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Dave and Susan begin a beautiful friendship over breakfast.
“Nice to meet you Susan Jill Parker. I’m Dave. Dave Ryan,” he said offering her his big hand.
Seeing her up close, as if seeing her for the first time, he saw her bloodied nose, her split lip, and the discolored, puffy mouse under her eye. His hero, she took as much of a beating as she gave. Those bastards, if they were here now, he’d beat the shit out of them all over again.
With the odds stacked against her, he was just glad that he was there to help her and to save her. No telling what those men would have done to her had he not been there to come to her rescue. Definitely they would have raped her and maybe even murdered her. Always just the tip of the iceberg, just another sad statistic, a homeless woman found dead in an alley, end of story, was no big deal. Most times, no one even claimed the body to identify it.
Buried in an unmarked grave, he couldn’t imagine dying alone without family and friends mourning his death in the way that so many of his buddies died on the battlefield. When he died he wanted to die at home surrounded by all the people in his life. Only, having alienated everyone for the sake of the Marine Corps, he had no one to say good-bye to, to watch him pass, and to wish him well on the other side.
He had no family and no friends. His only family was his sister and her children, but he hasn’t seen them in years, hasn’t even called her since the time that he ran from her house screaming because of the noise her children made. In exchange for his Marine good buddies, he lost all contact with everyone else years ago. Now that he doesn’t drink and party in the way that he used to do, he lost contact with his Marine buddies too.
If he was penniless and homeless, he’d be much like her, alone on the city streets. Only he figured her for having more of a story than that. Definitely with someone as good looking as she is, she had more of a story to tell. Besides her good looks and hot body, there was real intelligence behind those eyes. What he didn’t know but he perceived, there was something in her that attracted him to her. Putting her beauty and body aside, be it her poise or her self-confidence, there was something about her that he liked. Having already seen her naked, he wondered what she’d be like in bed.
“Nice to meet you Dave Ryan,” she said returning his handshake with a smile before taking a big gulp of her coffee and downing the cup. For a homeless woman, she had soft hands and he figured her for a sexy secretary or an anal bookkeeper in her other life. She looked around as if she was looking for someone or something before leaning forward to whisper to him. “Do you think they’ll allow me use the restroom?”
For someone so brave against three men, she was so timid in her request to use the restroom. He could only imagine the verbal abuse she must have been subject to and taken when sneaking in a fast food joint to use their restroom without having the money enough to buy anything.
“Sure. You’re with me, a paying customer. C’mon, I’ll show you where it is,” he said using that as his excuse to help her up when she grimaced from moving and stood with bruised ribs. “It’s right over there. You take your time and do whatever you need to do.”
It was then for the first time in the bright light of the diner that he saw how disheveled her appearance was. Looking as if she had worn them for days and, no doubt, slept in them too, her clothes were dirty, wrinkled, and stained. She looked as if she could use a bath, actually soak in a tub. In a country so rich and in a country that routinely helps the people of other less fortunate countries, he felt sorry for her and angry for her unfortunate situation. Feeling his need to help her, we should take care of our own citizens before reaching out to help the citizens of the world, especially when so many don’t want our help and/or appreciate our help. Giving our money to Pakistan so that they can shelter the Taliban and giving our money to Egypt to watch them burn our flag in the street, is when he’d pull the plug on the gravy train to watch them come crawling and begging the United States of America for help.
Suddenly, he was angry that so many people were unemployed or underemployed. He was angry that we sent all of our manufacturing jobs to Mexico, Japan, Taiwan, India, Brazil, and now China. It’s nonsense that we support China by employing their people with all of our jobs and then have to borrow money from them. When did that happen?
In a country so rich and so productive, everyone who’s able to work and who wants to work should have a job. No one should be wandering the street with no place to sleep. No citizen of the United States, people he risked his life to protect, should go hungry. In the way that the CIA routinely replaces one dictator for another, it’s time we cleared those old, white men out of Washington and replaced them with those who are willing to serve the public and not themselves. Instead of a Republican Party or a Democratic Party, Van Escort just as our forefathers envisioned, we should have one party, the American Party. Not a party for the rich or a party for the poor but a party for everyone.
