CHAPTER ONE (of two) I’ve not done much of anything in my fifty years; well, other than read books and work. That formula has worked for me till now but no more. I’ve finally decided to make a change. Oh me? My name is Bruce Turner more about me later. Working, I’d become a major success; Well, if a hundred million in liquid assets can be considered success. My job? I’m self-employed. I buy and sell foreign currencies, not an occupation for the unlettered or the faint of heart. Me, I’m lettered as hell and for damn sure not faint of heart. And, I’m smart. Hell yes I’m smart. Yeah, well, but maybe not smart enough to actually know how to really live. But, I am intending to change that little reality. All I have to do is figure out how to go about it. The catalyst for me wanting to make a change? A lady who calls herself Lana, no last name. It hadn’t been much, what she’d said, but it’d stung. “Bruce, you’ve got to get out more. You need to get a life. You’ve got enough money; start using it to live,” she said. “I don’t know, Lana. Sometimes I think you’re right about that stuff. I mean, but when would I have time,” I said. She gave me a look that screamed, get with it imbecile! And, then went back to work. It was real hard trying to concentrate on lifestyle changes; I mean with my cock in her mouth and me twitching on the love seat in front of her. Jesus, she knew how to do that. Lana was a very talented lady of the evening. I’d purchased her services any number of times. We were, if not actual friends, at least friendly acquaintances. That was the prime reason that I was taking her advice seriously. Physically, Lana was five-four, maybe one-ten, 34-25-34, thirty-nine years old, longish brown hair, eyes to match, and possessed of an ass that could stop traffic. Oh, and a personality that could bewitch a man. Hell, she’s bewitched me all to heck. ****** As I sat peering into the bottom of my wine glass, I was drinking port, I had decided to do a one-eighty in terms of my lifestyle. “One more, Gilbert,” I said. Gilbert Misguez was my favorite bartender; he’d been pouring drinks for me for damn near twenty years. He was the owner and chief barkeep of Panza’s Bar and Grill. My man delivered my third of the day and leaned kind of side-angled against his side of the bar looking at me. “You look like you’ve got a load on your mind,” he said. I looked up at him, and it occurred to me that bartenders knew everything about the social stuff, right? “You could say that,” I said. “Gil, can I ask you a question?” “Of course,” he said. “Gil, I need to know just how big of a social loser that I am. I mean, well, I mean do you think that at my age I could start doing stuff. You know social stuff?” I said. He looked at me and kinda stepped back as though appraising a potential purchase. “What are you? Fifty?” I nodded. “Yeah, you could, but you’d wanna be doin’ some changin’,” he said. “Changing?” “Yes, new clothes. Maybe a different ride.” “A new car?” I said. “That’s a three months old Eldorado sittin’ out there. Why would I need a new car? And my clothes . . .” “No, no, not a new car, and old one, Maybe a pickup,” he said. “And, yes new clothes. You dress like an undertaker. But, there’s more to what I’m saying than just that shit.” “Huh?” I said. “You look dull, Bruce, well off, but dull. Unless you want to be taken to the cleaners by some broad assed gold digger, you need to dress down and a little more colorfully; and, not be so obviously upper middle class. That’s my thinking anyway,” he said. “Oh!” I said. “Yes, oh,” he said. “You know how to dance? Anything like that, that kind of stuff? “No, no, not really. Never had much time for dancing.” He nodded. “Well, Whaddya do for fun?” “For fun? I make money,” I said. “That’s lots of fun.” He snickered. “Yeah, maybe.” We talked a little while longer, but then he got busy, and I was left to thinking about what he’d said. He was right about the gold diggers. That was one of the reasons I got my rocks off with pros like Lana. I’d learned in high school that one couldn’t trust the softer sex. Devious didn’t even begin to describe them as a group; the occasional exception to the rule notwithstanding. I took stock of myself. Fifty and rich and dumb looking: pretty much described me. I wasn’t tall or handsome or anything that women were likely on the lookout for. Well, at least I wasn’t fat; that was something. But again, I was just kinda dumb and nothing looking; I knew it, and it bothered me, a lot. I needed to change the dumb looking part. New clothes, the man’d said. New clothes but cheap and colorful new clothes. Okay, no problem. I was not at all miffed that Gil had denigrated my three-thousand dollar suit; he was right, I did look like an undertaker. And my car screamed old guy, boring, and unimaginative. So, next stops? Stan’s Used Cars and Walmart. But, and then what? I had it! Marge’s Dance Studio. It was but three blocks from my office. bursa