"I wonder if God really holds it against you if you kill yourself?" Kathy McMillan asked in a dull whisper, standing inside her deserted kitchen, in her deserted house, finishing her fourth large, very strong scotch and soda of the evening.
Maybe if you do it with booze, it doesn't count as intentional suicide? She thought to herself, adding ice to her glass from the icemaker in the freezer and going back over to the kitchen counter where the half-empty bottle of scotch stood alongside a two-liter bottle of generic club soda.
She made another dark-with-scotch, light-on-the-soda highball for herself and eyed the depleted scotch disappointedly. Don't think this little dram of booze is enough to kill me! I probably won't even be able to get drunk enough on what's left to pass out and get some sleep tonight!
"Goddamned Scott and his goddamned little whore!" she whispered aloud as she went back over to the kitchen table and sat down heavily, scotch in hand, staring bleakly and somewhat drunkenly at the check her husband had left lying in the middle of the table for her.
It was more than enough to pay the bills for the up-coming month and for her to live quite comfortably on ... dear, sweet, generous Scott McMillan ... what a prince among men he was, she thought bitterly! All she had to do to earn it was sit alone in their house and quietly fall apart while he spent most of his nights in the plush little love nest across town that he was also paying for; where he could fuck his red-hot, twenty-two year old secretary all night long!
She looked up at the big, round clock on the wall beside the refrigerator. Ten o'clock on a Sunday night. A full two hours since Scott and his little secretary/whore, Tammy, had stopped by to drop off the monthly expense check and for Scott to pick up fresh clothes for the coming week and to make sure she was keeping up the house the way he liked it during his almost total absence, Tammy sitting impatiently outside in Scott's Caddy inspecting her long, perfectly-manicured nails and looking beautiful as the big car sat idling in the driveway.
"You have absolutely no shame!" Kathy had glared at Scott after looking out the window while he briskly went about his business and discovering the blonde, blue-eyed Tammy staring triumphantly back at her from the front seat of the car. "Couldn't you at least have left that little slut of yours somewhere else while you came over here?"
"We're on our way to a party!" Scott had replied with a knife-twistingly cruel little grin, loading up his suit bag and throwing clean socks and underwear into a duffel. "We'd be late, if I had to go all the way back across town to pick up Tammy and leave from there. It's more convenient this way."
"Convenient?" she found herself muttering in dumbfounded fury. "My God, Scott ... we ... at least I still live here! How do you think I like facing the neighbors after a little stunt like this on your part? Everyone in the neighborhood can see little sexbomb Tammy sitting out there in your car looking like she's on her way to a hookers' convention!"
Scott, the miserable bastard, had just laughed. "You're just jealous that she can wear a dress like that and look so sexy in it!"
Fuming at that typically thoughtless, insensitive, dig at the undeniable fact that she was forty-three and Tammy was barely twenty-two, Kathy had stormed off into the kitchen and hauled out the scotch and soda. She had grabbed two glasses, out of years of habit, and was just about to put one back as Scott joined her in the kitchen on his way to the door, the suit bag over one shoulder and the duffel full of clean shirts, socks, jeans, and underwear in his other hand.
"Oh, I guess I should at least offer you one, since it's your scotch!" Kathy had snarled, pointing at him with the empty glass she was in the process of putting back in the cupboard.
"I'll have a few when I get to the party," he had answered with that superior little bad-boy sneer of his that Kathy had come to detest so much over the last year. "And, besides, I'm sure you'll end up drinking enough for both of us, won't you, Kathy dear?"
"You miserable shit!" Kathy had screamed at him angrily as he reached for the door handle. "I'll divorce you! I swear to God ... I'll divorce you!"
Scott had turned and crossed the kitchen in two big strides, getting right up into her face, his broad, still-handsome Irish mug contorting with rage. "No, you won't, Kathy! You won't, because you don't want a scandal! You don't want the messiness a good, old-fashioned contested divorce--with me calling you a cold, unloving, drunken bitch and you calling me a philandering bastard in court--will bring!"
He leered at her. "Me ... I don't mind a bit! I've got all the money, all the power, and I'll still have almost all of it when the dust settles a year and a half after you file and finally win your precious freedom. Freedom to do what; starve to death by yourself? Because you won't get half of my money! I'm way too smart for that! The best you'll manage is this house and enough cash to buy your booze and live in it like a soused pauper, bitch!"
He flashed her a smug grin and headed for the door. "You're much better off the way things are, believe me. At least now, you've got it easy ... nice new car to drive, money for new clothes, plenty of cash to pay all the bills and live well!"
