went under the water and had her legs on his shoulders, came to the surface and reached for the board...he had barely started when Lottie's hands slipped and that is when Bill discovered that Lottie could not swim".
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"Lottie, from waist to head  was under water, one leg draped over the shoulder of Bill and the other started to kick, caught Bill where it is very sensitive and he went under, grabbing at the sore spot.....Bill surfaced, swore and heard Margo yell, "oh, God, she can't swim".....Bill brought a spluttering, coughing Lottie to the surface".
"And, according to Bill, "the neighbours became a nuisance". Nola, looking at Marg said, "you okay with this" (?) and Marg, a big grin answered, "oh, yes, just thinking that the kick did no long term damage" and started to laugh........Nola's, barely audible,"lucky you" went unheeded but not unheard...she retrieved her drink from the fridge and continued.
"Right, not sure who told me what, just remember how long ago this happened, and yes, after the office party, Bill was Bill, saw me, continued with Lottie, and, lets just say he was active".......Marg was no longer smiling, nodded, said, "and the bastard seemed so innocent".
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Nola took a couple of sips, said, "trying to remember who told me about this and it might have been Margo". "Margo" (?), you know Margo (?) do you know a lot of Lottie's friends" (?) asked Marg, and Nola laughed, said, "no, met Margo after the clinic and maybe one or two others times in the bar". Marg raised her hand, "clinic, what you gave blood" ? and this convulsed Nola, who managed a "no,no,no, the clinic is another story Marg, not very important and, oh, never mind about that, perhaps later".
"Anyway", and she took another sip, continued, "I like this"...Marg said, "NOLA, never mind the drink, the orgy in the pool or the damned clinic, for goodness sake, c'mon, tell me what went on". Nola nodded.
"Okay, Margo told me about this part, said Bill got Lottie out of the pool, she coughed a bit then said, "I need mouth to mouth, AND". Bill started with the mouth to mouth, Lottie is a quick turn-on and was trying to speed things along when an angry voiced said, "shoulda let the bitch drown" and Bill moved very quickly, according to Margo, "Bill was mouth to mouth with Lottie, one hand fondling a breast and a split second later he went straight to his feet and his left hand flew to the underside of the man's chin"...seems at that moment the man started to scream because Bill was squeezing his.....Bill's word for them, "gonads"...Bill then hit the man with the side of a clenched fist, hit him square on the nose, a lot of blood and Bill danced the man around then pushed him into the pool", turned and said, "who in the ---- is that" ? and a woman said, "my husband, we live next door" and, still with Margo who told me, "she couldn't take her eyes off Bill's you know" and i'm told that neither could Margo".
The lady yelled to her husband, "get out of the pool, go home and do what you are going to do and if you do, you know where I will be, first thing in the morning". Then she looked Bill in the eye, said, "he might call the cops, you might spend the night in gaol, but we will meet again", before adding, "I'm Candy and you might want to put something on before they pick you up".
Ten minutes later Bill was in the back of a police car.
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Nola told Marg, "i'm going to run through what happened as if I were there, most information came from Margo and a little from Bill.....don't look at me like that, Bill and I did talk, you know.......know something (?) this is nuts, you are bound and determined to hear what Bill was up to, many, many, years ago, a man you are finished with, God, you are full of it, lets stop this NOW....Marg said, "Nola, I promise this will not ruin our friendship, just give me a minute while I get another "tia", you want one (?). Nola said, "aw shit, might as well, talking to you is like talking to a brick wall.
"Before Bill was hand-cuffed one of the cops sat in the kitchen while Bill was getting dressed; jeans, short sleeved shirt and sandals. Cop said, "no swimming trunks, skinny dipping and you didn't invite old Pete, perhaps why he is pissed off, anyway, any "golden" (?). Bill said he would have a look and the cop told him, "no, just sit, relax, don't want to cuff you until we leave".
Cop had un-capped three bottles just when his partner showed. Bill sat with the two cops and the second one said, "you a friend of Candy's" ? and Bill explained they had just met. Cop smiled, said, "for sure you are not a friend of Pete's, Candy is taking him to the "Civic" and they will pack his nose, might keep him in for the night".
Bill asked if he was being charged. Cop one said, "nothing to worry about, $14.00 fine and no record, probably won't even see a judge", cop two added, "Candy will bail you, she is one helluva woman, or so I am told". Bottles empty, Bill in hand-cuffs, into the cruiser and the ride downtown, a holding cell in the police station would be Bill's room for the night.
7:30 AM, Bill was awakened by the turnkey, handed a mug of coffee and offered cream and sugar. Also a small toiletry bag which contained, soap, toothpaste, toothbrush and a hand towel...fifteen minutes later he was standing next to Candy who was receiving a receipt for the fourteen bucks.
Bill followed Candy to her car, a cop standing guard because she was in a no parking zone. The cop said, "my pleasure" to her thank you and she drove off with Bill in the other seat.
Where too (?) and Bill told Candy where he lived. She said, "how does this sound, twelve pints of golden on ice, a room at the Rockcliffe Motel and this evening you can take me to the "Chamberlain's" in Aylmer for some county music and dancing (?).
And that my dear is all I know, perhaps Bill can fill in the details".
