Authors: Maddie Cochere
“Oh my gosh! Martin
that is simply not true
,” I snapped at him
Why would she say such a thing?” I was truly aghast.
“She saw everything from the deck
of her house,” he said. “You can't deny it, Susan
. She was right next door and saw the whole thing
He was talking fast. He seemed
certain of his facts.
That was Mrs. Blakely? I hadn't seen her in years. She had been in my mother's bridge club, but after her marriage fell apart
, we never saw her again. I heard
she was on her
still wasn’t happy. I hadn’t even recognized her yesterday when I was at Samantha and Larry’s house.
spread that story around! Do you hear me?” My voice was raised, and I
stamped my foot
. “There were only
four men who pulled the naked stunt
to go skinny dipping
, and they ran really fast, so Mrs. Blakely couldn't have seen much, if anything. As soon as the guys
ran into the lake
, I left right away. I wasn't even there when the police showed up.” I didn't need him spreading
like this to my dad. My mother would be on the phone lecturing me until my ears blistered. I told Martin, “Call the police station and talk to Larry's cousin, Dick. I know you know him, and he'll tell you what really happened. Then you'll be able to tell the story the right way.”
I was glaring at the man.
“Ok, Susan,” he acquiesced. “Mrs. Blakely was pretty upset though, and she was very convincing, but out of respect for your dad, I'll call Dick in the morning.” He finally smiled at me and asked, “Now, what can I get for you, dear? Your usual?”
My usual was a pound of corned beef
half pound of Swiss cheese. They were necessary
Reuben sandwiches, and
I made them at least once a week. I smiled at Martin
my blood pressure coming down. “Sure, the usual,” I told him. I
a basket and turned to the shelves for rye bread and then the dairy section for milk and eggs. My eye caught the java chip ice cream in the frozen section, and I tossed a quart into my basket. Some days deserved
, and this was one of them.
Martin placed my
wrapped packages of
meat and cheese on the counte
r and asked, “Did you know
there's going to b
e a new shopping plaza up
by the racquetball club? It's supposed to be fancy, expensive stores from New York City. Clothes, jewelry, home furnishings
and stuff like that. I don't know why they think anyone around here can afford expensive things from New York City. You hear anything about this?”
n't, but the thought was
drool-worthy. I loved shopping, and working part-time at the racquetball club was what fed my credit cards so I could keep shopping. I looked at Martin and responded, “Nope. I haven’t heard anything ab
out it. It might be nice
to have some stores other than what the mall offers.”
“Well, I think it's a waste of real estate,” he said with disdain. He looked at me sternly again and said, “You stay out of trouble, Susan. I don't want your dad to have to worry about you.”
Neither did I. “I'll stay out of trouble, Martin. I promise,” I said as I crossed my heart with my index finger. I
smiled at him, paid for my groceries, and left the store.
I sat in my car mu
lling over what Martin had
said. Why would Mrs. Blakely
such terrible lies about me? About the whole party?
Samantha is my best girlfriend and doubles racquetball partner. She and her husband, Larry, hold an end-of-summer party at their house every October. The party yesterday had also doubled as a victory party for our wins at the State Racquetball Tournament in Centertown two weekends ago. Samantha and I had surprised everyone by being the only entrants from our club to bring home trophies. We took second in doubles, and I was thrilled to win first place in the Class B division in singles.
It had been an amazing tournament weekend. The events flashed through my mind . . .
There were only
six of us from Carbide Racquet & Fitness who had signed up to play in the tournament - Husky, the club coach; Larry and Samantha; Ron, the club’s weekend bartender; Corey, a Class A player; and myself.
We all rode down together on Friday night in Husky's Ford Escape and arrived around 11:00 P.M. We stowed our suitcases and gear in our rooms and then piled into Husky's room to set up a bar and two tables for cards - one for euchre and one for gin rummy.
, Ron and Corey stood
from the gi
n rummy table. “I'm done,”
with a yawn. “I don't know how you guys stay up and drink like this and then play the next day.” He looked
and chided, “Susan, you should do as I say, no
t as I do.” I couldn't help laughing
at him. He was always trying to tell me that on tournament weekends I should go
to bed early - and no drinking.
“I'm going down to the pool for a dip,” said Ron as he started to unbutton his shirt.
usky looked somewhat alarmed and entertained at the same time
. “Put on a bathing suit,” he told him. “You know what happened the last time you took a late night swim when the hotel pool was closed.”
Everyone laughed at the memory. It had happened at a tournament in Cleveland
ended with the police taking a naked Ron to the precinct for the night. He barely made it to the racque
tball club the next day
for his match.
