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***** “Right Here Waiting”, written by Richard Marx. Performed by Richard Marx, ‘Repeat Offender”, 1989.
You would think mailing a package would be easy. After all, it wasn’t like I was a little kid, and I was doing it for the first time. I’d done it more times than I could remember. But as I walked into the post office with my neatly prepared parcel, I was suddenly fear stricken. It was the same exact feeling in my gut that I’d gotten the first time I’d ever walked into a convenience store as a teenager and asked the woman behind the counter for a copy of Penthouse.
Marlin, Ann’s father, stood behind the counter, waiting on someone that was trying to mail a package that wasn’t up to postal standards. I admired his patience as he took it from her and redid the wrapping, and then filled out new address information so that it could be mailed and actually make it to it’s destination. It was the kind of personal customer service that you wouldn’t see outside of a small town. I couldn’t imagine having a postal worker doing that in, say, Fort Wayne.
But as I stood three deep in line, I wondered if I wasn’t better off driving there to find out. What if the post office had some newfangled x-ray machine that could see through what I was about to mail through the system? I suddenly thought that it was a mistake wrapping the package in plain brown paper, thinking it might tip off some overzealous postal inspector as to the type of pictures that I’d enclosed inside. Brown paper practically screams that X-rated material is inside, doesn’t it?
I’d had a chance to compose myself a little before I made it to the front of the line. Watching Marlin work with the various people that were in line before me helped. He really was good, and made what seemed like a mundane encounter very personal for the people he waited on. I could see where Ann got some of her personality from, and it was easy to understand why she was so good at her job. I was sure it was a trait she shared with her father, the whole customer service aspect of dealing with the public.
“Well, hello there young man! It’s great to see you,” Marlin said, finally able to turn his attention towards me.
“Hi Mr. Franklin. It’s great to see you too.”
“Neil, for the hundredth time…its Marlin. I’m not going to be one of those fathers in law that you need to be afraid of. Okay?”
“Sorry Sir. It’s a force of habit. Just how I was raised, I guess…I’m always thinking that my Dad is nearby, and what he’d say if I didn’t…you know…show respect.”
“Well, there’s nothing wrong with that. But I’ve given you permission, so you don’t have to worry. And I’m sure your Dad would understand under the circumstances.”
“Yes Sir,” I said, and Marlin raised an eyebrow, giving me a sly grin. “Okay, Marlin,” I answered a second time.
“That’s better. Now, what can I do ya for?”
I handed him the box of pictures. I had separated out all the ones we’d taken, making sure to make a pile to take to Tina. I took the time to write a number on the back of the ones I was sending Ann, and I wrote down a description for each number on a piece of paper to use when I would talk to Ann in the future. I also kept some photos for myself, to use to help prompt me. I put the pictures into numbered envelopes that corresponded with descriptions of events on my cheat sheet, so that I could tell Ann to pull out a certain envelope and we could use the contents to have some fun.
I wanted to draw out the adventure of opening the envelopes. Since we had six weeks of time to fill before we’d be together, I didn’t want to hurry and use them all up in one phone call. Thinking about how Ann had worked so hard to set up the adventure for me, I wanted to return the favor.
I also had packet of pictures that Tina had taken of the area we’d visited. I wanted Ann to look at them right away to see what it was like out in West Virginia, and help her make up her mind if it might be a place she’d want to live. I’d lived out East before, so I had a pretty good idea of what I would be getting into. But for Ann, I was sure it would be a major change. Since I had no idea of when an actual job offer might come, if at all, I wanted her to have as much time to think about it as I could give her.
I took all of the envelopes with me to work on Tuesday, and created a little X-rated care package. I had worked at the mail table at the plant when I first started working there after college, so I was able to go over during my morning break and wrap it up and get it ready to go. But I didn’t want to mail it out from there. Instead, I decided to take it to the post office during lunch. It wouldn’t have been a problem to ship it from work, but I just felt better about getting it out of the plant and on its way.
“I see she finally gave you her address, at least at work. Did she give you her phone numbers too?” he asked.
I was a little surprised Marlin knew Ann had kept it from me, but I couldn’t help but smile. “Yeah…she gave me all of her information. I guess casino oyna that means she’s going to keep me.”