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Marg nodded. She was eyeing Nola, her tongue tapping her upper lip, said, "Nola, there's more, isn't there (?)...did this Candy woman spend time with Bill, did they go to the dance hall (?), where was Lottie at this time (?) and why wouldn't Lottie have bailed Bill (?)...and would I be wrong in thinking the "IT" has a condition which your friend Lottie was too dumb to see"....you could have heard a pin drop, Marg said, "God I am sorry, shouldn't have said that about your friend". Nola was angry, really angry, seething, silent, grasping the edge of the table then quietly said, "you don't even know her, yes she loves men, has been with more than you and I and any other ten women we know, but she has been a wonderful friend, knew how I felt about Bill and not sure what I would have done without her, you have two kids to enjoy and I have one, she has none, although she is a mother, a mother at fifteen and her baby given over for adoption, no say in the matter........and, when we all die, if there is a heaven, Lottie will be admitted long before anyone I know". Marg had tears running down her cheeks, whispered, "forgive me".......Nola said, "of course, but no more talk, tonight"
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Early, not yet seven when Marg woke with a start, had heard something but no light from the window made it difficult to see, then, "sh, sorry, didn't mean to wake you", Marg said, "Lottie" ?....Lottie whispering said, "yes, I need to shower, you go back to sleep"....but Marg had turned on the bed lamp, said, "what time is it, must be early, still dark outside". Lottie said "yes, half six or so, just gotta get my housecoat", and she dropped her clothes in a heap, put on the housecoat, took a toiletry bag from a dresser and was walking towards the bathroom, whispered, "if you need to tinkle, the door will be open, just don't flush if I am still in the shower, okay"..."okay" from Marg who thought it time to get out of bed.
Marg started the coffee, had bacon in the frying pan when Nola appeared, yawning, stretching, smiling, "the Basque must be needed at home, it's the only thing which would get Lottie moving at this time of the morning".
Marg poured two coffees, asked, "the scar on Lotties breast, is that from a bi-opsy" ? Nola's demeanor changed drastically, "what scar, you sure, wait" then she was out of her chair and into the bathroom.....pushed the shower curtain to one and yelled, "show me".
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Lottie looked past Nola and Marg mouthed, "sorry". Nola was shaking, said, "yes, Marg told me, probably thought I knew and I damn well should have, why (?), why could you not have told me, God, show me the scar" and when Lottie hesitated she turned, pushed past Marg, saying, "fine, do whatever".
Lottie was right behind her, pulled her arm and said, "look at you, going ballistic over nothing, a small lump" and she was naked. Nola touched the scar, said, "the pictures, what did they show" ? "Nothing, nothing to worry about", then Nola continued, "so, just a small lump with tiny hairs, not smooth" and when Lottie said, yes".....Nola, drew a quick breath and said, "chemo or radiation" ?
Marg had brought Lotie's robe, placed it around her shoulder; Lottie sobbing, looked at Nola and very quietly said, "I find out for sure, tomorrow, Friday they weren't sure, either way it starts on Wednesday" and as she clung to Nola, Marg went into the kitchen and left them alone, alone with each other.
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Marg, alone with her thoughts; pain for what Lottie was experiencing and guilt. She did feel badly for Lottie but might have been more concerned about her friend Nola. Questioned herself, couldn't see a right or wrong in what she was feeling and decided to phone her sister.
Bernice picked up on the second ring, guessed who it was and said, "tired of Ottawa, missing your big sister and want me come get you when you land in London". "Not sure" said Marg, "I am definitely flying out of here on Wednesday, 10.00 in the morning, be landed and out of the airport by eleven, not really sure whether you should pick me up or not". Bernice laughed, said, "perhaps all over your snit and would prefer a man to do the chauffeuring". "Maybe" from Marg, "learning a lot about the S.O.B., perhaps have him come get me and I can tell him a few things for the hour we would be together".
Bernice remained silent, perhaps a minute passed before Marg said, "what" (?). "Not a good idea, just my opinion now, but you were hurt, nothing going to change that and no one gets even in these things so why not forget him for a while, not saying avoid him, too small a community for that, but this is your big sister saying what is best for you". Nola appeared in the kitchen doorway and Marg said, "okay, I will sleep on what you said but must run, love yah, will call tomorrow".
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Nola, looking lost,, said, ""God, this is awful, i'm so sorry you are caught up in this, your visit should have been" and she stopped, continued, "Wednesday, damn Wednesday, the day you must leave and Lottie begins her treatment, stay Marg, please, an, an"......and Marg went to her, held her, Marg's turn to be a comforter and agree to stay.
Coffee had begun to perc when Lottie, half dressed, came to the kitchen, hugged Nola. Nola said, "shower time and when I am dressed, scrambled eggs on toast would be nice, Marg, if you would, Lottie might be the worst cook in the world".
Marg poured coffee for herself and Lottie. The pair sitting opposite each other, Lottie reached for Marg's hand, saying, "Marg, I know you know Nola for a long time, but, well, I think I know her too, what I mean is, it's about Bill, I think it still hurts Nola, probably hurts to talk about him, you know what i'm saying (?)" Marg nodded, smiled, said, "yes, I hear you, no more questions, if I think of any I will save them for you"....Lottie smiled, said, "good".
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Marg did the cooking, Lottie poured juice, Nola, showered and dressed in a very smart pant-suit, sat and waited to be served. Lottie said, "I have to eat and run, things to do". Nola squeezed her hand answered, "and miles to go before you sleep", "but not today, I need you today, we have company, a special friend who needs to see our city...I know some of the spots and you certainly know others, like, "The Silhouette"...this has to be a fun day....and hon, no men".
