A Funny Little Story

It really is just a funny little story. I started it years and years ago to poke fun at romance novels and the lusty, perfect characters always featured in them. I'm blogging it because I just like Fred and Myrtle. I do. I hope you'll like them too. Please, make yourself a refreshment, sit back, relax a little, put your smile on and read. As with all blogs, the beginning is at the bottom. Please start at It Was a Dark and Stormy Day and work your way up from there.


Content Warning: THIS STORY CONTAINS EXPLICIT SEX AND IS NOT SUITABLE FOR READERS UNDER 16 OR PRUDES.


Monday, March 19, 2012

EPILOGUE

When Myrtle became pregnant with their first child, she began thinking seriously about a change of lifestyle. She worked through her first trimester, but Dick’s term as Chairman was soon up and there was no guarantee he’d be reinstated. Nor was Dick sure he wanted to be. Myrtle wasn’t really looking forward to breaking in a new chairman.

Pelham’s lawsuit had been dismissed and his former course was now being taught by a new instructor, who was, in fact, one of the young men who’d come to their rescue when Pelham was fired. Myrtle found it strange that the Dean still avoided her though. “All’s well that ends well” apparently didn’t apply in this case. The more she thought about her job, the more she thought the only people she’d really, truly miss were Winn and Horace Dilby. But Horace had, in fact, become a regular at the farm. Myrtle thought he might actually start a late-in-life romance with Mabel, but it was actually Millie and her greenhouses that interested him most. Though he liked Mabel too, the attraction to Myrtle’s aunts and the farm had more to do with platonic friendship and shared interests, than with romance. So it wasn’t unusual for Fred and Myrtle to encounter the good professor already at the farm when they arrived on a weekend, either watering plants in the gardens, greenhouses, or barbequing tofu shish-ka-bobs on the porch, which were a favourite of his.

It was when Mabel had a little heart attack that Myrtle made up her mind. They visited Mabel in the ICU in Upton while she was there. A full recovery was expected, but during her recovery, Millie was busier than ever, with only Fred, Myrtle and Horace to help, all the way from Upton, which was a little awkward. Millie wanted to hire some help, and that was fine for the short term, but Myrtle decided it was time to make a move for the future. There wouldn’t be room in the cottage for a family, and she now knew that the farm was in her name, along with her aunts, because it had been paid off, in part, by her parents’ insurance. She was also the heir in both her aunts’ wills. So regardless of what else Myrtle did, and where else she went, the farm was her home. With Myrtle expecting, she wanted to go home.

The only problem was, there still wasn’t enough income in the farm for them all. Fred needed to keep working. So he approached Helen and Mr. Grieves with some trepidation, but it turned out there was no problem. Fred had passed his courses at Upton College with flying colours, enjoying many a lunch hour with Myrtle during them. And he was already being farmed out on data analysis projects for the larger corporation from time to time, faxing his reports to the other companies from his office. Mr. Grieves saw no reason why he couldn’t do the same thing from the farm.

So Fred and Myrtle moved to the farm. They kept the cottage for the time being, knowing they could sell it if needed. But they thought it would be good to keep for a back up, and also handy for trips to Upton. They also had an office built for Fred in a corner of the barn, insulated and fitted with enough power for his computer, fax machine and more. Fred still had to drive to Upton about three times a month for meetings and reports, but the rest of the time he reported to work across the barn yard, near the chickens, which made him nervous at first, but he got used to them. And as long as he faxed the results of his work to the companies involved, they were happy.

Myrtle's insurance claim was finally settled and the proceeds helped with the move and with preparing for the baby. Their first born was a son, Fred the third, who later in his childhood, decided that he preferred to be called “Three.” After that, two daughters were born, Katherine (Myrtle’s mother’s name) Mabel (Kate), and Myrtle Millicent (Cen’). Aside from raising her kids, Myrtle helped with the work of the farm, which she enjoyed immensely. She had more of an affinity with the paperwork, like Mabel, but she loved working with the plants as well.

