Clea wondered if I wanted to spring for a really quite wonderful century old home B&B that she knew of. The long drive in her old caddy having soothed the savage breast, I said why not, we’re worth it. We both laughed.
Luckily a room was available, and we settled in smoothly, the mandatory half hour history seminar with our host Brian sliding down like a martini. The bedroom was so completely Victorian a delicious sinfulness snaked us right under the covers in seconds, followed soon after by some quite risque squeaking and moaning.
“God that was good” I grinned.
Clea purred before she answered. I no doubt looked very pleased with myself. Pleasing a woman was not something I was used to. For years it had been arguing and backbiting, recriminations gone rancid with age. I’d lodged my pride in my work, my love in seeing clients catch their dream. My parents had a lousy marriage, my sister buried her heart in her babies, friends fell apart as fast as they flew together, so why should my hitch be honored? Hell, now I felt like a man. It felt good. I wanted to order room service.
“What would you order if you could?”
“Oh hell, I dunno, champagne and two corks.”
Why two, prithee?”
“One for each asshole.”
Clea squealed and slapped me. It stung, kind of. I don’t even know what made me say it. Giddy I guess.
We got up in a bit and thought about supper. Clea phoned Kendra to see what was up and left a message. Their arrangements had been loose I gathered. Oh well, I didn’t care. We’d see her when we saw her.
“That sounds profound George. You should keep it for your guru stuff later on.”
I pulled on her hair, just like I would’ve at thirteen.
“Aoow, stop it George, I can barely remember how to apply makeup as it is. Maybe you’d like some eye shadow and blush?
I was almost silly enough by that point to get into a bit of harmless cross dressing, but I didn’t think anything of Clea’s would fit me. She was a big girl, big and round and luscious, and I hadn’t gained a pound in twenty years. Some metabolic mystery no doubt. But the old man was just the same, except he worked at it. Fitness, squash, athletic fucking. I fully expected him to expire mid-thrust.
We drove around looking for a place Clea vaguely recalled from years back. A schnitzel house. I had a few schnitzel house stories, one of them embarrassing enough to warrant retelling. Schnapps to the left, schnapps to the right, and in the middle some amiable Austrians angling for compliments I couldn’t bring myself to give. Well, Clea found it funny.
On our rounds we passed Indian, Japanese, Thai, fish and chips, and generic fine dining. Clea decided she was craving sushi after all, and I went along, more to see how her face crinkled when she swallowed that wasabi and soy mixture than anything else. I was just like some kid unleashed for the weekend. Every little thing was more fun than the last. We sat in our little wooden booth being plinked at by a pipa and giggling.
“Boy did I need this Clea”, I admitted, raising what was left of my saki in salute.
“Yes, I know.” Her face shone with what I fancied was empathy.
One thing about Japanese restaurants, at least the classier ones, the presentation is impeccable. The waitresses rarely seem to know more than about twelve words of English, but it never seems to, as my mother used to say, somewhere between the fourth and seventh glass, hold up production. We finished with some mango lime ice cream, and rolled our way to the car, where Clea had threatened to use her cell. I tried to dissuade her with kisses and caresses, but she was not to be swayed.
Kendra’s in crisis, I feel like I really should be seeing her.
I must’ve looked forlorn, because she cooed at me, all consoling. With her head close to mine she whispered, rather foxily I thought, Surely we can save that for later. I nibbled at her earlobe for a second and nodded, You bet.
Kendra answered this time, and from what I gathered, was a bit under the weather. Clea invited us over, although I had the distinct impression the girl would have rather we waited till morning. I had an image of a young man removing her clothes, but denied it as quickly as I perceived it, convincing myself that Clea was the psychic, and that if anything needed sensing she’d be the one to do it.
How we found the residences I’ll never know. Clea said she was taking directions from her guides, but said it with such a grin I assumed I was supposed to laugh it off. Unlike her ride ‘em cowboy highway charge, she seemed so clueless on big city blocks I was tempted to do the guy thing and take matters into my own hands but slumped onto my prophet laurels instead. What the hell, it had been an exciting day, I deserved a rest, even if it meant getting thoroughly lost.