escort I passed the damn thing every day. My socialization could start there, maybe. ****** Stan was actually an old high school friend of mine. He the prototypical nerd; me, the other prototypical nerd. We’d had each other’s backs at Crutchfield High. We’d both skipped college and been successful anyway; he owned four car dealerships, two for used cars and two for new Fords. Me, as earlier described made my money in, well, money. He sold me the ten year-old Silverado for a grand: Faded green, no dents, and a sound drive train. Perfect. I’d spent a grand to get the pickup, and then I’d driven it to Walmart and spent another grand on clothes. Two days later, I found myself nervous and doubtful of my sanity in front of Marge’s Dance and Music Academy. “Can I help you, sir?” said the rail thin thirty something woman, as I entered the largish room. “You Marge?” I said. She looked like a dancer. “No, no sir. I just work here,” she said. “Oh. Well, I’d like to take lessons,” I said. “How do I go about that?” “Classes or private,” she said. My defenses automatically went up. I didn’t want to tip her to my cash position. But, I did want private at least at first; I decided to hedge my bets. “I don’t know,” I said. “How much would the private lessons cost?” I figured that if I had to ask that question that the woman would figure I wasn’t wealthy. I congratulated myself on my cleverness. “Private is $7.50 an hour per person. Classes are $25 monthly for three half hour sessions a week,” she said. I breathed a sigh of relief. The private lessons weren’t that expensive. I could do those without arousing undue suspicion. “Okay, I’d like to sign up for two private lessons a week,” I said. “Okay,” she said. “But evenings are kinda full right now. Would you be able to come in during the day? Mostly housewives during the day and we do have openings then, you know, people have to work.” Oops, another unexpected problem. “Uh—yes,” I said. “I work mostly evenings, so days would be okay.” She smiled. For the first time, I smiled. I appraised her. She was kind of frowsy looking, I decided, but could be pretty with the right kinds of female stuff. Even her voice was pretty. “Wonderful,” she said. “Tuesday and Thursday, say 11:00AM be good for you then?” I nodded. “Yes, that would be perfect.” We talked a little bit longer about the dance teacher that I would have and the kind of dancing that I was interested in, and then we said our goodbyes. Just talking to the woman, I didn’t even know her name, tipped me that I had to do more than buy myself an ancient pickup and don generic duds. I had to have a job. I had to have workmates, a life, any life, other than the one I had. But, what kind of job. All I ever did was talk on the phone to brokers and drink really fine port wine. Shit! I was virtually without any marketable skills in a social sense. Back to Panza’s. I needed to talk to Gil a little more, maybe a lot more. ****** “So whaddya think?” said Gilbert. I was slowly nodding. “Partners, me a silent partner?” “Yes, and you’d actually be working in the new one, and maybe occasionally here,” he said. “Let me get this straight. I’d front you the money for the new place. I could make my money back since I’d be half owner of the place. And, I’d get to work there as a bartender. That about it?” I said. “Exactly it. I’ve wanted to get that place over on Plumber Avenue, Sancho’s B well, figuratively speaking at least. Talk about a reclamation project, I was it! But, Samantha Rubens, the girl’s name that had signed me up the week before, didn’t laugh at me. Turned out she was pretty good at this stuff, and was willing to be my partner for purposes of my private lessons with Mark Hodges, our common instructor. I couldn’t have been happier. Mark was a great guy and, as I soon discovered, more than competent to teach a nothing like me the ropes, but he was definitely not a girl! Samantha was skinny and pretty in spite of her dowdy clothes and minimal female appurtenances. And, she was also a girl! For the next several weeks we worked on the chacha, the foxtrot, and the swing. Gilbert, my new business partner and social mentor, knew what was going on of course, but had no inkling of where I was at in terms of my newly acquired dance skills. That truth was about to change. I’d just come on my shift at Sancho’s. “How you doing there mister Turner?” said the man who’d come up behind me. And, yes, I was using my real name; no reason not to. “Gil, Mister Misguez,” I said. “You startled me.” He laughed. “Sorry about that, Bruce. But, really, how are you doing?” “Good. No complaints,” I said. “Mister Philips has been more than patient.” He nodded, and handed me a card, an invitation. “Company party at my house, next Saturday. Chance for our employees, and their significant others to socialize, have a little fun,” he said. bursa escort bayan He put extra emphasis on the word socialize. I nodded my understanding. “But, I don’t have