I Remember Tomorrow--Chapter One
Soft rain fell on the patrol car’s windshield making the wipers squeak. Jeanette sat in the passenger seat, biting her lower lip and feeling nervous. Her first day with the police department was an hour old and she hadn’t done anything terrible yet.
So far, so good, she thought.
The driver’s door opened and a tall, slim man slid behind the wheel. He pulled off his hat and shoved it between the headrest and the cage behind the front seat.
Stuart didn’t care for rookies or women who thought they were cops. Both reasons prompted the police chief to make him Jeanette’s field training officer.
“Well, Henderson,” He fastened his seat belt, “you ready to deal with it?”
Stuart pulled the gearshift down into drive and eased away from the curb.
“You check everything out already?”
Jeanette nodded again.
“Hey,” he spoke without taking his eyes from the road, “Henderson.”
“Yes, sir.” She brought her head up from the patrol report she’d been filling out.
Stuart pulled up to a stop sign and put the car back in park then turned to Jeanette.
“Let’s lay down a couple of ground rules before we get off on the wrong foot. First off, when somebody asks you a question you answer; with your mouth not your head. I know you got a lotta loose stuff up there but I can’t tell whether you shakin’ it or noddin’ by the way it rattles. Understand?”
“And my name’s Stuart, not sir. Understand?”
Stuart put the car back in drive, moved around the corner and headed toward the center of town.
With a population of fewer than seven thousand, Chimney’s police department consisted of only seven fulltime officers. Jeanette was the newest. She landed the job when a rash of burglaries and thefts forced the city council to hire more people.
“Here’s another rule for you.” Stuart turned onto the town square and pulled behind a line of cars waiting for a traffic light. “Spend more time watchin’ what’s goin’ on out the window than what’s on your clipboard. You can always get your paperwork caught up later.”
Jeanette laid the clipboard on the seat between them.
“What is it you don’t like about me?”
“Ain’t it obvious?”
“I’m a woman?”
“That’s part of it.” The light changed and Stuart followed the cars through the intersection. “I’m used to working with people who’ve been in the business for a while. You know; they usually know a little more about what they’re doin’. A rookie can get you hurt. That bothers me. So, I don’t much care for rookies.”
Jeanette wanted to ask him how long he’d been brain dead. It came out, “So how long you been a cop?”
“This’ll be my second year with Chimney.” He turned onto a residential street and slowed their speed to a crawl. As he drove, his eyes moved carefully from house to house. “I was with Jamesboro for five years before I came here. The pay’s better here and the insurance too. Linda was pregnant then and I had to think about that.”
“So,” Jeanette shifted in her seat, “I guess that gives me about three years more experience.”
Stuart glanced in her direction.
“I did just over ten years as a cop in the army.” She explained, not returning what had become an angry glare.
“My last assignment was with a drug suppression team in Germany. I wasted a guy in a bar when a setup went bad. The army started given me a ration of crap over it. Things at home were for shit too. My husband was a civilian; worked at the PX which is the army version of a department store; and I found out he was sleepin’ around whenever I was on duty. I told him to pack his bags and then I filed for a divorce. I got out when it was final.”
“So you weren’t a real cop. You was just an MP?”
Stuart was trying to find a way to win back his pride.
“Just an MP,” she spat with as much indignation as she could muster. “You know I caught a load of that crap at the rinky-dink academy you guys go to around here. What is it with you civilians? You think all we did was break up bar fights or somethin’?”
“Hey,” Stuart hadn’t expected such a sharp response, “I’m sorry. I wasn’t ever in the service…”
“Hey,” Jeanette said, mockingly, “I won’t hold it against you. And by the way, that car’s fixin’ to run that stop sign.”
Stuart jerked the patrol to the left and slammed on the brakes as a red panel van drove full speed through the stop sign. It missed the patrol by inches then pulled to the curb after clearing the intersection.
