I am a Correction Officer assigned to a maximum-security prison of some notoriety in Western New York.
I have lived alone since my wife passed away five years ago.
The term insurance that I carried on my wife paid off all debt, and added to my net worth.
It did nothing to console my loneliness.
My house is a large three-story brick farmhouse.
Stately and mature black walnut trees surround it.
I also had a large stands of oak and hard maple trees 400 yards behind the house.
These are the predominate trees on my property.
My trees afford me shade and privacy.
I have two barns as well as a two-car garage.
My nearest neighbor's live a mile or so away.
I decided to convert the third floor of my house into a three-room apartment with a kitchen and full bath.
I am quite handy with my hands, learning carpentry, electrical and plumbing early in life, doing most of the work myself.
Soon the apartment was ready to rent.
I posted a yellow file card on the bulletin board stating by appointment only.
As it turned out, I rented to the first person I interviewed.
Her name was Elizabeth Adamczyk, a new employee.
She just started working a week prior as a secretary in the Personnel Office.
My yellow file card was probably up for less then an hour.
Elizabeth read it and put it in her purse to keep away prospective renters, thank God.
Elizabeth left work early that day and drove to my house.
She actually arrived an hour before I did giving her the opportunity to really look things over.
I could see an old beat-up red Ford sedan parked by the garage when I pulled into my driveway.
Elizabeth was standing outside on that beautiful fall day waiting to see the apartment.
While waiting, Elizabeth had gathered a bouquet of colorful fall leaves.
In this Elizabeth reminded me so much of my Bea.
Bea delighted in these simple pleasures as I loved and delighted in her.
So much of me died along with Bea, things I used to care about or notice.
I forgot how beautiful the individual leaves were, seeing merely a mess to rake up.
And I remembered how good my black walnuts tasted roasted hot out of the shell, or in Bea's turkey dressing.
That day I noticed the fall foliage was at its peak.
The leaves on the trees were vibrant and proud.
Displaying their rich shades of reds, oranges, and yellows.
Overshadowing the pensive green of the few remaining stubborn leaves in the background.
Those green leaves afraid to change and move on.
Such was I then.
Pensive and melancholy since my beautiful Bea...my wife Beatrice died.
The official paper work describing Elizabeth Adamczyk, contained in her impersonal personnel file.
Race: white, gender: female, age: 35, Height: 5’-6 “, weight: 125 lbs., Eyes: hazel.
That is how the bureaucrats in Albany see Elizabeth... black ink on paper.
I saw a lovely woman with a nice figure, clear complexion and youthful face.
I saw intelligent hazel eyes, a small turned up nose and sensuous lips.
Elizabeth's hair was pinned up sensibly for work, neat and professional, her precious little ears showing.
Elizabeth was wearing a white blouse and a dark gray skirt that day, with stockings and black pumps.
I got out of my truck, smiling and was fascinated with this pretty woman.
Elizabeth walked over to introduce herself.
Her handshake was firm and sincere.
Elizabeth was confident and looked me directly in the eye when she spoke.
The strangest thought or impression...feeling, perhaps all three came over me.
Beth...Beth, if she were my lover, what a marvelous thought...yes, Beth it is.
I liked Beth immediately.
I showed her the apartment on the spot without an appointment.
Two weeks later I helped Beth move her belongings from a small storage unit in Batavia with my pickup truck.
After Beth had lived above me for about 11 months.
I got to know her routine and schedule.
Beth was friendly but reserved and mostly tended to keep to herself.
She never had any gentlemen callers and seldom went out.
Beth did bowl every Thursday on a women's bowling league.
When Beth first moved in, she offered to help cut the grass.
During the winter months, if she saw me outside shoveling, she would come out and help me.
In the spring I taught Beth how to operate the old farm tractor I used to mow the property.
Without thinking, I picked her up by the waist and put her on the seat.
What a surprised look Beth had on her face.
I immediately apologized, a little red in the face myself; what was I thinking, or not thinking.
The first few times Beth drove the tractor, I stood along side on the step up talking her through things.
The second time out and unable to stop, Beth ran the tractor into the red sumac bushes sending me flying.
Beth took over caring for the perennial flowerbeds my wife planted around the house.
I pretty much had left them to go a little wild.
As with the fall leaves, Beth delighted in watching the first buds on the plants.
She would insist on me coming over to look at each one when they bloomed.
Beth's favorites were the yellow daffodils, as were mine
For her, I would drop whatever I was doing to go look.
In the evening we often sat together under the walnut trees.
We made small talk and argued current events.
Politically we are diametric.
Our arguments are passionate but never contentious.
I would sit with my arms folded, rooted in place like my trees, not giving an inch.
Beth would circle my chair.
She would then stop in front of me.
Her hands placed firmly on her hips, leaning slightly forward.
Then Beth would make her point or counter argument.
Finally Beth would stand straight and give her head a little toss.
When she did, I often had the urge to grab her and kiss her mouth.
Not to silence her mind you, but just because Beth was so damn stubborn...and pretty.
We seldom agreed about politics and most often agreed to disagree.
We wanted the same good things for our country, but approached it from different directions.
Beth would sit until after dark and crochet hats, scarves, mittens and blankets that she donated to the needy.
On those days, Margaret might join us, bringing the fixings for homemade ice cream, maple & black walnut ice cream.
Margaret was a neighbor lady that I first met when I was eight years old.
Many nights Beth and I would sit outside under the stars quietly enjoying each other’s company in unspoken agreement.
One fall morning, when the black walnuts were ready, Beth and I gathered bushel after bushel.
I brought out two pair of heavy neoprene rubber gloves and showed Beth how to husk the nuts.
Without the gloves ones hands would soon be stained yellow/brown for several days.
I showed Beth how to rinse them and to discard the floaters.
This was followed by putting them in racks two to three nuts deep to dry in the rafters of the barn.
Finally, after two weeks of drying, I set up a small gas grill outside.
We roasted and shelled them and sat together under the trees and ate fresh hot roasted walnuts, and drank apple cider, nothing better.
On this we both agreed.
She never talked about her past personal life.
I never talked about mine.
Beth was a good tenant except for one thing.
She was frequently late with the rent.
Annoyed with her, I decided to make some discreet inquiries.
On my lunch break I went to the Personnel Office to speak privately with my friend, Margaret.
Margaret stored her 1967 Chrysler Imperial Convertible in my barn rent-free.
From November to May until the weather turned warm enough to drive it.
I knew that Margaret would help me.
The first thing that Margaret asked me when I walked into her office was.
“When are you going to find yourself a nice girl?"
"I don't know any, Margaret."
"You have a very nice one living above you, Elizabeth"
"I don't think that Beth is interested in a relationship, Margaret."
"Did I just hear you call her, Beth?"
"I meant Elizabeth."
"Have you ever talked to Elizabeth and come out and asked her?
"Asked Elizabeth out on a date?"
"Invited Elizabeth into your home, and I don't mean outside under the trees?"
"We talk politics and current events.
She helps me with the flowers."
"I know all that.
How about taking Elizabeth bowling?"
"Elizabeth loves to bowl."
"I don't know how to bowl, Margaret."
I said, stubbornly.
"You forget, I have known you since you were a little boy, Ricky."
"Put your arms down, and stop being so stubborn.
I don't want to argue with you."
Margaret had over 40 years of state service.
Margaret knew all the passwords to access restricted computer files.
This enabled her to retrieve documents and information from the Central Office in Albany.
Margaret was well liked by everyone.
The secretaries working under her especially liked Margaret.
Margaret is like an old mother hen with connections.