Bill visited the farm with Billy almost as often as Horace. In fact, Billy became something of a fixture there whenever Bill had to take trips. Cynthia, it turned out, had enough of motherhood early and ran off with a show promoter, hoping for a career in Vegas. Bill, still the doting father, was raising Billy on his own, with the help of Fred and Myrtle, Mabel and Millie. Flora passed on before Three was born, of heart disease related to her size, temperament, and diabetes, in her truck, in the parking lot of an Upton truck accessory shop. Her secret wasn’t quite buried with her, but the others had no intention of blabbing. Bill was her executor, and he opted to sell Flora’s house and truck, and cut the proceeds in three: one part for himself, one for Billy’s education and one for Fred, who was surprised and grateful, especially since it helped pay for that office in the barn. And so life went on.

The End...... or is it?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Surprise and A Wedding

Fred kept his apartment in town for a couple of months, just in case. But Myrtle wanted no part of it and after a while it seemed silly to be paying for an empty apartment. Despite the proximity of the cottage to Fred’s mother, Myrtle reasoned, “just because you’re living close to her, doesn’t mean you have to see her any more often. If you see her as we pass her place, just wave. If you meet her at the mail boxes, which I never have by the way, just say ‘hello,’” she instructed.

The bug-eyed building superintendent would have been pretty annoyed when Fred gave his notice and might have tried to hold him to the lease, except he wanted Fred’s apartment for a buddy of his anyway. Fred rewarded the man’s largess by offering to leave the couch behind for his buddy. The Super was agreeable. The rest of Fred’s relatively new belongings either replaced something older and worn at Myrtle’s, like the bed and the television, or went into storage at the farm, with a few unwanted things given to charity. And so Fred settled into Myrtle’s little cottage with her.

They were together for the holidays, when they paid an obligatory visit to Fred’s mother with gift in hand. This is when they learned that Cynthia was pregnant. Flora was bragging mightily that Bill was giving her a grandchild to spoil. Fred blanched at the news. They didn’t stay long, especially when they heard that Bill and Cynthia were on their way over too.

Fred and Myrtle celebrated the New Year alone together. In fact, they kept pretty much to themselves much of the time, getting used to each other and sharing their lives so completely. They even went back to driving to work together most days. Myrtle finally had a driveway put in for the extra car, which they only needed on occasion. They did visit the farm regularly and when they told Myrtle’s aunts they wanted to get married, the matter was pretty much taken out of their hands.

Fred and Myrtle were married the following August, at the very height of the growing season, at the farm. Myrtle’s aunts put on a feast of fresh produce, including fresh, garden veggies and dips, potato salad, green salad, pickles, corn on the cob, along with buffalo burgers and platters of barbecued chicken, with Horace Dilby gleefully volunteering to man the barbecue. And there were also baked goods ~ pies, quick breads and cupcakes, besides the wedding cake Mabel made for them. The feast was to die for. They rented a huge tent in case of inclement weather and put the feast in there. But the weather was beautiful, so the ceremony was held outdoors and the tent was welcome shade for enjoying the food and company.

Some of the guests arrived a couple of days early, especially those in the wedding party. Bill was to be Fred’s best man, and so they couldn’t avoid having Cynthia there too, with her new baby. The little one looked like sort of a miniature Fred, and after he saw him, Fred just kind of wandered away, muttering softly to himself, with Myrtle right behind him to comfort him. Bill didn’t seem to notice or at least care what the baby looked like. He was a proud, doting and very hands-on father, in rather stark contrast to Cynthia, who clearly wasn’t taking to motherhood with as much enthusiasm as she had to being a housewife.

The most disconcerting intrusion on the event was Flora, who kept staring at the baby, glaring at Cynthia, and scowling at Fred, repeatedly. Even Myrtle’s aunts noticed the frequency with which she did this. The day before the wedding, they stood with Flora admiring her mighty truck, then invited her to take them for a ride in it to town. They all returned a few hours later with Millie at the wheel and Myrtle guessed that they’d taken Flora to Rainy Tavern. It took both Millie and Mabel to help Flora to a spare bedroom for a nap. Then Millie found Myrtle for a chat.

“It’s interesting the number of people who cheat on their partners,” Millie began. She had Myrtle’s immediate interest, and went on. “Seems Fred’s mother had a little affair with a travelling salesman, and Bill was the result.”

