The Making of a Gigolo (11) - Renee Zimmerman

by Lubrican

Chapters : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

Chapter Two

Renee woke feeling warm and comfortable and refreshed, for the first time in a long time. Then her eyes opened and she saw Bobby. She felt her naked lower body, under the blanket, and immediately felt fear.

"Mamma said to wake you up for breakfast," he said. Then he turned and walked out.

She lay there for a few minutes, thinking about where she was, and what this was like. Her fear had vanished, almost as soon as she had felt it. Her mind classified Bobby as a "nice guy", which was a designation that, only four or five years ago, would have meant he wasn't in the dating pool. Nice guys were the guys you had help you with your homework when it really mattered. They were the guys you asked to be designated drivers for parties. They were big brother types. She didn't think that was unusual. He was a big brother, to a whole slew of girls.

She was hungry.

She sat up and threw the covers off, only to realize that the door to the bedroom was still open. She started to cover herself, feeling angst, but then stopped. She'd slept in her shirt, but it wasn't all that bad. It was wrinkled, but it didn't smell bad. Not like what she'd taken off. She was pretty sure she'd just toss those clothes in the trash. She found her jeans and, facing the bed, pulled them on, wiggling her hips to get them over the spread of her flesh there.

She turned ... and there he was, standing in the doorway. He had obviously watched her pull her jeans up over her naked butt.

"Sorry," he said, casually. "I was afraid you might just go back to sleep."

She didn't know how to feel. She didn't feel violated ... not really. She knew she should feel violated ... but with all the other things that were wrong in her life, having a nice guy see her butt didn't rank all that high on the list. Still, he needed to be put in his place.

"You might have said something," she said, tightly.

"I didn't want to startle you," he said, grinning. "Besides, around here, I see that kind of thing all the time."

He was so casual about it. It was disarming, really.

"You ready?" he asked, not giving her time to think about it.

"I need my shoes," she said, looking around. She couldn't remember where she'd taken them off.

"Why?" he asked. "The floor is warm."

She thought about that for a few seconds, and then looked at his feet. He was only wearing socks. Her upbringing had taught her that you always arrived at a meal appropriately attired. Some rebellion inside her oozed out.

"Okay," she said. "But if my feet get cold, you have to give me your socks."

He laughed, and it made her feel good that somebody would laugh at something she said.

"I'll get you different socks, if it comes to that," he said. "Come on."

She followed him to the kitchen, which smelled wonderful.

Any thoughts she might have had that the atmosphere last night was something rare, or special, were banished as, again, she was surrounded by a family of people who obviously loved each other. There was plenty of teasing, but it was all delivered in a way that made her wish some of it was directed toward her. The food was good. She relished eating eggs that she had helped collect. Again there was conversation all around, about what was going to go on that day.

"How about you?" asked Mirriam, who was breastfeeding Theodore again. She hadn't said anything about it this time. She just did it, as if Renee was now family. "What are you going to do?"

Renee blushed, remembering how she had poured her heart out to this woman, the night before. She had told her things she hadnít intended to, but it was too late now.

"I don't know," she said. "I don't know what to do."

"Well," said Bobby. "We need to get your car back, for one thing."

"Yes," said Renee. "Of course."

"I can take as much time as we need," he said, eating a piece of bacon. "I already called folks and postponed the stuff I was going to do today."

"You didn't have to do that," Renee objected.

"A man needs a day to play hooky, once in a while," said Bobby, smiling. "It's no big deal. I do have to go do one thing first. It's kind of an emergency, but hopefully it won't take long."

"What's that?" asked his mother.

"Jill and Christy's plumbing is stopped up again," he said. "I think there may be some tree roots involved, and they'll have to get Roto Rooter out there sooner or later, but they have to have a drain working in the darkroom."

"Darkroom?" asked Renee.

"They run a photo studio at their house," said Bobby.

"Oh," she said.

"You can come along for the ride," said Bobby. "I'll teach you how to be a plumber."

"Oh, I could never do that," said Renee, automatically.

"Oh no," moaned Linda. "Don't ever say that around him! Now he won't leave you alone until you've learned to solder or something."

