No ‘Moore’ Mess- Chapter Thirteen (Serial Version)
Chapter Thirteen- Mary Moore Finds A Job And An Old Flame
Mary, like Nancy, struggled to find a man. Still, things were looking up for Mary. She was fortunate to find a good job in sales. Mary had an eye for fashion. A manager at a high-end designer shop gave her an opportunity as a store clerk.
“I see here you did time.”
“About that. People make mistakes, you know?”
The grey and grizzled man knew about second chances. He unbuttoned his white dress shirt sleeves, and he pulled them up to his elbows. Mary’s beautiful brown-eyes opened wide.
“That’s just unreal.”
“I get that a lot. Something to see, isn’t it?”
“That’s for sure.”
The manager’s arms had huge scars across his wrists. He attempted suicide ten years ago after he caught his wife cheating on him with his best friend. The man was lucky to be alive.
“Trust me, I know about making mistakes.”
The manager hired Nancy on the spot. She was grateful for the opportunity. The corporation saw her potential as a salesperson. They made her supervisor of the high-end jewelry department.
It was a great job. Mary had a way with people. She earned enough in commissions for a down-payment on a spacious condo across town, and she bought a new car.
Things were going great. She loved going to work every day. Well, she did until one particular customer strolled up to her counter.
“Hello, welcome to — Oh it’s you.”
“Mary? Is that you?”
It had been a long time. The years had not been kind to Mary’s face or body. One person used to never let her forget it. Mary’s shoulder slump as she fumbled with some rings on the counter.
“Jackie. Long time no see.”
“Yeah, you look great.”
The years were most kind to Jackie. She was a slim, good-looking, older woman. Mary envied her relationship with Father Time.
“You too. Still drinking like a fish?”
Mary figured she would get one more jab in for old times’ sake. But Jackie laughed. She was not interested in any fights with her ex-wife.
“No, I gave that up years ago. I have not touched a drop of booze in years.”
“I have a drink now and again.”
That was a lie. Mary gave up drugs, but she very much enjoyed glasses of red wine after her evening shower. Jackie could see the subject made Mary uncomfortable.
“Boy it is great to see you again. Maybe you can help me.”
In the excitement of meeting Jackie, Mary forgot she was at work. She returned to her saleswoman persona. It was still a place of business.
“How can I help you today?”
“I’m looking for a ring.”
“What kind of ring?”
“An engagement ring.”
Mary’s shoulders slumped, and she let out a little sigh. Jackie knew her ex-wife well enough to notice the news upset her. She had no intention of hurting Mary.
“Sorry, Mary, I can go someplace else. Or another salesperson. How about her?”
Jackie looked at another young woman working behind the counter. She was a tall drink of water. The woman was busy cleaning the glass countertops.
“Maybe, she can help me.”
“No, Jackie, it’s okay. Dee is new. She started last week.”
“Thanks, Mary. Lauren’s a wonderful woman by the way.”
“I’m sure she is.”
Jackie again realized she had upset Mary. Her days of hurting women were behind her. She sought to make amends.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to — ”
“You seeing anyone?”
Mary shuffled and squirmed. She told a little white lie to save face. Mary had not dated anyone in months.
“There are a few girls. Nothing serious though.
Jackie knew she was lying. But she let it go. She was supportive of Mary’s efforts to date.
“That’s fantastic. It’s good you are getting out there.”
“Trust me, there is somebody for everybody, right?”
“So they say.”
Mary was not certain that was true, but it was accurate for Jackie. She met Lauren at her computer software company. Despite their 20 year age gap, they instantly fell in love. Mary thought it was a cute story, but she could not resist getting in another little jab.
“Robbing the cradle I see. Old Jackie never changes.”
Jackie chuckled and nodded. It was an open secret she loved younger women. She appreciated her ex-wife’s humor.
“That’s a good one, Mary. Her dad said the same things when Lauren introduced me to him.”
“And her father is okay with it?”
