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American Contemporary Western

Bad Blood—George Davis

  Lulu Belle Dow and I have been going together for two years. Our relationship could be, what some call, incendiary. We have ups and downs; mostly downs. I admit, most of the time I am at fault. I am, as was my father, and grandfather before him, a home-body. 

Oh, I’m sorry. I forgot to introduce myself. My name is Courtney Halverson, of the Long Island Halversons. I am the sixth generation of this, shall we say, elite family. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I was born with a gold spoon in my mouth. Perhaps I am a bit of a snob, but Lulu is snobbier than I. I am of the Baby-Boomer generation, born January 18, 1950.  Lulu is two years my junior. To say we are a match made in heaven would be a gross overstatement. It is more likely our relationship was made in the other place. You know, the hot space below. 

 “Courtney, you are ten minutes late. Will you ever be on time? Why can’t you be ten minutes early? No, forget that. I would have a heart attack. Well, now that you’re here. Where are we going to dinner? And don’t tell me the Wayfarer Diner again. We go there so often you have a monogrammed coffee mug.” 

  “Actually, I plan on taking you over to the Bickford Inn for dinner.” 

  “How extravagant is that? I can’t believe you’d spend that much. Oh, never mind. I’ll buy dinner tonight, you big spender.” 

  “I can’t let you do that, Lulu. How about we go Dutch?” 

  “No way. I pay or I don’t go.” See how obstinate she can be when things don’t go her way? 

  “Okay, Lulu. You pay, but I won’t enjoy my meal.” 

  “And I won’t try to choose your meal for you as you do with me. You always suggest the cheapest fare. Watch me. I’m going to let you order filet mignon. Go ahead, Mr. Big Spender. It’s my treat.” Okay, just for that I will order the filet, Miss Immoderate.” 

  “You don’t have to be sarcastic about it.” 

  “I’m only trying to teach you how to live, Courtney. If you don’t have the first dollar you ever made. You know where it is. You squeeze the buffalo nickel until the animal screams.”

  “Come on, Lulu. I am not that frugal am I?”

  “You aren’t frugal, Courtney. You are a downright skinflint.”

  “Oh, never mind all this. Let’s go to dinner.” We went over to the Bickford Inn, a large Victorian converted home. The gray shingles and the black shutters lent little to the interior ambiance. The dark-brown carpets, the checkered table clothes, the glass-enclosed candles gave an air of a distant past. The owner, host seated us in the alcove overlooking the moonlit, rippling waters of the Sagamore River. I watched as two lovers in a fiberglass canoe, their eyes on each other as the boat drifted downstream. This scene brought back memories. “Lulu, do you remember when we paddled that birchbark canoe down the Sagamore?”

  “Yes, and I also remember you left your wallet home, and I had to pay the three dollars rental.”

  “Come on, can’t you be a little more romantic, Lulu?

  “Our relationship is like a man trying to mix oil and water. The oil, that’s me doesn’t mix with water, that’s you. Why water, you ask? Because water is cheap, and oil costs money. Do you see what I’m saying, Courtney?”

  “I can’t see what you’re saying. It is impossible to see words. They must be heard.”

  “Very funny.”

  “I like to think I get off a good one once in a while.”

  The waiter stood, towel over his arm, and a look somewhere between insult and murder. “Are you ready to order?”

  Lulu said, “yes, bring Bozo here a filet mignon, and I’ll have broiled haddock. No potato for me, how about Cole slaw instead?”

  “No problem, madame. And you sir?”

  “I’ll have a baked potato, and creamed asparagus tips. And, bring plenty of rolls and butter.” 

  “Yessir. Thank you.” He disappeared around the corner. When he returned, he had our meals on a cart, the fare covered with stainless steel lids which he removed, remarking how good the food looked. I thought. Food is food. It never looks good to me. I guess in my late years. I eat only because I have to, not because I enjoy eating. A steak tastes the same as a bologna sandwich, which, by the way, I would rather have than this filet. 

  “He seems nice, doesn’t he?” 

  “Well, Lulu if you say so. Personally, I think he is just looking for a big tip.” 

  "And you will leave him a ‘big’ tip, won’t you, Courtney?” 

  “Of course. I believe if a man is worth his salt. He is worth paying him for his services.” 

  “I’m glad to hear you say that. It does my heart good. You, too often, are known for being too tight-fisted when it comes to money.” 

  “I have to conserve, Lulu. I am not a millionaire you know.” 

  “Like I said, Courtney. You’ve got the first buck you ever made.” 

  “No I don’t. I spent it on ice cream when I was fourteen. I worked three jobs all through high school.” 

  “Restring your violin. I’ve heard this one too many times.” 

  “Come on, Lulu. I’m not such a miser as you make me out to be. I give to charities all the time.” 

  “I hope those charities aren’t depending on your donations. If they are, they will starve to death.” 

  “I gave five dollars to the Red Cross just this morning.” 

  “I bet the person who took your gift fell dead to the floor. He wasn’t expecting the old skinflint to come across with anything larger than a dime.” 

  “Okay, belittle me. I’ve got a tough coat of arms. I can take it.” 

  “Courtney, you are a winner, but you are my winner, and I wouldn’t swap you for a hundred Tom Cruises.”

  “Thanks, sweetheart. I couldn’t have said it better.”

  “What do you mean? You have never, in all the time we’ve been going together, given me one, single compliment.”

  “Oh, Lulu you know how I feel about you, don’t you?”

