Buckets Of Blessings


Retta Michaels
 "The Queen of Gay Romance"


If your laws do not allow you to read this story, then don't. All the rest of you people who read it, if you think it's true, boy, have I investment opportunities for you!

If you get all bent out of shape over there being no sex in a story...Adam Curtis... And if you just can't seem to read because your dick isn't in your hand...Edd Howes... Please read another story.

This story is a ROMANCE...not erotica. There is a difference. One has a genuine love story and the other puts balls in holes quicker than a round of golf....usually with a lot less clothes on!

Stories by RettaMichaels will never be erotica, you won't have my anger if you leave...you will if I receive an email about your stupidity after this point.

Notes From Retta:

The reverence we put on our funeral homes in this country is amazing. IF you think of it, you don't see them in movies except in spooky shows with the exception of 'My Girl' starring Dan Aykroyd and Jamie Lee Curtis.

Hopefully, with this story, you'll see funeral directors can have love lives too.


Chapter One

Walking down the street, I happened to find a Valentine.

Something made me stop and pick it up. I don't know if it was the pretty red foil, or the white lace, but I picked it up and held it in the sunlight to read it's inscription.

Interestingly, it didn't have the usual “Will you be mine”, or all the others. It said, “Can you catch my heart?”

What's funny is after picking it up, I looked up to see if someone might have thrown it. The building was a one story, so I knew it didn't get thrown from up above. Not finding anything, I tucked it into my pocket and proceeded upon my merry way.

All during that day, I thought to myself, “I wonder who wrote it and what they meant? Did it mean their heart was free like a wild animal? Or, was it something more like them wanting to be chased.

Typing into my computer, I did a search in the search engine, just for fun, to see if there was anything as far as a poem, or if a story was published which could signify the card's author's point of view. Nothing. Lot's of cardiology and lots of anti acid websites for heart burn but nothing from which I could gleen a message..

Somehow, the inscription and the heart captured my thoughts that day. A usual card given to me gets put by the wayside and I don't give it much thought afterwards. In that aspect, I'm not romantic. Then, I wondered to myself if I would have given it much thought if it had been given to me.

Justifying to myself I would have. After all, someone had obviously constructed the heart themselves, and they put effort into it. Knowing I'd appreciate the gesture and the thought put into it, I thought to myself I would indeed appreciate it and keep its inscription near and dear to me.

Later that day, I went on with my life and when I got home, I fed Gypsy, my cocker spaniel, and listened to the messages upon the answering machine. One was of particular interest because it was my friend Heather asking me to please escort her to a Valentine's party she'd been invited to.

Thinking 'at least she'd gotten invited to one', I didn't want to let her down, so I called her to get the particulars. She said it was on Friday night and everyone had to bring one Valentine and dance with the person who picked ours out of a box randomly.

Thoughts coursed through me of possibly meeting the man of my dreams in this manner, and as fast as the thought hit me, I let it go, thinking it too improbable of a hope.

During the week, I, of course, forgot about the party. I'd not spoken to Heather since, so after preparing myself a tv dinner and plopping myself in front of the boob tube, imagine my surprise when the door bell rang and it was Heather. As soon as I saw her, I remembered. And, as soon as I saw the disappointment upon her face, I felt like shit.

One minute hon, I forgot. I'll get ready and then we'll go.”

She smiled and then noted my meager fare called supper. “Sweety, I was planning on taking us out to dinner. Where would you like to go?”

I had already gone to the bedroom to change when I heard her say, “You made this card?”

No, I found it the other day on the sidewalk. Isn't it beautiful?”

Yeah. Someone obviously put some thought and effort into it and I bet the little girl who did it sure was disappointed when she couldn't give it to the boy of her dreams.”

Laughing, I began to tell her my random thoughts about the card. We laughed together and then she asked, “Are you going to put that card into the box?”

I hadn't thought of doing it, but in a way I had. I actually thought I'd find Mr. Right with that card.”

We laughed again and then she said, “If it works, I get to use the card next year. Who knows, it might have hidden powers to draw our loves to us.”

When I walked out of the bedroom, she took one look at me and said, “When you look like that, who needs a card? It's a shame you're gay because I'd break caution and ask you out myself.”

Well, you did ask me out and I'm going, so consider tonight yours, babe.”

No, because at the end of the night, I'd go home alone and you'd still be gay. Cinderella sure didn't have this problem!”

No, but she had two ugly sisters for competition. You have me and that's it. So, if we meet a guy tonight and he's gay, I get him. If he's straight, you get him.”

We laughed again and she picked the card up and put it into the pocket of my blazer. “Use the card and hope it brings you luck.”

We went out to my car and she said, “Do you want to go to Chili's? I know you love the place.”

I love the guy's hot asses who work there. Whoever hires for the place has to be gay.”

Either that, or she's a lucky gal that happens to pull in every hot guy on campus.” She quipped.

You think it's a gal?”

I don't know, but the guys there sure are hot.”

Yeah, and the food's good, so I thought of that first when you agreed to go to the party with me.”

Thanks dear.”

No, my treat. You inconvenienced yourself for little old me and I'm going to make your night pleasant.”

We went to Chili's and ogled the guys. The one who waited on us was named Tyson and his snug fitting shirt showed plenty of pecs and biceps. When he turned around, we both scoped his ass.

She looked at me and smiled, “I bet you're wondering if he has skinny ankles!”


It doesn't matter to me if a man has skinny ankles or not.”

Well, you're not a guy and you're not gay. If you were, you'd want those ankles to be skinny so when you threw them up over your shoulders, you'd still be able to hear him cry out your name.”

She giggled and said, “Oh hon, you paint the mental picture so clear. I think it'd be hot to see you and a guy go at it.”

Not happening. Not that I'm a prude, but you'd find it intimidating.”

No I wouldn't!”

Oh really. When I swallow things down to here and then use my throat muscles, the first thing out of your mouth would be wanting to know how the hell I did it.”


Yeah, really. And, that's not the time to teach a little sister how to give head.”

The sound of throat clearing made me look up. Tyson stood there blushing.

We're out of creamy Italian, would you like ranch instead?”

Only if you're the cowboy.”

He blushed profusely again and Heather cackled with glee.

He left and she said, “You're so awful.”

No, did you hear him say he was straight? No little sister, all you got was a blush. That means that guy has thought about it a few times. And I swear I ordered ranch the first time.”

Maybe he figures it's better for the tips if he doesn't profess his straightness to a gay guy but uses the Creamy Italian as his come-on line.”

And maybe, he'll give me his number along with the check.”

No sirree, I'm paying the bill tonight, so if he does, I get the date.”

We laughed and I told her she could have him because Mr. Right was going to be at the party and her guy would be working at Chili's.

All through dinner, Tyson was attentive and busy. Our area seemed to be filling and he was kept hopping. He didn't give us much attention, however there were enough sights of him to make it pleasant. When we got up to leave, he came over with our guest check. “Here's your bill. I trust everything was good?”

Oh it was wonderful. Here's your tip. I hope you don't have to split them because you earned it.”

No, we get to keep them.”

Well, you earned it.”