Marg hurried her meal, had a fast shower, dressed in jeans and a bulky-knit sweater re-joined the other two. The dishes were already in the dishwasher and three very attractive women headed down the stairs......one in a pant-suit, one wearing jeans and the third dressed in a skirt which did not quite reach her knees. Each one an eyeful.....three together the stuff dreams are made of.
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Outside the apartment building and Lottie said, "rats", her car had a ticket. Nola agreed with Lottie that the ticket was not deserved, even as Marg pointed to a "no parking between the hours of 3.00 AM and 6.00 AM". Nola explained to Marg that there had been no snow removal and normally no tickets were issued unless the ploughs were being used.
Lottie had to be dissuaded from driving, Nola said, "over my dead body" and Lottie giggled, said, "okay but my driving has improved a whole lot". Marg chose to sit in back, saying, "I will sit back here like royalty, decide which way I want to look and will not be paying attention when you two are saying, "oh, look at this or look at that", driver, you choose a route".
Nola said, "right, how about a drive by the parliament buildings, then Sussex Drive, through the village of Rockcliffe and on to the aircraft museum"...Marg agreed and Lottie mentioned "Bill was...oops, forgot, won't mention him again". Marg sighed, "lordy, lordy, don't tell me he was sleeping with someone else". Nola laughed said, "he might have been but none of us knew him when he was in the service". Lottie started to say something then changed her mind but Marg had noticed, inquired, "Lottie, i'm immune, tell me he was shacked up while in the service and I wouldn't care" and Nola said, "please, no more talk of Bill".
The parliament buildings were behind them when Marg asked if they could drive through the "market", a place which had changed, Marg recognized very little and they made a left back up to Sussex Drive.
Houses of millionaires mostly hidden by trees, acacias, firs and many maples but the feel of the place was not forbidding or exclusive and Marg remarked on that. Also in that area the RCMP building, passed a few minutes before they made the turn towards the old airport.
And the museum was closed.
Lottie asked Nola if she would drive around to the other entrance and Nola complied. Lottie had to point out where a hotel had been which Bill had taken her to. She was told by Nola to "cut it".
The other entrance made Lotie say, "oh my God, this is nothing like it was, even the buildings where Bill worked are gone"...then she quickly added, "had nothing to do with him in the service, he was a civilian civil servant and his boss was a woman, that is all I am saying".
Nola looked at Lottie and Marg leaned forward saying, "Nola, let it go, Lottie means no harm and I am quite enjoying another look at what's his name".
Nola turned the car around, said, "we are off to Quebec, "Mac-C" bridge, through Hull and a few minutes in the Sil, perhaps one between us, Golden, Fifty or X, Bill drank em all".
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But the "Silhouette" was not to be found. Nola turned the car on to a side street, made a u-turn and parked. A touch of wistfulness when she said, "changes, not sure I like them". Lottie agreed and Marg offered, "there are always going to be changes, this Hull might not be what it was but I bet there are spots all of us would like"......Lottie nodded, said, "I suppose but when Bill was here, I know, I know, shouldn't mention Bill, but where we are wasn't called "Hull" it was "Val Tetreau", I loved that name and even then it really was a part of Hull...now we have people saying Gatineau, because Hull is part of the Gatineau region, Bill loved over here, loved the Frenchness of it...you know something, we should take a Bill drive, I don't know all of the places he liked but I do want to drive through Wrightville and see if "The Raftsmen" is still going.
Nola smiled, "okay, good idea, I know about "The Raftsman", a great place for lunches, government pay days it would be full of civil servants because pay days they were given an hour and a half lunch"... and they were off to Wrightville, a section of Hull which only the older folk remembered.
No "Raftsman" and the next stop was Gatineau Pointe only to discover that "Manior Papineau" had met the wreckers ball. Coffee was suggested and all three nixed Tim Hortons; it took a while but they found a small cafe with a bonus, the table cloths were checkered red and white....coffee and poutine to celebrate.
At some point, Nola excused herself, said, "bathroom" but when she returned she had also used a phone, "we are invited to a sports club, Ray will sign us in".
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The club was where Nola had met with Ray. Ray met them at the door, ushered them inside and said, "I saw you park, welcome to the "old" "new" club". Lottie remarked, "not the way I remember, did eh, oh never mind", as they walked into a room with a bar. They sat, comfortable easy chairs. Ray's suggestion of wine was met with two, "tia maries" and an ok which changed to, "make that three tia's" from Lottie and then her eyes took in the pool table in an abutting room and she had to have a look.....rejoined the others as Ray was serving the tia maries and said, "same old pool table I think, but the felt was green, wasn't it" ? Ray smiled, nodded, agreed that it had been green, "in fact it had been green a number of times, the felt sometimes wears out and sometimes it suffers rips"....Lottie blushed and laughed, "oh yes, I believe that", then she looked at Marg before adding, "Marg, I know he gave you fits but, well, would you mind if I phoned him, no, no, no, not now, later when I am home".
Marg patted Lottie on the hand and answered, "Lottie, you phone him anytime you want, I really don't give a good goddamn"....no one made eye contact with any of the others and the air was icy.
