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Old 09-12-2005, 12:28 AM   #1
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A Story Without Me 10

A Story Without Me 10: What's A Little Bet Between Friends?

You lucky readers! In honor of the start of the third leg of the Vertigo Tour, the management of The Maze of Jobob's Imagination is having another two-for-one, just-get-this-stuff-off-the-hard-drive-and-onto-Fanfic Forum night! See you at the Chicago shows! And if I can get a ticket, Saturday night in Toronto!

Disclaimer/Author's Notes: Fanfic Bono complains to Author jobob. "Every time I try to take J on a trip, it seems like someone doesn't want us to go away together." Blame me, I'm that someone. That's the way our story is working out. We'll have B travelling with J sooner or later. You're not the only one here who's ever wanted to go away somewhere. Take a look at my September copy of American Libraries. See what city the 2006 American Library Association Annual Conference is supposed to be in? "They'll have to move it." Yeah. How I wish that conference could still be in New Orleans. This story is fiction. B's still a lot like Bono. I'm still revising Bono's history. And I'm borrowing his words and lyrics and the shades he wore for "Shelter from the Storm." Remember: There's no U2 in this little alternate universe. The correct math for rock and roll never added up here. No extended scene for this chapter. On with our show.

After your first prenatal visit, and your continuing exhaustion and nausea, you and B relucantly decided to cancel your Labor Day vacation to Mackinac Island. No Labor Day trip because you're pregnant. There's irony there.

Unfortunately, this year you're just not feeling up to taking bicycle rides around the island (even though one of your pregnancy books says a pregnant woman can still ride a bicycle). Or exploring Main Street and the fort. You know B would have enjoyed flirting with the female anthropologists on duty at the fort's ruins, even if you wouldn't have enjoyed seeing him flirt. A few weeks ago, you caught him saying "Anthropologists are sexy," as he watched a brunette anthropologist explain African culture and migration patterns on The Discovery Channel.

Then there was the five-mile Labor Day walk across the Mackinac Bridge. You were looking forward to walking the bridge hand-in-hand with B from the Upper Peninsula to the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, looking at the views of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron and Mackinac Island, and waving to the cars and the other walkers.

"Maybe some other Labor Day," you tell B.

"Do they allow baby strollers on the bridge walk? It could be a fun thing to do as a family. Babies need to be walked, don't they?" B asks you.

"Yes, I've seen baby strollers on the bridge walk before. It's a family event," you tell B. Your baby should be four months old by next Labor Day. Would that be too young for a long weekend family vacation hundreds of miles away from home?

The two of you canceled your trip even before Hurricane Katrina closed the Gulf Coast's oil refineries and drove up gas prices. "When I called to cancel, they told me a lot of people were canceling their trips Up North because of gas prices and supplies," he told you Thursday.

"Come to my house and stay for the weekend. Everyone will think we've gone away anyway," you tell B. He came to your house after 9 Friday night, letting himself in with the key you just gave him, only to find you already asleep in your bed.

You felt okay after you woke up and had breakfast Saturday morning, so you did some housework. Put dishes in the dishwasher. Paid a few bills. Ran the vaccum around the living room. B went out to run a few errands, taking your car instead of his. You sent him out for groceries and personal items. He called from your car and said he was on his way to Meijer.

"You're braving Meijer on a Saturday morning. I'll pray for you, B." you joke. Oh, the thought of Michigan's own giant discount store, filled with bargain shoppers. Especially the Saturday morning crowds in the grocery department. Not the prettiest place to be, in your mind. Still, since the end of August, you don't want to ever jokingly call anything "a disaster area" again.

"What's that little beep I just heard? Oh, your car actually says 'LOW FUEL.' Isn't that clever! J, I'll fill your tank and check your oil for you while I'm here." This store sells just about everything. Even gas. "You shouldn't pump your own petrol now. Let me do it, I have experience. Did I ever tell you my first job was at a petrol station?" he told you. "Between the fumes from the pumps and the shock of paying prices you're not used to seeing, why, it's all just too much for a woman in your condition."

