Bea came up with a smile. Her dress was only half-way buttoned and her hair was mussed. Bill had not touched her hair. She had done that to herself. She drew herself a coffee then sat herself on the stool she brought to her station.
“You ain’t jealous, are you?” she asked Mary.
“Jealous? No. I don’t think that’s the right word.” Mary drew herself a coffee too. She walked over to stand by Bea where she sat. “Concerned is more like it.”
Bea looked at Mary. “About Alfreda finding out?”
“That and about the boy too. He is about to get married. How messed up is that?”
“Well, he ain’t married yet. He just sowing them wild oats.”
“Okay, Bea. I suppose you figuring you helping him by teaching him stuff.”
“Maybe I am. Maybe you are too.”
“Me? I don’t got nothing to teach him except the cooking.”
“But you been with him.”
Mary sipped her coffee and leaned against Bea’s counter. She remembered. The first time she was all nervous, worried Tommy, or even worse, Drenovis, might come downstairs and find them. She was relatively inexperienced with men and nervous about that too. Later, she would tell Bill about her limited experience with men, about what the men in her life had done to her. She and Bill would lay together in the Upper Room, the place where the people at Suburban went to mess around with people they weren’t supposed to be messing around with. They discussed what might be called cultural differences by some sociologist somewhere, but what was to them just their personal life experiences. Bill would tell her that the girls he’d been with insisted they get theirs, and generally first. Mary said she didn’t know too much about getting hers, not even with her husband, the father of her kids.
Bea studied Mary a moment. She saw the what-appeared-to-be dreaminess in her eyes, how she was lost in a reverie of some sort. “Wait a minute,” she said. “Don’t tell me you starting to care about the boy.”
Mary gave her evil eyes and shifted on her feet. She sipped her coffee, looked away.
“You are,” Bea said. “Goddamn. Can’t you just get some from someone without falling for him?”
Mary looked back to Bea. “Shut up girl,” she said. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
But Bea was right. She was falling for him and what she certainly didn’t need in her life was to fall for the white boy who was just about to get married and sure to leave after his wife-to-be graduated from the university. It was beyond ridiculous and heading toward stupid. Stupid, she told herself.
Mary was curt with Bill when he came up with the round to be cooked. She gave him a written list of the things she needed from downstairs and told him she was running behind so he needed to hurry.
Bill sensed her pique and asked her about it. Mary smiled at him, tried not to answer. But when Bill insisted, she launched into a tirade the likes of which Bill hadn’t heard for a long time. She listed out all of Bill’s escapades and said he was no better than Henry Lee. In fact, she said, he was worse because he wasn’t even married yet and was already fooling around.
Bill looked to his feet momentarily, but not for long. He inched up close to Mary and told her give him a kiss. Mary told him to get the hell out of the kitchen and pushed him away from her. But Bill reached for her and kissed her full on the lips.
“Let me go,” she insisted.
Bill kissed her harder, held her tighter, reached up her dress to pinch and fondle her butt.
“I’ll never let you go,” he said.
Coming Now In About Another Month:
The Ghost Writer, Rose’s Story: A Look At The Worlds We Hide