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The gloomy quartet sat in silence, Marg looking quite angry, the others a bit lost. Minutes passed and the silence was broken by the bartender, "Ray ! " and he nodded in the direction of an elderly man sitting in one of the comfy chairs, a quart in front of him and the glass half full. Ray excused himself, walked over to the man, smiled,  offered a hand and said, "Paul". Paul shook his hand and said, "Ray, the young woman with the legs, ask her if she will join me for a drink, tell her we have a mutual acquaintance, and tell her I am nice"....Ray laughed answered, "Paul, I cannot tell a lie, going to ask her to join you but will warn her that you are a devious, horny, old man, but she will join you anyway". Then Paul said, "and say hello to Nola, a long time ago but I do remember her".
Back at the table Ray said, "Lottie, the elderly man would like a few minutes of your time, he seems to know you and, Nola, he said to say hello to you". Nola said, "it's Paul, isn't it"...and Lottie looked, blushed and smiled, said to Nola, "no, I never slept with him but he....I wonder", then she got up and walked over to Paul, who rose, shook her hand and said, "Lottie, a fine looking woman yet, ah, those legs"...she kissed his cheek and sat.
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"Paul, everyone's favourite waiter, you knew Bill" and they both laughed. Paul nodded agreement, a big smile on his face, "oh yes, and I look at you and think, "he was a very lucky man"...Lottie laughed, "you are a smoothie, Bill liked you, liked you a lot, said, damn, can't remember, something French" and it was Paul who was laughing, "je na c'est quoi"..."oh yes, that was it" said Lottie, "damn memory but some things are coming back".
The drink had been brought to her and Paul nodded at it, "Tia and milk" ? "Yes" from Lottie with a puzzled look. Paul nodded a few times, "Beacon Arms, a divorced lady, her ex was a cop, big, hard SOB...and angry, knew about Bill and his ex. Could have been nasty but the lady sorted everything... told the cop, you hurt Bill and I tell everyone you have a useless dick.....not sure Bill knew what she saved him from.
Lottie was enjoying his company, said, "Bill did have his share of good luck, some bad moments though" and Paul answered, "pissing blood not good, but you made him well"..........Lottie stared for a full minute, "you know about that, you stopped by, it was you who visited when I was out...he wouldn't tell me, told me nothing really, said he fell against a fire hydrant".
Paul drew a deep breath, said, "I tell you this much....he was found by a very good friend, not in good shape, hospital needed but he was awake, came to when they were at the emergency and wouldn't go in, gave his friend your address...you met his friend and someone stopped by to see you everyday...now, no more talk of bad times".......Paul squeezed her leg above the knee....and winked.
Lottie, wondering, a smile started in her eyes, said, "Paul, you must be near eighty, are you still, you know" ?....."Mon Cher, if you are not busy, I suggest a journey of discovery, we should start with the billiard room, something in there you might have met before". Lottie's entire mood changed in an instant, very quietly said, "he told you"......."no mon cher, I saw, the place was closed, I was the bartender, in the toilet to lock the window and heard two people laughing, Bill whom I knew very well and a beautiful woman I am hoping to discover".
Lottie was not upset by what he said, "your kidding, you are making this up, what was I wearing"? Paul said, "to begin, a slim skirt, a top which tied, sandals and Bill had a why....do you remember what that was (?)...in that regard I agree with Bill".
She laughed out loud, the others in the room stared at her, Paul said, "sshh" and she whispered, "my triangle, I thought it was cute, oh my God".
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Paul stood, offered his left hand which Lottie accepted with her left hand; she held on and when standing the couple went arm in arm towards what Lottie referred to as the, "games room".
Those at the other table(s) watched the pair. Lottie stopped, turned her head. looked at Nola and smiled before moving on with a more pronounced movement of her rear. Nola and Ray laughed and Ray added, "sashay". Marg wasn't smiling, "sashay, is that the Ottawa name for someone who wiggles their ass" ? Nola replied, "Marg, I remember when you weren't a wet blanket, for God's sake, lighten up, Lottie is looking at serious stuff and right now that is forgotten, Lottie is arm in arm with an attractive man, he is a charmer and by tomorrow she will have had a great time" then she softened her tone, added, "Lottie isn't only about sex and whether Paul is up to it or not, Lottie will enjoy her time with him".
Marg apologized, "forgive me again, I just feel so, I dunno, maybe an outsider, look, would you mind if I went back to your apartment, I need to do a little thinking and I should phone Bernice about the change of flight, that if I am staying the extra day".
Nola said, "perhaps time we both left, I will let Lottie know"......Marg shook her head, "no, Ray's chin just hit the floor, I think he might want you to stay for a bit, I can get a cab".....Ray's, "I'll phone" was immediate.
The ladies hugged and Nola whispered, "you think" ? and Marg replied, "oh yes, he is almost drooling".
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Ray said about ten minutes for the cab, time enough for Marg to have a few words with Lottie. Marg nodded towards the "games" room and said, "should I, just let her know I am leaving" ? Nola smiled, said, "sure, she wont be naked for a while......
maybe".
When Lottie and Paul had entered the room, the first thing she noticed was the cover, the tan cover, lifted one corner and said, "ah, it is green". Paul nodded, said, "yes but not always, the felt wears out or sometimes there are stains, and once it was ripped, that time Bill payed for a new felt, that was at the old place, he said he did it when his cue slid off the ball but it happened when I was bartending and Bill was with a lady, closed the doors....and I do remember what the lady was wearing".
