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Episode 06 is approximately 7,482 words.
This time, we find Jim Rawlings with deepening anxieties and seeking renewed support for his PTSD issues post-Vietnam. Those struggles are compounded by his tenuous relationship with the twins and his boss’ daughter’s infatuation with him. The secret the twins are keeping from Jim is exposed as is a major life changing event for this Ex-GI.
There is some renewed sexual activity between Carmen and Jim, and Rachel and Jim, all adults in this continuing story of a former GI struggling to return to civilian life.
Thanks to those of you who, very kindly, asked for this storyline to continue. I’ve extended it to bring a number of loose ends together as also suggested by a reader. I hope this episode measures up to your kind remarks concerning my writings.
There is a time of day, when I look out my office window, I can see my reflection peering back at me. It’s a bit eerie watching yourself in a window. You can see right through your image to the other side of the world, not at all like looking in a mirror. Mirrors show everything: the blemishes, the misshaped eyebrows and wavy dark hair, the slightly noticeable dip of one ear being lower that the other, and those light blue eyes that the girls seem to like. The reflection in a window doesn’t show those things; it just shows the shadowy elements: the past, the anger, the fears, and worst of all is the longing for something that you cannot put your finger on.
I had spent too much idle time staring out at the vacant park, peering through the frost glistening outside my office window. Eight inches had blanketed the city and my second winter was officially inscribed in the high banks by the winds as they dusted the park with the latest heavy snowfall. The park benches had dawned pristine, white snow caps. The shivering, naked trees had snow mounds built up in their icy crotches. My own crotch had grown a bit icy, too more from neglect than from cold. It had been nearly two months since Gabby and I had a ‘falling out’ I guess you would call it. I hadn’t heard from Gabriella or her twin sister Carmen since that strange afternoon. The thrill of cuddling under the covers in the big brass bed had turned into bedlam, and amidst it, she was awash with tears in under five minutes. What the fuck happened, is beyond me. I had left her sobbing and for the life of me, I had no idea why the water faucets were running so furiously.
All I knew now was that my crotch wasn’t getting warmed and seemed to be as icy as the ones naked in the wind, across the street. The next day, I had called and left messages on their recorder. After the fifth day of calling twice a day, I stopped leaving messages; after the tenth day – I stopped calling. I could take a hint, after all I’m not stupid.
The thought of driving over and engaging in a war of words crossed my mind. But from my past experiences, my wars seemed to escalate and end in someone getting hurt or a melt-down on my part. So I quickly parked the thought of going over to their home and getting an explanation. Better, I thought, let them make the first move. It seemed to be a long time coming – a month would be long overdue – it was almost two, now.
The sounds of metal on pavement jarred my stupor and I looked up to see the Martinez’ Snow Services truck starting to make its rounds through the front parking lot. The laughter of our first Christmas and the early New Year’s celebratory sex with Gabby and Carmen floated through my mind as I watched the snowplow make its deft rounds. Which one was at the wheel? Carmen.
By some miracle, I had begun to distinguish them apart even from a distance. It had more to do with their mannerisms than appearance. When close up it was still difficult to identify them by countenance, but when they smiled; it was a cake walk to identify them. Where you saw one, you almost always saw the other. Except today, Carmen was alone in the truck as it made the last sweep and headed out for its next destination. Where is Gabby? She should be riding shotgun, watching out for traffic and parked cars as the big snow rig made a path through the lots. Why isn’t she in there with Carmen?
Still engrossed in watching the truck wheel out of the parking lot, I heard the staccato sound of high heels on the terrazzo finished floors out in the OPS meeting space. For a few moments, I lost track of time as the heels stopped, waiting to be acknowledged. Mentally, I was elsewhere having failed to recognize the long pregnant pause of silence as it filled the room. Then the melodious voice, carried in by the high heels, cleared its throat.
“Penny for your thoughts,” the boisterous sound rolled off Sally’s tongue. That came out loudly, shaking me from my revery of watching the snowplow disappear. My mouth engaged before my brain did.
“For two pennies, I’d like …” I started to respond, but clipped the thought catching myself before I could finish with, “… crawl between the sheets with you to get warm!” My frosty escort sincan crotch was speaking for me and it wanted something for itself, I guess. Fortunately, my brain engaged before the errant thought slipped through my lips.
