The Good Doctor, Part II, Chapter 4
Jase was sitting next to me on a bench in the locker room of the gym. He kicked off his shoes and then looked back behind us to glance at Rose's friend Chester. Chester was in the far corner of the gym standing there in golf clothes, loudly trying, with some success, to convince a small group of bystanders of his greatness.
Jase and I try to swim together at least once a week and that was today. After cautiously taking off his clothes, Jase tried wrapping his towel around his waist, but it was no use - the towel was bigger than he was. In the last year he's begun getting a little shyer about his body.
I looked at him and grinned. "Everybody's already seen it, you know."
He gave me an aggravated look, glanced down at his dick, sighed, and said grudgingly, "I know." Then he glanced in Chester's direction again. "He sounds mean."
I said softly, "My hunch is that he's a total jerk, but he can't hurt you," I laughed, "unless you vote for him."
He tried retying the towel, then sighed again when it didn't work. "How come Aunt Rose goes out with him?" I instantly decided that this wasn't the moment to explain sex, especially sex involving Rose.
"Most women are crazy. Well, crazy from the male perspective. I suppose they make sense to each other. You know, like animals smelling each other’s butts. It makes no sense to us, but there's gotta be a reason."
Jase was still fiddling with his towel and I decided that it was time for some fatherly advice. "Jase, lose the towel. You're gonna attract more attention by trying to wear it." Then I got an idea. I pulled the towel off from around his waist and draped it around his shoulders, it still dropped down to around his knees, but it looked somehow more normal and totally covered the bits he was getting shy about.
"People'll just think you're cold."
He turned to look in the mirror on the opposite wall, struck a superhero pose, then grinned and said, "I look like Batman!"
I laughed. "One and the same, Jase."
As we walked to the shower, me naked and carrying my Speedo, Jase with his towel draped around his shoulders, I could feel Chester's eyes on me, but I didn't look back at him. I'm used to being watched, but there was something in Chester's eyes that made me nervous.
From the showers, there's a hallway that connects both locker rooms to the main hallway that runs from the front of the gym to the back. When you hit that main hallway, the pool area is right on the other side of that hall through heavy glass doors. We crossed that hallway and pushed through the doors to the pool area, getting hit with a blast of humidity from the water.
"Why is that man like that, Dad?"
Jase sat down on the edge of the pool while I dove in and then swam immediately back to where he was sitting. I decided to just tell him the truth.
I wiped the water from my face with my hands and said quietly, "Jase…he's an asshole."
He immediately giggled because I never say stuff like that to him.
"You're not supposed to say that, Dad!"
"I know, Jase, but sometimes that's the only word that works. He's just a mean, nasty guy. You can't tell your grandmother that I used those words though; this is just between you and me. Well, you could tell Pete, I guess." My mother almost never swears, and she hates it when other people do.
I could see that behind his beautiful green eyes Jase was processing all this. I could also see a notion forming, so I decided to preempt it.
"No, this does not mean you can use that word! And by that, I mean you can't use it anywhere, because even if it's just you and Ernie, some adult is gonna hear you and think you've got a terrible father; and we both know that's not true. Besides, if it ever got back to your grandmother, all hell would break loose."
He shrugged a little boy shrug. "Ernie's mom calls Mrs. Tribeca that. She says it all the time when she's on the phone. Ernie said that Mrs. Tribeca tried to kiss Ernie's dad." Kids know everything.
I forced myself not to smile and then lied. "Mrs. Tribeca was probably just saying hello. You know, sometimes people kiss each other when they haven't seen each other for a while."
"Ernie's mom says that Mrs. Tribeca's," he hesitated and then looked up at me, "a slut… she says that a lot too. Ernie said that's why his dad bought his mom a new car, cause it was the only way to shut her up, but then she didn't shut up, she just keeps saying it. She says it all the time."
Oh God! "Jase, do you know what that word means?"
He thinks for a second and then says, "Slut? Ernie says it means she kisses lots of guys." I can see that life is about to get very complicated.