Myrtle’s mouth fell open, despite herself. “So Fred and Bill.....”

“...don’t have the same father,” finished Millie. “So there is no way in hell that Bill’s baby could look even remotely like Fred, unless....”

“Oh no,” groaned Myrtle. “So she’s figured it out. What are we to do?” she fussed. “What if she pipes up at that part where the Justice says, ‘if there is anyone here who knows any reason.....’”

“It’ll be ok,” Millie assured her. “We told her what happened.” Myrtle looked surprised. “We had to, Myrtle! She’d already guessed anyway. But we assured her it was Cynthia who was the aggressor, and not Fred, and that it would spoil a lot of lives if she blabbed, which it turns out she doesn’t want to anyway, because Bill doesn’t know, either about his parentage, or....”

“Oh geez,” said Myrtle, sighing. “So now everyone knows.... except....”

“...yeah... Bill,” finished Millie again. “And Flora would be crushed if her Billy ever found out, so.....”

Myrtle could only chuckle. “Great,” she said sarcastically, “so we all have something on each other. Now, will Flora quit glaring and scowling?” she asked.

“She’s going to try, Myrtle. She wasn’t even aware she was doing it in the first place,” chuckled Millie.

Myrtle sighed again, shaking her head. She thanked her aunt for helping, then they took off in different directions to continue what they’d been doing. Flora was a little hung over at the rehearsal, but at least she was quiet and well-behaved, thought Myrtle. In fact, there was no other craziness that day, except for when Fred thought the chickens were chasing him across the barn yard. He was, however, holding a tin of chicken feed at the time, and that’s really all they wanted. Mabel rescued him. Later, they all had a little laugh at his expense, including Fred.

And so, on a lovely, sunny day in August, Fred and Myrtle became husband and wife. It was a beautiful, casual ceremony with the usual nervous groom and beaming bride. Myrtle’s Aunt Millie gave her away. Mabel didn’t want to be in the wedding party, the better to keep an eye on things, so she sat across the aisle from Flora in the parental seats where Millie soon joined her. Winn was Myrtle’s maid of honour. Bill waited in front of the gathering with Fred, seeming almost as nervous as the groom. During the beautiful and brief ceremony, it looked for a moment as if Fred might faint, but with Bill on one side and Myrtle on the other, he took a few deep breaths and was able to finish the ceremony.

Later, Myrtle ate a little too much of her aunts’ scrumptious summer feast and Fred drank just a little too much and started giggling as Mr. Grieves was holding forth to Myrtle’s aunts about what a great job Fred was doing. Bill spent only the actual ceremony without his new son in tow, clucking over him like a well-muscled mother hen. Helen and Winn were both a huge help to Myrtle’s aunts, especially carrying foods out to the tent and helping with the clean up. Dick looked a little lost, but Horace Dilby seemed to be right in his element, enjoying the food, drink, company, barbecuing, and Millie’s greenhouses all in gleeful moderation. All and all, it was a great day.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Love Blossoms

Fred was standing at the door. He was supposed to be going home. He knew it would probably take awhile to earn Myrtle’s trust again, but he was feeling better than he had in a long time and he was hungry for her. He pulled her close, gazed intently into her eyes for a moment, then kissed her. Her lips yielded, her mouth open and willing, her tongue teased his, and he responded with unbounded ardour. Myrtle pulled herself away and looked again into his eyes. It was impossible to mistake his passion.

“You still have to have protection,” she said softly.

Fred reached two fingers into his shirt pocket and pulled out a little package, relieved that he hadn’t lost it in his tumble. He smiled a little uncertainly at Myrtle. She just laughed softly and took the package from him.

“C’mon,” she said. She led him down the hallway to her bedroom and, once inside, turned down the sheets on the bed.

Fred almost couldn’t believe it, but he sure wasn’t going to argue. Suddenly Myrtle was there, undoing the buttons on his shirt and his belt, as he kissed her face and neck and slid a hand up under her sweater, caressing her soft skin. She brushed her lips against his, then when he leaned in for the kiss, she backed away and laughed slyly.

