Sunday, October 23, 2016

Chapter 4

Stephanie watched her father’s face, she had been right, he was talking to a woman.  He had that look of a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about Steph, I was on a business call.”  Jon carried the broken cup into the kitchen and threw it in the trashcan.

“Dad, who are you trying to fool? Even the boys think you’ve met a woman, well Jakey does, Romeo just agrees with him.” Stephanie climbed up and on the counter and watched her father trying to come up with a cover story.

“When have I had time to meet a woman?  We just cleared out the Hampton house and came home.”  He tried to level the ‘I’m the dad’ look at her.

“While they were out one night,” She told him and then ticked off on her fingers “Two coffee mugs, two plates, frying pan and bowl, dad that is your basic quick omelet date, I read all the crap about you and your world best omelet date deals.”  She watched him hang his head.

“Well they are great omelets.”  He laughed a little.

“Okay, give me the deetz.”  She came off the counter and went to the cafĂ© table in the kitchen and patted the opposite seat.

Jon rolled his eyes and gave her the stink eye, but he really made a production about sitting with his baby girl.

“I met her in a bar.” He started telling her how he met Colleen.

“Oh dad, not a bar fly.”  Stephanie moaned.

“Bartender not a bar fly.”  He played with the napkin on the table.  “Her name is Colleen, redhead, green eyed.”  He rattled off all the details about Colleen and made her smile.  Granted, as far as her mother had thought, he had a woman in every state and country in the world, but Steph knew, he had loved her mom till the day she killed herself.

“So have you been having any late at night calls?”  She asked him, there was more to this than he was letting on.

“First time I called her was today, getting back and having the boy’s settled down ready for school, I haven’t had any time to call.”  He looked up in her eyes.  “Uncle Davy and Uncle Teek called about working again, was I told them that I wasn’t sure if I was ready, I haven’t picked up my guitar since we put your mom in the rehab.”

“Dad it’s time, I know Jess would agree with me.”  Stephanie reached across the table and placed her hand on his.

“I don’t know Steph, maybe, I just don’t know.”  Jon smiled and thought about all the times he and Stephanie had talked like this, ever since her mother went into the hospital.  But this time she was acting like the adult and he was the child.

“Well, you have a date don’t you?  That’s a start.”  She laughed and got up and went to the fridge and got a bottle of water.  “Have you decided where you’re going to take her?”

Jon stopped laughing, where was he going to take Colleen?  Once the press got a hold of it, it would be all over social media before they got the seats warm.

“Not sure, got till Friday to decide.  Thought about dinner and a show.”  Jon watched Stephanie reaction.

“Uncle Southside is playing this weekend at the Pony, isn’t he?”  Stephanie sat back at the table.  “You’d blend in down there.  Maybe dinner on the boardwalk?” 

He liked where she was going with his idea of a date. Oh my God he was going on a date.  The last time he went on an actual date was with Dot.

“Sounds good, I’ll call Colleen and see if she would like that.”  Jon told her.

Jake and Romeo came in from the first day of school.  Jon came down to the kitchen as they got a snack from the fridge and sat at the table.

“So how was the first day?”  Jon got a bottle of water and sat at the table with them.

“It was okay, I got one of Jake’s teachers this year.” Romeo sad between bites of grapes. 

“How about you Jake?”  Jon asked as he grabbed a few grapes.

“I got a new teacher, she has this box by the door, and we all had to put our cells in the box while we are in class.  She said that anyone caught with a phone will have the cell taken away till the end of the day.” Jake grabbed a few crackers out of the box. 

“Well that will cut down on the picture of you in class that keep showing up online.”  Jon said as he grabbed the box from his son and poured some crackers out of the box.  “This new teacher, what’s she teaching?”

“English and creative writing, and I have homework already.  These teachers don’t seem to understand, we just got off vacation, don’t bury us in homework.”  Jake popped a cracker in his mouth. 

“Well, get your homework done, Grandpa called for us to come for dinner.”  Jon got up and watched his sons pulling out books to do homework. 

Friday finally came. Stephanie came by with a few friends for pizza and movies with the boys.  Jon stood looking in the mirror, on the floor of the closet were discards of what he had tried on to wear for his date.  He turned at a knock on the door.  Walking over he opened the bedroom door to see Jesse and Stephanie on the other side.

“What are you doing home?”  He asked Jesse.

