A Frayed Knot

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(NOTE: This takes place sometime at the end of the millenium, when CDs ruled, not everyone had a cell phone, and you mostly had to get out of your house and go to a store to buy things-max)

*****

Joe felt baffled. Woke up and felt baffled. Because he was alone, and not with Lana. Because he was back where he had left. Where he had once escaped, he returned. In fact to the very same bed from which he escaped.

“Joe!” he heard his mom shout from beyond the closed door. Beyond the divider that divided the space between him and his older brother, who hadn’t occupied that space even longer than Joe hadn’t occupied his. Until five months ago.

“I’m up, Mom,” Joe replied, his vocal cord like a stretch of string set too long and accumulating dust or worse suddenly plucked and shaking off the coating. Getting to the right sound, but not right away.

“Movers are here,” she said.

“Oh, okay. Do you need me for anything?”

“No, but you should get up and get ready to go.”

“Okay to shower?”

“They won’t be coming downstairs until later.”

“Oh, okay.”

He got up gradually, giving his mom time to head upstairs. Not that he was naked or anything-his boxers hid the hidden stuff, and a t shirt hid what it hid. Just preferred not to be seen. But he should have known better, knowing his mom. Always seeming to be doing something, and since movers were occupying the upstairs, that meant some last minute washing. She stood in the doorway of the utility room, home to the washer and drier, water heater and furnace, where Joe’s dad used to have a dark room. Her hands, always busy, busy folding.

“You can pack up your car, Joe,” she said. “I had them leave some room for you to back out of the garage.”

“You trying to get rid of me?” Joe laughed.

“Sorry. I’m never best when moving.”

“Just kidding mom. I understand. Dad watching the movers?”

“Like a hawk.”

They laughed.

“Not that they can be watched once they haul the stuff away,” Joe pointed out.

“Mostly directing traffic and making sure the new owners aren’t looking at damaged walls.”

“Makes sense.” Pause. “Anyway.” Joe walked into the small room containing toilet, shower and sink. All he would need.

When he turned off the shower, he heard, “I’ll need the towel when you’re done.”

“Okay.”

“Want me to wash what you were wearing?”

“No thanks.”

Once dried, he debated whether to put on his dirty undies or shore up the towel around his waist and chose the latter. A quick look revealed no Mom, so he dashed into his bedroom, closing the door a little too loudly behind him. He bagged up his sleeping clothes with the clothes from the day before and shoved them into his luggage, zipping it up. The change of clothes waited on the bed, which was stripped (it hadn’t been when he went to shower). He dressed and lifted the luggage and glanced back and walked out the room. Last glance.

His mom wasn’t downstairs anymore, so he left the towel in a plastic laundry basket. He walked the half flight of stairs that led to the garage entrance into the house and opened it. The garage door was open and some stranger in coveralls was tilting a hand truck back, three boxes full. They nodded at each other. Joe popped open his trunk and dropped the luggage in and a box his mother must have put by the trunk which had some last minute things in it he’d chosen from his parents’ large collection of nick knacks, and closed it.

His luggage was a smaller bag, enough for a long weekend staying with his parents. He’d taken the week off from work to move into his new apartment. (New for him, the apartment had been around for a few decades). The rest of the week helping his parents to box things up for their move west, to their new house in Reno. His sister, who lived in the adjoining town of Sparks with her two teenage sons would help on the other side of the move. Meanwhile, Mom and Dad would drive there stopping on the way to be tourists or visiting the occasional relative. The beginning of Dad’s retirement. The moving van contained all the stuff they wanted to take. The car just with clothes and toiletries. Like what was contained in his luggage, but larger, for two and for a longer time.

Joe had actually started the rental of his apartment the month before, but his parents’ house was miles closer to work then the apartment. All he had before his week off, pretty much, was a bed, which he used on the weekends, hoping though not yet succeeding in sharing it with a woman. The early part of the week had been he and his mom going shopping for furniture and kitchen utensils and a small portable dishwasher and towels and so on and so forth. Mom buying. Actually Dad, but Mom signed for it.

Joe, at thirty, had been living at home and his mom was buying his stuff. Not the most ambitious man.

He was fine with it. It was a temporary setback. Dad had more money than him by several magnitudes. Mom liked being generous with her kids (Dad not so much, but didn’t define a crossed line, where purse strings were cut, unless illegal bahis it got to be persistent, too much like subsisting rather than just being helped, except for Joe’s oldest brother, and there was tons of history on that score.)

