If By Chance
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When I was a little kid, around eleven or twelve I'd say, I took a drink from my dad's can of Fresca. I specifically remember the circumstances of the moment, because I had just been stuffing my face with a batch of cookies my mom baked. To me, nothing washes down a stack of three or four warm cookies like an ice-cold swig of soda, so I didn't think twice about reaching for my dad's drink, which was mere inches from my grasp.
Fresca's a soda with an appeal I can't describe. It's fruity, it's refreshing, and yet at the same time, it feels like it's only for adults. We always had Fresca in the fridge for my dad, and my choices were either Pepsi or Coke. My mom's a Diet Pepsi drinker, and there was a silent agreement amongst us all that none of us would drink the other's soda. I guess that's what makes my decision to throw back a cool drink of my dad's favorite libation even odder.
As odd and out of place as it was, though, nothing could have compared to the immediate aftermath of my decision. Because as soon as I set the can back down on the table, my dad smiled warmly at me and lifted it to his lips for a long swig of his own. That's when it happened; out of nowhere, he started coughing and practically slammed the can back down, giving me a helpless, exasperated look before picking his can back up and tilting it just far enough to look inside and confirm what he already knew.
There were chunks of chocolate chip cookies swirling around in the can.
I was a notorious backwasher growing up, and somehow, that fact must have slipped my dad's mind for a moment. Just long enough for him to swallow a substantial amount of what was left of my mouthful of cookies and, I'm sure, a few grams of my saliva. I didn't think it was such a terrible thing myself, but that's probably because most kids don't see anything wrong with their own spittle.
To be honest, I don't think my mom and dad were that disgusted by my germs, so much as they were disturbed by my lack of progress when it came to not sharing them with everyone. I'd like to say that I suppose I'd have reacted the same way that my dad did if I were faced with a similar situation, but unfortunately, I've already been there and done that.
One night I was over at Peter's house for supper, back when his kids were very small, and we were having a good time. After we ate, we all retired to his covered patio and relaxed while the sprinklers ran all around us. His kids couldn't have been any older than one and two years old at the time, and they were climbing all over me. At some point, his wife got up and went inside, only to return carrying a tray with three heaping bowls of chocolate ice cream.
As we ate, I couldn't resist the request of his youngest son, who'd climbed into my lap and wordlessly opened his mouth, expecting a bite of my ice cream.
"Just shoo him away, Dennis," Peter advised me. "He'll go to his mom for a bite."
"I don't mind," I said, scraping a small amount onto the spoon I was using and offering it to the boy. He took his bite, then he closed his mouth and cleaned the spoon of any remaining ice cream by sealing his lips as I pulled it away. I just shrugged and dug in for my next bite as the little tyke climbed down and wandered over to his mom.
Some people talk about a perfect moment in time when two things happen at the exact same time, and for a reason, but I'd never bought into that. Maybe it was the skeptic in me, but I believed that while everything was relative, every incident was isolated and any coincidence was just that, a coincidence.
So maybe that's why I was so shocked when I took my bite and thought I could taste some sort of mucus, and at the same time, I spotted Peter's wife wiping her youngest child's nose. It was almost ironic that just as the realization hit me that I wasn't just tasting ice cream, that the youngster's mom was doing what I wished she had done before he found his way to my lap.
"Is my little guy catching a cold?" Peter asked with a loving smile as he cooed over his boy, and I suddenly realized that none of their attention was on me, so I took my opportunity and grabbed an unused napkin sitting close by. As I dragged it across the surface of my tongue, all I could think about was the Fresca incident with my dad and wonder if I was experiencing some sort of payback for my carelessness as a boy.
I took a couple lessons with me from that incident. The first was to never offer a baby a bite of my food, and the other was that was goes around really does come around, even if it's in a roundabout way. On the way home from Peter's that night, I stopped at a twenty-four hour Walgreen's and bought a bottle of Listerine. Not the minty, green Listerine, either. No, I got the yellow, medicine-flavored stuff. I bought it, I took it to my car, and I opened it up in the parking lot. I carelessly tore the plastic away, then I promptly started to gargle until I couldn't take the burn in my mouth any longer.
