MAY and DECEMBER
By: J.T. Evergreen
The poetry in writing is the illusion it creates.
(© 2018 by the author)
The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's
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I’m December, and I was about to meet May … against my better judgment, of course. Falling in love was definitely not on my agenda. There had been too many frogs, too many nightmares, and the accumulation of far too many years in my life to even consider this possibility again. I mean, how many times do you have to be hit over the head before you finally wake up to the fact that it ain’t gonna happen ever again – at least not to me it wasn’t.
Thankfully, my best friend, Rivka, finally gave up trying to fix me up. She told me I was impossible, and turned her match-making endeavors to others who were more eager than I. But I will have to admit, she had a pretty good track record of matching folks. It didn’t matter to her if you were straight, gay, bi – whatever. It was love that mattered and it had to be fulfilled as far as she was concerned – at all costs. She was quite deft at rounding up folks within the canyons of New York City to fit whoever she was matching for – whether they liked it or not.
I said she finally gave up on me, but that’s not entirely true. She may have said it, but I could tell she was up to something. She was just too blasé about dismissing me as a lost cause. Even though she was Jewish, she lacked the subtleties of a professional matchmaker.
So, when she showed up in the commons of our building with this handsome thirtyish man in tow and headed in my direction … I panicked.
“Rivka. Hi … how are you?
“I’ve been looking for you.”
“And now … you’ve found me.” I tried to smile.
“Where are you going?”
“I have an appointment.”
“Doug. At this hour?
‘Yeah, well … he’s a psychiatrist and makes an exception for me.”
“A psychiatrist? Since when? Are you joshing me?”
“I wouldn’t think of doing such a thing; and if I don’t leave right now, I’ll be late.”
“Well, at least say hi to Stanley.
“He’s a detective with the NYPD Homicide Division.”
“Is that so?”
“I told him you’re a writer. I thought the two of you might have something in common. You know … like solving crimes.”
There it was. Out in the open for God and everyone to see. She hadn’t, as I had hoped, given up after all. “No, Rivka. You’re mistaken. No offense, Stanley; I write love stories. Nothing to solve – no criminal activity.”
“You are such a buzz-kill, Doug. I don’t know why I bother with you.”
“Neither do I, Rivka, but at the moment, I’m going to be late. Nice meeting you, Stanley. Toodle.”
As I moved away, I overheard Stanley. “Forget it, Rivka. He’s too old.”
Too old! Mr. Spring Chicken telling her I was too old – boy if that didn’t cut to the quick. But I was glad to hear it. At least I wouldn’t have to dodge him should we run into each other. I could continue to be my usual down-to-earth charming self. Too old! What the hell was Rivka thinking?
I decided she and I were going to have a conversation she would not appreciate the next time we met – whether she wanted to or not. Too old, indeed. What annoyed me most was the fact that I even cared. Now that I think about it, I wonder if he intentionally said it loud enough to make sure I heard him. But, he was kind of cute in a burly, unkempt sort of way. That is if you were interested in a May/December relationship which I wasn’t. At least that’s what I kept telling myself.
Fast forward a few weeks – a visit with my publisher and the rejection of my latest novel put me in a suicidal state of mind. All I could think of was comfort food, and guess what? I ran into Detective you’re-too-fucking-old Stanley at Trader Joe’s on 14th Street near Union Square Park.
I was at the fruit counter contemplating a bunch of bananas I was seriously considering for a homemade banana split with three large scoops of tutti frutti ice cream, slathered in chocolate syrup and topped with sprinkles when I got the feeling someone was staring at me. So, naturally, I looked up and there he was, looking at me over a fist full of kumquats he was holding under his nose. I did an involuntary double-take at the way he was staring which reminded me of Eddie Cantor singing, “Ma, he’s making eyes at me.” Of course, he wasn’t really makin’ eyes at me. I doubt he knew how – it’s just one of my flights of fancy I indulge in now and again.
I was going to ignore him in a nonchalant way but decided I better acknowledge him or I would hear from Rivka on how rude I was. So, I forced a smile and saluted him with a cluster of three bananas, then made a beeline for the checkout counter only to get stuck in line because some asshole ahead of me couldn’t get his credit card to work and evidently had no cash. To make matters worse, I could see Detective Stanley move smoothly through another checkout line.
