Stories I Like: “Three Questions” by Leo Tolstoy ~ Part 2 of 2

THREE QUESTIONS – PART 2 OF 2

The hermit listened to the King, but answered nothing. He just spat on his hand and recommenced digging.

“You are tired,” said the King, “let me take the spade and work awhile for you.”

“Thanks!” said the hermit, and, giving the spade to the King, he sat down on the ground.

When he had dug two beds, the King stopped and repeated his questions. The hermit again gave no answer, but rose, stretched out his hand for the spade, and said:

“Now rest awhile-and let me work a bit.”

But the King did not give him the spade, and continued to dig. One hour passed, and another. The sun began to sink behind the trees, and the King at last stuck the spade into the ground, and said:

“I came to you, wise man, for an answer to my questions. If you can give me none, tell me so, and I will return home.”

“Here comes some one running,” said the hermit, “let us see who it is.”

The King turned round, and saw a bearded man come running out of the wood. The man held his hands pressed against his stomach, and blood was flowing “from under them. When he reached the King, he fell fainting on the ground moaning feebly. The King and the hermit unfastened the man’s clothing. There was a large wound in his stomach. The King washed it as best he could, and bandaged it with his handkerchief and with a towel the hermit had. But the blood would not stop flowing, and the King again and again removed the bandage soaked with warm blood, and washed and re-bandaged the wound. When at last the blood ceased flowing, the man revived and asked for something to drink. The King brought fresh water and gave it to him. Meanwhile the sun had set, and it had become cool. So the King, with the hermit’s help, carried the wounded man into the hut and laid him on the bed. Lying on the bed the man closed his eyes and was quiet; but the King was so tired with his walk and with the work he had done, that he crouched down on the threshold, and also fell asleep—so soundly that he slept all through the short summer night. When he awoke in the morning, it was long before he could remember at him.

“I do not know you, and have nothing to forgive you for,” said the King.

“You do not know me, but I know you. I am that enemy of yours who swore to revenge himself on you, because you executed his brother and seized his property. I knew you had gone alone to see the hermit, and I resolved to kill you on your way back. But the day passed and you did not return. So I came out from my ambush to find you, and I came upon your bodyguard, and they recognized me, and wounded me. I escaped from them, but should have bled to death had you not dressed my wound. I wished to kill you, and you have saved my life. Now, if I live, and if you wish it, I will serve you as your most faithful slave, and will bid my sons do the same. Forgive me!”

The King was very glad to have made peace with his enemy so easily, and to have gained him for a friend, and he not only forgave him, but said he would send his servants and his own physician to attend him, and promised answer to the questions he had put. The hermit was outside, on his knees, sowing seeds in the beds that had been dug the day before.

The King approached him, and said:

“For the last time, I pray you to answer my questions, wise man.”

“You have already been answered!” said the hermit, still crouching on his thin legs, and looking up at the King, who stood before him.

“How answered? What do you mean?” asked the King.

“Do you not see,” replied the hermit. “If you had not pitied my weakness yesterday, and had not dug those beds for me, but had gone your way, that man would have attacked you, and you would have repented of not having stayed with me. So the most important time was when you were digging the beds; and I was the most important man; and to do me good was your most important business. Afterwards when that man ran to us, the most important time was when you were attending to him, for if you had not bound up his wounds he would have died without having made peace with you. So he was the most important man, and what you then: there is only one time that is important—Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power. The most necessary man is he with whom you are, for no man knows whether he will ever have dealings with any one else: and the most important affair is, to do him good, because for that purpose alone was man sent into this life!”

Excerpt From

What Men Live By, and Other Tales

by Leo Tolstoy

.

Advertisements

Today’s Quote on Writing

Write the book you want to read, the one you cannot find.

Carol Shields

Trust Fund Baby ~ The Conclusion

Chapter 50

My mind was riding the world’s tallest and fastest rollercoaster and I felt totally out of control. I moved from sexual obsession, to crush, to serious crush, to love without a commitment and to love with the deepest commitment one human being can make to another. It all happened in the space of one week. It happened without having sex. It happened without any prolonged passionate kissing. It happened in spite of coming from two worlds separated by a gulf wider than the distance from the Earth to the moon. 

