Chapter 1: Okay Mr. Pudgy, We Can Go Now
It was staring back at him. Pudgy, round. Almost smiling at the six-foot-two frame of Jude Taylor, if such a thing could smile. It overlapped his gold belt buckle just a bit. It was smiling at him. “All these years of improper health and diet. This is your fault,” it would say. Who cares, 27 year old men don’t have rock-solid six-packs.
Except they did.
At least Tim Rosenbaum did. That sorry SOB neighbor of Jude’s. That “Body-for-Life” finalist. He’d stayed with the program now 5 years. Bastard, with his bulging biceps, and his veins that wrapped like vines around the giant trees of the Amazon. Mr. the-whole-town-kisses-my-ass. He didn’t care. Screw him. He was doing alright.
Sure, Jude didn’t own his own collection Porsches, but he managed. Who needed that many cars anyway? He was doing alright. He still got to live on the white-picket fence street, Hillhock Lane. White, yellow, light brown, and brick houses lined the street in perfect-parallel rows down the street rounding off in a cul-de-sac, where his small two-story sat just at the corner. He had a two-car garage, big open windows (enough for his aunts, uncles, little cousins, parents, and grandparent to climb through at the same time), and a pool and hot tub in the backyard. He even had a security system put in. Yes, he was doing alright.
It was still staring at him. He buttoned up his shirt to hide away its smirk. He had to go to lunch with Isabella Moretti-Jones today. God, she was beautiful. Not that high-school-crush kind of beautiful, but that 27-year-old woman kind of beautiful. She didn’t have the shape of a woman who had already popped out two kids, at least as her outward appearance showed. Smooth skin. A nice mixture of Italian and Southern Alabama Caucasian saw to that. God, she was beautiful, with those just-right long legs and almost Coke-bottle curves.
It had been one year since they last met. He was sure she hasn’t changed that much. Maybe she has? No. She couldn’t have. This was his once-a-year meeting with her. All the bad karma that he’d built up in the last year won’t take this one day away from him.
It doesn’t really matter though he thought. It’s not like Isabella and he are going to go sneak back into the band room closet and make out, like they did on a daily-basis 10 years ago. He was married. She was married. Was he happy? Was she happy? Who cares? At least he’d get to see her. His year would be complete. Why’d he let her get away all those years ago?
He knew how to answer that question. Because he couldn’t resist aggressive women, that’s why. One, mainly being, Angela. Angela Bach. She never had that hour-glass figure. She was thick. No, not thick-fat, but thick with a big round bottom that was complimented by more-than-a-handful-sized breasts. She had the most beautiful face in all of his high school. And that hasn’t changed. Not in 10 years. At least the face hasn’t. Her thick has turned into something that isn’t quite as eye-pleasing these days. And she is always, still, the aggressor, just as she had been all those years ago. Angela was the first girl to kiss him like a teenage boy wants to be kissed. She just crawled onto him and gave the 13 year old the make-out session of his life. But, more on Jude’s high school make-out sessions later.
Now, it was time to spray on his Curve, a cologne he had been overusing 10 years now. Maybe it was time for a change. Maybe not, Jude didn’t like change. He had a certain routine that he went through every day. He got up every morning at 6:00. He took a leak. He ate breakfast. He sat at his computer and browsed the internet for 30 minutes. He took a crap. Then he got dressed, brushed his teeth, and headed off to work at 7:30 on the dot. Never fails. Routine is the only way for him to get anything done. So, change is bad. There’s a certain order of things. A certain order to the universe, and he didn’t want to screw with order.
He had to find one. Which one? That’s one thing that he desperately needed to organize, or better yet, clean out the rack they droop from. Why did he need 7 different blues, 9 reds, 5 greens, 3 Christmas, 6 Valentine’s Day, or even that Thanksgiving tie? What in the Hell did he have a Thanksgiving tie for? Must’ve been a gift. At least that what he’ll tell people. No way in Hell he was he going to say he had bought it himself. Wait, there’s a magenta. He’d go with that, feeling magenta-esque today. There’s also a pink. He’d have to throw that out when he got around to his reorganizing of the tie rack. Every single tie Jude owned is left hanging in its tied position. He was too lazy to tie them every morning, so he just left them like that.