“I came to see if you were ready for your date.”  He said following his sister into the bedroom.

“You aren’t wearing that are you?” Stephanie asked checking out her dad.  He had on jeans and a polo shirt.

“What’s wrong with what I have on?”  Jon asked his daughter looking back in the mirror.

Jesse went into the closet and went through the pile on the floor and looked at what was left on the hangers.  Stephanie followed Jesse into the closet and came out with a black v necked knit shirt and Jesse came out with a gray jacket.

He stripped off the shirt and pulled on what the kids picked out.  He had to admit it looked good.

“Where are you taking her to dinner?”  Stephanie ask as she climbed up on the bed.

“I thought we’d maybe go to Talula’s, or somewhere along the way down.”  Jon pulled on his boots and stood up for the kid’s inspection.

“Good place for a first date.”  Jesse told his dad.  He looked at his sister to see what she thought of the pizza place for their dad’s first date.

“Sounds good, did you ask her where she would like to eat?”  Stephanie asked her dad.

Jon thought back to the calls he had shared with Colleen. 

“She left it up to me, since I had been down there a lot.”  Jon put his wallet in his pants pocket and put his phone in his jacket pocket along with his keys.

They went down stairs. He checked on the younger two; Stephanie’s friends had arrived and were looking over the movies to watch.  Pizza boxes were on the bar, along with soda bottles and water bottles.  Just as he opened the door, two of Jesse friends were about to knock on the door.

“Okay Guys, don’t tear up the house.”  Jon left the apartment and headed down to the garage.  He had thought about getting a car with a driver, but it was a good night to pull out the Chevelle and put the top down.

Colleen tossed her jacket on the sofa, she had finally settled on jeans and a cold shoulder shirt.  She cleaned up her desk, she had been grading homework, and some of these kids were still on summer vacation mode.  She checked her watch, he was due any minute.  She was actually nervous, the last date she had been on was in a while ago.  She jumped when there was a knock on the door, looking at her watch, right on time.  She brushed her hands down her slacks, just in case her hands were damp.  Looking in the peephole, yep it was Jon.  She opened the door and smiled.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Chapter 3

“A little early to be hitting the Jack isn’t?”  She turned around with a smile.

“Yep and I got a long way to drive today.”  He was sad that he hadn’t been able to get back to the bar or to Colleen.  He forgot to get her number and the few times he did call the bar, a man answered.

“So back to the real life, end of summer.”  She poured him a cup of coffee and sat it on the bar.

“Yeah, back to school for the boys, I’ve never taken them school shopping by myself.” He sipped the coffee and sighed, he missed his morning coffee.  “Maybe I can con their sister into taking them shopping.”

“So you have three kids?” She didn’t really google him, she knew the music, and hell the jukebox blared it on Ladies night.

He held up four fingers, as he sipped his coffee.

“Stephanie is the oldest and the only girl, Then Jesse, Jake and Romeo.  Jesse is in college at Notre Dame.” He smiled, talking about his kids.

Colleen saw the sparkle in his eyes, as he talked about his children.  Four kids, he has four kids.  She wasn’t afraid of a man with kids, hell she worked with kids always lifted her spirits

“Where are the two you came with, Jake and Romeo?” Colleen asked him.

“They are actually walking the beach for the last time. Not sure when we’ll be back here again.”  He finished the coffee and pushed the cup to her.

She started to refill it but he waved it off.

“One to go?”  She took out a to go cup and filled it with coffee, handing it to him. “Drive safe maybe I’ll see you next time you’re here?”

“I hope we can maybe get together sometime.” God he sounded like a green kid asking a girl for a first date.

Colleen looked at him and smiled.

“Maybe Blue Eyes, You never know.”  Colleen winked at him.

He picked up the cup and winked back.  He was almost out the door when he remembered that he needed her number.  Walking back to the bar he sat the coffee down. Colleen slid the guest check toward him, written on the guest check was her name Colleen O’Sullivan and her cell number.  He pocked the paper and winked at her.

“It’s been a while,” Jon laughed as he left the bar.

The boys were leaning on the car, it was the first time in months they’ve heard their father laugh. They nudged each other.  The ride back, he was like the old dad.  They both wondered how long it last?

Stephanie had agreed with her dad to go to take her brothers school shopping, so he was off the hook.