I’m sitting in the passenger seat, J is driving her beat up, ready for being broken down and sold for parts, please somebody steal me Toyota. That’s not the worse part. The worse part was she is now driving it up the quarter mile driveway to the mansion. The scandal the Sanderstuff’s will have to endure when J parks in the area reserved for important guests, royalty, and other really filthy rich white folks is almost too much to comprehend.

J pulled the Toyota in between the Porsche and the Rolls Royce. She turned the engine off. The engine shut down with a cough, sputter, and wheezing noise. “Did your car just die?” I asked hoping the answer was yes.

“No, but it’s on life support and it has a living will. I can’t get rid of her until its really over. That might be years,” J said with a bit of smile.

“Years?”

“Yes, did I tell you Dante is a good mechanic? That’s where he got his ability to hot wire cars and steal them.”

How do I respond to that? J said it with a sense of pride in Dante’s mechanical ability. I gave it my best shot, “Seems like a good entry level position for driving getaway cars after a bank job.”

J turned to me, she placed her right palm against the side of my face singeing me with an electric burn. “M, oh my delightful M, I know you are trying your best to be nice to me. No one ever taught you how to be nice. I am going to love teaching you.”

“Un huh.” I couldn’t think of anything else to say. My brain was frozen. I was sexually very aroused. My eyes glazed over. 

J reached behind my seat and brought back a bottle of bottled water, the store brand. It was probably made out of recycled runoff water. She twisted the top off and handed it to me, “Drink this, it tastes like hell, but it will make the swelling in your pants go down.”

I almost choked on the water. It was good thing I swiftly turned my head toward the windshield because I coughed and splattered a mouthful of now twice recycled water all over the windshield. We both started laughing. When I calmed down, I said, “It’s showtime. Are you ready?”

J gave me a look that said it all. Mother and Father better be worried, because Ms J was coming to dinner and she didn’t plan to hold back.

We walked in through the front door, Nicole was in the foyer, she gave J the full once over, smiled at her and then turned to me, “You did good, you did real good. She got real ones like me. Your mother and father been waiting in the dining room for ten minutes. I think she maybe is going to have a heart attack, maybe a stroke, maybe she gonna crap in her panties. As for your Father, we can only hope he goes fast. The faster the better.” Nicole started laughing and walked away. I’m sure she can’t wait to tell Victor and call Oscar. 

We stood outside the large walnut double doors. I twisted the ornate black metal door nob. Mother said it was a gift from the Queen of England. I pulled to the door open and stepped in to announce J. Mother and Father rose to greet my fiancé. Before I could introduce J, she came through the door beaming and pulsating warmth, sexuality, and a willingness to take on any challenger in the room.

Mother was the first to speak, “Oh Martin, how delighted I am that you hired extra help for tonight and look how she dressed. She knows first impressions are important. I wish more people of her color felt the same way.” She looked at J, “You’re the first of your people we’ve allowed to come on the property, I’ll ring for Nicole, she’ll show you where your uniform is. In the future, you don’t have to dress so formal. I am Mother and this is Father. If you work out, we might try other of your people. Do you do nails or massages?” 

J took a step toward Mother, I grabbed hold of her hand and squeezed it as tight as filthy rich white guy who has a personal trainer at the filthy rich white guy’s workout spa can squeeze a hand. J gave me a don’t you dare stop me look. It was time to man up. I said, “Mother, Father let me introduce you to J, we plan to be married and we will decide when we want to have children and what we will name them.”

Gasp, coughing, Mother’s two boney female fists pounding on the table simultaneously causing Mother and Father’s wine glass to fall over, empty their contents on a table cloth given to Mother by the curator for antiquities at the Smithsonian. She brought herself under control, and said, “I’m sure she is a nice person and all that. I read recently where some people of her color are starting to do something besides drugs and killing and general mayhem. If you go through with the marriage, we’ll write you out of the will, that’s what we’ll do.”

Why did mother throw raw meat in front of a hungry tigress? What was she thinking? I let go of J’s hand and whispered, “Sic her girl.”

J flashed me a smile and sauntered over to Mother in the way a mountain lion stalks a wounded deer. Mother’s eyes grew wide. A look of sheer terror replaced her arrogant smirk, she called out, “Father, do something. This, this woman is terrifying me. Call security. Call the police. Call the FBI. Call the CIA. Call the whole damn military.”