He watched her walk down the hall and disappear in the ladies room. Nearly as tall as he was, she was tall and he didn’t realize how tall she was, maybe 5’9″, until she stood next to him. Wondering if she was wearing heels, she wasn’t. She was wearing dirty, white tennis shoes. That’s when it hit him. What woman doesn’t have a proper pair of shoes?
Hard not to notice and to be sexually attracted to, he wondered if she didn’t have the body of a porn star, if he’d still have the need to help her and if he’d be sitting here with her now in the diner ready to feed her. Truth be told, obviously, he was just as alone and lonely as she was. Yet, was sex getting in the way of his compassion and commonsense? Was he more interested in fucking her than in helping her?
Living in a dirty, back alley, she was a homeless woman for God sakes. Was he that desperate for a woman that he’s now searching the back alleys of the city for them instead of hooking up with someone on an online dating site or in a bar? Maybe with all the shit that he’s had to deal with in his life, he felt as disconnected as she was. Having been so wrapped up in himself and in the military while fighting the wars of the world, he never had the time or the need for a woman in his life as he had the time for and wanted someone now.
Nonetheless the sudden sexual attraction that he felt for her, he’d like to take her home with him, that is, if she was agreeable to that but he didn’t know how she’d react to his invitation. Not very suave with the ladies, he didn’t even know how to go about asking her without insulting her or offending her. Just because she was homeless doesn’t mean she wasn’t proud. Everyone has pride whether false or real. Yet, if she was to accept his offer of shelter, once there, once alone with her in his house, then what?
He’s never been in a committed relationship. If nothing else, she could shower and he’d take her to buy new clothes tomorrow. Maybe he could take her someplace to get her hair, makeup done, and nails done. His very own version of Pretty Woman, he was curious what was beneath all that dirt and all that bad attitude. Then what? Once he feeds her, shelters her, dresses her, and gets her hair, makeup, and nails done, what happens then? Not being much of a deep thinker, playing it by ear and unable to answer his own question, he didn’t know.
Yet, careful where he thread, maybe she’d think that after saving her from those three men and buying her a hot meal that he was looking for sex and maybe he was. Even though he hadn’t had sex in a while, since before he left the service and visited Bangkok for some much needed rest, recreation, and relaxation, he wasn’t as interested in having sex with her as he was in helping her, or so he convinced himself to believe. Yeah, sure if sex was offered, he wouldn’t refuse but more than that, he was lonely. He was more looking for companionship and conversation than in fucking her and in her sucking him.
It’s sadly funny how the pain of isolation and loneliness can sting more than the searing and piercing bite of a bullet. Having survived three bullet wounds and after receiving 5 Purple Hearts for injuries received in combat, he was a coward when it came to love. He feared starting a relationship that he wasn’t capable of finishing. As if he had been shot in the heart, he was suddenly sad that he never married and had children. It was obvious to him now that he was no longer a Marine, how empty his life was. A life that was the envy of his friends, especially when he showed up wearing his uniform with all of his stripes and medals, he was the one who was envious of them. Having gotten all that he wanted then, they had all that he wished he had now.
“I’m buying,” said Dave walking over to Pete standing behind the kitchen counter window while waiting for Susan to emerge from the restroom. “Whatever she doesn’t eat, she’ll take with her,” he said to Pete before turning his attention to the waitress. “And the next time she comes in for coffee, let her drink it here and don’t embarrass her by saying that she smells.”
“Okay,” said the waitress, “but that wasn’t me Dave. That was Molly. Especially now knowing that she’s your sister and being that it’s been so cold outside, I would have allowed her to drink her coffee inside Dave,” she said with a kind smile.
“Thank you,” he said to her.
“Having been there myself, before I got this job, I know how it is on the street,” she said. “I’ll never forget how cold I was, the coldest I’ve been, while standing around with no place to go and counting down the minutes when waiting for the shelter to open. Standing in line with so many pitiful people, the thing that stuck with me was the indignity of it all and how I wasn’t even able to support one person, myself.”
“Actually, she’s not my sister. Van Escort Bayan She’s my friend,” he said again, this time with a smile. “Thank you,” said Dave handing her twenty dollars.