Stuart flipped a switch that turned on the red lights and eased in behind the van. He reached for the radio mike and grabbed Jeanette’s hand.
“I’ll radio it in.” She said as she pulled the mike from its rack and stepped out to stand behind the open car door.
Stuart exited, waited until the radio dispatcher acknowledged their location, then started toward the driver’s door of the van. Jeanette laid the mike on the car seat and walked to the back of the van. Peeking through the rear window, she saw half a dozen video recorders covering the van floor. She tried the handle on the back door before moving along the side toward the front.
Just before reaching the window of the passenger door something flashed through her mind: an image of the driver pushing a gun into Stuart’s face.
She unholstered her pistol, brought it up and slowly eased forward. She stopped when she reached the open passenger window and the scene in her mind matched the one in reality.
“Hey, asshole.” She struggled to keep her voice calm. “You wanna die young?”
She could see Stuart’s face, pale and blank as he stared into the muzzle of the driver’s gun. All she could see of the driver was his long, black hair and the back of his denim jacket.
“Looks like we gotta situation,” the man answered without turning.
“Looks that way,” Jeanette felt her heart pounding in her chest and silently ordered it to slow down. “Problem is, I don’t think you understand your options.”
“Oh I understand, alright,” his voice quivered. “You’re gonna put your gun down or I’m gonna blow him away.”
Jeanette had a brief flashback to a bar in Germany and a similar situation that ended with the death of a young boy too scared to reason. She pushed the thought to the back of her mind.
“And what happens after you kill him?”
A moment of silence as the driver considered the question. Then, without further comment, he slowly held his gun to the side and let it dangle on his finger from the trigger guard.
Stuart was still frozen in place.
“Grab the gun, Stuart.”
His hand flashed up and snatched the revolver. Jeanette moved around the front of the van, keeping her pistol trained on the driver. She stopped when she came around to the street side and could see the man’s face.
“Open the door, Stuart, and get him on the ground.”
Stuart complied, although his movements were slow and mechanical. After placing the man on the ground, he pulled handcuffs from a pouch on his pistol belt.
When their prisoner was secured, Jeanette holstered her gun and took in a deep breath.
“Get on the radio.” She ordered. “Tell the dispatcher we’re okay and we’ll be bringin’ one in. And get a wrecker out here for his car.”
Stuart stood and started toward the patrol. Two steps later he stopped and turned back to Jeanette.
“Hey.” The man on the ground tried to squirm into a sitting position. “You just gonna leave me down here?”
“Hey,” Jeanette reached into a pocket on her uniform shirt and extracted a card, “what’s your name, anyway?”
“Johnny Cummings.” He turned his head to look up at Jeanette. “And I know my rights. You can’t just leave me like this.”
“Count your blessings, Johnny.” She fingered the card with one hand, while resting the other on the butt of her gun. “You could be dead right now. And just so I know that you know your rights, let me read them to you before you say anythin’ else.”
An hour and a half later Stuart and Jeanette walked across the county jail parking lot to their patrol car. At the car, Stuart stopped before opening the driver’s door.
“How’d you know?”
Jeanette looked at him quizzically.
“You had your gun out before you ever got a clear view of what was happenin’.” He pulled the key out of the car door and leaned his arms on the roof. “How’d you know I got caught with my pants down?”
“I saw him in the outside mirror.” She lied.
Stuart shook his head.
“There wasn’t no mirror on your side. That was one of the things I checked off on the inventory sheet before the wrecker hauled it off.”
“Hey.” Jeanette opened the door on her side. “What difference does it make? Everything turned out okay.”
She sat in the car and pulled the door closed. Stuart joined her and started the engine before he asked again.
“It makes a difference to me.” He pulled the gearshift into reverse but kept his foot on the brake. “How’d you know?”
“Would you believe me if I said it was women’s intuition?”
“Tell you what,” Jeanette glanced away then turned back, “find us someplace to get a coffee and I’ll think up a different lie.”