Lottie kissed him on the cheek and whispered, "stiletto heels and only time to get one off...our secret, right (?) and Paul said, "mais qui", returned the kiss but missed the cheek and Lottie gave as good as she got.
Marg entered as Lottie was asking about the sliding doors. Paul said, "yes, from the old place but they  do not close all the way, we knew that before they were installed........no real privacy but felt lasts longer".
Marg said she was heading back to the apartment and Lottie asked about Nola. Marg said "Ray" and Lottie said, "oh i hope so, he seems nice and she needs someone", then she hugged Marg and said, "you know you don't have to stay on my account, I just hope you do for Nola, she is a worrier".
Marg turned to Paul and offered her hand, saying, "i'm Marg". Paul took the hand in both of his, lifted it to his mouth, kissed and said, "mademoiselle". Marg smiled said, "Madame, surely", to which Paul answered, "much too young looking" and Lottie added, "thats his ginny something".
Ray walked Marg out to the cab and before getting in, Marg said, "be patient Ray, she has a lot on her mind". Fifteen minutes later she was offering to pay the driver but he said, "Ray has a tab", before pulling away.
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Marg was away. Lottie talking "old times" with Paul. Ray about to get another X was stopped by Nola, a hand on his arm, said, "Ray, I don't want to sit here and watch you get drunk". He nodded, "okay, what do you suggest" ?. She shook her head from side to side, "sure as hell not what you are thinking, Ray, this woman is not looking for a quick roll in the hay, years ago I got tired of guys who spend half their lives in bars, hotels, clubs (indicating their surroundings) or whatever...if you can't have a social drink and leave it then you need to find a drinking companion".
He surprised her by saying, "not sure I have a problem, am sure that I am going to find out, what say we go for a little drive, just talk, and you drop me off at my place, Clifton, my only investment and bought before the prices went through the roof. Nola smiled, "not judging a book by it's cover does come to mind, I will tell Lottie we are going".
Lottie was being kissed. Nola said, "you two should get a room, I can drop you off somewhere, I am driving Ray home". Paul said, "merci, we accept your offer. my house is two houses from Ray's"....Lottie addressed Paul, "really, you own a house" ? and he pulled her close saying, I may have many surprised for you".
And the four departed.
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The cab which had delivered Marg to Nola's apartment building had pulled away from the kerb, joined what little traffic there was before Marg yelled, "no wait", she might as well have saved her breath, he was half a block away and crossing lanes to make a turn; Marg had no key. She entered the building and pushed the button for the super. A woman answered and Marg explained she was visiting Nola and had no key to get in. The woman apologized, said there was nothing she could do. Marg asked if there was a cafe nearby, a place she could have a coffee and use a phone to try and reach Nola.
The voice gave directions to a cafe and asked where Nola was. When told the "Montagnards Club" the voice said, "you go for coffee and I see what I can do, come back and press same buzzer".
Marg found the cafe with ease, sat at the counter and ordered a coffee, said to the counter girl, "awfully quiet today, is this a holiday or something" ? and the young woman answered, "Sunday, most Sundays are quiet" and Marg, mouth closed, raised eyebrows said, "mmmm" before exhaling....then added, "seems I have lost a day, thought it was Saturday"....woman remarked, "my old man did that a lot, it's why i dumped him, booze will do that to you"....Marg could only shrug.
When Marg arrived back at the apartment building, the super and his wife were in the hallway. He opened the door and bid her to enter, saying, "I fine yor fren, I take you to her apartmen", but the lady said, "down boy, I have the key" and she proceeded up the flight of stairs, Marg followed.
Unlocking the door she said, "don't mind Carmine, anything in a skirt can turn him on". Marg smiled, said, "your a lucky woman" and the reply was, "I wish....he is a perfect example of the mind willing and the body not".
Alone inside, Marg undressed, stepped into the shower and started to relax under the hot water....a long shower, hair washed, a warm fluffy towel felt good and dressed in pyjamas and house coat, she used a hair drier. Made coffee and called her sister.
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Before they were out of the building Ray heard his name called and returned to the bar, was told his friend Nola had a call from another fella. Nola took the phone and Ray heard, "yes Carmine, yes she is staying with me...yes of course you can let her in...yes, thank you".
Four of them in the car, the drive towards the west-end uneventful. Clifton, a secluded street not far from Island Park Drive and one of the bridges to the Quebec side. Lottie from the back seat said, "wow, I like this street, nice, quiet", then she turned to Paul and added, "you want to adopt me" ? and a grinning Paul said, "oh yes, for the rest of the day and much of tomorrow"....Lottie, a big grin, then kissed him on the mouth, stroked the inside of his leg and said, "we will see how that works out".
Ray pointed to a driveway but before Nola drove in, Paul said, "here is fine, stay on the road, mon ami Ray is two houses farther on this side, me being on the other side means I can see all of his comings and goings".
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Ray opened a side door to the house, Nola stepped inside, coats on hooks to her right and to her left stairs, stairs going down to what she thought might be a basement. Ray nodded in the direction of the stairs and said, "finished basement, a tour later but first the kitchen" and he gestured towards two steps which led to an open door. Nola said, "shoes" and Ray answered, "in the kitchen, a mat".
Ray had put slippers on and found a pair for Nola. Nola smiled and commented, "your sisters I suppose" and Ray answered, "no, they were bought for someone I was dating, Christmas of last year, she threw them at me, said she was expecting an effing ring"....Nola laughed, added, "they've never been worn" and Ray answered, "true, she never came back for them".