"It's not a nice word, Jase, and just like that other word I told you about, you shouldn't be using it. It's a word that adults use sometimes, but it's not a word that little boys should use. If Mrs. Tribeca heard it it would hurt her feelings." Jase doesn't believe in hurting peoples feelings.
Actually, from what I know about Mrs. Tribeca she'd probably just have a good laugh about it, but there's no need for Jase to know that. Mrs. Tribeca is a woman with huge breasts that are usually crammed into a dress two sizes too small and she always wears weirdly high heels. I guess she could be called pantingly coquettish, but there’s an age after which no woman should try to look pouty and kittenish… an age that Mrs. Tribeca has passed without learning anything. Fortunately, I've learned to recognize the staccato and buxomly determined click, click, click of those high heels, and I’ve been able to dodge out of her way whenever I've heard her bearing down on me at the local Target store. Others, like Ernie's dad, have apparently been less lucky.
A couple of years ago I ran into her outside of the local drug store. She was perched on her high heels, rummaging with an irritated look on her face through her large handbag, when a piece of white note paper fluttered out of the bag and onto the sidewalk. I sloshed my way through the miasma of her perfume, picked it up in a gentlemanly way, handed it to her and said, "You dropped this."
She stared at me for a moment, pouted her full red lips and said, "I never drop anything. I threw it away… just like I do my men."
Klaxon horns went off in my head while a loud imaginary voice screamed, "Dive! Dive! Dive!" I ducked my head and muttered "Oh, okay" and sprinted for my car.
I stepped out of the shower; towel dried my hair and ran my fingers through it.
Pete appeared in the doorway dressed in a dark blue suit with a light blue tie. He looked amazing. His dark blond hair was falling over his forehead and he looked a little rushed because he’d just gotten home from work and had to get ready for this stupid political dinner.
"Eric, are you getting ready?"
"Yeah, I just finished my hair."
Pete shook his head. "I don't know how you get away with that with your hair." I never have to do anything with my hair.
Pete took the towel out of my hand and turned me towards the mirror while he dried my back.
He dried my back slowly, paying a lot of attention to my butt and then, almost as an after-thought, wrapped his arms around me and pressed his body to my back. He kissed my neck, grunted and said, "How can you always smell this good?"
I grinned at him in the mirror, flexed my naked butt against his crotch and said, "It's because I'm pure of heart. Wanna fuck?"
He lightly bit the back of my neck and muttered, "Your mom’s gonna be here in like ten minutes."
I groaned and reluctantly pulled away from him. "You're right, and believe me, she'd come in here to find us."
I pulled on a pair of black boxer briefs and said, "Let's not hang around after we eat tonight. I mean, like no lingering over coffee while you chat with Poopsie from the country club."
He laughed. "Poopsie?"
I shrugged. "You know, those women with the expensive hairdo's that talk about horses."
Pete grinned at me. "You mean like my mom?"
Uh oh. "Nooooo. Not your mom! Your mom is nice and she's a shrink, she tries to make those other women more normal. It's not her fault if they're…you know, incurable."
Pete kissed me on the forehead and said, "Nice save, Eric."
He nuzzled my neck, shoved his hands down the back of my boxer briefs, and murmured in my ear, "Don't worry, we won't stay long."
Then I heard the back door slam and Jase yell, "Hi, Grandma!"
My mother was wearing a really dark blue dress that looked almost black, one of those dresses that came all the way to the floor. She looked nice and maybe a little threatening. Okay, maybe threatening is too strong a word, and besides, her hair looked really great, like she got it done differently just for the dinner.
We took Pete's BMW to the dinner because mom thought it looked nicer than her van, which of course was true. The bad thing was that Pete drove and she rode shotgun, which meant that she could swivel around in the seat and concentrate on me in the back seat.
She adjusted the wrap that she had around her shoulders, straightened the pearls around her neck, then turned her head and looked at me.
"Don't slouch, Eric, sit up straight. You look like you're being carted off to prison or something."
I sighed and stared out the window. "Is he gonna talk tonight?" The truth is that I mostly hate people. Well, not all people, but lots of them, especially the ones who feel that they’ve just gotta talk.