  “I guess so, but it would be nice if you told me once in a while. I get tired of taking the reins in all we do. You have never once taken the lead, not even when we have gone dancing. I have had to lead you around the floor. For once, I would like to hear you say, Lulu, I’m crazy about you. Just once, Courtney.”

  “Okay, I’m crazy about you, Lulu. How’s that?” 

  “Again, I had to take the lead, suggest you say it.” 

  “I said it, didn’t I?” 

  “I suppose so. Look, let’s not argue tonight. The moon is out, and the frogs are singing to their mates. Why can’t we just enjoy the evening? Maybe go by the ice cream shop and get a vanilla cone.” 

  “One cone to share, Lulu? That sounds like a good idea.” 

  “Courtney Halverson. You are impossible.” 

  “Why because I want to share an ice cream cone with you?” 

  “Yes, because you don’t want to have to buy me my own cone. You tightwad, you…” 

I dropped her off at her apartment and drove to the ice cream parlor. I bought a kiddie cone of chocolate marshmallow. It was delicious. She doesn’t know what she missed. 

  The phone rang at eleven-thirty. With one eye open I reached for the creator of the disturbing noise. “Hello.”  

  “Hello, Courtney. I am sorry for insulting you tonight. Will you forgive me?”

 “Couldn’t this have waited until morning, Lulu? I am tired.” 

 “Well thank you for being so excited about my call. I shall not disturb you again, Courtney Halverson.” End of conversation. 

  I wonder what’s wrong with her? It couldn’t be something I said. I just told her I was tired, and she should have waited until morning to call me. Is that asking too much? After all, I need my sleep. 

  I didn’t hear from her for the next two weeks. Last Saturday she called. “Courtney, I am sorry for my actions. Will you forgive me?” 

  “Of course I will, sweetheart. We all make mistakes.” “We all make mistakes? Are you saying I made a mistake in calling you last week, for trying my best to apologize to you? I give up.” 

  “Well, Lulu, you did wake me in the middle of the night.” 

  “You call eleven o’clock too late? We’ve been on dates that have lasted until two in the morning. Have you forgotten that?”  

  “No, but I’m not as young as I used to be, Lulu. I need my rest.”

  “You are retired, and you do nothing but watch soaps all day. I’d think you’d want to get out and around; see something.” 

  “I spent forty-five years seeing things, and what’d it get me? No, Lulu, I’m going to take it easy from now on.” 

  “You’ve been taking it easy for the last sixty years, Courtney. You worked in the post office sorting mail. How hard can that be?” 

  “I worked hard, Lulu. Standing on my feet for eight hours a day, three-hundred-sixty-five days a year.” 

  “Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you had days off, vacations, not to mention an hour every workday for lunch.” 

  “Your problem, Lulu is you don’t give anyone any credit. You think your job is the hardest. You are an RN. How hard can it be sliding a urinal under a sick patient, and waiting for the results so you can empty it?”

  “I do not administer bedpans for your information. I take care of the sick, bandage their wounds, make them comfortable, and watch some of them slowly pass from this earth to the next. If that’s what you call doing nothing. I am good at doing nothing.” For the next two weeks my phone, at home, didn’t ring. Lulu is the only person who ever calls me. I have no real friends, except Lulu.

  “Okay, let’s not fight. I concede defeat.”

  “I’m not trying to defeat you, Courtney. I am trying to put some life into that body of yours. You have stagnated since your retirement. Get out and see the world. You could afford to travel, see sights, visit museums, see the Eiffel Tower, take a ride on the Seine, visit jolly old England.”

  “My dear, all those things cost money. I’m not rich. I’ve got a little nest egg, but that would dwindle if I spent my money foolishly.”

  “I give up. You are impossible. Why do I bother?”

  “You love me. That’s why.”

  “Well, I guess you’re right, but I’m getting tired of always being the one to suggest doing things. I make all the decisions.”

  “You can’t mean that, Lulu. I’d call our relationship a fifty-fifty decision-making romance.”

  “Yes, fifty percent of the time, I call the shots. Fifty percent of the time you spend fretting about how much something costs.” I could see we were getting nowhere with this. All we ever do is argue. 

 Two weeks later, Lulu called me, during an episode of my favorite soap. Kenny is about to propose to Emily. She could have picked a better time to call, like eight tonight, but I didn’t tell her that. 

  “Courtney, I’ve called to tell you. I have found someone else.” 

  “Someone else to what?” 

  “To date, stupid. He is a wonderfully funny man, and he spends money on me like it’s going out of style.” 

  “Yeah, but is he handsome like me?” 

  “Yes, he is six-three and two-hundred muscle-bound pounds on his great skeletal form. So, this is it.” The phone went dead. I redialed her phone. “Hello, Lulu?” 

  “Who’d you think it would be, Doris Day? What do you want, Courtney?” 

  “Er…nothing. Good luck with your new lover.” I slammed the phone in her ear. I still have a wall phone. 

  “Look, Courtney. Get this through your thick skull. I’m never going to see you again. Good-

bye. 

  I suppose you would like to know what happened to poor Courtney. He married the girl next door, a waitress at the Wayfarer Diner. As for Lulu, she married the muscle-man, the man she left Courtney for a year ago. After she married her hero. She found he wore lifts in his shoes, a toupee, and a full set of dentures. When he removed all his devices, he was no taller than Lulu. Oh well, that’s the long and short of it. 

July 29, 2021 13:41

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