“… to get a cup of coffee with you, or maybe take you out to an early lunch,” I managed to segue into a new train of thought just in the nick of time. I saw her face light up like a Christmas tree. It was the closest thing to a first date offer I had ever made to her. I had adhered to that unspoken warning from her father’s admonishment when she first called me ‘Jimmy’ in front of Worthington nearly six months ago. With no idea of what had transpired between the girls and I, maybe it was time to move on. Perhaps, the buxom Miss Sally might …
I grabbed my topcoat and we stopped in HR to get Sally’s coat on the way out the front door. Although the diner is nearly two blocks away, we decided to walk rather than hassle with trying to drive through the influx of pedestrians and find a place to park nearby. The diner was already packed when we walked in. The usual lunch crowd had to scuffle for seats with the influx of downtown holiday shoppers. There was just one table, with a lone occupant that had a couple of empty chairs. My face changed from the angst of being in a crowded space to the drawn look one gets when facing an unknown sniper firing down on you from a high ridge. The sole occupant was wearing a scarlet choker. Sally spotted her a second after I did and waved. Carmen stood and waved back to greet Sally. ‘No fucking way this was happening in a crowded diner,’ I swore to myself, but there she was, wrapping her arms around Carmen for a holiday hug.
“Nice to see you again, James,” Carmen nodded with a charming smile; although her terse voice betrayed that smile.
“Nice to see you also. I watched you plowing the lot this morning,” I said, “but I didn’t see your sister. How is she?” I asked, as I felt the pensiveness increasing in my voice.
“Getting better,” Carmen answered as she motioned for Sally and I to join her. It was the civil thing to do – given that all the seats were taken at the other tables.
“Oh?” Sally chirped, “Has she got the bug? And, forgive me, which one are you, again?”
“More or less,” came a vague answer from across the table. From her reply, I gleaned that Gabby was still pissed at me for some unfathomable reason. And from the frosty smile across the table, so was Carmen for the same unfathomable reason; it seemed.
“It’s Carmen,” I answered Sally’s second question. The smile on Sally’s face dimmed momentarily as she seemed to be having trouble trying to figure out how I knew which twin was present. But in the din of the diner, the thought slipped out of Sally’s mind and she let it go.
Lunch talk was general banter about work and holidays. Then it turned to Carmen telling her she was signing up for nursing classes at the local community college. The latter came as a surprise to me. She had not spoken about a change in work situations before. It had me thinking about the seemingly sudden change since … well since about the time we stopped talking.
Sally excused herself – a restroom trip she twitted as she tried to make her way down the hallway through the standing room only crowd. I was left face-to-face with Carmen. There was so much I wanted to say all at once that I choked on the words as they all tried to crawl out of my mouth at the same time. I hoped all the bathroom stalls were full – there was so much I wanted to ask.
“What happened?” was all I could get out. The noise in the diner seemed to fade away as I focused on Carmen for a response.
Her words came in measured clips, “You happened, Jimmy, you, and Gabby happened,” she answered, pushing her plate to the center of the table.
“What the fuck does that mean?” I practically shouted. Heads turned our way as I tried to rein it in. I still was at a loss, but sure didn’t want to fly off the handle again. I could feel the tension tightening in my jaw as my teeth clinched. Perhaps she saw the flair in my eyes as well, because she reached out across the table and took hold of my hand. The soft touch of her hand helped to settle the flair up.
“For a guy with two college degrees, Jimmy, you sure seem to be as dumb as a box of rocks. Haven’t you figured out why Gabby had been having those ‘alone times’ with you, dufass? Is it really because she just ‘likes’ you? And you just seem to ‘like’ being with her more than me?” Her grip on my hand tightened as she asked her last question before retracting her arms.
“Carmen,” I stammered as the words boiled out in anger, “You know how damned hard it is for me to say how I feel inside. I’ve got so much damage, so much hurt, I can’t think straight sometimes. I honestly don’t know how I feel inside. Tell me! What the fuck was I supposed to say?” The last words raised a few eyebrows from a number of tables and I could sense concern growing among them.
“Sorry!” was all I could get ankara escort out, by way of an apology, as I tried to get a grip on my language. Gradually, the general buzz returned around us. I could feel my lips pursing right at the point of a military cascade of ‘Fuck’n expletives’ about to unload.