As he reached the door and opened it, he turned back momentarily. "Besides, I might be coming back home any time now! I think young Tammy is finally getting the idea that, while I'm enjoying the hell out of sleeping with her, she's never going to be the new Mrs. McMillan, the way I suspect she told herself she was going to be when this little dalliance started! I might be back home full time any day now, babe!"
Kathy had grimaced and shaken her head at the sheer arrogance of the man she had been married to for twenty-four years. "That's sure something for me to look forward to, isn't it ... you pig!"
Scott had gone down the steps to the driveway chuckling as she'd stepped over and slammed the door behind him. She had returned to the kitchen window and watched him load his stuff in the trunk, get in and drive away into the night!
Now, sitting alone in the kitchen, Kathy's booze-dulled brain gradually realized that it was too warm with the door shut. She staggered to her feet and went over and opened it, enjoying the immediate rush of cooler air through the screen door on this early autumn, still-warm night.
She thought she saw a movement across the driveway, at the Clark place. She knew that her neighbors, Ray and Edie Clark were away for the week, visiting their daughter and her family down in Phoenix and, of course, young Tony Clark was at the local university for his third year of studies, living on campus.
There shouldn't be anyone over there! She thought, her half-inebriated brain working more slowly than usual.
Flipping on the floodlights lining the driveway, she bathed the area in bright light. A tall, thin figure stood on the steps across the way, shading his eyes against the sudden brightness.
"Mrs. Mac? Is that you?" a familiar voice called.
"Tony? What are you doing home?"
The lanky young man came down the steps carrying an armful of clothes and stepped across the strip of lawn and driveway separating the two homes. He stood squinting up into the blinding array of floodlights from the bottom of the steps.
"I'm not home, Mrs. Mac, not really!" he smiled up at her, showing her the stack of neatly ironed shirts, their wire hangers dangling downward from their buttoned up necks as he held them, laid out across his forearm. "Just picking up some clothes my mom washed and ironed for me before they took off to see Julie and Ryan down in Arizona!"
"Must be pick-up-your-clean-laundry night in America!" she muttered under her breath, remembering her husband's recent visit angrily.
"Oh, nothing, honey!" she smiled down at the handsome boy. "Would you like to come in and keep an old lady company for a little while? I haven't seen you since ... since the first of summer, really!"
Tony came up the steps quickly and she stepped back so that he could open the screen door and come inside. He was a tall, thin, kid with ropy muscles, dark, short-clipped hair and a very handsome, twenty-year old's face that was just on the cusp of morphing from a boy's into a man's. She had, quite literally, known him since before he was born, his mom and dad having bought the house next door when Linda, his older sister, was five and he was just a big bulge under his mom's maternity clothes!
"Can I offer you a drink? Soda pop, water ... " She saw him staring at the mixed drink on the table and then over at the scotch and soda bottles on the counter as he hung his laundry across the back of an empty kitchen chair. "Or, something stronger? Is it really possible that you're old enough to drink already?"
Tony grinned, that same mischievous, charming grin that had gotten him out of so many little scrapes throughout his youth; she remembered a broken window and six year old Tony grinning sheepishly ... ball bat still in hand, "oh, no, Mam! Not me", and then there was the time when the tipped-over trash barrels in front of all the houses along the street were discovered the morning after Halloween ... He shrugged disarmingly now.
"I may be a couple months shy of my actual twenty-first birthday, Mrs. Mac ... but 'old enough to drink' ... I think that's more of a mindset than a date, don't you?" he grinned at her and then eyed the scotch again.
Kathy laughed heartily at the young scamp's remark, the first good laugh she'd had in a week, it felt like! Reaching for a glass, she got some ice from the freezer and made him a light scotch and soda.
"If you ever tell your mom I gave you this ... " she scowled at him teasingly as she handed the boy the drink.
"What, you think I'd actually tell my mother that I had a late night drink with a gorgeous neighbor lady?" he said with a laugh, drinking a big slug of the highball and then confidently reaching for the scotch bottle and filling it back up to the brim, the color now more closely matching the liquid in Kathy's half-finished drink on the table. "Do I really seem that naive, Mrs. Mac?'
Kathy's heart lifted at the words gorgeous neighbor lady! She smiled at him, ignoring his helping himself to more scotch than was good for a boy so young, and led him back over to the table, indicating the chair just to the left of hers.
"So, what have you been up to this summer, Tony?" she said, leaning forward a little to retrieve her drink as they sat down.
His eyes followed her breasts as her low cut top sagged open when she leaned across the table. She grabbed the drink quickly and sat back in her chair, feeling foolish for having worn the sexy top just because Scott had been coming over -- as if he was going to pay any attention her big, familiar boobs when he had young, spectacular Tammy out in the car in a party dress made mostly of shiny metallic discs with a lot of space between them and air, from what Kathy had seen from the window!
