Chapter 20: An Affair to Remember
In his room trying to clean up, Trevor experienced a small epiphany; he did not remember the last time he went on a real date. He had one night stands over the past few decades, but those were more of mutual tension relief than what he would call a meaningful relationship. Thinking, holy crap; I’ve not had a proper date since Betty Longenacher, at barely thirteen.
Had he been punishing himself all these years for his parent’s death? Did he blame himself, for his mother’s overdose? Logically he knew it couldn’t be his fault. At only thirteen, still wet behind the ears... but the subconscious mind can be a little harder to convince. Perhaps all this crap he put himself through was his way of penance, self-flagellation, punishment for his parent’s death, or maybe the guilt of his survival.
Did it matter now? Pushing those thoughts from his mind he concentrated on the simple fact, He had a date!
His mind drifted to Shannon, how would he describe her? Poets spent lifetimes trying to flatter women. In Trevor’s mind none of those words, began to describe Shannon. Seeing a beautiful woman on the streets of London he might use adjectives such as elegant, classic, chic, his mind a swirl of words that did not fit her. The streets of London were not populated with a woman like Shannon.
What about the other countries he traveled? Exotic, romantic, alluring, bewitching, none of them described her. Trevor found it funny, he knew Shannon was a beauty by any standard used to measure it. Her face displayed a perfect symmetry, following a classic golden ratio. Those high cheekbones and trim body could land her any modeling job, and her long hair glimmered with a healthy shine, that slight bit of silver made her striking.
Trevor did not think of any of these things when he thought of Shannon. They were not the descriptors that got his motor running. Perchance a simpler term like... Strong. When Trevor first thought of Shannon the word strength, came to mind. Most men Trevor knew would not think of strength in a woman as a desirable trait. Even on an unending list of words used to describe beauty most would not put strength there. There must be a better word, maybe enduring. Raising a boy to adulthood had to make her able to endure many things. Down to earth, blech clichés. Grounded? Wholesome?
Talking to himself, “Great, I have strong, grounded and wholesome. Sounds like an ad for a bran muffin. I just need to add makes you crap in the morning.”
Checking the mirror, he saw Cuff and Link standing in the door, “Damn you two, knock or something, will ya?” Cuff and Link both shrugged.
Checking the time, “Damn I need to run. Don’t wait up boys, I might get lucky.”
Cuff shook his head, no, and Link outright laughed.
“Piss off the both of you,” was the best comeback Trevor managed.
Trevor stopped at the cooler downstairs and bought Grace’s finest bottle of twenty dollar Texas Merlot. Then headed across the street to Junior’s. In the twilight, Trevor considered the dark SUV parked down the street, but in the dying light, he found it hard to recognize the color.
“Junior I will take your finest table,” pointing to the double table next to the picture window viewing the street. “Can I get two wine glasses.”
Deciding not to acknowledge, Butch and Casey, sitting at the bar. That string he would rather not pull at the moment. Sitting so he could guard the front door, he waited patiently. Unscrewing the wine, letting it breathe.
At seven sharp Shannon walked in front of the window, came in, seeing Trevor walked up to the table. Trying to be the gentleman he got up and pulled her seat out. Giving him a dubious expression she let him seat her, looking over the wine and glasses.
Waiting for Trevor to sit down, “Trevor, I appreciate the gesture with the wine, but I haven’t drank since Billy was conceived, but please you enjoy some.”
He rose dipping his head, “No, my lady. I am not in the mood to drink alone.”
Picking up the glasses and the bottle, walked over to Butch and Casey, “Gentleman, I hope your grand-daughter explained everything. I am so sorry for any misunderstanding. Please accept this bottle of wine as a peace offering.”
He got a “Thanks,” and a “Yeah, sorry for wanting to kick your ass,” he left on much better terms with the pair, if not yet friends again.
Returning to his seat, “Is a fizzy all right?” he asked her.
“A what?” a puzzled expression on her face.
“A Coke, Pepsi, a carbonated drink.”
“Ah, here in Texas we call all of them cokes. Down here the coke of choice for most people is Doctor Pepper.”
He twitched at the explanation, “I’ll let you order then.”
She ordered for both, Brisket, jalapeno sausage, green beans, collard greens with bacon, and two Doctor Peppers.
They sat in silence staring at their placemats. Butch and Casey watching and drinking the wine Trevor recently gave them.