“Alright,” he backed out of the parking slot, “but it better be a good one.”
The Kitchen Door occupied a corner of the intersection of North Wood Street and State Highway 155, a stone’s throw away from the county jail. They made the drive in silence. When Stuart turned off the engine in the parking lot, Jeanette opened her door and started from the car.
“Wait a minute.”
“Okay,” she stopped with one leg on the pavement, “I remembered it; just before it happened.”
Stuart didn’t have a chance to respond because Jeanette was out of the car and headed toward the restaurant as soon as she finished speaking. Stuart slammed his fist on the steering wheel and climbed out of the car to follow.
In the restaurant, they found a table and ordered coffee from a waitress. Jeanette stared at her hands, clasped in front of her on the tabletop. Stuart waited until the waitress brought their cups and moved away before he prodded again.
“What do you mean, you remembered it?”
His manner had changed dramatically since their first meeting, less than two hours earlier. The flippant arrogance was gone. Jeanette took a sip of coffee and continued to avoid his glance. After a long silence, she set the cup on the table.
“I remember things that haven’t happened yet.”
“You’re jokin’, right?”
She looked up at him, concern in her eyes and shook her head.
“You can see in the future?” His voice peaked. “Is that how you knew the van was gonna run the stop sign?”
“But it’s not all the time,” she nodded and signed, choosing her words carefully. “The Army psychiatrist called it forward memory. He said everybody’s got it but most people never develop it to the point where they realize what’s happening.”
“Your psychiatrist? You mean you had a shrink?”
She didn’t like the direction the conversation had taken. These were private parts of her life; things she kept to herself because of the potential for problems. She stared at Stuart through narrowed eyes, as the muscles in her jaw tightened.
“You say that like an accusation.”
“And you’re avoidin’ the question,” he half smiled. “Why don’t you wanna tell me what’s up?”
Jeanette stared at him a second longer.
“Because you’re an asshole and I don’t trust you. Because when I was a kid, I thought everybody could do the same thing. When I got older I found out how wrong I was, how different I was, and it scared the hell outta me. Because it’s what let me find out Kevin was sleepin’ with my best friend. And because when I needed it the most, it didn’t do a damn thing to keep me from killin’ a kid. It’s not fun. It’s not neat and you’re damn right I had a shrink. Not because I’m crazy but to try and keep from goin’ crazy.”
“Sorry I asked.”
“Yeah,” her eyes turned down, “me too. I guess you’re gonna bring this up with the Chief?”
“Hadn’t planned to,” his voice took on a gentler quality. “But can’t you see that? I mean, can’t you tell what’s gonna happen?”
She shook her head.
“It’s not like that. I can’t…”
She stopped in mid-sentence and looked up from her coffee. A tall, dark haired man approached their table. Realizing Jeanette’s attention had shifted, Stuart turned in his seat as the other man spoke.
“Richard!” He stood. “When’d you get back in town?”
The two men shook hands. They stopped short of exchanging hugs as Stuart remembered Jeanette.
“Richard, this is Jeanette Henderson. Jeanette, this is my wife’s brother, Richard Enfield.”
Richard leaned forward, offering his hand. Jeanette accepted absently.
“I didn’t know Chimney had progressed far enough to hire a female cop.” He smiled broadly. “Does that mean we’re finally comin’ out of the Stone Age?”
He noticed Jeanette’s gaze was fixed, as it had been since he approached, and she still did not speak.
“I’m sorry.” His voice took on an apologetic tone. “I didn’t mean to offend you.”
“I’m,” Jeanette shook herself from the trance, “I mean, no. You didn’t.”
Abruptly, she stood and dug into her pocket for change. “I’ll get the tip if you pay for the coffee.”
Stuart glanced at her puzzled.
“Coffee’s free here, but…”
“Good,” she cut him off, her voice almost panicked. “You leave the tip then and I’ll meet you at the car.”