“No doubt. He was happy Lauren found someone reliable, like me.”
Mary had a hard time believing the woman standing before her was the same one who deserted her in the hospital years ago. Jackie was a changed person.
“Boy, you sure are different from the last time that I saw you, remember?”
Jackie’s shoulders slumped, and she let out a long sigh. She knew leaving Mary in the hospital years ago was unconscionable.
“I suppose. I’m genuinely sorry about that.”
Mary knew Jackie was sincere. She could have pursued the matter further, but she returned to business. Mary knew her fine jewelry.
“How many carats are we talking about? Cut, color, clarity?”
Jackie took the hint Mary was done talking about the past. It was for the best. She wanted to find a ring.
“Whoa! I don’t know anything about diamonds. Big. I thought about two carats.”
“That’s quite a chunk of change for a quality cut.”
“I know. It’s fine. Money isn’t an issue.”
Mary remembered getting her engagement ring from Jackie. The diamond was small. Mary was not sure it was real. She was thrilled to receive a ring from Jackie. She lamented what could have been as she looked at her ex-lover.
“What are you doing these days? Still in computers? Right?”
“I got out of that. I’m a venture capitalist and a hedge fund manager now.”
“That must be exciting.”
“It’s a good living, I guess.”
“And great money, right? You must be rolling in dough.”
“Of course, there’s that part.”
Mary never knew big money. Outside of her small settlement windfall from her incident in the Little K parking lot years ago, she worked hard for her cash. Finances were the least of this new and improved Jackie’s worries. Mary could not help be nosey about the wedding and Jackie’s current love life.
“When is the big day?”
Jackie grinned, and she put her finger to her lips. She shook her head mockingly at her former wife. Jackie enjoyed being rich and single.
“I’m in no rush to settle down. You know me. Always looking for something better.”
“Or someone better?”
There was a knowing glance between the former lovers. Jackie fidgeted and changed the subject. She came to the shop for something other than the third degree from his ex-wife.
“About the ring. If Lauren doesn’t like it, can I return it?”
Mary gave her a little smirk and a wink. It reminded Jackie of the old days. She laughed as Mary rattled off the store’s return policy.
“You have fourteen days for a full refund and 90 days to receive store credit.”
“Unfortunate that marriage doesn’t come with such a return policy. Isn’t it?”
“That’s for sure.”
Mary sensed Jackie was not on board with this engagement. She wondered why that was. Mary could not help but pry. It was her nature.
“You seem a little nervous about all this.”
“Things happen sometimes. Faster than you might want, you know?”
“She’s pregnant, right?”
“About four months along. She was determined to be a mother. She spent a fortune at the clinic. Sperm from a genius. Nobel Prize winner, I think.”
The news of the baby didn’t bother Jackie. She wanted kids. It was the idea of an ironclad commitment to Lauren and the baby petrified her.
Jackie knew she could walk away from a spouse. Mary was proof. But a baby, she was not so sure she could do it if things went south. Mary kept things positive.
“That’s great news.”
“It is. As long as we — ”
“I have not had the best track record with relationships. You know more than anyone.”
It was Mary’s turn to laugh. She nodded her head and gave Jackie another knowing look. They giggled.
“You and me both. That’s for sure.”
Mary learned after he left her Jackie married a former co-worker. The couple was happy for about a year, but Jackie’s drinking was out of control. The couple fought every day. Her wife eventually took comfort in another man.
Jackie found out her wife was cheating on her with her older brother, Dave. Jackie discovered them in bed. Jackie beat on her brother with a chair until the police arrived. Mary covered her mouth with her hands as she gasped.
“Was your brother okay?”
“Dave spent a month in the hospital.”
“Did you get in trouble?”
“No the district attorney decided against pressing serious charges. I did some community service down at the homeless shelter for six months. And that was that.”
