The Good Doctor 72
“May I speak to Jason please?” The voice on the phone was young and feminine.
“Huh?” Jason never gets phone calls from, well, girls.
“Jason. May I speak to Jason please?”
I put my hand over the mouthpiece and looked over at my mother washing dishes. “It’s for Jason!” For some reason I was whispering.
She grabbed a dishcloth and wiped her hands. “So?”
“He doesn’t get calls from girls!”
“You mean he won’t talk to a girl?”
“No, of course he’ll talk to a girl! Well, I mean I think he will. I mean, why wouldn’t he?”
She held the dishcloth in her fist and put it on her hip. “Why don’t you just give him the call?”
I looked at the phone in my hand. “Oh…yeah. JASON!!! TELEPHONE!!!”
Then I stared at the phone again and realized that I didn’t even know who was calling. “Ahh, who can I say is calling?”
“My name is Mary Elizabeth O’Reilly. I go to school with Jason.” Her voice was soft and sweet but like all women it had an inner core of steel and in that split second my mind flashed to a married middle aged Jason saying, “I’m sorry Mary Elizabeth, I should have listened to you and I promise never to do it again.”
Just then Jase came skipping into the kitchen all little boy happy with his hand held out for the phone. I handed it to him and said, “Just don’t make any commitments.”
While he was putting the phone to his ear he looked at me and said, “Huh?”
I shook my head. “Never mind. It’s Mary Elizabeth O’Reilly.”
Jase’s eyes danced emerald green as he yelled into the phone, “Hi Mary Elizabeth!” Oh great! My brain flashes to, “Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Cortland” and then cuts to a news guy on Fox News saying, “Mary Elizabeth Cortland was found innocent today of killing her husband Jason, son of noted humanitarian Eric Cortland, despite the fact that she was caught holding the murder weapon while spitting at his bullet riddled body! Her defense of, “I didn’t know the gun was loaded.” seemed to confound prosecutors.”
“Get over here and let them have a private conversation!” I was still standing right next to Jase who was staring up at me with a bewildered look on his face and the phone pressed to his ear.
“Oh…..okay.” I mouthed the word, “Sorry” to Jase and walked over to my mother.
“You know, Eric, sometimes it’s like you move into a different universe.”
“What kind of a private conversation do you need to have when you’re seven?”
“That’s not the point. He’s reaching an age where he’s gonna want it.”
We don’t ever go anywhere together. Well, hardly anywhere but Jase needs a book about dinosaurs…like he doesn’t already have ten of em. But anyway it is nice to be going out shopping together and I’m a big Barnes and Noble fan. Besides, Pete is looking for something about using Microsoft Excel. I suggested Amazon but since Jase needed the dinosaur book we’re trying to kill a few birds at one time.
The instant we get through the doors Jase is off like a bat outta hell and by the time Pete and I have gotten our bearings he’s back with a box in his hands.
His voice is breathless and whining at the same time. “Dad I need to get this!” It’s a boxed set of Harry Potter. “Can you just buy this for me?”
I look at the side of the box and shake my head. “Jase, it’s a hundred and fifty-six bucks! You’re dreaming!”
Pete tilts the box so that he can read the price for himself. “Holy cow!”
“But dad I’m supposed to read that stuff!”
“I’ll buy you the first book.” He can read really well and he has been asking for this stuff.
“But Dad you’re just gonna have to buy the rest then!”
“I’ve got one word you….Library.”
Pete said, “Eric if you buy the first one I’ll buy the second.”
We trooped off to find the books and then while Jase and I were trying to decide which of the Harry Potter books was actually the first one, I heard Pete in the next aisle over, gasp. Jase and I both looked up.
I said loudly, “You okay?”
Pete’s voice was soft but had an edge to it. “You better come here.”
I grabbed Jase’s hand and we ducked around the corner. Pete was standing there, frozen, staring down towards the end of the aisle. One of the Barnes and Noble employees was just finishing putting up a large display of photography books. Even from twenty feet away I recognized me on the cover.
I shot a glance at Pete. He was staring down the aisle like he wanted to rip the throat outta the guy with the nametag. When he’s like this it’s really weird because it’s like his shoulders get broader and hunched, like he’s in attack mode. He does everything but growl.
I grabbed his arm. “Relax big guy! Killing a sales clerk isn’t the answer.” He closed his eyes slightly and then took a deep breath.
He said slowly, “I knew this was gonna happen! I’m calling my lawyer!”
