Second Date By Kevin W. Perizzolo
I have known love. And I have been cherished. But never at the same time; nor by the same person.
He checked the board again. He looked at his watch and then checked the big clock on the post. The flight was on time, same as it had been ten minutes ago. Twenty minutes ago. And thirty minutes ago when he had arrived at the airport. He paced up and down the aisle; looked at his watch again, glanced at the board, and glanced at the clock one more time. The plane was not due to land for another thirty minutes.
The security guard in the control room noticed him first. A man pacing, checking his watch over and over again. Could be suspicious. He alerted the concourse TSA agents, who moved into position to watch. When the man checked his watch and the board twice more in less than five minutes, they intercepted him. "Excuse me sir," the woman asked quietly. "Is everything all right?"
"Huh," he responded abstractly.
"Sir, you seem a bit nervous. You keep checking your watch and the board. I'm asking you again, is everything all right?" She took a slightly defensive stance, right hand ready to grab her gun if need be.
"I don't understand your question," he responded, looking up at the clock again and glancing at the board.
"Could you please come with me," she stated firmly.
"But I might miss it," he said.
"This is not a request, sir. Come with me." She took his elbow and firmly lead him away from the area.
"You don't understand," he protested.
"You're absolutely right, I don't. So, we're going to see if you can make me understand."
"Can I explain it here? Without having to go into a room and have a bunch of other agents around looking at me like I'm some sort of freak? Please?" He looked into her face. "Please," he whispered.
Maybe it was the please. Maybe it was the whisper. Perhaps the tone of voice as well. It resonated inside of her: a lack of danger, an honesty she had not expected, jaded as she was with the sort of job she held. Trust no one. Assume the worst.
She let go of his arm when they were out of the main aisle and standing by a wall. "You have five minutes," she said in her sharp commanding voice.
# # #
"Who you asking to the prom?" the boy inquired. He was loading a bong with pot, recently purchased.
The other boy, Mark, whose basement they were in, looked up from red eyes and smiled. "Carol."
"She won't go out with you. She only likes brainy guys, not stoners and jocks," Mark's friend replied while firing up the bong. He took a long hit and set the glass on the table. Saturday Night Live was playing on the small color television on the stand. First season, the boys had found it by accident while flipping channels one boring night. They learned it was even funnier when you were high.
"Yes she will. She already said yes," Mark said. He laughed at something on the television.
Mark's twin brother Andy came around the corner of the room from the staircase. "Parents are home." He sniffed. "Geez, Mark, you know the rules! Open the window first!" He walked to the nearest window and pulled the handle down. The glass tilted and the smoke billowed outside.
"Andy, shut up and take a hit," Mark said lazily, handing his brother the bong.
"Just be careful is all," Andy replied, reaching for the lighter. "Mom and Dad are nice enough to let us do this at home, in the basement, without hassle, and we just gotta make sure the place doesn't smell like marijuana."
Mark burst out laughing. "God, Andy. Stop being so uptight, will ya?" He reached over and lit an incense cone. Soon the smell of lilac filled the air.
"Mark asked Carol to the prom," the other boy suddenly interjected.
"You've gotta be kidding! And how did you take her rejection?" Andy said to Mark, putting the bong on the table and slapping his brother's shoulder.
"She said yes," Mark replied flatly. Without taking his eyes off the TV set, he reached up and brushed his brother's hand off his shoulder. "Talk about a buzzkill, Andy. Thanks for your support and encouragement." He stood up and walked into his room and shut the door.
Andy looked at their friend and shrugged his shoulders. He giggled at the current skit on SNL and plopped down facing the television.
Mark sat down on his bed and buried his face in his hands. He and Andy had never been classic twin brothers. They could not read each other's minds. They never finished each other's sentences. They fought constantly as children and continued into their teens. Their mother said they fought in the womb and probably argued about who was going to come out first. The only thing they did have in common was swimming and water polo. It was their passion. Playing together on a team, they had been able to finally connect with each other. But it only lasted while they were in the pool.
"She said yes!" he suddenly yelled at the closed door. "You stupid moron!"