She looked at Richard, a nervous smile on her face.
“It was good meeting you.”
Before Richard could formulate a response, she brushed past and headed toward the exit. The two men stared at one another, confused.
“Do you always have that effect on women?”
“She’s your partner.”
Stuart reflected on the earlier events.
“A good one, too.” Then another thought came to mind. “Have you talked to Linda since you got in?”
“No. I was gonna give her a call when I got to the house.”
“Make sure you do.” Stuart pulled a wad of bills from his pocket and dropped one on the table. “She’d have a fit if she found out I knew you were back before she did.”
“I better get back on the road.” He glanced at his watch. “I’ll talk to you later.”
“Okay.” Richard’s thoughts went back to Jeanette’s behavior. “Tell your partner, I didn’t mean to say anything out of line.”
“Forget about it.” He headed for the door. “We’ve had a rough day, already.”
He found Jeanette waiting in the car, busying herself with their patrol report.
“Are you okay?”
He sat and pulled the door closed.
“Yeah,” Jeanette answered without looking up from her work. “Why do you ask?”
“Cause you got kinda spaced back there.”
They moved from the parking lot and drove north toward the city limits. Near the edge of town Stuart moved the car to the side of the road and parked. He turned sideways in the seat and rested an arm on the seat back.
“Somethin’ bugged you about Richard. What was it?” He stared directly into her face. “Did you see somethin’?”
“No,” Jeanette shifted in her seat, suddenly restless. “Nothin’ like that.”
Jeanette finally looked at him. But before she could reply the radio sounded, dispatching them to a family disturbance. Stuart turned around in his seat and put the car in drive while Jeanette answered the radio. As he pulled onto the highway, he glanced over at her. She knew he wondered what thoughts were going through her mind. Before he could ask, she looked up and smiled.
“Maybe you’re not such a jerk after all.”
“I’m not even gonna ask.”
“Not now, anyway,” she added.
They drove into a clean, middle-class neighborhood. Single story homes and well-kept lawns lined the streets. Here and there, bicycles and toys occupied driveways and young children played in their yards.
Stuart stopped in front of a red, brick house with a flower-lined walkway. He reached for the radio mike but stopped short when he realized Jeanette was already telling the dispatcher they had arrived.
As they exited the car, a woman opened the front door of the house. Mud covered her light blue dress, her blond hair was mussed and dirty, and she walked urgently toward Stuart and Jeanette.
Jeanette reached her first.
“What’s wrong, ma’am?”
“My husband and his brother,” tears streaked the dried mud on her face, “they’re trying to kill each other.”
“Where are they?” Stuart asked.
He reached out and touched her arm in an effort to calm her.
“In the backyard,” she sobbed. “It’s a stupid fight. I mean, Larry shouldn’t even be still mad about it. I mean, it’s been years and years. But he just won’t stop.”
“You stay here by our car.” Stuart reassured the woman.
He and Jeanette trotted up the driveway and around to the back of the house. Before they reached the back yard, they heard the shouts of the two men; one heavy, but calm; the other, loud and shrill.
Stuart was just ahead of Jeanette as they rounded the corner of the house and found the two men on the ground: one seated on the chest of the other. The man on the bottom was slim and well muscled, while the guy on top was heavier, rounder and not so well proportioned.
“Police officers,” Stuart announced, “what seems to be the problem, here?”
“The problem,” the smaller man mouthed, “is that this fat fuck won’t get off me.”
“Hey, Larry,” the other man commented. “I told you I’d let you up if you’d leave. You kept mouthin’ and fightin’ so here we sit.”
He turned to Jeanette, who stood several paces to Stuart’s right.
“I didn’t know we had a lady on the department.”
Jeanette had to smile at the man’s jovial attitude.
“Well we do,” she acknowledged, “and I’m afraid I’m gonna have to ask you to get off of your friend.”
“He ain’t no fuckin’ friend.” The bottom man shouted. “He’s my damned brother.”