We left and no phone number was proffered.

When we got to the party, it was in a conference room at the hospital where Heather worked. We entered and whoever had decorated had done a nice job. Crepe paper streamers and lots of hearts adorned the walls. We put our coats upon the backs of our chairs and Heather took me around to introduce me to everyone.

One noticeable fact I'd gleened were there weren't many cute guys, and there sure weren't any male nurses who were hot enough for me to feign having the big one so they'd give me mouth to mouth.

The band was decent and the first highlight of the night was us going to get our drinks from the fountain spewing the red punch and seeing the ice cupid sculpture.

After a short while, we sat down and quite soon, .Heather had some friends show up and they sat at our table. We all made polite small talk and I was introduced to everyone with much conversation of her co-workers telling me how much Heather shared with them about my exploits and our friendship.

The emcee welcomed everyone and then made quick introductions of everyone who helped put together the party. When the band began again, I put my hand upon Heather's back and said, “Let me get in a dance before Prince Charming comes and sweeps you off your glass slippers.”

Forgot them tonight. They make my bunions ache.” she said loud enough for the whole table to hear.

We all giggled and then we went out onto the dance floor.

After the dance, the emcee made the announcement of not forgetting to put our Valentine into the mystery box so everyone could have a dance. Heather slipped mine out of my pocket and said, “I'll go put yours into the box.”

I looked at her and said, “Did you bring one?”

Yes dear, I put mine in the box as soon as we arrived. I wasn't sure you wanted yours in it, so I decided to wait.”

Oh, o.k., I wish I had seen what it looked like so I could see who draws it.”

It's a typical Valentine's Day card. Not much on excitement, but yours is going to be a hit with whomever draws it.”

I agreed, and part of me didn't want to let it go, but I figured the memory of it would be lasting.

When we sat back down, conversation trickled around the table of what girl thought what guy was cute and available. Everyone seemed to have a particular doctor and several pointed out a doctor for me.

Heather smiled and said, “Mark's a gynecologist and everyone knows he's gay.”

I bet he's glad he doesn't have to bring his work home with him.” I said laughing.

Yeah, and he's had a hard breakup from what I hear.”

Don't play matchmaker. I don't think he'd appreciate it and personally, I don't think I'd like a doctor for a boyfriend. They're gone too much and the thought of making out with one and having a beeper disturb it would be the final straw for me.”

Several of the girls at the table agreed and said that's why they didn't even attempt to get a doctor to give them a moments notice.

The night went on and I began to dance with several of the women at the table after seeing they weren't dancing, or weren't being asked.

When the time came for the mystery dance, the emcee made the announcement to everyone it would be a dance in which someone would pull a Valentine from the box and whomever's card it was would be the their dance partner. If a card was pulled by someone of the same sex, the card would go back into the box.

Heather gave me a look and said, “Sorry” loud enough several of the girls at the table all heard her. They thought it wasn't fair. I told them I was sporting enough to give whomever the woman was a dance.

Heather said, “I wanted a guy to get your card and you to get him.”

Hon, the only way that would have happened is if it were a gay party. It's not happening here.”

She, seeing it wasn't bothering me, didn't press the issue. Somehow, I knew my card would be pulled in the first few as a person's tactile sense immediately goes for something that's different instead of all the rest. I'd used that knowledge a time or two when names and things were drawn from a box previously by curling, or crinkle folding the entry. More often than not, the gimmick worked. And, sure enough, the first person who put her hand into the box drew my card. It was the hospital administrator. She looked at it and held it up exclaiming it's beauty. Heather's intake of breath and turning to smile at me helped tell me it was my card.

When the woman held it up, she read the inscription over the p.a, system. I stood and went forward to stand by my dance partner.

She turned to me and said, “That card's beautiful. Let me guess, you're gay.”

Yes, I'm gay, but I didn't make the card.”

You didn't! Where'd you buy it?”

I didn't. I was walking down the street and found it. It caught my eye and the message has been on my mind all week.”

It is interesting.”

Yes, all sorts of scenarios have played out in my head about it.”

It would mine too. You don't mind dancing with me, do you?”

Oh no, not at all. I'm sporting, it'll be fun!”

She smiled and said, “My nephew would like you. He's a sweetheart and if he didn't have to work tonight, he'd be accompanying me. You'd like him. Are you single?”

Unfortunately, yes. It's not by choice, I just haven't found anyone whom I've found I want to date beyond the first time. Maybe it's that I'm too particular, but I want someone that can carry a conversation besides asking me to bed.”

She laughed and said, “I know what you mean. When I was younger, I had a hard time myself. There's an old saying that says the girls all get prettier at closing time and I've learned to leave about an hour before so I wasn't propositioned by someone who intoxicated me with his breath.”

I chuckled and said, “Been there more than a time or two. It's enough to make me want to stay home.”

Yes, but if we don't go out, we don't find that magical someone.”

Yeah, that's the problem and in my line of work, I'm not going to find anyone.”

What do you do, dear?”


She laughed and said, “Let's hope not! I like mine with at least a little blood coarsing through their veins.”

We laughed and then I saw Heather got lucky and got her card drawn by a guy she thought was cute. The administrator saw my gaze and asked, “You here with Heather?”

Yes, we've been friends since the first grade.”

She's a great girl. I do wish she'd further her education and get a degree in administration. Everyone likes her and she's a joy to be around.”

Yes, she thinks of me a lot and draws me out. If she hadn't asked me here tonight, I'd be curled up in front of the television.”

That's not fun.”

No, but it's factual of what I do for entertainment when I've got a free night. If I've got a funeral visitation, I'm busy doing that.”

I imagine. Do you get called out often?”

Not for much anymore. Your hospital is more courteous than it used to be. The phone calls in the middle of the night are now a thing of the past.”

That's my doing. I realize people have lives and the days of having the dead picked up when everyone's asleep is a thing of the past as far as I'm concerned.”

Well, I don't mind the way it is now with it being early. The only problem I've had is if it's snowed and then, it's not been cleared. Also, there are times when that slope to the loading area is one long sheet of ice. Even a four wheel drive couldn't get up that.”

I never knew. I'll get that changed.”

Oh, I'm not complaining to get things changed. I keep a bag of ice melt in my truck for that purpose.”

No, you're complaining to the inconvenience, and you've got a job just as I have. If my job can make others do their job so you're not inconvenienced, then so be it.” She smiled and said, “You're a sweetheart, too. Do you mind if I introduce you to my nephew?”

Is he in this area?”

Yes, and he's in college. He works at night and his time is full, but when he's through with college, he'll be staying in this area.”

What's his major in college?”

He's going for hotel management, however he couldn't find a job doing that before college. Everyone in this area cuts back for the off season, and he was unfortunately laid off from his other job.”

Oh, what's he going to do in this area when he gets out of school?”

Presidential Suites is building a hotel here and he's going to be managing it for them.”

That's a tall order. Has he been hired? Or, how does he know they'll hire him?”

She winked at me and said, “My husband and I saw a niche which wasn't being met. We franchised the hotel ourselves, along with his parents. The hill that's right next to the gasoline station over there across the road from the entrance is where it's to be built.”