"Thank you, B. The gas cap is on the passenger side." You can live with the sticker shock of high gas prices. Thankfully, your new little car gets good gas mileage. But he has a point about exposing the baby to the fumes.

Your vaccuming over, your dishes put away, checks written out, a load of laundry in the washer, and B still away, you take a break. You're tired of watching the horrible news this week. You haven't watched your "Seinfeld" DVDs in awhile. You pick a DVD out of the Season Four case, put it in your DVD player. You picked the one with your favorite episode: "The Contest." You can't explain why you love it so much. Maybe because they did such a great job of never saying exactly what the contest is about. Yet everyone knows.

B comes home, white plastic grocery bags in his big hands, to find you laughing at a very frustrated George and Jerry and Elaine. And a very satisified Kramer.

"What's so funny?"

"Only the very best 'Seinfeld' episode of them all," you tell him, as Jerry tells Elaine he's still "master of my domain" and Elaine replies she's still "queen of the castle."

"Why are they talking like that?"

"The four of them made a bet, and, except for Kramer, they're trying very hard to win it despite themselves. It's kind of hard to explain without ruining the joke. Want me to start it over for you after the groceries are unpacked?"

After the two of you put everything away, you watch the episode together. B laughs through the entire episode, as much as you remember you did when you first saw it in the nineties.

"My, that was very funny!" he tells you. "It's given me an idea. Since you haven't been feeling 'up to it' for awhile, what say we make a bet of our own about how long we can 'master our domain' while we're together this weekend? First one to seduce the other by Monday night takes the other out on a date of the seductee's choice?"

"B, I can just hear you giving a little speech like Jerry's: 'I'm in this contest, I'm spending the weekend in my lover's house! After only three months, our sex life isn't what it used to be! It's becoming .... normal! I keep watching her sleep, and then run to the bathroom to throw up! She's sick, tired, and pregnant! Something's gotta give!' "

"And what about you and your self-control, J? Is it different for a woman? Or does more than seven days without make one weak? Remember when we were separated by an ocean? How we talked on the phone? The e-mails and text messages we sent? And when we were finally reunited? Remember how we finally united?"

Oh, B's already playing dirty. You try to remain detached, even though he's asked you to remember some of your fondest memories of the two of you. "Now, should our wager cover just the subject of their contest, or would it also cover ..."

"I say it covers our usual activities."

"So you want us to go without."

"I want to see which one of us breaks down first."

"Deal."

"Deal."

You shake hands.

"That's all you're getting from me for now, B. If you'll excuse me. I'm going to my bedroom. Alone. After my housework and laughing myself silly, I need yet another nap. I'm queen of the castle, and the drawbridge is up." You're wearing what you hope is your very unsexy library school t-shirt, and black stretch shorts.

You lie down, start to read your new copy of "What to Expect When You're Expecting." After about 20 minutes, you feel the urge to pee and some queasiness. You get up.

"Are you still 'queen of the castle,' my dear Lady J?" B comes out of your bathroom as you are on your way in.

"Yes, Lord B, I am queen."

"My only desire is to serve my queen." He bows in front of you. "May I tell you how I wish to serve my queen?" He whispers a seven-word suggestion in your ear of just how he wants to serve his queen. If you wanted to be strict, you could now declare yourself the winner. Whispering is one of his usual activities.

"I have heard rumors at court that my queen is possibly with child. Since my queen has yet to marry, they say her lover is the father."

"How did you hear the queen is with child? That's a secret the queen told to only one other person. Are her ladies-in-waiting talking?"

"The ladies-in-waiting are saying the queen has been sick in the mornings. Her lover has not been seen near the queen's bedchambers for weeks. They say he's been sent away. The queen's physician ought to know for certain. The physician may have even told the queen's lover about the queen's condition."

"The queen cannot hide from her ladies-in-waiting. And 'tis true, the queen has not seen her lover in her bedchambers in some time. She does miss seeing him, even though she hasn't felt able to entertain him in his favorite way. And what is this you say about a loose-lipped physician? We would say 'Off with her head!' However, she is the best physician in the queen's HMO."

