Oh, and I managed to write this...
Nothing to do but think
Something brushed against my cheek; that's what woke me up. I opened my eyes, and saw Rosalie sitting there, running her finger on my cheek. The sun was bright outside, and streamed in through the huge window. "Good morning, honey," she said. "How are you feeling this morning?"
"I'm OK. What time is it?"
I sat bolt upright. "Oh, shit, I've got to get home, I've got work at one!"
"Honey, work's right across the street."
"But, I've got to shower, and get dressed, and..."
"I've got a shower here, and I've washed your shirt, your socks and your underwear. You can just wear the clothes you had on yesterday. No one will notice. Especially not that boss of yours." She winked.
I relaxed and laid back on the bed. "Wow. Thanks." I was going to say something about how it was like having Mom around, but I didn't think it would be a good idea.
"Sure, anytime. Now, are you going to get up, or are you going to lie there and make me make you late for work?" She stood and moved to the edge of the partition separating her queen-sized bed from the rest of the apartment.
"I can't be late again, or the boss'll fire me."
"We can't have that, can we?" She turned and gave me a rear view of her in her pink satin robe as she walked toward the kitchenette. "Breakfast will be ready by the time you get out of the shower."
I dragged myself out of bed and to the shower. I could get used to this kind of treatment. My head still hurt a little bit from the fall to the pavement the night before, but I wasn't getting dizzy. I checked myself out in the mirror in the bathroom, and it didn't appear that I had any bruises, either. I was still confused as heck about what had happened the night before, from about the time that the car nearly ran us over to...well, right about now. I tried not to think about it as I showered and dressed. It made my head hurt too much.
Rosalie served a fantastic breakfast. Eggs Benedict, English muffins, fresh cantaloupe, and coffee were waiting for me when I got to the table. We ate in silence, the only sound in the apartment coming from the light rock station she seemed to like so much.
She finished her breakfast, wiped her mouth on her napkin and set it on the table. "How is it?"
"You are a great cook, Rosalie."
"This from the guy who eats most of his meals in a dormitory cafeteria," she teased.
"Yeah, well, this was really great. This is like heaven. You're like an angel," I said, then blushed slightly when I realized what I had said.
She smiled and took both of my hands. "Listen, we need to talk." I felt a lump in the pit of my stomach. "Don't worry, it's nothing bad. I just wanted you to know that you're a real sweetheart. Your mother raised a fine young man." She rolled her eyes, realizing what she had said. "OK, maybe that wasn't the right way to put it, but honey, you are a gentleman. You're also young, and I know that sometimes young guys like to talk about things..."
"I wouldn't," I said.
"I know you wouldn't. You talking about us making love is the last thing that I'm worried about. I'm more concerned that you'd talk about the incident we had on our way back here last night. Honey, there are a lot of things that for all kinds of reasons, I can't tell you about. And last night, and what I told you I did for a living, are a couple of them. Please, don't share those things with anyone. Not even with your mother."
Talking about what had happened the night before was the last thing I was thinking of sharing with anyone, especially my mother. "I promise."
"I know that I've been really secretive with you, and I haven't always told you the truth, and I'm sorry. You deserve better than that, Tony. There will come a day when I can talk about them, or at least some of them, and I promise you, I will. I owe you that much." She moved her chair close to mine and put her hands on my shoulders, and looked right into my eyes. "Tony, in one week you've made me feel better about myself than any other person. I don't want to lose what we have, ever. Please be careful, honey." She leaned forward and we kissed, then just held one another for the longest time, not saying a word.
At quarter after twelve, I got ready for work. She held my jacket for me, then straightened my tie before kissing me. "I probably won't see you until next weekend. I've got a busy week ahead of me, and so do you, I'm sure."
"It's shaping up that way," I said.
"Give me a call on Wednesday again, and let's plan on seeing one another again next weekend?"
"OK." We hugged and kissed, and I was off to work.
I reached my station on the seventh floor and had everything in order before my boss came around. "Mr. Reardon, nice to see you on time again today," he said. "You had a phone call from your roommate a few minutes ago, he said that it was urgent. Don't stay on the phone too long." He walked toward the Gourmet Food department, trailing his scent behind him.
I picked up the phone and called Eddie's number.
"Eddie, it's me," I said when he answered on the tenth ring.
"Shit, Reardon, where the hell have you been? Never mind, I think I know." He chuckled lasciviously.
I ignored him. "So, what's going on?"
"Your mom called. Said to give her a call as soon as you got the message."
"Geez, when did she call?"
"Seven o'clock last night."
"Oh, Christ. OK, I'll call her at break. Thanks, Eddie."
"You gonna be home tonight?"
"Probably, unless someone died." Mom had a habit of calling me home to go to wakes and funerals for obscure relatives.
"I hear you, my friend. Roast beef tonight in the barfeteria."
"All right. See you."
I called Mom at break from one of the public phones in the atrium.
"Tony! Why didn't you call last night?" It was her "someone died" voice.
"I'm sorry, Mom, I didn't get the message until late, and I didn't want to wake you."
"What time did you get in?"
"It was after twelve. So, what's going on?"
"Out until after twelve on a work night?"
"Yeah, Mom, I know. So, what's going on?"
"Your uncle Ken died Thursday night."
"Uncle Ken?" I had no idea who this was.
"Yes. You know him. He was your father's uncle. You met him a few years ago."
"Oh," was all I could say.
"Anyway, the wake's tonight from seven to nine at McGillivray's. You will be there, won't you?"
Do I have a choice? "I've got school in the morning, Mom," I protested.
"Tony, everyone in the family's going to be there. You have to come. Just for a couple of minutes."
"Mom, it's all the way out in Evergreen Park. How'm I going to get home?"
"You can stay at home for the evening. I haven't done anything to your room. You've still got clothes here...."
I wasn't going to win this argument. "OK, I'll come after work," I said.
"Thank you so much, Tony dear. Aunt Ethel will be so happy to hear that you're coming. We'll have something to eat after the wake. All right, dear?"
"Sure, Mom. I'll see you tonight."
"Love you, Tony."
"Love you too, Mom." I hung up the phone and called Eddie to let him know that I wasn't going to be at the dorm for dinner. I lit a cigarette and sat next to an ashtray in the mall. I was in for a treat tonight, a one hour train ride followed by a half hour bus ride, and God knows how much waiting I'd have to do. The trains and buses didn't run very regularly on Sunday, especially not along 95th Street. Well, that's what being part of a big family is all about, waiting for buses and trains to go to wakes and funerals for people you don't know. I put out my cigarette and went back up the escalator to the seventh floor. I wouldn't have time to eat anything now.
More tomorrow...comments appreciated....