There was laughter around the table, but it was the kind of laugher about a true story, rather than someone being teased.

Renee stood to the side of the door as Bobby rang the bell. She was, therefore, not visible to Jill, who opened the door, reached out with one hand, grasped the front of Bobby's shirt and pulled him into the open doorway. She promptly put both arms around his neck and kissed him for a full minute. He put his hands on her waist and she, mistaking his push to mean he wanted to get to her breasts, pulled his hands up to them. He finally gave up and kissed her again.

"I need to get laid bad, Bobby," she sighed, as she finally broke the kiss.

Then she saw Renee, standing, staring open mouthed and wide-eyed, at what had happened.

"Bobby!" Jill chided him, turning red. "Why didn't you tell me you had somebody with you?!"

"You didn't give me time," he said, grinning. "Jill, this is Renee. Renee, this is Jill, one of my customers."

Jill looked at the young woman, who was clearly flabbergasted by what she'd just seen.

"He's very good at what he does," she said, trying to salvage her pride. "I'm ... um ... just really happy to see him," she added, getting redder. "Our pipes are stopped up," she gasped, before turning away and fleeing.

"Maybe I should just wait in the car," Renee said, her voice dazed.

"No," said Bobby. "She was just exaggerating. Come on in. You can help me."

He bent over and picked up the big bag he'd brought to the door and stepped back. Renee stepped hesitantly into the house, and saw another woman approaching.

"Hi!" she said brightly. "I'm Christy. Jill is hiding in the bedroom. She said she embarrassed herself to death, and maybe you too."

"Uh ..." said Renee. "It's okay."

The woman turned to Bobby. "I won't embarrass anybody," she said, winking at him. "But I'm glad you're here. You didn't mention anything about having an apprentice."

"She's just along for a very short ride," said Bobby. "I hope," he added. "It's a long story, and not one I want to go into."

"As long as you fix our pipes, that's all that matters," said Christy. "You going to need any help?"

"Nope," said Bobby. "I have Renee."

"Well, you know where everything is, so get cracking."

"Yes ma'am," said Bobby, and he saluted her.

She slapped his shoulder and laughed, but then turned around and left them alone.

Bobby took Renee to what looked like a utility room, and opened a trap door in the floor. A few feet down was dirt. She could see thick, black pipes through the hole. He got into the bag and pulled out a big wrench. He twirled a little knob on it until it fit a square protrusion on the end of a pipe and unscrewed a cap. He then got out a roll of thick cable from the bag and uncoiled it. He apologized for not having gloves she could wear and asked her to tend to the excess as he started feeding one end of the cable down into the pipe he had uncovered. It was moving along rapidly and then, suddenly, it stopped. Bobby pushed and pulled, ramming the end of the cable against something, and it began to move again. He pulled it back and forth several times and told Renee to coil the cable up as he pulled it out.

She did so, watching her hands become black and slimy. She shuddered, but kept doing what he'd asked her to do. When the cable was out, she realized there was something on the end of it. There were two wings, and there were threads of some kind hanging off of them.

"Yup," he said. "Tree roots." He wound some wire around the coil, to keep it coiled up, and stuffed it back in the bag. Then he replaced the cap he'd taken off.

He took her to a sink and turned on the water. At first she thought he was waiting for it to get hot, so they could wash their hands, but he waited long after the water steamed.

"Looks like it's draining again," he said. He adjusted the temperature and washed his hands quickly and, stepping back, he handing her the soap. She scrubbed and scrubbed, but still didn't feel clean. There were still some dark smudges on her fingers and palms that she couldn't seem to get off.

"I have something in the car that will take care of that," he said, tossing her a towel.

He walked through the house like he lived there and stopped at a door. He tapped.

The woman named Jill opened it. She saw Renee and blushed again.

"It's open for now," said Bobby. "You need Roto Rooter or somebody with bigger stuff than I have to ream it out. If it happens more than once a year after that, I'd recommend digging it up and replacing the pipe."

"That sounds expensive," she said, ignoring Renee.

"If we can rent something to dig with and you two help, it will cut the cost by two thirds," he said.

"We'll have to look into that, then," said the woman. "How much do we owe you for today?"