The top man stood slowly. Having noticed Jeanette’s hand resting on her pistol, he brought his hands up in front of him with his palms out.
“I’m Sam Clark.” The heavy man said. “This is my brother, Larry. We were just havin’ an argument and things got a little outta hand.”
“Looks like.” Stuart stepped forward so he was between the two combatants. “What’s this all about?”
Larry rolled to one side, jumped to his feet, and brushed mud and grass from his clothes.
“The bastard stole my girl friend and married her.”
“That was fourteen years ago, you dumb shit.”
“I don’t care if it was fourteen days ago.” Larry took a step forward but stopped when Jeanette moved beside Stuart. It put both officers between Larry and his brother. “You took her from me when she wanted me, not you.”
“I think you need to go home, Mr. Clark,” Jeanette offered.
“I think you need to get fucked, bitch.”
Jeanette’s eyes narrowed.
Stuart started around her but she put a hand on his arm, “I got this,” and shook her head.
“Mr. Clark, you can either go home or go to jail.”
He took a step closer, “Kiss my ass,” and doubled his hands into fists.
Jeanette moved toward him, stepped to one side and brought a knee up into his stomach. Larry doubled over as the air rushed from his lungs and Jeanette pushed him forward with the heal of her palm. He stumbled which let Jeanette grab a flailing arm with one hand and eased him to the ground. Her handcuffs seemed to materialize in her free hand and before Larry could regain his senses he was secured and helpless.
“You’re under arrest for assaulting a peace officer.” Jeanette’s voice stayed calm and business-like. “I won’t bother reading you your rights because I don’t plan on asking you any questions about the offense for which you’ve been arrested.”
She looked over at Stuart and Sam. Her scuffle ended quickly enough neither man had the chance to help. They stared disbelieving at Larry who squirmed and cursed in the mud.
“Ah,” Jeanette cleared her throat, “I take it the lady out front’s your wife, Mr. Clark.”
“Yeah,” a smile came to Sam’s face, “but how’d you do that, ma’am? I mean, I’ve been fightin’ him on and off for most of my life and I was doin’ good just to stay on top. But you laid him out just like boom, boom, boom.”
“That’s what they train us for at the academy. Right, Stuart?”
“Ah. Yeah. Right, Mr. Clark.” Stuart wiped the confused expression from his face. “And why don’t you go with my partner. She’ll wanna get some information from you and your wife for our report. I’ll get your brother loaded in the car.”
“Okay.” Sam glanced down at his brother again then back at Jeanette. “I love it. We can go through the house.”
Jeanette followed Sam through the house. They found his wife, Alison, waiting patiently by the patrol car.
“Honey,” Sam called, motioning to her from the front door. “They wanna get some information from us.
They moved back into the house and tried to make themselves comfortable. After getting their personal information, Jeanette asked the question that occupied her since Larry’s outbursts about Sam and Alison.
“What’s the problem between you and your brother?”
Sam sat in a straight-backed chair at the kitchen table. Alison hovered near a window, watching Stuart handle Larry and Jeanette stood in the doorway leading to the living room, scribbling in her pocket notebook.
“He’s got it in his head that Alison was supposed to marry him and not me.”
“How long’s this been goin’ on?”
“Since we were in high school.” Sam leaned forward, propping his elbows on the table. “That’s been eighteen years, now.”
“Eighteen years?” Jeanette said in disbelief. “You’ve been puttin’ up with him for eighteen years?”
“Doesn’t make sense, does it?” Alison chimed in. “I dated Larry for about a month. We went out maybe four or five times.
Nothin’ ever happened that should have made him think we was anything but friends. He and I were in the same grade and Sam was a grade ahead.”
“They’d gone out twice before I even met her.” Sam went on. “Anyway, not long after that—maybe a few months later—me and Alison started seeing each other. We got married a year after she graduated and I guess up till then, Larry thought he still had a chance. Today’s not much different than what usually happens. Just that we wound up draggin’ Alison in the fight with us.”