"I can see you haven't changed since you were ten!" she scolded Tony and pulled the straps on her top up and back, hiding more of her sumptuous cleavage, his eyes still unashamedly on her chest.
Tony laughed easily. "No, I guess not! I don't think there was a boy in the neighborhood that didn't find a reason to ride his bike past your house half a dozen times when you were out watering or working in the flowerbed when you used to wear those halter-tops in the summer, Mrs. Mac! I remember sitting on our kitchen steps, watching those big beauties of yours jiggle around, pretending I wasn't watching!"
Kathy laughed again at the boy's slightly risque honesty! "Yeah, I guess I was quite the red-hot mama back in those days to you young voyeurs, wasn't I, wearing those halters and those tight shorts that used to be all the rage?"
Tony leaned forward and drank a big shot of his cocktail, his eyes moving from her face down to her cleavage and then back up. He smiled. "I don't see how that's changed much, Mrs. Mac! You're still, as my daddy used to say when he thought I was out of earshot, 'built like a brick shithouse!' You know?"
Kathy felt a naughty flush of excitement, hearing what Ray Clark used to say about her, especially from his handsome young son! She felt herself coloring a bit and drank what was left of her scotch.
"I'm afraid the shithouse has begun to settle, Tony ... the ravages of gravity and age!" she winked at him, feeling her drinks heavily all of a sudden, realizing as soon as she had spoken that her comment to the boy was wildly over the line!
Tony obviously wasn't of the same opinion. He just grinned at her and shook his head. "I don't know, Mrs. Mac! You still look pretty damned hot to this neighbor boy!"
If she had flushed before, she felt herself actually blushing this time! She thought to herself: What in the hell am I doing, sitting here flirting with a boy who's a year younger than my youngest?
"How ... uh ... about a refill?" she asked him, embarrassed by the turn the conversation had taken and wanting something to say to change the subject.
"Sure! Here, I'll get 'em!" he smiled, standing up and taking both glasses back over to the drain board. " I may not have learned much in college, but I do know how to mix a simple cocktail. All of that money spent on my education has reaped some benefits, it seems!"
He quickly made two very strong drinks, skimping on the ice and going heavy on the scotch with just a hint of soda. He brought them back over and sat down.
"Here's to you, Mrs. Mac! Still the best looking lady in on the block!" he toasted her.
Kathy clicked glasses with him and drank deeply, grinning despite herself. Tony had been a charmer since he was little and this new, more adult version of him clearly hadn't lost any steps along the way!
Besides, she reasoned drunkenly, don't I deserve a little flirting and a little drinky with a gorgeous kid like Tony? Scott is fucking the daylights out of that little bitch he's with; the least I should get is a few drinks and some harmless talk in the kitchen!
Thinking about Scott and his little trollop served to put a damper on the fun, flirtatious atmosphere that had been building up for Kathy. She sighed and drank more scotch.
"What's wrong?" Tony said, feeling the abrupt change in her mood.
"I ... I suppose you've heard what's been going on with Scott this last year?" she said dejectedly.
Tony suddenly looked uncomfortable. He looked down at the table and drank all of his tall scotch nervously in three big gulps.
"Uh ... yeah, Mrs. Mac ... that sucks! Mom mentioned a while back that Mr. Mac was uh ... you know!"
"Fucking his secretary!" Kathy blurted angrily, finishing the sentence. "That's what he's doing, Tony! He's ... he's ... fucking that little bitch instead of me!"
Out of nowhere, Kathy began to cry! All of the suppressed rage and embarrassment over the situation she had endured for the last year suddenly gripped her totally, helped along, no doubt by all the drinks she had downed tonight. She gasped for breath as her shoulders and chest suddenly heaved and tears poured out of her dark brown eyes.
Tony was up like a shot, standing next to her, patting her consolingly on the shoulders. He touched her long, dark hair gently.
"It's okay, Mrs. Mac! He's being a real jerk!" the boy assured her, his voice soft and understanding and tender! "I can't imagine why a guy would stray off like that when he's got a knockout babe like you at home!"
Kathy looked up at the little boy she'd known, so abruptly grown into a beautiful, caring young man. He stepped over to the counter and got her a handful of tissues from a box not far from the bottles of scotch and soda and proceeded to dab the tears from her eyes.
"I ... I'm not a knockout anymore, Tony!" she sobbed up at him as he affectionately patted away her tears. "I'm old now! I ... I'm just an old woman that nobody wants!"
Tony tossed the wet tissues on the table, reached down and grabbed Kathy under her arms, his strong young body straightening back up, jerking her up to her feet. He turned her towards him, smiling, and pulled her into his chest.