Monday, September 20, 2010

Harter Union: Part Seven, Chapter 3

Annie was over at Dustin’s apartment getting things ready. “Thanks for letting me keep him here. I saw it and I had to get it for Jeff because he has wanted one for so long.”

“Sure Annie. It was fun. It was a pleasure having him,” Dustin handed a small gray and white kitten to Annie. “Jeff isn’t going to hit us or anything for celebrating his birthday is he?”

“Well, I can’t make any promises…” Annie smiled at Dustin. “How’s Michael doing?”

“He’s fine. I got that lawyer that Jeff referred me to and he was able to keep her in Jersey and we’re having a hearing over all this soon so everything should be worked out within a month.,” Dustin explained.

“That’s good. I’m sorry you have to go through all this because of a one-night stand,” Annie softly touched Dustin’s arm.

“It could be worse but this experience has made me more cautious about dating pretty much any other girl,” Dustin said.

“You haven’t dated any other girls since Mike was born. You can’t blame all other girls because of one evil one,” Annie said.

“I’m just looking for a good one and if that means decades of unbearable loneliness I am willing to go through that,” Dustin chuckled. “Besides, all girls I find perfect are either taken or don’t want to date me.”

“Like who?”

“You’re engaged and Kate won’t date me,” revealed Dustin.

“Well, maybe if you would’ve told me before you coerced me to go out with Jeff; we could’ve had a chance. And Kate’s kind of a fruitcake so I think you dodged a bullet with that one,” Annie laughed which made Dustin smile. “You’ll find the right girl, Dustin. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, I can’t even promise that it’ll be this year but you have a good job, good friends and a beautiful son and you don’t need a girl to come along and possibly screw that up,” Annie hugged Dustin and opened the apartment door.

“I’ll see you at Sardie’s,” smiled Dustin.

We all sat at a table in Sardie’s and I had just found out that this was also a birthday celebration. “You all keep in mind that I am against this 100 percent,” I said and downed the rest of my glass of wine. “And now I hate you all.”

“Says the person who polished off a bottle of wine and ordered the most expensive thing on the menu,” Dustin said.

“I said that I’m against the evening, not against you all paying for this,” I laughed and hugged Annie.

“Okay, it’s presents time,” exclaimed Kate. “Here you go, Kansas. Open mine first.”

Kate handed me a wrapped box that was a little heavy. I tore it open and saw it was a CD player and radio that could be installed on the underside of a shelf.

“Thank you, Kate. I’ve always wanted one for my office. Thanks.”

“Here Jeff, Shani and I went halfsies on this,” Dustin passed a huge box to me. I opened the box to reveal tennis equipment; a tennis racket, tube of balls, wristbands, a headband and a visor. “Now you can stop whining about not playing tennis.”

“Thank you, guys,” I said.

“I’m gonna go out to my car and get your present. I’ll be right back,” Amber got up, crossed the restaurant and exited through the door.

“Kansas, I’ve always wondered, what happened to your hand?” asked Kate, referring to my scarred left hand. I quickly debated whether to make something up or tell the truth.

“When I was working at Baker a rack of dishes got lodged in the dish machine, I succeeded in pulling it out but ended up scarring my hand in the process.”
Amber came back in and handed me a good-sized box. “Sorry, I wasn’t able to wrap it.”

I opened the box and looked inside. It was hardbound editions of Lord of the Flies, Lolita, The Grapes of Wrath and Catcher in the Rye. “What are these?”

“Those are original first editions of those books. You can get anything off eBay,” Amber said. “Annie chipped in a little but she got you another present.”

“And that’s at home,” Annie said. “So I’ll give it to you later.”

“Whooo-ooo!” exclaimed Shani and Dustin.

Annie and I arrived home and I was completely exhausted. We both collapsed on the couch and I forcibly removed my shoes and socks. “Tonight was wonderful but I’m glad it’s over,” I sighed.

“You still need to open my gift,” Annie said.

“Oh yeah. Where is it?” I asked.

“In the bedroom. Close your eyes and I’ll go get it,” Annie got off the couch and I obediently closed my eyes and waited for Annie to return. I heard her rustle around in the bedroom and come back out. “You can open your eyes now.”
I opened my eyes to the cutest, little chubby gray and white kitten I had ever seen. He was struggling to get out of Annie’s grip and looked at me with his big green and orange eyes. “Aww,” I said taking the kitten from Annie and holding him close.

“This girl was giving them away and this one reminded me of you,” Annie sat down next to me and petted the kitten. “So what are you going to name him?”

“Shadow,” I answered as the cat began clawing at me to be let go.

“Well welcome home Shadow. I’m sure you’ll love it here,” Annie petted Shadow a couple more times and then I let him go. He jumped on top of the couch and crouched in fear with his nose moving quickly to pick up the unfamiliar smells of the apartment.

Jeff leaves on his tour and Dustin's court appearance goes badly.