Oh, that's an excellent location. You all had a good plan there.”

Yes, we wanted a location within safe walking distance of the hospital. Also, we wanted a location where someone could choose to stay if they've got out-patient treatment.”

Are there many?”

Yes, unfortunately, there's more and more since the insurance is the way it is. They'll pay for outpatient treatment and won't pay for in...which seems to be rather self serving on their part since they think it's less cost. What they don't account for is the patient then has to foot the bill.”

It'd be nice if that bill were covered by the hospital.”

She winked again and said, “In some instances, billing can be arranged so it can happen. What we have to do is offer multiple choices, such as “would you like the hotel across the street where we can wheel you in a wheel chair? Or, would you like the one down the highway three miles in which you'll have to ride in the taxicab which reeks of cigarettes?”

I chuckled and said, “How big's the hotel going to be?”

We're planning on two hundred suites. It's going to be a conference center and have a big enough space that wedding receptions and banquets can be held.”

It's going to have a full service restaurant?”

Yes, and swimming pool and sauna, exercise and recreation facilities, and a nightclub.”

The nightclub going to be near any rooms?”

No, it's going to be in the same wing where the restaurant is, why?”

I stayed in a hotel once out in Vegas that had me roomed right above a nightclub. It wouldn't have been bad if I wanted to dance all night, but they didn't stop.”

Did you ask for your money back?”

No, I left and made it known I wouldn't be back.”

Guest hospitality should have assured you a refund and free rooms in the future.”

They didn't.”

I wouldn't go there again either.”

Soon enough, our dance began. It was a slow song and she danced close. “Your cologne is fascinating.”

That's not cologne.”

It isn't?”

No, that's my natural smell. Heather loves it.”

I understand. It smells better than any cologne I've smelled.”

Yeah, it's bad when I play sports because as I sweat, it is way stronger. And, when I put on cologne, it mixes with it and a normal cologne will smell awful on me.”

Amazing. I wish my husband were so lucky. I could get used to sleeping by someone who smelled as good as you.”

We laughed and she said, “When you're done, give me your number, or I can have him contact you at work?”

I'll give you my number. I'd hate to tell people twenty years from now my partner met me at a funeral home. It could lead to a lot of bad jokes.”

She laughed and said, “Yeah, I can imagine someone telling him at least he picked the live one!”

She paused and then said, “I'm sorry. It's not a joking matter.”

No, but I get plenty of mileage from it too, so don't worry.”

She smiled and said, “Yeah, I imagine. You do know that profession has an extraordinary number of alcoholics.”

Yes, that's why I don't drink on the job. I rarely drink otherwise. I told myself early on when I interned with one that I'd never do it. That man went out and greeted families smelling like pure whiskey. How they didn't know is beyond me and how he never had a wreck in the hearse some nights is really beyond me.”

Where'd you intern?”



Yeah, if you're familiar with the town, you're probably familiar with whom I'm referring.”

No, we're from down near St. Louis, but I think I know who you're speaking because they sometimes come to get the bodies.”

Yeah, what I'd do in your situation is wait until after five pm so the intern is the one that comes. There's no sense of having a family go through anything more than they do.”

She nodded and said, “This has been lovely. When I agreed to this, I was worried. I'm really glad it was you.”

Me too.” I smiled.

When the dance ended, I went to her table and met her husband and other guests. I shook everyone's hands and then gave her my home number and cell. She took a look at the card and said, “You want it back?”

No, give it to him if you don't want it. Tell him it came from someone who wishes he'd come tonight.”

She smiled and said, “Maybe it's for the best, You two wouldn't have gotten to dance here and that's a shame.”

Well, we'll arrange it so we can, if we go out.”

She nodded and said, “I'll pay for that date myself. He'll go out with you.” She then said, “He's in college and I know money's tight for him. I don't want anything to hold him back from meeting you.”

Thank you.”

No, thank you for being so nice.”

I went back over to our table and sat down. Heather was all dreamy eyed and said, “He asked me out!”

Wonderful! When's the date?”

We're going out next Friday. I'm so sorry you didn't get to meet someone.”

Oh, but my dear, I did!”

You couldn't have. You danced with Joan.”

And Joan has a nephew.”

Wow, I don't know who it could possibly be.”

She sat thinking for a few moments and said, “I thought I met all of her family.”

Well, then maybe you've not met his parents. She did make it sound like he's local.”


Yeah, she said he had to work tonight and he goes to college during the day time.”

She smiled and said, “Wow, you o.k with someone who could be younger than you?”

Damn girl, you make is sound like I'm grandpa!”

No, I just know you like guys who are more mentally mature.”

I like guys, and I like guys whose first words aren't , “You wanna fuck?”.”

She smiled and said, “No, that's usually your line.”

Nah, I lead them to the water but I let them decide that.”

She chuckled and said, “You're quite a cool drink of water too.”

We continued the evening and when the last dance was called, we danced it. Since it was still early, she asked me, “Do you want to go do something else?”

No, I've got an early day tomorrow. I've got a ten o'clock and a two o'clock.”

Ooh, you're a busy guy.”

Yeah, all a part of the seventeen.”

What is it, like fifty something?”

No, it's twelve for the year. I had fifty eight last year.”

Wow, another good year for you!”

Yeah, but not for a lot of people.”

When we got to my house, she came in and I listened to messages on the answering machine. For being a single guy, my phone was busy a lot.

A large part of it is the business I'm in. People call and check when times for funerals, update obits, and mostly, they get my answering machine. Tonight, I'd been lucky with having two non-visitation funerals tomorrow. Usually, Friday nights for me are spent at the funeral home.

What I referred to as the “Seventeen” is the number of funerals it takes for me annually to break even. A funeral home is a business and it takes that many before I even get an income.

Even then, I don't get an income. After that, a percentage goes into a fund I have put back for funeral cars as they're unbelievably expensive.

Fortunately, I learned a long time ago I don't have to have brand new. A two year old hearse and limo will serve my purposes just fine and they're practically brand new still. My income comes after twenty four. Then, I take a percentage of each.

When messages were answered, we sat back and I asked her about her guy. She told me she was thrilled as she didn't want to be forward and ask him out. He'd not made any moves towards her because of on the job sexual harassment fears. So, they got to meet up through him trading someone for her card. Which I thought was sweet.

When she left, she gave me a hug and we agreed to call each other tomorrow night. I went into my bedroom and laid out my suit and accessories for the morning.

After showering, I lay in bed and read “Comfort and Joy” by Fern Michaels. I was just about to doze off when the phone rang. Picking it up without looking at the caller I.D, I answered. Hello?”

Hi, My aunt gave me a Valentine's card and your phone number. She says she spoke with you about me and wants me to go out with you. She's paying for the date, so I'd like to know if you will go.”

Sure, when do you have an open night?”

Well, Sunday night's good for me. I don't have to work and I don't have much homework.”

Great. I don't have anything then, you want to make it an early afternoon date then?”

That's fine with me. What's your name?”

My name's Lance. She didn't give it to you with my number?”

She said she didn't want to spoil it and just gave me the card and your number saying you were a nice guy. You're not old are you?”