I spent a great deal of time at Margaret's house growing up.
I found out that Beth was originally from the Buffalo, N.Y. area and had never married.
Beth attended Notre Dame College to get a teaching degree.
While attending college, she worked nights as a waitress.
Beth's father died suddenly, leaving her mother, not a well woman without savings or adequate insurance.
Beth dropped out of college and moved back home to support her mother.
In time, Beth's mother became too much for her to handle alone.
She reluctantly placed her mother in a nursing home to receive skilled nursing care.
After her mom's death, Beth lost the house because of liens filed against it by the home to defer the cost of her mother’s stay.
The last occupation listed on her state job application form was at J.C. Penny’s.
Beth worked as a salesperson in the shoe department.
"That’s all you need to know, Ricky.
I like Elizabeth very much.
She is a hard worker.
Elizabeth is perfect for you.
Take my word for it.
You are renting to a nice, hard working girl."
Margaret has a way with people.
Margaret also has to have the last word.
Before I left, Margaret reminded me again to find myself a nice girl.
Pointing out again there was one living above me.
Margaret hinted that Beth might be more then interested and was available.
I was too obtuse to pick up on Margaret's hints.
When I described our first handshake, Beth’s fingernails were short and sensible.
They were much longer on the day I visited Margaret.
With colored nail polish instead of clear.
I don’t like them that way.
Come to think of it, I noticed a lot of Secretaries with long painted fingernails.
Maybe it’s the new style or something.
On the way out, I saw Beth trying to ignore an outside repairman fixing the photocopy machine.
He was in his early twenties and seemed to be pestering Beth and was acting forward and over familiar.
For some reason I didn't like the looks of him.
I walked over to say hello to Beth and said.
"I won't be home right away, Elizabeth.
I'm going to stop and get a new nozzle for our hose.
Then, when we water the flowers we won't get wet from the water squirting out at the connection.
I also caught the man's eye, giving him a mean look, warning him to back off, and causing him to walk away and get his tools.
Beth gave my hand a little squeeze and rewarded me with kiss on the cheek.
Perhaps I should buy a new hose as well.
Beth had beautiful thick long hair then.
It was dark brown with reddish highlights and blunt cut reaching almost to her waist.
As I said, to Beth's credit she keeps it pinned up all neat and proper while at work.
My Bea had long honey blond hair, although not as long as Beth's.
It fell exactly 3 inches past the bottom of Bea's shoulder blades.
Long enough to wear up, or braid, but not too long to hold a curl.
That was how I liked it, 3 inches past Bea's shoulder blades.
Like Bea, Beth is a proper modest Lady.
The background information out of the way: It was the first week of August.
Beth's rent was over due.
She still owed me for June and July.
Beth promised me a check on Friday for both months rent.
We both work the day shift 7-3 and have weekends off.
It was hot and sticky that Friday, the temperature in the nineties.
At the last minute, I was mandated to work eight hours unscheduled overtime on the 3-11 shift.
I telephoned Beth and told her I was working a double.
I instructed her to get the spare house key hidden in the barn behind an old license plate and leave the rent check on the oak table in the foyer.
At 6:00 PM the Chart Sergeant sent me home early.
I pulled into my driveway approximately 6:20 PM.
I parked my truck next her Ford in the garage.
I found the front door unlocked.
There was no rent check on the table.
Pissed off, all I wanted was a shower and a half hour nap in my bedroom.
This was the only room in the house with air-conditioning.
I walked up the stairs on the way to the bathroom.
When I reached the landing, I observed that my bedroom door was closed.
I could hear the window air-conditioner running.
Suspicious, when I reached the bedroom door I slowly turned the doorknob and quietly pushed it open.
I couldn’t believe what I saw.
She was asleep on my bed wearing her bra and panties.
Beth's beautiful hair was pulled back in a ponytail and held in place with a pink scrunchie.
The walk-in closet door was open on my wife’s side.
There was a pile of my wife’s dresses laid out on the bed next to her.
It was if Beth had tried them all on before falling asleep.
I quietly walked to my dresser and observed my alarm clock was on the left side instead of the right.
Upon closer inspection, the alarm was set for 10:00 PM.
One hour before my overtime shift was supposed to end.
Opening the top dresser drawer I removed a pair of stainless steel Smith & Wesson handcuffs.
I quietly walked back to the bed.
Snapping the handcuffs in place on Beth's wrists before she had time to react.
Beth looked up at me with surprise and confusion.
She took a deep breath as if to say something.
Before Beth could get it out I slapped her buttocks, once.
"Don’t you dare say a damn thing to me!”
I took the end of her thick shiny ponytail and wrapped my hand around it until it was tight with the scrunchie.
I took control of the handcuffs with my free hand.
I made Beth stand and pulled her close.
I put my face up to her ear.
Beth's scent was that of my wife’s perfume.
Whispering harshly in Beth's ear, my breath on her face, I said.
"You know what you did wrong.
Here is the deal.
I will forgive everything including both months rent.
Starting right now until Sunday night you are mine.
"You will be my surrogate wife since you like to wear her dresses.
You smell like her, since you are wearing Bea's perfume.
I in turn will act like a good husband.
We will make love as Bea always allowed.
You will have the run of the entire house.
You will allow me to take you places.
You will concede to dress the way I request.
You will fix your hair the way I want it fixed, just like any good wife would."
Tugging on Beth's ponytail for emphasis.
“Yes or no, do we have a deal?"
Beth did not answer.
"I'll assume that we have one then, Beth...you didn't say no."
Releasing Beth's hair, I removed the handcuffs.
"I am going to take a shower and then put on some steaks for us."
I took a longer shower the usual.
I knew I was wrong and had over reacted.
I was angry at first, but that had passed.
I stood in front of the mirror and I shaved off my handle bar mustache that I grew after Bea died.
I ran my hand over my short- cropped blond hair, wondering if I should let it grow out.
Bea loved to run her fingers through it when it was longer.
I planned our weekend.
I undressed Beth in my mind, like I often did when we sat under the trees.
I returned to the bedroom with a basin of cold water, a washcloth and nail clippers.
I made Beth stand facing me while I gently washed the makeup from her face.
I hated seeing Beth wearing that much makeup.
Beth was far to pretty.
When I finished I commented.
"That’s better, Beth
You are too pretty to wear so much makeup."
I took her face in my hands and closed my eyes.
I lightly kissed her sweet lips and sighed, thinking more luscious then I imagined.
At my request, Beth cut her nails shorter.
“Wife, please take off your bra and panties.
Beth actually complied.
"Wonderful, now take the scrunchie out of your hair and shake your head.”
She dropped her bra and panties on the floor.
Beth then reached back and removed the scrunchie, shaking her hair loose and free.
I inhaled sharply holding my breath momentarily, unable to speak.
At that moment, all I could think of was; My God, she is so beautiful.........
Looking back I am sure that Beth must have seen my reaction, the look on my face.
When I recovered, I sat on the bed.
I requested that Beth kneel down in front of me on some pillows.
She gave me a blowjob while I played with her silky long hair.
After I achieved my orgasm, I kissed her cheek.
"Beth my dear, you are incredible.
It will be my pleasure to be your surrogate husband.
I will certainly return the favor to you later...with your permission of course."
"You are welcome to use the bathroom.
Help yourself to anything you need.
There are plenty of clean towels.
You know what I mean, just make yourself at home."
Beth picked up her things, and went into the bathroom closing the door.
I walked over and put my ear on it.
I heard Beth slide the shower curtain closed and then turn the water on.
After ninety seconds Beth called out sarcastically.
"I know you are standing by the door.
