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The Affairs of Kate Taylor in 1945
The year was 1945. The war was slowly ending and for most people, that was all that seemed to matter. I myself, hadn't been directly related to the war. Most of the men I knew, weren't exactly the kind who fought in wars. Except for Jack, maybe. Jack was this brooding strong man with passionate eyes, who loved me. He wasn't in love though, which was a huge misconception, that my entire generation seemed to share in. It was actually more of a disillusion, based on the level of mass hysteria they were all living in. You see most girls and guys loved each other without being in love, so they got married, because they didn't realize the real difference. But that didn't happen to me and Jack, we were to intelligent for that romantic nonsense. We weren't married, but we practically lived together. Jack and I were also sleeping together. I mean, if we were enlightened enough to know that we weren't in love with each other, why shouldn't we indulge in a little fun. Don't get the wrong idea, though. He didn't corrupt me and I didn't corrupt him. We were equally dangerous and equally at fault for the way we ended up. And Jack knew that if he ever asked me I would probably say yes, and I knew if I ever told him, that I wanted to get married he would have asked. But we didn't expect any of that.
Jack was the strong type, who felt obligations where there were none, you would expect him to fight, but he didn't. He never gave a reason, he just didn't. I sometimes thought that it may have had something to do with his job. He was a mechanic, and after the war started business started booming. Women weren't quite used to being the head of the house, and they just didn't ever have to know anything about cars, before. That was actually how I met him. It was in March, I was on my way to see Girl Crazy, with this jerk I'd met at work. He was a nice enough guy when I waited on him, but the second I got into his car that night, he became obnoxious. Well our car broke down, and shockingly enough he couldn't fix it. (If you'd seen this guy, you would get what I mean) Well any way we managed to find a garage about a quarter of a mile down the road, and who should be running the garage but Jack Stanton. Honestly my date didn't even have a chance after that. Jack was very professional, but he was a man none the less. I kept catching him peeking down my shirt, or watching me walk away. But not in perverted way, more of a flirty way. My date ended up trying to take me home, but I blew him off. That night Jack and I had our first and only real date, and that night, I stayed over at his place. The next six months it was the same thing. An endless ring of sex and dinners, of staying at his place and then at mine, of him leaving before I woke up and me leaving before he did. It was only recently he would stay until I woke up, but I still left before he did. In the days I worked at the public library for nearly nothing, and at night I waited tables at a bar for nearly nothing, plus tips. Most of my free time was spent with Jack, and I bet you can guess just what we were doing.
It was at the bar in that I met the only other decent guy, left in the world. His name was Mark. He was the bartender and he poured a remarkable Scotch. He was cute and smart. He jokingly called me things like “Dearest” and “Darling”. He had come home from the war after only a few months, maybe a year, because he was really sick or something like that. I honestly didn't remember the technical reason. He was very tall, and I was rather short, so the bulk of our early relations consisted of me having him reach something off the top shelf in the back room. He had a very sweet nature, but he was also a bit flirty. He would always get it off the shelf for me, but sometimes he would have me get up on the step latter and reach for it in front of him. He said that he thought I was just being lazy sometimes, but I always knew he was checking me out. He never made a move though. After a while, he and I began talking sometimes. It was nice we talked about movies and books and music. We even talked about our pasts. I told him about my home town, in Michigan, and he told me about his childhood in Brooklyn. But he never even touched me.
He knew that I was sleeping with Jack with out any expectations. So did most of the staff there at the bar, and a good percentage of our regulars knew, too. Word just kind of spreads, when a girl gives up her reputation willingly, and isn't at all ashamed of it. Well back in those days women talked to their men. Back then gossip was a form of recreation that a marriage needed a little of to stay strong. So I heard whispers about me daily, but I liked to think that I had a thick skin about those things. They never got to me, not the names, not the looks, not even the occasional gesture. Well one night in late September, the war had ended and pretty much all of the men had come home. That meant that we had about twenty new regulars every night. So it was a bit more hectic that usual. That's why it was so shocking when a strange guy grabbed me and asked me if I wanted to go home with him. I said no and tried to pull away, he let go and called me a wh*re. I lost my balance when he let go and fell down. He just laughed. I held myself together long enough to get to the back room. Then I started crying. I know I was foolish and silly to cry. I wasn't nearly as scared or embarrassed as I seemed. I honestly have no idea why I cried. I just did.
I wasn't there so I have no clue, what actually happened. But a few of the girls said that Mark walked up to the guy and told him that he needed to leave. Then the guy asked if Mark was screwing the sl*t too. That was all Mark needed. About four minutes after I had walked into the back room Mark came back to check on me. He had a black eye.
“Are you okay?” He asked gently.
“ Yeah, I'm fine.... But what happened to you?” I asked having already wiped my tears.
“The guy needed to apologize.” He said shrugging.
“Sit down.” I said getting up. He sat down, and I got him some ice for his eye.
“Thanks.” He smiled at me.