Father said, “I will mother, but first I’ve got to find my angina medicine. Oh dear. My poor heart.”

J placed her palms face down on the table. She leaned over and put her nose inches from Mother’s nose. Mother couldn’t back up any further. The King Henry VIII dining room chairs refused to budge. J said in a tone as calm as a physician in an ER situation, “Listen up, you dick sucking filthy rich white trash whore I love your son. We are going to get married and if you or the lapdog you call Father know what’s good for you, you will keep out of our business. If you ever insult me or M again, I personally will take out what’s left of your public hairs out with an electric prod. Nod your head if you understand.” J took her right hand and grasped hold of Mother’s chin and nodded it up and down for her.

“Good, we agree. M, I’m not hungry. I think it’s time to leave.”

As soon as we were at the door, Mother shrieked, “I’ve just begun. This is not over, you’ll both end up in poverty and I will dance on your food stamps card.”

I held J back, “No need to say more, J.” I turned to Mother, “BTW, Mother, I have the original paperwork on my trust fund. It should have started ten years ago. Father, Pettibone, and you lied to me. There is no clause about working for five years. It was all rouse to keep me under your thumb. See you in court unless you want to make a generous settlement to avoid some very bad publicity that will include massages and happy ending and Father’s trips to resorts with his secretary.” 

I turned and escorted J out the door, Victor and Nicole stood in the hallway and applauded us as we walked by. When we got to the Toyota and sat inside, I said to J, “What are we going to do?”

J said, “We’ll talk about that in the morning. Tonight, I have plans for you.”

I HOPE YOU ENJOYED THIS STORY AS MUCH I DID WRITING IT. J AND M WILL BE BACK THIS FALL AND YOU’LL BE SURPRISED THE DIRECTION THEIR LIVES TAKE.

. 

Trust Fund Baby ~ 49 A Satire

Chapter 49

I was ready to go at 4 p.m. I planned to pick up J around 6:45 p.m. and then arrive fashionably late for the 7 p.m. dinner. It’s what the filthy rich are supposed to do, Mother claimed only barbarians eat dinner before 7 or show up on time.  Showing up a tad late makes those of a lesser class nervous and those of the same class envious. That’s Mother, always thinking about other people. She is this generation’s Mother Teresa. 

I asked Nicole for advice, she’s a good friend, she’ll drop everything to help out on a moment’s notice. Nicole searched my wardrobe and picked out beige linen pants and a white silk shirt hanging to wear outside my pants. She suggested light brown loafers for a sporty look. Nicole stayed with me while I undressed and put on the clothes she laid out for me. When I finished, I turned to her and said, “How do I look?”

Nicole responded making a scratching motion with her right hand, “Grrrrr.” 

Her growl gave me sexual confidence. Without warning, Nicole started walking slowly, seductively toward me unbuttoning one button after anther on her blouse. I thought she wanted a close up look. I realized I was mistaken when I had a sudden surge of sexual energy focused in a lower part of my anatomy.  When Nicole dropped her blouse to the floor I forgot all about dinner. My libido was fired up and ready to go. I hadn’t had sex since I met J. I’ve been true to her. I was experiencing fate’s great temptation challenging me to love one woman and forget all others. Fate can be cruel and it was taking me for a ride down the rapids of love.  

“Do you really want to have sex with Nicole?” my conscience said.

“Un huh,” I answered. “It’s a guy thing. Did you ever have a bachelor’s party?”

“Yes, but I didn’t ask the housekeeper to spend the night with me,” said my conscience.

“It wouldn’t be the whole night,  I’m not a complete fool,” I countered.

“Close to it. If you ask her, I’d add idiot, imbecile, lunatic, and not deserving of the prize that knocks on your door.”

I hate having a conscience. He’s always making me think of the consequences. I’ve lost the devil may care, everything goes for the filthy rich, morality be damned attitude Mother spent years drilling into me. I said, “Okay, you win. I know you’re right.”

“Who you talking to, Tiger?” asked Nicole purring in a way that made me want to forget my conversation with my conscience.