Clea stopped and asked the first young person she saw. The fellow looked shocked and shrugged. Na ingleze was the sound of what he said. Actually he looked just like the son of a Lebanese restaurant owner I knew in Etobicoke. Another passer-by took pity on our plight, a chubby blonde with sky-blue hair, and soon we were on our way. After the bumper car ride, Clea managed to park with perfect grace. She turned to me and twitched her nose in triumph. I bowed in deference. We both giggled exiting the car. I tried to make mine a bit more manly but failed miserably. Maybe that’s what Gerry hated. On the way on to our host’s floor Clea mentioned in an adult sort of way I think she’s been drinking. I nodded sagely and suggested maybe she should see her alone, and I could always go and buy a cappuccino somewhere. But no, Clea felt I would be a good influence on the girl.
I didn’t have much chance as she fell against me upon opening her door, mumbled and then vomited onto my coat. Much consternation amongst the adults as the reeking redhead seemed to have passed out. A passing student, this time with a shock of orange hair, said, Ah, Kendra she’s been pissed for days, the washroom’s down there. Then she looked at us: What’s her problem anyway? Clea informed her of the mother’s recent death and the girl said, Oh, sorry. She’s just been such a pain. I thought she’d been raped or something.
Clea was busy fingering the girl’s mouth and throat as we bundled her down the hall. She’d definitely passed out but I could feel her chest heaving. While I doused my favourite old coat with warm water, Clea did her best bring the baby back to life. I could hear mutters and murmurs and recalled a couple of high school drunkfests of my own. Not in too much detail of course, just enough to ensure the instant collapse of any emergent self-righteousness. Together we shouldered the warm corpse back to her room. Between us the burden seemed more than halved and we reached room 313 in seconds. With a sigh we lowered her onto the bed. She moaned and whimpered. Clea soaked a washcloth in cold water and held it to her forehead. I noticed a spent condom on the carpet and wondered if she puked on him as well. The lapel of my coat was a little too close to my nose, so I removed it to a safe distance. I sat on the roommate’s bed and watched as my new lover cared for her best friend’s daughter. In the midst of utter strangeness, my life had become deplorably normal. I remembered my buddha pose in the empty kitchen of a few days before and wondered how appropriate a repeat would be. Eric had told me to let all life pass through me without resistance, no matter how weird or magical. It’s all just dust in the wind, he’d said, let it blow by. At the time I thought I’d had my fill of his zen cha-cha, but maybe this was exactly what he meant.
Kendra fell into something of a drugged sleep. Despite my best intentions, I got a bit fidgety. Clea, citing worry that I wanted to call guilt, seemed committed to staying the night if needs be. The little tyke would survive the night, I was sure, and would be partying again soon. Clea scowled at me, and would’ve, I am sure, called me heartless, had not the roommate returned, flush from her first night as a church youth group leader. Marie immediately volunteered to stand watch for the night and call us if anything untoward developed. I used the antiquated term first, and hoped that it would cause her to scurry dictionarywards upon our departure.
Clea punched me in the arm as we walked down the hall. You rat, you had that poor girl in a knot, and all she wanted was to help.
I couldn’t resist, she was so earnest it was painful.
Clea slipped her arm in mine as we descended the stairs. If that’s enlightenment you can keep it.
Gees I thought you’d be more understanding. If this is supportive, I’ll take treason anytime.
We laughed our way out the door, but by the car Clea was already looking fretful.
I don’t feel good about this George. That girl’s a wreck.
Well you know her better than I do, but I’m sure Marie will call us if it’s necessary. Look, can you see my reassuring smile?
I sure can. And I’d vote for you any day. She tossed me the keys. Do you think you can find the way back?
I’m a guy I can do anything.
Clea got a muted howl out of that one, and I grinned my shit eating grin, glad to see her smile. I did, in fact, find the B&B without having to call the CAA, and we fell into bed like fools in love, giggling and snorting. Giggling so much that Clea had to get up and blow her runny nose as I shook with a mucusy cough. Hilarity: that should be the benchmark of a good relationship, I thought as I drifted into a dreamland thankfully without dreams.
Chapter Nine goes live next week!