“I don’t think there was ever any doubt about that, Neil,” he said with a chuckle, “So, what are you sending my daughter?”
I swallowed hard, but held my composure. “Some pictures of my trip from the weekend. I took some so that she’d have an idea of what the area looks like, and what it has to offer.”
“Wow…that’s a great idea. I’ve been kind of worried she’d go in sight unseen. At least now she’ll have a little info to go on. What do you think the odds are you’ll get the job?”
I looked over my shoulders to make sure I was alone, and Marlin got quiet. “Sorry son…I forgot. You know, why don’t we talk about this over fishing? Is there a night this week you can get away after work?”
I gave him a big smile. I really did like Jean and Marlin…I knew they were different people now than the ones Ann grew up with, and I got along with them great. “Thursday’s good,” I answered.
“Perfect…I get off early on Thursday’s! We’ll go and then we’ll come back to the house and fry em up. I’ll tell Jean you’re coming over.”
I thanked him for the gesture, but I had to get going. I was due back to work, and I didn’t want to be late. “When do you think these will get to Ann?”
“When do you want them there?” he asked.
“I dunno. I guess I’d like her to have them by Friday?” I said, sounding more like a question.
“No problem. I’ll have them there by then, if not before.” I pulled out my wallet, and Marlin waved me off. “It’s on me, Neil. See you Thursday. Stop by the house around 4 and we’ll head out to a nice lake I know of.”
I thanked him and made my way back to the car. As I started the engine, I smiled. I could remember being worried at one point that doing something like fishing Marlin, or having dinner with him and Jean, would only depress me because it would only remind me of Ann. As I drove to work, I found myself looking forward to it for that very reason…because it would remind me of Ann.
It was a short trip back to the plant from the post office. And yet, it seemed to take longer than normal. Maybe that was because I was taking back streets, and I never went fast enough to get my car out of third gear. It wasn’t because of traffic. There was hardly ever traffic in the tiny blip of a town I lived in. I was letting the melody of the song playing on my stereo move me, and that meant I was driving slower than normal for me.
‘Oceans apart, day after day, and I slowly go insane. I hear your voice, on the line. But it doesn’t stop the pain. If I see you next to never, how can we say forever?’
Before I left for Michigan, and my infamous trip to Ann Arbor to unknowingly reinvent my life, I bought a new cassette that became sort of my theme tape for the weekend. It was an album by Richard Marx, his second, and it quickly became one of my favorites. I’d honed in on several songs that made the drive easier…the kind where you roll down the window and crank it up.
‘Wherever you go, whatever you do, I will be right here waiting for you.’
But one that I’d tended to overlook was the one that was currently being played on the radio station I was listening to. Since it was a ballad, I sort of skipped past it every time it came up on my tape. I’d hit fast forward, and select the button that would make the tape stop in the pause between songs, going to the next one. I wanted to listen to songs that kept me going…driving songs. And in the frame of mind I was in at the time, a romantic song of two lovers separated by distance and time didn’t appeal to me at all. I was still hurting because of the divorce. I was still lost.
‘I took for granted all the times, that I thought would last somehow. I hear the laughter, I taste the tears, but I can’t get near you now. Oh can’t you see it baby; you’ve got me going crazy.’
But now I was healed; my soul repaired by Dawn, and my heart belonging to Ann. And the same song that I had avoided before was now a hit…and not only with Top 40 radio across the country. It was also a hit with me and Ann. The words were too close to home for us. It was our song. We weren’t technically ‘oceans apart’, other than when she was in California, and I was in Virginia over the weekend. But it seemed that way. And the rest of the lyrics seemed like they were written exclusively for us. That was why the pictures were so important…to help us both get through the waiting we were about to continue together.
‘I wonder how we can survive this romance. But in the end if I’m with you, I’ll take the chance.’
As I pulled into the parking lot, the last lines of the song played out. I looked at my eyes in the rear view mirror. They were happy; a big change from the slightly misty look they’d get when I first started hearing the song on the radio every day. I took the car out of gear, wanting to hear the end…something I couldn’t have fathomed a couple months or so before. I still had over a month to endure without my love, and canlı casino while the song could have made me sad, instead, it built me up. It made me realize how empty my life would be if I’d never seen Ann that night at Matt’s house.