"I think he's supposed to give some sort of speech, probably about his campaign, but it won't kill you to sit there for half an hour." Honestly, as far as I'm concerned it might kill me. Sometimes it seems like everything would be a whole lot better if humans hadn't learned to speak.
I sighed. "I guess… you're sure it's only gonna be a half an hour?"
"Well, I can't guarantee it, Eric, but something like that."
I muttered, "He's a creep."
Her eyebrows shot up. "That's exactly the sort of thing you can't say! Just don't think about him. Concentrate on your dinner. Besides, he's not a creep; he's a minister," she waved her hand, "of some sort."
I groaned when she looked at Pete and asked, "He is a reverend…isn't he, Pete?"
This was exactly the sort of thing Pete hated to get involved in.
Pete's voice was hesitant. "Aaahhh, I guess, Helen. When I ran into him and Rose at the hospital, she called him Reverend, but personally, I haven't a clue." He also took that instant to flash me a warning eye in the rearview mirror. Pete, not being Italian, doesn't like conflict.
I can't believe my mother actually cared. For Italian mothers the world seems to be divided into two parts, Catholics and everyone else. Thankfully, the old religion wars with my mother are a thing of the past. She accepts me as a heathen and has given up trying to change me. And since it isn't my mother’s nature to ever give up fighting about anything, it makes me wonder if she doesn't secretly agree with me. Anyway, the point is that unless the guy was a priest, he wouldn't even be registering on her radar.
The three of us traipsed into this huge restaurant, which was part of the country club, to which, naturally, Pete was a member. This wasn't the normal country club restaurant, but one that had been added when they needed another source of revenue, and they did nothing to encourage nonmembers to wander into the private areas of the club.
We had no sooner gotten in the door when a tall beautiful woman with black hair frozen in a perfect coif, wearing a strapless dark green evening gown and holding a glass full of ice and liquor high with one hand descended on us. Without saying a word and with her eyes slightly closed, she shoved out her left cheek to be kissed by my boyfriend.
The words "Oh, crap!" were formed in my brain, and my lips were pursed to speak them when Pete's left hand clamped down hard on my right hand and jerked me slightly towards him. Basically doing everything but yelling, "Heel!"
Pete kissed the offered cheek and then, starting with my mother, introduced us to Georgiana Harrington, wife of Woodward Harrington and daughter of McKinley Woodward. Word on the street was that she was her husbands 4th cousin twice removed, although that probably didn't get discussed much at family dinners.
But then, when she turned to me she surprised me. She got a wicked little smile on her face, touched the tip of her tongue to her teeth, lifted an eyebrow and then laughed. "Well now, I see why Pete never shows up here anymore!"
My mother rushed off to check on where our table was and was back in a flash tugging on my arm.
"C'mon, Eric, let's sit and have a glass of wine." I had just complimented Georgiana, or George as she said to call her, on her hair. And as far as sitting down was concerned, I would have just as soon taken my food to go, but my mother is one of those people who insist on never losing any argument and she began jerking on my arm.
I grinned at George, rolled my eyes and said, "I guess I gotta go."
George sighed and said, "We're at a different table with Rose and the Reverend." She looked up at Pete and said, "Woodward actually thinks he makes sense."
Pete, not seeming to know how to respond to that without offending someone, just smiled and said, "He's got great posture."
George looked at him, laughed and said, "I bet his pulse rate is great, too."
George looked at me and said, "What do you think of him, Eric?"
My mother's hand tightened on my arm while at the same time Pete tightened his grip on my hand. My mother said quickly and a little too loudly, "Eric doesn't have an opinion."
So then, just like I had Tourette's or something, I blurted out, "Whenever he sees me naked he gives me this creepy look."
My mother let go of my arm, let out a deep breath and muttered, "Oh, my God." While Pete just laughed nervously and said, "He's kidding."
George’s eyes flared and she pushed between Pete and me. "He's seen you naked?"
I glanced quickly at my mom and Pete. "Well, you know, at the health club. Not like, you know, anywhere else."
"And he's creepy?"
I glanced around apprehensively at the growing number of people within earshot and whispered, "He makes Jase nervous. That's not a good sign, because normally Jase likes everybody."