Did you have to use all the hot water?
That’s no way for a husband to treat his wife.”
I got dressed, made the bed and then put Bea's dresses away in the closet.
When I finished, Beth was still in the bathroom.
I knocked on the door and said,”
Beth honey, there is a tee shirt for you on the bed.
Would you fix your hair in a ponytail for me?”
She didn’t answer.
I went downstairs and outside to start up the grill, bringing out some steaks.
Then I went back upstairs and straightened up the bathroom after Beth went to her apartment.
Then I went back outside to grill the steaks.
About 15 minutes later Beth came outside.
Beth was barefoot wearing my tee shirt over her bra and panties.
Beth's hair was fixed in a high ponytail.
"You look cute with your hair up like that, Beth.
As a matter of fact, you are the prettiest liberal Democrat I have ever met.
Can we at least agree on that?"
She stood there quietly watching me cook.
Beth had a thoughtful look on her pretty face.
After a few minutes, Beth asked.
May I ask you a question, Richard?"
"Of course you may, Beth, that is what husbands are for."
Why are you cooking, husband?
Because I’m hungry, Beth, what about you?"
There are tomatoes and potato salad from the store in the fridge?
"You cleaned the bedroom and the bathroom."
“But I thought that was my job as your wife to cook and clean?"
"I’ve been married before, Beth.
I know what it is like and I miss it.
The deal was for a surrogate wife, not a slave.
"May I ask you another question then?”
You sure can, Beth."
"Why did you shave off your mustache?"
And I started laughing...remembering.
"Months before I asked Bea to marry me, I grew a mustache and a beard trying to look older, more distinguished.
Bea did not care for them.
In fact Bea hated them.
Bea had short hair in those days because her mother liked it that way and made Bea keep it short.
I remained clean-shaven for Bea and she grew her hair long for me.
Next, Beth asked
What about the sex part?”
I paused a moment to think.... "Well, I’m sorry about the handcuffs.
I was way out of line and over reacted.
You really caught me by surprise and I am funny about my wife's things."
"I am sorry I slapped your... ah, bottom.
But I have to tell you, Beth, as bottoms go yours is a perfect ten.
I promise I won’t hit you again if that’s what you are worried about.
Oral sex, I will leave that up to you.
I won’t demand it, and I will be happy to return the favor."
"I am a man, Beth and you are a woman...no, make that a beautiful woman."
"Men have urges...needs.
I have not been with a woman since my wife died.
I mean in the bedroom...I'm sure you know what I mean.
I guess I just wasn’t ready.
Until you came along, I had not even thought about being with another woman.
They just don't measure up to you.... well, maybe Margaret does.
I have been thinking about you since I first saw you under the black walnut trees.
"Maybe I’m still not ready.
I really don’t know, Beth.
When I was married this used to be our house, now it’s just mine.
"What I do know is that I caught you in my bedroom.
With my wife’s things and sleeping in our bed.
That’s the main thing in my mind.
For the next few days this house can be a home again."
"May I ask you a question, Beth?
Why were you there?
Can you answer that question?”
Beth remained silent.
Do we still have a deal, Beth?
Perhaps you want out?
Just say so.
I was out of line and I really can't blame you.
I apologize again for the handcuffs Beth.
I'm really not into that M & M thing.
And I know that is not an excuse.
I really don't know what came over me.
Yes I do know, I was angry, but I'm not angry now.
You may leave right now, although I wish you wouldn't.
My word is good.
I’ll keep my part of the deal and not think anything less of you.
Do you mind that I call you Beth, Elizabeth?”
I love that name, Beth."
"It is BDSM, Richard, not M & M."
Beth then turned and went back into the house.
When the steaks were ready I brought them into the house and put them on the kitchen table.
Beth had sliced the tomatoes and set out the potato salad.
There was also homemade chocolate chip with walnut cookies; the black walnuts were from my trees.
Beth must have baked them in her apartment earlier in the day.
Bea and I used to look forward to them every fall, putting aside enough bushels to last until next season.
We always gave Margaret and Linda half a bushel each.
I lost all interest in that after Bea died, as with most things until Beth entered my life.
There would never be another Beatrice.
But the table was set for two people as it used to be, and she was here with me.
Most importantly Beth answered one of my questions.
She was sitting at the table, waiting.
"Beth, the steaks are ready."
"One of them is rare and the other medium rare.
If they are not to your taste I will put one back on the grill for you."
"The medium rare is fine thank you.
We ate a quiet dinner and I noticed Beth studying me and not saying anything.
I told her where everything was and again encouraged her to look around.
I made us a pot of fresh ground coffee and made a big fuss over the cookies.
While Beth was doing the dishes and picking up the kitchen I went outside with my cell phone.
I telephoned Linda.
Linda was my wife’s best friend and her hairdresser.
Linda’s ex- husband was a no good self-centered bastard.
He was doing time in Clinton for rear-ending a motorcycle at a stop sign killing the rider.
He was drunk at the time of the accident.
While in prison, he refused to give Linda a divorce.
I made a phone call to Clinton Prison.
I talked to a Sergeant I went to the academy with.
The next day Linda's husband was given an attitude adjustment.
Afterwards he graciously agreed to the divorce, signing the papers and mailing them back immediately upon receiving them.
He was told never to go near Linda again in his lifetime.
Linda vowed at the time never to have anything to do with men again.
However Linda's current boyfriend, Sam is a great guy and thinks the world of her.
Her ex-husband ruined Linda's credit with his gambling and drinking and expensive toys.
Fortunately for Linda, she had the foresight to secretly save money.
It was in an account in Linda's maiden name that her then husband knew nothing about.
Linda planned to open her own Beauty Shop someday.
I cosigned a loan for Linda to buy a building, becoming a silent partner.
Linda used her savings to remodel.
Linda now has 6 employees and paid off her loan early.
Linda insisted that Beth would get all of her services pro bono.
I made an appointment for Beth on Saturday morning.
The shop was closed two weeks for her employee’s vacations, but Linda agreed to open up just for us.
I told Linda most of the story leaving out the sensitive parts.
I explained ahead of time exactly what I wanted done saying it would be a surprise for Elizabeth.
Linda thought it would be fun.
Linda first met Beth when she came over once a week to bring what Linda called "her leftovers”.
Actually Linda was cooking extra for me during the week and freezing mine.
Linda wanted to make sure I ate at least one good meal each day.
Linda liked her from the start and thought Beth could be good for me.
Linda would often tell me.
“It is not good to live alone, Richard.
Beatrice has been gone for almost 5 years now.
You have to move on, Richard.
Bea would have wanted that."
When I went back in the house Beth was at the sink finishing the dishes.
I walked up behind Beth and put my arms around her waist and rubbed her tummy.
Then I finished helping Beth wipe them and put them away.
“It is my bedtime, Beth.
I am going upstairs to read awhile."
Do what you normally do before bedtime.
Eventually you will come upstairs.
When you get there and if I am still awake I may want something."
I picked Beth up off of her feet and spun her around.
"Richard, what are you doing, put me down!
Can't you at least wait until I get up there?"
"We need to get something straight about your bottom, Beth.
I misspoke, it is a perfect ten thousand!"
I kissed Beth on the lips before I put her down and then I went upstairs.
In the morning I woke lying next to her.
My arm was around her waist and Beth was wearing a simple white silk nightgown.
Beth was snuggled up close to me.
I went downstairs and made coffee and returned with two cups.
I then woke Beth up handing her one.
She sat in the bed with her legs folded underneath her, sipping her coffee.
"I thought you said you wanted something when I got upstairs."