“How long’s he gonna have to stay in jail?” Alison turned away from the window.
“Till he can make bail.” Jeanette flipped the notebook closed and tucked it into her pocket. “You guys gonna get him out or is he gonna have to call somebody?”
Alison looked at Sam for a moment.
“Let him sit there for a while,” Allison insisted.
“Maybe,” Sam nodded, “it’ll bring him around a little bit.”
“Well, folks we’re gonna get over to the jail.” Jeanette straightened and headed toward the front door.
Alison walked from the kitchen and stood only a few paces behind Jeanette.
“I’m scared,” she glanced over her shoulder to make sure her husband wasn’t listening, “of Larry. I didn’t tell Sam, but before he came out, Larry was, well… He was trying to hurt me and he was acting crazy. Even more than usual.”
“I don’t know what to tell you, Misses Clark. Did you want to file assault charges against him?”
“No.” She shook her head. “I want him to leave us alone.”
For the first time, Jeanette noticed how tired Alison looked; as if the years of fighting and bickering had taken a heavy toll. She wanted to reach out to her but held back; maybe because of a lack of self-confidence or because her own life was so unstable.
“I don’t really know what to tell you, there.” She felt like a coward running from a fight. “Just that the next time it happens, try and call us before it gets out of hand.”
Alison’s sad eyes brighten a bit.
“Okay.” She smiled. “Thanks for comin’.”
Jeanette turned and opened the door. Stuart waited on the lawn beside the car. In the back seat, Larry leaned against the door, unmoving. Jeanette walked briskly to the car and Stuart tossed her the keys as she came within a few feet.
“Your bust,” he smiled, “you get to drive.”
The drive to the county jail was quiet. Larry never spoke; his pride wounded by the defeat at the hands of a woman. Stuart busied himself with the patrol report while Jeanette let her thoughts wander.
She welcomed the scuffle with Larry and the distraction of someone else’s problem. It gave her a chance to occupy her mind, to fill it with clutter and distraction. At times like that she did not notice images of things to come. At times like that she felt comfortable and happy. At times like that she could tell herself she was normal. Quite times, like their drive to the jail, were the things she hated and feared. When her mind was unencumbered, images flowed freely; scenes from experiences passed and those yet to come.
“Hey,” Stuart called quietly, “Earth to Henderson.”
She smiled and thanked him mentally. She also noted how drastically his personality had changed since their initial meeting earlier that day. Had she judged him prematurely?
“When we finish booking this guy in,” he laid the clipboard on the seat between them, “we need to go by the office and do some reports. We’ve got two pretty good ones to write up and it ain’t even lunch, yet.”
“Okay.” Jeanette glanced at her watch. “It’ll be noon before we finish with this. Why don’t we swing by McDonald’s and get something on the way to the office? That way we can eat and get the reports outta the way at the same time.”
“Works for me.”
They arrived at the jail and deposited Larry. After grabbing some burgers, they called the dispatcher to have the next calls handled by another patrol. At the office, they settled down and started on their reports and meal.
Stuart worked on the disturbance call while Jeanette worked out the details of the earlier arrest. Over the years, she learned some rather creative ways to fabricate explanations for her insight. On more than a few occasions it had allowed her to get the upper hand in some difficult situations.
“Henderson,” Stuart looked up from his work and spoke around a mouth full of burger, “what you did to that Clark guy. Does it have a name or did you just make it up?”
“Just say he lunged at me and I kneed him in the stomach and then placed him on the ground.”
“Sounds good to me.” A thought occurred to him. “By the way, why’d you hold me back? Or did you know what was comin’?”
She averted his gaze.
“I saw it.”
“How?” Stuart set his pen on the desk. “I mean, what do you do?”
“It’s not something I do.” She didn’t want to talk about it but she knew avoiding the issue would only make him more curious.