“Hey, if you really want action, call my mom’s lawyer.” I moved so that I was in front of him so that he had to look at me and not at the end of the aisle. “But I’d be willing to bet that it’s all legal.”
He turned his head to the side and I could tell that he was choking down anger. Finally he said, “We better go look….and I suppose we better buy a copy.”
All this time Jase was staring at Pete. Then he said, “Are you mad, Pete?” Pete is almost never mad in front of Jase.
Jase’s voice seemed to have a calming affect and Pete took a deep breath, shook his head slightly and then laughed. “I just was for a second, Jase.” He ruffled Jase’s hair and grinned. “But I’m not now. Besides, I’m sure not mad at you.”
Jase looks up at me. “Why was Pete mad, dad?”
I pull Jase against me. “You remember the vacation that we took? The one by the ocean.” Jase nods yes.
“Well, the man that took those pictures maybe wasn’t suppose to put them in a book but it’s looking like he did anyway.”
On the cover of the book is says, “The Photography of Kenneth Darlen.” It’s a picture of me walking out of the ocean but it’s not like the normal one, the one I remember him taking. This one is in black and white but also there’s been some filtering and that seems to accentuate the way that my wet Speedo clings to the surface of my cock and balls, the wet cloth seems plastered to my skin. In some ways it’s worse than being naked and the expression on my face doesn’t help. My hands are squeezing the water out of my hair and my expression is carnal. After all, I was staring at Pete when the picture was taken.
“I think you look nice Dad.” Jase always thinks that I look nice.
I look at Pete and say, “Yeah, I think I look okay.” I pick one of the books up and stare at my image.
Suddenly the clerk who was putting up the display and who had started to walk away stops, looks at me, looks away and then does a double take. He points at me. “Holy crap! You’re him! You’re that guy in the book!” Then he points as Jase. “And you’re the kid!” He looks at Pete like he’s trying to figure if he was in there too.
Finally he walks over to me and with a smirk turns the book in my hands so that I’m looking at the back cover. Oh…my….goodness. My ass is on the back cover…all by itself.
Not realizing the possible danger of my boyfriend beheading him he leans into me and whispers, “Dude, what I gotta do to get an ass like that?”
I laugh. “I dunno…sin?”
Pete laughs in a way that most people would label as nervous but I know different. It’s really the, “I’m about to kill and ruin my life.” laugh. As casually as possible I step sideways to block his access to the sales clerk. No point in leaving carnage in our wake.
The clerk opens the book in my hands and points to where the photos begin. “See there’s the little kid with you!” It was a picture of me carrying Jase, the one I really liked and in it you can see the brilliance of the photographer. Jase, the little kid in question pulls the book down so that he can see and then while the rest of us are looking at that picture Jase has got his head tilted to the side and is trying to dig through other pages.
Jase says, “Look, there’s the twins!”
The sales clerk opens the book to the page that Jase has uncovered and I can hear him almost gasp. I’m doing the same thing. It’s a full page picture of me in between the twins in water just up to our thighs, the twins on either side of me. They look like twin satyrs in Speedo’s with their cocks not quite hard but definitely not soft. Their balls, which are clearly defined, are the size of lemons and seem to weigh down the fronts of their suits. They’re hanging onto me, trying to drag me along while they prance laughing through the water. Ken has captured them perfectly. They’re all youth and vigor and rampant sexuality and their intentions are crystal clear. A woman could get pregnant just looking at this photo.
The sales clerk and I turn to look at each other at the same time. He says, “Wha…..?”
I say, “Family friends. They’re cute, aren’t they?”
He stammers and starts to blush. “Ahhh, I guess.” Then quickly, “I gotta go. They’re gonna be on my ass!”
Somehow Barnes and Noble seems like a good place not to be, it feels a bit like a crime scene. I grab the book and say to Jase, “Did you pick out your book?”
“Dad, I’m not sure….”
I grab the boxed set, the one for a hundred and fifty-six bucks. “We’ll just take this.”
I look up at Pete and surprisingly he looks okay, mostly. He looks back and me and smiles. “I’m not letting this get to me.”
“Good! Nobody sees this stuff anyway. I mean when’s the last time you saw someone actually buy one of these books?”
“Yeah, you’re right, you’re really right. Nobody buys this stuff.”
When we get to the checkout counter at the front of the store the sales clerk had obviously spread the word and the middle age woman that I handed my credit card to had a dirty little smirk just trying to come out.