a significant other?” “Then you can come and hopefully meet somebody,” he said. “Okay. I can do that, I guess,” I said. He could see I was nervous. “Bruce it’ll be good. You’ll see.” I nodded. We talked for another minute or two and then he was off to pass out some more of the invitations to the employees. I stood there looking at the card. It would be my first foray into the world of play. I was already nervous and it was still five days off. ****** “A party? A party with you?” said Samantha. “Yes, it’s at my boss’s house,” I said. She looked at me kind of, what, sympathetically. “I mean it’s okay if you have something else to do. I’ll understand.” Samantha and I had gotten to know each other in general terms over the previous weeks. She had a ten year-old daughter, Lindsey. She was a native of Florida and had moved to Ohio just two years previous. And she lived within walking distance of the studio. “Bruce, no offense, but I’m at least four inches taller than you, and . . .” she stopped. She could see I was already feeling rejected, down. “Oh what the heck. It’s not like I get a lot of invitations to parties these days,” she said. “Okay, it’s a date.” “Great,” I said. “Would you like to get a cup of coffee? I mean right now. There’s a Winchell’s across the street. She looked askance at me. “You know, Bruce, most guys ask a girl to go for the cup of coffee before they ask for a full blown date. You actually intrigue me,” she said. “Let’s go,” I said. We settled into the worst seats to be found in any restaurant fast food or otherwise in the whole world. But, at that moment, my mind was on one thing and only one thing: how to get this woman who was way out of my league looks-wise and too young for me to like me a little, and to not tip her to who I was other than what I wanted her to be tipped to. Okay, that was two things. “So what do you do for a living, Bruce?” she said. “I tend bar,” I said, proudly. “A bartender?” she said. “Figures.” “Figures?” I said. “No, it’s fine. I’m sure you’re good at what you do. I was just hoping that you might be a movie star prepping for your next role,” she said. I gave her what I was sure was a confused look. “Oh, you mean the dancing. No, no, not a movie star, I’m afraid. Sorry to disappoint you there.” “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to demean you or what you do. It’s just . . .” she started. “I know it’s silly of me. You know. But, I came north thinking to meet some rich guy who would sweep me off my feet. Just a little girl’s dream?” I ignored her fantasizing and interrupted her. “Tell me, Samantha, what do you do? I mean I know you work part time at the studio. But, well, how do you get along otherwise? I know you’re not married. But otherwise?” I said. She sighed. “Welfare, me and my daughter, Lindsey. It’s hard, but we make do. Lindsey’s only ten; be eleven in a couple of months.” I know my face clouded over. “Like I said I know you’re single, but no daddy in evidence to help pay the little girl’s way?” “No, he hightailed it when he found out I was pregnant. That was ten years ago. Sad story that,” she said. “I can imagine,” I said. She smiled, but it was a wan smile. “So, a party then?” she said. “Haven’t been to one in a while, actually, quite a while.” “Yes, definitely, this Saturday. Barbecue at my boss’s house. Anyway, if you’ll give me your address—unless…” “Unless?” she said, looking me askance. “Well we don’t know each other very well. I mean I’ll know where you live . . .” She laughed. “No, no, it’s all right. I’m a pretty good judge of character.” She took out a slip of paper from her purse and wrote down her particulars and handed it to me. “There.” I nodded. “Looking forward to it.” She looked momentarily thoughtful. “You know, I am too,” she said. I felt good. We talked two-donuts-each long, maybe half an hour. I was able to learn more about her life and times, hard times. She learned a lot about me, mostly bogus stuff, at least in any true sense of the word. Talking to her made me know that I had one thing to do that couldn’t be put off. I’d be taking care of it as soon as we split up to go home. ****** I was a trifle early to pick her up, and when I did I was very much surprised. She was very pretty and very ready to go to a party informal or not. Long tawny locks, understated and well done makeup, a pink sun dress that stopped a couple of inches above the knees, exposing legs that were pretty near perfect, and high heels. She towered over my five-six frame and I loved it. The barbecue was in full swing when we arrived. The food smelled good too. “Hope they have some of that good smellin’ food left over for us,” she said. I looked over at her. “We’re not late. I’m sure that there will be plenty left when we decide to escort bursa eat. Wait, You mean you’re hungry? I mean now?” She looked embarrassed. Right then, I knew. This woman was really really hard up. And, if she were hard up, her kid at home must