Georgiana said, "Who's Jase?" But just as I was about to answer, my mother stepped in front of me looking like a thunder cloud, glanced at Georgiana and said, "My grandson."
She turned to me and her face changed from the well dressed matron about to have an elegant dinner in an elegant setting into the maniacally obsessive Italian mother that she is most of the time. The corners of her mouth dropped, her eyes became hooded, and her voice got deeper. She stared into my eyes in that creepy Italian mother-witch-doctor way she has and said simply, "Tell me."
"Ma, it's not that big of…" She grabbed my arm and her nails began to dig in.
"Eric, just tell me."
Out of the corner of my eye I could see that Georgiana was beginning to wonder what was going on, and she started to say something.
"Mrs. Cortland, I'm sure it's just a…" But when my mother’s other hand lifted, Georgiana stopped in mid-sentence, and I was struck by the differences in the two women. My mother seemed so much stronger.
With deceptive softness, my mother asked, "Does he see Jase naked?"
I shook my head. "Jase wears a towel."
Her voice got an edge to it. "Well then, why does he see you naked? Couldn't you wear a towel?"
"Sure, but I'm not gonna."
"Geez, Mom! Because it's the men's locker room and I'm not a twelve year old girl!"
Just then I heard a very familiar, very loud, very abrasive voice. And in seconds, Rose broke through the crowd and came sailing towards us. She was dressed in some sort of strapless evening gown of red satin. You know the kind where more or less naked breasts seem to be jiggling like Jell-o in twin protruding containment dams made of red satin and where overflow is a very real danger. I'll just say that way too much was being asked of that dress.
While she was still ten feet away, I whispered, "Oh, my God!"
Pete said, "Eric," and my mother said, "Shut up, Eric!"
Rose called out loudly, "How come you don't have drinks?"
My mother’s expression changed and she smiled broadly. "Rose, honey, it's so good to see you!" They gave each other non-kisses.
"We just haven't gotten ourselves organized yet."
Rose looked at me and said, "Off your leash?"
I pointed to the floor and said, "Quick, Rose, you dropped a quarter!"
She inhaled sharply, then said, "Bite me, Eric!"
Then before I got to deliver my cutting reply, she turned to Georgiana and said, "Hi, honey, how's your dad?"
Georgiana's face took on a practised look and said, "Oh, you know… he's just great. Busy, busy… even in retirement."
Rose laughed and said, "Hell, honey, he needs to hire people to help him count all that dough."
Then she turned to Pete, got a flirtatious look on her face and said, "How you doin, handsome?"
Pete laughed and said, "Just great, Rose!"
As Rose turned to get into a deeper conversation with my mother, I whispered in Pete's ear, "Kinda like being a villager living at the base of the dam on a dark and stormy night. Will the dam hold? We just don't know!"
"Eric, please! Just behave yourself."
I looked up into those incredible blue eyes and whispered, "How about I shove my hand into your pants pocket by mistake and squeeze your dick. If anybody says anything I could say I thought it was my pocket." Tiny electric flashes danced across his eyes.
Just then Georgiana pushed between us, grinned wickedly and said, "You're talking about dick, I heard it!"
Pete laughed and whispered, "George, the only penis you should be interested in is your husbands."
She sighed and then started to laugh. "I know, but you're his doctor, you've seen it."
Pete glanced quickly around, then lowered his head and said, "For God's sake, it's a normal penis, George!"
She took a sip of her drink and muttered, "Where's the fun in that."
My mother had just grabbed my arm again to pull me to our table when I heard someone behind me calling my name. Looking back I saw Mark, David's dad, coming through the crowd of people. He looked flustered and a little nuts.
I said, "What are you doing here?"
He shook his head and nodded towards my mother.
She said, a little defensively, "Mark needs to meet these people. These are the people that own the businesses that he sells to." Actually, I was glad to have as many people as possible on my side.
I said, "Honestly, you couldn't figure a way to get out of this?"
He gritted his teeth and shook his head no. Then he leaned in close to me and whispered, "I think I just got molested."