Jackie also gave a discreet but large campaign contribution to the district attorney during his run for state governor. Jackie and her second wife divorced after the election. Jackie had no appetite for a trifecta of broken marriages on her life resume.
“That was a lucky break.”
“It was. A little luck and good timing never hurts anyone, right?”
“That’s for sure.”
“Mary, I can wrap this up for you. You go on and finish ringing him up.”
Dee packed up the ring, and she put it in a cute pink bag. Mary scanned the UPC code and rung up the sale.
“That’s $8,750. Will that be cash or credit card?”
“Here you go.”
“Thanks you take care now, Mary.”
Jackie headed out the door. Mary followed him. She was not going to let Jackie’s chance encounter with her go to waste.
“I’m done here at 5:30. Would you like to get a cup of coffee or something? For old time’s sake?”
Jackie stopped. She put her bag in her briefcase as she looked at Mary. Jackie agreed. But it was against her better judgement. She felt he owed Mary something after the pain she caused her in the past.
Mary finished work late. She thought Jackie might not show up at the coffee house. Mary was elated to see her sitting in a booth sipping a fancy cup of joe.
“Sorry I’m late. Gotta keep those debt-collecting vultures at bay.”
Jackie and Mary talked into the evening in the little coffee shop. It closed, but Mary hoped to continue the evening with Jackie. She looked ready to call it a night when Mary thought of another activity.
“There is a karaoke bar right around the corner from here. You want to go?”
“I don’t know. It’s getting a little late.”
“Come on for an hour. You know how much you used to love karaoke, remember?”
Jackie glanced at her expensive Swiss watch, and she requested the check. The waitress came to the table. She cleaned up the empty wine and beer glasses, and tallied the bill.
“That’ll be $34.50, together or separate?”
“Together. I got it.”
“Mary, you don’t have to do that.”
“I insist. My treat!”
The pair left the coffee house, and they made their way to the karaoke bar. It was a happening place. Mary and Jackie took a seat in a secluded corner. A pretty waitress came to their table.
“You two kids look like you are out to have a good time tonight. What’ll it be beer or tequila shots.”
“We’ll have two beers with whisky chasers. And some of those spicy chicken wings. With double blue cheese dressing.”
“Gotcha! Be right back with your order.”
“I told you I don’t drink anymore.”
“I know but a couple of glasses can’t hurt, right?”
“I guess, sure.”
Two hours later the pair was feeling good. They drank like they did when they first dated. The alcohol also hit Jackie’s bladder.
“Sorry, I gotta piss like a racehorse. I’ll be right back.”
Jackie put her briefcase on the table. She returned a few minutes later, and Mary had an idea. This was Mary’s last chance for happiness, and she went all in to get her woman.
“There’s a hotel downtown. If you want to extend this evening into the night, you know?.”
As the alcohol hit the reunited couple, their hands and lips wandered over each other. Jackie was hooked. She agreed to Mary’s proposition as she kissed her square on the mouth. Mary didn’t mind.
“That would be great.”
Jackie called the pretty, young waitress for the check. And she quickly came to the table. Mary kissed Jackie on the lips as the waitress came to the table with the bill. The pair put on their coats as they waited.
“Together or separate?”
Mary and Jackie looked at each other. And they gave one last knowing glance.
They waltzed out the karaoke bar hand in hand like old lovers. The pair was at the hotel entrance when Mary’s cellphone rang. She was going to ignore it as she was kissing Jackie’s neck.
“Lover, you should probably get that. It could be important.”
Mary paused her teenager-like make out session. She grabbed her phone from her purse. It was Helen, and she was in a frantic state.
“Mary, please. Hospital. Now. It’s — ”
“Helen? Are you there?”
Mary tried several times to get Helen on the phone. She could not get an answer. Mary bid Jackie a sudden good night, and she hailed the next taxi.
“I’m so sorry. I have to go.”
Mary jumped in the taxi as it pulled up to the curb. Jackie was left standing on the empty street corner. She turned to leave when a familiar voice called to her.