“ How about a drink?” I asked, “I think we've both earned it. So Scotch or Bourbon?” I asked stepping on the latter and pulling both the bottles down. I was suddenly aware at the fact that he was looking at me, in that certain way. I knew as I was reaching up that he was watching my every move.
“I'm really not in a drinking mood”
“Oh, well you are a bartender... So I guess drinking is something that is pretty much over rated in your line of work.” He laughed.
“ Yeah just a bit.” He replied. I poured myself a drink and sat down on the counter.
“ You know you're a real Bogart character.”
“What's that supposed to mean?”
“You're just a guy whose to good for his own good. And if your not careful you'll lose every Ilsa to a Victor.” I smiled at him and sipped my scotch.
“No. I'm just an average guy. I'm sure if Jack was here he would've done the same thing.”
“I don't know that's not really Jack's style.”
“Then you deserve better, no offense.” H tossed his ice on the table.
“None taken, but you're wrong Jack's a nice guy and it's not as if Clark Gable is knocking on my door.” I laughed and sipped again.
“Well, would you settle for Humphrey Bogart?” He asked standing up and walking toward me.
“Nah, besides Bogart wouldn't go for me.”
“I think he would jump at the chance.” He said smiling and stopping right in front of me. He leaned on the counter and put one hand on each side of me.
“No, Bogart is the kind of guy that every girl dreams about marrying and I'm not the kind of girl men marry unless they have to.”
“I don't believe that for a second.” He leaned in to kiss me, but I pulled away. “Sorry, I thought--- Sorry.”
“Don't be... I knew what you were going for I just don't think that'd be a good idea. Ya know.”
“Not at all... I thought we were both thinking the same kinda thing. And had been for a while.” He shrugged, “But I guess it was just wishful thinking of my behalf. I'm sorry.” He turned and started to walk away.
“It's not that I don't want it. It's just that you shouldn't.”
“Like I said I'm not that kind of girl.”
“What kind of girl are you then?” He said turning again and walking back toward me. I was completely unsure of how to answer that question, “Cause I thought that you were a beautiful and smart kind of girl. The kind of girl who likes going to the movies, even though you really don't get a chance to. The kind of girl who likes holding hands, but can't because it's too romantic. But that isn't the kind of girl you are?”
“No, I'm also the kind of girl who sleeps with a guy on the first date and the kind who doesn't want to get married. I don't think that exactly fits with what you want.” He reached me again and leaned in really close.
“Well all I want is you...”
“No you don't.”
“Yes I do.”
“D***it, yes I do. I want you. I've wanted you for a while. Beyond a while actually for a long time...”
“Well you shouldn't. We should be getting back to work.”
“Work can wait.”
“No it can't. But this can.” I said pushing him away and standing up. As I was walking back out into the front room, I felt light headed and dizzy. At the time I convinced myself that It had been the guy grabbing me, but I knew what it really was. I finished my shift in a kind of a daze, and went home. It just wasn't making sense, that Mark would actually have developed some kind of feelings for me. He was just lonely and acting on the same chivalrous notions that all men seemed to have, even Jack at times. He would be back to normal by morning.
That night Jack was working late. I know, who works late at a garage? Well “Working Late” was the term that he used to mean that he was with another girl. Like I said before I wasn't in love with Jack so I didn't get to tell him not to go out with other girls and vice-verse. So I was home alone, eating dinner and drinking straight scotch from the bottle, when suddenly there was a knock on the door. It was about 10:15 so I figured that it was just Jack finished with his date coming over for his usual reason, so I quickly checked myself in the mirror. I fixed my hair and adjusted my nightgown, then I walked over to the door very sexy like.
“I'm not really in the mood tonight, Jack.” I said as I opened the door. I was surprised, to say the least, when I saw that it was Mark.
“Hey, I was umm.... Just in the neighborhood, and though I'd stop by.” I was a bit stunned, especially because I was in my nightgown... I quickly grabbed a robe.
“Oh- Yeah of course.”
“I just really need to talk to you, Kate.” He said stepping in.
“Okay well have a seat,” He sat down in the other kitchen chair. I sat back down in my chair, “Okay so umm... Shoot.” I suddenly realized he smelled a little like vodka.
“Well earlier today, I told you that I wanted you, but you didn't believe me. But it's true. Honestly, I know that I do. It's not a question, I know. I want you.”
“You don't know me well enough. You just don't. Are you drunk?” He ignored my question.
“But I do.” He scooted his chair closer and kissed me. “I really do.”
“I think you should probably go...” I said standing up and pulling away.
“Why?” He asked grabbing my hand, “Is Jack coming?”
“No he had a date tonight.” I said. “But he might be over later.”
“He doesn't deserve you.” He stood up and pulled me close to him.
“You said that already. Back at the bar. Remember?”
“Well I really mean it.”He kissed me again. I remember thinking that he was a surprisingly good kisser. But I pulled away, I didn't want that. I was happy with what I had with Jack. I knew that Mark would be a relationship, and that wasn't something I could ever be, not again. “Alright, how about we just talk.” He said letting me go and sitting back down.
