These characters are Craig Bartlett's,
though I'm not sure he would approve of this.
Rated PG-13 for adult content and language. Lemme know whatcha think!
So intend was Rhonda Wellington-Lloyde on escaping the rain, that she only noticed the car with it's second horn blast. Shivering, uncertain, she looked into the open passenger side window. "Girl, are you nuts! Get in the car before you catch your death!" said the warm, welcoming voice of her old friend Gerald Johansson.
Safely within the car, she took a moment to collect herself. Gerald's car was a sleak, preditory mid-70's Corvette Stingray, two tone colored and spotlessly clean. With it's black and silver finish, it easily lived up to it's progenitor's name, the Mako Shark. He reved the engine and merged quickly into the busy evening traffic.
"What in God's name are you doing out in so much weather will so little on?" he asked in mock indignition.
She was clad only in light slacks, and lacey tanktop over which she'd pulled a dress shirt. Shivering she offered no retort.
With little fanfare, he cranked the heater and ask, "Take you home?"
Her silence was a thin defence against his curiosity. Okay.
"Any place you need to be?" Again nothing.
Alright, third times the charm. "Is there any place you like to go, then?" he asked with a little more force.
"Could we get something to eat, please?" she said in a voice like gossamer. He smiled. Finally.
"As you wish my queen." he smiled, but was rewarded with a scowl from his new charge.
He had returned the year before.
Transfering from the home office in St. Louis, back to his childhood stomping ground proved no small task, but he'd managed through, guile, cunning, and a few well placed gratuities.
His victory however, was shortlived.
The dandelion of his youth had been blown to the four winds, and little of his childhood remained. Of his friends, Arnold and Helga remained in town, now happily married, Phoebe lived in Japan for the time being, awaited by her fiance Ron Tatum III. Sheena and Nadine had gone to southwestern universities to continue their studies to become naturalists, while Stinky Peterson was now a fixture on ESPN2.
And of course Rhonda.
Her glory years of high school behind her, she live in the dreamy, floting world of society divas. Parties and charities filled her nights, idle leisure her days.
She had seemed genuinly delighted to see him again. He settled into a comfortable routine of being a fixture at her parties, both glad of the familiar face back in their lives. Upon reflection, their friendship was stronger now than at any time in their school days.
Another loooooong sip of her drink, then she continued, " So then he says, 'Not with MY money you aren't, young lady!', and so I jumped out of the car and ran til you found me."
Gerald looked stymied.
"And your dad didn't even try to LOOK for you? Man, that's cold!" he said, helping himself to one of her buffalo wings.
She shruged, "Usually he waits about a hour then rings me on the cell, and comes to pick me up."
"Only this time I forgot my bag."
Gerald let loose a laugh.
"I would have LOVED to see the look on his face when your phone rang in his back seat! Su-weet!"
Rhonda smiled at his mirth.
"Well, I wish I could take credit for that but I just plain forgot it... not that I'll admit that to daddy." she grinned.
He loved the stories of her life. Sordid and sometimes bawdy, she was like an Edo period cortessan with her castle intrigues and tales. Elegant and regal, she was uncomfortable in her station, he knew that well enough from their many conversations. Often, she'd call his cell, for a comforter, a confesser, or just to shoot the breeze. He suddenly saw a closeness to her that had never been appearant to him before. He had always seen himself in her'chum' catagory, but now... was he more to her?
He shook himself. Never run into a situation heart first.
"Hey baby, I never asked, why didn't you go to college like everyone else?" he asked, trying to distrtact himself more than anything.
He watched as all joy drained from her mood. Self-conciously she answered, "Why bother? The women of the Wellington-Lloydes are expected to marry a stranger whose money came over with the Mayflower. College would merely be an extravigant addition to my pedigree; another line on my breeding papers..." She took an EXTRA long sip of her drink for emphasis.
Gerald was off balanse. He hadn't expected to stick his leg into SUCH a verbal beartrap with so banal a question. His analogy to a cortessan seemed more cruely accurate now.
"The clock is ticking on my own walk down the aisle into wedded bliss and social alcohalism."
He looked deep into her eyes and tried to share her sadness.
He could amost see the Sword of Damocles above her.
With an exagerated jovial tone he said, "Baby, never let it be said that Gerald Johansson ever missed an oppertunity to fuck with your old man. What's say we make a long evening of this and REALLY make him sweat!"
Her face brightened at his impish suggestion and the vitality of the evening seemed renewed. Rather than rush things, Rhonda was content to dally at the restraunt over dessert and coffee, then they were off to go club hopping. Gerald marveled at the woman beside him. So different than the aloof, meddlesome, diva of their gradeschool days. So much of their preception of her was wrong.
Where they saw a controller, they failed to see the hands pushing her into social situations for which she had no heart. As she grew, she more and more began to loathe the world of her parents; a cold merciless realm of power and control without check.
Elites, but to what end? For what purpose? The parties throughout highschool were her mother's doing, Rhonda merely the titular hostess.
Spheres of influence, she said. Everyone should always owe you something, great or small. Political capital to be saved and invested.
To her, only junk bonds.
At 12:30 AM, his Stingray slid into the parking circle of her country house and purred as it awaited it's charge to disembark. Slowly, she turned to look at him one last time this morning.
Leaning forward she pressed against his shoulder and whispered, "Thank you, Gerald. This night twas the Black Knight who saved the damsel fair."
He looked into her eyes, searching for... what exactly? Understanding?
As the moment turned awkward, she reluctantly withdrew to her side of his mighty steed, and smiled, "Is it okay if I call you tomorrow?"
When had she ever ask to call him before? He laid his hand on hers and with a wink said, "Anytime, anywhere. At your service Lady Fair!"
Giggling at his jingle, she waited again, but this pause too bore no fruit.