I’m not sure what got into Nicole, she was within arms reach and while I was conversing with my conscience she had slipped off her pants and I was staring at the hottest Latina on planet Earth wearing only a red lace bra and the cutest, sexiest red panties I’ve ever seen. I’ll deal with my conscience tomorrow, the hell with it, I’m going to live for the moment.  I tool a step toward Nicole and walked into the space where destiny and visceral life forces collide, Mother’s voice cackled over the mansion’s intercom. “Nicole, Nicole? I need you this instant to trim and paint my toenails for tonight.”

Nicole flipped an obscene gesture toward the voice and then gave me the sexiest pouty look ever, “Sorry, Tiger. You was making me weak with your sexy look. I gotta go and trim and paint the bitch’s toes. I give you a raincheck.”

I stood in place trying to make sense of what happened. I love J. I truly love her and yet, Nicole tempted me beyond a male’s human capacity to resist. 

“You make me tired. You’re trying to rationalize your immature behavior and lay it off on being a male,” said my conscience.

“My species is weak. Woman rule us only we’re too dumb to realize it. Anyway, it’s easy for you to say. You didn’t have Nicole trying to seduce you.”

“That’s why I intervened for you and had your Mother call her.”

“We’ve got to have a talk about your role in my life.”

“Fat chance. Get your head in the game. J will be texting you any moment, She needs to talk to you. She’s on her way and will meet you on the sidewalk outside the mansion’s walls..”

“Yah, right.”

At that moment, J text. She needed to talk to me and said she’ll be outside the mansion’s walls waiting for me. Something was up. I was happy she didn’t say, ‘We need to talk.’ That’s code for a breakup and we haven’t even started. 

I left the mansion without a word, hopped in a golf cart and parked it on the grass to the side of the ten foot metal gate, walked to gate and punched in the code. The gate swung a wide arc, I walked through and spotted J’s beat up Toyota off to my left. I waved at her and hurried over. I slid into the passenger seat and caught a breathtaking glimpse of an angel. J wore a black dress that was making love to every inch of her skin. I knew she chose the dress for me because of the dipping neck line and exposure of her marvelous breasts.

“What’s up, J? What’s the problem?” I said, my eyes not straying a centimeter from her caramel colored cleavage.

“My eyes are up here,” she said using her thumb and forefinger to tilt my chin.

“I need your full attention while I talk to you. I don’t want your mind wandering. I don’t want you fixated on my body parts. I am serious. Very serious. When I’m through talking, you can tell me if you still want me to meet your parents.”

“The answer is yes,” I said. “There is nothing you can tell me that will change my mind about you. I love you. That’s settled. Anything else?”

J shook her head, put the Toyota in drive and pulled away from the curb, “Dante escaped from prison two days ago.”

“I assume he didn’t have a get out of jail card and was playing Monopoly with the guards. Did you help him escape?”

“How would I do that? Do I look like some kind of fool?” said J. 

I love her passion and her temper turns my flame to high. I responded in a way that showed J my deep sense of compassion and family, “The only reason I asked is if you did, can we have conjugal visits if you’re convicted?”

“Is sex all you think about?”

“Mostly,” I said.

“What are your parents going to think about you having a brother in law who’s hiding out from the police?”

I thought about it for a moment, then I had a flash of insight, “Does Dante know how to do massages that have happy endings?”

The look J gave me melted my heart. She said, “You are so innocent, so naïve. You really, really need me in your life.”

“I know,” I said. 

“Answer me truthfully,”

“Okay?” I asked.

“Being a psychologist. You don’t have a clue about being a psychologist, do you?”

“I can’t argue the point.”

J pulled the car into a Wendy’s parking lot.

I said, “You want a burger?”

“I’m not hungry, but you are going to want to read your trust fund agreement.”

J reached into the driver’s side door pocket and pulled out a manila folder. I reached for it and she pulled it away. 

“Where did you get it?” I said.

“Dante is a skilled professional. He did me a personal favor. Let it go at that. Next thing, I am going to be honest with your parents. I am who I am and I am not going to play nice with them. Do you still want me to go to dinner?”

I said, “I love you. You don’t have to play nice. Just promise me you won’t kill them right away. You’ll think about it. If you do kill them, give me a warning so I can make sure they didn’t write me out of the will.”

J started laughing, reached over and gave me the sweetest kiss I ever had. She handed me the file and I read it.

