Thursday, November 8, 2012
Gardens of Stone Part 3
"I can't believe I didn't know about this place. How did you find it?" Marie asked as she studied the menu.
"Promise you won't laugh?"Jack asked as he laid the menu down and leaned conspiratorially
'Yes..." Marie said leaning back a little not trustin Jack after the kiss on the street.
"I used to wash dishes here when I was in High School."
"Really?" Marie was finding it hard to imagine this guy with suds up to his elbows washing dishes.
"Yep. In fact this is the first job I got after meeting the Colonel."
Just then Vinny returned with their drinks and asked them what they would like to eat.
"Do you want me to order for you?" Jack asked
"I will have the chicken Parmigiana" Marie ordered in reply handing Vinny the menu
Vinny took both menus and turned to leave.
"Aren't you going to order? " Maire asked
"Vinny knows what I like he will surprise me." Jack replied " Now let talk about you."
" Yes you. Why did you never show up any of the times the Colonel tried to throw us together.?"
Maire looked up at the ceiling and took a deep breath trying to decide exactly how to answer the question.
"Frankly," she began looking back at him " I had lived with a Marine for 10 years and I was not all that interested in dating one."
Jack threw his head back and laughed surprising Marie. She had thought he would be insulted. Not that she was trying to be insulting just honest. The Colonel always said " Marie, if you have something to say, best to just be honest and get it out there. No pussy footing around. " Marie had found that was good advice, a little blunt, but relatively easier than trying to allude to the truth.
When he finally got control of himself he said "Here I thought that being a Marine was the one thing I had to recommend me."
"Don't get me wrong there is nothing wrong with being a Marine. I just don't want to be a Marine. I don't want to have 'everything in its Place' " She made air quotes around this last bit. " I like leaving the bed unmade and the towel on the floor. I always just thought that one day I would move out and then I get to leave everything the way I wanted to." Marie finished
" So is your bed unmade now and the towels on the floor?" Jack asked
"No..." Marie replied looking down at the table "I tried after the Colonel was gone. I went to work one day with out making the bed. I spent the whole day feeling guilty."
Jack reached out and took her hand that was on the table playing with her glass causing her to look back up at him. " What if I wasn't a Marine. Would you go out with me again?" Just then the food arrived smelling amazing and reminding Marie that she had forgotten to eat breakfast this morning. Vinny proudly set Marie's plate in front of her before setting a plate of some unknown pasta in front of Jack. "Manga" he exclaimed before disappearing again. Marie bowed her head silently praying over her food before opening her eyes again. jacks question still hung in the air between them and she wasn't quite sure if what she would answer. He was handsome. It wasn't that. The Colonel had clearly approved of him, since he had tried several times to introduce them. That did work in his favor. As for the not being a Marine that was kind of moot since she already had seen him in his class A's. She sighed. There was nothing wrong with that man in his class A's. "So what?" she asked herself silently. "Should she go out with him again? She was certainly attracted to him." She continued eating and Jack didn't break the silence. He seemed to know she was really examining her own response to her question. He keep eating happily and smiling at her when ever she looked at him. He really was charming. Marie decided that her answer to his question would depend on which of them broke the silence first. The Colonel had always said that you could tell a lot about a man by how patiently he waited for his wife. Well I am not his wife but I bet he will cave and start pushing me for an answer. This would be her deciding factor as to whether she would go out with him again or not.
And so she waited....And they finished their meal.
And she waited....and Vinny brought dessert out.
And she waited....and they finished dessert and stood to go. Jack laid money on the table. Vinney had never brought them a check. Vinny came after them with the money in his hand and said " Jack, you do not pay. Allow me the honor of thanking you for your service. Next time you bring Bellisima to eat then you can pay." Vinny put the money in Jacks hand and turned to go back to the kitchen.
Jack called out to Vinny "But what if she won't go out with me any more because I am a Marine?"
"Then you must change her mind." Vinny called over his shoulder.
Jack opened the door to exit the restaurant placing his hand at the small of her back to guide her ahead of himself. As he did so Marie repsonded "I did not say I wouldn't go out with you again."
"You didn't say you would."
"I was thinking about it. I hadn't given you my answer yet."
"So what is your answer?"
"I need more information first. What did you mean when you asked about if you were not a Marine?"
" I am retiring next year."
"And you would wait a year to have our next date if that was what I wanted?" Marie queried
"I have waited five years for this date. One year doesn't seem so bad."
"Five years! What are you talking about? I just met you two weeks ago and you showed up at my office and still I came with you out to eat."
"Five years ago, when you graduated for college, the Colonel told me 'Son, you are just the kind of guy I wish Marie would date. She has finished her schooling, and now she should meet someone like you and get to having babies.'" He smiled as he said the last part sounding just like her grandfather. She was smiling now too remembering as he plowed on pating her hand that was once again in the crook of his arm as they walked She did not recall placing her hand there but was reluctant to pull it away. " I told him I would be happy to apply for the job as I had seen your graduation picture on his desk and knew you weren't all that hard on the eyes." Marie's jaw dropped open as he said this "You see ever since I met the Colonel 15 years ago I have taken his advice and I have never once regretted it." He finished satisfied with himself. Marie, mouth still hanging open said you knew the Colonel how long?! How did you meet?"
"Now see this is what I thought we would be talking about during lunch but you clammed up after I asked you why you never wanted to meet me. And now we are almost back to your office so I don't have time to tel you the whole story so I guess you will just have to have dinner with me tomorrow night, I will pick you up at 7:00. We can continue the story then." They had arrived at the front of her office building and Jack leaned in kissed her on the nose and walked away. Marie was stunned. She wasn't sure how it had happened but she guessed she was going out again with Jack. Shaking her head she walked into the building and pushed the button for the elevator.
Arriving back at her desk,she put away her purse and tried to go back to work. Her mind seemed focused on everything but the work at hand. Mostly on Jack. An hour after getting back from lunch Janice set her hip against her desk and said "Okay spill it. Who is that gorgeous guy and why have you been holding out on me?"
" I wasn't holding out on you. Jack knew my Grandfather and I ran into him two weeks ago at the cemetery.I really didn't know him before then but the Colonel talked about him many times before he passed."
"Why didn't you tell me he was coming to take you to lunch?"
'Honestly, I didn't know. He thought he would surprise me."
"Well he could surprise me any day. Does he have a brother or a friend?" Janice laughed as she pushed off the desk to leave. Just then Marie's phone began to ring. She picked it up and waved at Janice as she left " This is Marie" she answered.
"Marie! There is a delivery guy here with flowers for you. He says that he has to give them to you in person. Can you come to the front desk?"
"I will be right down." she said hanging up the phone. What a crazy day. She followed the path Janine just had and at the last minute veered left to take the stairs down. When she arrived at the front desk there was the most beautiful bouquet of peach roses was being held by a young guy dressed in the uniform of the local florist. "I am Marie Bennett." She said stepping up to him.
He placed the bouquet into her hands and turned and left. Marie headed for the elevator the doors opened revealing Janice. 'Flowers! Already!"
Marie scooted around her and into the elevator pushing the button for her floor. The doors closed effectively shutting Janice up. Maire pulled the card from the flowers juggling them into one arm. The doors opened and she headed for her desk to put down the roses so that she could read what was written on the card inside the envelope.
"Thanks- Jack" was all it said. Marie wondered if it was thanks for going out again or for the lunch that they had already eaten. She guessed it didn't matter since the roses were so beautiful and fragrant. It had been far too long since someone had sent her roses.