"I said that I might want something, Beth, and I got it.
I woke up next to you didn't I?
What could be better then that?"
I sat on the bed looking at Beth and wondering if she could swim.
I would love to show Beth the small swimming hole I made for Bea in the creek.
She finished her coffee and as she got up, Beth touched my face.
"I like you better without the mustache."
Then, Beth went into the bathroom and closed the door.
"Beth, honey, please don’t use all the hot water."
When it was my turn, I took the cold shower.
After my shower I found Beth downstairs in the den.
She was wearing her terry cloth robe and had a towel around her damp hair.
Beth had my wedding picture in her hand.
She turned to me and said.
"You look so young in this picture, Richard.
How old were you here when you were married?"
I first asked Bea's father's permission to marry her in a their church.
At that time, the man hated me.
Bea's father told me that I would never amount to anything.
Her father told me that he would never allow a longhaired, ponytail wearing godless heathen hippie to ever marry his daughter.
I was eighteen and Bea was sixteen when we eloped.
There wasn't anything that her father could do about it as Bea was of legal age.
"You had a ponytail, you... Mr. Conservative, I don't believe it!"
Beth said, rubbing my head.
"I have pictures and can prove it.
I had to cut off my ponytail when I became a Correction Officer.
You know the department has regulations for hair length for males, but not for women."
"You would look so much better if you grew it longer, Richard.
Especially since you shaved off your mustache.
Tell me more about the Bea's father."
"He laughed in my face, Beth.
Then he pointed a 16 gauge double barrel shotgun at me and started counting to ten."
"What did you do then, Richard?"
Laughing, I replied.
"I ran like hell, Beth!
We were married for 22 years when the cancer took her. "
"Is Bea short for Beatrice, Richard?
"Yes, Beatrice Louise...my Bea."
"You have never told me anything like this before, Richard.
Your Beatrice Louise was a very beautiful woman."
"You have never been my wife before, Beth.
And, well you know Beth... you are too.... beautiful and smart.
Bea and I told each other everything.
Beatrice was the only woman...Bea was, well...I mean the only woman I have ever known."
"Do you mean made love to, Richard?"
Yes...you have never told me anything either, Beth.
"Did you have any other girlfriends, Richard?"
"Just Bea, I had known her since kindergarten."
"Did you have any boyfriends, Beth?"
Quite a few actually, when I was in high school, but none serious except for my last one, Sean O'Brien.
I met Sean during my first semester in my Political Science Class at Notre Dame.
We agreed about everything.
I thought Sean was so sensitive, Richard, and a free spirit, joining all the environmental and worthy political causes on campus.
There were no roots growing up under Sean's feet.
And Sean was very wealthy; his family was old money.
Sean took me to places I never could afford or even knew about.
We went to the Bahamas on winter break for a week and had real French Champagne and Iranian Sevrvga Caviar every day there for breakfast.
I was twitterpated with Sean.
"You mean twitterpated, like Bambi was, Beth?
I said, smiling.
"I love that movie!
As a matter of fact, that was the first movie I ever saw in a theater.
Margaret took me to see Bambi when I was eight."
"Why didn't you go with your mother, Richard?
My mother took me to see my first movie when I was three.
"My mother left when I was four years old, Beth.
It was just Dad and I along with various housekeepers until I was five, old enough to start school.
Not that Dad treated me badly, but for the most part as I got older he just ignored me.
Dad was always working and his job required him to work late most nights.
That is all he did because that is how he coped for Mom leaving us.
Which pretty much left me to fend for myself.
When I was 8 years old, I so wanted to see that movie, but I didn't have a ride in to town.
I earned the money feeding Margaret's chickens, gathering eggs and cleaning out the coop.
Margaret was first married then.
She and her husband Dan just bought the house across the road from us.
Margaret couldn't have children and she sort of unofficially adopted me.
"Margaret had chickens?"
"In those days Margaret did."
"Why didn't Margaret just treat you to the movie."
"Well, Margaret tried, but I wouldn't let her.
I told Margaret a man has to stand on his own two feet and work for what he wants."
"You told Margaret that when you were 8 years old."
"Like you are doing now with your arms folded across your chest, Richard?"
Beth said, touching my face a second time and smiling.
"You smell nice, like Aqua Velva.
Are you wearing cologne for me?"
"Ah...yes I suppose so .
I answered putting my hands in my pockets, embarrassed and enjoying it.
"What ever happened to Sean, Beth?"
"We were engaged to be married and Sean gave me a 3-carat diamond engagement ring.
My parents threw us a lavish engagement party, more than they could afford.
All my family and friends were there.
I come from a very large family...............and Sean's mother interfered.
"That is not right, Beth.
I think I get the picture, the bastard.
It sounds like Sean didn't even have the sand to tell you himself."
"I never saw Sean again, Richard.
His mother called my mother from Boston on the telephone to break off the engagement.
Sean's mother, Mrs. O'Brien was brutal and right to the point.
Mrs. O'Brien said no son of hers was ever going to marry a lower middle class polock and a Catholic to boot.
My cousin Stanislaus didn't like Sean from the start, and tried to drive to Sean's parent's mansion in Boston.
He said he was going to give Sean a piece of his mind, followed by a piece of his right fist and then his left fist, plus both feet.
Fortunately for Sean, Stanislaus's 1965 Harley panhead broke down half way there and our father's were able to stop him in time.
Stanislaus was more like a brother to me then a cousin; we are the same age.
All my boyfriends from high school were afraid of him, and so they should have been.
Stanislaus liked to fight and was good at it.
He wouldn't back down to anybody and spent more time in detention then he did in class.
God help any of them that didn't treat me with respect; they answered to him.
Would you like me to braid your hair for you?
We have an 11:00 AM appointment, but first I thought we might go out for breakfast."
"You know how to do that, braid a woman's hair?"
"Why wouldn't I?"
"Never mind, Ricky."
Beth said, smiling.
"You must have talked to Margaret.
Nobody else calls me that.
I surprised Beth by styling her long brown hair in a six-strand braid, showing off.
"You look lovely with your hair that way, Beth.
Would you please go to your apartment and pick out a nice dress?
I have plans for us afterwards”
Beth returned in a pale yellow summer dress with 3/4 length sleeves.
It was light muslin cotton material and was soft as the petals of a daffodil and it came down to her knees.
Beth was wearing sandals and her makeup was lightly applied and perfect.
Beth turned to model the dress for me, the soft light material moved like a pale yellow cloud with her as she turned.
"I wandered lonely as a cloud that floats on high o'er vales and hills, when all at once I saw a crowd,
a host of golden daffodils beside the lake, beneath the trees, fluttering and dancing in the breeze;
Continuous as the stars that shine and twinkle on the milky way...and there she was standing, my beautiful Beth in a yellow summer dress.
"William Wordsworth never said, " there she was standing, my beautiful Beth in a yellow summer dress".
Beth said, smiling and obviously pleasantly surprised.
The next line to the poem is; "they stretched in a never-ending line along the margin of a bay: ten thousand saw I at a glance,
tossing their heads in a sprightly dance."
"You are right, but I like my version better."
And then I kissed her cheek, offering Beth my arm.
"Richard, what happened to your father?
You never talk about him, is he deceased?"
"He packed up and left, no warning, no nothing.
I was sixteen years old and was never much at home anyway.
After school I worked any odd jobs that I could find.
I was saving my money to marry Bea.
"I have no idea what happened to Dad, and have not heard from him since.
As for my mother, I don't remember her at all.
I loved my father, Beth, and I am sure in his own way he loved me too.
Dad taught me three important things.