Trust Fund Baby ~ 48 A Satire

Chapter 48

Louie asked a friend who called a friend to drive me home. I slept until the next morning and was awaken by Mother’s shrill cockatoo voice. “Martin, Martin, Martin if you don’t wake up I’ll come in and sing to you until you wake up.”

My head, my eyes, and my ears did not need her singing anything a cappella, let alone my nervous system. I made a mental note, if the situation were right, to ask Oscar if he ever heard Mother shrieking in delight and wanted his opinion on her voice quality. 

Mother spoke again, “Martin, hurry, you need a hearty breakfast for work.”

I called back, “I cancelled work today, Mother.”

She said, “Dear. You can’t cancel, not going to work may affect your trust fund. We want to keep that ten million in the family. Father and I can’t help what Mother Houston put in the trust fund terms.”

“Mother, I don’t care what the old bat put in the trust fund terms. I am not going in today. I need the entire day to get ready to pick up my fiancé and bring her here for dinner tonight so Father and you can meet her.”

“Well, Martin, why didn’t you say so. I will call Pettibone and tell him it’s okay.”

“What if he says it isn’t, Mother?”

“I will grab hold of his nuts and twist them off,” said Mother in a way that raised goosebumps on every available space of my skin. 

“Now, shower and get dressed. I want to hear more about your fiancé at breakfast. I’m going to toss Father’s Wall Street Journal in the trash. I’ll let him make the young bitch secretary he’s been sleeping with fetch him one.

Mother is in a truly rare foul mood. I said, “Mother, is today Oscar’s day off?”

“Yes, and I’m not happy about it. There are several things that need his personal attention.”

I now understood her bad temper. Perhaps I’ll mention a bit of abstinence is good for the body and the soul at breakfast. It’s going to be a tricky situation when I sit with them. Mother will grill me as if she’s been appointed as a special prosecutor by the President. Father will move his glasses down to the tip of his bulbous nose and stare at me over the glasses. He’ll occasionally search the room, move his shoes around under the table, tilt his plate and shake loose his linen napkin hoping the Wall Street Journal will shake loose. I wonder if the Wall Street Journal was his primary reader in grade school. 

Twenty-five minutes later the three of us were sitting at the dining table. We sat silently waiting for someone to make the entry into conversation. I thought of possible conversation starters, “Mother, have you considered using a dildo today?” or “Father, do you take your Viagra with your morning orange juice or do you wait until you go to your office?” I didn’t think these openers would lead to anything productive.

Fortunately, Mother broke the ice, “Martin, I’ve made two decisions for you. I know you’ll approve. You and J will have your room on the second floor next to our bedroom. We’ll all live as a happy family.”

“What’s the second decision, Mother?” I asked convinced now she was certifiable or I had no balls if I went along with her decision.

“I will make an appointment for you both to go to the fertility clinic to donate an egg and sperm so a surrogate mother can carry my heir. I’m sure J will be happy with this news, then she won’t have to deal with morning sickness, unsightly weight gain, water retention, stretch marks, and labor pains. Birthing is a messy experience and only suitable for those not in our class.”

We won’t make it past the salad tonight if Mother tosses these comments at J. Mother might not live to see sunrise. If J whacked her, we’d be on the lamb. I can see the headlines, FILTHY RICH WHITE BOY AND HIS BLACK VENUS ELUDE AUTHORITIES. 

I made a life’s decision at that moment. I do not want to live any longer in this house. I have to find something to do besides faking it as a shrink. If I keep on living like I am living I am going to end up like Mother or Father or worse, a combination of both of them. 

“Well, Martin, you agree with my decisions for your life, don’t you?”

“Frankly, Mother I could give a damn what you think.” I watched a rerun of Gone With the Wind last week. I wanted to use something like Clark Gable’s line to Scarlet O’Hara but hadn’t found the right opportunity until now.

 “Father, speak to our son. Did you hear what he said to me?”

Father looked up from his iPhone, “What did you say, Mother? I was texting my secretary and asking her to pick up a Wall Street Journal for me. Mine is missing today. I also asked her to have my medication ready for me. I have a stressful job at the office.”

Mother huffed and she puffed until her pasty white face turned red, “Martin, perhaps I was a bit too aggressive. It seems work is helping you to mature. Of course, I will let J and you pick out your room in the mansion and choose your own fertility clinic.”

