Yes, I’m finally back to working on the novel. And I apologize for how long it’s taking. But between the surgery and the move, frankly I haven’t had the time to write ‘coherently’… If I ever do…
As usual, unedited… So don’t beat me up for that. It will get polished before it gets into the book.
It’s going to get drunk out
Jesse’s phone rang just after noon, puzzled she hit speaker and heard Marlene saying, “Just for tonight. And make reservations for dinner too.”
Jesse said, “Hello? Did you butt dial me?”
Marlene honked a laugh, “No dear, this is a warning order. You and Felicia need to pack an overnight bag, and one for Jace. Darlene is going to come get Boo Boo about five, and take her to her house. We’re going to spend the night down in San Diego.”
Jesse looked at the phone, “Uh, say what?”
There is going to be drinking at your apartment tonight, so us girls are going to have ourselves a pleasant evening without the boys.”
Jesse said, “Did I miss something?”
Marlene laughed again, “Apparently Gunner Price and my hubby, along with Mike Brill are going to come over and commiserate with Aaron over the end of his career. He just doesn’t know it yet. And I know from past experience, they’re going to get drunk and tell stories, and lie to each other, and get drunker… Matt will probably be designated the sober guy, to keep things under control, more or less.”
Jesse asked, “So we’re not welcome?”
Marlene replied, “Not a matter of not being welcome, it’s a matter of we have better things to do. It’s going to be a spa evening for us, and they are paying for it. Darl is making reservations now, and Boo Boo will be house sit, along with her dogs.”
“But Felicia doesn’t get off till five, and I…”
“Call her and give her a heads up. And don’t worry, this is all covered. Gotta run, see you at six.”
Jesse shook her head as Marlene hung up, thinking Okay, this is just plain nuts. The guys are going to get drunk and we’re going somewhere and spa… and food… What do I do with Jace?
Jesse quickly called Felicia, and passed the news to her, with Felicia being even more confused than Jesse already was. Jesse piddled around, packing and repacking a bag, then deciding to put all of her and Jace’s stuff in one bag and be done with it.
She made a pass through the apartment, cleaning it as she went, much to Jace’s delight as he helped her push the vacuum, and Boo Boo’s terror and she ran from room to room, trying to stay away from the vacuum. At least this time she wasn’t chewing the hose.
Felicia had made it back to the apartment early, and she’d packed a bag, asking questions all the while and getting no answers from Jesse. Darlene came by and picked up Boo Boo, smiling and saying she was looking forward to a girl’s night out. She told Jesse and Felicia she’d be back at six to pick them up.
Aaron finally came in, followed by Matt about five minutes later. Both of them were worn out, but for different reasons. Aaron from the mental strain of the last couple of days, and doing final paperwork all day, and Matt from running a full range schedule today including having to pull repairs between relays on a balky pop up target. Both of them hit the showers and Jesse ran to the store for munchies, mentally calculating how much food the men would eat while drinking. She came back with two shopping bags full of chips, dip, cheese balls, and crackers along with a couple of six packs of Coke and Dr. Pepper just in case.
Aaron came into the kitchen as Jesse and Felicia were unloading the bags, “What’s for dinner?”
Jesse snorted, “Don’t ask me. Apparently you’re getting drunk is on the menu though.”
“What? I’m not planning on getting…”
The doorbell interrupted Aaron and Felicia answered it. Standing on the walk were four men that Felicia didn’t recognize, and she looked back at Jesse with a pleading look. Jesse motioned for her to let them in, and the four trooped into the house.
Aaron looked up and in a Pavlovian response, came to attention, “Gunner Price, can I help you? Gunner Best? What are you doing here?” Mike Brill and Sergeant Major Eberhart followed them in as they gathered in the living room.
Jesse said, “Gentlemen please come in.” Sticking out her hand to Gunner Best she continued, “I don’t think I know you, but if I didn’t know better, I’d swear your James Earl Jones.”
Gunner Best took her hand softly, with a rumbling laugh and a deep Southern accent, “You don’t know me, I’m off the east coast. Aaron used to work for me, along with Matt.”
“What brings you out here Gunner?”
My gen’rul is out here taking to the redneck’s gen’rul, so I tagged along. I heard what happened to Aaron, and frankly that’s a pretty shitty deal.”
Jesse nodded, “That it was Gunner. That it was.” She hugged Aaron tightly as the doorbell rang again.
She let go of Aaron and answered the door to see Toad standing there with Marlene. Waving them in Jesse turned to see Gunner Price taking bottles of bourbon and scotch out of a bag and sitting them on the kitchen table as Matt walked into the living room.
Marlene squealed, “Katie! What the hell are you doing here?” and rushed to Gunner Best who rumbled a laugh and hugged her.
“Marlene, you haven’t changed a bit! Debbie told me to tell you hello and you need to give her a call.”
Marlene replied, “I’ll do that.” Looking at Jesse, she said, “It’s time for us girls to go. We’ll be back tomorrow morning to pick up what’s left.”
As Jesse and Felicia went out the door, they heard Gunner Price say, “Okay drinking rules are everybody for himself, and Toad, you’re the DD.”
The women were sitting in the lounge enjoying a cocktail and laughing as Jesse fed Jace chips with guacamole when Felicia said, “Who are we waiting for?”
Darlene looked up and said, “Oh, there she is.” Waving at a middle-aged lady standing in the door of the lounge.