“I'd like that. Here I'll make some coffee.” I said,making my way over to the counter. I was just happy not to have his arms around me, making me doubt my “life-style”.
“Did I ever tell you about my time in the War?”
“No, not really.”
“Well see I wasn't drafted. I enlisted, I guess I just thought it was my duty. Well see, actually I had this girl.” I turned around and raised my eyebrows to him. He turned bright red. “Yeah I know, that sob story. See she wasn't just any girl.”
“They never are.” I said going back to preparing the coffee. He seemed not to have heard me.
“ She was pretty and smart. And not just Brooklyn smart like most of the other girls I knew then, but she was book smart. She was really goin' places, and well I was just a bartender. So I enlisted, and the day before I left I proposed to her. And well she looked at me and told me that she wouldn't say yes or no, but that she would wait til I got back and then answer. I fought for over a year, and then I was injured, I got a piece of shrapnel in my back, right by my shoulder. After that, for nine months I can't hold a gun, can't carry anything remotely heavy therefore remotely useful, and I can barely use my right arm, as far as Uncle Sam was concerned I was useless” He laughed. He had a nice laugh. I finished putting on the coffee and sat back down in my seat next to him.
“ I'm sorry Mark.”
“For what? I was excited, I figured that my girl would be home waitin' for me. Little did I know she had run off and got married to a Manhattan lawyer. It was the talk of the town. And well I was... Well here I am.”
“I don't know what to say...”
“I didn't think you would. I told you because I wanted you to realize that I'm not quite as Bogart as you think.”
“No you're just post-Paris, but still Bogart” I laughed.
“I'm serious. I'm screwed up, just like you.” He placed his hand on my satin covered thigh “We really are a pair.” Smiling, he leaned in to kiss me, and I pulled back. “Right... I'm sorry. I just am finding it really hard to keep myself under control while you're barely dressed.” I looked down and his hand was on my thigh still, and by now my robe had fallen open, and my cleavage was showing.
“Sorry... I didn't realize. Let me go change.” I said jumping up and running into my bedroom. I shut the door but sometimes the handle sticks and a draft catches it, so it swings back open. I was just slipping off my robe, and about to take off my gown, when suddenly I heard his voice carry down the hall.
“Ya know, I think I might not be aggressive enough. I don't know, I mean you just you don't think I am what experienced enough for you.” He said I heard him approaching the door but I assumed the door was still closed.
“Trust me hun, experience isn't your problem. You don't have any problems.” I smiled sliding my night gown over my head.
“Glad you think so.” He said from in front of my door way. I whipped around almost completely naked to be met by his smile. I was speechless and for a split second I couldn't move. I then grabbed my robe and jerked it on. I was mortified. I was even more mortified, when he walked into my room. He was taking long strides toward me and suddenly he pushed me against the wall kissing me again and again, passionately. I pushed him back a little.
“I wasn't hitting on you, I thought I shut the door.”
“I'm sorry, I'm just.... So sorry...I---” He pulled away and was about to leave he was really embarrassed, but I pulled him back to me.
“No wait, don't go.” He looked surprised.
“But you said---”
“Forget it...” I kissed him and began to unbutton his shirt. He put his hands around my waist and lifted me up. I just wanted him. He was handsome, and he liked me, but all at once it hit me, I didn't want this. I didn't want to be with him. “No.” I said pulling away as his shirt fell to the floor.
“You can't keep doing this... I want you and I love you, now make up your mind.” He said frustrated. “ Do you want to be with me tonight, cause I deserve better than to be jerked around and screwed with like this? Well, do you?” I was silent processing what he had said. He took that as an answer, and picked up his shirt, and headed for the door. He was in my living room when I stepped out of the door and finally spoke.
“Did you mean that? What you just said?”
“What? That I want you to make up your mind, and that I deserve better than that, back there.” He pointed to her room. “Yeah I meant it.”
“No, did you mean it when you said you love me?”
“I didn't say that.”
“Yeah you did... Was that a line? Tell me the truth. You said it, but do you feel it? Do you love me?”
“I don't think it matters--”
“Do you love me?!?! Yes or no?!?!”
“It's complicated... I just--”
“Answer the d*** question! Yes or no?” I was angry, I needed to know.
“Yes.” He said growing equally angry. “Yes I love you. Earlier it slipped out but you just couldn't let it go. I love you. I do, I think that you are beautiful and sweet and I don't think I'll be able to stop thinking about how incredible it felt to kiss you like that earlier, for at least a month. Okay, so there it is, I'm in love with you.” He looked angry and embarrassed.
“Then don't you dare go out that d*** door...” I said as he turned and reached for the door
“What?” he turned and stared at me. I began to walk towards him, and my steps quickened as I got closer to him. I practically jumped in his arms and kissed him. I put my arms around his neck.