“Thank you, Mother. You are the most thoughtful person I have ever known,” I said “NOT” in my mind. Oscar once told me never to get in a pissing contest with a skunk because you always lose. Now, I’m not calling Mother a skunk, that would be insulting. She is more like a vulture picking meat off dead carcasses. 

“Martin, Father and I were married in June. I think being a June bride sets a nice tone. I’ll order up good weather and we’ll have the reception on the south Lawn. I’ll hire the city symphony to play. Victor will supervise the cooking for the five hundred people we’ll invite. I assume J will have an equal number, maybe more with Dante coming out of hiding. It will be a celebration of the arts. Oh, Father, I am so excited.”

“Did you hide my Wall Street Journal?”

“I did.”

“Can I have it back, please,” said Father.

Mother said, “Father, you know I can’t have my massage today. I’ll give it back to you if you take your blue pill for breakfast and meet me in the bedroom in thirty minutes.”

“Mother, this is blackmail.”

“I hate that term. Can we use the term, ‘whitemail?”

“I’ve got to run,” I said. I really need to get away from this family.

 

Trust Fund Baby ~ 47 A Satire

Chapter 47

After I dropped J off at Loomis I drove out to the country club. The way I had it figured, Mother and Father are going to love J. I’ve got to assume the fertility rate among Black American women is a point in J’s favor. One thing puzzle’s me, the mean number of children that filthy rich people have is one point three. How do you have a point three child. I didn’t attend math classes so statistics is a puzzle I prefer to leave to the family accountant.

It was 2 p.m. when I got to the country club. The morning golfing crowd was gone. The hot filthy rich women who compete to take tennis lessons from the hot male and female tennis pros were all out on the courts getting hands on instruction. I sat alone at the bar, my only companion was Louie the bartender, a short guy with wavy black hair and a nose that could be used for a spear. 

Louie was wiping glasses with a white towel. It occurred to me this is what all bartenders do when they have nothing to do. Louis carried his towel and glass and walked toward me. “Off work early, Martin. Can I get you a drink? he asked.

“Louie, can you keep a secret. I mean a really, really big secret?” I asked.

“How big?” He asked.

“I took out my billfold and slid two one hundred dollars bills across the bar to him.

“Oh, you mean a small secret that is okay to get out as a rumor?” said Louie setting the glass down and slipping the two one-hundreds into his pocket.

“It’s much bigger, Louie. It’s like super top secret,” I said. The moment the phrasing past my lips I thought I sounded like a girl in junior high school telling one of her girlfriends about her latest crush.

Louie looked down the empty bar toward his glasses. “Man, I’m behind time wiping glasses. I take pride in my spotless, shiny wine, beer, and shot glasses.”

I still had my wallet in my hand. I opened it, and put one, two, three more one-hundreds on the table. “Can this buy ten minutes, Louie? I got to talk to someone and I’m not Catholic. I can’t go to confession because I don’t have anything to confess. I’m the salt of the earth according to Mother.”

Louie took hold of the three one hundred dollar bills faster than a Vegas casino dealer, deals blackjack. He said, “I haven’t seen much of your mother lately. Oscar keeping her busy? Or, is she keeping Oscar busy? I’m not quite sure how that one works. BTW, I’m Catholic, consider yourself in confession. My lips are sealed tighter than a …”

I interrupted Louie because every simile he uses is sexually explicit. I said, “Thanks Louie. I’m in love. I finally found the woman I want to be with the rest of my life. It’s driving me nuts. Today, she told me she loved me.”

“What’s the problem with that? She’s not pregnant? Already have kids? Is she married and needs a divorce? If so, my cousin Gino is a good divorce lawyer,” said Louie.

I shook my head no. “None of the above, Louie. The problem is enormous, gigantic, overwhelming.”

Louie held up a hand to stop me, “I get the picture, photo, selfie, whatever. It’s serious.”

“Thanks for the summary, Louie. Here’s the real problem, I’m introducing her to Mother and Father tomorrow night at dinner.”

Louie smiled, “You know I’m Italian. Italians work around the principle that it’s a good thing to have someone you’re going to marry meet the parents before the wedding. And, it’s always better if there is plenty of good food around. I’m not sure how it works among the filthy rich.”

