The Continuing Adventures Of Meet The Blacks
Jett looked at the time on the screen. Wow. They’d been chatting for an hour and it seemed like only minutes since “Hi baby”. She was a refreshing chat. Although most women displayed photos of nudity she did not. Oh, she had the body for it, alright. But she didn’t flaunt it. It was just very hard for her to hide her assets. Even the loose fitting tops couldn’t completely conceal what nature had given her.
The chat had started out awkwardly and his little episode in the kitchen had almost blown the whole thing. He reached the computer just as she was saying good-bye. He hastily apologized for his time away from her. Sorry. He had to let his dog, Buster, out for a pee. After she replied “Dogs will do that”, he knew he was back in her good graces. And then questions about Buster, the imaginary pug. Jett remembered Porky, his grandparents dog, and how that dog loved him and followed him around. So Porky became Buster in a sense. Whatever Porky liked to eat, well, that was exactly what Buster liked. And so on. And he had just lied to her. For now. He had to go out and buy a pug tomorrow. And he would have to name him Buster. And no more lies. He talked straight after that, taking the conversation away from Buster the dog, now on his shopping list. They chatted online for a few more minutes, inquisitive and hungry for answers. Then she had to leave, get ready for work. A nurse. They would chat again tomorrow. Just as she was disconnecting the telephone rang.
He didn’t recognize the number on call display when he picked up the phone. “Hello?” Then Beaverdell’s voice, all frantic, scattered sentences, stammering. Only three words made sense during the short conversation. Hurry. Rusty. Jail. Jett shut down the computer and ran down the hallway to put on his boots. In a flash he grabbed his wallet, car keys and suit jacket. Then out the door. Not even time to stop and chat with Mrs. Grimaldi, the nice old Italian lady who ran the local deli. He fired up Alex, his ’95 Dodge Caravan, and aimed it towards the police station. And gone.
Jett arrived to find Beaverdell and Dusty sitting side by side on a long bench in the reception area. That’s what the sign above the door called it. A lot of shady characters being shunted here and there by the local boys in blue. Just saying hello. He could only imagine what the reception area would look like had the roles been reversed. He skirted around a couple of Hi-baby scantily clad ladies of the evening and made his way over to the bench. He stood between Dusty and Beaverdell. Each one shuffled over a bit to let him sit in the middle.
“What’s going on? What’s happened to Rusty?” Jett asked hurriedly. Beaverdell was the first to speak. Jett guessed Dusty was in a state of mild shock, after all, it was his brother they had locked up. “We don’t know the whole story yet but Rusty went to Biff’s last night and tore up the place. He put three guys in the hospital. Two of the guys are okay, black eyes and stuff, but he took a pool cue to the third guy”. Then Dusty added in a small choked voice. “He might not make it, Jett.” Just then the desk sergeant appeared, a loud slam as the steel door shut behind him. He stood at the counter and pointed at the three Blacks, pardon me, two Blacks and a Humes, and shouted. “Your boy just took a swing at me. Which one of you is Jett Black?”
Jett stood up and sheepishly approached the desk sergeant. “I’m Jett Black, sir.” Jett said this in a low hushed tone. The sergeant studied Jett’s demeanour and calmed himself. A little. It had been a long night and an even longer report. He explained the story to Jett. At about 1:00 am, Rusty had entered Biff’s, a local gay bar and sat down to drink. The waiter reported that he was fine at first, just nursing a beer and watching a pool game. Twenty minutes later he starts ordering harder drinks, straight up. He’s going at a good clip for the next twenty minutes or so until he sees the two patrons playing pool start to kiss. That’s when he grabbed a pool cue and attacked the two. A third patron had jumped in to rescue the pair and it was he who received the brunt of the beating. Rusty then proceeded to take the pool cue to the bar, smashing bar glasses, full bottles of alcohol, the mirror behind the bar and then the beer taps. He then fled the scene with the pool cue and three quarts of whiskey. The sergeant finished up. “And you can add resisting arrest to that. We found him in a graveyard across town drunker than a skunk and he tried to keep the officers at bay with the pool cue. Some of my boys would love a few minutes alone with him.”
“What happens next, officer?” Jett asked, well aware of the gravity of the situation. The sergeant looked down at his report for a moment and then looked up at Jett. There was no mistaking the concern there. “ Well Mr. Black, your brother or cousin …” “Cousin …” Jett added hastily. “Yes, the sergeant continued, your cousin is in big trouble. The damages to the club are in the ten thousand dollar range and the only good news is that the badly beaten patron is now in stable condition. Your boy is very lucky, well, in that regard anyway.” A second, a second of what seemed like eternal silence and the sergeant spoke again. “And one more thing, Mr. Black, this is a hate crime, pure and simple. Your boy is homophobic.” He added “I can release him in your custody, none of the patrons will press charges and the club hasn’t filed a report yet but you had better keep your dog on a leash. A very tight leash. This isn’t over yet and if your dog tries to run? We’ll catch him and chain him down for good.”