Ray walked over to his fridge, offered tea, coffee, juice and Nola said, "I gotta see this house and" the "and" left hanging.....Ray volunteered, "how can I afford it" and Nola nodded.
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Bernice answered her phone, "my baby sister, having a good time" ? "So so, be glad to get home", said Marg, "and speaking of which, i'm not sure about when I will be leaving here, a friend of Nola's has had a biopsy for cancer and Wednesday is her visit to the surgeon, Nola has asked me to stay until then but I thought I was booked for a Thursday flight". Bernice laughed and said, "God, you are really lost, Thursday is your return, try looking at your ticket".
Marg said, "I think you are right, not about me being lost, just the return flight, lost I was but no longer, discovered more about Bill than I ever wanted to know". "I see" from Bernice, "all finished with the rat, are we (?), well that is good...if that is what you want, by the way, he is not all bad, just my opinion based on nothing more than a gut feeling and a couple of coffees with him"...a half minute of complete silence.
Marg spoke, not a rush of anger and not a lot of joy, "Bernice, for God's sake, your my sister, are you telling me you are SEEING that, that, I don't believe this" before Bernice cut in, "for crying out loud don't be so damned ridiculous, you know what's wrong here, YOU, you found someone and then discovered he had had a life before you and your pride could not stand it, yes you were hurt and yes he was wrong but listen to yourself, I am your sister, do you honestly think I would suddenly start SEEING someone who you had been seeing...Marg honey, give this some thought.
Marg said, "damn, sorry Bernice, I know I could never get a better sister than you, how about I call a little later (?)....but dammit there is nothing wrong with my pride" and Bernice answered, "later. I will call later, I do have the number".
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Late fall in Ottawa the nights arrive early, near dark by eight PM and that is when Nola arrived back at her apartment; a smile on her face and a hug for Marg. Marg held her at arms length, said, "mhm, you look ehm, i'm not sure, can't be love, can it (?)". Nola said "no, of course not, I drove Ray home, he has a house near Westboro and so does Paul". Marg guessed, "Lottie is with Paul and you were with Ray, not my business but did you " ? Laughing again Nola said, "no I didnt but I was sure tempted".
Marg shook her head, saying, "Nola, you are of age, how long has it been" ? "Too long" was the reply, "tempted I was and Ray was quite eager, but, anyway I gotta tell you about his house, gorgeous, a beautiful place, hardwood floors in almost every room, two granny flats at the back, an office, and the basement you wouldn't believe, exercise stuff, a fair sized shower, pool table and a hockey net at one end but most of the space is furnished with style, a small bar, fully stocked but i'm not sure he will keep that, a huge fish tank on top of three stands, a bookcase the length of the front wall, a couple of couches, big TV and rugs, one small Persian hanging on a wall, five thousand dollars ten years ago, you gotta see this place.
Marg said, "then why didn't you, he ain't bad looking and a house like that makes him eligible". Nola shook her head, "he's a man, I wriggle out of my panty hose and when we are done he thinks, "she only did it because of the house"...he is not overly confident and is thinking he might have a problem with the booze". Marg said, "Bill did" and Nola answered, "they have been talking".
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Nola said, "i'm going to have a bath, soak for a bit, runs things through my mind and wonder if this is a good time for a change of direction". Marg asked if Ray would cross her mind and Nola answered, "oh yes, for sure, no telling where that could lead, perhaps nowhere because this woman is not spending the rest of her life with a drinker"........Marg sighed said, "according to someone we both know, recovery homes or treatment centres make no guarantees". Nola said, "true enough but it seems Bill has made it for a lot of years and I do know others, just not sure I could handle living with someone doing, "one day at a time".
Marg took a call from Bernice while Nola was in the tub; Marg would remark later, "more like a damn lecture that a chat with a sister". Marg checked her plane ticket and as Bernice had said, her flight was for the forthcoming Thursday. She also had a look at her schedule and, Nepean, Monday afternoon at 2.00PM until 4.00, Tuesday a morning session somewhere in Overbrook, Wednesday scheduled for 10.00 AM, something she would need to change.
When Nola re-appeared, Marg let her know she needed to drop her Wednesday appointment but Nola would not hear of that, "bet your boots we will be tied up until the afternoon, do your session and come straight to here, if we are going to be really late, I will call, just remind me to get a key for you".
The phone call from Bernice was put aside and both were sound asleep before midnight. Nine AM a surprise, Lottie buzzed and entered with the dapper looking Paul.
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Paul would have been quite happy to leave Lottie at the door of the apartment but that was not about to happen; Lottie wanted to show him off and insisted he enter with her. The short hallway led to the living room and Lottie did a, "tara" (!) when she entered. But no one was there, Nola called from the kitchen, "bring your tara here"...which Lottie did.
And after her repeat performance, Lottie said, "this man is class, check out his dress sense, the overcoat, cashmere, the blazer, an officers crest, the cravat, almost never seen these days, and the hat, the fur hat which he won't admit is real fur, a dead animal but boy does it look good. Paul played along, did a pirouette and tried to take his leave. Nola said, "c'mon, a cup of coffee and tell me what you have done which makes my friend glow".
