A Backward GlanceChapter 13
The next morning, Frank acted like nothing had happened. I guess from his point of view, it wasn't a big deal. We made ourselves some scrambled eggs and toast. Ruby came down before we were done eating. She looked like she just got up. Her hair was mussed, her eyes looked heavy, she was wearing a pink nightgown, a different one than I'd seen before. This one was silky, satiny, soft looking; it clung to her. You couldn't see through it, but you could see where everything was. Everything interesting, anyway. You had to appreciate her guts. Or maybe she just didn't care.
I suppose Frank noticed me looking at her, he got real red-faced, like he always did. He walked over to her when she came in the room, said something in a low voice. She said, "Frank dear, Wendell's not a child. I'm sure he's seen women in nightgowns before. Haven't you?" She was daring me, I could tell that. What she thought she was gonna get out of it, I couldn't figure.
"Probably lots of women."
"So this doesn't bother you, does it?"
"You seen one, you seen 'em all."
Her eyebrows rose. "Really."
I looked up, probably raised my chin in her direction. I've been told I do that. "Yeah."
Frank was looking from me to Ruby and back, his forehead all wrinkled up. If I'da been him, I woulda been wondering what the hell was going on. I don't know if he had an idea then or not. Knowing Frank, I doubt it.
"That's an interesting philosophy." Her voice was a little louder, a little harder. "I don't believe I've ever heard that applied to nightgowns before."
I stood up and came around the table. "Maybe I was talking about women." And I walked out the back door without looking to see whether that dig went where it was supposed to go.
Frank caught up to me in the garage. He acted like he wanted to say something, but didn't know what; pacing, and giving me looks. Finally he stopped pacing and heaved a big sigh.
"I guess it was too much to hope that you two would get along."
Not what I expected him to say. "Guess so."
"Ruby said you two had an argument yesterday. I'm sorry Wendell, I…..I guess maybe I should have told you……she wasn't in favor of becoming a foster-parent. I did it, anyway…..it makes a lot of extra work for her, I guess I didn't think about that, and……I realize she was goading you just now. I appreciate your, umm, restraint."
Restraint. Yeah. I was restrained, all right. It didn't seem to matter what I thought of her; I couldn't get what she looked like when she walked in the kitchen outta my mind. Still sleepy, just up outta bed……the lipstick she hadn't taken off before she went to bed---with Frank---smeared faintly around her mouth……that mouth……damn….…her nightgown clinging around her thighs, and her…….dammit. My dick didn't care what kinda person she was, or how much I didn't like her.
This was the perfect time to tell Frank the truth. Tell him what the "argument" was about.
"Well, never mind about that for right now," he said. "What did you have in mind to do today?"
And the moment to tell the truth was gone. "I thought maybe I'd straighten up out here." That came outta the blue, the garage was kind of a mess, but I hadn't thought about doing anything to it until just now, just because we were standing here.
"OK, well, when I get back, we'll go see a fellow I know that might have a job for you. So be sure you're cleaned up before I get home. OK?"
He patted me on the back, and said, "Don't worry, Wendell. It's all going to work out just fine. I promise."……………………
It wasn't ten minutes after Frank drove down the street that Ruby was out there in the garage, still in that silky nightgown. I think, from the way she was looking at me, she was trying to make me nervous again, but I was past that. I tried to ignore her.
"Frank says you're angry."
"Why don't you go back in the house and not worry about it?"
"Oooo, you are. Mad at me?"
I faced her. "Yeah. You're married to Frank. I want you to leave me alone."
"No, you don't. You can't fool me."
She started unbuttoning the row of little buttons down the front of her nightgown. I don't think you woulda had to unbutton it to get it off, the neck was pretty low, but she unbuttoned all the buttons down to her navel. I watched her. She watched me when she pulled it open. And smiled.
"If you've seen one, you've seen them all…isn't that what you said? Still think so?"
"All women got tits." I made myself look back up at her face.
I was glad I did that, 'cause otherwise I wouldn'ta seen the mad look on her face. It wasn't there very long. After a minute or so, she started to grin, and then she laughed, really laughed, not just a giggle. I watched the jiggling while she laughed, couldn't help it. She walked over to me and put her arms around my neck.
"You're precious, you know that?" Her bare breasts were mashed against my shirt. I might as well not been wearing one, for all the good it did. "If I'd known how much fun this was going to be, I'd never have objected in the first place." She put her lips against my neck. Jesus.
"I'm gonna have to tell Frank." I'm surprised she could understand me, I was breathing so hard.
"I suppose you could," she breathed, and then her tongue was between my lips, and I didn't mean to kiss her, I just……I don't know, I just couldn't seem to stop myself. Like my hand, it just curled around her rear, and I'm pretty sure I didn't think about it first. "But I'd just deny it." Her lips were on my collarbone, she was unbuttoning my shirt, I was holding her as hard as I could against me, starting to move a little, even though my pants were still buttoned. Couldn't help it. "And who's he going to believe---me, his loving wife, who's been so happy with him in bed lately………or you?"
She almost let it go on too long; as it was, when I wouldn't let go of her rear, she bit my ear---hard---to make me let her go. Even then I almost didn't.
It wasn't until after she tore herself outta my arms, thrust me away, skipped back in the house laughing at me, that I really understood what she'd said. And I knew she was right. I wasn't anybody. Who would believe me if she said different? Nobody. Especially not Frank.
I was on my own. Shouldn'ta expected anything different.………………………….
I didn't wanna hurt Frank, but it was all I could do to hold my own with Ruby, without trying to take care of Frank, too. She'd make a mess outta me if I let her. I think she woulda liked me in a heap at her feet. If I didn't make something happen pretty soon, she might get that, too. I knew I couldn't keep on like we were going.
I managed to go back to work after I settled down, got something done, and went up to take my shower. I didn't see Ruby. I locked the bathroom door. I almost didn't; parta me wanted her to come in……
I didn't put the chair under the doorknob on my door after I got back to my room; lucky for me I had a towel around my waist when Ruby opened the door and stepped in. She was still wearing that damn nightgown, it was still open.
She didn't smile. She let her eyes travel up and down. "Am I bothering you, Wendell?"
That wasn't even a real question.
"I stopped in to see if you were done in the bathroom. I'm thinking about taking a shower. You could join me….except you've already had yours." Now she smiled, now that she found something she could needle me with. "Have you ever taken a shower with a woman, Wendell? You know, I'll bet there are a lot of things I could teach you….."
"I doubt it," I said. She stopped smiling. "But I suppose you could try."
Her eyes got big and dark, I thought for a minute she might just step outta that nightgown entirely, but she didn't. She just looked at me, stared, thinking about it, I figured. Like I was.
"No," she said. "I mean, yes, I could…..but not today."
"Ruby," I said. "C'mere."
The way she looked at me, the way she breathed, I thought she was gonna. Then she took a deep breath, said, "Not today," and stepped back out the door. Before she closed it, she said, "Friday."
"Friday." She stuck her head back in. "It'll be like a date."
I listened to her bare feet pattering down the hall. A date? To have sex on Friday, is that what she said? Jesus fucking Christ.