The more permanent setback, at least it was feeling more and more that way, was Joe being separated from his wife.

“I’m moving out,” she said six months before, explaining why she was packing.

It had been a weird day already. Coming home from the last of his 10 hour shifts working, or as he called it, riding his giant wide web flexo press, looking forward to his three days off, and exhausted, and despite being early morning, Joe preferring the night shift, he was greeted by his beautiful half Chinese wife wearing a transparent and seductive crimson nightie. It definitely woke him up.

So after his shower, they fucked. And she seemed to do all the work.

Sucking him to near completion. Once in the state she wanted him to be, she slipped off the bed, bent over, gorgeous ass swaying, and removed her panties. Then climbed back in and over and onto his cock. Again doing all the work, until her ups and downs became bounces, and the last of the fabric between clothed and naked was tossed off. Her arched backward curve presented her firm little breasts, and he adjusted to close in on them with his mouth. She lowered her torso to make it happen, and with some nibbles on her nipples and some gentle twists for the other, she succumbed to an ecstatic climax. He pulled her down, hands on her ass cheeks, soft over firm muscles, rubbed her clit against his pubic bone, and felt the buzz and it milked him of his cum.

Almost immediately after his final ejaculation, she lifted off him and moved to his depleted penis. Despite his complaint because of the sensitivity, she kept at it, bringing his cock to full erection after a few minutes. She took the doggy position: head low, ass high. He moved behind her, slotted and pushed. Her bouncing back against him told of her desire for hard and fast. She slapped away his fingers attempting to rub her clit to bring her along. So he kept fucking her through a couple of her orgasms from just his relentless thrusts until he finally let loose and let go and pulled her into him as he sent his seed as deep as possible inside her.

His cock became a flaccid penis once again, slipping out of her and letting some of his cum flow out. She shifted over, finding a less wet spot to lie on her back. Putting his hip on the wetness when he lay beside her, about to cuddle her. She turned on her side away from him, so he spooned her before exhaustion took over, sending him into sleep.

She was packing when he woke up. Because she was packing.

“Where?” he asked her.

“Ned and Stacy’s.”

“Why?”

“Because they asked me.”

“If I ask you to stay?”

“I’d say no.”

“Fuck you.”

“Fuck you too.”

He laid back and watched. When she was ready, her bags at the door, she said, “Right now I need this. To be with them. To not be with you.”

“How long?”

“I don’t know.”

“When you do know?”

“I’ll let you know. But I need this time, so don’t try to contact me.”

“What about the apartment?”

“It’s yours.”

“You know I can’t afford it.”

She shrugged. And left.

Only then did he realize the morning fuck, she hadn’t said a word, nor did she ever really look at him. Mostly her eyes were closed.

Six months of silence after that. He left his parent’s number on Tracy and Ned’s answering machine. He left his new number there too when he got it.

He couldn’t afford their apartment. Her idea, living in San Francisco instead of somewhere closer to work and cheaper for him on the east side of the bay. Where they had lived while she got her law degree at Berkley. While he worked to pay for the place. Actually bigger, but not in the best of neighborhoods. Not the worst either. Working class. Definitely not the Castro. Definitely not San Francisco. An internship and proof of her brilliance at research and writing had her climbing the rung of the firm as fast as anyone had. Calm and confidence had placed her amongst the big boys, negotiating. She’d breached the level of the six figure salary. She could afford the apartment.

So he put in his notice. Let the landlord know they wouldn’t be extending the lease (luckily at its end). Collected the month and a half security. And drove home in his practical and dependable four year old Buick, the last payment made a couple months before. The only car the couple had. His car really. Lana took the BART and buses. A lot more cabs recently. Or at least the recently of six months before. In the old days, they’d go out in his car. To restaurants and clubs. East Bay mostly. But that didn’t happen when they moved to San Francisco. Buses and trolleys. Cabs in the end.

He met his parents for lunch at a favorite restaurant near his new home. The Black Forest. Afterwards they hugged. Hugging his dad was never comfortable for either of them. But they’d not see each illegal bahis siteleri other for a while.

“Things will get better,” his mother insisted. Her final message to him. Was he that obviously depressed? Probably.

He waved at the white Camry with the gold plated writing and emblem as it drove off.

Once home, he called one of his once best friends, Mike.

“Bro!”

“Can I come over?”

“Sure! Bring your guitar! Dave’s here!”

“Cool.”