No, I'm twenty four.”

Good. I was afraid she met someone really old and that'd look weird.”

What's your name as she didn't give me it either?”

Ty it's short for Tyson.”

Really! Where do you work Ty?”

I work at a restaurant called Chili's. You been there before?”

Now, I swear to you parts of me were standing up doing a cheerleader routine and parts of me were really kicking myself in the tail for being the way I was earlier.

I've been there a time or two. I don't suppose you want to eat there on a date?.”

No! It's not that I don't like their food. It's that I want to be more private than that.”

O.k., let's see...how about if we meet somewhere and then we can take one of us' car and go do something?”

Ummm, we'll have to take your car because mine's real junky.”

O.k,. no problem Ty. Where do you want to meet?”

Well, we live outside of town in a subdivision. How about if I stay in town with my aunt after church and then we can meet there?”

O.k., where does she live?”

She lives on Rt 9. It's the house as you leave town up on top of the hill. You can't miss it.”

I know the one you're speaking of. It's beautiful.”

Yeah, the view's awesome.”

O.k., what time do you want to make it Ty?”

How about one o'clock. That way if she's having lunch, I won't be disturbing it by having someone at the house.”

O.k., well, I'll see you then, and Ty?”


We could have met earlier, if you'd said something tonight.”


Yeah, a friend and I were there earlier tonight.”

You the hot guy who was talking about giving head?”

Well, I don't know about hot.”

Awesome! Boy, I'm glad it's you. I would have given you my number, but sure enough that I did, you'd have been straight, and I'd gotten fired.”

I wanted you, too.”

Great! I'm really happy now!”

Well, I'll see you on Sunday, Ty.”

I can hardly wait. What are you doing tomorrow?”

I'm busy tomorrow. My job. Did she tell you about my job?”

No, not a thing. Now I wish she'd told me more!”

Well, I have a funeral home. I hope that doesn't bother you?”

No, everyone's got to have a job. My dad's a plumber and he works with some real messes. So, if I judged people by their job, some people would think his stinks.”

I understand.”

Well, I'll get off here, but I don't want to, now!”

Well Ty, I don't want to either. Lord knows I won't get any sleep. I'm so glad it's you.”

He laughed and said, “Me neither. You don't know how much I thought about you after you left and when she gave me that card, the first thing I actually wished was it had come from you.”

It was in my pocket but I'm glad things worked out the way they did. It shows things are meant to be, when it's destined to happen.”

You're telling me! I kept thinking to myself after you'd left how much I wish I'd found out something about you, or wishing that I had less busy tables, but I did see you drive off. You've got that pretty White Escalade.”

It's a funeral Escalade. It's done up like a funeral Suburban, but it's nicer.”

You're telling me! I saw it and thought to myself, “Man, the guy's as hot as his truck.”

Thanks. You're really sweet looking yourself.”

Nah, there's a lot about me which isn't cool.”

Ty, my eyes didn't lie to me. What I saw was fantastic. Heather's going to die when I tell her who you are!”


We both thought you were hot and both of us were checking you out."


Yeah. The conversation you overheard was about me telling her the only thing I didn't know if I wouldn't like on you was your ankles.”


Yeah, I got this thing about a guy's ankles.”

That's funny.”

Yeah, and she said it didn't matter what your ankles looked like. Then she said she'd watch me do it with someone and I told her she'd get jealous and then started talking where you apparently heard.”

He laughed and said, “When I walked up on your conversation, it was hard for me, because I saw you and thought you were hot and then, I was telling myself you were straight and then when I walked up and you were telling her about giving head, then, I told myself you were taken.”

No, not at all. A lot of people are put off by my job.”

That's stupid. You don't live at the funeral home, do you?”

Oh no. I used to, but I built a house.”

Well, I really wished you didn't have to work tomorrow.”

I'm sorry, but that's the way it will be for me, unfortunately.”

That's o.k., it will be that way for me, too. Most of my available time will be taken up by my job. I work four nights a week. You can count on me not having Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturdays available.”

O.k., That's fair, and I'll tell you now, most of my night visitations will be Tuesday through Fridays.”


Well, to be honest, people go out on Friday night and get drunk and then decide to wrap their cars around trees. So, then figure the funeral will be on Wednesday. On Tuesday night, the visitation will be.”

I never thought of that.”

Yeah, so that's why my schedule is like it is.”

Well, what if I ask to see if my schedule can match?”

No, I'd love to, but why don't we wait? You'll be giving up tips and I usually save Saturday nights for Heather. She's like my best friend in the world.”

Ok, she seems nice.”

Yeah, we've known each other since we were little.”

Cool. I can't believe you're from here and I've not met you.”

Well, it amazes me too, since I usually see most of the town at funerals and visitations. If you'd been at the funeral home, I can almost assure you I would have known your name and most of your family's names.”

He laughed and said, “That's funny, but that's the way it is with me too. Most of everyone I wait on, I try to remember something about the person. For you, I'd remember the creamy Italian because you're Italian right?”

Yeah, my dad's Italian but my mom's German.”

Well, you ordered pasta.”

That's the Italian side of me.”

That's what gives you the complexion which makes you look like you've lain in a tanning bed.”

Yeah, I can't get away from it. The thing is that I don't go outside much because when I do, I get really dark.”

Wow, what you see of me is the way I look after I was outside all Summer. I get dark, but by February, I'm looking like I need to get a tan.”

I agreed and said, “Ty, your aunt said you're going to school for hotel management and told me what you've got for your future. I'll say now, I'm impressed.”

Yeah, what sucks is most of the motels in the area lay off over the winter.”

Yeah, but think about this. You were working where I saw you and in my job, I don't see many people at hotels. I'm usually suggesting a good hotel, so it will work that I can suggest yours when it's built.”

That's great! I never thought of that. I'll give you a discount for your clients.”

That'd be good, because none around here do that. Anything they could save would be better than nothing. I've thought about renting rooms by the month just so I could pass along the savings.”

No, don't do that. Those rooms only get cleaned like once a week. The discount I'll get you will have them saving that much.”

Good. I hate to say this, but I've got to get off here otherwise, I'll be a walking zombie tomorrow.”

O.k., why don't you take my number?”

O.k, well, let me see....yeah, I've got it on my caller I.D.. I'll program it in, so I have it. You'll save mine. Won't you?”

Yeah, I got both your house and cell numbers.”

O.k., I'd give you the funeral home number, but the only way I answer it is if I'm sitting at the desk. It's too distracting to have a phone ringing otherwise.”

Yeah, I understand. Your cell will give you messages, right?”

Yeah, or if you text or beep me, I'll get the number so it's less minutes if you're on yours.”

Good idea. I'll program a message in now that I can send quick and then have my number afterwards.”

O.k., well, good night, Ty.”

Good night back at 'cha."

As soon as I got off the phone, I called Heather. When she answered, I could tell she was asleep. Hello?”

Hi hon, I'm sorry to have woken you.”

No, that's alright, It was only beauty rest. You don't know what that's like, since you don't need it.”

Lots of laughs, hon, I'll take every second you don't sleep and then that won't be enough. But, the reason I called is you're not going to believe who Joan's nephew is.”