For the next half hour the paperwork was dealt with. Page after page, document after document, signature after signature, Jett patiently did what he was told. The reward was Rusty coming through the big steel door. Just not quite the Rusty Jett recognized. Maybe the boys in blue, maybe even the same two escorting him to the counter, had gotten to him. His face was beaten badly. One eye almost swollen shut. Jett couldn’t be sure. He wasn’t there when Rusty was first brought in. When Dusty first saw his brother he started crying. Well, no. Wailing. With Beaverdell not far behind.
Sober and ashamed, Rusty let the three lead him out of the dark hole and into the sunlight. Not a word was spoken. There would be time for words later. Right now it was a time for healing. They drove silently through town; no radio, just the noise of the engine and the world around them. Jett pulled in front of the band house and the three of them were getting out. Jett’s words were cutting. “Not you, Rusty. You’re staying with me for the next few days. We have to sort this out together. That’s the only way out. You have to follow my lead on this one.” Without another word Rusty climbed in the passenger’s seat and he and Jett drove off. Beaverdell and Dusty were abandoned on the sidewalk, home and fishing for house keys.
Over the next few days the situation improved. No one would lay charges. The club would not charge Rusty for the damages. And without any other charges, the desk sergeant decided that resisting arrest wasn’t that at all. Just a misunderstanding. He realized he was now on the losing end. His boys had beat up Rusty and there had been witnesses. And he knew if he let it go, well, those Blacks boys would probably do the same. And how right he was. The band just wanted their Rusty back. Jett’s home was now the hub of excitement with a revolving door. The other members would take turns visiting, almost like a hospital scenario. Hell, Rhett even showed up once, not staying long. Just there to confirm that his cousin was still alive. Or perhaps to confirm that the band would continue on. And Jett turned out to be a great candy striper in his little hospital. And a pretty good nurse. He made the mistake of making the banana thing for Rusty and soon the other two, Dusty and Beaverdell, would not let it go until there were banana things in front of them. And it seemed like a fairy god-person had waved all the dark clouds and bad luck away. And indeed there was one.
Jett had been in contact with Wendy on a nightly basis, usually waiting until Rusty’s evening medication kicked in. He had given up his bedroom to Rusty and had retreated to the couch and living room. He sort of liked this set-up because the computer was in the living room. With Rusty in his frail condition there was no need for secrecy. As they got more familiar Jett began to notice how similar their tastes were. And he was ecstatic when she suggested they continue chatting on google instead of the dating site. The response time on the dating site was horribly slow. Even her short three word answers took forever to receive. On Google things began to progress much more rapidly. Photos were exchanged. Songs were exchanged. The conversations were very respectful and there was no talk of sex. Not until she approached the subject. Out of the blue she told him in no uncertain terms that she would rock his world. And would it be okay if she came for a visit. A short one. A week or two ought to do the trick. If they really hit it off she would return to him for good. Jett was over the moon when he heard this. They spent the next few evenings making plans.
It was Thursday morning when Jett drove Rusty back to the band house. Rusty was looking much better. The swelling was almost gone and the colour was back in his face. Hands still very tender. They had talked a lot together during Rusty’s recovery time. The incident was retold from Rusty’s point of view daily, to be dissected and re-assembled by Jett. In the end he was satisfied with the information he had gleaned from Rusty. After they stopped in front of the house, Jett leaned over and gave Rusty a hug. As Rusty was getting out to leave, Jett spoke. “You know we’re going to have to have a band meeting about this and you’re going to have to come clean.” I’ve known you all your life and I know there’s more to it than you’re telling me but we’ll leave it at that for the next few days.” Rusty beamed. “I’ve learned my lesson and I’ve had a lot of time to think about my actions. I feel the love. I’m lucky to have you guys, even Rhett.” Jett laughed and said “Where is that Rhett?”. Then they looked at each other and laughed. Things would be fine.
Jett arrived back home ten minutes later to a frantic e-mail message. Get hold of Wendy ASAP. Within a minute he had reached her. Technology. Lightning fast technology. Her father was sick so she had to fly to see him. He was in New York and she had to leave immediately but would get a hold of him once she was at her father’s side. And she’d been lonely long enough. Once her father was in stable condition she would make arrangements to fly to Jett. To be with him. He was all she wanted now. Jett spent the rest of that day and the next one waiting for contact from her. Our puppy, waiting for treats. None came. On Saturday morning Jett’s day took a turn for the worse.