I said, “The filthy rich think it’s a good idea too, but not for the same reasons your people might think it’s a good idea,” I said, edging closer to what I really wanted to say.

Louie placed both palms flat down on the bar and bent over a bit toward me, His nose was freaking me out. I think he sensed it and backed away. He said, “I see the problem. My nose bothers you. I like my nose. It’s the only one I got.” Louie started laughing. I like someone who likes their own humor. 

“It’s kind of like that Louie. The filthy rich want to make sure their filthy rich children are marrying someone who is pretty much the same. You know, filthy rich, went to filthy rich private universities, never a public university, go to a mainline Protestant church, and have the same skin tone give or take how they tan.”

Louie nodded his head, “Where does this woman who you want to marry fit into this description?”

I chewed on my lower lip for a second, contorted my jaw into a grotesque position and tried to speak but it came out sounding mfff, durr, flliss.

Louie took a step back from the bar, he bent over, and scanned the area under his bar. After a few seconds, he smiled, and he lifted out out bottle containing a dark caramel colored liquid. He set it on the bar and reached under and returned with a shot glass. He filled it so that the liquid hung precariously at the lip of the glass threatening to spill.

“Drink it in one gulp, kid. Don’t ask me what it is. Don’t ask me where I get it. Don’t ask me anything about it. It’s what Catholics do in confession when they got something really hard to confess.”

“They do? They get to have a shot while they’re in confession?” I asked.

Louie nodded.

“I’ve thought about converting, but Mother and Father made codicils in their will stating that any heir in perpetuity that converts to Catholicism is disinherited from all wealth.”

“Is this woman Catholic?” asked Louie.

“I don’t think so. I never asked her exactly what her belief preference is. I know ours is money.” 

“How long you been going with her?”

“We had our first date at lunch today. I’ve known her five days.”

“Kid, drink up. I’m beginning to see the problem,” said Louie as if her were a doctor giving me prescription.

I put my right hand around the shot glass and in one swift motion I brought the caramel colored liquid to my lips and tossed it down. “Yeowee. Oh, Mother. Oh, mama. Get me something, anything. I’m being consumed by a fire raging in my mouth my throat, my esophagus, my stomach. Oh my, oh my.”

Louie’s hand went under the bar again, seconds later he handed me a large pickle with skin that looked like alligator hide. He said, “Take a bite.”

I took a bite, it was sour, tasted of garlic and made my lips pucker. A moment after swallowing the foul tasting crunchy excuse for a former cucumber, I felt an easing from the deadening of every nerve cell in my body. My only concern was the destruction of the entire membrane of my stomach lining.

“Don’t think about it, Kid. It will go away. Now spill your guts, not literally, of course. The filthy rich bitches are almost finished with their tennis lessons. The ones that weren’t able to take a pro home will be here complaining about the one’s who scored.”

I said, “Here’s the deal, Louie. One, she comes from poor roots.”

“So do a lot of people. You can get past that one.”

“She went to a public university.”

“I think you can swing that one.”

“She is breathtakingly beautiful.”

“That’s in her favor.”

“She’s got the most delicious coffee with a hint of cream colored skin.”

“She’s black,” said Louie.

“Yes,” I said.

Louie poured me another shot. “Good luck, Kid. Your secret is safe with me. This one is too hot to handle. I woulda charged you a grand if I knew. But a deal is a deal.”

I threw the shot down, Took another bite of pickle and said, “Can I have another shot?”

“You’ll destroy your stomach,” said Louie as he walked down to the end of the bar where he started wiping glasses.

 

NEXT EPISODE ON MONDAY.

TRUST FUND BABY CONCLUDES NEXT WEEK, DON’T MISS A SINGLE EPISODE.

Trust Fund Baby ~ 46 A Satire

Chapter 46

After J and I broke our kiss and embrace neither of us said a word. We closed the office and walked to the elevator. The elevator stopped at the 2nd floor. Carlos stuck a leg in, followed by his head sporting a gold canine and five tooth smile. J slid over to the door opening and gave him a look that peeled the paneling off the sides of the elevator. Carlos stepped out before having his nose reshaped without the benefit of a plastic surgeon. When J turned to press the close door button, Carlos flipped me a thumb’s up.