If you can't pay cash, don't buy it because you can't afford it.
If the playing field isn't level, don't whine, do something about it.
Never back down or be scared away if you are in the right or feel strongly about someone or something.
I walked over to my desk and removed the watch from the stand under the glass dome and the yellowed page torn from a book folded underneath the wood base.
"Before he went, Dad left me my Great-Grandfather's 19-jewel Elgin pocket watch, and handed it to her.
I also unfolded and let Beth read the poem from Edmund Vance Cooke (1866-1932) "How Did You Die"
We had breakfast together at a local restaurant, famous for their sourdough pancakes
I sat next to Beth and stroked her braid telling her not to be nervous about her haircut.
And Beth let me, sitting closer and opening up some more about her self.
I found out that Beth never dated much after Sean dumped her.
As a matter of fact, I was the only man Beth had even spent the night with since college.
Finally, in all the time that Beth was with Sean, and even after he gave her the engagement ring, Sean never once told Beth that he loved her.
After a wonderful breakfast we drove to Linda’s to keep Beth's appointment.
When we got there, Linda greeted us warmly, locking the door and closing the shades.
"We are closed this week for vacations."
"I opened up especially for you, Elizabeth.
I am glad that after all this time you decided to come to me for your hair.
Richard told me that you wanted your hair cut a little shorter.
But not too short, and made the appointment,
Just leave it up to me dear.”
Beth looked at me and smiled sweetly.
She then said.
Yes, Ricky is so thoughtful."
Linda turned and gave me a look, and then smiled.
Beth then went to sit at the manicure station.
Linda removed the remaining color, filed, and buffed Beth’s nails finishing with a coat of clear nail polish.
When this was done, Linda had Elizabeth go to the chair at the cutting station.
"Did Richard braid your hair for you?"
"Yes, Ricky did a wonderful job.
He is just full of surprises."
"I thought I recognized his work.
Beatrice only came here for trims.
When he retires, Richard is going to come and work for me.
Linda added teasing me.
They both had a good laugh at my expense.
Just wait until I see Margaret, I thought to myself.
Linda took Beth's hair out of the six-strand and redid it in a simple three-strand braid.
Linda then placed a second rubber band on Beth’s braid and handed me the scissors.
“Would you like to do the honors, Richard?
Cut just above the second rubber band."
“Sure, thanks, Linda."
Leaning over I kissed Beth's cheek and whispered.
"Remember, you agreed to this Beth."
I will never forget the feel and sound of the scissors while I cut off Beth's thick braid.
Or the look on Beth's face when I held it in front of her like I just won a blue ribbon at the fair.
Now it was Linda’s turn to finish the final cut.
Linda had Beth get up and sit down at the shampoo station.
Linda washed and conditioned Beth’s hair.
Then they returned to the cutting station for a comb out.
Beth’s hair had gone from waist length to four inches below her shoulder blades.
It looked thicker and fuller then ever.
“Elizabeth, I am going to cut off another inch to even up the bottom.
I will cut it straight across like you had it, but I will layer the bottom slightly so it curls under naturally."
When Linda was done, Beth’s hair fell three inches past the bottom of her shoulders blades.
Linda took me to one side and said.
"I have an idea and want to do something special for Elizabeth.
I’m going to curl it first."
Linda combed a light setting lotion in Beth's hair and then rolled it up in, long, round curlers.
While Beth was under the dryer, Linda brought out homemade pound cake and coffee.
Linda makes the best pound cake in the world, just as Beth makes the best cookies, and I told them so.
"Linda, you make the best pound cake in the world.... but Beth makes the best walnut, chocolate chip cookies in the universe!"
Soon the timer on the dryer went off.
Linda removed the curlers from Beth’s hair and arranged the curls.
Long sausage curls now kissed Beth's shoulders and caressed her back, framing Beth’s beautiful face.
Pulling the curls away from Beth’s face Linda pinned them up on the back of Beth’s head.
Linda fussed with Beth's curls until the curls fell just to the nape of her neck.
Before we left, Linda presented me with Beth’s cut off braid secured with a ribbon.
When we got to the truck I tied the braid to my rear view mirror.
“You look absolutely elegant, Beth.
I am the luckiest husband in the whole world.
With the most beautiful wife as well."
We decided that we could hit some of the large shopping malls in the area and spend the day.
It was gratifying to see all the admiring glances from the men that walked past us.
Particularly since Beth was with me, if only for the weekend.
We spent the afternoon window shopping and attending a couple of movies in the cinemas in between window-shopping.
I proposed that we each select a movie or movies but not mention them out loud, but instead write them down on a piece of paper.
We drew the folded papers out of Beth's purse.
Beth won both times, which was fine with me.
I was good during the movies and kept my hands out of Beth’s curls.
I was content to just hold her hand.
I saw something in a jewelry store window between movies that caught my eye.
During the second movie, I pretended to get up to use the restroom.
I left the theater and just about ran to the jewelry store to buy it.
When I got there, I stopped to admire my soon to be purchase again through the plate glass window.
It had to be the lighting, or a reflection, or something, but it wasn't.
My beautiful Beatrice's reflection was looking back at me in the glass, and Bea smiling and nodding her head in approval.
I could smell Bea's perfume.
Bea, I whispered as Bea reached up to blow me a kiss...and then she was gone.
I kissed my fingers and put them up to the glass where I saw Bea's face.
When we were in elementary school Bea rode the bus and I walked.
I always stood outside and waited with her after school and walked her to the bus.
When the bus pulled away, Bea would blow me kisses through the window.
Boys didn't blow kisses unless they were sissies.
I would kiss my fingers and put them on the bus window near Bea's face.
Then I would leave to work my various after school jobs.
We stopped on the way home and I bought a case of oil and oil filter for my truck.
As an afterthought, I went back and bought a filter for Beth’s Ford as well.
We had dinner in a fine sit-down Chinese restaurant at Beth's suggestion.
To make Beth happy, I attempted to eat with chopsticks and made a fool of myself.
Beth could pick up a single grain of rice.
We spent the remainder of the evening under the walnut trees, and talked about everything but politics.
At bedtime she came to bed wearing her silk nightgown.
Beth took her hair down and shook her head without me asking.
When Beth got on the bed, I buried my hands in her hair caressing all those luscious curls.
I put silk sheets on the bed for Beth and she didn't fail to notice.
Beth ran her hands along the sheets enjoying the luxurious smooth texture.
Then Beth pulled the nightgown over her head and she was wearing nothing underneath.
I was very gentle with Beth, holding her as if she was a fine porcelain doll.
I kissed Beth's mouth many times, those sweet inviting lips.
Those lips I wanted to kiss the first day I met her.
Softly and lightly to start, followed by her cheeks, then the base of her throat and the sides of her neck.
I kissed the lobs of her small precious ears and behind them, lifting her hair and blowing softly.
I watched Beth shudder with pleasure as the goose bumps raised on her slim arms.
My need for Beth was great and my heart was pounding in my chest with desire for her.
But I held back my urgent need, as I did the first time I made love to Beatrice.
We lay on the sheets facing one another and I kissed Beth's mouth long and deep.
I ran my hands lightly down Beth's back my fingers caressing, touching and probing and lingering.
I could sense, and feel and smell Beth's need as well and feel her wetness, the maddening musky smell of her wetness.
I rubbed and lightly squeezed the round firmness of her marvelous ass cheeks.
Beth returned my kisses and pulled me to her so that my rock hard penis was pushing up against her.
"I am not going to break, sweetheart and I want you to hold me closer."