“Sugar,” she smiled bemusedly, “I can tell you right now that the words ‘l like you.’ wasn’t what Gabby wanted to hear come out of your mouth in that brass bed.”
“Until you figure out what’s going on inside your head – or whatever that bullet tore out of your chest – I suggest you take some time and stop pounding sand in that knothole-head of yours. You better add more words than ‘like’ to your damned vocabulary!” she hissed in a quiet undertone just loud enough for me to hear. It was a low voice level I could not complete with.
‘What the fuck other words were there?’ I struggled to make sense of Carmen’s still abstruse remark. It wasn’t until I caught sight of Sally making her way back through the crowd that the incoming howitzer round impacted within my skull. Horvath and Shadak had once told me that the luckiest mother-fucker on the battlefield was the one directly under the incoming howitzer round; apparently that fucker couldn’t hear the whistling sound of his imminent death coming and would die blissfully unaware of the explosion. How the fuck they knew that I didn’t know, but I was naïve, and young, and drunk when they told me that tidbit of Army knowledge. Only now did I begin to comprehend what they meant, what Carmen meant, – what Gabby wanted to hear.
I never saw the incoming round as it landed on Gabby’s brass bed.
I watched as Sally’s lithe frame began to weave its way back across the room. She was attractive, smart in her own way, and, yes would easily turn lascivious heads as a routine matter of course, but her sensuality doesn’t have the same attraction as Gabby’s appeal to me. Some other form of chemistry or mind-blowing explosion was operating on a much different level. My skin began to blanch, more pallid than any shock from trauma than I had ever experienced, as the meaning of Carmen’s words hit me. The lurch in my chest was sharper than being forced to watch my fingers being severed, watching my hand being smashed with a rifle butt. I had to get out of the diner – an incoming panic attack was zeroing in on my coordinates.
When my head began to clear, I became aware of sitting on a freezing park bench. I wasn’t dressed in snow gear, just a topcoat and bare headed. Looking up, I spotted Gabby striding across the park as fast as her short legs could carry her until she sat by my side. She entwined her arms with mine. She had that look of a worried mother hen.
“Sally?” I managed to ask.
“She didn’t see you run out, Jimmy. I told her you had forgotten an appointment and had to hurry out. She seemed doubtful, but I think she bought it; at least for now.”
“What happened, Jimmy?”
“Shit, happened! I told you I have trouble dealing with situations,” I muttered, “You found me once, collapsed on the sidewalk and you know how that turned out.”
“So, what triggered your reaction this time?” She asked, as she pulled a stocking hat out of her coat and stuffed it over my bare head.
“I think I got what you said about pounding sand into my knot-hole head. I know a lot of four-letter words. The one I think I’ve been keeping out of my vocabulary is the one Gabby is hoping to hear.” I couldn’t manage to get out the four-letter word as I started to shake uncontrollably. It was the cold, not the panic causing the shivering this time.
“Let’s get you back to your apartment, Jimmy. My truck is over by the park gate. Can you make it that far or should I come and get you? On second thought, come on! Let’s walk to the truck.”
Crawling up into the cab shielded us from the frosty winds it was even better as the engine roared to life and the warm air blasted beneath my feet. Even though the drive was short, the heat helped abate the shivering that racked my body. The big plow swung into the lot amidst a number of construction trucks and parked in front of my unit. Carmen took the keys from my chilled fingers and opened the door.
I dropped my coat by the table and flopped on the couch as Carmen looked around, taking in her first view of my relocation in the remodel project. “Nice.” That’s all she said as she began to shed her snow gear. She continued disrobing until she was only left wearing the spectacular crimson choker I had given her last New Year’s. Her eyes had been fixated on mine the entire time. I watched the scene play out before my eyes as though it was a scene from two months ago. A scene in which I would normally be wearing a broad smile and the affect would have been a rise of adrenaline and blood coursing through my groin. But this afternoon the wonderfully appointed body wasn’t have that effect on me. I found myself wondering whether my cock would behave differently if this petite pixie were her twin, wearing a royal blue choker.