“You tease!” he muttered, grabbing her just a little roughly and pulling her to him. He kissed her hard and long and she yielded, her hands fluttering across his cheek and sliding around his shoulders. She could feel the hard bulge in his trousers. She backed away again, giving him a playful little shove, then pulled her sweater off. She wasn’t wearing a bra. She undid her jeans and kicked them away. Right on cue, he pulled his own clothes off, leaving them in a heap with hers. Her panties followed, as did his shorts. They stood before each other, Myrtle smiling mischievously as she dangled the condom in front of Fred. If Fred was smitten before, it was a hundred-fold now. Myrtle was compact, but her breasts were firm and beautiful, her nipples aroused, her hips rounded and inviting, her smile so enticing.

Fred stepped toward her, holding out his hand for the condom, but Myrtle wasn’t going to give it to him. She hopped onto the bed and lay on one side, leaning on her elbow, still dangling the little package in her other hand. Fred chuckled and climbed onto the bed beside her. His erection needed no coaxing and his arousal was full as Myrtle tore open the package and gently placed it’s contents on him, unrolling it slowly, until Fred thought he would explode with desire.

Then she held out her arms, inviting him to her. He slipped one arm under her and gently coaxed her legs apart with one of his, his lips and fingers caressing her from her shoulders to her breasts and then down her trembling body, until his fingers gently explored the soft, dark forest between her legs and found what he was looking for. He gently massaged the moist opening while his lips caressed her body again, lingering on her breasts. Then he found her mouth again for another deep burning kiss.

“Oh Myrtle,” he breathed, “you are so beautiful.”

“Don’t hurt me,” she said softly, moving against his fingers.

“Are you...?” he began.

“No, but it’s been a long time, so I’m practically brand new,” she teased softly. He continued to massage her gently as her legs opened wider and she tried to pull him closer. “I want you inside me, Fred... please,” she moaned.

Fred moved over her and penetrated her slowly. She pushed against him, placing her hands firmly on his hips and pulling him harder into her. She raised her legs and moaned softly as she moved against him, quaking with her lust. Even in the cool bedroom, the two slipped together in a fervent passion that had their lean bodies glistening with perspiration. Then her head fell back onto the pillow and she moaned as she let go of him, her fingers gripping the bed sheet under them.

“Oh Fred, don’t stop.... oh Fred.... ohhhh.” Her arms encircled him as she pulled herself hard against him, then she released her hold and let her head fall back onto the pillow again.

His eyes widened with the potency of her climax. Then he held her hard against him as his own ardour was rewarded. He was vaguely aware of Myrtle’s legs encircling his, as if she wasn’t going to let him go. He rolled on one side, carrying her with him, holding onto her tightly. Then he kissed her again, softly, gently. “I love you, Myrtle,” he said, resting his forehead against hers.

“I love you too, Fred,” she whispered. “You’re mine,” she added, a little fiercely.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Back Together?

Myrtle was getting everything ready to just throw the Fettuccine Alfredo together once Fred got there. The table was set, the salads were made, the white wine was breathing. It got dark so early at this time of year, she could see the shadow and headlights of a car stop on her side of road across from her cottage. The front light was on, nevertheless she heard an “oof” and a thud interrupt the footsteps coming around the cottage. It was almost a minute before she heard the tap at the back door. Myrtle opened the porch door and there stood Fred, with a dirt smudge on one cheek and some dried leaves in his hair, the rest of him a little askew.

“Oh, are you all right, Fred?” she asked in alarm.

“Yeah... yeah, I guess. That root really needs to be taken out,” he observed. “I’d forgotten about it,” he sighed, almost tripping through the door. He stood inside the door, just looking at Myrtle. Slowly a smile crept across his face. “I’ve missed you, Myrtle,” he said.

Myrtle returned the smile. “I missed you too, Fred,” she said. “C’mon in,” she motioned, and turned toward the kitchen. “Brush yourself off, sit and we’ll talk while I make supper,” she said.

Fred wanted to grab Myrtle and hold her close, but he sat down at the table as he was told. All in good time, he thought.