"Six tweny-five," said Bobby. "You want me to put it on your tab?"

"May as well," she sighed. "When it gets up to twenty-five dollars, just let us know and we'll write you a check."

"Okay," he said.

"Nice meeting you," Jill said suddenly to Renee. Then she closed the door.

They were leaving, and walking by a door that had a red light lit above it. The light blinked off, and Christy came out of the room.

"Are we fixed?" she asked.

"Yup," said Bobby.

She seemed to attack him. "Now I'll embarrass myself," she said, kissing him firmly. "Thank you!" she said, and then moved her mouth close to his ear.

Renee barely heard her whisper: "Is she a customer too?"

Renee jumped when Bobby's hand came down and slapped hard on Christy's bottom.

"Mind your own business," he said as she yelped, and rubbed at where he'd hit her.

"You'll pay for that!" she said, sticking out her tongue. "When are you going to come see the kids? You've been neglecting them."

"I've been busy, but I promise I'll spend the weekend with them soon," he said.

"The whole weekend?" her voice rose. "Oh goody!"

"Now," he said firmly. "I have to go. Renee needs me right now."

"Oh!" said Christy. "By all means, then, go!"

Renee heard the words, but was confused by the tone. By all that she'd seen and heard, both of these women had been ... or were ... on extremely friendly terms with this man she had run into. Women's intuition told her that those kisses, and Jill's, "I need to get laid" comment, were not unusual between them. But it didn't make any sense. All he had come to do was fix a plugged pipe. And who were "the kids"? What confused her the most was that, with most women who were romantically involved with a man, the phrase, "By all means then, go!" would have been delivered in a scathing way ... expressing jealousy or displeasure that he would leave her, because another woman needed him. But that wasn't the tone Christy had used at all. She had sounded genuinely willing ... almost eager ... for him to leave.

It couldn't be because the woman knew that Renee did need his help. He hadn't said a word about her problems. He didn't even know about all her problems. His mother did, but not him. It was almost as if the woman cared about Renee, and the problems she didn't know Renee had.

Back in the car, as Bobby steered it towards the downtown area, she couldn't keep her questions bottled up.

"What did she mean when she asked you if I was one of your customers?" she asked. That had seemed like a strikingly odd thing to ask him, especially since it was supposed to have been a question Renee didn't hear.

"I'd rather not discuss that right now," he said, mysteriously. "You have enough problems."

"What do you know about my problems?" she asked.

"Mamma told me a little bit," he admitted.

"Why?" Now she did feel violated ... like her trust had been abused.

"She was worried about you," he said. "She wants me to keep an eye on you."

"Oh," said Renee, the indignation she felt seeming to fall apart. She had known Mirriam cared, last night, as she sobbed in her arms. She didn't know why, but she knew it was real. She also had an intuitive knowledge that Bobby cared too. Again, she had no idea why he would ... but he did. For whatever reason, it never occurred to her to point out that she was a big girl, and didn't need anybody to look out for her. Perhaps that's because, deep down, she knew she was a big girl, who did need someone to care about her.

"What did she tell you?" she asked.

"That your husband is in prison, and that you can't talk to your family about it."

"I'm so embarrassed," she moaned.

"Why?" he asked. "It isn't your fault. You didn't know anything about his activities ... right?"

"No!" she blurted out. "I swear!"

"You don't have to swear," he said calmly. "I'll trust your word until you break it."

"Thank you," she said, impulsively.

"You're welcome."

They drove on in silence, until they reached the police station.

"They're probably going to arrest me," said Renee, sadly.

"I doubt it," said Bobby.

"But I rammed into you," she said.

"I told them I didn't want to press charges," he said, as if he had simply said he didn't want anything to drink, when offered it.

"Why?" she gasped.

"When I saw you ... I knew there was some kind of trouble. I looked at the damage, and figured I could fix it. I did. You said you'd pay me the twelve-fifty you owe me. What do I need the police to lean on you for?" He smiled. "It was an accident ... right?"

"Yes," she said meekly. "But you didn't know I'd pay you."

"It was only two hours work," he said. "Why make a big deal about that?"

"Why are you being so nice to me?" she asked, suddenly.