“So pop’s was laughing coming out of a bar?  Sure he wasn’t drunk?” Stephanie asked as she added white polo shirts to the cart.  They had gone to the mall, thee with their list in hand they hit several stores for pants and polos. The night before they had gone to the schools website to get the list of supplies they needed, plus their schedules.

“They have a few new teachers this year.”  Jake said as he looked at his phone.  “I got one for English, and for history.”  He tossed the pants he had tried on.  He was getting taller than their father, and he loved it.

“I have a new one too.”  Romeo said as he put his pants in the cart too.  “I don’t think daddy was drunk, he smelled like coffee to me.” 

“I think he had some company while we were at Greg and Max’s house.” Jake said as he pocketed his phone. 

“Yeah, when we left, he was out on the deck watching the waves.”  Romeo told his sister.  “We had gotten back from dropping mom’s stuff at Goodwill.”

“Yeah, he had a bottle of wine and was just sitting there when we were leaving.”  Jake told his sister.

She had been worried when, her father had said they were going out to the Hamptons to clean out the bedroom.  He had held up so well hiding, acting like it was normal to have your wife commit suicide.  He wasn’t that great of an actor, she knew it would be a matter of time before he crawled into a bottle. Their Uncle Mookie had done the same thing when his dad died.

“Why do you think he had company?  How could you tell?”  She checked the tags on the pants and tossed in four pairs each.  She knew they were getting bored and it would be a matter of time before, she would be shopping alone and they would be in the food court.

“Two plates, two coffee mugs, bowls, frying pan.”  Romeo was ticking off a list of the stuff in the drain board. “Oh yeah and one wine glass.”

Two plates hum?  Stephanie thought about all this that the boys noticed. “Maybe dad had company come in for dinner, maybe some football people?”  Stephanie told them as they headed to check out.

“That wear perfume?”  Jake questioned.  Looking up from his phone.

“Perfume, really?  That’s something.”  Stephanie got the boys past the food court, they stopped at the shoe store and then loaded the car and headed home.

Jon was waiting till the boys had left with their sister to pull out the crumpled restaurant ticket from his wallet.  He had thought about calling her every night, but something stopped him, it was called his ever-present sons.

Colleen was in her apartment planning her first day of school, it was always challenging with the end of summer and getting her students back into “Oh God we’re back to school,” frame of mind.  She grabbed another soda from the fridge and tackled her computer list, English was her favorite things to teach and creative writing a close second.  She was looking over her student list and about spit her cola on the screen.  Just then her cell phone shrilled.  She looked at her messy desk, where the hell was her cell?

Jon was about the hang up, he hated leaving a voice mail.

“Hello?” Colleen prayed they haven’t hung up, she hardly ever answered blocked numbers.

“Colleen, did I call at the wrong time?  This is Jon.”  Boy that sounded really mature Bongiovi, Jon rolled his eyes at how he sounded.

“No, no Jon, my desk looks like world war three just blew up, getting ready to go back to work, I needed a break.”  Colleen laughed

You could hear papers shuffling around and a dropped phone and a few words that sounded like Shit and damn then she came back to the phone.

“Sorry about that, I knocked over my soda and then dropped the phone,” She laughed again and Jon smiled at the sound of her laugh.

“I’m leaving this room, it’s like when Harry and the gang went into Greengots and everything they touched multiplied till it about buried them.”  She put her drink by her overstuffed chair and sat down, curling her feet under her.  “Now I can talk. How have you been?  Did the coffee help you get home okay?”

“Home and car unloaded, then for the past two weeks my kids have been driving me crazy.  This was the first time I’ve had peace and quiet.”  He poured a mug of coffee and went into his office and closed the door.  If the kids came home and the door was shut, they knew he was working and would wait till it opened again to pester him.  “Are you an aunt yet?”  Thanks to all four of his kids being huge Harry Potter fans he had an idea how bad her desk was.

“Six pounds, twenty one inches of bouncing baby girl, and she has her daddy wrapped around her tiny little finger.”  Colleen laughed again.  “He wants to set her up in the bar as an oompha loompa, but thankfully her mother said her daughter’s not going to be dyed orange.” 

“That’s a smart mother.”  Jon laughed. “That’s great, I love being an uncle, spoil them and then, send them home.”

“I won’t get to do much of that, they live there and I’m here working till break.”  Colleen sipped her soda.  The name that she had seen on her class list kept popping in her head, should she ask him or just google him later? 

“I meant to ask you what you did beside tend bar.”  He pulled out a pen and started doodling her name.