As if she had taken a bath, Susan emerged from the bathroom twenty minutes later looking like someone else. Instead of dragging her tired ass behind her and instead of having the angry look of Tugboat Annie on her face, she strode from the bathroom as if she owned the place. Her hands and face were spotlessly clean and her hair was pulled back away from her face for Dave to notice that she had big, blue eyes, eyes that he couldn’t stop staring into them. The biggest change in her was in her attitude. She was smiling instead of frowning.
“Wow,” he said. “If I didn’t know we were the only two people here, I’d think you were someone else,” he said with a laugh. “I hardly recognized you. You clean up real good. Actually, you’re very good looking and with the right clothes, your hair done, and some makeup, you’d be stunning,” he said while Roy Orbison’s Pretty Woman played in his head.
“Thank you,” she said blushing, “but with you wanting to redo my wardrobe, my hair, and my makeup, you’re not gay are you?” The waitress poured her more coffee and she laughed with the waitress before taking a big gulp of coffee. “Not that there’s anything wrong with you being gay but–“
“Gay? Me? Hardly. There’s no don’t ask, don’t tell with me. What you see with me is what you get. Even though I’m an ex-Marine, I’m still a Marine. I’ll always be a Marine,” suddenly having the urge to salute her. “I’m all man, a macho man, and if I have a character flaw, it’s sometimes that I’m too much man,” he said taking her all in as if he was smelling and staring at a bouquet of roses.
“I can see that,” she said. “At ease, Marine,” she said with a laugh. “I don’t bite.”
Suddenly, while staring at the menu, they both fell quiet, that is, until Dave tripped all over his feelings, when opening up, something he never does.
“It’s different with you though. For some reason you let out my soft and sensitive side,” he said staring at her. “And I like seeing the other side of me coming out when being with you. It makes me more human than being just a big, bad, ex-Marine.”
“Yeah, well, don’t be crying in my food Midnight Cowboy. This is the first meal that I’ll be eating in a long time that doesn’t have alley dirt in it,” she said laughing.
“If I’m the Midnight Cowboy than you’re my sidekick, Ratso Rizzo,” he said with a laugh.
“Eww. Gross. Gee thanks,” she said laughing too.
“Actually, that was a good movie,” he said. “I’m surprised you remembered it.”
“I’m a huge movie buff. I’ve seen every Hoffman movie and Jon Voight was wonderful in that too. Just wondering,” she said with a teasing laugh, “Did you like Brokeback Mountain too?”
“Okay, enough with the gay jokes. I can assure you that I’m not gay,” said Dave.
In the way she was teasing him with their light hearted repartee, he wouldn’t mind leaning over the table and kissing her to prove that he wasn’t gay. He’d like to kiss her. After saving her, no doubt, saving her life for him, yeah, he’d like kiss her. He wished he could kiss he full, red lips. Only, she’s the one who should kiss him, if only to show her gratitude.
Suddenly, after seeing her naked in the alley, his mind was filled with the image of her without her clothes. He imagined her sitting across from him naked, as naked as she was in the alley. He imagined her wearing something sexy, a bra and panty from Victoria’s Secret. The only real conversation he’s had, if you want to call pillow talk conversations was with women he paid to fuck and suck him. Other than his sister, not knowing what to say or how to act, reminding himself of Clint Eastwood in Heartbreak Highway, when he played Gunnery Sergeant. Tom Highway, he’s really never sat with and talked to a woman while she was wearing clothes.
He remembered her tits, so big, and so full. Never had he seen breasts like that before. She had the most beautiful breasts he’s ever seen and, suddenly feeling horny and feeling a deep sexual attraction for her, he’d love to feel them, see them again, and suck them. Only he feared that his sexual attraction for her would get in the way of helping her. Not being a psychiatrist, he hoped that his attraction to her was more than some convoluted need that stemmed from his childhood in wanting to help her and protect her.
“Speaking of wondering, if you don’t mind me asking, how old are you?” His question was met with a blank stare before she flashed him a soft smile.
“It’s not polite to ask a woman her age and/or her weight.”
“I only asked because you looked so much older in the alley than you do now that you’re all cleaned up and looking so good,” he said with an uncomfortable smile.
“How old do I look?” She sat back in the booth and smiled. When she did that, sat like that, he imagined a photographer taking a family photo of her and her baby after they were Escort Van married.
“Thank you. You’re kind. I just turned 40 on July 26th.”