All of that led to my first brush with the law.
Because what I didn't know was that across the street, a police car was sitting in the shadows. The officer inside was watching my behavior in the parking lot, and as soon as I was back on the road, he got behind me and turned his lights on, determined to take at least one drunk driver off the road. After a lengthy explanation that earned me a funny stare and a raised eyebrow from the officer, I passed a field sobriety test and was on my way, wishing I hadn't even gone to Peter's that night. When I got home, I resolved to put the incident out of my mind and to try my hardest not to have any more run-ins with the police.
That was years ago, I had almost forgotten all about it. But as I sat in an almost empty courtroom with Donald Fasola by my side, my mind raced back to that fateful night. The bailiff looked friendly enough, and had shared a few laughs with Donald and the counsel for the company, who on the surface appeared to be down to earth and easy going. On the other end of the room, the US attorney and her team of three were all business, going over paperwork and whispering in each other's ears.
When the judge entered the room, we all stood and raised our right hands as the court recorder recited the oath that we would all be testifying under. When we sat back down, I spotted Peter and Robin, as well as a few other officers of the company from Corporate, and I couldn't help but feel a little intimidated. I couldn't help but notice that Alana was nowhere to be found, but I knew for a fact that she was named to be at this particular hearing. Especially because it was mainly for the attorneys to get their motions heard and to give them a chance to get statements on record that would later be heard at any trial that might materialize.
As luck would have it, I got called to the stand, where I was asked a few mindless questions by the attorneys working for the company. Chief among them was my hire date, my title, and the primary function of my job. I answered each question truthfully, and Donald never objected to anything asked.
When Donald started calling witnesses, it became a long, drawn out process, but not near as long and drawn out as it was when the US Attorney who I assumed would be assigned to the case started her line of questions. My guess was that she got all of the information that she needed about me when the others were questioning me, because she didn't once send a question my way.
I guess being served a subpoena by the Deputy Sheriff isn't the worst thing in the world that could have happened to me, but I admit that it was embarrassing. Practically every one of my neighbors was standing on their porch, watching the entire scene unfold. My knees were practically knocking into each other as the tall, lanky officer approached me, and my mind raced.
"Dennis Mead?" he asked as he removed his hat, and I solemnly nodded as he handed me the subpoena and notified me that he was acting on behalf of the county and state as I looked over the fine print and breathed a sigh of relief.
I knew I'd done nothing wrong, so there was no reason for me to be under arrest, but who knew? With everything going on, anything was possible, and I couldn't be too careful. My first inclination was to call Donald before I ever got out of the car and ask him why the hell the police would be at my door, but the more sensible side of me knew that it was probably some formality or other matter and to just address it. I'd let Donald know what happened after they left.
The next morning I woke up in a state of euphoria. Gerald was up early, and decided to wake me up his own way. I started to stir when the warmth of his mouth enveloped my manhood, and in no time at all, I was covered in goose bumps and my toes were curling as I tried to hang on a little longer to the blissful feeling that had taken over my mind and body. When it was obvious that I was fighting a losing battle, I groaned loudly and let my love overflow as my dedicated bottom eagerly consumed all that I had to offer him.
With a contented sigh, he crawled up to the top of the bed and curled up to my side, letting me wrap him in my loving embrace as he teased my spent manhood with his groping hands, trying to bring it back to life for another session of love making between us. Of course, I didn't want to disappoint my lover, so I took the initiative and gave his body the pleasure he was in need of.
I kissed all the way down his neck, then up to his left earlobe, where I let my tongue linger for a long, enjoyable moment. From there, I moved to his hard nipples and sucked as hard as I could while my strong hands kneaded and massaged each of his pectoral muscles in an effort to maximize his pleasure. When I left his nipples, I moved down to his belly button and again, used my tongue to bring him the most intense pleasure I could.
Coming up for air from his addictive navel, I let my tongue rake across his firm abdomen, back up his torso and all the way to his neck, where I clamped my lips down and sucked hard while my hands once again found his hard pecks and I treated him to a firm, forceful massage. While I was leaving my mark of love on his neck, I could feel his fingers running through my hair at a rapid rate, and I could tell that he was past the point of arousal.