‘Wherever you go, whatever you do, I will be right here waiting for you. Whatever it takes, or how my heart breaks, I will be right here waiting for you.’
Sighing, I turned off the engine, knowing Ann and I were indeed waiting for each other. I was happily humming the melody as I walked back into the plant, excited about the package I’d just mailed; thinking about the contents, and the adventures it would inspire over the phone in the coming weeks. We were going to be waiting, but that didn’t mean we wouldn’t be with each other…at least in some way.
“Good Afternoon, Neil Thomas.”
“Hey buddy. How was your trip?”
“Hi Mark. It was…eventful.”
“I’ll bet. So, did your hairdresser go through with it and actually go with you?”
“Yeah…she was Pussy.”
“She was what?”
My friend Mark had called. Even though he was now my largest customer, I’d always considered him more of a friend. Particularly since the weekend he’d invited me up to play softball with his company team…the weekend he and his girlfriend Jill introduced me to Dawn. The weekend Dawn rescued me, and changed my life.
I’d told him about the interview I was going on. It wasn’t the normal thing you’d tell a customer, announcing that you might be leaving to take on a job elsewhere. But then again, our relationship was different, as that fateful weekend showed.
“Ann did all of that, in just a couple of days?” he said after I’d recounted the story. Well, I gave him a shortened version, making sure to hit all of the highlights.
“Yeah. I know it sounds a little too good to be true. But it was amazing. It was also my last hurrah, at least for the foreseeable future.”
“What do you mean?”
“Ann and I are going monogamous for a while. We need to. She’s coming home at the beginning of September, and I think we both need some time to get ourselves in touch with who we are together.”
“So, have you set a date?” he asked, thinking of the next logical question.
“Early December. Either the 2nd or the 9th, depending on when we can get the church.”
“What about the job? How does that all play into it?”
“I’m not worried about that. I think I interviewed okay. But I know there are people out there a lot more qualified. I don’t know that equipment. It’s a big step from what I do, to the stuff they’re going to be doing. If they’re looking for someone who can run the equipment and teach people to do that, I’m screwed. If they’re looking for someone that can manage people and processes…who knows?”
“Bullshit, man. You can do it. It’s not all that different than what we do here, and you aced the concept test when you came up and took the tour. You impressed the hell out of Harry; and everybody else that met you.”
“Well, that may be true. But we’re a long way off from them even offering the job to anybody. I’m not going to stress about it. I just want to get through the next six weeks and get Ann home.”
“Well, let me know when the wedding is as soon as you can. I need to make sure Jill and I can get off. I don’t want to miss it.”
“First of all, I don’t think you and Jill are having any problems getting off. And what makes you think you’re invited anyway?” I said with a laugh.
“Funny. Don’t quit your day job?”
“We already talked about that,” I said laughing.
“You’re right, we have. In fact, we’ve talked about just about everything. Except…are we ever going to talk about what you’ve been avoiding forever?” Mark asked. He knew I didn’t really want to talk about Dawn. But we had to. It was out there, in the back of my mind. I wondered how she took the news that I was getting married.
“Okay. How is she?” I asked, surprising myself that I went into the conversation without being drug in kicking and screaming.
“From what I understand, she’s doing fantastic.”
“From what you understand? What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Dawn finally moved out. She’s living in her own place now.”
“Yeah. She’s been dating a guy Jill introduced her to. It appears to be pretty serious…but she insists they’re taking it slow. At least, she said it’s slow compared to you,” he said with a laugh.
“She’s fine Neil. You both knew it just was for the weekend. Don’t look back man. She’s not, and you shouldn’t either. Besides, she’s happy for you and Ann. We all are.”
“Do you think she’d come to the wedding?” I asked, wondering almost at once why I’d said it.
“Ha…I don’t know. That might be too much for both of you, frankly. Like bringing a match to a dynamite making party. And I’m not sure where she’s going to be in December. She keeps saying it’s not serious, but Jill says she’s thinking of moving to Arizona with this guy. She may not even be here.”
