Saturday, January 4, 2014
Dear Jon - Issue # 23
Hello all! My name is V.L. Locey. I am a self-published and traditionally published author that lives in the mountains of Pennsylvania with my husband of over twenty-two years, my daughter who is seventeen, a steer named after a famous NHL goalie, chickens, geese, ducks, one dog, two cats, and a partridge in a pear tree. For more info and links about me and my work, check out the Bio tab up above.
Enough about me, let`s get back to the romance!
I`m sure you`re familiar with the song about summertime and how easy the living is. Sometimes songs just can`t do reality justice. For seven weeks the lives of four men were about as easy as one could imagine. I would never be able to repay Charlotte for what she had done. In one glamorous swoop she had set both Ross and I free in a way that we ourselves could never have accomplished. She would breeze in on the weekends, to see Ross or so it was believed, thus clearing any question of his masculinity. What a man he must be to have stolen such a looker from a young hep cat like me!
"I only want them to get along as brothers," Charlotte would declare during her visits to anyone who would listen. So, when people saw my car parked in a certain drive, they assumed we were striving to become friends to please Charlotte, for no one wished to see her upset. God, she was good. You cannot imagine how wondrous it was not to have to sneak anymore. Sure, we still had to be discreet. My car there overnight for days on end would raise eyebrows, but most folks now assumed we were buddies working to get along and please the woman we both loved.
Social Services had dropped by three times in those seven weeks. With the help of Ross as well as Charlotte, my little bungalow was now painted inside and out. It also had new draperies to match a spiffy new pull-out sleeper for Andrew and I to slumber upon. My chances of legal custody were quite good I was informed.
Charlotte had brought my oils up from Greenwich a few at a time. I had sold several to tourists, and had three new ones with a decided rural feel hanging in my lover`s shop. She had also sublet my studio for me. Life was good. Ross and I had finally found some peace. We spent nights fishing or playing baseball with Andy, then we would retire inside to listen to the radio until Andy drifted off. Ross and I would then slip off to make love after the boy fell asleep. I never once felt like the pulse of the city was missing. I simply could not imagine anywhere else I would rather be, angry librarian aside.
It was on a sweltering Friday evening that three of us men - Ross, me, and Andrew - were splashing in the creek that runs behind my place. George and Gracie stretched out their necks at us from time to time, but those two goofy birds in their down vests were too hot to honk. We were in shorts. I was seated on a large rock while Ross waded about in the swimming hole with his arms under Andrew`s pale belly. The lad was kicking to beat the band. His swimming lessons were going rather well. A car horn pulled my attention from Andy and Ross. I stood on the flat grey rock to see who was coming. Charlotte was sashaying across my yard, chunky heels to match her pink and black polka-dot dress. Even her hat had a polka-dotted band.
"Well, well, look at all the wet, gleaming muscles!" the redhead announced when she arrived at the creek bank. A dragonfly zoomed past my face.
"Aunt Charlotte! I got muscles too!" Andy yelled then flexed. Charlotte fanned her face with her gloved hand.
"Why you`re another Johnny Weissmuller," she remarked, to which the boy did his best Tarzan call. The geese took exception to the lad being louder than they were. They flapped off to lounge in the shade on the other side of the creek.
"I thought you weren`t coming up this weekend," Ross said then scooped Andy up for a ride out of the water. I followed behind in case the wild one toppled off Ross`s wide shoulders.
"Yes, well, the man I had planned to go to Martha`s Vineyard with went with his wife instead," Charlotte said with a scowl. The wind tugged some red strands out from under her hat. "So, I decided to come spend the weekend with more faithful boys. Come give Aunty Charlotte a smooch."
As soon as Andy`s bare feet hit the ground, he was kissing Charlotte dutifully on both cheeks.
"He smells like frog spit," the ginger said as she straightened with some assistance from myself. She patted my wet arm then squeezed my bicep. "As do you. Tell me, Ross, do you smell of tepid creek water as well?"
Ross lifted his armpit then sniffed loudly. "Yes, Ma`am, I do."
"Well to heck with all of you stinky men! I`m heading back into town for some food. What shall I bring us? No! Do not think to offer to pay Ross Coleman. I am celebrating getting rid of a philanderer!"
Five minutes later Charlotte was speeding off to fetch us a rare take-out dinner. Cash wasn`t quite as tight now as it had been, but Andy and I were still living frugally.
"Uncle Ross?" the boy pulled on Ross` hand. We both glanced down at the sodden young man. Water trickled from his sandy blonde bangs down his nose. "What is a philanderer?"
"Don`t look at me, Uncle Ross," I chuckled then headed into the bungalow to gather some dry clothes for the three of us. He was on his own for that one.
"Well, Andy, a philanderer is someone who collects dinosaur bones." Ross` answer drifted in the open windows. I snorted at the clever reply. That love of mine was one quick thinker!
"Then I want to be a philanderer when I grow up!"
Ross laughed long and hard. There was no suppressing my laughter either. God, did we both love that child. Our lives could not be much better. We were no sooner dried off and dressed when we heard a car rolling into the drive. Andrew went barreling out the front door as he always did when Charlotte was expected.
"That boy is infatuated with his aunt," Ross said as he pulled a sleeveless tee over his dark, damp head.
"She`s a real doll," I said with a wink before grabbing a kiss. Out we went, to help Charlotte carry in her bounty. We both stopped cold. Andrew was still on the porch, the bare toes of his left foot fiddling with his old ball and glove lying beside his toy box.
A tall man slowly opened the door of a rather rough Chevrolet coupe. He was fair-haired and lean. So lean that he looked like he was just this side of starvation. His once handsome face held the dark hollows of someone who had recently come back from emaciation. He was in uniform, although it hung off his once strong shoulders. I tipped my head as he limped across the yard. It was his chin that held my attention. And the bold stroke of his eyebrows. I reached out to find Ross`s hand. The name over his heart . . . Corporal David Brooks. My throat grew tight. My grip on Ross increased.
"Evening," he croaked as he removed his hat, " I - I`m sorry I came unannounced but, well, you have no phone. I just had to come as soon as I was discharged. I never got her correspondence, not until I was released from the P.O.W. camp. I was too sick to come then, after the war. They gave me all her letters. I read them over and over in the hospital. I never knew about him . . . My God, he looks just like her . . ."
"No, he looks just like you," I told Andrew`s father.
Issue # 22