Paul bowed, said, "the glow is no credit to me, the lady is made for glowing, and I must be off". Marg stood, thrust her hand towards Paul and said, "a repeat of yesterday"....Paul kissed her hand and said, "mademoiselle", Marg grinned and said, "I like it"....Nola added, "I want to hear about last night" and Paul, leaving, replied, "the time has come, the walrus said"...Nola looked at Lotie and smiled, Lottie, a tear trickling down her cheek, nodded and Marg said, "Alice in Wonderland" ? and the other two said, "no".
Nola stood up and said, "coffee time ladies, Lottie has much to tell".
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Each of the ladies had a coffee, Lottie was holding a spoon, looking thoughtful but saying nothing; the others looked expectant. Lottie broke the silence, "well, you know, we have just met, perhaps I, ehm, shouldn't".
Nola reached out and took one of Lottie's hands in hers, said, very gently, "Lottie, I have known you for a long time, you don't want to tell us how it was, don't, keep us wondering, but you will before the day is out, you will love the telling and we will be happy for you, one thing, one thing I do know is that you really enjoyed yourself and you really like Paul....just tell me, is he now the favourite ?
Lottie laughed, said, "maybe....oh he is good" and Marg asked, "better than, what's his name, Alex (?)" Now Lottie was giggling and said, "steak or ice cream". Marg looked puzzled and Nola said, "it's what Sinatra said when he was asked what his favourite food was". Lottie said, "mhm, my Basque would definitely be steak, and Paul, oh so much more than plain ice cream, remember when "dairy queen" only did ice creams and you needed to save your small change until you had enough for one of their banana splits with everything but the peanuts, they were delicious and so is Paul".
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Lottie sipped her coffee, said, "the house, phew, I could live there forever, beautiful from top to bottom, he has a sauna, I was never in one before"....Marg asked, "wet or dry" ? and Lottie didn't know, all she knew was that it was hot, made her sweat, "got really hot before we went out to the pond area" and Nola said, "POND, you were outside" ? "No", said a chuckling Lottie, "he has a square pond in the basement just outside of the sauna, it isn't big enough to be a pool just big enough for mibee six or seven people to sit and it isn't too deep, sort of steps down where we sat...warm water but cool when you come out of the sauna, and we didn't go in right away" then she winked at Nola before adding, "I thought he would let me get busy".
"Anyway, I even tried when we were sitting in the pond but he told me, "later". And then we had a chat about later and he convinced me, well not really, you know I wanted to and most men would have jumped at the chance, but he told me that at his age he wanted it all, wanted me to be satisfied, wanted a complete night of pleasure and the night would start with a dinner.....and he can cook".
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Nola tapped the table with a spoon, said, "stop, go back a little, you were in a pond and now you are in the kitchen, you may very well have been naked but no man is going to do the cooking with nothing on, some bits they are very careful of". Lottie laughed, "true...and I did not stay naked....out of the pond, dripping, not cold but cool, Paul dried me and I was tingling ALL over...and reaching, but he, God that man is stubborn, insisted we dress, eat and I made DAMNED sure he knew what I wanted to do and...anyway, dressing took a while".
Lottie stood, held one finger up and mouthed, "a minute". She went into the bathroom. Marg lifted an eyebrow and Lena said, "she is now trying for a thoughtful look, say nothing when she returns", and return she did, regained her seat and looked slightly past both Nola and Marg....and said nothing.
A minute passed before Nolaa said to Marg, "i'm not sure if Lottie is looking thoughtful of if she has gas, what do you think" ? Marg could only smile and Lottie said, "oh all right but you gotta admit both of you are curious, bet youse are wondering if Paul can"...both were shaking there heads and Lottie continued, "don't deny it, both of you are wondering if the OLD man can get it up....well I KNOW he can....is there anything here to drink (?), I know it is early in the morning but I have been awake for a while".......Nola left the table and returned with three glasses of orange juice.
Lottie took a sip and said, "right, no more foolin, I had a wonderful time, the entire time, the sauna, the pond, being dried, the fireplace...oh, did I forget to tell about the fireplace, tut tut...he has a fireplace in the basement, along the back wall and in front of the fireplace is a fur rug". Marg, ever the skeptic says, "surely not a bearskin" and Lottie said, "no, not a bearskin, a sheeskin, a sheepskin from Scotland, a Shetland, light coloured and never been dyed, he has had it for a very long time, and the fireplace has a gas fire which Paul did not want to install but he was convinced to switch from a log burner when Ray mentioned the sparks and what they might do to the Shetland wool". "And I lay on it, spread out and felt sure IT was going to happen and Paul knelt by my side, very gently kissed me, whispered, "I am going to get something for you to wear", I couldn't believe it".
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Lottie eased back from the table, looked directly at Marg and said, "Marg I don't know what to tell, you get angry so fast and its easy to say it is because of Bill, but, I think you are sometimes angry at me.....I can't change that I knew Bill, for sure a long time ago but your being here, us meeting Ray, and Paul, it is really weird, it's like, you know, everting, sorry, everything is.....I don't know, its like re-living what happened.....phew, I ave to go pee, coffee juice, anyway, Marg, I don't want you not to like me......i ave to go, i ave to go".
Lottie ran to the bathroom and Marg said to Nola, "is she French" ? and Nola laughed, "no, she sometimes has an accent like whoever she was with, it comes and goes, (and she kept laughing), you should have heard her when she had a German boyfriend, it was hilarious; she would come here like now and tell me all they did.....Marg she is special and would do anything not to hurt your feelings but, to be honest, she is not the problem, you must know that?.