Carmen etimesgut escort bayan poured two cups of coffee and came to sit beside me. Silently, I watched the steam roll upward from the black liquid. Offering up its warmth, as my cold hands caressed its warm curves. Just as warm, Carmen’s soft cheeks came to rest upon my shoulder. She felt so good. The flow of her curves against my ribs was like a healing balm transferring its warmth into my body. Its effect was easing some pain like a triple shot of tequila does when demons are stalking you.
“So …” my new psych evaluator began her interrogation. “Now that you have figured out that new four-letter word, how are you feeling about it; what are you going to do about it, Jimmy?”
“Fuck,” I responded, “I just now got it and you want an instant answer! You’re not much of a goddamned analyst Carmen. And being butt-assed naked isn’t helping me figure it out, you know!” I tried to stall for time with a half-hearted wisecrack.
“I’ve got all day,” came Carmen’s response, so much like the Major’s answers; sans the nakedness. “besides, my being naked has nothing to do with the other four-letter word that you and I both need before I leave.”
“Fuck … is that word, Carmen. It’s been in my vocabulary forever. Just not the other one, certainly not in any of the places I stayed when I was kid. I was just a solitary child floating through the protective services system until the Army took me in. How am I supposed to know what Gabby expected me to say?”
“I told Gabby that she makes me … made me happy; that I liked being with her. She just blew up and I couldn’t handle the sobbing so I got out of there. I didn’t know what else to do. Shouldn’t that count for something? It seemed to be fine up to that afternoon!” Both of Carmen’s diminutive hands grasped my face and then she planted a soft kiss on my forehead, before releasing her firm grasp on my cheeks. Her nipples grazed my chin in the process. She rocked back on her hunches and folded into the corner of the couch, wrapping her arms around her knees.
“Jimmy, if one day you find yourself with a substitute for ‘I like her.’ – go to her – tell her in person. My mama used to tell us that most people never realize when it hits them. It just seems to take over their minds and all their thoughts start revolving around thinking about the other person. Is that where you are, Jimmy?”
With those last words, Carmen took the mug from my hands and pulled me up from the couch. I didn’t fight against her moves. She seemed to need this as much as I did. The touch of her lips pressing into mine were so soft, so gentle it felt like Gabby pressing into me, stoking my desires, helping me to smooth away the discord in our lives. Despite my trepidation I found myself pulling Carmen against my swelling cock. Our bodies became embroiled. In those moments, it was Gabby that rolled over on top of my body. It was Gabby’s slick sheen that covered me as she slipped her wet slit over my cockhead and churned up and down my shaft; Gabby that moaned, pleading urgently for me to make her come. Gabby, Gabby … Gabriella.
My eyes closed and I found myself standing in the middle of a battlefield, looking up, like Horvath and Shadak said, watching howitzer rounds landing all around me. But I never saw the one raining down upon my own head, until now.
In the post-coital cool down, Carmen held me close, whispering, “Don’t take too long to decide, Jimmy. She won’t wait very long for you to make up your mind.”
I lay in bed as Carmen dressed and let herself out. I felt empty, perhaps as Gabby felt when I tried to tell her how I felt about her – but just could not find the right words or right four-letter word. It was a simple one, not difficult to pronounce, not one that caused shock to the faces around you; just one that mattered most. It escaped me when I needed it the most. Even now, as l lay here, I’m not sure I can say it and mean it.
Picking up the phone, I called and asked for Sally. ‘No more state-of-denial shit’ I decided as the call was transferred to her line. When she answered, I fought to get my words out.
“Sally, I didn’t have a client meeting this afternoon,” I said as soon as she picked up, even before she said hello.
“I figured that, Mr. Rawlings, when I saw the two of you in the park holding hands,” she replied in a business tone – stated just as a matter of fact.
“Sally, Carmen came to find me after I ran out of the diner. I was having a panic attack and couldn’t handle what was going on inside. Carmen and Gabby found me last winter in a similar situation and came to my aide. That’s what she did again, today.”
I spoke as calmly as I could trying to assure her what she saw … was not what she thought she was seeing. At least at that time it wasn’t. The old Army intelligence lines of operations were blurring again as I tried to separate truth from the other military version of truth. At this point it didn’t matter if she accepted or rejected the truth. What did matter was my forthrightness and openness with her about my panic attack. The conversation, that had started off curtly, ended with what sounded almost like tears dripping onto the receiver as I asked her to transfer my call to her dad.
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