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August 20, 2010 Posted by | Photo | , | Leave a comment

The Return of Jack Collier (Chapter Nine)

The Return of Jack Collier

A Jack Collier Story

By Brett N. Lashuay

 

 

Last week’s entry can be found here.

 

 

Chapter Nine: Personal History

 

            “This was years ago, when you were still in college probably,” I said.

 

            “I’m not that young,” she complained.

 

            “But I never went, and this was when I was much younger. Let’s see, adjusting my age, I am now thirty four,” I told her. “So it was probably nine years ago now.”

 

            “Yeah, I was in school then,” she agreed.

 

            “A woman named Char Webber has a niece who was engaged to a guy who vanished in the Balkans,” I told her. “The guy I was working for at the time offered to poke around a little, but when it got to sending people to Europe to look a little deeper he dropped the case. By that time I had gotten to liking Willie and decided that I’d go with her and a couple of other people. Bascome said if I went I was fired. By that time my buddy Chuck had already left to form his own company and I was thinking of leaving anyway so I quit. Turns out her beau had been kidnapped and we followed the kidnappers into Romania, and then we… uh, we dealt with them.”

 

            “Dealt with them?” she asked.

 

            “A few people got killed,” I said. “They decided to kidnap Willie too and we ended up having to rescue both of them.”

 

            “You killed someone didn’t you?” she asked.

 

            “A couple someones,” I said. “It was a mess, a pretty big one by the time we were done. Not a huge international story, I don’t think it got to America, but it made a lot of papers in Europe. A lot of things happened on that trip and I was pretty raw afterward, as a reward for saving her niece and soon-to-be nephew Char set me up in business. She felt responsible since I’d initially only taken up the whole thing as a favor to her.”

 

            “Why did she rate?” she asked.

 

            “Oh, we were good friends,” I said. “Yes. That’s it. Friends is a word we can use.”

 

            “Isn’t she like fifteen years older than you?”

 

            “Twenty actually,” I said, “yeah.”

 

            “And Christmas and Liberty too,” she said. “I didn’t realize the problem was I’m so much younger than you.”

 

            “It just looks that way when you clump them like that,” I told her. “I’m just good with women.”

 

            “Are you?” she asked.

 

            “Excellent,” I said. “It’s about the only thing I’m good at. Getting girls to go to bed with me and giving them a good reason to let me have a return trip with them is pretty much my one marketable skill.”

 

            “No it isn’t,” she said. “I can’t do this whole mirror thing you did, which I think was an unfair trick by the way, but I can tell you that people don’t see you the way you do.”

 

            “That’s nice of you to say,” I said. “But I should tell you that while I can get the bed part right, I screw up everything else.”

 

            “You do not.”

 

            “I’ve screwed up most things in my past,” I told her. “Have not had a relationship that’s worked out well for me yet.”

 

            “I’m sure you’re exaggerating.”

 

            “I’m trouble Alice,” I said. “I’m nothing but trouble for everyone. Every time someone comes near me, they get killed or hurt, or their life is turned upside down.”

 

            “I don’t know,” she told me. “Can you back that up with anything?”

 

            “Do you have time to listen to a long story?” I asked her.

 

            “Yes,” she said.

 

            “Okay,” I said, and I told her the story.

 

            I told her everything. When I met Debbie, when I met Karen, how Becky figured into things. I told her all about our summer of love and about how I screwed it up. I explained how I met Liberty and how I ended with Liberty. I even explained how Jen figured into that story. I told her about Char and about Char giving me the money to start up. I explain about how Debbie needed a job after school and how I was able to give her one. I told her about Christmas and the bits she didn’t know about Columbia and what eventually happened to Becky and her father. After that I skipped right to the adventure with Jill and what happened there. Finally, I explained the situation as it currently stood. When I was done I felt like I’d told my entire life story to her, or at least enough of it for a good sized book, but I felt she deserved it. She needed to know what she was getting herself into.

 

            “And, I think that’s everything,” I said as I came to a close.