And Marg did.
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Lottie returned to the table, sat, glanced at Nola and turned her head towards Marg who said, "i'm sorry, sorry that you would think I didn't like you, sorry for the way I have acted but, until now, I haven't really been listening, haven't taken in what my sister said about my pride being hurt", and here she paused, looked thoughtful and shrugged, continued, "I don't know what happens when I go home, Urbania isn't very big and gossip does happen, but for now I have to, as Nola says, "be honest", also have to accept that I am not Bill's first....I would like to sit here and listen but if me being here is uncomfortable for you, I will go for a walk, or something": Lottie got up and hugged her.
"No, you must not leave, when you say you must "accept", that is a Bill thing, Paul told me that, see Paul and me we talked a lot, it wasn't all bing-bang, Paul tell me about tings I don't know, tings maybe Nola don't know and sometime me and Nola will ave Paul over for an evening of talking, he know a lot of stuff and a very good lover"...Marg said, "better than Bill" ? but it was without malice and the three laughed, when Lottie replied, "maybe, but not steak and ice cream, praps more like, tenderloin and porterhouse...and ear I go talking funny again...that damned man's fault".
Lottie was ready to begin and the other two were willing listeners...Nola got up, refilled her coffee cup, refilled Marg's and told Lottie, "none until we hear about your night".
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Lottie began, "after we ate": Nola said, "LOTTIE"!!!! and she replied, "okay, okay, I just forget where I was" and Marg, with emphasis said, "on the sheepskin, NAKED AND READY FOR, phew, I don't know what".....Lottie nodded, added, "ready for everyting".
"But Paul wanted me dressed, went into a small room and came back with clothes for me...would you believe, a toga, that's what he called it, more like a wrap around but he said to put it on and come into the small room, he said I would be interested; and so I did as I was told and boy he was not happy....although he didn't look unhappy, told me I had the thing on wrong".
"The toga had a back and two long parts which I thought would drape down the front and I crossed them and tied them in back, didn't offer much support but then, unlike you older ladies, I don't need much support, do I (?)...Marg looked to Nola and Nola said, "ignore her, still thinks she is miss perky tits of 1977"...Lottie laughed saying, Nola you are just jealous......anyway, Paul pointed out that this thing had small ties and if I had used them the sides of my perkies would have not been so, "accessable", I think that is what he said.......but he had that look and I raised both arms above my head and did a slow turn around.....one hand placed on each breast with thumbs making me feel good, one very light kiss and he said, "you need to change" and before I knew it, he had me bundled into a housecoat, a quilted one, all sorts of colours and from shoulders to the floor, not the least bit sexy and he put on one of those butcher aprons and I wanted him in the worst way".
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"But it was time to talk; "after", was suggested but Paul wasn't listening.
We were surrounded by books, many of them French and some Bill had suggested, some Bill bought; Paul said it was with books they became very good friends". She paused, smiled, looked at Nola, eyes glistening, "True de looking glass, Paul know all about dat, ah my mouth, there she go again........right......I did know why Bill got beat up, and as Paul said, "stupid to challenge brothers", the ending I was never sure about, about what happened, only knew we had no more trouble at the Beacon........and now I need a cup of tea" and she was off to the kitchen.
Marg said, "I am lost, no doubt this "TING" means a lot to her but isn't this a kids book we are talking about" and before Nola could respond, Lottie yelled, "not to me"....Nola laughed, "not to me either.....it's  ehm, anyway, the book has little to do with this, the brothers probably never heard of Lewis Carroll or any of his books but one of them used an expression which is close to a small part of the book and I "tink" I can remember, "the time has come", the Walrus said, "to talk of many things. of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings, and why the sea is boiling.....(here was when Lottie returned and joined Nola with the last line) and whether pigs have wings".............tears streamed from her eyes, Nola, near to tears herself, whispered, "it was a long time ago".
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Lottie agreed "it was a long time ago" and spoke directly to Marg, "we were at the Beacon and it was a break between sets, there was a group of us, me, Bill, the band and their girlfriends...the drummer called me a pig and"....Nola shook her head, said, "Bill wasn't there, he found out what had been said a bit later, and Claude (?), I think that was his name, thought he was being funny"....Lottie interupted saying, "wait; you weren't there"....paused then added...."were you (?), no you couldn't have been....did I tell you about this" ?
Nola said, "no, you didn't tell me but yes you are right that I wasn't there....and neither was Bill, Bill arrived when the place was closing...and you were already gone...the big guy, the one who wasn't Spanish took you home around ten" and this made Lottie smile, "I remember him, big. big guy, worked the door a lot of nights and, the smallest petunia I ever saw, oh but he was nice....made me forget I was a pig....but how do you know all this when you weren't there " ?
Nola explained a little, "the big guy got in touch, told how the group had been bugging their leader about him not reaching the high notes of a Glen Campbell song and he said, "just wait until the last set"....someone said, "yeah, right, when pigs can fly" and that is when the drummer asked you if it was true that you couldn't fly".
Lottie said, "okay, maybe, but I thought that was when Bill got beat up"....Nola sighed, "it was, I drove him, well you couldn't reason with the son of a bitch, he was so, so, f-----g, there, I said it, so f-----g bull headed and even the big guy told him to wait...God, the big guy should have been listened to"
Marg looked at Nola said, "so you were with Bill" and Nola said, "i am for another coffee".

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