She suddenly sounded awake, “Who?”

No, not an owl.”

You're so funny...I'll go back to sleep now.”

Well, if I told you, you'd shit the bed.”

Try me.”

No, you've got to guess otherwise it's not fun.”


Ok, but when I just tell you like this, you'll wish I made you have fun.”


Ok, but I wish you'd at least guess because not in your wildest dreams would you guess.”

Dammit Lance!”

The guy from Chili's, Ty!”


Yeah, he called and when he told me his name, I asked where he worked and as soon as he told me, parts of me were dancing around like a cheerleader and other parts were wishing I'd kept my mouth shut earlier.”

I bet I can guess which parts of you.”

No, no fair, you wouldn't guess earlier, so I'm not letting you guess now. I told you that you'd be sorry.”

I chuckled and she said, “When are you going to meet him?”

Sunday afternoon. I'm going to pick him up and then we're spending the day together.”

Great. Do you have an idea of what you'll do together?”

No, but since we know we like each other already, we'll probably do something really neat. What I do know is he likes to be private, so we'll probably go someplace out of town.”

Take him to St. Louis. The variety of restaurants and the driving time would give you plenty of time to talk.”

No, I think we'll go someplace close the first date and then I'll bring out the big guns. If I do it the first time, he'll expect more and that's not fun.”

You're nuts. You already told me he liked you. What did he say?”

He said he thought I was hot when he waited on us and wished I was gay. Then, when he heard me talking, he then wished I was single. He was afraid to give me his number.”

Good thing, because I would have taken it. SO, does he have skinny ankles?”

I don't know, but he thinks it's funny we were talking about it.”

YOU told him THAT!”

Why not?”

You're going to give him a complex. He'll be looking at his ankles now and wondering if they're fat. That's how anorexic people get complexes, Lance!”

No, I promise you that when his ankles are on my shoulders, I'll kiss them and tell him they're perfect.”

You're so funny. I can see you doing it too.”

You're my little twisted kitten. You spend too much time getting mental pictures of me with guys.”

I think it's neat.”

Well, I don't think of you in bed with anyone...that'd gross me out.”


No, it would with me thinking about any girl hon. All I wish is you are in love when you finally do it.”

Who's to say I haven't done it already?”

Me. You would have told me.”

Yeah, you're right. It's not that I haven't had the opportunity, it's just that I've been scared.”

Well, when the time's right, you will.”

Yeah, I just hope it's before my eightieth birthday party.”

Yeah, that'd be kind of sad.”

No, because at my eightieth birthday party, I'm having a huge cake with the Chippendales jumping out of it.”

Cool, I'll be there pulling their little bow ties off with my teeth.”

No, because I will.”

O.k., you can have the first one.”

It's my party.”

O.k., can I suck the icing off the candles?”

No because you'd only turn them on.”


O.k., then I'll take a rain check. I'd share with you!”

Yeah, I could see you sharing.”

I would! I'd take icing and I'd rub it all over his body real provocative and get him all turned on and then, when he was super turned on, I'd say, “Here hon, he's yours.”

Oh, you're so sweet.”

Yeah I know...unlike someone who won't share with me!”

You know I'd share, I'd just have to stare at them and see which one's the best one and then I'd give him to you.”

Oh thanks dear. If his name's Tyson, I'll have to tell you I've already had that one.”

His name was Tyson, wasn't it!”

Yeah, you forgot?”

Yeah, as soon as I danced with Norman.”


Yeah, he's a dream boat.”

Ok, if you say so, hon.”

Oh, I say so. You've probably dealt with him at the hospital. He's a lab tech.”

Doesn't ring any bells. When you date him, I'll have to have the talk with him.”

No, you'll scare him away.”

Well, if his intentions aren't good, he'll need scaring away.”

True. Just promise me you'll be gentle when you have the talk.”

Oh I will, I'll only break the fingers that don't have a wedding ring put on them. That way the shotgun wedding is still on.”

We laughed and she said, “When did we start that routine of being the Clampett's cousins.”

I don't know. But I think you're better than Ellie May.”

Well, I know you're way better than Jethro! Sheesh, you're like a third cousin because you're so hot.”

No, but in all fairness, Ty thinks so too.”

Well, he's right, but I thought it when we were little.”

No, back then I was geekier than I am now.”

Lance, shush up.”

O.k. Well, I'll get off here, now.”


Honey, I've got an early day and you know how long they seem.”

Well, we still on tomorrow night?”

Yeah, what do you want besides jell o?”

Fruit and cool whip.”

You're no fun.”

I can't help it. It's been our thing for like forever...watching movies and sharing jell o”

Yeah, Thank goodness it wasn't something gross.”

Well, if I let you change it from jell o, it'd get gross. This way we can do it all the way until we're in the nursing home together.”

Oooh, now that's gross. They won't know how to swirl it.”

No, and they'll certainly not put the fruit and cool whip like you do.”

Well, we'll have to teach them.”

No, then everyone will want it.”

O.k., I did tell Ty, Saturday's are our nights.”

You're sweet.”

Yeah, so you'll have to tell Norm so he can go bowling.”

Norm doesn't bowl.”

Every guy I know that's been named Norm bowls or lives with their mother. Ask him.”

No, because if he does, and I tell you, you'll say, “I told you so.”

Well, I'll have to be careful and not break his bowling fingers otherwise we'll have to share the jell o”

She laughed and said, “You're so selfish.”

No, I'm smart. If he found out how much fun it is, he'd want to do it all the time and then our nights would be a neighborhood free for all because he'd go out and tell someone and then that person would tell someone else and before you know it, we may as well have jell o and a movie at the theater and that'd be causing a mess. Someone would throw popcorn and you know I'd throw the jell o”

She laughed and said, “O.k., Norm doesn't get jell o night.”

Well, we'll share jell o night when you have kids. Biff and Bridget will like jell o”

You forgot Bubba, you're always forgetting Bub.”

Bub's a little asshole. Let him go bowling with Norm.”

We laughed and she said, “Lance, I love you, Good night.”

Good night, babe.”

When I got off the phone, I lay down and it wasn't three winks and I was asleep.

The next morning, when I awoke, I did my usual and wasn't three hot moments before I was out the door.

Opening a funeral home is quite an ordeal. In some instances, security and precautionary measures are more.

In my instance, I had installed a concrete vault in which bodies in caskets are placed over night. I wanted to be safe in case a fire ever broke out that the casket and contents were safely secured in the basement in the vault. So, when I opened, I had to go down to get the body and bring it up to the viewing chapel.

Also, the other body stayed in the vault until time for the funeral. It protected against all sorts of things, but primarily, it protected against desecration of the bodies.

When someone dies, it's safe to say there's going to be someone who is going to be upset. A family member could be upset with the person for dying, or just failing to mention to them they were going to die in the first place.

Then, there are the monetary situations where someone isn't in a will. All of these situations can have another person lashing out at a body. It's crazy, I know, but I've seen it all from someone stealing jewelry from fingers to knocking a casket off the stand.