# # #
The next day at school, Mark sat at a long table near a window. He faced the window so that he would not have to see or talk to anyone else in the lunchroom. He still wondered why Carol had indeed said yes. Mulling it over, he knew his brother and friend had been right in their own way. She did not go for stoners or jocks or a combination of both. Heck, he wasn't even going to get a swimming scholarship for college. Worse, he didn't know what he was going to study in college in the first place.
"Hey big brother," Andy said putting his tray down on the table.
"Shut up," Mark said looking out the window. "You're just pissed because I was born first. You always have been. I asked someone to the prom before you did. It's just more of the same shit."
"Mark, I don't care if you asked Carol or not. I don't care if you asked her before I asked someone else. I'm glad you did, and I'm glad she said yes. Christ, Mark, get off the high horse for once and loosen up. Very few people know you because you don't let anyone near you. You've kept me at arm's length since the day we were zygotes. And I know you better than anyone."
"I said shut up, Andy," Mark replied, dropping his fork to the plate.
"You're just afraid Mark. Don't know where to go from this point. She said 'yes' but now you're scared shitless because you don't know what to do next. I have a clue for you. Be yourself. You're a nice person in the long run." Andy stood up, grabbed his tray, and walked away.
"Hi Mark," came a happy voice off to his right and slightly behind him.
"I said leave me alone, and I meant leave me alone," Mark said grabbing the side of his tray. Then he realized it was a female voice, and that voice belonged to Carol. He turned slowly and looked up at her fiery red hair, bright green eyes, and big toothy grin. He smiled in return. Shyly and afraid of what to say next.
"Care to join me?" she said. Then she answered herself: "Why yes Mark, I would love to join you for a chat and some lunch. Thank you so much for asking." She plopped down next to him.
"Sorry. I just had a row with my brother," he replied. "Wasn't expecting you."
"Did you finish that book I loaned you?" Carol asked.
"Yes, I forgot to bring it today though. I really liked the part where..." and the conversation began from that point.
They got lost for the rest of the lunch period. Talking, laughing, and looking at one another. Mark felt better about himself when he was with Carol. Carol felt good about the world when she was with Mark. For the two of them life just seemed better with the other one in it. It had been that way for some weeks when they had really spoken for the first time, when Carol was studying in the library and had the only other empty seat at a table. He helped her with math, and she helped him with literature.
They began meeting daily in the library during study hall, to talk, to study, and to help one another. Finally after a few weeks he asked her to the prom. She breathed a sigh of relief and said yes. He just breathed.
# # #
"Okay, let me get this straight. You took this girl, Carol, to the senior prom thirty-two years ago and now you're waiting for her to get off a plane so you can have what? A second date?" the TSA agent asked somewhat skeptically. They had sat down at the end of one of the long rows of seats you find in airport waiting areas. Slightly uncomfortable, but cushioned enough to allow you to sit for a few hours.
"Exactly!" Mark said, a tad bit exuberant.
"May I ask what took you so long? And why are you so nervous?"
"You got five more minutes?"
"I've got all day if I have to."
# # #
Mark and his brother rented a limo for the evening. They picked Carol up first. Standing with her in her parents' living room, having the obligatory photos taken, made Mark more than a little nervous. Carol noticed and entwined her left hand into his right for the last few pictures.
Then back to his house for the same set of photographs. Obligatory times two, twins on senior prom. Luckily they had chosen two different tuxedos. Their mother had given up on dressing them the same when they were five.
Dinner was a sit-down catered affair in the main dining room of a local hotel. The dance was in the grand ballroom of the same hotel.
"Pretty cool for a first date, huh?" Mark asked after the first dances were over.
"Yes, pretty cool," Carol replied with a soft laugh. She didn't care. Being with Mark was the nicest part of the evening.
Midnight came too soon for them both. Andy was pushing Mark to get ready to leave because the limo was rented only till one o'clock. Mark looked at Carol and said "After hours party at a local eighteen disco. If you want to go?"
"Of course," Carol had hoped the night could go on. "Can we still get tickets?"