The rest of us finally called it a night an hour later. I yawned, said my goodnights, and dragged myself down the hall to my room. That was the nice thing about partying in a hotel; you could drink and not have to worry about who was driving. I set my alarm for 9:15 s
I could get over to the club in time to watch Husky play at 10:00. Seven hours of sleep would be enough. I tried to live by an old sleep rule of no less than seven hours, no more than nine.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
By Saturday night, only Samantha and I were left standing. Corey was taken out early by some young gun from Toledo who would likely win the top prize. Husky played well all day, but
lost a hard-fought battle
he could move
into the semi-final bracket. I didn't have all of the details on Ron and Larry, but by dinnertime, they were both drinking beer and relaxing in th
e club's lounge, so I knew
they were out.
When I walked off the court at 7:00, all of the guys were gone, and only Samantha was left to congratulate me. The guys had taken off with some of the other tournament players to hit a local bar, play some pool, throw darts, and whatever other male bonding they felt like doing. Samantha invited me to dinner with some of the other f
emale players, but I was
feeling the effects of staying up late the night before and playing full-tilt all day, so I declined.
After showering and changing clothes, I asked Reggie, the club manager, to give me a
to the hotel. He and Husky had known each other for years, and I was comfortable to ask him for the ride.
I tossed my bag and gear into the back seat of Reggie's Cadillac, and hopped int
o the front seat. “Thank you
for the ride,
Reggie,” I told him. “I
“Anything for a friend of Husky
,” he said cheerfully. “I watched you play all day today, Susan, and no one could touch you. I think you could win this tomorrow.”
“Well, I don't know about that,” I said with hesitation
. I could feel a blush coming into my face
“Really, you could,” he insisted. “I have money on you.” He
a big grin
He reminded me of a 50's-style lounge singer, and not necessarily a good one. His hair was too greasy and it was slicked back. He was wearing a pastel blue suit when every other person in the club was wearing sports clothing. He was definitely in a league of his own.
“Money on me?” I asked. I had never heard of gambling on racquetball and was surprised. “Who's running a pool?”
a little local betting amongst friends,” he said. “We place our bets a week before the tournament based on the names of the entrants a
nd the little
we might know about them. They’re almost all hunches, but the money is in the pot, and we have to live with our picks. The moment I saw you step on the court, I knew my money was well spent on Susan Hunter.” He smiled at me again, but this time it was more of a lecherous s
mile. I started to feel
“You know, Susan,” he went on,
“you really need to ditch
Samantha. She's playing at a
class below you, and she
drags you down in doubles. You wouldn't have to play so hard if you had a stronger partner.”
I was astonished at the comment. “I would never think of getting another partner,” I
indignantly. “Sam introduced me to the sport, and we’ve been playing doubles from the beginning. We play well together, and we're going into the finals tomorrow. I don't know why you would say such a thing.”
He shrugged his shoulders and s
aid, “Well, it seems to me
you run around taking a lot of the shots when S
amantha could step up and take more
of them if she was quicker and stronger. I'm just sayin'.”
I was starting to get more than a little irritated and raised my voice, “Maybe I like to run around and take most
of the shots. Maybe that's
how we play together.” But part of my irritation w
I did take too many shots, and maybe I should let Samantha be more offensive rather than defensive. The words
were creeping up in the back of my mind, and I didn’t want to
admit to being one
Reggie sensed my agitation and backed down.
“Don't worry about it, but I’m
telling you that you've got it all, angel, and I'm re
ally counting on you.” H
e slid his hand over and put it on my knee.
I was shocked. “Reggie!” I snapped at him as I grabbed his hand and tossed it back his way. “What are you doing? Come on! You're a friend of Husky's, and he's my coach.” I was starting to feel
“Susan, angel, you’re just so beautiful,” he said as he reached over again and
put his hand on my arm. “I
can't help myself. I think we could have a very good time together.” I swatted his hand away and was nearing a full p
anic when I realized we
in front of the hotel. “Let me come in with you,” he
. “You won't regret it.” His eyes were definitely oozing lecherous.
screamed at him as I threw the car door open and bolted for the front door of the hotel. It was several hours later before I completely calmed down and realized w
ith a sinking feeling
left my racquetball clothes, shoes, and gear in the back seat of his car.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
By 10:00 on Sunday morning, I was so agitated, I was practically hyperventilating. Samantha and I were due on the court at 11:00 for our doubles finals, and I was still in street clothes. At 10:45, I finally broke down and headed for the club's pro shop to buy clothes and a racquet. It would me
an several hundred dollars
want to spend for clothes
I didn't want to wear.
As I was digging out my credit card, Reggie walked through the front doors with my bag in hand. If he wasn't such a lecherous jerk, I would have given him a hug; instead, I wanted to
slug him. I marched over
and jerked the bag out of his hand. “Thanks for bringing my bag,” I muttered.
“What? What did I do?” he
with a laugh. “You left it
car. I knew you played at 11:00, and I'm here on time to watch you win
more money for me.”