have been too. Well, that was something that Bruce Turner, newly become entrepreneur, albeit a secret one, could fix muy pronto. “No, no, I was just kidding,” she said. But, I knew she wasn’t kidding. “No problem,” I said. I led her to where Gil was talking to a couple by the makeshift bar. “Hi, Mister Misguez. I’d like to introduce you to a friend.” He turned and smiled. Gil took us on a people tour, maybe forty folks mostly gathered in small groups scattered around the patio and yard. Done, we headed for the tables where some folks were already chowing down. We got plates, served ourselves and did the same. Sam didn’t exactly wolf her food down, but she did pile her plate a little higher than most of the other women did. We’d just finished eating, when someone put some music on, and I challenged her to dance on the space evidently provided for it, as two other couples were already so engaged there. “You two do pretty good there,” said some guy we had not yet been introduced to as we headed back to our table after a fast paced chacha. “Thanks,” I said. “Mind if I borrow your lady for a dance?” he said. I frowned, but looked over at Sam. She was smiling. “Sure, I guess, if it’s all right with the lady,” I said. My tone was not real enthusiastic. It turned out that the man’s name was Michael Hoerter. He was actually the boyfriend of one of the bargirls at Panza’s. He was some kind of salesman, didn’t catch what kind. At any rate, his significant other not being present, Michael, the player Hoerter was on the prowl. He kept my date on the floor for some three dances in a row. I watched from the table where we’d set up base for ourselves. He did bring her back, eventually. “Whew! That was nice,” she said. “Nice?” I said. She must have discerned, from my tone, that I was not thrilled. “Bruce? Are you, we, okay here?” “Oh, yeah, sure. I just missed you. You were gone kinda long, but it’s fine,” I said. She nodded, but it was a slow nod. The rest of the party was good. Hoerter did dance with her twice more over the course of the afternoon, not in a row, and we did our thing too. Anyway, I had no call to be jealous or possessive, or whatever they were calling it these days. But, I didn’t like Hoerter; too pushy, too much of an in-your-face kind of guy. No, I decided, I didn’t like him. It was quiet for the fifteen minute drive back to her place to drop her off. A little small talk of the, “Wasn’t it a nice party?” variety. But, apart from that, not much. I did get a small kiss from her when I walked her to her door, yes on the lips, but it had no passion in it. Well hell, I hadn’t expected any at all. It’d be Tuesday before we saw each other again at the dance studio. I had a plan. ****** “So, Mister Gates, do you think you can handle it then?” I said. “Sure no problem. I’ll be getting back to you in a couple of days, he said. “He” was Norman Gates. Norman Gates was supposedly the best PI in the city. And okay, yes, I was butting into her affairs. And, I was butting into the affairs of her daughter’s sperm donor of a father too. After what she’d told me at the donut shop, I’d made up mind to butt in. ****** I arrived a little early for our dance lesson. Mark was all business. And, I was getting better; hell, I thought a lot better. But, Mark wanted more. Sam smiled at my attempt to do the grapevine during our Swing run through. I was getting it, well I thought so, but I guess I looked a little clumsy early on. Well, whaddya gonna do. Lesson over, I pulled Sam aside. “Hey, Sam, interested in maybe getting a bite to eat?” “Uh, Bruce, I. . .” she started. “Hey Brucie,” came a voice from behind me. I turned to see Michael Hoerter, walk up to us. “Ready, babe?” he said. “Sorry, Bruce, maybe another time?” she said. I nodded. “Okay,” I said. Childish, I know, but I was starting to break up: I could feel tears forming in the corners of my eyes. I just walked over to where I’d parked my stuff and pretended to tend to them, just hoping that two of them would just leave. I got my hope. Mark noticed. “Hey guy, don’t let it get to you. There’s lots of fish in the sea. You’ll catch yours. You’re a good guy, and your dancing is getting a lot better,” he said. “Yeah, I guess,” I said. But I got out of there as fast as I could. It was illogical as hell. I knew it. But, what was also true was that her turning me down and going out with Hoerter broke my heart. I hadn’t realized it, but I had fallen for her, hard. I decided that I’d had my last dance lesson. I wouldn’t be going back. I’d email Mark of my intention to stop when I got home. I was sure Mark wouldn’t miss me, he’d fill the time spot easy enough. What was also apparently true, Samantha wouldn’t miss me either. ****** Norman Gates sat across from me. Sancho’s wasn’t busy it was still early, not yet 4:00PM. “You had it pretty well pegged, at least in broad terms. She’s thirty-five, dirt poor, living on food stamps and in government subsidized housing.