“I think this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” I quoted as he carried me into my room. That night, he didn't even consider going out that d*** door. The next morning I awoke to an empty bed, which was something I was used to. I didn't think Mark was the leaving before you woke up type, so I assumed it had been a dream. I slipped my hand out to where a man should have been, and I sighed.. It was probably better that way, the morning after sex was always awkward then, especially with a nice guy and a girl with out even the slightest bit of a reputation. Then I heard movement in the bathroom. Jack. It wouldn't be the first time I dreamed of another guy while I was with Jack. It just always sucked to face him afterward. After all I had been drinking scotch. So I took a deep breath in and prepared my face for the fake smile I would have to wear. I sat up and my eyes met with that of a shirtless Mark. My fake smile disappeared with my shock in seeing him.
“What were you expecting someone else?” He walked over to the bed and sat down beside me.
“I'm not the kind of guy who leaves, but Jack is.... Right?”
“Ya know Jack and I have been together for 6 months... He loves me.”
“Oh.” He said as if that had never occurred to him. “So last night, wasn't anything to you? I mean it was just a night?” He was hurt and angry, and he turned away from me and stood up.
“No, it's just I'm... Not sure that last night was what you think it was.”
“And what exactly did I think it was?”
“The start of some relationship. I don't want to be your girlfriend.” He turned to face me. And knelt down to my side.
“Why? Give me one reason why it would be so terrible to fall in love with me? You know I love you. You know I think you are the most amazing girl I'll ever know, and when I'm around you I think that Holly was just a girl. She just wasn't even in the least bit important, or half the girl you are.” He stared at me, searching my eyes for an answer. “But wait... I almost forgot,” He stood up and began to pace, “there's Jack. There's always Jack. When I first met you, there was Jack. When I first heard about Holly's being pregnant, there was Jack. Every single time I've tried to tell you how perfect you are, there's been Jack. Well to H*ll with Jack. I don't give a d*** what Jack feels for you. He can't love you the way I can. I know he can't.”
“You don't know him... He is a really good guy, a better one than you give him credit for.” I loved Jack, and that was all that I knew for sure right then.
“No, a good guy wouldn't go out with another girl, while you wait at home for him to maybe show. A good guy would have proposed to you the second you said I love you to him, or wanted to at least.”
“I've never told him I love him.” He suddenly looked hopeful.
“Do you? D***it don't toy with me. Do you?”
“Yes....” His eyes were hard. “But not like that. I love him, but we're not in love. We never have been and he has made that clear several times.” He suddenly fell to the bed next to me and looked deeply into my eyes.
“Then why not me?”
“Because, I don't want you to feel obligated to me ever. You have a lot of options Mark. And I don't want for you to be tied down to me. I know alt of girls who would love to be with a guy like you and I don't want for you to settle. Also I don't....” I hesitated.
“What is it?”
“I don't want to be happy with you, and come home to see that you realized how perfect some other girl is. Some other girl who you don't have to fight for.” I reached and touched his black eye.
“That won't happen.”
“How do you know?”
“Because, there isn't any one more perfect than you. And besides I like the eye, it makes me look tough.” He kissed me. “Let me love you.” he slipped his hands down under the blanket, from my shoulder and onto my hip. I sighed deeply.
“You don't understand. I mean, what should I do about Jack? I can't just stop seeing him.”
“God I will not let that son of a----” He saw my glare, “I won't let him keep you from me. I just won't.” He kissed me again, and I kissed him back. “Just tell him that you fell in love with someone else. Or just fell in love with some one at all.” He smiled rubbing his hand on my leg.
“ I'll tell him that I'm having feelings for another guy. Jack will understand. We were never in a relationship, ya know.” I smiled thinking about it, “Are we in a relationship?”
“Well, if you’ll let me, I'd like to call you my girl.” He smiled that charming boyish smile of his.
“ I don't know,” I giggled turning away. He took his other hand and put it on my back, giving me chills. He then proceeded to kiss me. Needless to say we didn't leave the bed all morning. When I finally did slip away, he had fallen asleep, and I decided to go ahead and end it with Jack. So I put on my favorite green dress, and my stockings, and drove down to the garage, and of course there he was.
“Hey, stranger. I came by your place last night, you didn't answer when I knocked, were you okay?”
“Yeah, I'm fine. Actually we need to talk.” He looked concerned. As I got out of my car he took me in his arms and kissed me. I kissed him back a little bit.
“What is it baby?” He always called me baby when he thought I was upset. We walked around the garage a bit saying hey to a few of Jacks friends, and he repeated his question. “What is baby? Come on tell me.”
“Well you see there's this guy.” He didn't seem all that stunned.
“I see... Well I mean you know I see other girls, I guess I wouldn't mind if you saw another guy. It seems fair.” He shrugged.
“No, ya see he's really not the side kinda guy.”