“Forty, the big four O, you don’t look forty. That must have been hard for you.”
“Not as hard as being homeless and living on the street,” she said with seriousness. “How old are you?”
“How old do I look? No one guesses my age. Everyone is always wrong. They all thing that I’m younger than–“
“Hell no. Most people think I’m forty-five,” he said striking a pose as if waiting for her to take his picture.
“So,” she laughed, “how the Hell old are you then?”
“Oh, well, um, yeah, I can see that now. You don’t look fifty, kind of, not at all, not really, I guess. You fooled me,” she said laughing.
“Very funny,” he said sharing her laugh.
“Well, this is a real unexpected treat with you coming to my rescue and then copping me to a free meal,” she said changing the subject of age to voice her appreciation of his help and a free meal. “It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten like this. I promise, when I get a job that I’ll repay you for–“
“There’s no need to repay me. Pay it forward is all I ask you to do. Just as someone helped me when I was lost thirty years ago, before I joined the Marines and found my true calling, give a helping hand to someone else one day. You helping someone else will be my repayment and my reward.”
“So, what are you hungry to eat?” Even though he’s been there a hundred times before and even though he orders the same thing every day, apple pie with ice cream and coffee, he opened the menu and stared at it as if seeing it for the first time.
“Well, to be honest, I miss having breakfast. Most days all I can afford is a cup of coffee and sometimes a stale muffin. After walking by this diner in the morning and smelling the pancakes and sausages cooking on the grille, I’ve been dreaming about pancakes and sausages for weeks.”
“Well, think of me as your genie,” he said with a laugh. “Your wish is my command,” he said folding his arms across his body. “If it’s flapjacks and sausages you want then pancakes and sausages you shall have.”
Ready to take their order, the waitress approached the table again with pen and pad in hand.
“We’ll start off with two orders of pancakes with a double side order of sausages,” said Dave to the waitress.
“Oh and can I’ll have an omelet with hash browns, toast, and orange juice on the side?” As if asking his permission, Susan looked Dave before looking to waitress.
“Yeah, whatever you want. That’s good,” said Dave. “I’m going to fatten you up,” he said with a laugh after the waitress left. “You’re too skinny.”
“Don’t worry. Whatever I weight I gain goes to my tits,” she said. “I was a D cup before losing fifteen pounds that I couldn’t afford to lose. I’ve always been 130 pounds but weighed only 115, the last time I checked. I may even be less now that I haven’t eaten all day or yesterday, I think.” She looked at him and smiled. “Thank you in advance for giving me my tits back.”
“You’re welcome Honey but,” he liked calling her Honey and by the obvious smile on her face, she liked him calling her Honey too. “You still have tits, big tits, from what I saw of you in the alley.”
“God, that was so embarrassing,” she said putting her head down and covering her eyes with her hand as if trying to erase the memory. “You saw too much of me,” she said with a an embarrassed laugh. “You saw all of me. You saw what I’d never show until a fourth or fifth date.”
“The light was dim in the alley. I hardly saw anything of you,” he said lying when he saw all of her, a sexy sight that burnt an indelible impression of her nakedness in his mind. He looked out the window when someone caught his attention. “Look,” he said peering out the window and directing Susan to look where he pointed with his finger. “There’s those three men,” he said with a laugh. “And they’re coming in here.”
“Oh, no they’re not. Please don’t let them hurt me again,” she said picking up the knife from the table and holding it at the ready to defend herself.
“Don’t worry. I’ll take care of it,” said Dave getting out of the booth and walking to the door to meet them as if he was a bouncer.
“Let’s go in here,” said the little man to the other two. As soon as he reached for the door, Dave was there waiting for him.
“The diner if full. Go somewhere else.”
Immediately they retreated. By the looks on their faces, no doubt never expecting to see him again, especially so soon, they were afraid. With the smallest man helping the biggest man to walk and the third man limping behind as if he was drunk or elderly, the three, beaten victims made their way down the street before a police car slowed, pulled over, and stopped them. Calling for backup, two more police cars flew in from the opposite direction. Too injured to run, they threw their hands up in the air before getting down on the ground and the police took them in custody. Dave figured that someone must have made the call. Who knows, they may have been on a crime spree and maybe they had attacked someone else before attacking Susan.
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