 

            “That’s a lot,” she said. “It’s going to take some time for me to digest all of that. Going to have some questions too I think.”

 

            “That’s understandable,” I said.

 

            “Did you notice something about your story?” she asked.

 

            “A lot of people died in it,” I said.

 

            “The other thing,” she said. “About the women?”

 

            “That most of them were killed?”

 

            “I meant the other part.”

 

            “Other part?”

 

            “You don’t have to play the innocent with me Jack,” I could just about hear the smile on her face. “If you’re going to tell me secrets, why try to keep that one?”

 

            “I have no idea what you’re referring to,” I lied like a badly placed rug.

 

            “The sexual preference of all your play partners,” she said, and my ears pricked up.

 

            That was some specific language coming from a nice suburban girl like her. Her biggest flaw is that she doesn’t reserve herself very well. She has no idea how good looking she is, or how the things she does attracts men’s gazes. Either that or she’s so adroit that she’s been screwing with me from day one. Either way, the phrase ‘play partners’ was either an interesting slip or a careful insertion.

 

            “You mean how every woman I’ve been to bed with was bisexual?” I asked

 

            “You did notice that then,” she said. “Now I’m going to be really worried about telling you what we talked about in the hospital.”

 

            “What, are you going to tell me you’re a bisexual who’s into this poly thing? You’ve been dying to join a group and you think Debbie is just the cutest thing?” I asked, and in many ways I should stop trying to be sarcastic because it only causes trouble.

 

            “Not exactly,” she laughed at that, which was nice to hear. It wasn’t exactly the tinkling of silver bells, but it was a nice sound.

 

            “Alright then…” I said.

 

            “I mean, I’ve never actually done the group thing,” she said. “I don’t know how into it I’d be.”

 

            “Huh,” I said, because I noticed something about that sentence. “I don’t hear you denying the bisexuality or the wanting to join a group grope or anything like that.”

 

            “No,” she agreed, despite the negative connotation of that word. “You don’t. And Debbie is pretty hot.”

 

            “Do you want to come out and say it, or do you want to play coy while I assemble the pieces?”

 

            “You’re a detective,” she said.

 

            “Yes,” I said, “I am.”

 

            “I’ve spent most my life not being definite about it,” she said. “There are enough problems with being me.”

 

            “Okay,” I said, “but you need to understand two things.”

 

            “Okay,” she said. “What are they?”

 

            “I will never make you feel bad for being who you are,” I said. “And I value honesty in a person.”

 

            “Do you?”

 

            “I value anything rare,” I told her.

 

            “Okay,” I heard her take a deep breath and release it. Then she took another. “Okay, I’m… ah. I’m bisexual, and I’d like to try the poly thing out sometime, if I found the right group. Is that honest or is that blunt?”

 

            “I think it’s blunt,” I told her. “That’s okay though. I like bluntness too.”

 

            “Is this where I start telling you a story?”

 

            “Do you want to tell me a story?” I asked. “I’ll listen to a story.”

 

            “Yeah, I think I want you to know,” she said. “I started dating a girl in high school. I identified as lesbian for about five years or so. I never went in for buzzed hair or wife beater shirts or anything like that, but I dated a girl who did in my freshman year of college. I started considering the idea of bisexuality when I was about twenty and started noticing that I thought boys were cute too. I lost a few friends that way. They thought I was just playing around like a lot of girls were at the time. It doesn’t help that I was always a very femmy sort, you know what I mean?”

 

            “I think I may have spotted a certain amount of femininity about you,” I said.

 

            “Well, lots of other people did too,” she complained. “Everyone sort of labeled as someone who had been just going through a phase when I started dating a guy. I didn’t wear lipstick for three years because I feared the label of lipstick lesbian. Pretty girls aren’t supposed to date girls unless they’re just playing around you know.”

 

            “I’ve heard that fiction,” I said.

 

            “Yeah, you’d know all about that one,” she said. “I’ve seen your secretary.”

 

            “Debbie,” I said. “You used her name a little while ago.”