When I decided to get into the business, one thing I decided was not to cut corners anywhere I could. A lot of funeral homes do. When I had mine built, I designed a chapel which everyone thought would be too big. It might be for a normal situation, but I've had viewings where I've had upwards of two thousand people in my chapel. It's a common situation in smaller towns where everyone knows everyone and/or a favorite teacher or a well liked businessman passes.

As I said, when I had mine built, everyone thought it was just understood there would be a line out the front door of the home and down the street around the block, etc...etc... If you've ever done that in a rain storm, or in a cold spell, you now understand and appreciate the benefits of a big chapel.

Also, when a service is held and there are that many attending, I can sit eight hundred people. I've seen situations where smaller local homes simulcast the service so people can hear the service while sitting outside in their cars. To me, that's stupid

Personally, if you asked me what I prefer, I'll tell you there won't be a viewing or a service for my remains. Quite honestly, I think a lot of people's last memories of a person is that person resting in the casket. I'd prefer someone's final memory of me to be of me in life, enjoying my moments with them. That's why there won't be a funeral.

Getting off that subject, today's funerals were not going to be well attended. My two o'clock was someone who wouldn't even be interred. She was a state mental home client who passed.

In these instances, their body is donated to science and used for medical purposes. When the dissection, or surgical practices are done, they send the body to me and then a viewing is held.

Then, the body is cremated and placed in a small lot used for such interments. Even the cremation is used for interns learning that vocation.

This morning's funeral would be small, but I imagined there would be people attending. The situation simply was of someone who outlived everyone else in their family. When the last goes, it's a small funeral only attended by people who might have known the person.

Needless to say, things were done by three pm.

When I was done, and the home was once again shut, I listened to messages and made calls.

Joan had called and asked me to call her. As I was listening to her message, I was wondering if it were business or personal. She answered that towards the end when she told me, it's sort of both business and personal.

I called her phone number she gave and about three rings she answered.



This is Lance, you called and I'm now able to return the call.”

Great! As I said in the message, my call was both business and personal. When we talked last night, you made mention of the dock and walks being iced or snow covered. I spoke with my maintenance people and they now assure me those will be hit strongly with solutions which will keep freezing, or snow cover from happening.”

Great. Thanks.”

No, thank you for bringing it to my attention. If you had fallen, or wrecked your vehicle by sliding, I'd been liable and that just isn't going to happen on my watch...if I can help it.”

Good looking out.”

Yes, and the next one is the personal. Did Ty call you?”

Yes, as it turns out, we ate there last night before the party and he waited on us. He remembered me as we were mutually attracted to each other, but were afraid to make ourselves known.

He called and we had a very nice talk. We're going out tomorrow. He's having me pick him up at your house as a matter of fact.”


He said to make it one pm as you might be having lunch there and he didn't want to disturb you.”

Oh, don't worry about that. How about if you make it about eleven thirty and come for lunch as his date? Then, you can meet the rest of the family and we can meet you.”

Do you mind?”

I wouldn't ask if I minded. I like you and I think everyone else will too. If he likes you the battles over as far as I'm concerned. He's the type of boy who is particular and if he didn't like you after the first impression, he'd politely decline. He didn't, and that impressed me all the more with you.”

O.k., what should I wear?”

Clothes would be good.” She chuckled.

Formal or informal?” I chuckled

What are you and he doing afterwards?”

I don't know. I had thought about driving to the city to have time to talk and then eat dinner at a nice restaurant there. But, I'd also like to be able to be alone and not be concentrating on driving so I could pay more attention to him.”

Well, how about if you come out here for lunch and then go out to our solarium. The view from it out over the river is amazing and it's peaceful in there.

We've got two solarium. One is off the living room and the other is off the bedroom suite wing. What I'll do is reserve you the bedroom suite wing and make it so it's romantic and you two can get to know each other in there without being distracted.”

Wonderful, I've seen your house before and when he told me where it was, I was immediately impressed. He said the views were incredible.”

Yes, the views sold the property and fortunately, a lawyer here in town had the property and then decided to not build here.

My husband is his partner and when he discovered the land might be for sale, he didn't waste two seconds before he made the deal to acquire it.

It's fitting because you and Ty are meeting upon Valentine's day and my husband and I met on Valentines day. In fact, he gave me the land as a Valentines present when he bought it.

The house you see is designed after all the houses we've been in and liked. We threw it together and have loved every moment of living here.”

I imagine. So, I'll be there at eleven thirty. Is there anything I should bring?”

Bring yourself and if you enjoy wine, bring one that will go with red meat. We're having beef roast.”

I don't drink. How about if I bring some sort of salad or something?”

O.k, I'm having potatoes, carrots, and onions, and green peppers in with the roast. The roast going on before we go to church, so it'll be tender when we're back. If you can think of a salad which will go with that, I'll provide the other courses.”

O.k., my mom taught me a wonderful pasta salad which is cool and will go well with beef. Does everyone like mushrooms? Or is anyone allergic to anything?”

The only thing I can think people in this family are allergic to is an empty plate. Make it and if they don't want it, then that makes more for everyone else!.” She giggled.

O.k., don't tell Ty and I'll surprise him.”

O.k., that will be fun.”

When I got off the phone, I went home and began cooking the pasta.

As I cooked the pasta, I got out the Parmesan cheese and the cream of Mushroom soup and mixed it together. I use Parmesan cheese I toast with garlic cloves. It's absolutely wonderful. Then, I sliced black olives and took broccoli and cauliflower cutting off the flowerettes and making them about a quarter inch cubed so they'd easily fit upon a fork. When I was done cubing them, I put them in the water to blanch with the pasta. The blanching cooks off the extra crispness of them. When everything was ready, I mixed in the olive slices and then took everything to a colander to drain. Once it drained, I left it hot and mixed in the cream of Mushroom soup and two cans of sliced mushrooms. Then, I put it all in the refrigerator to cool.

My mom is a cook who never made things the same way twice. When she was in the kitchen, she was like an artist with an empty palette.

This salad came about when she discovered she didn't have enough salad dressing for the usual pasta salad. So, she used the cream of Mushroom soup as the thickener. Through the years, the recipe's varied and cream of Chicken, or cream of Celery will work too depending upon what meat is the main course.

As for my jell o, here's the recipe.

Take jell o mix and make it. Instead of putting it into a bowl, put it into a cake pan lined with wax paper.

Make sure the wax paper is sticking out the ends of the cake pan about three or four inches. Then as it cools, decide what fruit you want to have mixed in. Usually, I like pears or pineapple.

Instead of chopping or cubing the fruit, run it through a blender and then take whipped topping mix and put it into the blending unit so the liquids of the fruit puree is making the whipped topping. When it's all thickened, pop that baby into the freezer until it's froze solid. You'll be surprised how fast it happens.

When it's froze and/or slushy real thick like, take your jell o out. It should make the jell o about an inch thick. Then “ice” the jell o with the whipped topping/fruit mix.

When that's done, pop the jell o into the freezer so it's really good and stiff. When that's done, bring it out and roll the thing up so you have a big cinnamon roll log. Then, ice it with any remaining whipped topping/fruit mix and garnish with maraschino cherries, or coconut.