Unable to stand the quiet any longer, Trevor broke the stalemate, “Something you said today hit me kind of hard.”
“That I would kick your ass?” Shannon joked.
“No, that I understood and respected... the part when you said you don’t date.”
He got a simple, “Oh,” reaction from her.
With no alcohol to fortify his personality, he needed to rely on his own wit to be engaging and entertaining.
Playing with his napkin in his lap, “It got me to thinking... I have never been on a real date.” gazing up he saw her watching him. “How about we just try to enjoy ourselves. Let’s learn about one another. You start. Tell me something you would like me to know about yourself.”
“Alright, I guess I can start,” looking around the room for inspiration, she started with. “I think you should know, I have never killed a man. That I know of.”
Blinking twice, “Good to know. In that case, you should know I have never killed a woman. I would like to add nor kidnapped as well.”
Sniggering, it was her turn, “I am thirty-eight.”
Him, “I am thirty-six.”
Serious, “I have not trusted men in eighteen years.”
The Doctor Peppers arrived, Trevor tried a sip and fought back a gag, “I find this drink wretched.”
“No fair you cheated, tell me a real one,” scolding him, “I can order you a different coke if you like.”
“No, I am trying to learn new things out here,” he takes another sip and winces, “My Brother is the only family I have.”
Her turn, “Billy is the only family that accepts me.”
“My parents died when I was thirteen.”
“My parents kicked me out when I was seventeen.”
“I have traveled the world, seeking knowledge,” purposely leaving out the supernatural bit.
“After leaving Northern New Mexico at seventeen, I have never left Marysfield.”
“I work for my brother, technically all the money is his.”
“I work at Town Hall, I have no money.”
“I am not sure how I feel about my brother. I love him but sometimes I don’t like him very much.”
“Billy’s father was an asshole. He left town right after finding out I was pregnant.”
They continued this way over dinner, sharing what they wanted the other to know, warts, and all.
Trevor risked a gigantic disclosure, “I have been searching for proof of the supernatural, my whole life.”
Shannon upped the ante, “I watch those stupid shows about ghosts and aliens on TV, every chance I can. I believe spirits walk among us.”
Over the course of the evening, Trevor acquired a taste for Doctor Pepper. Afterwards, whenever he drinks one he thinks of that evening.
Dinner finished they continued to talk, drinking bottles of Doctor Pepper. Had Crystal been there, she might’ve commented about the relativity of time, and how a choice of company could make time fly by or last an eternity.
At one in the morning Junior walked over to the table, “Closing time, folks,” Trevor peeled two hundred dollars off his wad and left it on the table, sure it would cover everything.
He didn’t ask if he might walk her home. They just kept talking, sharing information they thought the other should learn.
Arriving at Shannon’s house, three blocks away. They stood outside her little gate at the sidewalk. Facing each other Trevor asked, “Tell me, Shannon, what do you want out of life?”
Shannon couldn’t answer it, she shook her head, unable to vocalize her feelings on the subject.
“I asked a simple question, what do you want?” he pressed again.
“You have to understand it isn’t that simple,” Shannon replied.
“I understand perfectly, been trying to answer that question since ninety-three when my mother died,” he reached for both of her hands, and she took his. Now not fighting the idea of this being a date.
Both leaning in, prepared for a kiss they’d waited their whole lives for. Just before their lips met; Shannon’s porch light flashed on. In tandem, turning towards the offending light, they both had a clear view of Billy standing on the threshold, “I waited up for you. Don’t you think you are out kind of late, for a work night?” arms crossed scolding them.
They both laughed, at the absurdity of the situation.
Shannon leaned in and gave Trevor a kiss on the cheek, “Thanks for a lovely evening. I’d better head in before I’m grounded.”
“Can I see you again?” he called to her as she floated up the stoop, Billy holding the door open for her.
“It is a small town, hard not to see one another, even if we didn’t want to,” with that, she entered the house. Billy glared at Trevor closing the door. Trevor caught the bolt slamming shut. Positive that dead bolt got very little work, the statement was for his sake.
Walking home, humming that annoying song stuck in his head, Trevor returned to his thoughts about words to describe Shannon. Strong with West Texas elegance was the best he came up with. It may not mean a thing on Fleet Street, but it spoke volumes to him.