Friday, October 22, 2021

I looked up and I saw my place


Jared knew they better go when Sal texted. Sal didn't say anything bad, but Jared's sister was there and why didn't they come to supper. Naturally, Jared felt he was between a rock and hard spot of some kind. He really wasn't sure how to react. Yet he knew he would be calm..maybe even silent.

Angel looked at him as if she didn't want to go. Of course, there was nothing in the fridge. They'd been changing everything around in his mother's apartment. Occasionally, Angel would go through a photo album, but much of it was junk and it was time to see it go. 

Sincerely, Jared did respect Sal. If only he'd known him when he was younger. Why had it taken his mother so long to meet someone like Sal? Sure he was a bartender, but he had a lot of heart. And of course, there were his adventure stories to read and Jared felt as if he knew Sal better through the heroes he'd created. 

"I think he just wants us over so he won't have to eat alone with Jody," Jared finally confided. "Besides, I haven't seen my little sister in a while...and well, she asked about you."

Naturally, Angel gave him the doe in the headlights look. Was he really sure this was a good idea?

"We can't avoid your father nor my family forever." Jared was ready to bite the bullet. And in a little bit, they were already smelling something wonderful in Sal's kitchen.

It was a fusion of Mexican and Chinese food. Stirfried and ready to be wrapped in a soft tortilla. Of course, Sal was the last to sit down. Always hurrying around to fetch whatever Angel might need for her salad or to drink. Jared thought Sal was just as bad with Jody. Of course, she gave Jared a quick smile that Sal was so much better than anyone in her family. Jared had seen that exact same expression of his mother's. God, he hoped Jody didn't become their mother.

Jared stared back even-lipped as if he appreciated Sal the most. Everyone just took advantage of the man. Of course, Jody was the only one drinking wine. Everyone else was drinking cold water. 

Halfway through the meal, Andrew showed up.

"I was wondering if I was going to have to take her home." Jared looked at Jody's soon-to-be spouse with an indifferent expression. Perhaps, he did hate the college graduate who seemed to have everything handed to him, including scholarships and loads of opportunities.

"Huh?" It was as if Andrew didn't know what was up with Jody. 

Jared gritted to keep from speaking. He watched Andrew take a seat next to Jody who of course waited on him as if he was the only man here. 

Of course, Angel smiled at Andrew as if to keep the peace. "Glad you could make it," she said.

"Oh, I've been meaning to drop by," he started but then looked at Sal. "You know, to talk about the wedding. I'm just not sure how my people would feel about a wedding at the bar."

"Well, we could have the wedding part outside if you want and just have the reception inside," Sal spoke of an old oak tree. Word had it, it was once a hanging tree, but he thought folks just made up stories. Sal pointed out that the Omaha tribe had an encampment on what looked like a flat hill outback of his bar. "Back then they just wanted to get away as far as they could from the river. It kept flooding most of the town at that time." It was pretty much cornfields now.

Jared nodded. He enjoyed listening to the historical aspect of the bar's surroundings. 

Jody thought having the wedding outside might be romantic, and then she looked at Angel. "What about you two? Are you gonna get married at the bar?" She smiled from ear to ear as if maybe if they married first then Andrew could see it didn't matter where they got married.

Friday, October 15, 2021

times are changing

 "Where's Angel?" Jody was frantic. She so needed her opinion. She and Andrew were not on the same page with their wedding again. He'd never liked the idea of getting married in a bar, but didn't he get it. It was free. Of course, he'd left the whole argument on pause most of the summer. He was working and still focusing on a degree in some kind of foreign business. Sometimes, she swore she didn't know him at all.

"Oh, she's left," Sal said and went back to the kitchen where he was making something possibly heavenly. He poured her a glass of sweet wine.

"How did you know I needed that?" She grinned. She gulped down half of it and then sighed. She sat down at the dining bar and watched him. "Where did she go?"

"Just next door."

"Next door?" She spoke louder than she meant to.

"She moved in with Jared."

"Jared!" Now her voice was alarming. "Are you sure?"

Sal nodded.

"Well, how come nobody told me?" Jody was in a fret then. She kicked her short legs about and her face was in a huff. "Nobody tells me anything."

Sal went to fill her glass again. 

"Don't drink it so fast this time, or you'll get just a bottle of water," he told her. She nodded. He would know these things. He was a bartender, after all.

"You know, Mom up and left for Colorado." She wasn't happy about it, but she knew no one cared. Her mom rarely called. She would be no help with the wedding.

"I think I read that on FACEBOOK," Sal said while he was choping celery as the onion sizzled with the meat.

"FACEBOOK?" Jody didn't like being on social media. She hated some of the silly things her mom posted. It was like Redneck Heaven with all her country-loving swag. She stared at her glass of wine.

"Did you know Jared was seeing Angel?" Jody wanted to know.

Sal shook his head, no. 

"I wonder if it'll last?" Jody hated to bring it up, but then her brother wasn't exactly a one-woman kind of man. She thought she should discuss this with Angel. "Did you tell her about him?"