“That’ll be two hundred and forty-nine dollars and twenty-one cents.”
“Two hundred? And….how much was this book?”
Before she can answer I flip the book over and there just above my ass is the ticket, eighty bucks. I’d like to kill Ken Darlen…after I get my cut. Behind the counter the checkout lady’s tongue slips out of her mouth and as she wets her lips she lifts an eyebrow suggestively.
Just what I need! “You pay the eighty bucks and I’ll let you touch it!”
Rose’s face was inches from mine and we were talking softly but fiercely. “I’m not doing it, Rose! It’s humiliating!”
“Oh for God sake, Eric! Loosen up!”
I glance quickly at Harriet who is basically hiding behind Rose. “I promised to autograph the damn book for her but I’m not showing her my ass! If she wants to see it she’s just gonna have to follow me around like everybody else today!” To say that this has been an unusual day is to not say the half of it. It seems like everybody in our little town has bought that damn book.
“Eric, if she does that she’s just an ordinary perv!” She turned her head quickly and glanced at Harriet. “No offense, Harriet.” She turned back to me and whispered, “But if you show it to her she can tell the girls that….”
I don’t give her a chance to finish. “No!”
“Eric, she’s a member of this health club!”
“Rose, it’s not like a shot at my butt comes with every membership!”
“Oh for God’s sake, Eric! It’s not like you contribute anything else to humanity! It really seems to me to be the very least that you can do!”
She’s wearing me down. I sigh heavily, very heavily because I want her to know what a pain she is. “Rose….I’m gonna go swimming in a few minutes. If you and your….ah….client, want to plop down in the bleachers…well…I promise to give Harriet an eyeful.”
“That’s all I’m sayin, Eric!” Then. “You know, you coulda told me about your butt. It’s not like it looks like much in those pants you’re usually wearing.”
She swiveled around and grabbed Harriet’s arm. “C’mon sweetheart. We’re gonna sit ringside. If that bitch Maddie finds out about this she gonna glam onto all the best seats.”
In the locker room Mr. Butterworth is struggling with the enormous western belt buckle that’s holding up his brand new jeans. His cowboy hat is sitting on the bench.
“Hi, Mr. Butterworth.”
He smiles brightly while still struggling with the buckle. I’m seriously amazed that he’s able to get dressed and undressed by himself. He seems so delicate.
“Hello, Mr. Cortland! I can’t tell you how nice it is to see you.”
I nod towards his struggle. “You need help with that?”
“Oh…oh, yes. That would be very helpful. These fingers don’t work as well as they once did.”
I grin at him. “Happens to all of us.” I reach over with one hand and flip open the buckle and he sits down slowly and begins taking off his pants. My impulse is to help him get undressed and get into his gym clothes but my sense is that that wouldn’t be the best thing.
I point at my gym bag and like an idiot say, “I’m going swimming.”
With his jeans finally down to the middle of his thighs he says, “Mr. Cortland, do you always have people following you about? I never noticed it before but there seems to be quite a gang of them.”
I laughed. “Ahhh, that’s really just today. I don’t think they’ll keep doing it though.” I decide not to mention the book because it’s just too weird.
I pull off my shirt and hang it in my locker, then strip off the track pants that I work in and hang them up. I slide my boxers off and toss em on the shelf in my locker and reach for my black Speedo. When I look up Mr. Butterworth is staring at me.
I quickly stepped into the Speedo and tucked everything into place. When I looked up again he’s still watching me and then as I turn to leave he said, “It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath: it is twice blest; It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.” He laughed. “That’s by whathisname…… Shakespeare.” He shakes his head. “I don’t remember the play but…..no, I’m sure it’s him, Shakespeare. It’s about mercy.” He stares into my eyes and says, “You’re a merciful man, Mr. Cortland.” Me?
I bend down quickly and kiss him on the forehead. “Thanks, Mr. Butterworth.”
In the pool I hang up my towel and dive into the clear cool water and start doing my laps. There’s a bunch of people sitting on the bleachers and I haven’t forgotten my promise but I figure that it’ll be more effective if I’m wet.
Somewhere around lap twelve I hear a splash and a little murmur from the gallery but a lot of people use the pool and I don’t think about it but then I become aware of swimming past someone standing next to my lane. Underwater is a pair of green trunks applied to a hard hunky body and I stop to see who it is.
Lionel says, “Hi Eric.”