 

            “Yeah,” she agreed. “Debbie, she’d know all about it. Well, the point is that I quickly learned to be underground about it. I’ve kept my private life very separate from my professional lifw. I don’t talk about it, and I keep harassment about my sex life to a minimum.”

 

            “So, you don’t date anyone from the office?”

 

            “No,” she said. “Never. Then they’d start talking about how pretty girls aren’t supposed to do certain things.”

 

            “The main problem with that is that a woman that looks like you can only be bisexual,” I said. “Your looks preclude you from being anything else.”

 

            “Can you explain that?” she asked.

 

            “I can.” I said.

 

————————————————————————————————-

 

 

“Movies and TV have taught me nothing if they haven’t taught me that the most beautiful women in the world are bisexuals.”

 

            “Really?” She asked.

 

            “We’re children of the nineties.” I said, “When lesbians were first becoming popular they put some really pretty actresses in the rolls, right? Either because they were trying to combat the bull dyke stereotype or because they liked watching hot chicks make out.”

 

            “Yeah.” She said. “I remember.”

 

            “Right.” I said. “But when lesbians became a little passé they started to mix it up with bisexuals, who were played by genuinely gorgeous women. Thus, the most beautiful women in the world are bisexuals, followed by homosexual women, and straight women come in at a respectable third.”

 

            “Are you still saying I’m beautiful?” She asked.

 

            “Yes.” I said. “Yes I am.”

 

            “Because I’m bi?”

 

            “Because you’re you.” I told her. “A photograph wouldn’t cover it, not all of it. You’d need to see you and talk to you to see everything. Then you’d need to be able to touch you, just so you could be sure that you were real. What I’m saying is you’re obviously too beautiful to be anything else.”

 

            “I like that.” She said. “You know. You said you’re only good at women, but if you’re only going to be good at one thing it’s good that you’re this good.”

 

            “Thanks.” I allowed. “Although, I should tell you that I have subsequently found out that TV was a lying whore instead of a gentle motherly teacher and that movies were not to be trusted at all.”

 

            “Well, that spoils the whole thing.” She said.

 

            “Not really.” I said. “You’re still the most beautiful woman I know of.”

 

            “Oh, well that’s okay then.” She laughed. “You’re pretty cute too. No wonder all those girls over there are fawning over you.”

 

            “But you see, that the reason why I’m nervous about things.” I told her.

 

            “You’re in love with Karen and Debbie.” She said.

 

            “Sort of, but I would really like to try and have a go with you.” I said. “I mean, a try at a relationship.”

 

            “You’re not interested in fucking me then?” She asked, and the word sounded so obscene and disgusting from her voice that it somehow went all the way around and came out at incredibly alluring. “I mean I was hoping you’d like to have a try at that.”

 

            “I’m very weak at the moment.” I said. “I’ll probably have some strength together by November. If I’m going to do it right I need to have my full strength.”

 

            “I don’t want to wait until November.” She said. “If I wait until November, you might decide you don’t want me, or you’ll be struck by lightning or choke to death on a turkey sandwich or something. You know how dry Thanksgiving turkey can be sometimes.”

 

            “I’m telling you,” I warned, “Skinnier than you.”

 

            “I don’t care.” She said. “I saw you in the hospital a couple of days after you came out of that coma, I’m sure you’ve improved from that state.”

 

            “Well I can sit up and wipe my own butt for one.” I said.

 

            “Well there you go.” She said. “I think you don’t get it. I’m not the only one you need to touch to see that they’re real.”

 

            “You know, I want to see you too.” I admitted. “I just want to be strong enough for you to visit.”

 

            “You want to be good enough, you mean.” She said. “But thank you for couching it in a way I haven’t heard a million times before.”

 

            “Did I say I wasn’t good enough for you?” I asked.

 

            “Yes.” She said. “Your confidence is shit, which is surprising when you consider how we women can’t seem to stop ourselves from leaping at you. I mean I’m ready to come over there so I can literally fling myself at you, and you’re busy trying to deflect me with talk about being weak. What do you think that does for a girl’s self esteem?”