"Why not be nice to you?" he asked.

"It's just that I'm not used to people being ... like you," she said.

"It would be a better world if people didn't hassle each other so much," he said.

He took her in, and had to declare again that he didn't want to press charges. They wrote her a ticket for inattentive driving anyway, and told her she'd have to pay thirty-five dollars to get her car out of the fence behind the station. She wrote a check for all the charges, and, while she was at it, wrote Bobby a check for twelve dollars and fifty cents. Fifteen minutes later, another man handed her the keys to her car. It started right away.

"I'll follow you home," said Bobby. "Just to make sure you make it okay."

She thought about home.

"I still need to get groceries," she said. "That's where I was going when I hit you."

"Okay," he said. "Let's go shopping."

"You don't have to go with me for that," she moaned.

"You don't know my Mamma," he said. "I'll have to be able to tell her I got you home, and that everything was fine, or she'll tan my hide."

The image of that wonderful, sweet, breastfeeding woman, "tanning" this big, muscular man's hide, was so humorous that she laughed. It felt good to laugh.

"Okay," she said.

He tossed her things in the store. He recommended certain brands. He pointed out the best values. He dreamed up meals and recipes while they shopped. All in all, he made a game of it, which turned grocery shopping into something that was fun and light-hearted. When they got to the eggs, he gave her an education on how smaller eggs with thicker shells were laid by very young hens, and the larger ones with thinner shells were from older ones, and tasted better. There weren't very many of those available, he said, because older hens didn't lay as often.

"That's why we have chickens," he said.

"These will do just fine," she said, holding a carton. "You've made me a plumber, but I'm not going to start raising chickens!"

"Your loss," he said, airily. "I'm just saying ..."

"Moving on!" she said firmly.

It wasn't until she got home, and inventoried the mounds of groceries she'd bought, that she realized she'd gotten much more than she planned, and that it was probably much better quality than she would have gotten on her own.

But that was later, after he left.

He did follow her home, and started carrying in bags of groceries. He didn't gawk at the house, which was much newer and much more nicely furnished than his own. She realized, looking around, that it had been drug money that had made her house so beautiful. She shivered at the thought. He disappeared as she began to unpack the food, and came back with a handful of mail from the box by the road. She hadn't even thought to look in there.

There was another letter from Daniel. She opened it, to find that he was asking her to send him money for cigarettes. He also complained about the food. Nowhere in the letter did it say he missed her, but he did ask her to hire a lawyer for him, to appeal his conviction.

She put the letter down to see Bobby leaning against the refrigerator, arms crossed, looking at her.

"What?" she asked.

"Nothing," he said. "I'm just here."

"You're looking at me."

"You're the best looking thing in the room," he said, smiling.

"You can't possibly be flirting with me!" she gasped weakly, feeling the fear pushing at her.

"Absolutely not," he declared. "If my mother thought I was flirting with you, she'd ground me for a month."

"What?"

"She said I can't flirt with you," he said calmly. "So please don't tell her I did."

"Why would she say that?"

"She thinks you're very vulnerable right now," said Bobby. "It would be easy for some guy to take advantage of you."

"She said that?" Renee blushed.

"No, but that's what she was thinking," he said.

"Why did those two women kiss you like that?" she asked, suddenly. She blushed harder. She hadn't meant to ask that, but it was what she thought about as he talked about his mother, and what she was allegedly thinking.

"That's very complicated," he said. "Let's save that for another day, what do you say?"

"Why?" she asked, almost upset that he was being so mysterious.

"Look," he said. "You have plenty to think about. You have to make some decisions about what you're going to do. You need to be thinking about that, instead of why women are kissing me."

"You're saying it's none of my business," she said. She was used to getting her way, and was pouting a little.

"No, I'm saying that you should trust me when I tell you that I have your best interests at heart. I'm not trying to butt into your business, but you obviously can't go on like you were. You were almost starved. You weren't taking care of yourself. You need to concentrate on that first."

"I don't know what to do," she said weakly.

"Well, for one thing," he said, "you need to figure out how you're going to explain things to your parents."

"I can't do that," she moaned. "They'll hate me."