I forgot about him as the agony of waiting in line turned into a murderous rage, but I had to laugh when the customer behind Mr. Clueless finally ended the stall by paying for the single banana the idiot was trying to buy. Everyone cheered as the line moved forward and the indignant punk crept out of the store – with his banana. New Yorkers – you gotta love ‘em. They ignore each other when out and about but come together at the slightest provocation.
As I gathered my bag of groceries in my arms, I looked around and gave a sigh of relief – Stanley was nowhere in sight. He was gone and almost forgotten … until I exited the store.
“Need a lift?”
It was him – again. “Detective Stanley. Hi.” Suddenly I realized how much taller he was than my 5-8 stature. Fortunately, my sense of humor is never far afield so, I looked up. “Are you suggesting I’m too short?”
“Oh, forget it. No, I don’t need lifts, but thanks.” I smiled and headed for the curb.
“Hey, you can’t do that.”
I turned. “Do what?”
“Jaywalk. It’s against the law.”
He had to be kidding. “Are you going to arrest me?”
“And take me to jail?”
“If you resist.”
“Will I get a cavity search?”
I shook my head in disbelief, smiled, and walked away – toward the corner. The poor guy was clueless and had no sense of humor to boot. What a shame. I may be short but at least I could see the funny side of life in the big city. But, I suppose he was good at whatever he did as a detective. Little did I suspect I was about to find out.
A week later, I got mugged and wound up in the hospital with two broken fingers and bruises which made me look like the rear end of a baboon.
“Why didn’t you just give him what he wanted instead of putting up a fight?”
“Rivka, I had visions of canceling all my credit cards. It was too much to bear.”
“I wish I had been there. I know kung fu and would have given him what-for.”
I laughed in spite of the pain, “No, you don’t.”
“Well, I know how to kick some jerk in the crotch when he gets out of line.”
“Your talents cease to amaze me, Rivka. Where did you learn how to do that?”
“My daddy enrolled me in a self-defense class when I was twelve.”
“How far-sighted of him.”
“This guy certainly would not have gotten everything you were carrying and made you look like road kill.”
“Rivka, take it easy. I don’t look that bad.”
“Yes, you do. I’m sorry, Duggie. I just hate seeing you looking like this. You obviously can’t take care of yourself, and you need a protector.”
“Stop right there. I know what you’re about to suggest.”
“Duggie, Stanley would be perfect for you.”
I glared at her and said nothing.
“When are you getting out of this antiseptic sewer?”
“Soon, I hope. Oh, goodie … here comes Nurse Ratched … ask her.”
“I heard that.” She tried to smile “He’s not being discharged, he’s being expelled. Do you know this person?”
“Yes, I do, unfortunately.”
“My sympathies, my dear.”
“…unfortunately? What the hell is that’s supposed to mean?”
“Doug, what have you been up to?”
“I hate this place ... the food sucks. Oh, and look … here comes Doctor Death, and he’s smiling.”
“Good morning, Douglas. How’s our little patient this morning?”
“Very funny. When can I leave?”
“Today, my friend.” He smiled at Rivka. “Are you his caregiver?”
“No, she’s not my caregiver.”
“Thank you, Doctor. I’ll see to it he gets home safely.”
“Very good. I’ll phone the results of your blood test. We want to make sure the fellow who beat you up didn’t have a disease, you don’t want, when he bit you. I’ll leave the discharge papers at the nurse’s station. Goodbye for now.”
“He bit you?”
“Twice, the little weasel. Did you see the way the devil just looked at you?”
“Yeah … he’s kind of cute.”
“Trust me, Rivka. He has the touch of a love-starved cobra.”
“Uuuh, that sounds kind of kinky.”
“Will you please put a lid on your hormones and help me get dressed. Thanks for bringing a clean shirt.”
As she helped settle me in my apartment, her phone rang.
“WHAT? That’s wonderful. He’ll be so pleased. Yes, yes, see you soon.” She disconnected and turned to me. “Doug.” She grinned.