Then, you've got Heather's and my favorite jell o. We slice the thing like a cake and then eat it by the bowl full.

This recipe can be varied too. Tonight, I was making the coconut creme pie filling Jell-o and using pineapple for the mix and garnishing with banana slices. The coconut in the filling combined with the pineapple and bananas makes it a real tropical flavor. I've made it with Key Lime Pie jell o with the same other ingredients and it is awesome.

When it was all done, I went into the bedroom and showered.

Afterwards, I put on my sweats and got ready for an evening of watching movies.

With perfect timing, just as I was entering the living room, Heather arrived. When she came in, she said, “Don't you look comfy! Did you get our jell o made?”

Yeah, it's done and I've even got something else done I want you to sample.”


Today, when I got done, Joan had called, so I called her back.

She spoke to me about getting maintenance out at the hospital to take better care of the loading dock as I told her about what they don't do out there.

So, she called to tell me she'd talked to them and assured me it wouldn't be an issue anymore. Then, she asked me if Ty called. I told her he had and we'd met at Chili's. She told me if Ty didn't politely decline the date, then he must really like me.”


No, here's the best part. She then asked me where we were meeting as she'd not spoken with him. I told her it would be her house at one pm, as Ty didn't want to disturb her lunch plans. She then invited me to lunch and to meet the family.”


So, Ty doesn't know; it's kind of sneaky because it's being sprung on him, but I've made a pasta salad to take.”

Oh goody! And I get to sample!!!”

Yeah, I need a guinea pig to see what it needs.”

I bet it doesn't need a thing, since you made it.”

Well, I'm worried as this is the first thing I've made for his family.”

Oh, don't worry, but let's go try it, so I can sample!”

We ran to the kitchen like two kids. When we got there, I took out the bowl and she said, “Did you think you were cooking for an Army?”

No, I had to make enough to sample. You know!”

She laughed and then stuck a spoon into the bowl. When she'd tasted it, she said, “Oh, I don't know. Get us some bowls so I can try to figure out what it needs.”

I got some bowls out and smiled at her as I knew what she was up to. If Heather didn't like it, she wouldn't have asked for the bowl. She wanted to eat some and in eating, she was officially 'testing' it.


You toasted the Parmesan with garlic, right?”

Yeah, but that's not really required.”

Well, I can taste it and it's wonderful; It's just a hint and that's perfect.”

Then what's wrong?”

Nothing's wrong, I just think it's a shame for you to take so much and not share completely with me!” She giggled.

Then, I got out two more bowls and got out the jell o

Oh, it's beautiful! You really should market those.”

Yeah, this one's tropical. You know it's been a while since we've had one.”

Yeah, and the tropics in February are perfect.”

We went to the living room and sat down on the sofa together. The way the living room is set up, the plasma is on the wall and the sofa is in front of it about eight feet out. A glass and chrome coffee table is in between so we could put our feet up.

Which movie do you want to watch?”

She smiled, “I don't know. I want something which is a feel good movie and not a action flick.

We searched through the views and decided upon Legally Blonde. Both of us had seen it so much we could say the dialog verbatim with the characters, but it was one of our favs.

As we watched, we ate our jell o When the movie was over, she said, “O.k., Pizza time, what do you want?”

You know, the usual.”

Lance, for the past sixteen years, you've eaten the same exact pizza. Don't you think you could try something different?”

No, did they break my pizza? NO. So if it's not broke, don't fix it. It's served me well all these years.”

O.k., but this time, I'm trying the Philly Steak.”


Ewww to you too.”

Well, whatever makes your boat float, but I'll be thankful I'm not around you tomorrow because you know you're not going to be able to stay in the same room with yourself.”

We laughed and she said, “Maybe it's good you don't try something new, since you're meeting his family tomorrow. What are you doing after lunch?”

We're going to the solarium at his aunt's house and sit in there and enjoy the view while we talk and get to know each other.”

Where's Joan live?”

I thought you knew!”

No, I only know her at work.”

You know that house up on the hill on Rt 9 that I love?”


That's hers.”

Oh man, they've got to be like rich.”

Well she said her husband was partnered with a lawyer, so is he a lawyer?”

No, he's something else. It's to do with estate planning and trusts.”

Oh, well, I've probably met him.”

I imagine, Jackson's his name.”


Yeah. You know him?”

The man's like fucking gorgeous for an older dude.”

Well, that's Joan's husband, so don't drool too hard.”

She said they met at Valentines and thinks it's sweet Ty and I did too.”

Well, Mark's a real sweetheart. Did you find out who Ty's parent's were?”

Ty said his dad's a plumber and they live outside of town.”

What's his mom do?”

I don't know. He didn't mention.”

I bet he didn't mention because you'd probably already said something about not drinking.”

Yeah, why?”

If it's who I think it is, she's the MS distributor.”

What's ?”

Meister Stein.”


Yeah, she's like one of the only ones that's a woman.”

Oh man and I put my foot in it when I told him my thoughts about drinking.”

Well, if you're going to be together, he needs to know your stance on it.”

Well, it makes no sense for me to invite trouble. I don't mind it if other people do it, but for me, it's not an option.”

Well, just let him know, politely.”

What do I do if she's there tomorrow?”

Be nice and do what you normally do.”

Well, Joan asked me if I wanted to bring wine and I told her I didn't drink. So, I imagine she'll support me on it.”

Yeah, I don't think Joan drinks, so you and she are in the same boat.”

Good, at least I won't feel lonesome.”

Does Ty drink?”

He didn't say.”

Well, can you deal with it if he does?”

I don't mind it if he does, as long as it's not to excess and I'm the designated driver. But, before we make out, then I'll tell him it won't happen. I prefer neither of us be under the influence.”

Wise choice.”

And, before he kisses me, he has to brush.”

I don't blame you there.”

Well, that's something I'll be worried about.”

Don't be. I'm sure it's not going to be a problem.”

Well, they 've got money because Joan and her husband and Ty's parents are in the new hotel going up out by the hospital.”


Yeah, didn't you know?”

No, no one knows much except it's going up across the street.”

Yeah, Ty's going to be the manager of it.”


Yeah, that's what he's going to school to be.”


We spoke about me referring clients to his hotel if he gives them discounts.”

That's good, none of the others give you discounts, do they?”

No, not so much as a Christmas card from them.”

Then switch.”

I plan on it.”

You might tell him a few little pointers like the Christmas card thing and about remembering people's birthdays.”

Yeah, and not sending bills to people's houses if they've been there with someone besides their spouse.”

Oh man! That'd be funny.”

No, I heard of a guy that sued a florist over it.”

Wow, what a dumb ass. Talk about giving yourself a pat on the back for screwing around! If I was his wife, I'd own everything he had.”

I think she does and that's why he sued. Still, it's a stupid reason to sue. My advice, if I were a judge, would be to tell him not to screw around and he won't get caught.”

Yeah, and not to send flowers to the one he screwed if he didn't send them to his wife.”

That's a definite.”

We laughed and she said, “Can you imagine if he managed the hotel and each week, a guy brings in a different lady?”