Beth said, kissing me and pushing her little tongue in my mouth in search of mine.
I buried my hands in Beth's curls, returning her sweet kisses.
Beth then pushed me onto my back and straddled me, impaling herself on my rock hard cock.
Beth leaned back with her back straight, Beth's hair falling forward in her face, neck and breasts.
I reached up and caressed and stroked her firm round breasts as Beth rode me, her eyes closed in ecstasy.
This was new to me, a woman on top and I liked it.
I lay back and enjoyed the view.
I moved along with Beth, matching her rhythm, and thrusting upward, while helping to support her weight.
My beautiful Beth was as light as a feather, or so it seemed at the time.
I waited for Beth's orgasm.
Beth's little hand was covering her mouth to muffle her screams, as Beth's orgasm washed over her.
This gesture was so precious to me, my Beth, always the lady.
I could not hold mine any longer as I held her waist and pounded her.
Beth's hands were in her long hair, holding it out of her face, smiling and watching me as I came in her sweet little cunt.
Beth collapsed on top of me kissing my mouth and stroking my very short, cropped hair.
I held Beth for a time, she on top, my arms around her waist and bottom and Beth still as light as a feather.
Exhausted, we fell asleep and woke up that way in the morning, and made love over again.
Beth asked if we could just hang around the house and I agreed.
I got a cold shower again and didn't care while Beth made me a delicious western omelet, substituting jalapeno cheese for cheddar.
We went outside to putter around the house, as if we were an old married couple.
Beth watered the garden and I changed the oil in my truck.
I was underneath Beth's Ford removing the old filter when the wrench slipped from my hand.
The filter hit my nose and covered my face and neck with dirty motor oil.
I crawled out from under her Ford swearing a blue streak.
I banged my head on the bottom of the bumper on the way out.
Beth was standing by waiting to add the oil as soon as the new filter was in place.
She had her hand over her mouth to stop herself from laughing.
I just glared at her with my arms folded.
“I suppose you think this is funny.
Sorry for the bad language, you didn't need to hear that"
Beth composed herself and stood there smiling.
Beth's eyes were shining with mirth.
I took my white tee shirt off and wiped my face with it.
Beth just lost it and laughed hysterically.
Being alone with Beth and hearing her laugh stirred more feelings in me that I hadn’t had since Bea died.
I laughed along with her, picking Beth up and kissing her.
I put her in the back seat of the Ford sedan, and then pulled up her gingham print summer dress and removed her panties.
I went down on Beth, licking and probing with my tongue, making her moan with pleasure.
Beth had her feet up in the air and was bracing her little bare feet against the roof of the car.
My little lady's hand was over her mouth, so precious, so ladylike...my God how I loved her.
We heard a car pulling up the driveways and we both sat up...it was Margaret!"
I stood up and started walking toward her and Margaret drove right past me and parked next to Beth's car.
Margaret got out of her convertible and was grinning ear to ear.
"What happened to you, Ricky?
"Why is there dirty oil all over your face and hair and where is Elizabeth Susan?"
Margaret asked, knowingly.
"Did you two loose something in Elizabeth's back seat?
"I'm right here, Margaret, I found the ice scraper, Richard.
Thank you for helping me look?
Beth said, holding up the ice scraper as evidence and getting out of her car.
"Why do you need an ice scraper in August.
Is it the heat, or are you blushing, Elizabeth Susan.
She didn't answer............
"Well, never mind, I have all the fixings for vanilla ice cream this time and would love some mint iced tea.
Richard can finish changing the oil, and you can go in the house and get out of the heat.
He really should get his central air fixed."
Beth was standing with her back to me when I walked into the kitchen
I walked up behind her and put my hands around her waist and blew on the back of her neck.
"You are giving me goose bumps."
Beth whispered, taking my hands and squeezing.
"I know, where is Margaret?"
"She is in the bathroom...why are you whispering.
"I don't know, Beth, why are you whispering.
I'll get the bowls down."
I got a slap on the ass and a hug as I was reaching for the bowls.
On Sunday evening as Beth and I were sitting in the kitchen having tea and the rest of her cookies.
"In fifteen minutes our deal is up.
You met your obligation with dignity and grace.
I offered you an out and you didn’t take it.
You kept your word.
I handed her a large manila envelope.
"This is for you."
Beth accepted the envelope and opened it without comment.
Beth sat there looking at me with that funny look on her cute face again.
At 12:30 AM, Beth got up from the table and started to walk out and just reached the back door.
Spinning around, Beth returned and stood in front of me.
And then Beth slapped my right cheek, hard and then stormed out of there, slamming the door.
Inside the envelope was a receipt for her rent paid in full until the end of December.
What the hell did I do wrong!
I went to bed alone that night I did not sleep well at all...stupid, stupid...STUPID, I am so stupid.
Beth was gone before I went to work Monday, the same for Tuesday.
On Wednesday evening I was sitting underneath the trees, waiting for Beth, when Margaret pulled up in her convertible.
Margaret looked angry.
The first thing that Margaret said to me was.
Are you out of your Goddamn mind?
You put handcuffs on Elizabeth?
I taught you better then that!"
I knew I was in trouble when Margaret called me Richard.
If I had a middle name, that would have followed "Richard!"
Margaret blasted me like I was ten years old again
When Margaret reprimanded me in no uncertain terms for climbing up on the water tower with my binoculars.
I didn't think it was a big deal at the time, however I knew enough to keep my mouth shut and agree with Margaret.
I was not allowed to watch television for one month.
Margaret made me promise not to do that ever again, and I never did keeping my word to her.
And then Margaret hugged me, kissing my face and she was shaking and crying, calling me her poor sweet boy.
Margaret told me that Beth had not had money for the rent because of the Comptrollers Office Albany.
They had issued the wrong tracking number on more then one occasion.
Elizabeth switched from a Buffalo bank to the local credit union, therefore no rent check.
"Did it ever occur to you dummy, that Elizabeth liked you, perhaps even more then liked you? "
Elizabeth was crying when she drove to my house to see me.
So the lady looked at some dresses, big deal, Elizabeth was just curious."
"I know you are smitten with her."
I thought to myself...smitten, now there is a word I have not heard in a long time.
Of course I was, I loved Beth.
I was thinking how Beth cuddled up to me in bed, and the goose bumps.
And how Beth would stand with his hands on her hips and giving her head a little toss, and..................................
"Will you please wipe that goofy smile off of your face.
Are you listening to me...that's better?
You look at her like you always looked at Beatrice.
I can tell by the way you look at Elizabeth and talk about her.
You gave her the keys to your house for God sakes.
What was the poor girl supposed too think, you big dummy?
Do I have to draw you a map?"
"I told her to surprise you, since obviously you were not going to make the first move.
Then you go put handcuffs on her."
Your wife is dead, Richard.
Like it or not, life goes on".
"You do not have a bedroom closet.
You have a shrine."
“You are right about everything, Margaret.
Bea would have wanted me to move on."
I said, my voice starting to break.
Margaret's tone softened and then she hugged me.
Margaret hugged like she did when I was eight years old and I was crying in the theatre when Bambi's mother was killed.
"I'm glad that my Beth is not angry about the rent Margaret.
"It wasn't that you big dummy...honestly Ricky?"
Margaret said kindly.
"If you love the girl, and there is no doubt in my mind that you do, then just come out and say it.
God knows you are like a son to me, Ricky.
You can try the patience and best efforts of all the angels in heaven.... and Elizabeth can as well."
"I have some cardboard boxes in the car.
I was hoping that you would finally come to your senses.
Now let’s go upstairs and clean out the closet and dressers.