The petite blonde strolled over with an air of confidence, and Felicia said, “Oh, you’re the weather lady!”
“I’m Lisa Stone, I’m Eric Price’s wife. And yes, I’m the weather lady,” she said with a laugh.
Marlene said, “Lisa goes way back with us too. She’s one of the girls from Lejeune.”
Felicia said, “Lejeune?”
Lisa laughed again, “Actually much further back than that…”
Marlene interrupted, “Oh yeah, while I’m thinking about it, ‘Katie’ is here!”
Lisa spun around and said, “That sumbitch didn’t bring Debbie, did he?”
Marlene held up both hands in self-defense, “Hey now, I didn’t…”
Lisa laughed again, “Oh no, it’s just the regular pissing match with him. He never brings Debbie on his trips, so I get all the good stuff second-hand. Turning to Felicia she continued, “I’m actually a former BAM, and at one time I outranked both KT and Eric.”
Felicia asked, “BAM?”
“Big ass Marine.” Marlene, Darlene, and Jesse all broke out in laughter at that, considering that Lisa was maybe five feet three and a hundred and ten pounds even now. Lisa continued, “I was a weather forecaster at MCAS Beaufort, which is where I met Eric and ‘Katie’. We got married and I got pregnant, so I got out of the Corps and went back to school. I got a degree in meteorology, figuring I could get a job with the National Weather Service wherever we ended up. But that translated into getting an offer to be the weather girl in Jacksonville, and I’ve managed to stay on the air ever since.”
Darlene said, “And nobody knows you’re married to a Marine. And I’m hungry, let’s go eat before we hit the spa.”
Marlene replied, “I already have the room key, we’re in the Crown Suite. We’ll figure out the sleeping arrangements later.”
Gunner Price poured another round of scotch, and proposed another toast, “May the road rise up to meet you…”
Matt said, “That’s not a toast Gunner, that’s an Irish blessing.”
Gunner Price said, “Well, we’re drinkin’ scotch, so that’s close enough.”
Gunner Best replied, “Figures, an uneducated redneck can’t get it right. Here’s the proper way to do it! We’ve drunk to the Queen — God bless her! — We’ve drunk to our mothers’ land; We’ve drunk to our English brother, (But he does not understand); We’ve drunk to the wide creation, And the Cross swings low for the mom, Last toast, and of Obligation, A health to the Native-born!
Toad groaned, “Oh please don’t tell me we’re now going to be quoting Kipling all night…”
Gunner Best said, “Do you know it?”
Toad, Aaron and Matt all chimed in, “They change their skies above them, But not their hearts that roam! We learned from our wistful mothers To call old England ‘home’… And Toad said, “The Native Born, eighteen ninety-four. Come on Gunner.”
Gunner Price chuckled, “Figures, give ‘Katie’ a little education…”
Gunner Best saluted the others with his glass, “I’ll have you know that ‘I’ am the educated one here. The redneck over there is from McRae, Georgia. It’s a little town down toward the southern part of the state. I, on the other hand, was raised in Athens, Georgia. So I’m much more highly educated.”
Aaron finished his glass with a hiccup, “Sho… Both of you are from Georgia? How… How long have you known each other? And why do they call you Katie? Always thought you were James… James Earl…”
Matt laughed, “Way too long!”
Gunner Price said, “Shaddap Casper, you too Hick. Y’all may be hogs, but you ain’t shit compared to what we were back in tha’ day.
Gunner Best replied, “Actually Hick, my real name is Kenneth Thomas, but the redneck over here called me Katie one night.”
“And a glorious fight it was!”
Gunner Best laughed, “Got us both busted too, you little shit.”
Toad sipped a coke, and relaxed as the tension eased after the gunners woozily shook hands. Then the two gunners started telling stories at that point, and the others just sat and listened.
The women were relaxing in the suite after their spa treatment and Jesse sighed, “I didn’t know a spa could be so nice! I don’t think I’ve ever been so relaxed. Even Jace is out like a light.”
Lisa replied, “I do this at least a couple of times a year. It lets me put up with Eric a little better.”
Felicia sighed, “I’ve never had one, and I wasn’t sure I would be comfortable with anybody massaging me, but now… Bring it on!”
Darlene languidly lifted her champagne flute, “To massages on a regular basis… So that we can put up with the men in our lives!”
All the women clinked glasses and settled back into the couches. Felicia leaned over and said quietly to Jesse, “How do we pay for this, and how much is it costing?”
Jesse shrugged, “Dunno, and right now I don’t care! Pampering like this is worth every penny. Hell, I’ll pay for it myself.”
Lisa leaned out of her chair and said, “This is on me. The station gets a discount for things here, and I’m not ashamed to take advantage of it. It’s also my way of apologizing to you for what the damn Corps did to your hubby. Eric is a bit more direct in his way of saying sorry, and so is KT, and it usually involves booze. I’m too old for the hangovers in the morning.”
Jesse looked over at Marlene, “Was it just me, or does ‘Katie’ really look like James Earl Jones? Or am I just too mixed up to think?”
Marlene laughed, “Yes, he does look like James Earl Jones twin brother!”
Felicia asked, “I wonder if the two of them ever met?”
Lisa laughed, “Apparently, years ago. I Mr. Jones was actually in the Army. But he’s three or four inches shorter than ‘Katie’ and probably ten years older. I understand there a lot of double-takes that night.”