He awoke that morning more confused than ever. He had dreamt of Wendy again last night. Redo dream still intact. No changes at all. The dreams had stopped after he came in contact with her but last night had been different. The same dream, but with more vibrancy and colour. A veil had been lifted. Maybe it was just because her father was sick and she was alone in this. Her parents were divorced, ten or more years now, and her mother was now living in Conroe, Texas. And the divorce had been very messy and ugly. Still confusion on Jett’s part. Why not a new dream? There were five photos on her profile page and she had sent him three more on Google hangouts.
He climbed out of bed, threw on a pair of sweats and a t-shirt and made his way to the living room and his new lifeline. His computer. He checked for messages from her and found not one but two messages. The first message told him that her father had slipped into a coma. The second message informed him that the doctors had to operate soon but they required ten thousand dollars up front. And because her father was in a coma there was no way to get the money out of his account. His lawyer had tried unsuccessfully. And she certainly didn’t have that kind of money. Could she borrow the money from him? She would pay him in full when she came to visit. The John Wayne voice was in his head immediately. Don’t do it pilgrim. You’re about to be bushwhacked pardner. Jett immediately responded. This would be tricky. He had the money ten times over but that money was performing wonderful tricks in the stocks and bonds world. He did have thirty thousand in a savings account but that was for a frugal lifestyle and a rainy day. Well, wasn’t it a rainy day now?
“What’s happening there now?” was his response to her second message. Not much had changed was her reply. Her message went on … the operating window was only open for a few more hours. After that there was a possibility of permanent brain damage. Could he lend her the money? And then more pleading. Jett replied by saying he would contact his bank and see if he could move some funds around. Her response to that? Hurry, baby, time’s running out. They said their goodbyes and Jett logged into his bank account to see what he could do for her.
Wendy Jeal sat in her luxurious apartment overlooking the bay and smiled at her laptop. This was the perfect set-up. She was very good at this. This Jett Black guy was just as easy as the rest. She loved her job. Seven months ago she had found some pictures of a hot looking woman on Pinterest. A woman so hot even she would do her. And she only did the best. Men or women, it didn’t matter, just the best. Jennifer Barstow was the victim of her identity theft. Wendy Jeal? A good enough name for now. So that wasn’t really stealing. This Jennifer was some sort of model and probably had a different lover every night so why the fuck would she care? Her only concern was that one of her targets would recognize this Jennifer woman for who she really was. Eight victims later and the sheep just kept falling. She decided Jett would be her last little lamb. She would take a break and hit Costa Rica for a month and change her profile. Find someone a little less famous. And now for the clincher. She selected the prize winning photo and hit send.
Jett had just logged out of his bank account and was in a fine state of anxiety. While he was looking at his balances, not one but two voices were telling him to do nothing. The Duke was very loud and also very adamant that he should do nothing at the moment. Wait and see pilgrim, ride out the storm. But what about his redo girl, his dream woman? Should he follow his heart or his mind? If he did follow his heart he would have to ignore every fire alarm that was going off at the moment. And he would compromise every principle he ever tried to live up to. Never give away money without knowing all the facts, don’t pay for it until you see it, don’t buy it until you know it works and you’re satisfied with the outcome.
As it turned out, this problem would solve itself. And moments later it happened. There she was standing next to her father, he in his hospital bed. At first Jett was overjoyed. But then something else hit him. Her father was awake and looked to be in good spirits, a lot like someone on the road to recovery. And something else. She was in a party dress. And dressed quite fetchingly. Why would she be dressed to the nines visiting her father in the hospital? And look at those seamed stockings and heels. For fuck’s sake, snap out of it. He enlarged the photo for a better look. This picture had been doctored. He could see the badly cut outlines and knew she had pasted herself in the picture. Why? The answer was obvious, pilgrim. His bank account was headed for the final round-up.
Another note from her, short and to the point. Did you send the money yet? It was enough to break Jett’s now fragile heart. He had been on a rollercoaster ride ever since he first found her. When they did chat he was in heaven. When they didn’t chat he was in hell. Something died inside of him that day. His faith in his future. Well, fuck it all. He confronted her on his next text. “You scammed me. I would have given you everything. I would have worked from sun up to sundown just so you could have the finest things that money could buy. Why?” Her reply back said it all. No reason, guilty as charged. No Alibi. You suck anyway. Good-bye. And folks, that’s when our Jett lost it. It wasn’t rage. It was utter defeat.
He put on his boots and walked across the street to Shinny’s Fine Liquors and Spirits and bought three quarts of Jack. Then back home to a drinking session that would seem to roll on forever. He periodically checked for messages from her in his drunken stupor but there were none. He was truly fucked now. He had lost his dream girl. And his dreams. Well, not all of them. He closed his eyes and began his long walk up the driveway.