"Why would they hate you for something you didn't know about, and had no part in?"

"Daddy will say I should have known. Mommy will tell me she raised me better than to let a man hoodwink me like that."

"They've said that kind of thing before, huh," he suggested.

"No," she objected. "But that's what I'd say if it was one of my friends."

"Then you'd be mean," he said. "People make mistakes in judgment all the time. It's part of being human. He told you lies. You wanted to believe them. You're already older and wiser for it now. You have to move on with your life, and lying to people won't get you there."

"How am I supposed to move on with my life?" she wailed.

"You get a job," he said. "You find something to do that you like. You make friends, and spend time with them. You deal with your husband, whatever form that takes."

"That's from him," she spat, pointing at the letter she had left laying on the counter. "All he wants is money for cigarettes and lawyers and appeals. He didn't even say he misses me."

"Some of all this is his, isn't it?" asked Bobby waving his hand in a circle to encompass the house.

"Yes," she said stubbornly. "But bought with drug money!"

"Divorce him, then," said Bobby. "Get a judge to split the assets, give him his share, and be done with him."

"I can't do that," she said. "I'm Catholic. If I divorce him, I'll be excommunicated. My parents would never speak to me again."

"Talk to them," he said. "Maybe you're right, but you won't know for sure until you talk to them. They're going to find out sooner or later. How long is he going to be incarcerated?"

"Twenty-five or fifty years, or something like that," she said, miserably. "And that doesn't even count what the federal government might do."

"Then he's not coming back for a long time, if ever," said Bobby. "You have to decide what that means for you and him. You'll be paralyzed if you don't." He waited for a minute. "Do you love him?"

"I did," she said. "I can't now. He's a monster! He sold drugs. Drugs destroy people's lives."

"What if he wins his appeal? What if he comes home a month from now ... six months from now? What if the courts say he was innocent?"

"He had six hundred pounds of pot in our car!" she yelled. "It was in hidden compartments! He's been to Mexico six times, and never once told me about it! I don't care if some judge says he's innocent, based on some technicality! He's a drug dealer, and he lied to me, and we're done!"

"Okay," said Bobby calmly. "That's one decision made. Now, all you have to do is work out how to make that official."

"I can't divorce him!" she almost yelled.

"Have you talked to a priest about this?"

"Of course not!" She bristled. "I haven't talked to anybody about this!" She looked confused as she realized she was talking to somebody about it. "People would hate me."

"I don't hate you," said Bobby. "Mamma doesn't hate you. If the girls find out about it, they won't hate you."

"You're confusing me!" she yelled.

"I think you're confusing yourself," he said maddeningly. "You've already decided what everybody else will say, and think and believe. I think you should let them decide what they'll say and think. You might be right about some of them. I don't know. But I do know that you'll never know unless you try to talk to them, and find out for sure."

"Would you go away now?" she asked, almost angrily.

"Yup," he said. "Mamma would like you to come to dinner again, either tonight, or tomorrow. What should I tell her?"

"I'll call her," said Renee, feeling bad already.

"Don't tell her I flirted with you," he said, writing the phone number down on a folded brown paper bag. "Especially that I said you had a really cute butt."

She blinked.

"You never said that!" she said, confused.

"Exactly," said Bobby, calmly. "I knew you'd understand."

It was after he left that she did the inventory of groceries, and realized he had subtly managed to get her to buy enough of the right foods to keep her going for a while. And, he'd gotten her things that she had to actually prepare, rather than just heat up, which is probably what she would have gotten on her own. She realized that would take time and give her something to do while she thought about things.

It also didn't take her long to realize he was right about some other things. She couldn't keep this from her parents much longer. He couldn't be overseas for the next ten years. She had no idea what they'd say, but she knew she had to tell them.

When the groceries were all put away, all that was left on the counter was the letter from Daniel. He did own things in this house. She didn't want them anymore. She didn't want anything that had to do with Daniel, or his drug money. She decided on the spot to sell it all, and give him the money. What he did with it was his concern.

Not feeling so helpless, she made some other decisions that were more comfortable to make than others. She got in her car and drove to town. She parked in the parking lot of the Catholic church that neither she nor Daniel had ever entered, and went in. She felt a sense of peace immediately, and her heart began to slow down. There was a priest polishing candlesticks at the altar, and she approached him.