“I don’t control it. It just happens. Sometimes, if I’m busy with something else, I don’t notice. Other times it’s vague or it doesn’t relate to anything going on, so I don’t know whether my mind’s just wandering or I’m remembering something.”
Stuart reached into his pocket for a pack of cigarettes.
“How far ahead can you see things?”
“You sound like my shrink; a thousand questions.”
“Sorry.” He started to withdraw. “I’ll shut up.”
Jeanette had continued to work on her report. Now she stopped as thoughts from several hours ago resurfaced.
“I’ve seen Richard before,” she announced, “five years ago. In a dream.”
“Is that why you got so weird when he walked up?”
“I didn’t know it…hell I didn’t even know I’d be here, then.”
“Does that happen often?”
“No.” She chewed on her lip, gathering her thoughts. “Not that I remember. Couple of minutes or a couple of hours is normal. A few times I even remembered stuff four or five days ahead.”
“Well, what’s the difference?”
“You don’t understand. I dreamed about him five years ago…for five days straight. The exact same dream.”
She closed her eyes, bringing back the memories from so long ago.
“We were dressed up. He was wearing a tux and I was in a long, blue dinner gown. There was a crowd of people outside…a hospital. And I was talkin’ to a nurse about…”
A curious expression crossed her face.
“In formal wear?” Stuart cocked his head to one side.
“Doesn’t make sense, does it?”
“No.” He shook his head. “But nothin’ about this has made sense…so why start now? What happened next?”
“He took me home after the hospital.” She straightened, “and it was the place I’m staying at, now.”
Abruptly, she stood and strode from the room. Stuart followed her into the lobby then out onto the front porch.
“I’m sorry,” she pressed a palm to her forehead. “I needed some air. I can’t handle this shit right now.”
He was genuinely concerned, a fact that surprised her. It may have been because she saved his life earlier or everything that happened since. Whatever the reason, she felt he was as concerned about her as he would be for the officers he worked with for years.
“We made love, you nitt-witt,” she finally answered. “He took me home and we made love.”
“So what’s wrong with that?” He still did not understand her dilemma. “Sounds like a pretty good time, to me.”
“That’s not the point.” She turned away. “Hell, I don’t know the point. Maybe I don’t like knowing in advance when I’m gonna get some. Maybe I don’t like bein’ told what to do.”
“But nobody’s tellin’ you what to do.”
“Yeah?” She growled. “That’s not the way I see it. How would you like it if I told you that you were gonna run over a kid on the way to work tomorrow?”
He took a step back.
“You’re shittin’ me, right?”
“It’s just an example, Stuart.”
“Oh.” He relaxed. “But that’s not the same. That’s not like learnin’ somethin’ good.”
“Depends on your definition of good.”
Her voice was low, with a sharp edge.
“You lost me again. Isn’t sex good?”
“I haven’t been with anyone since before my divorce was final.”
Stuart raised an eyebrow.
“Because the thought of being touched by a man, any man, pissed me off; made me wanna puke. Because I didn’t think anybody wanted to be with me, for me. Not for my body, not for the animal pleasure of raw, naked sex; but for me.”
Stuart misread her tone and made the mistake of uttering a halfhearted snicker.
“Men are pigs, huh?”
“You got it!”
She spun around on him, her tone taking a harsh, bitter quality. Stuart raised his hands in a defensive gesture.
“Not all men are like that.”
“If men are the best of the breed,” she stared at him with anger lighting her eyes, “like they think they are, then we’re one hell of a sorry species.”
“You don’t know Richard,” he laughed. “I used to think he was gonna grow up to be a priest. In fact, I think he was a virgin till he met his wife.”
As quickly as Jeanette’s anger surfaced, it now subsided.
“Yeah. She died in a car wreck,” his voice took on a peculiar quality, “five years ago.”
Jeanette went pale.
“Oh my dear God….”