“I’m an English and a Creative writing teacher, not very exciting, but it pays the bills.”  She told him as she sipped her cola.  “I’m starting at a new school this year, my friends talked me into teaching in a private school.  It’s going to be a huge change for me, not teaching in public schools where you have to go through a metal detector every day.” 

“That sounds dangerous.”  Jon stopped the pen for a second.

“It had its days.  Lock down was the hardest on the kids and the teachers.”  She sat her can down.  “I was lucky though I never had a knife or a gun pulled on me.”

“Damn, good thing your friends got you out of there before that happened.”  He thought about when he and Dot had taken the kids out of public school and placed into Polly Prep.  Here was a teacher who had to go through a metal detector, where kids come to school with guns.

They chatted a little longer and Jon finally got the nerve to ask Colleen out.

“I was wondering if you might like to go out, say Friday or Saturday.  Dinner and a show or something?”  It had been years since he asked a woman out, what did people do now on a date?  He could ask Stephanie or Jesse, but then again, would they be upset if he started dating again?

Colleen smiled, it would be wonderful to go out and celebrate the start of school.

“Sure!  That sounds like fun,” She gave him her address and they set up a time for him to pick her up, before he hung up she got his number and put it in her phone.

He smiled as he hung up, he had a date, an honest to God date.  He got up and headed to the kitchen and nearly walked into Stephanie, waiting outside his door.

“What’s her name and where did you meet her?”  Stephanie asked when her breathing and nerves calmed down.

Jon stopped as he picked up the broken coffee mug.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Chapter 2

Jon had a good little buzz going on, the game was getting good and Colleen kept his glass filled.  Though he was beginning to suspect that she was starting to water them down by about the sixth JD and Cokes. 

As part of her usual routine Colleen put on a pot of coffee.   Robert should’ve been back by now, but a vibration in her back pocket, proved that he wasn’t coming back tonight.  She watched Blue Eyes and could tell he was ready for some of her strong coffee, granted she had started to ease up on the Jack Daniels and the last one was mostly coke and not even a splash of Jack.

She poured the coffee into the cup and brought it over to him.

“Here ya go Blue Eyes, nice and strong.”  She leaned on the counter and watched him take a small taste.

Soon it was closing time, she called cabs for some of the regulars she knew had dropped their keys into the designated driver box on the bar.  She kept Blue Eyes coffee fresh as she flashed the lights for the regulars.

“Okay gents time to head on home. I got five sets of keys and there are five drivers waiting.”  She came up to Blue Eyes.  “I take it you’re okay to drive home Blue Eyes?”

“Name’s Jon and I don’t have far to go, just down Beach road.” Jon told her, waiting to see if the location would give him away.  She hadn’t let on she knew who he was.

“Nice to meet you Jon, just be careful, the police will be out in droves down here in the club area.”  She walked him to the door so she could lock it up.  Pulling his Black Card out and handed it back.  She watched him hesitate at the door.

He didn’t want to leave, going back to that empty house made him feel cold inside.  He stopped with his hand on the knob.

“Want to join me for some early breakfast? I know a place nearby that has the best omelets in town!”  Jon shocked himself in asking.

“I need to clean up first, Robert won’t like coming in tomorrow to a dirty bar.” Colleen told him.  She had an idea once he came in who he was. There was talk around the bar that he had been seen around town with his sons. 

“I can help.”  God, did that sound as needy to her and it did to him?

“You can start in here.”  Colleen told him as she carried a pan load of dishes to the kitchen.

While Jon put the chairs up on the tables, she loaded the dishwasher.  Soon she was coming back in, he was sweeping up the floor.  She had heard through the grapevine that he and his late wife had a restaurant here at one time, but manual labor?

She had filled the mop bucket and started going behind him, nice view.

Soon they were walking out of the bar, Colleen locked the door, and the only cars in the lot were theirs.

“I’ll follow you, it would save me from coming back here for my car.”  Colleen pulled out her keys. 

“Okay, it’s not far.”  Jon smiled.  He waited till she got in her car before getting in his.

The drive wasn’t long, and in a few minutes they turned into a private driveway.  Colleen figured this was where they would end up, she knew most of the diners down in town, and she had worked many of them since she finished high school and gone to college.  The house was really grand, as most of the houses on Lilly Pond were. 

“Nice place.”  She said as he let her in.