“I get it, but if you change your mind I'm always gonna make time for you.” He smiled. He leaned down and kissed me, but I pushed him away. “Just one last one” He said grabbing me and kissing me hard. “There, now we've said goodbye.” I was a little surprised, the whole thing was so weird. He seemed angry about the fact that I had broke off what ever it was we had for Mark. It was so bizarre.
“See ya around, Jack.” I said driving away. When I got home Mark was awake, and worried.
“Where'd you go? I thought you had run off with Jack or something.” He smiled. “You didn't did you?”
“No but I ended things.” He looked so relieved.
“How did he take it?”
“Well he took it fine, he just offered to let me have you on the side and kissed me.” I laughed remembering how silly the whole thing was, me thinking that Jack was jealous, that was so ridiculous. That wasn't Jack. Then, I suddenly realized how angry Mark looked. “What's wrong, Mark? I told him no obviously. I said that you weren't a side anything. That you were something special.”
“He kissed you? You said that you were with another guy and he kissed you? What the H*ll did he think he was doing kissing you, kissing my girl?”
“Please Mark, it was a goodbye kiss. That was all just a kiss goodbye.” He still looked furious, and he was walking to the door. I had to stop him. “Wait! I didn't tell him about you. I just said I met a guy. Not that I was some one's girl.”
“Why not? Why wouldn't you tell him you fell in love with some one?”
“Because I'm not sure I'm even in love. Is this how it's going to be? Always with us arguing over Jack. I just ended a six moth relationship, just for you. Doesn't that tell you how I feel about you?”
“Yeah, I guess. But if he ever touches you again, I swear to god I'll---”
“He won't. But I must say, you're very cute when you're jealous.” I stepped directly in front of him, suddenly so aware of the immense height difference. He bent down to take me in his arms, and he took his fingers to the row of buttons down my dress. “You know, it's to bad that we can't just do this all the time.” I moved my hands to his bare chest.
“I'd love to, but what would that do to my reputation?” He smiled, and pulled my dress to the floor. “Then again who needs a reputation?” He kissed my neck.
“I've never missed mine. But wait...” I pushed him back away, and as I was glancing at the clock and realizing how late it was, I began to run to my room.
“Not this again...”
“No” I yelled giggling from my closet. “I have to work.”
“Uggghhh... Me too.”
“Well would you like to go together?”
“Then we would leave together, are you sure?”
“If you want.” I stepped out of my room in my uniform dress and apron. I pulled my hair back and was trying to be serious.
“God you're sexy...” He grabbed me and started to kiss me intensely. I pushed him away.
“No. Not at work.” I was serious.
“If you insist, but it'll be hard for me. I've had to control myself around you there for a while, but now it's just so different.”
“No not there. Pretend its not. Pretend nothing has changed, and I don't want you to let this thing here get in the way of whats going on there. It's my job, and I need my job. Alright?”
“Okay, I promise.”
He and I went to work that night and it was like nothing had ever happened, and it stayed like that for a while, until a guy came in and was making a scene. He was just laughing really loudly and being especially rude. We drew straws and I got the short one. So I had to ask him to leave, but suddenly he just grabbed me by the arm and threw me on the floor. He called me a sl*t, and asked if this was the service I gave to a man coming home from war. He asked if I really thought that I could just tell him what to do. He said I was a disgusting wh*re. I screamed when he threw me down and Mark had rushed in just as he finished speaking. I'm not sure how everything went, it was really fast. But Mark got the guy to leave, after he had his other eye blackened and his lip busted. He jumped to my side the second the guy was gone.
“Are you okay? Honey? Sweet heart, are you okay?” It was the first time any one had seen this type of public display. It was obvious he cared about me, as a lot more than just a co-worker.
“I'm fine,” I said standing up.
“Are you sure?” My face was bruised and scratched, and that worried him.
“Yeah but what about you? Are you alright?”
“Yeah, I'm fine... God look at you. You're bruised and your shaking. I'm taking you home.” He said putting his arm around me and leading me to the door.
“No... I'll be alright. Stop it Mark.” I looked at him angrily. He let go of me and I went to the back room to rinse off my scratches. “I'm fine” I mumbled as I walked away. A few minutes later as I was sitting down , he stepped in.
“What was that?” He looked at me. “Why did you act like I was insane for even touching you?”
“You said that we wouldn't be 'we' at work.”
“Yeah so, I haven't tried anything at all. Even though it's been hard.” He moved over to her and tried to kiss her, but she moved away.
“Stop. I didn't want people to know about us, but now... After that little scene how can they not.”
“What's so wrong with people knowing about us? And another thing, that guy attacked you, what was I supposed to do, just let him keep on?”
“He would've left, one of the girls would've called the cops and he would've left. You cant keep saving me, when I don't need to be saved.”
“Yeah and guys cant just treat you however they want.”
“Guy are always gonna think they can treat me however they want. That's just the way the world works. I'm trash, and you need to understand that I will always be trash. I'm okay with it. I did it to myself, when I slept with Jack. He understood it.”
