No Regrets

Her call came from out of the blue.  I was just sliding into my Saturday morning sitting out on my balcony enjoying the crisp air after last night’s rain, working on my second cup of coffee.  I hadn’t spoken to Cass in almost a year, not since she dumped me and ran off with that other guy; leaving a hole in my gut the size of a shotgun blast.  I still felt like a sap and never saw the lies or betrayal coming.   She was the kind of woman that made it hard for a guy to trust again, and I was the poster boy.   I’d been messed up afterwards, but would never admit it to her.

Things were improving though and I’d felt better than I had in months.  Then she called.  I’d recognize that soft throaty voice anywhere, and with every breathy word she spoke I felt her getting back in.   A warning voice sounded off in my head urging me to hang up the phone.  I didn’t.

“Hi ya, Joe,” she whispered.  “Been a long time.”

“Yeah,” I said.

“How ya been?”  Boy, she was killing me.  I cut to the chase.

“Why’d you call me Cassie?”

There was silence on the other end of the line, but I could hear her breathing softly. Then it came rushing out in breathy little spurts.

She had to see me.  She needed my help.  Would I just meet her?  She had no one else.

“Where’s your husband?” I asked.

She didn’t answer my question, just kept pleading, her voice beginning to thicken with unshed tears.  The threat of tears did it and I folded like a bad poker hand.  I heard myself agreeing to meet her at Musso and Frank’s at 6.   I’d forgotten all about that hole she’d ripped in my gut.

Later in the day the rain and the winds started up again.  It was a torrential downpour.  When I left for the restaurant it was still coming down in buckets.  I wondered if it was an omen.

It was early when I arrived at Musso’s.  I took a seat at the bar and looked around.  The dinner crowd hadn’t kicked in yet.  Pete, the bartender, put a bowl of peanuts down and took my order for bourbon, neat.

I was on my second bourbon when Cassie walked in the door.  She saw me right away and gave a little smile.  She looked good, just as beautiful as I remembered.  Her blonde hair swung around her shoulders catching the light as she moved gracefully on legs that should have been illegal.    She leaned towards me kissing me lightly on the cheek.   I caught a whiff of her perfume.   It made me remember a hot summer night long ago when I felt on top of the world.  I pushed the memory away and reached for my cigarettes.  I offered her one.   Her long tapered fingers reached out.    I flicked open my lighter and watched the light play across her smooth features and porcelain skin.  She smiled and leaned in, placing her hand on mine. There were tears in her eyes.  And, then I saw it. Lurking in the green depths I caught a glimpse of panic and fear.   Something twisted in my stomach.  Then I noticed her hand – there was no wedding ring.  A small flicker of hope began to grow in my gut and I tried to push it down.  I exhaled a lungful of smoke and watched it drift upwards towards the ceiling.  My thoughts were jumping around in my head like wild ping pong balls.  I could see our reflection in the mirror behind the bar and I watched her.  She looked at me.

“Take me out to the beach, would ya Joe?  Please?”

I felt panicked as if I was losing myself and sliding down a dark rabbit hole.   I didn’t like the feeling.

Her green eyes were pleading. “Please Joe?  You once said you loved me.”

My freefall down the rabbit hole suddenly stopped.  I studied her face closely as if seeing her for the first time.  A sense of calm quietly snuck into my stomach and spread.  And, then I knew.

I stood up.  I pulled out my wallet and threw down some bills.

I walked out into the night.  The rain had stopped.  I felt on top of the world.

About this entry