Like Joe, Mike represented the downwardly mobile. Children of professionals, Mike’s significantly richer than Joe’s, becoming working class sods. Mike woke up ungodly early in the morning, basically the middle of the night, or just as often stayed up, and baked breads and sweets for a storefront bakery as well as distribution to cafes and restaurants.

Like Joe just recently, Mike lived in South Minneapolis, his area weirdly called Uptown, the land of a thousand punk rock musicians. Mike included, and Joe in a former life.

Joe knocked on the door with access to the basement where Mike lived, renting from the lesbian couple upstairs, currently in a semi-successful punk band called Trouble Boys. A three piece girl band.

Mike came up behind him with a silly grin on his hairy face, the beard unkempt like his long hair, both red like his parents. Both with Scotch/Irish heritage. The grin made apparent he had already indulged in pot. No surprise. Mike was a stoner from way back.

“Cher’s on tour,” he told Joe. “I’m watching her cats. Come on.” He led Joe around the house to the front door.

It was a lesbian couple, but Mike knew Cheryl best. Mike’s friendship had landed him his residence. Cheryl was definitely the friendlier of the two women. Both were attractive and charismatic with completely different looks. Cheryl blonde, blue eyed, thickly built, a Viking warrior. Michele darkly complexioned and lithe and svelte: a Mediterranean beauty. Definitely the more obviously beautiful of the two.

Cheryl’s thick build probably helped her musicianship. She was a drummer. Like Mike.

As soon as Joe set his guitar case down in the cluttered kitchen, Mike had a thickly rolled joint between his lips, a pink Bic lighting it. He soon handed it to Joe. Joe followed him into the casual living room, frayed mismatched furniture the common theme, the floor covered with a dark hand woven wool rug, the dark material helping hide stains and cigarette burns.

“Hey,” he nodded at Dave sitting on the floral print sofa, his longtime petite blonde girlfriend, Liz, beside him. Pretty except for some unfortunate teeth. Severely uneven. Except when she smiled at him, he saw braces.

“My new job has dental coverage,” she explained.

“Still some money,” Dave added. “I’m helping.”

Joe nodded and handed him the joint.

Beside Liz sat an unknown woman. Even smaller than Liz. Dark auburn bobbed hair framing an adorable face. Small bobbed nose subtly freckled along with her cheeks. Expressive hazel/green eyes on the large size. Round face, though her defined cheek bones and her softly pointed chin created a sort of v within it.

She bounced off the couch and stood in front of him with a grin wider than expected, revealing her height, not much over five feet, making their difference nearly a foot and a half, and lifted a small hand. “I’m Becky!” she chirped.

“Joe,” he smiled, and engulfed her hand in his large one. Despite the size, she gave him a firm grip when they shook.

“I know,” she giggled adorably.

“Becky’s an old friend,” Liz explained, breathing smoke and handing the joint to Becky.

“A pleasure to make your acquaintance,” said Joe, settling into an old green armchair, the arms roughed up by the cats.

She giggled and coughed and handed him the joint.

“Mine as well,” she managed to say through her briefly suffering throat. She waited patiently for him to draw in the smoke and let it out, Mike taking the depleted joint from him, before asking, “I heard you write songs.” She looked around. “Mind if I sit on the arm?”

“I’d worry about the weight, but I think it can handle it,” Joe chuckled.

She giggled again. And sat. “So?”

“I used to,” Joe said.

“Not anymore?”

“Sometimes. But no band?”

“So what do you do with them?”

“Entertain myself?” he shrugged. “Sometime I bring out my acoustic and play in the park, but not recently. I used to play at talent nights, and had a short time gig at a coffeehouse.”

“Beer?” Mike asked, tapping out the roach and putting it in an Altoids tin. Curiously refreshing. He went into the kitchen, bringing out a six pack, and handed out the Leinies bottles.

“You guys hungry?” he asked.

A collection of no’s and head shakes.

“Then let’s head down.” He grabbed a bag of Doritos. Munchies. He’d have more beer downstairs.

“You want me to hold your bottle?” Becky giggled. And glanced down. He had responded to her presence.

She was slim like Joe’s wife, but her breasts seemed to push out her t shirt a little more canlı bahis siteleri than expected. And her ass did the same to her tight black jeans. Cute and sexy. He couldn’t help watching those ass muscles shift as she walked ahead of him. She caught his gaze and winked. And let out another giggle.

The amp Joe plugged into looked like the same one he used ten years before. And probably was. The others waited for him to tune up. Dave had obviously set up his bass earlier. Even the mic was ready.

“Stepping Stone?” Mike asked.

“Sure,” Joe shrugged.