I released my lip lock on his neck and smiled at the result of my handy work, then I moved down his body once more. I felt his fingers slip out of my hair, but I knew that he'd grab onto the sheets soon enough. As a matter of fact, I knew that it'd be almost instantaneous, because as soon as I spotted his firm manhood, I quickly devoured it, eager to bring him the same pleasure he had given me just minutes before. I could tell that my lover was almost spent, and I was anxious to help him reach his climax, but before I could, he handed me a sealed package and looked almost impatiently at me as I accepted it from him, so I pulled off of him and acquiesced.
Once I made sure we were protected, I proceeded to become one with my lover and feed him long, forceful strokes of my love. He looked so beautiful to me in the light of the morning rays of sunlight that poured in through the window to our left. His messy hair, his hungry eyes, his moist, smiling lips and his pert nose all seemed to sending me the signal that he didn't want me to stop, and I did what I could to share my love with him as late into the morning as I could.
Staying on the same wavelength with Gerald as we made love was easy for me. It was probably because I loved him so much, and even if Gerald never had said it to me, I'd know he loved me too. It was more than the words he said every chance he had. It was about the way he looked at me. The way we were always touching each other. Not in a lewd way, but in a familiar, comfortable way. There were moments of the day when I found myself simply seeking his touch so I could feel something substantial to help me relax or even to concentrate.
I blinked when I saw the figure, and I had to look twice just to be certain that I wasn't mistaken.
"All you have to do is sign," Donald said, looking at me with an expectant smile.
"Really?" I asked in disbelief. "This is...this is right?"
"It's typical in a case like this," he said matter of factly, so I picked the pen up and did the only thing that seemed natural at the moment.
They say that in this day and age, to be considered a millionaire, you have to be worth more than ten million dollars. Well, I've been putting my money away since I got out of college, and I've built a portfolio worth more than a million dollars. Most of that wealth is in the form of real estate, precious metals, stocks and bonds, but about forty percent of it is currency from my money market account. While it's true that the dollar is weak right now, I fully expect it to rebound and to realize a substantial gain on my money. When our bond rating goes up, so will my net worth.
The settlement that the Corporation was offering me wasn't enough to push me over that ten million dollar mark, but it was good enough for me. By the time Donald got his cut, I'd still have a little more than five million dollars for myself. If I invested it wisely, I'd never have to worry about money again. Of course, I'd still work, but there was no way I wanted to do anything near as stressful as I'd been doing. Maybe I could work as a clerk somewhere, doing payroll and accounts receivable. Or I could possibly work from home like Gerald.
Then again, if I positioned every dollar just right, I could retire early.
"When would I get it?" I asked pensively, my mind still trying to compute the offer that was on the table in front of me.
"Within thirty days," Donald said. "But listen, you aren't the only one getting this offer. Someone else is working with the justice department on this. I've been advised of their identity, but I have to stress to you the importance of you not having any contact with this person before the deposition."
It seemed like the last of the representatives from the company had been questioned and that we'd be dismissed. I looked up at the clock and cracked my knuckles out of boredom, and maybe a little out of fear because I wasn't looking forward to testifying against so many people I'd looked up to and reported to for years.
The judge asked Donald if there were any more witnesses he wanted to call, and he indicated that he had none. He asked the counsel for the Corporation if they had any more witnesses that they wanted to call, and they likewise declined to call anyone to the stand. Finally, he turned to the US attorney and asked if there were any other witnesses they'd like to call. At that moment, I looked back up at the clock and let out a sigh before she gave her answer, and unfortunately, I already knew what the answer was.
"I do your honor," she said assertively. "I'd like to call Alana Cary to the stand."
I swallowed hard and watched as she made her way to the front of the courtroom, realizing that she must have slipped into the chambers when I wasn't paying attention. She made eye contact with me and nodded, then she looked straight ahead, seemingly to avoid making eye contact with Peter, who looked like he was ready to cry.
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