“Too big now,” He never admitted it before, but with it being just him and his younger two, they didn’t need six bedrooms. “The kitchen is through here.”  They walked through the living room and family room to the kitchen. 

Colleen was looking around the house, nice but big.  “What can I do to help?”  She asked as she stopped in the doorway to the designer kitchen.

“You don’t have to do anything, you’ve waited on people all night.”  Jon told her as he raided the fridge. 

“Let me at least make coffee.”  She felt strange sitting at the bar watching him load his arms with stuff to cook.

He smiled and set the coffee bag for the fridge on the counter near her. 

“Okay coffee, because you make it the way I like it.”  Jon laughed as he placed the other stuff on the counter by the stove top.  Pulling out bowls, cutting board, knifes and frying pans.

Colleen walked over to the spaceship he used as a coffee pot and measured out coffee and started the brew, as Jon mixed the chopped veggies in with the eggs, pouring the mixture into a sizzling pan.

Coming back to sit at the bar, she watched him flip the eggs in the pan.

“This kitchen is to die for, do you like to cook?” she listened to him hum as he cooked.

“My former wife had a decorator come in and do this place decked out like Architectural Digest Magazine kitchen, this is not my choice.”  He turned the huge omelet out on one plate and cut it in two. 

“That looks yummy.”  She watched him put half on another plate.

“We can take this out to the patio if you like?”  He asked her as he came around the counter.

“Sounds nice, you take the plates and I’ll bring the coffee.”  She told him as she grabbed the two mugs and followed him out the doors. 

The crashing waves were all the music they needed. They talked about their families, he talked about his kids, and she told him about her brother and her soon to be born niece or nephew.

“You don’t have to work tomorrow do you?”  Jon asked her as they took their plates back into the kitchen.  She started to wash the plates and mugs.  “Leave those, I can wash them later.”

“I’m just about done.  I have to be at the bar tomorrow, another child birth class.”  Colleen told him.  She was going to get her brother to hire a bartender when she went back to her day job.  “I go back to my seven to six job in about four weeks.  He’s gonna have to hire another bartender.”

“They won’t be as good as you, those men won’t be too happy not to have you there.”  Jon told her as he helped her by and put the plates and mugs in the dish drain to dry.  She had grabbed the frying pan and had it waiting to be dried.  This was something he missed, doing the dishes with Dot. They would talk about the day’s events and upcoming school projects.

“Oh, I’ll still be around. Maybe not every night, my day job starts back up soon.”  She leaned on the counter.

The kitchen got quiet as they had nothing to do.  They were saved by the cell phone ring, his.

“Yeah,” Jon knew from the caller ID it was Jake.

“Hey Dad, Do you want Mrs. Green to bring us home?” Jake asked his dad.

Jon looked over at Colleen, he really didn’t want the day to end.  They had talked the rest of the night away and the sun had come up while they did the dishes.

“Sure Jake, if she can.”  Jon watched Colleen gather her purse.  He held up his hand to keep her from leaving.

“Okay Dad, see you soon.”  Jake said as he hung up.

He ended the call.

“That was my son, Jake, he and his brother have been spending the night with friends.”  Jon said as he walked with her to the front door. 

“That’s great, that they have friends here.”  Colleen told him.

“Yeah, we used to spend the summers here.  Besides school friends, they don’t have many close ones.  So it’s great that they have them here.” Jon answered her.

They had spent most of the early morning talking, but she really didn’t know him or he her.  They got to her car and he helped her in holding the door for her.

“You going to be okay driving?” he asked Colleen as she got in and rolled the window down.

“I’ll be fine, I’m staying right in town till I head back home.”  She told him, looking up into his eyes, damn he had such gorgeous blue eyes.

“Okay, be careful.”  He leaned in and gave her a quick kiss goodbye.  He had thought of it all night.

“I will.”  She started the car. 

“I’ll see you before you leave.”  He told her as she put the car in reverse.

“I hope so.” She said as she headed back to her rented apartment over the bar.

Her brother finally hired a new bartender, and she was all packed and ready to head back to the city. She would miss the beach and all the regulars that came in every night.  She had hoped to see Jon before she left.  She looked for him to come to the bar, sad that he hadn’t.  Oh well, maybe she saw more into their one night that he didn’t see.

She had her back to the bar when a voice asked.

“Can I get a Jack and Coke?” 

Without turning around she smiled.

“Sure Blue Eyes.”