Spousal too


The keys clanked against the steel door frame as he unlocked 5B and stepped into the slightly acrid but cool air of their apartment.  The landlord claimed it hadn’t ever been a “smoking” apartment but he knew better.  There was always the hint, mixed with dust and old carpet, of someone’s Pall Malls in the air.  Shelley laid on the couch sifting through channels as he dropped his backpack on the loveseat.  He gave her a peck on the cheek.

“Hi, hon’, how you doin’?”

“I’m good babe, how’s your day?”

“Mostly the same, not terrible but you know.   How’s the job search?”

“A couple of temp jobs might be about the best options from today.  The people at Scaran’s say they’re going to have some things lined up for me the end of the week.  Not sure what those might be.  Not holding out a lot of hope based on the last ones they sent me to.”

“Well, can’t be all bad.  The more people you meet the more you can network with and figuring out the market is good too” he said as he walked back into the bedroom.

He stripped off his khaki’s and button-down, happy to be out of his “uniform” and even happier to be putting on his Birdies Bar and Grill uni-.  They were playing a double header tonight, just what he needed to shake the corporate dust off on a Wednesday.  He grabbed his socks and cleats and headed back into the living room.  When she saw him her face fell.

“Ooohh, babe!  Not tonight, you’re not playing tonight!   I hoped we could get Chinese and binge watch something.”

“Sorry.  You can come with, we’re playing at Johnston.  They have a concession stand with beer and stuff.”

“I don’t really like sitting there by myself.  Just playing one?”

He looked up at her from lacing his shoes.

“’Fraid not; two.  I should be home around 9:00 though if I don’t hang around with the guys and have beers.”

“Oh…” her voice trailed off as she looked out the window over his shoulder and turned slightly back toward the t.v.

He rose, buckling the belt on his pants as the awkward silence established itself.

“Sure you don’t want to come?”

“No, no, you go, have fun.  I’ll see you when you get back tonight.”

He eased toward the door.

“It’s only for another few weeks.  I’ve told the guys I won’t be able to play double dips after this year and the guys on Smitty’s know I’m done after this year too.”
“Yeah, I know.

He turned toward the hallway.

“Love you” he threw behind him as he reached for the knob.  He thought he heard a “Love you too” behind as the door closed on him in the hallway outside.  He couldn’t be sure.

He drove, guiltily, to the field.  ‘Why did he feel that way?  She knew he’d played for years with these guys and the guys from Smitty’s.  She’d sat in the stands when they dated for at least two seasons.  Sure, they’d been in college and hanging out banging a few beers down on weeknight wasn’t a big deal but she wasn’t working, yet.  Why couldn’t she come out now?  What had changed?’  He looked down at the gold band with so little wear.  Things changed.

They didn’t move in together until they were married (sort of an anomaly among their friends). Maybe they should have lived together first?  Maybe that would have lessened the adjustment.  Maybe she would have grown accustomed to what he did.  Still, he knew where she was coming from, they didn’t spend as much time together as he thought they would either.  It was weird and he didn’t like it but he couldn’t figure out how to fix it.  It seemed like she couldn’t either.  He was still deep in thought as he pulled into the parking lot.  He shouted ‘hello’ to each of the guys as he walked up to the dugout.  He shook out of his thoughts gradually as he warmed up.

He had two of the best games of his life that night, going seven for eight and making three running catches in left center.  He owned his part of the field and they won both games by four or five runs.

“Hey, come grab a beer at Jonesy’s pickup, A!”

He was headed to his car and he turned and slowed.  He had said he would come right home but the second game was a short one and it wasn’t even 8:30 yet.  He could have one and still make it home by nine like he promised.

“Okay, sure.”

“Thatta baby! That’s the monster in left center we all know and love!”

The beer slid down cold and quick and he finished his first just as Bobby Bentley sauntered up with two more in his hand.  He handed one to Alex as he said, “You had a whale of a game tonight, A!  Hell, two games!  What’d you bat, 1,000?”

“No, not quite, I was seven for eight.”

“That’s pretty damn close!  You’re a go-getter out there.  I know gunners when I see them!”  He waved a beer-can-clutching paw toward the field, “and we need more of them in this new deal I’m getting started.  You ever think about doing sales?”

“Well, honestly, not really but I’m always interested in an opportunity.  What do you have going?”

“Distribution centers.  Beer distribution.  I’m planning on taking a swipe at the market; thought I’d give ol’ Simons a run for his money.”

Bill Simons ran Simons and Sons Distributing.  Their trucks were all over town, parked in the late morning in front of nearly every bar & grill and tavern.  He couldn’t remember anyone else ever delivering beer for as far back as he had noticed such things.

“Simons’ have been around a long time.  Don’t they have almost everyone in town?”

“They do, but they’ve gotten greedy and they don’t do anything with booze or any other beverages.”

“You thinking you’ll offer everything, be a one-stop shop?”

“Absolutely!  Hell, the margin isn’t in beer anymore like it used to be.  It’s in wine and soft drinks, mixers, that kind of stuff.”

“Sounds like you’re planning on going full bore at this thing.”

“That I am A, that I am.  See, back when I was a kid…”

Bobby Bentley could always talk.  It was what helped him build relationships and make friends, even if he talked too much to be a really good salesman.  Still, he had money and he was their sponsor and it sounded like maybe he wanted to offer him a job.  It was nearly 10:45 before he walked back into that same stale air again, only a little less cool than it was outside.  She was asleep on the couch, the glow of the t.v. flickered across her face.

He covered her with the afghan her grandma made and turned the t.v. off.  Like always this woke her.

“What, what?  Where ya been?”

“Just at the field.  Talking to Bobby B.”

“Oh, that’s nice…”  She drifted back into sleep.

He knew tomorrow there would be more questions and answers.  Questions he probably couldn’t answer to her satisfaction.   Answers that would probably bring up more questions.

Things change.  Things begin while other things end.  Sometimes the transition is something we’re neither prepared for nor see coming.  It takes us by surprise even as the change sweeps right over the top of us.

I write about life.  Sometimes it can be wonderful and sometimes it’s downright confounding.  If you would like to read more of my writing click here to go to my blog’s home page.  I hope you like what you read here and that you’ll decide to subscribe to my blog.  It’s free and means you’ll receive an email on Sundays with links to the week’s posts.  You can subscribe at the blog or here by clicking this.  And please don’t worry, I never sell or share emails so you won’t get a bunch of spam if you subscribe.