After making sure his father was safe inside Johnny drove home instead of back to the bar. He lay on his bed staring at the cobwebs in the corners of the ceiling. Maybe everything he thought was backwards. He remembered the way he felt with her, all the ways, annoyed, amused, and consumed. He thought about the sex and decided it wasn't sex. No, they made love, no, she made love to him. How was it so different? Every encounter he'd had until that day involved alcohol, motel rooms, and momentary satisfaction paid for with his hard earned dollars. He'd always laughed at girls like her. Farm girls, sweet perfect little princesses. But she made him feel things he'd never felt, and it wasn't just the sex.. um… love making. It was something else. He laughed at her, thought her a fool, but realized now, he envied and even admired her. She acted perfect, and he thought, maybe, she was. She knew who she was and who she wanted the world to believe she was. She portrayed herself exactly, precisely. She seemed the naïve little nothing but was in actuality strong, self-aware, self assured and in control.
He suddenly wanted to be a farm boy. To have a farm house with a front porch and a white picket fence. He wanted to raise cows or chickens or something and work hard and make an honest living and come home to meals she'd cooked just for him. He shuddered. Tomorrow, he thought, I'll clean up this place and start setting things right. Tomorrow, he thought, I'll do that and then he remembered her touch as he drifted off to sleep.
He woke in the same clothes he'd slept in and squinted at the alarm clock next to his bed. "Shit." He leapt out of bed, rolled on some deodorant and hurriedly searched for something to wear.
Digging through his piles of clothes he found a package his step-mom had sent him for Christmas. Clean white jockeys and a stain free shirt. He pulled them on and stumbled over to the closet where the black jeans with no holes hung. Usually reserved for weddings and special occasions he examined them to make sure they were spot free. He brushed his long hair and pulled it back neatly, slipped into his leather jacket and grabbed his helmet on the way out.
Arriving at the airport he found them outside of security. "Johnny" she squealed delightedly, "Thank you so much for coming."
Andy glanced at him questioningly but shrugged. She was leaving so he wasn't too worried. "Hey" he mumbled.
"Yeah, um, hey, I thought I'd say bye." Johnny tried to be himself, or what everyone expected of him.
"That is so sweet." She chirped, "And you made it just in time. I have to get through security so I don't delay the plane." She giggled, "At least one hour" she continued as if reading from cue cards. "before your flight is scheduled to leave."
Andy set down the pink carry-on bag and hugged her. "Bye sis. See ya at Thanksgiving."
"Oh Andrew, that will be so nice. Mother and father will be so pleased."
Johnny looked around awkwardly. Finally he voiced his rehearsed speech. "Good bye, it was a pleasure spending time with you."
"The pleasure was mine." She replied sweetly while Andy choked back a laugh. Johnny planned on kissing her hand but instead hugged her warmly and kissed her cheek. She squeezed his hand, her eyes twinkling.
"That's enough." Andy interrupted, "we don't want to be late now do we?" His voice was both condescending and protective.
"You're right, of course, Good-bye Andrew. I love you." She wrapped her arms around her brother and squeezed tightly.
Returning her hug with genuine affection he replied. "I love you too, MerriSue."
She giggled, "Don't you just love the way our names rhyme?" She scooped up her bag and slipped into the security line without a backwards glance.
Andy shook his head. "She's such a dork." He laughed, "Hey c'mon, let's go to Jakes."
"Yeah, maybe later," Johnny shrugged, thinking about the things he wanted to start changing, but instead, changed his mind and agreed, "Sure, Jakes." Tomorrow I'll do something else, he reasoned.
Days of the same-old-life later he received a note in the mail. "Thank you" was printed on a ribbon around a picture of a bouquet of multi-colored roses.
Inside she'd written in perfect slightly tilted cursive.
"Dear Johnny, Thank you for the lovely afternoon in the mountains. The views were spectacular and the company very thoughtful and kind. I enjoyed visiting with you. I've never ridden on a motorcycle before and it was thrilling. I hope to see you again next summer if I am able to visit Andrew again. Best wishes, MerriSue."
He shook his head incredulously. "What the hell." He thought, "like nothin' happened." and lay back in his bed staring at the cobwebs still mocking him. When he woke from a fitful sleep he headed for the bar but stopped short. Glancing back he picked up the card and tucked it back in the pink envelope. Clearing a space on his dresser he set the card down and looked at the mess he lived in. Sorting his laundry took longer than he expected, but he eventually found several plastic bags and walked with them to the Laundromat.
He stared out the front window of the laundry at the Starbucks across the street. He could hear her chirpy voice, "Oh Starbucks, don't they have the most wonderful coffee. I like the Latte's though, because caffeine in the afternoon would just keep me up all night. Early to bed, early to rise you know." He shook his head, she really was annoying, and yet, he walked across to the Starbucks and ordered a large. Sitting down he opened the paper and began scanning the want-ads. Maybe that afternoon hadn't really happened. Maybe it was all some weird dream. That, after all, would make more sense than reality, but either way, he decided, his life could be different, and he actually wanted the white picket fence and sweet wife with the happily-ever-after ending. Somewhat disgusted with his own thoughts he was about to leave when an ad caught his eye. Mechanic Wanted. Perhaps he could do more than drink and play pool. He took the classified section, collected his clean clothes and headed home. By ten pm his room was clean and he had a plan.
Years later he walked down to the mailbox at the curb. The door to his modest two bed-room home swung shut with a squeak. He made a mental note to oil the hinges. Inside the box along with the usual bills and ads was a thick pink envelope. Opening it he read the invitation to MerriSue's wedding and a personal note. "I look forward to seeing you. Please come."
Just over two years had passed since that afternoon. He'd answered that ad for a mechanic. Using his skills he bought used bikes, fixed them up and resold them. When he had enough money, he started his own used bike shop, buying, selling and repairing motorcycles. He named it "Frankie's"
He arrived at the church with his fiancé on his arm. On the flight Andy told him MerriSue was marrying the son of one of the wealthiest Dairy Farmers. The story was the boy had left home to find his own fortune and failed miserably, but after his return home, MerriSue had encouraged him and he was now going strong in the family business.
Andy shook his head. His voice dripping with sarcasm he finished the story stating "I can't imagine what'd be like having to live with her and her encouragement every day."
Johnny just smiled.