“So, what is your news at work, Fred?” asked Myrtle, as she put some noodles into a large saucepan of boiling water and began cutting up some ham.

As Fred sipped a little wine, he told Myrtle all about how Helen put him in the conference room with a bunch of statistics and he wound up with a whole new job and a whole new long, narrow office with a “picture window” on the wall that he found at the thrift shop.

They were both chuckling along merrily when Myrtle set their supper on the table. She poured herself some wine and sat down across from Fred.

“So you’re all healed up then?” asked Myrtle as she twirled her noodles on her fork.

“Almost,” said Fred. “I mean, I’m fine, Myrtle. I really am.” He looked up as he chewed. Myrtle made a motion at her mouth, and Fred, catching on, used his napkin to wipe cream sauce off his mouth. He looked at her and smiled a funny little smile. “This is really good,” he said happily. Then he cleared his throat. “Um, those blood tests,” he continued awkwardly, “I was worried..... I mean, I thought maybe when she did that, she might have given me something.” Myrtle stopped eating and looked at him. “Anyway, all the tests came back negative. Just so you know,” he sort of muttered.

“I’m so glad you told the truth, Fred,” said Myrtle.

“So am I,” he said instantly, wondering almost immediately if that was the right thing to say. “I mean, I’m not very good at lying anyway.”

“I noticed,” smiled Myrtle. “Although, you pretend to be sick rather well.”

Fred blushed and chuckled self-consciously. “I just didn’t know what to do, Myrtle. I kinda wished I was dead for awhile there.”

This statement had Myrtle putting her utensils down and looking at him intently. “Oh Fred, that’s awful,” she sympathized. “You should know, I guess, that I told Cynthia to never, ever go near you again.”

Fred looked at her in something like amazement. “You really did that?”

Myrtle nodded and chuckled, “I told her you’re my boyfriend and to stay away.”

Fred smiled in surprise. “You did? Well, thank you,” he said, smiling even more.

The two were silent a few moments, then began talking about the freakishly mild weather as they finished their meal, and then switched to flowers when Fred noticed one carnation blossom sitting in a brandy snifter on the table between them. Myrtle put the kettle on for tea and the two finished their wine at the table.

When the tea was ready, Myrtle poured them each a mug and they moved to the living room where Myrtle put a small log in the wood stove against the descending chill. As they sipped and chatted, Fred moved closer to Myrtle. After a few minutes, he put his arm around her. She smiled up at him and moved a little closer too.

“I’m sorry, Myrtle,” he said again, apropos of nothing in particular.

“I know you are, Fred,” she said, snuggling even closer.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fred Makes Headway

Fred’s new office was kind of a long, narrow, windowless room, but he made it work. He brought in a model ship and placed it on a shelf on the end wall to make the room seem more his own. On the same Saturday that Myrtle encountered Cynthia, Fred was walking by the thrift shop up the road from his apartment and saw a picture that was just exactly right for his new office. It was a picture of a window. He laughed out loud when he found it. He wished he could tell Myrtle that he had a “picture window” in his new office. He felt sad and frustrated that he hadn’t heard from her. He wondered if she liked the flowers and cards. At least she hadn’t called him up to tell him to stop, so he held out hope. Still, he wondered what more he should do.

The following Tuesday, Fred decided to call his doctor’s office to check on that last test result. He was getting quite anxious. He wasn’t really expecting the result to be back yet, but called on the pretext of giving them his new office extension number. To his surprise, the result was back. It was negative. Fred felt relieved, but also more anxious than ever to do something more to get Myrtle back.

That evening he picked up his phone about four times and put it back down again. He wanted to call her, but he was afraid she’d just hang up on him. Finally he guessed there was really only one way to find out, so he picked up the phone again. Myrtle answered after only one ring.

“Hi,” said Fred softly. “I... I hope it’s all right that I’m calling,” he began, not quite sure what to say.

“I guess so,” said Myrtle, sounding a little uncertain herself.

Still, she hadn’t hung up and this gave Fred courage. “Myrtle, I’m so sorry I let you down. I’m really more the one-woman man type... I really am.” Myrtle said nothing. “I don’t know why Cynthia did what she did...” he continued.