We walked the two blocks to the corner of Loomis and Ocean Drive. Maxine’s Deli sat on the corner as it has for the past forty-three years. Zagats gives it a five star rating. 

I turned to J and said, “I’m getting the pastrami and sauerkraut rueben with Maxine’s special dressing on marble rye and I’m passing on the dill pickle. I’m going to have a bottle of the oxygen infused water.” I tossed in the last item to show J I was health conscious, 

J said, “I’ll have the same.” Her words were spoken with the same emotion one might have waiting for the light to change from red to green. 

I passed on the dill pickle. I didn’t want to take a chance on pickle or garlic breath. J did the same. It spoke volumes to me. We walked side by side to Ocean Drive. We crossed the street and picked up the pedestrian path that curled at the edge of the cliff overlooking the reserved beaches and ocean. The firs three benches were occupied, I pointed to the fourth, “Is this okay?”

J nodded. She didn’t speak.

We sat. I opened the bag, pulled our a rueben’s out, and unfolded the wrapping paper half way around the sandwich. When I handed it to J, I said, “Mustard packet?” Mustard packets are always a good way to break the tension. I think I’ll stop by Maxine’s on the way back and grab a handful for the next group session.  

J gave me a smile carried by a love beat. She said, “Yes, thank you.”

My heart was in rhythm with the ocean waves lapping against the shore. We ate silently staring out at the ocean. A cool ocean breeze, the sun at our backs, and my black Venus next me made this the most perfect moment of my life. I wanted it to last forever. 

J only ate a half of her sandwich and wrapped the rest up. She handed it to me. I placed it back in the bag. I was still hungry, but I wasn’t about to ruin the moment, I did the same with my sandwich. 

A brief moment later J said, “What happened? Explain it to me?”

I said the first three words that came to mind, “I love you.”

J turned turned toward me and took both my hands in hers, “M, I fell in love with you the moment I saw you. I fought it. You’re filthy rich. I grew up dirt poor. You’ve never worked for anything. I’ve had to struggle to get this far. I still owe over one-hundred thousand dollars in student loans for college. Your white. I’m black. You don’t have a serious bone in your body. I take life very seriously, it’s the only way I survived. Mama can’t stand you. I can only imagine how your mother and father will react when they see me. Do you understand all this?”

I stared into her eyes, I know she was speaking to me, I didn’t hear a word. I only wanted to look at her and hold her. 

“Well? Speak to me,” said J.

I said, “I love you.”

“You didn’t hear a word I said, did you?” said J.

I nodded my head and gave her a silly grin.

“Oh M, you are like a comfortable shirt I want to toss out, but I can’t get rid of it.”

I leaned toward J, closed my eyes, and kissed her. Some moments later when we broke our kiss, I said, “Seriously, will you marry me? I don’t have a ring with me. I’m serious. I’ve never been more serious in my life.” 

J let go of my hands and turned back and looked out toward the ocean seeking an answer. I turned toward the ocean and tried to use my highly limited mental powers to detect any good karma I had floating through the universe. This was one of the times I wished I watched the PBS special on developing good karma. Twice I tried to start a conversation, twice J shook her head. I sat and stared and waited. 

Fifteen minutes went by before J turned toward me. “M,” she said. “I know I love you. I don’t know if I want to marry you.”

I blurted, “Is it the sex. You want to discover if I’m great in bed. I have great reference.”

J started laughing the deep laugh I heard when we first met. I started laughing too until tears were running down my cheeks. J dabbed at them with Kleenex from her purse. 

Eventually a moment of calm occurred. J said, “M, I want you to introduce me to your parents. Not tonight. Tomorrow night at dinner at your house.”

“Not tonight? What are we going to do for the rest of the day?” I said hoping J was going to say make non stop passionate, unbridled love until we passed out from exhaustion.

Instead, she said, “I’m going back to the office and canceling group for tomorrow. I am going to the salon, then the spa, and you can pick me up at my apartment tomorrow for dinner. It’s 2342 Center Street, apartment 301.”

“What am going to do?” I asked.

“How old are you?” asked J.

“Thirty-three?” I said questioningly.

J said, “It’s time you figured it out if you really want to marry me.”