He shook his head, no. "It wouldn't have done any good," he said some things just had to be learned on their own.

If only someone had told her about Andrew, she might have listened. But at the time, he was the most fascinating being she'd ever found and thought he was her future. She knew now she still wanted him to be her future, even if he'd lost some of his luster.

Friday, October 8, 2021

What's a dad to do?

Sal thought he might drop to the floor and weep. What was his daughter trying to tell him? It couldn't be. Not Jared.

He winced hard, he thought he and that kid had an understanding. Angel was off-limits and yet Jared was the one that would make them a family.

Sal was elated yet horrified. Jared would be his son now.

"You two should -," Sal wanted to say the words 'get married' but he didn't want to set her off. Still, he was going to be a grandpa. He staggard back and reached for his cell phone in his back pocket.

"But Pa?" She looked at him that was no way to approach this situation. She knew what he thought. Marriage was always the answer, but then again, they were talking about Jared.

"Just think about it," Sal knew it was enough just to raise Jared, but still he knew it would be the right thing to do. But first, he needed to make a call.

"Who are you calling?" His daughter almost took the phone away from him. Sal only sighed.

"I have to let Fan know the news. At least about..about the baby?" He wanted to know if Angel was certain. Had she had a check-up? Did he need to go with her?

Naturally, Angel rolled her eyes at this. For a beautiful girl, she did have a mean streak. Yes, her mother was a little like that. It always felt things had to be her way or else. But Angel continued in silence as if he should have nothing to do with her personal health.

"I don't want her to have anything to do with this." Angel's voice was stern about Fan. "Jared doesn't need her. He's better off without her. I can't see her being a grandmother. Not my child's grandmother."

Sal winced. Angel was putting him between a rock and hard place. "But.."

"I'm not giving her anything. Don't you dare talk to her."

Sal's eyes open wide. This couldn't be his daughter who he was listening to. What had pregnancy done to her?

He guessed he would let it go. After all, he had his writing to do. Maybe it was good to be alone and just focus on what he wanted plot in the novel he was writing online.. it was something he never told anyone about. It felt good they didn't know that side of him. He was just Dad to her.

He gave her another hug.

"Just be careful." She was still his little girl. She always would be.

Monday, October 4, 2021

In times of the Pandemic


Oh, it hurt to tell her Dad the news, but there were no exceptions this time. Angel knew what she had to do because it was too late to change anything now.

She was moving in with Jared.

"Jared?" Of course, it was news to him. He was off being someone's hero if he wasn't at that bar of his, trying to get things back to normal. "What do you mean?"

Angel wasn't sure he could stand to hear the news without tearing something up. Honestly, she didn't really know him, other than he was set in his ways in spite of being a generous man.

"I love Jared and he loves me..."

"When did that happen?" He was flabergasted to the point of being in a state of shock. His dark eyes kept staring at her as if it were unthinkable. It was as if he'd wanted her to marry a prince or something.

She only laughed.

"Oh, well..we did a lot of things when you weren't here." She kept smiling. "I'm tired of playing hide and seek." After all, she was four months pregnant now. She'd be showing any day. "You're gonna be a grandpa."

It was a thrill to laugh about it now, but then she said. "Don't be upset. I can take care of myself."

But she knew he was sad. He talked of how wrong he'd been most of his life. "I..I hadn't meant to lose you, you know, those years were with your mother's family. I..I just knew.."

Tears came to her eyes. It felt like ancient history now. 

"Look, we're together now. I'll just be next door." She put her arms around him. This was a time to rejoice. Not to be in pain.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

one way or another

 Jared guessed he and his mom were a lot alike in their choices. Except, being with Angel changed things. Evidently. 

Of course, his mother was hard to work for and as of late she was forgetting everything. Even work that was once slow was now picking up after the pandemic. People needed to eat and of course, socialize. They weren't making boxed lunches anymore for senior citizens. 

Still, the two o'clock gig was happening live too. Thank god, the walking exercise class he guided only lasted thirty minutes because there were always dishes to wash and BINGO was from four to six on Friday. He spent more time at the Senior Center than his mom did. Perhaps he was a master of nothing, but it kept him busy, and somehow he managed time for Angel too.

His mother Fan mentioned something about moving to Iowa. Jared told her the drive would be longer. Did she really have to? He knew the only reason why she was dating this new fellow was that he was a friend of her ex-husband's.

"What if that doesn't even work out?" Jared winced, thinking she'd always been this way and they'd let it slide.  Finding a man was like playing a game. "What about Sal?"

"Sal?" She turned to him with a wince. "What about him?"

"He won't be there if you-"

"What?" She gave him a soured look.

"Never mind." He guessed it wouldn't hurt. He could have the apartment all to himself without her. Maybe Angel could move in with him instead of playing this hide and seek game of theirs. After all, he was the trouble maker, but he knew he was nothing like his mother. "Just be careful." Jared carefully sighed. Just as Angel told him, they couldn't be her keeper.