"Already bought them," Mark grinned and pulled them out of his breast pocket with a flick of his wrist. He had practiced the move for fifteen minutes before leaving the house.
Carol laughed and took his arm and led him out of the ballroom.
The limo dropped them off at the disco, and the driver wished them a pleasant evening. Andy pulled Mark aside and told him that he had made arrangements for a ride when the disco closed at four o'clock.
"Andy, what if I don't want a ride?" Mark asked.
"Oh, you think you're gonna get lucky? Susan and I decided not to do it tonight," Andy whispered.
Mark chuckled. "Thanks for sharing. It was an image I could have lived forever without."
"Besides, the hotel next door is already fully booked, hah!" Andy slapped his brother on the back and walked away. Mark stood, dumbfounded, then grinned and started laughing at all the implications of his brother's statement.
"What is it?" Carol asked coming up behind Mark. "Is Andy driving you nuts again?"
"No, I think for once we're on the same wavelength," Mark turned and led Carol to the dance floor.
Four o'clock arrived, and they waited outside for their friend to bring a car around. "Tyler will drive the girls home first. If that's okay with you," Andy said as the four stood in line.
"Actually, Andy, could Tyler drop Mark and me off at the lake near your house?" Carol asked. "I want to watch the sunrise on the water." Mark turned and looked at Carol with raised eyebrows.
"Andy, you can tell the parents we'll be home right after sunrise, and I can drive Carol home then," Mark hurriedly added.
Andy, caught off guard, nodded.
"Good, it's settled," Carol finished.
Sitting on a short boat dock, the two watched the sun rise. The water lit up like glass, and Mark leaned over and kissed Carol for the first time that evening.
The agent looked annoyed. "Well?"
"Our parents were furious. Carol was sent to the East Coast two days after graduation. Her folks wouldn't tell me where she was. They actually thought we had sex! My parents sent me to the West Coast and wouldn't tell Carol where I was. It took me a long time to forgive my folks for that. I wasted so much of life trying to find someone like Carol. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids and my grandkids. I just wish they had had Carol as their mother." Mark leaned back against the chair.
"Oh my," was all the agent said.
# # #
The paper lay next to him on his desk. He had signed it that afternoon and sent a copy to his lawyer. The lawyer would send a copy to his now ex-wife. She had finally asked for the divorce, stating that she could no longer stay married to a man whom she knew didn't love her; and probably never had.
He understood her frustration. He wanted to be kind, and he had wanted it to work out in the best way for all. The children were all off to college, beginning to lead their own lives. The three knew there had been tension between their parents for years. Their parents acted okay with each other, but they all noticed that they rarely touched or held hands, rarely kissed or nuzzled one another.
Mostly though, the children noticed that their father seemed empty inside. As if he was waiting for someone to give his life to. They knew it wasn't their mother. And they knew their mother noticed it as well. She seemed sad most of the time.
The library had been packed for a few weeks. The house was up for sale, and Mark had found a small condo he could purchase near his job. He looked out the window and thought of a night by a lake.
# # #
Carol hung up the phone slowly. Her hand trembled slightly. The feminine voice on the other side of the line had said, "Please tell Scott I won't be able to make it tonight." She glanced out the window and chuckled. He did it first, she thought.
Thoughts of infidelity had run through her mind for years. Yet there was no one she could think of even having an affair with. She had her career and her kids to raise. There really was no time. She had married Scott after college. It was a short engagement. They were friends well enough; she thought it would be enough. For the most part it was. At least she could laugh with Scott and have a good time. The kids were a great asset to their lives and on the surface; they seemed like the perfect couple. Yet, it was obvious to them both; they were not in love with each other.
The phone rang again and startled her. She picked it up on the third ring. "Hello."
"Honey, it's Scott, I'm working late again tonight, so don't wait up for me," the masculine voice said quickly.
"Oh, I won't. And just to let you know, she isn't coming tonight."
"What the...." he began as she put the phone down in the cradle.