There it is. A Skittles box. You know, that candy they make you sell for high school clubs and organizations. Those bastard high school teachers could never come up with anything to sell other than Skittles, candy bars, and candles. So, you lugged around chocolate and Skittles all day, selling, or carried around a catalogue with more candles than a person ever knew existed door-to-door, to your grandmothers, aunts and uncles, and other relatives that you only saw for those particular occasions.
A Skittles Box.
But this was a special Skittles box. It no longer held 50 packets of all the colors of the rainbow. It didn’t even have the faint scent of the candy left in it any more. All it held was continuously browning, aging paper, folded in only a way that high school girls can fold. The kind of folds that is beyond the comprehension of high school boys when they try to fold it back up after reading it. Most of the time they were just stuffed into back packs or lockers, but not Jude’s. He managed to fold them back together, to preserve them, in their [un]natural state. He couldn’t look at them now.
N-2-M-H. You know what! You’re a really good kisser. Just thought you should know. I had fun Friday night. Anyways, I’ll talk to you later.
ps. Sorry So Sloppy
B(oys) B(ounce) B(etter) B(eneath) B(lankets)
S(afe) S(ex) S(ucks) S(o) S(crew) S(omeone) S(pecial)
He could still remember it by heart. Angela’s first letter. They were in ninth grade. Sure, she wasn’t going to be a great Literature major, but she knew how to write the high school letter. You have your basics, “What’s up,” the header. “N-2-M-H” starting the body. And for all you who don’t get the late 90’s reference, maybe, is it still used today? “Not Too Much Here.” And the multiple postscripts with the single “ps.” It was the standard. And you had to follow the rules. Jude did, however, get a few not-so-standard letters back then. We’ll go through those sometime.
Angela and he had bought their first cappucino machine when they first got married, and went through at least ten more since then. He was never a coffee drinker. He couldn’t stand the crap. He had to go with the cappuccino. Of course, they still had to get her a coffee machine. Since then, Jude gradually converted her to the cappuccino-drinking club.
He was going to be late. Too much looking back at Mr. Pudgy. “But he was staring. Smiling. And an evil smile at that.” That’s a good excuse. Jude thought about using the excuse and laughed. Iz’ll understand. Sure she will. She only lives two hours away, and makes the drive down here every fall. He’s just glad she’s moved past the years of bringing her kids. Daddy’s finally got a job in the city, and can keep the kids for a day or two.
Angela and he never had kids. It was part of their arrangement. They both lived much too busy lives. But, the real truth is, they knew they would never be good parents. Hell, they knew they’d never pass as decent parents. Both of them were too self-absorbed and way too materialistic. Not having kids was the only way they’d ever get to stay self-absorbed and materialistic. It’s the only way they’d ever get to have the things they wanted in life. They both had good jobs. She was a manager at a fashion-design company in Montgomery. He was a free-lance writer. He never could hold down a steady job at any one place, other than the local newspaper, which paid next to nothing. That’s the only reason he got up in the mornings, to go to the office. He had been working on the Great American Novel though. But, we won’t get into that just now.
He was going to meet Isabella Moretti-Jones today. If fate had taken a different road she’d be Isabella Moretti-Taylor. She was the type of woman who had to keep her last name. She was proud of her heritage. Her roots. Jude wondered what Wesley thought about that. He wondered if he felt like a smaller man when they were introduced in formal settings. “Mr. Jones and Mrs. Moretti-Jones.” “Mr. and Mrs. Moretti-Jones.” How does a married couple introduce themselves with different last names? It was beyond Jude.
There’s no way he could make it. Fifteen minutes to get down to the local “Sandwich House.” Mr. Pudgy was ready to leave, reassuring with a slight moan. It was either that, or he was ready to set Jude back another 15 minutes or so. To be so consistent in his weekday routine, he couldn’t figure out how to get himself going on a Saturday. The whole routine is screwed up. And as stated earlier, he doesn’t want to screw with the order of things. The universe does not take lightly people screwing with her balance.
“Okay Mr. Pudgy, we can go now.” They had to go. They had to go meet those long legs and that smooth skin. It’s only once a year. He needed to get in all the minutes that he could. God knows, they might not be able to keep this up for another 10 years. Old age. “It catches up with you,” is what they say. They were almost hitting thirty and in another ten years, they’ll be hitting that halfway mark. Jude was planning on making it. Screw them. And screw the universe if she doesn’t agree.