“No he let it happen. He let a bunch of guys just do what ever to you cause he didn't love you. Well I do so I won't.” He took my hand and pulled me to him. “I love you, and I won't let anyone call you trash, cause you're not.”
“And now that people know, there's pressure for us to be something.” I said as he put his arms around me.
“So, maybe we should be something, whatever that something is.” He kissed me.
“No, I don't want to be that something. I don't.” I pulled away.
“What exactly are we talking about?”
“Engagement, marriage, kids, just a future. I don't want a future.”
“I just don't. I never have.” He let go of me and moved away. He looked shocked, but then he just shook his head like he understood.
“You just don't want it with me, right?” I was annoyed with him. He was always so self deprecating. He always acted like I could do better, I hated having to always verify his ego. I absolutely hated it.
“Stop just stop. It's like being in a relationship with a child. What do I have to do to convince you that I care about you and I want to be with you? What do you want to hear?”
“That you love me.” I was silent. “I want you to say that you are falling for me. We have been dating for a while.”
“Its only been a little over a month.”
“Well, I fell in love with you a while ago... I didn't think it would take this long for you to fall for me. I'm afraid of what will happen if it turns out you just can't love me.”
“Because, I'm to deep in this. If you don't eventually love me, then I'm left heart-broken.”
“I need more time.”
“I want to give you time to fall in love, but I want to get started on the after you fall in love part.” He did the shocking... He pulled out a ring. “I really want to start on that part.” He smiled at me.
“Mark, I-I don't know what to say.”
“Say yes... Say you'll have a future with me. Say you'll be my wife.” He grabbed me and towered over me. Holding me as if I was his whole world, that he had to protect.
“I can't.” He looked so disappointed. “I can't because I don't think you really love me. I think that you're still in love with Holly. I think that I'm just your in between. I don't want to be your in between girl, and have you regret marrying me.”
“I do love you, though.” He kissed me. He was such a good kisser, I almost forgot what I was doing. I pushed him away.
“No you don't... I have to end this before we go to far. Before we make a stupid decision like getting married when we aren't in love. We haven't even know each other that long.” I pushed him away.
“I am... Stop it. I am. I love you and I have. I've known you for three years and I've been your friend for two.”
“I wouldn't have called us friends back then.” I pulled away again, but nothing.
“We talked all the time. We've flirted back and forth and you vented about Jack. What were we, if not friends?”
“Co- workers, or acquaintances.”
“Face it we've been friends for a while. And I've fallen in love wit h you. This isn't such a shocking thing. Me loving you and wanting to marry you. It isn't sudden.” He kissed me again, he was very persuasive. I pushed him away.
“No...” I mumbled as he kissed me more and more. “We shouldn't. I don't want to marry you.” I said with an obvious lack of certainty. He just kept kissing me.
“Are you sure?” He took his hand and slid it down my waist to my hip, and under my dress. “I love you. And I would do anything for you.”
“You make one h*ll of an argument.” Just as one of my stockings was riding down my thigh and he was pressing me against a wall, I stopped him. “I don't love you... I don't know if I can.”
“I think you're just scared.” He just froze. Staring at me expressionless and hard.
“Scared of what?” I was defensive.
“Scared of letting yourself be happy. You once told me that your mom and dad were happy until your dad just wasn't. There was no reason, he just wasn't any more. He left your mom and you for a blonde Lauren Bacall look-a-like. I think that made you scared of anyone who tries to love you. I think that's what drove away that guy Allen back in Michigan, and what you did to James when you were only nineteen. That why Jack was so perfect. He didn't want to love you. He just wanted to screw you, that's all that ever was.”
“Stop it. Let go.” I pulled away, tears forming in my eyes. He would let me go.
“No you only want me to let go because I'm right. You're terrified of me and you living happily ever after. You're afraid of me just not being happy anymore. Well listen I'm never gonna be your dad. I love you and not because it's easy but because it's right. And I'm going to marry you.” He stated it as if it was a fact and I had no control over it. He kissed me again and again. And the scary part was that I kissed him back. And as he slipped his hand up my thigh again, I pulled his shirt from his pants. While he was kissing my neck, I was pressing my hands under his shirt to his bare chest. Suddenly I had a thought. We were still at work. People were out there serving tables and wondering where we were. No one would even dare come back there because of the exact thing I had been trying to avoid. They knew about us and they were guessing that we were doing this precise thing. As I realized this he was pulling down his suspenders and pulling off his shirt. The bottom buttons of my dress were undone as was the button on his pants.
“Stop.” I pushed him off trying to gain my breath back. “Not here... Not at work.” He just looked at me breathing heavy and sweating.
“So what now?” He asked raising his eyebrows. I had no idea. I hated to admit it, but I wanted him. Right then and there she wanted him. He had made me want him. Had any one told me that Mark could have made me want him as fiercely as I did, I would have laughed. But it was true. Suddenly with that thought, I realized what would perhaps be the most profound realization of my entire life.
“Now Bogart, we get dressed.” He laughed loudly.