"Aye. My queen, will you receive me after your slumber? We have matters of state to discuss."

"Yes, my lord. You are dismissed." You try not to giggle. Queens do not giggle with anticipation. Or with the knowledge they're winning a bet. They don't hug and kiss their subjects, so you dismiss B with no sign of your usual signs of affection. You go to your bathroom and then nap.

B wakes you around one. "Wake up! It's past time for lunch, love." He doesn't kiss or hug you. Strange. Then you remember your contest.

"Are you still master of your domain, B?"

"Seeing you sleep in your library school t-shirt instead of your usual lingerie, or lack of lingerie, makes it easier to remain that way, J. Even though you've made me believe librarians are very sexy. Come, let's have lunch."

The two of you make sandwiches and salad together. You have milk, he has iced tea. It's a warm and sunny afternoon, so you eat in your backyard.

"You look good. Are you feeling better?" B asks you as you finish your meal.

"Yes, much better, thanks. Eating small meals and nutritious snacks helps. Plus I've had a lot of rest today."

"And I was hoping you'd want to go back to your bedroom." He moves to your side of the table to kiss you. "As I said earlier, I only want to serve my queen."

"You know the queen's secret."

"I didn't say exactly how I wanted to serve my queen." Another kiss. And another. Oh, what further harm could kissing do? No harm. None at all.

"You said you wanted to make love to her -- to me. You're losing your own contest, B. Want to go inside?"

"Oh, no, not yet." He picks you up off the chair and carries you to your new hammock as you gasp and giggle at his boldness. Then he climbs in after you and takes you in his arms. "It's such a beautiful day. We should spend some of it outside, don't you think?" B kisses you.

"I remember the nights we looked at the stars and the moon when we laid on a blanet in this backyard," you tell him. That wasn't all the two of you did on those nights. He smiles. You can see his eyes behind his red-tinted sunglasses. That's the only reason you like this particular pair of B's sunglasses, because you can still see his eyes behind them. Otherwise, they don't match his blue denim shirt and blue jeans.

You found the hammock at an end-of-summer sale last month and bought it not only because you'd always wanted one, but because you wanted to lie in one with B. But you and B just barely finished putting the frame together after you bought it. The two of you got frustrated over the instructions and almost didn't find all the parts in the box. So you put the frame in your backyard, put the hammock in the garage, agreed you'd finish the project another day, and watched a funny movie together to break the tension between you. Then you found out you were pregnant, and other things quickly occupied your minds.

"You finished the hammock while I was asleep? I'm impressed! Thanks, B. Thanks for going to the store and the gas station for me this morning, too. Who knew you could be so helpful around the house?"

"Especially since I've never had a house of my own."

"Mi casa es su casa, mi amigo."

"So, senorita, you're telling me 'My house is your house, my friend'?"

"Si, Abeja, mi amor. Or, 'yes, honeybee, my love.' And that's more or less all I remember of my two years of high school Spanish. That, and I can count from one to three en Espanol. Uno," You kiss him once. "Dos." A second kiss. "Tres." Kiss number three.

"How far can you count in Spanish?"

"Not far. 'Catorce' is 14. I don't know how I know that. Remind me to find out if the same teacher is still teaching Spanish if our child goes to my old high school. If he still is there, I'll talk our child into studying French or Geman. Or even Japanese."

"Well, if it makes you feel better, I nearly flunked Irish. In Ireland. Where you have to prove you know both Irish and English to get into university. And Irish is not an easy language to learn. Luckily, I passed Irish and they let me in university."

Lying together in the hammock is just as you imagined it would be. Nice and cozy, with your arms around each other. Exchanging kisses. Your head on his shoulder. You don't feel like talking, although there are so many things you've wanted and needed to talk about for the last week. For now, though, you just want to enjoy being close to him.

After some time snuggling, you feel pins and needles in the arm you've wrapped around B's shoulders and back.

"B, could you move a little? My arm's asleep." No answer. "B?"

He's snoring softly. He needed a little rest, too.
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Old 09-12-2005, 09:02 AM   #2
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They are so adorable! I want my own B.
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