"Father? I need to talk to somebody."

He turned and smiled. "Certainly. You wish to confess?"

"No, not really," she said. "I have a problem in my marriage."

"How long has it been since you went to confession?" asked the man.

She thought, and blushed. "Several years," she said.

He smiled. "Maybe we should talk first, and then you can confess. It may take a while for that."

She didn't take offense. She couldn't think of anything she'd done, off the top of her head, but she knew that if she thought about it, she'd remember things.

When she left the church, Renee Harqart-Zimmerman wasn't quite sure how to feel. Elation was there, but she felt bad about that, somehow. The elation was because of two things the priest had done.

First, after he had listened to her whole story, he made a telephone call to the prison in Santa Fe, asking to speak with the prison chaplain. He announced who he was, and that he was involved in marital counseling with the wife of an inmate.

"Could you tell me what religious preference he put down?" asked the priest.

He smiled at Renee while he waited. "I see," he said, his tone of voice unreadable. "Has he requested any services from your office?" Again a short pause, followed by, "I see."

He hung up, and looked at Renee. "Where were you married?" he asked.

"Las Vegas," she answered. "We eloped."

"And you knew nothing about his drug dealing?"

"Nothing, Father. I wouldn't have married him if I'd known that!" She looked down. "I should have known. I should have seen the signs, but I didn't."

"Where did he say his money came from?" The priest steepled his fingers.

"He said he was in the import export business," she said. "He suggested that his parents were rich. I never met them, but he said I would later, after we were married. I got the impression that his parents might want to vet me."

"Vet you?" asked the priest.

"We were at Harvard," she said. "A lot of people who send their children there have ... standards. My own parents were furious with me for marrying this man, when they'd only met him once or twice."

"I see," said the priest. "Perhaps, had they had the opportunity to vet him, as you say, this might not have happened." He smiled, but it wasn't a mean smile.

"You're right," she sighed.

"Children often cleave from their parents too quickly, or too finally," said the priest. "Parents may be a wealth of help and information, even as you grow older."

"I know," she said. "I was impulsive and foolish. But what can I do now? The church doesn't allow divorce."

"True," said the priest. "However, this is not a case where divorce is an issue."

"Why?" she asked. "I can't stay married to this man. He lied to me. He's a criminal, who preyed on people."

"It is my opinion," said the priest, "that you were never married to him in the first place."

Her mouth dropped open.

"He is a Protestant, according to the prison records." He didn't smile. "Had you tried to be married in the church, this marriage would never have taken place. Secondly, he defrauded you, by lying about himself, his income and, most likely, his family. Both of those facts are grounds for an Ecclesiastical Declaration of Nullity to be issued."

"I don't understand," she said.

"That is because you didn't go through premarital counseling in the church," said the priest, mildly chastising her. "Let me put it this way. We can apply for an annulment. If it is granted, the marriage will be considered null and void ... as if it never happened."

"But we had sex!" she gasped.

"That doesn't matter," he said. He paused. "Well, it matters, but only in terms of confession. What matters most is that you, as a Catholic, may not marry a Protestant and your husband may not trick or deceive you into marrying him. Had he been truthful, you would not have married him. That is what you said, and that amounts to fraud on his part."

"I can't believe this," she said, amazed.

"It takes about a year, and there is some expense involved," said the priest.

"I have money," she said.

"Good," he said. "You can put a donation in the poor box on your way out. I want you to come back tomorrow and we'll get started filling out the documents. It will be very tedious, but, if you're serious about this - and I think you should be - then it will resolve your current dilemma."

"Thank you!" she gasped.

"Thank God," said the priest, smiling. "He's the one who made the rules." He paused. "Now, as to your confession ..."

When she got home, Renee Harqart, as she was already thinking of herself, went to get something to eat. She saw the grocery sack that Bobby had written his number on. She took it to the phone with her.

"Mirriam?" she said, when a woman's voice answered the phone. "Is that invitation for dinner still on?"

<< Previous Chapter | Next Chapter >>