Markwildyr.com, Post #154
Photo Courtesy of Stock Adobe:
Photo Courtesy of Stock Adobe:
Well, what did you think of Part 1? Did is ring any bells with you? Let’s find out if Robert learns why he stalked an unsuspecting street person.
Jimmy was reluctant to talk at first, but he slowly opened up as I drove. From southern Oklahoma, he’d headed west after a fight with his father. He evaded the question of what got between him and his dad, but I got the feeling his departure wasn’t purely voluntary. A mystery since he seemed reasonably well educated, certainly presentable—or at least I thought he probably was under all that grime.
I parked in my spot in the underground garage, and we took the elevator to my floor. Fortunately, we didn’t meet anyone on the way, although some of my neighbors might wonder what had died if they took the elevator within the next few minutes.
“Shower first,” I told him, opening the bathroom door and snapping on the light.
He peeked in. “A bath okay?”
I nodded, wondering as I did, if I’d be able to get the tub clean afterward.
“Can I take my time?”
“As long as you like. But put anything from your pockets on the counter, because I’m going to throw these clothes down the trash chute.”
His eyes went wide.
“Hey, you’ve got three new outfits in that canvas tote.”
It kinda pulled at my heartstrings when all he laid on the sink counter was a thin, worn billfold. Everything he owned in this world.
“You need any help with the faucets?”
“He glanced at the tub. “Naw. I can handle it.”
“Okay, get undressed and give me those rags.”
He closed the door, and I heard the water start pouring into the tub. A moment later a bare arm poked out of the partially opened door, offering me his clothes. I took them gingerly, and rushed out into the hall to drop them in the trash chute at the far end of the corridor. As I arrived back in the apartment, I heard a great groan from the bathroom.
Alarmed, I opened the door and rushed inside. “What’s the matter?”
Jimmy’s eyes, half closed in a look of pure bliss, snapped open at my intrusion. He was stretched out in the tub with water up to his neck. “S-sorry. It felt so good, I had to let it out.”
“Okay, I’ll give you some privacy. You… you might want to rinse off in the shower after you get through soaking.”
He grinned. “Okay, I get it.”
While he was in the bathroom, I picked up the sneakers he’d abandoned outside the bathroom door and assaulted them with warm water, soap, a scrub brush, and some foot powder. They looked worn but presentable afterward.
I tossed a salad but waited for him to tell me which of the frozen dinners in my freezer he preferred. After a while, I got worried, wondering if he’d fallen asleep and drowned in my bathtub. I’d gotten up to check on him when I heard the shower go on.
A few minutes later, Jimmy emerged with a towel wrapped around his waist. I blinked and did a double take. He’s entered the tub a young man older than his years and emerged a fetching adolescent. That dark hair was now a soft brown haloing a freshly shaven face. Surprisingly white teeth gleamed when he smiled.
“Man, that was nirvana. Thanks a lot. Uh, I cleaned up the tub.”
“Starved. Been thinking about those spareribs ever since you mentioned them.”
“Spareribs, it is. Your new duds are in the bedroom on the right.”
He turned his broad back to me and took off down the hall.
Jimmy polished off the ribs, demolished the salad, drank half a gallon of cold milk, and had a hunk of store-bought strawberry cake before coming up for air. I sat at the table with him through every minute of his feast. His table manners convinced me he’d probably come from a good home back in Oklahoma.
He stared at the number of dishes on the table as if embarrassed. “I’ll clean up the mess.”
“We’ll do it together. You rinse off the dishes, I’ll stack the dishwasher. Ten minutes later, the kitchen and dining area was spick and span.
When we walked back into the living room, he patted his stomach. “Guess you better take me back to Morningside before I fall asleep on you.”
“Why not fall asleep in that bedroom where you got dressed. Your things are already there.”
He glanced at me. “You sure?”
“I’m sure. You seem like an okay guy.”
“What… what will your lady say when she comes home?”
“There’s some girl’s things in the bathroom.”
I laughed. “Those were Cassandra’s. She was my girlfriend of the last six months. Took off for Pennsylvania two weeks ago. She left a few things behind.”
“I’m gonna watch some TV for a while. Welcome to join me, or you can go sack out.”
He examined my face a moment. “Don’t you expect some kind of payment?”
“Payment? Naw, all I spent on you was what I was going to risk at one of the Indian casinos. It was money already lost.”
“Oh. Then I’ll just go to bed, if you’re sure that’s okay?”
“Have at it.”
He closed the bedroom door behind him as I inspected the bath before cleaning myself up. He’d done a good job in tidying up after himself, even going so far as to spray some of the air freshener to get rid of lingering odors.
As I showered, I puzzled over his comment about me expecting payment. The kid didn’t own a thing except a shabby billfold, and I doubted it held a single dollar bill. I got out of the shower, dried off, and pulled on the robe hanging on a hook. As I left the bathroom, I noticed light seeping out from under his bedroom door. I rapped softly and turned the knob at his “Come in.”
Jimmy was stretched out on the bed wearing a pair of the jockeys I’d bought and holding a GQ Magazine he’d found on the lamp table.
“What did you mean when you asked me if I didn’t want payment? You don’t have anything to pay me with.”
He looked at me indulgently. “Sure I do.”
He laid aside the magazine and looked down his long frame. “Me.”
I think my eyes must have gone round as cucumbers because he laughed.
“I thought that’s why you picked me up?”
“I… no.” I recalled the runs up and down East Central looking for his particular form moving through patterns of moonglow and shadow. “At least, I don’t think so?”
“I….” I sighed. “Hell, Jimmy, I don’t know. Just something to do, I guess. After Cassandra left, this place seemed so empty. And I saw you a couple of nights ago and wondered… wondered about you.” It sounded lame. “Exactly how….” I ran out of steam as my mind started making connections.
“How I’ll repay you? Come here, and I’ll show you.”
My legs, independent of my mind, carried me across the room. Looking as handsome and alluring as anyone I’d ever known, he sat up and loosed the slip knot on my robe. Then his hands were on my hips. Warm and strong and… and wonderful hands. He kissed my chest before lowering his head.
I gasped at his touch, and suddenly things became clear. I knew why his father, likely a bible belt puritan, had thrown his handsome son out of the house and drove him out of town. And… and I knew why I’d pursued him, why Cassandra and all the other girls in my life had wandered away.
I’d been walking the wrong side of the street.
* * * *
I’ll ask last post’s question again. This ring any bells with anyone? Remind you of one of your experiences? Your reactions? Let me know.
Website and blog: markwildyr.com