 

            “I don’t know how I feel about anyone or anything.” I said. “Or rather, I know how I feel, but I don’t know what to do about those feelings. No, I’m trying to sort out those feelings so I don’t hurt someone I care about.  I’m just trying to make sure I don’t do things wrong. I fucked things up in the past, I don’t want to now.”

 

            “Well, you’re not doing anything right now.” She admonished. “You have to risk getting things wrong if you hope to even try to get them right.”

 

            She had a point. So, what the hell? If she wanted to come see me, why not invite her? I wanted to see her, I wanted to kiss her, I wanted to be with her. I couldn’t bear the idea of not being with Debbie, and I loved Karen, but I also very much wanted to be with Alice. And to think, all it took to get here was to be shot four times in the chest. Try it sometime, let me know if you get similar results.

 

            “You want to come over and see me for a few days?” I asked. “Maybe next week, if that’s not too early?”

 

            This time her laugh did resemble the clear tones of a set of small silver bells, but at least she accepted. You will excuse me though if I decide to keep that week to myself. It was not a week of sexual excess, orgies did not happen. It was nice though. The closest to a group thing that went down was when Debbie came over and the three of us went out to dinner. I noticed they spent a lot of the evening talking to each other like old friends, but that was as far as it went. It was a healing visit though, sometimes spending time face to face is important.

 

            At the end of a week though, she had to go back to DC and get back to work. I drove her to the airport, while we were on I-94, she started trying to decide what had happened that week. I was still trying to work things out myself, so it was helpful to have her there.

 

            “Debbie and I talked for a while you were sleeping.” She said as I pulled the Hudson onto the ramp.

 

            “Oh yeah?” I asked, almost wanting to say that I wasn’t sleeping, I was listening to girl giggles for five hours. “And did either of you tell the other to back off?”

 

            “No.” She shook her head. “It wasn’t like that. I asked her some questions, and she asked me some questions.”

 

            “Oh.” I said, and then started being a detective. “What sort of questions?”

 

            “It was girl talk.” She smiled. “Even if I told you, it would be meaningless because it was all in code.”

 

            “What sort of decisions did you come to then?” I asked.

 

            “That’s the problem.” She said. “We didn’t. She said she loves you, and that you love her. She then said you two aren’t together.”

 

            “No.” I said.  “Not right now.”

 

            “Are you going to be?”

 

            “What did she say?” I asked.

 

            “She said to ask you.”

 

            “Ah.” I said. “She would.”

 

            “Are you going to be together?” She asked.

 

            “I don’t know.” I said. “Are we going to be together?”

 

            “One of us would have to move. Quit our job or something.” She sighed and looked out the window. “I like my job.”

 

            “I wouldn’t ask you to move.” I said.

 

            “What are we going to be then?” She asked.

 

            “Oh shit.” I said and glanced at her. “You’re going to ask me? I don’t even know what I am on my own.”

 

            “I mean either this is a kiss off, or you need to ask me to go steady.” She said.

 

            “Steady?” I asked. “I haven’t heard steady since high school.”

 

            “It’s a time for high school things.” She said, looking at me with a meaningful glance I was supposed to interpret, but was completely inscrutable.

 

            “Would I move in with you?” I asked. “And what would I do for money?”

 

            “You’re a half owner of a private detective company.” She said.

 

            “No.” I shook my head. “I signed it all over to her. It’s her company.”

 

            “You’re going to have to tell her that then.” She told me. “She said it’s half yours.”

 

            “The point is that I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

 

            “When you do.” She said. “Will you tell me?”

 

            “When I know.” I said. “I’ll call you and ask you out for drinks so we can talk about it.”

            “I thought you don’t drink.” She said.

 

            “I’ll take you out for one though.” I smiled. “Get you that screaming orgasm I promised when we first met.”

 

            “You still talking about drinks?” She asked.

 

            “Maybe.” I told her, and smiled.

 

August 20, 2010 Posted by | Fiction, Jack | | Leave a comment