by Bill Kowaleski
Table of Contents|
parts: 1, 2, 3
The onrush of activity swept me to the weekend. It was Saturday before I even thought again about calling HR, and by mid-morning I was in my own world, working on my favorite project, the restoration of a 1965 Mustang I’d found in a junkyard. The body was done, and I was deep into the mechanicals, lying on a dolly under the engine compartment when I heard a car come up my driveway.
I pushed out, hands and face covered in grease, dripping with sweat, and saw an unfamiliar vehicle. The driver-side door opened and a long-legged woman, perhaps thirty-five, wearing tight, blue jean micro-shorts and a halter top that revealed more than it hid walked slowly toward me. From my position what I saw was all legs and shorts, and it wasn’t a bad sight at all.
“Hi,” she purred. “What a beautiful day! Not too many more like this left. Sorry to disturb you. Are you Bill?”
“Yes, I am, thank heavens!” I said smiling, scrambling to my feet.
“We haven’t met, Bill, but I’ve heard so much about you. Glen thinks the world of you, you know.”
“Glen?” I blurted, confused.
“Yeah, my husband. I’m Gina, Gina Corcoran.” She extended her hand revealing long magenta nails that matched her lipstick and eye shadow. I looked up from her hand to puffy lips, generously applied makeup that failed to completely hide the lines in her face, and streaked, long, artificially blonde hair. She would have fit right in on the Vegas strip, leaning against a wall at three a.m.
“Well, you’re not at all like I pictured you, mother of a twelve-year-old son and all, but hey, that isn’t unusual, is it?”
She smiled. “I’ll take that as a compliment, Bill. Say, could we talk for a minute? No need to clean up. I just dropped in on you after all.”
I invited her inside with some reluctance, looking up and down the street, hoping no one had seen her. We sat at the kitchen table, nursing coffees. She complimented me on the house, the Mustang, the yard, my tight, trim physique. It was all a little embarrassing. I decided I’d better get this over with.
“So what brings you here, Gina? It’s not like we’re old friends or anything.”
“I know, but it’s so hard to get started.” The smile fixed on her face fell away, replaced by tender concern. She leaned over the table and gently touched my hand. “I’m so worried about Glen. I think he’s going over the edge.”
“I’ve noticed a change in him too. He’s more paranoid than ever.”
“Yes, exactly. He’s convinced Javier is a child molester. Can you believe that? Javier! The guy is nuts for women, believe me, I know!”
I didn’t doubt that.
“He keeps talking about taking Alex somewhere safer. He’s obsessed with Alex, doesn’t like that he’s got a girlfriend, doesn’t like that he stays late to work on his school newspaper, doesn’t like that Javier coaches him. He’s talking about someplace deep in the Oregon woods, and I don’t think I’m part of his plans. Has he told you anything about moving? Do you know what he’s thinking?”
“Look, Gina, I don’t know what he’s thinking. I suggested counseling to him, but he blew me off. He’s a problem for me too, but I can’t help you. Quite frankly, I don’t think he’d like it if he knew you were here.”
Her tender concern hardened into anger. “I couldn’t care less! We have an agreement, had it from the first day. I live my life and he lives his. We had a kid together, but I do what I want. I’m worried about Alex, what Glen might do to him. Glen can go screw himself for all I care. Not going to get any more from me, that’s for sure.”
Her sudden mood swings felt phony, manipulative. Eileen was right. We should never get involved in the personal lives of our fellow employees. It was time to put that principle into practice.
“OK, Gina, it’s been very nice meeting you but I’ve got to get back to my car. I want to get that engine working by tomorrow.”
She shifted back into friendly. “What’s the rush, Bill? Wouldn’t you like to get to know me a little better? You’re a real turn-on, you know!”
“You can’t be serious!”
“Oh, but I am. I’m not getting any younger. I’ve got to take advantage while I still have the product to sell, so to speak.”
“Sell? What are you, a prostitute?”
The question, intended to send her away in a huff, didn’t bother her at all. In fact she smiled, like I’d just paid her a compliment. “Not any more. When Glen met me, that’s what I did. We made a deal: I’d marry him, give him the kid he craved, give him some sex, but I could keep other guys on the side.
“Well that’s all over now. He’s reneged, as far as I’m concerned. He’s fat, disgusting, he’s gone crazy. I’ve filed for divorce. So you see, Bill, there’s nothing wrong with us having some fun.”
“Gina, if you don’t understand why there’s something wrong with that, I can’t explain it to you. Please leave now. You’re not welcome in my house.”
She stood, her face hardening into a rage that was an eerie reminder of Glen. “Well, I’m not used to being turned down. Am I too old for you? Do you like your girls to play hard to get? Are you gay?” She spoke with the belittling mockery of a high school princess.
That was enough. I stood, pointed to the door, and, fighting to keep my tone calm and level, said, “You really need to leave now.”
She huffed, turned, stormed toward her aging Maxima, opened the door and, playing the scene for all the drama she could squeeze out of it, gave me the requisite parting shot. “Javier certainly doesn’t think I’m too old, and he’s better looking than you are!”
Jesus! No wonder Glen was paranoid, going over the edge, full of self-doubt. But why should I care? His dysfunctional life had nothing at all to do with me. Still I couldn’t get it all out of my mind. I lay on my dolly, unable to focus, angry at the intrusion, wanting to help Glen, wishing that I could talk it all over with Kim, imagining Gina’s long, naked legs wrapped around me.
* * *
Copyright © 2015 by Bill Kowaleski