Exiting the car, she took one last look back at him, then made the slow trudge towards the evenings consiquences...
Good as her word, Rhonda called Gerald the next day.
She called at 8:35 AM as he sat in traffic to thank him for the best evening she'd had in a long time. She went over every detail with him, which surprised him, seeing as he was there too and knew the story.
She called at 10:12 AM as he finished a meeting with his team in Logistics and Materials Management on the inexplicable parts shortages they'd suffered. She was honey sweet as she recounted several amusing anecdotes from the sixth grade and hinted to a certain 'almost happening' between them during a fieldtrip their class too to the state capital. Laughing, he dimly recalled the incident but not the importance she applied to it.
She called at 1:40 PM to he how his day was going. Fine. Okay, well I was just checking. I'll talk to you later. Bye.
She called at 4:45 PM as he was closing up his office. Laughing, he told her how glad he was to hear from her, and meant it. Making his way through building security, they chatted and he toyed with the idea of getting together with her this evening. As he entered the parking garage, he attempted to edge the conversation to a graceful conclusion. As he rounded the corner, he saw...
Rhonda sitting on the hood of his Corvette, talking on her cell phone. In his ear, he heard her say, "Oops, gotta go. My ride's here. Bye!".
Putting away her phone, she stood and watched his approach with a shit eating grin.
Helga looked down at the fragments before her and wondered at what point had this ceased to be food. Firing up her laptop and compared three different recipes for this dish, and tried to puzzle out what went wrong. Grime-caked but smiling, Arnold wandered into the kitchen to wash his hands, but little else.
He'd taken the day off to give the Mustang a tune-up and was pleased with the results. Kissing the one clean spot on his cheek, she said, "You suppose Gerald'd be put out if I DIDN'T cook tonight? I just can't get this to work..." As if on cue, a knock came at the front door, and Arnold ushered in Gerald and... Rhonda!
Fist to fist, thumbs waggling, the boys cried, "ssssssSSSSOP, BITCH!" in unisen, as Helga and Rhonda hugged and squeeled. Retiring to the den, the girls sat down to chat as Arnold and Gerald scuttled out to the garage to check out the ride.
Helga sat amazed looking at her old peer. This was not the Rhonda done up like Queen Amadalia that she so frequently paid tridute to during her high school days.
This was a soft, basic Rhonda with the sort of unblemished, natural prettiness the Revlon works so hard to suppress. Sans cosmetics, her face had a gentle curve to it and soft radiance. She dressed the part as well, in nondescript jeans and black velvet tanktop that showed off her ample bosum to good effect. In less charitable times, Helga might have questioned their authentisity, but the notion seemed churlish now.
She hadn't laid eyes on Rhonda in better than a year and was anxious to catch up with her latest doings, but the redoutable Ms. Welington-Lloyde only wanted to talk about Gerald...
As Gerald finished his story, Arnold looked at him with what could only be described as mild contempt.
"Did transfer out to 'Bonehead Politechnic' out in St.Louis? Why are you being so dense?" fixing Gerald with a look.
"What ARE you on about, man? I just think I'm getting mixed signals, that's all. No need to rush into anything. Besides, let's be honest, how far do you REALLY think a relationship with Rhonda could go, eh? I wouldn't put myself at the top of the potential son-in-law raffle." Said Gerald with a smile.
"Oh, I see. They're such racists that you've been a fixture at their house and invited to every social function in the last year. That makes perfect sense..." snapped Arnold.
"Brother, there's a big difference between knowing which fork to use, and fathering the next batch of grandkids."
"But, if you took the time to make the case... Sitting on your thumbs isn't doing either of you any good." Arnold added amost as an afterthought.
Sighing, he looked at Gerald, "Well, come on, lemme get cleaned up and we'll grab some dinner..."
As Rhonda and Gerald played the cutsy-poo couple in the den, Helga asked for Arnold's help in the kitchen. Once away from their guests, they compared notes.
"She's stupid in love with him." Helga smirked
"He's terrified she's too good for him." said Arnold rolling his eyes.
They looked at each other the way only close couples can, and wordlessly settled on a plan.
"I better get cleaned up first," said Arnold, but made no move to leave.
Finally, Helga sighed,"Oh for... We have company, go shower alone."
Arnold let slip a tiny whine, but complied.
Presently, the two couples were ready to go, but as they were headed towards the garage Helga remembered a small chore.
"Oh, crap. I need to get those clothes for Goodwill in the trunk when you pull the car out. Baby, you moved the car, and Gerald, could grab this box for me?" Asked Helga angelicly.
As Gerald hefted the box, Helga spoke softly and quickly, "Guy, you are her entire world. She wants you so bad she can't see straight, but she wants you to make the first move." Gerald looked stunned as Helga gave him a conspiritorial wink.
In the car, Arnold repeated the performace for Rhonda. "You haunt his every waking moment, but he's afraid you're too good for him. He'll love you forever, but you'll need to make the first move." and he gave her a wink and thumbs up.
Lame pretext safely stowed in the trunk, the couples settled into the Mustang for a night out. In the back seat, Gerald and Rhonda smiled lovingly at each other, but for different reasons. In the front seat, Arnold and Helga smiled at each other for the same reason.
Dinner and clubbing went perfectly, and all promised to repeat the fun the following evening.
Settling Rhonda into the Corvette, Gerald looked to her, but was cut off before he could speak.
"If you think we're going ANYWHERE other than straight back to your apartment, you are SADLY mistaken mister."
She had spoken, as fact. This was an immutable law of the universe, like gravity or how unfunny Carrot Top was.
Smiling, he fired up the engine and said,"Yeeeeeeessss, MA'AM!"
In the back seat of her father's car, her cell phone wailed for attention.