It’s time to put things to rest".
Margaret left with boxes of cloths, shoes and cosmetics, but of course leaving behind Bea's jewelry.
When Margaret wasn’t looking I took Bea's bottle of perfume and put it in my pocket.
The last thing Margaret said to me was.
"Give Elizabeth some time, I'm sure that she will come around eventually."
It was the middle of December.
I watched Beth come and go.
We were polite to each other as if we had just met or were cautiously starting over.
I resigned myself to the fact that I might never have her, again.
In January, Beth brought me the rent check on the first day of the month.
Margaret was right, I just had to give Beth time.
Beth was making the first move again because I was such a big dummy.
Beth had fixed her hair for me exactly like it was when we left Linda's.
I was sure that Beth knew how I felt about her.
I decided to be a gentleman and take it slow.
I invited Beth into my kitchen for coffee and pound cake.
"You look lovely, Beth.
Would you like to come in and have coffee and a piece of Linda's pound cake?"
Beth came and sat down in the kitchen and I ground the beans getting them ready for the pot.
While I was filling the pot with water, Beth was filling out the rent check and signing it.
Soon the coffee was ready and I brought us both a cup.
"Just how you like it, half a teaspoon of sugar and lots of milk."
"Is there something that you want to tell me, Richard?"
Beth asked, leaning forward and taking my hands in hers.
"No, nothing special.
Well as a matter of fact there is.
I know the reason why you were late with the rent.
It wasn't your fault.
Would you like butter or jam for your pound cake?"
"Thank You, but no, I'll just have coffee.
I have to save room for dinner.
Stanley will be here in about an hour, to pick me up."
"Who is Stanley?"
I asked, squeezing my coffee cup.
"Oh, just somebody from the old neighborhood.
We are going out for dinner and then see a movie, talk about old times."
"I was thinking, perhaps you and I could go bowling sometime, Beth.
I have never been bowling before and you can teach me."
"That would be nice, you could bowl in my ladies league.
I'm sure the other ladies wouldn't mind."
"I was thinking more in the line of private lessons."
"Will you look at the time?"
I didn't realize how late it was.
Do you mind if I take my coffee with me?
Thank you, you're such a dear."
After Beth left, I sat there for about 10 minutes, letting things sink in.
You big dummy you, why didn't you tell her, I thought, stupid...stupid and STUPID!!!!
Looking down at my spilled coffee, I noticed that my hand was bleeding.
Somehow, I managed to pull the handle off of my coffee cup.
Stanley was ten minutes early.
Instead of getting out of his vehicle and waiting for Beth, the idiot was honking the horn.
I just happened to have my red plaid Woolrich hunting coat on and my green insulated rubber boots, and was outside shoveling snow.
I walked up to the car with a snow shovel and said.
"What the hell do you think you are doing, Pal?"
"I have a date with Beth."
As soon as Stanley called my Beth, Beth, I wanted to punch the bastard in the mouth.
"Who the hell are you, Buddy?"
What business is it of yours?"
"I'm Richard Adams, Ms. Adamczyk's landlord.
You are parked in my driveway!"
I just wanted to let Beth know that I was here."
Damn him, I thought, the bastard said it again.
"Get out of the car then?"
I said, opening the driver's side door.
"Hey, what do you think you are doing?"
"Ms. Adamczyk is a Lady, Pal.
The proper way to treat a Lady like Ms. Adamczyk is to meet her at her door.
Next to escort the said Lady, Ms. Adamczyk to your vehicle and help Ms. Adamczyk in.
That is what a gentleman would do, Pal, not sit in the driveway honking, manner less and clueless like an ignorant oaf.
"Who do you think are you, her father or something?"
Stanley said, trying to pull the door shut with the inside door handle.
That not working, Stanley tried pulling on the top of the doorframe to get leverage, perfect.
I pulled Stanley out of his car, not an easy thing to do.
Stanley was a big, strong, son of a bitch.
We were grappling in the snow-covered driveway each trying to get the advantage.
I managed with some effort to put him in a wristlock, applying pressure and getting him up on his toes....
"I said Ms. Adamczyk is a Lady.
"If you do or say anything to upset her, I'll................................
As bad luck was mine lately, Beth came walking out of the house.
I let him go of Stanley, taking a step back.
Stanley immediately rushed to Beth, taking her arm and escorted Beth to the car.
"I would have met you at the door, Beth, but your landlord waylaid me in the driveway.
I was trying to get out and my foot slipped on the icy floor mat.
I must have accidentally hit the horn.
Your landlord came charging up to me like some kind of a nut case making crazy accusations.
Stanley continued, as he helped her in and was about to close the passenger door, when.
I picked up the snow shovel and walked over to where Beth was sitting.
"I would appreciate it if from now on if you not bother Stanley or any of my gentlemen friends.
"My rent is paid in full and I will date anyone I like."
" I, I..."
The bastard closed the door before I could finish, smiling at me as he walked by and said.
"See you later, Rickey
Stanley was still smiling at me as he got in on his side and closed the door.
Beth leaned over and kissed him on the cheek.
They then drove away leaving me speechless.
I had a death grip on the snow shovel, my knuckles turning white.
What good would it do now to tell Beth that I loved her?
Beth had already had found someone else.
Or maybe she was trying to make me jealous.
Beth was so damn stubborn!
The hell with her then!
I waited up for Beth to make sure Stanley walked Beth to the door when he brought her home.
Stanley brought Beth back after midnight, helping her out of his car.
He even walked Beth to the door and Beth kissed his cheek again, and then he kissed Beth's cheek.
Stanley paused at his car looking at my house, smiling still.
And then Stanley got in his car, beeping the horn once when he reached the end of the driveway.
For the next two months she was hardly ever at home nights.
I always waited up by the window to see that Beth made it home safe.
Every Friday Stanley would pick her up.
The perfect gentleman now, Stanley always brought Beth flowers.
The bastard probably knew somebody who worked in a funeral home or cemetery.
On the last Friday in February, Stanley spent the night with her.
In mid-March, Margaret told me that things were getting serious between Beth and Stanley.
Margaret was very fond of Beth and only wanted the best for her.
Margaret and Beth were quite close now, both attending a Christian Women's Knitting circle on Tuesdays.
I could tell Margaret wanted to ask me something and finally Margaret did.
"Ricky, would you be upset with me if I were Elizabeth's Matron of Honor.
"That's if Elizabeth asks me of course, and I am pretty sure that she shall.
I choked the words out... thinking, first Bea and now Beth.
"Of course not, Margaret."
"I am so relieved that you are taking this so well, dear.
"Take my word for it, everything will turn out for the best."
Margaret was wrong.
I was not taking it well.
Nothing was turning out for the best.
"Where is Beth now, Margaret?"
I said forcing a smile.
"I want to congratulate Beth and wish her luck."
I was lying.
"Elizabeth is back in Cheektowaga staying with some cousins for the weekend.
They are going to throw Elizabeth a little party this evening to celebrate her upcoming engagement."
"Do you know the address, Margaret?
I should pick up a little gift for her."
Margaret gave me the street address in Cheektowaga, NY, a large town just west of Buffalo.
The party was to be held at the Polish Falcons Nest, a social club, in a predominately Polish neighborhood.
I had no trouble finding it for all the cars parked outside.
I could faintly hear the Oberek Polka playing inside and people laughing and a having good time.
My heart was breaking.
Was I to late?
I knocked on the door and was let in by two very large men.
The place was packed with people.
Was this Margaret's idea of a little party?
They immediately handed me a bottle of Zywiec beer and a shot glass of Krupnik vodka.