Yeah, it'd be kind of funny.”

Well, I love my job, but his is going to rock as it's going to be so much fun.”

Yeah, but it could be a real headache.”

No, what he has to do is delegate authority and tell his managing staff to do their jobs. The only reason he should be called at night is if something really bad happened.”

Yeah, but I could see him being married to his job.”

Well, then talk with him about it and see if that's what he's intending. If he is, then decide if that's what you want.”

I don't. I know my job has pitfalls, but at least I don't have to work every night and we morticians have our arrangement.”

[The way it is, is a bunch of us morticians in town all got together and decided to form a consortium where we are on call one night out of four...each taking different nights. The deal is no one pulls business from anyone else and our home is the default one that night.]

Well, you need to talk these things through and see if that's what you want. At least if you talk about them, you know what the problems are, before they occur.”

Yeah, I've got a lot to think about. I ought to write a list, but imagine if I said, “I've got a few questions” and then pulled out a huge scroll and it fell out and across the yard!”

We giggled and then she said, “Yeah, or if you had a questionnaire on the computer like some of those that are page after page after page, so it's like never ending.”

That'd be terrible. I imagine some people are like that, but that'd be really anal.”


We sat there and continued to talk as we waited on the pizzas to be delivered. When they got there, I went and got them from the delivery guy.

Usually, we have a different delivery guy. Right in front of him, I opened the box and stuck my finger in it. It was too hot, and that made me happy...it meant it didn't ride all over town. I gave him a tip likewise.

[Here's a tip about a tip. If you give a pizza guy a tip, make sure it's based upon the food. He didn't do anything but deliver it. If the food's cold, then tell him and stiff him, otherwise, give a tip. He'll remember the next time you gave him a tip and get it there pronto.]

When I sat back down, I gave her the box which held hers. “Hon, that thing smells terrible.”

It does, I hope it tastes better than it smells.”

She tasted it and said, “It's o.k., but next time remind me not to get it.”

As usual, mine tastes great.”

You're terrible. I knew you'd rub it in.”

Well, you should decide what you want and stick with it instead of trying all the new things.”

No, because then how would I know there something out there that's not better?”

Well, it doesn't matter to me if there's something out there that's better, I'm satisfied with what I get each and every time.”

We continued to verbally spar as we had since we were six. Friendship and familiarity both told us neither was serious.

When she was about done eating, she said, “What are you wearing tomorrow?”

Joan said informal, so I'll wear Navy Dockers and that blue pullover you gave me for Christmas.”

That'll be beautiful. Those pants are what caused me to get you that shirt.”

I like the combination. It's a shame it can't be informal at work, but my suits are comfortable.”

Your suits are gorgeous.”

Well, they cost enough. That reminds me, I've got to get a fitting done for two new suits.”


I get two suits a year. The old ones will get phased out as time passes, but I want that to be my policy. I don't think I'll need more than two, but I do want to get another Black one and a darker gray than the one I have.

Frederique' suggested it when I got the last one, but I thought I knew better. He apparently knows more.”

That's a good policy, where do you get them?”

The first place I used to get them downtown closed, but the guy who worked there moved to a tuxedo shop in Quincy. He was kind enough to send me a card, so I'll go there.”

Can I make a suggestion?”

Yeah, what?”

Don't get any cuffs on the pants. Nothing dates a pair of pants more than that. Also, you know narrower lapels work best for you, and don't get real shiny satin. Go with grey instead of red. Little things like red satin say the suit came off the rack. White satin says you bought it from a tuxedo shop that threw a sale.”

Ok, I asked for maroon, the last suits I had made.”

Maroon is good, but go with grey.”

O.k., thanks, dear.”

No problem. If you want, you should ask Ty to go for a fitting with you. He'll give you his honest opinion of what he likes.”

That'd be nice, but wouldn't that be presumptuous?”

No, mix it in with other things you were doing up in Quincy. I think Ty's not wanting to be wined and dined. I think he wants to know what life's going to be like, with you. If you do that, then he'll know.”

That's cool, but what if we're all wrong and he wants formal dates?”

Then after tomorrow, I'd say you've struck out. Being invited to a family dinner says informality, big time.”

Do you think I shouldn't have accepted?”

No, go with the flow.”

O.k., but now I'm worried.”

Touch'e, he's probably sweating bullets over his ankles.”

We chuckled and stayed up watching two more movies. When she left, she said, “Lance, I think Ty's your guy. Something just tells me he's the one.”

Well, I hope. I can't wait to meet Norm.”

As soon as we get to that stage, you're the first he'll meet. I think you'll be tougher on him than my dad.”

Yeah, remember your dad thinking we were dating?”

Don't remind me. That was so embarrassing.”

It was funny. The joke I played on him wasn't though...but it taught him a lesson.”

It was hilarious. My mom had told him he was wrong, but he insisted.

It took him three months to get the courage to bring up the subject with you and then you turned it on him and asked him what brand of rubbers he thought you should use.

My mom took off to the kitchen she was laughing so hard. The look on his face was awesome. It was purple and pale at the same time.”

That's because he nearly had a heart attack. It nearly got me thrown out of your house!”

Yeah, but now when I bring you up to him, he laughs his ass off and asks if you ever found out what brand you preferred.”

Tell him they're all too small.”


Are you blond child? No, but say something like that and then hold up a Pringles can, he'll realize I'm back to play the joke on him.”

My mom would give it away.”

Your mom's a sweetheart. She had me figured out before anyone. She told me and warned me that it would break your heart.”

Well, I had this mental picture of us in front of the church getting married.”

Well, I'll be there, but I'll be the one behind Norm with a sawed off shotgun and a rusty pair of pliers.”

Don't forget to black out those gorgeous teeth of yours.”

Ok, and I'll have them paint on rotten parts on others. Damn, I don't have any bib overalls.”

That's o.k., you be the preacher and stand up there with the Bible in front of your face. Then when you turn around, and lower it just smile and Norm will know...”

That's terrible, but it's a good psyche out. Maybe we'll do that for the practice and he'll wonder.”

No, practice is going to be held at the funeral home. Then you tell him if he doesn't make an honest woman out of me, it's just a matter of time.”

Oooh, that's wicked...should I walk over and measure his length to see what casket he'd fit?”

Yeah, that'd be good. My mom would die laughing though.”

Your dad would too. He's been the butt of enough of my jokes he'd finally get to laugh at one.”

That'd be cool. He already knows you're going to be the one that meets my boyfriends before him. He thinks if they can pass you, then I'll get a good one.”

Well, he'll be good if he can shuck and jive past me.”

We continued to talk and when she left, she wished me well.

That night, I went to bed and hardly slept, with anxiety. About one am, the phone rang. Hello?”

This is the Sheriff's office, we have an accident which the family requested you.”

O.k., I'll be there.”

How long should I tell them?”

Tell them driving time.”

O.k., it's at Rt 9 just as you leave town just as you crest the hill.”

A sudden sick feeling punched me in the stomach.


Note From RettaMichaels,

Darryl the Radio Rancher has been most gracious in editing this story for me. I'm most thankful and appreciative.

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From My Keyboard To Your Heart,



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