“I assumed so much.” He buttoned his pants and fixed his shirt. I smiled while buttoning my dress. “And now do we just go out there, into the lion's pit, and field all of their questions?”
“We have to... But this might answer some of their questions.” I held up my hand displaying his diamond ring.
“I don't want you to just because of that.” He motioned to the spot where we were. “I want you to say yes because you want to.”
“I love you. I'm in love with you. I've fallen in love with you.” I said it as if each individual sentence was not a given, based on the others. He looked as if Joan Fontaine had just agreed to marry him. He grabbed hold of me and kissed me violently, pushing me against the wall. Passionately and continuously, but fearing that we might start back where we were, I pushed him away. “Not again.” He looked ecstatic.
“Alright, for now. But you better be prepared for the end of my shift.” He squeezed me tightly. “Oh and I want to meet your family, your parents and your sisters, just every one. We'll go to Michigan really soon and see them. God you are going to be my wife. I do love you.”
“I love you too, fiance.” I smiled. I loved him. I realized that. I loved the way he held me and I loved the way he looked at me. I loved the smiles he gave me, and more than anything I loved the way he made me feel. Both safe and protected and at the same time completely free and unrestricted, like I could do anything I wanted, but still he would always be protecting me. I had never felt like that before. It was incredible. It was beyond incredible it was absolutely mindbogglingly fantastic. It was like we were in some fabulous big picture, like he was Cary Grant and I was his very own 'Girl Friday'. It was the most passion I had felt for anyone in my entire life. No one made a particular fuss over us, when we first came out of the back room.
His hair was messy, as was mine. It was fairly quiet, but the second one of the girl's noticed my ring, they just swooned. There were rumors circling that we had been together for years. Others said that I was pregnant, and that was the reason for the rush. Some girls even said that it was a shame Jack was such a good guy, but it wouldn't be long before I turned him bitter, by stringing him along and leaving him at the alter. Those were girls I didn't particularly like. But every one had the same singular question. What about Jack? I told every one the truth. That Jack was never what I needed, and Mark was everything I needed and so much more. I decided though that I would tell Jack, before one of the girls rushed to him after work to spread the gossip. He should hear it from me. He deserved that much. So the next day in the middle of my shift, I said I had to run out to pick up some obscure item we were out of, and I went to Jack's place. I knew I wouldn't stay to long. I was figuring he'd have a girl there or not be at home at all, it was a Saturday night. However, my hunch was wrong, because I found Jack alone and at home.
“Hello?” He answered the door casually.
“Hi Jack.” I smiled awkwardly. He looked shocked to see me there, and at the same time he looked at me like I was a saint.
“Kate, my Kate. I've missed you.” He was drunk. I could smell it on his breath bourbon or vodka. I couldn't tell, it was to strong.
“Can I come in Jack?”
“Of course. By all means, come in.” I stepped into his apartment, it was just like always. “Can I get you a drink?” He sounded so desperate and so lonely.
“No, actually I can't stay long.” He was staring me up and down, and he didn't seem to hear me.
“You haven't changed Kate, still just as beautiful as always.” Then, he grabbed hold of me and kissed me recklessly and violently. It seemed so much more hurtful than I remembered, but looking back it was the same as always. Nothing had changed but me. He was wrong I had changed so much. Feeling the unending love from some one as good and decent as Mark had irreversibly changed me. I pushed him away.
“Stop, Jack... Stop!” He let go and stumbled back a bit.
“What? I thought we were doing what we've always done. Just like always, just like nothing's changed.” There was that desperate tone again. It was so sad and heart wrenching.
“Things have changed. I've changed.” I held up my hand exposing my ring. He looked like an injured animal, one who is slowly dying and feeling all of the pain that comes with the end to life.
“So that's why you're here, just to tell me about how you've fallen for some good guy. Some guy who proposed to you. Some guy who you really loved. Some guy I could never be.” He sat down on his sofa and buried his face in his hands.
“So Jack why aren't you out with some beautiful girl right now?” Trying to change the subject.
“Because, no one is ever as good as you.” I was shocked. I had never heard such out right affection from Jack. “Girls like you are a dying breed. You may actually be the last pretty, not vain, smart, fun girl left in the world. The last of your kind.”
“I'm sorry Jack. I never actually thought you cared about me... As anything more than just sex.” He laughed that hollow drunken laugh that always used to haunt me when ever we would get into fights. Now it just sounded pathetic.
“I love you. I always have. You were the best thing that ever happened to me. You were the first decent person to think that I was a worth something.” I was shocked. I sat down next to him.
“Why didn't you ever mention this? Do you know what I would have done to hear you say that you loved me? I would have given anything.” I sat there, to busy remembering all the times he had hurt me, to notice he looked hopeful.
“Then don't do it. Be with me. Marry me.” He kissed me again. It was just as hard and uncaring as the first. And as I did before I pushed him away.