I kaçak casino was a little surpised when Mark said Dawn might be moving…but I shouldn’t have been. Hell, I might be moving. And he was right…as much as I wanted to share my joy with Dawn, it was a mistake to even think about asking her to the wedding. We both needed to remember our weekend for what it was, and leave it at that.
“It’s okay Mark. Tell Dawn I’m really happy for her, will you?”
“Only if you tell Sexy that Jill wants to meet her when we come down for the wedding,” Mark said, referring to Nancy, the plant receptionist he had a thing for.
“Why don’t you tell her yourself?” I asked.
“Effect…I think it would help if you said something. Is she still looking as hot as ever?”
“Hotter. Since she and I…well, you know. Since then, she’s dressing a lot more…well, a lot less actually,” I said with a laugh.
“So, will you say something to her?”
“Sure. I’ll ask for you. Talk about a match and dynamite, though…if you three get together you might just blow up the town.”
My conversation with Mark brought some needed closure. Somewhere, deep inside, I needed to know that Dawn was okay. And that she knew that I was okay. It wasn’t something I felt compelled to have to hear from her personally. I didn’t necessarily agree with Mark’s assessment. Dawn and I didn’t have the kind of relationship where I felt we’d be in danger of instantly ripping each other’s clothes off and start at each other no matter the consequences. I’m not sure I could actually define what our relationship really was, mind you. But I didn’t have a fear of some tumultuous moment during my upcoming wedding where she’d stand up and object, like a scene from a movie.
But if her being there would take away from Ann’s moment in any way, then it was a mistake I wasn’t willing to make. My curiosity satisfied that Dawn and I had both moved positively into our individual futures, I took a deep and contented breath. I smiled. I was happy with where I was in my life…truly happy.
And so it began. The long six-week journey towards some semblance of normality in my life. At least, normal as defined by Ann. There would be twists and turns, and lots of phone conversations. But as expected, gone were the weekly trysts with Tina. I thought it would be more like trying to quit smoking. I’d considered Tina kind of addictive, and I figured I would need some kind of 12-step program to get her out of my system. But to my surprise, it proved to be rather easy. I quit, as they say, ‘cold turkey’.
That didn’t mean there weren’t some tempting moments, where I felt an aching yearn to feel her writhing underneath me again. The first was when I’d stopped by her shop that first week to give her the photos of our adventure as secret agents. I could feel her desire as she leafed through images in front of me, looking up every now and then to see my reaction. I felt guilty just dropping them off and leaving.
I suppose there needed to be some closure there too. Tina hinted of hopes that Ann would have a change of heart, and how amazing what invariably would happen as a result could be if she let us. It was a big test for me, and as I drove home, I mentally patted myself on the back for passing it…right before I ran back to my room before anyone got home and patted my erection frantically with my fist.
There were also the couple of times I went in for haircuts. We were both smart enough to schedule the appointments for earlier in the day. And I made sure to wear more constrictive clothing. But Tina only used that as an opportunity to tease me mercilessly with her body and her magical hands. She took great delight in trying to get me hard, which wasn’t particularly difficult on her part. Her glee was magnified in that she was doing it with other people around. The first time she cut my hair, I walked out of her shop with a noticable limp from the big lump in my crotch, which had her giggling almost uncontrollably.
But those moments were becoming more and more rare. They were replaced by things like my weekly fishing trip with Marlin on Thursdays, followed by dinner at the Franklin home. If we didn’t catch enough to fry up and eat, Jean would make something else she’d have ready to go just in case.
He had invited me that first time, and we’d all had such a wonderful evening. When he called me at work the following Wednesday to remind me to be at their house after work to head to the lake, I never gave it a second thought that we’d never discussed it. I guess in Marlin’s view, it was implied. And I was more than happy to sign up for that commitment.
So, between work, softball, my Thursday’s with the Franklin’s, and the occasional round of golf, my docket was fairly full. The gaps were filled in with sleep, doing my personal household chores, and of course, my increasing volume of phone calls with Ann.
At first, Ann and I were talking three times a week. She still called me on Wednesday mornings at work. It had kind of become our thing, since she’d been doing it since she flew back to California. And we also talked twice during the evenings. We always talked Sunday nights, but the other day varied, depending on her schedule.
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