“I do,” interrupted Myrtle.

“What?” said Fred, completely taken by surprise.

“Oh, I ran into your sister-in-law. Turns out she’s trying to get pregnant and your brother is shooting blanks,” she said a little angrily.

“But.... but... I don’t wanna have a baby with her!” protested Fred.

“No, I’m sure you don't,” she said more calmly. “If it works, I think she’s planning to let Bill think he did it himself,” she said. “This Cynthia is nuts,” she added.

“Then you know...” he stuttered. “You know it wasn’t my idea. I don’t care about her, Myrtle. I only care about you,” he sort of whined.

“Thank you for the cards and flowers,” said Myrtle softly.

“Did you like them?”

“Oh yes. They’re very beautiful, Fred.”

Things were going well, so Fred took a deep breath. “When can I see you Myrtle?” he asked. Before she could answer, he went on, “I sort of got a promotion at work, and a new office, and I haven’t been able to tell anyone about it.”

“I guess you can tell me,” offered Myrtle. Then, “you’re already back at work?” she asked with evident concern. “How’s your incision healing?”

“It’s fine, Myrtle. No problems at all,” he assured her. “I’d like to see you.... talk to you in person,” he ventured.

“Ok,” she said cautiously. “Fred, why don’t you come here.... say, Friday evening? Come for supper, and we’ll talk,” she offered.

“Oh yes,” said Fred enthusiastically. “I’d love that, Myrtle. I’ll be there. Thank you,” he added softly.

Then they said goodnight, just a little awkwardly. Fred felt like whooping when he put down the phone. He was getting to see his girl again!

The rest of the week seemed to pass a little slowly for Fred who was having a hard time keeping his mind on statistics. For Myrtle, time seemed to go too fast as she debated with herself what to serve Fred for supper. She didn’t want to serve anything too plain, or anything too complex either. By Thursday she’d decided to make him Fettuccine Alfredo. It was simple, yet kind of elegant. She would serve it with salad and a little white wine, and shop for the ingredients on her way home that evening so she wouldn’t have to stop on Friday. She wasn’t sure how things were going to go between them, but at the very least, she decided she just wasn’t going to hate Fred for what had happened. Cynthia was quite clearly the aggressor and had victimized him. Maybe it just wasn’t smart to let that crazy woman ruin their relationship, she thought.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Myrtle Meets Cynthia

Thursday was also the day Myrtle got Fred’s card in the mail. She read the obviously heart-felt message with mixed feelings, then placed the card, open, on her kitchen table. She was still a little incredulous about it all, but for the first time she considered the possibility that Fred was too. She would have to give this more thought for sure, she thought.

On Saturday, Myrtle saw a florist truck drive by. A few minutes later, she saw it drive by again, only this time the driver backed up and peered through the trees at her cottage. She went out to the pathway to help him out and met him there.

“You Myrtle Waters?” he asked.

Myrtle nodded and took the large flower box from the man. She had brought two dollars with her, for a tip, just in case. She put it in the delivery man’s hand and thanked him. Inside, she opened the box to find a dozen beautiful, red roses and a card that said, “Myrtle, I really didn’t know what was happening. Please forgive me. Fred.”

She pulled a large vase out from under the sink and arranged the roses, then put them on the table next to the card. Myrtle was still uncertain about it all, yet she was sort of enjoying this. At least, she felt gratified that Fred hadn’t just given up. It was getting more and more difficult to stay angry with him. On Friday evening, Fred mailed a second card, writing in it, simply, “Please forgive me, Myrtle. Love Fred”

The next week was awfully busy for them both. Fred was settling into his new job almost full time now. His recovery time had been short, even for a man not doing a physical job, but except for the occasional twinge, he felt much better physically than he had in a long time. He had suffered through so much pain with his injury that the healing process paled by comparison, except for when the staples were removed and then that other time, with Cynthia.