They followed the old Monkees tune with the Kinks All Day and All of the Night, Joe getting a couple winks from Becky from the obvious lyrics, and then I Want to Be Your Dog by the Stooges.

They took a break. Another beer and another joint. Becky got even more obvious with her interest, sitting on Joe’s lap.

“You’re really good,” she said.

“Not good enough,” Joe smiled. “And Mike’s better.”

“He really is a great drummer.”

“Yeah. Both him and Dave have kept it up a lot more than me. Dave getting into his preferred music, jazz fusion.”

“I know,” Becky pouted.

“I suppose you would,” Joe chuckled.

“Not my favorite music. Too slick.”

“Yeah. But he enjoys it.”

“I guess. You going to play some originals?”

“I don’t know. They really aren’t all that great. Just thrash really.”

“Please?”

Joe relented, playing one of the thrashers. Mostly him screaming out words while he and the others…thrashed.

“Enough of that shit,” Joe said.

“I liked it,” Becky insisted.

“Here,” said Dave, handing Joe a couple little rectangles. Dentine.

“Thanks,” Joe said, unwrapping them and putting them in his mouth. Kept his throat moister.

They decided on a two song medley of Husker Du songs. I Apologize and New Day Rising. Much better thrash. During it, a tall, dark haired, voluptuous beauty entered the basement. The door obviously unlocked. She actually leaned into Mike for a kiss while he was still drumming. Mike had a knack for getting hot women, but they never lasted. He never could take any girl he slept with all that seriously. Unlike either Joe or Dave.

“So,” Mike asked Joe. “You want to work on anything?”

“Actually I do have a song I kind of like,” Joe said.

“Let’s have at it.”

Joe knew it might have been a mistake. I Tried was a song all about Lana leaving him. What with the adorable Becky hitting on him. But it was the best thing he’d written in quite some time. Maybe ever. He even created a catchy bridge for it. Something he rarely did, unless he really liked the song.

Since the verses and the chorus resembled a couple songs they once played, it wasn’t hard to figure out. The bridge was the most unique, but not all that difficult. So, a half hour later, they had it down.

“Joe,” Mike murmured after his last drum impact.

Joe smiled and nodded.

“No. We got to put that shit down!”

“One song does not a band make,” Joe argued.

“It does if they’re one hit wonders,” Dave chuckled.

“Tell me you have other songs,” Mike pleaded.

“Yeah, but they’re not at that caliber.”

“Few songs are,” Mike replied.

“We could work on it some other time,” Joe insisted.

“When?”

“I got my three shifts,” Joe said. “Starting tomorrow.”

“Twelve hours?” Mike asked.

“Yep.”

“So…Thursday?”

“Thursday I recover,” Joe laughed.

“I have a gig on Friday,” Dave said.

“You always do,” Mike responded.

“Just saying.”

“Sunday night’s my next shift,” Joe said.

“Saturday it is,” Mike nodded. “Dave?”

“My band rehearses Saturday.”

“When?”

“Afternoon?”

“Saturday night?”

“Sure.”

“Dave? Do you want to play rock?”

“For old times,” Dave shrugged. “This was actually a lot of fun.”

“I have a song you’ll like,” Joe told him. “It’s kind of funky.”

“You funky?” Dave teased.

“Fuck you,” Joe laughed.

“Coming with?” Liz asked Becky as everyone began to head out.

“Is it okay if I hang with you, Joe?”

“Of course,” he grinned at her. “I can drive you home.”

“I don’t live far.”

“Even better. Can I leave my guitar here, Mike? I got the acoustic at home.”

“Sure. And you can come by anytime. My door is always open.”

“I noticed. Is that safe?”

“Just the basement door. And just when I’m home.”

“Okay. Cool. Thanks.”

“Anything for you, Bro,” Mike grinned and opened his arms. Joe felt a little more comfortable hugging his friend than his dad. A little.

Once outside the house, Becky asked, “You have a car?”

“Yeah. The ugly ass Buick.”

“Is it okay if we walk?”

“Sure.”

She set the direction even though they mostly remained side by side. But she tended to get hoppy. Energetic. Playful.

“What was that song about, Joe?” she asked.

“My wife,” he admitted.

“You’re married?” she pouted, but didn’t seem put off oddly enough.

“Sort of.”

“Explain.”

“She left. She’s got these friends who turned out to be her lovers.”

“Lovers? As in plural?”

“Very San Francisco,” he chuckled.

“San Francisco?”

“I moved from there. It’s where we lived.”

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