“They got him.”
“He’s being interrogated as I speak, and your wallet, and watch have been recovered. Credit cards and cash still in the wallet.”
“Jesus, I can hardly believe it. Glad I didn’t cancel those cards.”
“Well, you can check it out to make sure it’s all there. You’ll have them in your hand within the hour.”
“Detective Jones is bringing them over.”
“Stanley. You know. The guy I…”
“Yes, I know. How kind of him.”
“Doug, what is it with you?
“I would prefer not to see him.”
“Why not? Oh, wait a minute. I get it.”
“No, you don’t get it.”
“I do, I do. I just knew this would work. Now admit it … you find him interesting.”
“Rivka. For God’s sake, I’m thirty years his senior … old enough to be his father, and I’m nine inches shorter than he is.”
“With or without lifts?”
I gave her one of my dirtiest looks.
“Duggie, those are just numbers.”
“Does he know I’m a Republican?”
‘What? You’re not a Republican.”
“You are such a liar. He’s going to be here in a little bit … with your stuff. Talk to him. Thank him. You’re not making a lifelong commitment.”
“He said I was too old … remember?”
“When did he say that?”
“The evening you dragged him into the commons.”
“Did he really? I don’t remember that.”
“Yes, you do. He said it loud enough. Everyone heard it. And he’s right. I am too old for him. Though I prefer to say he’s too young for me.”
“There he is. Now behave yourself for at least five minutes. Then I’ll get him out of here.”
“Okay. Five minutes but not a second longer.”
“Stanley. Come on in. I’ve just been telling Doug...”
He smiled so beguilingly, my heart skipped a beat. Ma, he’s making eyes at me – again.
“I need you to identify this mug shot, and check your belongings to make sure it’s all here. Where can I put this?”
Rivka pinched his sleeve and pulled him gently, “The kitchen table. This way. I’ll make coffee.”
“Rivka?” I glared bug-eyed at her.
“That’s all right, Duggie, I’m happy to help. Come along.”
She was working it for all it was worth and there wasn’t much I could do about it. I followed obediently.
An hour later, Detective Jones leaned back in his chair, “Well, that about does it. Just sign at the bottom and I’ll take care of the rest. Are you sure you don’t want to press assault charges?”
“Yeah. He’s just a kid, and I hit him first. He only hit back in self-defense. I wouldn’t have done that if I had realized how strong he was.”
“I found out he’s an amateur boxer.”
I laughed. “I can sure pick ‘em. Are you going to see him again?”
“Yes, I’m going to book him for…”
“Wait a minute. Does he have a record?”
“No, as a matter of fact he doesn’t.”
“I’m not pressing charges.”
“Not even for robbery?”
“No. I got my stuff back. I don’t believe he’s a thief … just down on his luck. I don’t want to be responsible for adding to it. Here, give him this when you see him and then let him go.”
“A hundred bucks?” Stanley looked up with the most bewildered expression. “Are you sure?”
“Yeah, I’m sure. He probably needs it more than I do. Will you do that for me?”
“Yes, of course. Poor kid will probably go into shock.”
“I’m sure you’ll tell him all the good-cop things like … crime doesn’t pay.” We laughed, then I yawned.
“Come on, Stanley, let’s go. Duggie needs his rest.”
“Yeah, okay. Thanks for the coffee.”
“Hey, can I come back sometime? Your philosophy in handling this kid impressed me. I’d like to talk to you. I’ve been doing everything by the book which may not be altogether the right way.”
“Sure. Anytime. I’m usually here.”
“Thanks.” He reached for my hand.
The moment he grasped it, I was sunk. Ma, he’s almost breaking my heart. I could feel my hormones moving in a direction I didn’t anticipate.
“Stanley, you go ahead, I’ll catch up.”
“Okay.” He smiled that beguiling smile of his and walked out.
Rivka turned to me. “Duggie? What happened?”
I gave her a goofy grin, “He walked into my heart … without knocking. Night, Rivka.”
She kissed my cheek and walked to the door without a word, then turned and looked at me for a few seconds with the most astonished but very satisfied expression on her face.