He really just wanted to focus on doing this new work well, so he immersed himself in it. Helen was scrambling to find him an actual office big enough for the flip chart, a white board, a large desk, etc. In the meantime, Fred was working in the conference room where he started. It turned out that there was a back-log of data analysis waiting for him. Since Mr. Grieve’s had more or less dumped this problem on Helen, she would supervise Fred’s work. She finally had a large storage room near her office cleared out and made into an office for Fred. When Fred was moved into it, he was told it was his, and he could decorate as he wished. He realized he didn’t even have a picture of Myrtle to put up. He had pictures of his mother, but decided against that.

There was a buzz of excitement at the college as well. Students and staff alike were asked to submit depositions about Pelham’s behaviour, just in case they were needed. So there was a flurry of activity about the place all week, but it wasn’t anything negative or difficult for Myrtle. It was just sort of an air of determination and expectation in the place that kind of kept everyone on their toes. So Myrtle went through the week alternately busy with her work, thinking about Fred, and wondering what would happen next with Pelham.

Fred’s second card was in Myrtle’s mail box on the Tuesday. She opened it. Noticing that Fred had signed it “Love Fred,” she smiled and placed it on the table with the other one. The roses needed some care, so she trimmed the stems, rearranged them and changed the water, putting a little sugar in it to help keep the roses nice. Fred was definitely on her mind. She kept thinking about what her Aunt Mabel had said about losing the one man she really loved because he made a mistake. She had never asked what the mistake was. Must have been something pretty profound, she thought.

The following Saturday, a dozen carnations arrived. She arranged those as well, with the card that said simply, “Please forgive me. Love Fred.” Myrtle took care of them rather quickly though, finding a place for them in the living room. She had a little art show to attend as well as some shopping to do and was heading into town for both. The florist delivery guy had just caught her still at home. She grabbed a jacket and was headed out her road when she saw a pink convertible parked in Flora’s driveway, with a rather voluptuously done up woman next to it. She chuckled, thinking that Mary Kaye was visiting Flora of all people. But at the stop sign, she stopped longer than usual. She turned to look back, then she backed up and turned into Flora’s driveway behind the pink car.

When Myrtle climbed out the woman beside the pink car sort of moved toward her and said, “oh, honey, I’m just going out. Could you move your car?”

But Myrtle just walked right up to her. “Are you Cynthia?” she asked.

Cynthia, apparently mistaking Myrtle for a fan, giggled and said, “Oh yes, I am. But I’m on my way out, honey.”

Myrtle stared. “Did you go to Fred’s apartment and seduce him?” she demanded.

Cynthia’s eyes widened. “Shhhh... not so loud, honey. Don’t want Flo to hear,” she said, looking over her shoulder at the window facing the driveway.

“Well did you?” asked Myrtle again, even louder.

“Well yeah,” said Cynthia, in sort of a stage whisper. “Sure I did. Billy’s sperm count is low and we’re trying to have a kid. It wasn’t anything personal... just wanted to keep it in the family. I’m not much into turkey basters,” she giggled.

Myrtle just stared. “Not personal?! You seduced my boyfriend and you say it isn’t PERSONAL?!”

It was Cynthia’s turn to stare. “Oh my, shhhh,” she said, a little helplessly. “Honestly honey, I didn’t know he had a girlfriend,” she offered, shrugging.

Myrtle dared to get even closer, standing on her tiptoes to get right into Cynthia’s face. “Don’t you EVER go near my man again! NOT. EVER.!!” With that, and shaking from her own nerve, Myrtle turned and got into her car, then actually burned rubber backing down Flora’s driveway.

Myrtle was most of the way to town before she recovered enough from the encounter to fully realize what she’d done. She had laid claim to Fred in no uncertain terms. Moreover, she’d discovered that Fred was telling the truth. That woman is nuts, she thought. Not personal, indeed! She really had done what Fred claimed she had. Suddenly she felt a little sorry for Fred, being bulldozed by such as woman as Cynthia. It was getting tougher and tougher to stay angry with him. But not tough at all to be furious with Cynthia.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A New Job!

Fred had already been feeling a little tired when he got to work, what with all his cleaning at home. He hoped he could focus on this new work enough to not let Helen down. He had just a twinge of self-doubt which seemed to go with a small twinge of pain in his stomach, but then buried his nose in the papers in front of him.