They insisted that I drink to the health of their cousin Beth & her fianc?o be.
What else could I do?
I raised my shot glass, " To Beth and her true love, may they never be apart."
I threw down the shot of Krupnik and quickly downed the beer.
Another man joined us and handed me another bottle of Zywic and another shot glass of Krupnik vodka.
We went through another round of toasts, each cousin toasting the health of Beth and her fianc?
I finally got away from them, or so I thought, working my way quietly through all the people.
The place was packed with men, women and children, no doubt Beth's family and friends.
All good, solid, working class people having a well deserved good time.
I could see Beth and Stanley sitting together from across the room.
Margaret was sitting there with Linda on her right, and Beth to the left.
Beth's hair was styled exactly like it was on the day we left Linda's Salon.
She was wearing the same yellow pale dress that moved with her like a cloud.
Beth was so beautiful and looked so happy sitting there.
I started walking toward Beth to tell her how I felt.
Maybe there was still a chance for us.
I almost made it to the table when the music stopped.
People were gathering behind me on the dance floor as if waiting for some kind of announcement.
Those three large men were now standing next to me and behind me.
If need be I might be able to knock at least one of them out, so I had a chance to tell Beth that I loved her.
Before the other two beat me senseless.
The happy couple stood up and everyone raised their glasses.
I took the pin out of my pocket.
The pin that I bought for Beth on the day I snuck out of the movie theatre.
It was a cluster of leaves.... the leaves from the oak tree.
The reason it caught my eye, was because the leaves fanned out like a bouquet.
Like the bouquet Beth had in her hand when I first saw her under my walnut trees.
Set with numerous small vibrant semi-precious stones: yellows, oranges and reds in 18-karat gold.
There was one green stone that I had the jeweler place there, not original to the piece.
The pin was not ready the Sunday evening when Beth left me.
I shouted as I stepped forward and walked to their table.
"You can't marry him."
"Richard, I knew you would show up and disrupt things.
Linda, you were absolutely right about him."
Linda just nodded and smiled.
I couldn't believe what I was hearing, what I was seeing.
Linda, betraying me?"
It is a good thing that we took precautions."
Margaret said, nodding and smiling as well.
"Margaret how could you?"
I felt her cousin's strong hands on my shoulders.
"How could I what, dear?"
"You were saying, Richard?"
Ignoring my betrayers.
"Beth, you have to understand something!"
I am not that stubborn green leaf that I was before I met you.
"What is he talking about?"
What is all this nonsense about leaves?
"Beth, I bought you this pin.
I covertly left the theatre.
Do you remember, Beth?
I said that I was going to the Men's Room and then I took a long time.
"What are you trying to say to me, Richard?"
"I saw you standing under my walnut trees with a bouquet of leaves before I showed you your apartment.
Red ones, and yellow ones and orange leaves; you looked so beautiful then, Beth.
You look so beautiful now.
I was a green leaf then and you helped me change
The green stone was to remind..."
I was about to say us, but there was no us, just Beth and Stanley.
"Will you at least accept my present, Beth?"
She walked over to me and I handed Beth a red, heart shaped Swarovski Crystal Box.
When Beth opened it, she took a deep breath before taking the pin out.
"I'm sorry that it was not ready on our last day together."
'I should have given it to you then.
I should have told you then that I..."
Stanley stepped in front of me, interrupting again.
"Well, Pal, it looks like the better man....
I broke away and knocked Stanley down.
Beth's cousins were right behind me and quickly tackled me to the floor.
They picked me up and stood me on my feet holding me in a death grip.
There was no way I was breaking loose now.
But I will be damned if I was not going to put up a fight for her.
I didn't care if I was about to be pummeled.
I going to tell Beth that I loved her before they carried me out, unconscious.
"Richard, that is enough!"
"Stanley, are you hurt?"
"This thing has gone far enough!
Stanley got up from the floor smiling.
I thought for sure I was going to get as good as I gave him.
I couldn't blame the bastard if he did, I had it coming.
Stanley just stood in front of me with a big smile on his face.
He must be some kind of a nut case or liberal pacifist.
I would have clobbered me.
I could see the start of a bruise, a black eye starting to form around Stanley's right eye.
Stanley walked over to the microphone stand and turned the microphone on.
"I have an announcement to make.
Will everyone please settle down?"
Things got very quiet.
"Beth! " I shouted trying to break free.
I stepped forward, once, twice dragging Beth's cousins along with me.
"You can't marry him!"
"Thank you for the beautiful pin, Richard
Beth said, pinning it on her dress.
Give me one good reason why I shouldn't.
"Because I love you, Elizabeth Susan Adamczyk.
Beth's cousins let go of me.
They took a few steps backward, and I was thinking; "Now I'm going to get it."
I turned to face them, my feet planted, ready to fight.
Those big bastards actually took a step back, their hands up and palms out
I could hear a young girl somewhere in the crowd ask.
"Did he tell her yet, Mommy?
Then I shouted.
"I love you Elizabeth Susan Adamczyk!"
Finally, beating Stanley to the verbal punch for once.
Beth put her arms around my waist and whispered in my ear.
I could feel Beth's sweet breath on my face.
"I love it when you call me, Beth, sweetheart."
I reached up to take my Beth's hands.
She then snapped one side of the blued peerless handcuffs on my right wrist, the other cuff was already on her left one
"I'm not going to let you get away from me a second time, you big stubborn sweetheart you."
I turned and pulled my Beth as close as the handcuffs allowed, kissing her mouth.
"I still have to make to make an announcement."
Stanley said over the microphone.
"Richard loves my cousin, Elizabeth."
I could see Margaret and Linda sitting at the table hugging one another and crying.
I should have known better.
This big, happy dummy was hoodwinked...and big time.
"Your cousin, Beth?
Was all that I was able to stutter.
"Never mind, sweetheart?"
"Who would have thought that a Conservative like you would ever have been at a loss for words?"
This is so romantic.
I just wanted to hear you say it.
"Just wait until I get you home, Beth."
"I want to introduce you around to my family...now that we are engaged.
A ring would have been nice, but I love this beautiful pin so much better then any old diamond ring.
And this party is for us after all."
Beth said, touching my face.
"My cousin Stanislaus and Margaret are paying for everything."
"All of this is so wonderful, Beth
Perhaps now I will finally have a church wedding."
I said, wiping the happy tears from Beth's face.
"I can't wait to finally meet your cousin Stanislaus, Beth, and thank him, Margaret too.
I said looking for Stanislaus to step forward.
"Sweetheart, you already have,
And you just knocked him down.
"Stanislaus, I mean Stanley!
Stanislaus is Stanley?"
"Don't worry, Stanley isn't angry, he likes you, sweetheart.
Stanley will be performing our marriage ceremony.
Isn't that wonderful!"
"Is Stanley a minister?"
"No, he is a Catholic Priest, Sweetheart."
"I just knocked a Catholic Priest ass over teakettle.
Why didn't you stop me, Beth?"
"Well it's not like we didn't try.
My cousin's assured me they could handle you.
Stanley was having such a good time playing the heavy.
I guess that he got carried away.
Stanley was bound and determined not to like you at first.
I had no idea that you would pull him out of the car like that.
Margaret wasn't surprised at all when I told her.
When you confronted Stanley in the driveway and pulled him out of the car, he changed his mind immediately."
Beth raised our handcuffed arms above our heads and shouted.
"I want everyone here to meet my true love, Richard Adams!
I won't ever let him get away from me a second time!"
And then Beth's family and friends descended upon us offering us their congratulations.
But that was not the end of our story...............................................