She stood up quickly, walked to a hall closet, and pulled out two suitcases. She packed swiftly. Knowing exactly what must be done. She put the suitcases in the car and drove to the bank first. She withdrew half of all their money, and drove to her sister's home an hour south.
Scott didn't contest the divorce. The kids, all away at college, wondered what had happened when they received the phone calls. The parents did not explain very much. The house was sold, the assets divided, and they both moved on with their lives.
# # #
Now the TSA agent was distinctly irritated. "Oh, you're killing me here, buddy. I should take you in just for the annoyance factor alone. Finish the story!"
Mark leaned away from her. "Uh, well...."
# # #
Mark logged on to the website. The message box had a single message for him. He clicked on it and read: If you are the same Mark Fields that went to Chicago Central and took Carol Watts to the senior prom, please reply to this message. SN says you are.
Mark did not like SN, but it was an easy way for him to stay in touch with his children and keep up with his new grandkids. He leaned back and smiled broadly. The message was only about an hour old. Perhaps the sender was still online.
Yes, he typed rapidly, I am the Mark who took Carol to the senior prom. Who is this?
The invite to join someone's network happened in a matter of seconds. He clicked on the invite. Carol Watts wants to be your friend. Do you know Carol? He hit 'accept' immediately.
Another message came through. Can you video chat?
Yes, he replied.
Then do it.
The sun started peeking through the window shades when they finished their first conversation in over three decades.
# # #
"And?" the TSA agent asked.
"And she's about to get off the plane," Mark finished.
"Oh, I've got to see this," she replied. "And don't you even think of looking at the board or your watch. The plane's landed, and they're about to open the doors."
They both stood up as the doors opened. Mark quickly ran his fingers through his hair.
"You look fine. Oh my, this is the most exciting thing that's happened to me in a long while," the agent said, grasping Mark's arm.
Mark grinned at her. "Um, it's happening to me. You're just along for the ride," he laughed.
"Me. You. I don't care. I'm on pins right now." Mark could feel her excitement, and it added to his own trepidation.
Businessmen in suits got off first, hurrying to phones or finally turning their cell phones back on and busily doing business suit sorts of things. A little girl ran up to an older woman screaming "Grandma!" Mark and the agent looked at all the faces coming off the plane. None seemed familiar to Mark.
Then, the agent squeezed his arm and pointed. Mark glanced to his left. A slender woman with a short bob hairstyle, fire red with a few touches of gray, stood looking at Mark and the TSA agent. An odd quirk of a smile crossed her face and she nodded in Mark's direction. Mark smiled back and gently released himself from the grip of the agent, who stood shaking with excitement.
"You made it," he said quietly.
"So did you," she replied. She handed him her luggage ticket, and they started walking down the concourse.
"Oh no you don't!" the agent said, running up to them. "I'm taking a picture of this!" She pulled out her phone and snapped a few photos. "Give me your email address, Mark. I'll send them to you." Mark handed her his card, and the two walked off.
# # #
They checked into their hotel and decided to go for a walk before dinner. The neighborhood was old but full of well-kept houses. A few blocks from a main street that seemed busy. A few skyscrapers were nearby as well. They walked slowly, hand in hand, talking of nothing in particular. An elderly woman with a cane passed them; she had a parrot on her shoulder. The parrot saw them and started bobbing up and down and then sideways. They both laughed. The elderly woman nodded in their direction as she passed.
They picked the restaurant at random as they walked down the busy street. It seemed quiet, elegant, and romantic. They got a small table in a corner and ordered a bottle of wine. The waiter asked if it was a special occasion.
"Yes," Carol replied. "We're going on our second date."
"In thirty-two years," Mark added.
Copyright 2012, Kevin W. Perizzolo
About the Author
With some 25 years in the publishing industry, Kevin W. Perizzolo took a decade- long hiatus and moved from the Rocky Mountains to an island off the coast of Texas. He figured it was safe as Galveston Island was not part of Texas, just near it. He now resides in Dallas, having decided a big city is more to his liking. He is pursuing his writing and publishing once again and thanks Rational Magic for publishing his work.
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