The company had hired a consulting firm to conduct a number of efficiency studies for them. Unfortunately the results had been presented to them pretty much as pages and pages of statistics. When the company complained about the format, the consulting firm insisted they’d done everything they’d been commissioned to do. So the company needed someone to interpret the findings in a more practical way so they could decide which of their business practices could benefit most by being changed. They also needed to know specifically what changes needed to be tried first. This was the task that was given to Fred.

The time and motion studies came first. Fred wondered if these weren’t just experiments in rushing people at their work, but once he got into them, he found them rather fascinating. They were really about finding the best way to do a thing, and then training the employees to do the task that way. He also noticed that the best methods were meant to also enhance the safety of the workers, which would ultimately save on injuries such as his, hence, saving the company considerable time and money on injury claims, as well as saving employees the inconvenience and pain of injury. This, he decided, was a good thing. And so Fred worked away at interpreting the studies into a working strategy.

At the end of his first day doing this, he was very tired. But he felt good, knowing there was something important and interesting for him to do at work. While he was doing his shopping, he noticed the greeting card section of the store. The words “I’m Sorry” stuck out somehow. He went over and had a look. He couldn’t make up his mind between three cards he liked, so he bought them all, figuring that getting Myrtle to forgive him wasn’t exactly going to be a one-card job anyway.

After unpacking his groceries and eating a simple supper of canned spaghetti right out of the can, Fred sat down at his table and composed a short note in one of the cards:

“Dearest Myrtle,
“I really am sorry for letting you down. I didn’t mean it to happen. She caught me completely off guard. Honestly Myrtle, it’s you I care about. Please don’t hate me. Fred”

He addressed it and mailed it downstairs in the building mail box. Sighing, he returned to his apartment and decided to watch some TV before bed. He was tired, but he was actually looking forward to work the next day.

And so the week went along for them both. On Thursday, Fred found out his blood tests were negative. He felt some relief, but there was still that last one out there somewhere. Still, if what Bill had told him was true, he probably didn’t have anything to worry about. He would just feel better when the results of the HIV test were in. At work, Fred took some of his work to Helen, just to make sure that what he was doing was what she wanted. A little later in the day, he was called to her office. Mr. Grieves was there.

“You’ve made Helen a very happy woman,” the man chuckled so deeply that it came out as a rumble. Fred just kind of stared nervously. Nice, he thought, not the woman he most wanted to impress, but... “Do you like this work, Fred,” Mr, Grieves was asking.

“Oh yes,” he heard himself say. “I like working with the statistics, Mr. Grieves. They ... um... sort of seem to speak to me,” he stammered, instantly wondering if this last admission was a good idea.

But Mr. Grieves only rumbled again. “So you wouldn’t mind being reassigned to this job permanently?”

Again, Fred was caught by surprise, but he went with his gut on this one. “No sir, I guess not,” he smiled. He wasn’t expecting this, but he did prefer the statistics over the shipping codes.

“Good, m’boy... that’s very good,” said the boss. He glanced at Helen who was smiling happily. “Helen has been looking for the right person for this job for some time. Not much point in commissioning studies if you don’t understand the results!” he almost shouted, then he laughed quite loudly, making Fred back up just a little. “Have you ever studied Data Analysis, Fred?”

“No sir,” said Fred, a little uncertainly. “It just seems easy to me,” he sort of squeaked.

“Well that’s fine,” said Mr. Grieves. “But we’ll be sending you to some Data Analysis courses at Upton College in the coming semester, just to cover your back, so to speak,” said the man smiling.

Upton College, thought Fred. He smiled hugely, which of course was misinterpreted by Mr. Grieves, but no matter. Fred was thrilled with what was apparently his new job, and even more thrilled that he would have an excuse to appear on campus where Myrtle worked. At least, he hoped his classes would be somehow close to where Myrtle worked.

“If it works out,” Mr. Grieves was saying, “we’ll be having you continue on with data analysis for the larger corporate interests.” Mr. Grieves leaned a little closer to Fred and lowered his deep voice just a little, “and there will be a little something extra in your pay if all goes well, Fred.” He winked.

Fred was very pleased with this news and wished he had someone to share it with.