“No. I love Mark, and he loves me. I don't love you any more Jack. Not the way I love Mark at least. I'm sorry again. I guess I shouldn't have come.” I stood to leave, astonished at what I had just heard. Suddenly he grabbed me. “No.... Stop! Stop!” I cried as he kissed me and began to pull up my dress.
“No, you think you can just lead me on and then make a fool of me. It's not that simple. I won't let you.” He threw me to the floor and got on top of me. I cried but he wouldn't listen. “You leave me no choice... I love you.” He said as he forced his lips to me again and again. I kicked and pushed him away but he slapped me.
“Please... Please.... Jack, stop! Stop!” I pleaded, but he kept grabbing me and scratching me. Finally, as he pulled his pants down, I broke free. My tattered dress open and my slip torn, I ran out the door, and as the swift New York air hit me I began to sob. Jack had tried to rape me. The man I had once loved, tried to rape me. He was a drunken idiot, but I deserved it. I had led him on. It was my fault, and I was ashamed. I sat on his stoop and just cried for a while. I knew I had to get back, so I left. I was completely oblivious to the world around me, but I left. I just kept reliving those moments. Again and again I felt the urgency and anger in his touch. I tried so hard to remember what it was like between us before. Something inside of me said that he had always been violent and angry, but at the time I had called it passionate and sexy. I had like it then. I have no idea how I ended up home, but I suppose it had something to do with habitual subconscious movements. I just drove. I had to get home and get cleaned up. Then I would go back to work like nothing had even happened. I didn't think it was all that bad. I figured I was mostly just scared, not so much banged up. I wasn't prepared for what awaited me. As I opened the door to my apartment, I was met with the sight of Mark pacing back and forth. He was worried and seemed not to notice me until I shut the door. It seemed to be the loudest door slam ever.
“What happened? Where have you been? You left the bar over an hour ago. I've been so worried.” He sounded angry, until he noticed my appearance, and then his tone became so gentle and so sweet. “Baby are you okay? What happened to you? Honey?” I fell into his arms. I was so fragile and injured, like paper that had been crumpled up and stretched back out, and he was so strong and dependable. He was the single unmovable unchanging point in a storm of uncertainty. He was my safe place. I began to sob again, and his arms gripped me close to him. “It's okay... It's okay, nothing can get you... Don't worry, I'm here, and you're safe.” He whispered kindly. He had no idea what had 'tried to get me' but he was going to protect me. I believed that he would to. As I cried harder he picked me up and carried me to my bed, where he laid me down and then laid beside me, holding me as I wept. It felt like a long time before Mark couldn't take it any more and asked for an explanation.
“Honey, I know it's hard, but can you tell me what happened?” I didn't want to. I didn't want him to know that I had gone to see Jack the second I got the chance. I didn't want him to know, how I had told Jack that I had loved him once, and how he had taken that as an invitation to take me. Jack had been drunk, that was his excuse. But what was mine? He looked at me. I realized that while he was trying his best to be gentle he was furious and he wanted to know who was responsible.
“Well, you see, I went to see Jack.” He would have leaped to his feet, had I not been holding him so close, and resting my head on his chest. “Wait, I can explain. I wanted to be the one to tell him about us. But he was drunk, and he was depressed. He told me that he had always loved me. I told him that I would've killed to have heard that before. He mistook that.” At that moment my head fell to the mattress, as Mark flew to the door. “He was just excited and angry. He didn't mean to.” I said jumping up, and trying to stop Mark, but it was too late. He was gone. I ran down the stairs after him, and even caught sight of him hailing the cab, but I wasn't quick enough. So I jumped into my car and got to Jack's apartment as soon as I could. I took a shortcut, I had learned for when Jack would call me late at night to come over. I wasn't sure if I had beat Mark there, so I went up to Jack's apartment. As I was walking up the stairs, I heard some loud commotion. I prayed that it wasn't, but knew that it was, my commotion. When I got to Jack's apartment, the door had been forced open, not a good sign. I stepped in and saw Jack slumped over in the floor and Mark standing over him, kicking him in the side.
“You think you can just do anything you want to my girl. My Kate. You disgusting piece of---”
“Mark!” I screamed at him, seeing how beaten and almost dead Jack looked. He didn't seem to hear me. “Stop! Mark please stop!” I yelled, but it didn't phase him. I ran to him, putting my hands on his cheeks, pulling his face down and making him meet my eyes. “It's not worth it. It's not. He's not.” He seemed to still be distant, but he had stopped attacking Jack. “Lets just go, please.” I hugged his waist tightly, pleading with him to leave. I let go and took his hand, and began pulling him to the door. He followed me at first, but then broke away and walked back to Jack.
“If I ever see you again, I won't stop. I will kill you.” Mark then spit on him. And stormed out the door, past me.
“Goodbye, Jack.” I whispered as I shut the door.
“I'll be seein' ya Kate.” He mumbled through his pain. The door seemed to slam closed.
“No you won't. Never again, Jack” I said as I walked away, forever leaving Jack behind me.