The kitchen door swung open and Maureen swept in on that wave of activity and motion that seemed to propel her everywhere she went. Things were always happening around her. Maureen lived a whirlwind of a life and, always had. Her long silver hair glimmered in the sunlight that came through the window over the sink.
She set an orange canvas bag on the counter with a baguette sticking out.
All she said was, “Hey Pete. Watcha doin’?”
“I’m cooking some pasta sauce and looking at this book I bought at the Simpson’s garage sale for a dollar. It’s got lots of pictures of Madonna naked in it.” I smiled and held it up.
She smiled back at me, “You’re such a pig.” She said.
“Yeah, well Linda sold it to me. She had it hidden in a box under the table. I don’t think Dan knows that she unloaded it. That alone made it worth buying. It might be years before he realizes it’s missing. I just gotta figure out where I’m going to keep it. Probably shouldn’t be my new ‘coffee table book’. Dan’ll see it and the Freddy’ll see it too.” Freddy was my grandson. Lil’s boy, he was 11 years old – way too young for naked Madonnas.
Maureen pulled out the chair next to me at the kitchen table and skritched it over so she was next to me. “Lemme see,” she ordered so we looked at pictures and laughed for awhile.
I’ve know Maureen since before first grade. We grew up together. She was my ‘best man’ when I married Linda and I was her ‘maid of honor’ when she married Rob.
Truth be told she is probably one of the reasons that Linda left me for Dan. Linda couldn’t understand how a man and a woman could be friends and not be lovers.
Maureen and Rob were married for almost 30 years before Rob passed away. Rob understood friendships he never worried about the bond between me and Maureen. Rob was a good friend too.
Turned out that Maureen had some penne pasta in that orange bag with the baguette she stayed for dinner and after we cleaned up she told me that she had something she wanted to discuss with me. We sat back down at the kitchen table.
“I’m going to sell my house, Pete.” Whoa, no beating around the bush with Maureen but, there never had been.
“Why, what’s happened?”
“When Rob was sick it sucked up most of our savings. If I don’t sell the house the bank’s going to take it.”
“I can give you money. How much do you need.”
“I don’t want your money, Pete. I have a proposal for you.”
“Oh, oh going into business with your friends is a great way to lose friends,” I grinned at her. She simply carried on. Obviously she had given this a lot of thought.
“I’ve got a good amount of equity in my house that I’ll have access to when I sell. I was thinking that I could take some of that money and pay off your house. I could move in here and neither of us would have a house payment. I know how much you owe on your mortgage it would take less than a quarter of my equity to pay off your loan. What do you think?” She took a deep breath and looked at me with wide open eyes, almost pleading. I realized that at some point she had taken hold of my hand atop the table.
“You want to pay off my house and be roommates?” I asked.
“Not really,” she said, “The main reason I came over here tonight was to ask you to marry me. I didn’t bring a ring though.”
My mouth dropped open, “Maureen, you’ll lose Rob’s pension.”
“It doesn’t matter, I have mine and if I invest the remaining money from the house, I’ve got enough to last a long time. I’ve discussed all this with my financial guys. This will work if you’ll have me. I won’t be a burden to you and we can work out a pre-nup beforehand. We’ve been best friends for a long time Pete. I can’t think of anybody else I’d rather spend the rest of my life with.”
“I’ll probably want conjugal relations, if we’re married.” I grinned.
“I’m OK with that,” she grinned back, “I mean, it’s not like we’ve never seen each other naked before and besides I’d hate to think you spending your golden years with nothing except this Madonna book.”
“You make a compelling argument,” I said, “I’m going to take you up on it.”
“Good,” she said. Standing, she pulled me up with her and headed for the stairs.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
“I want to seal this deal in the bedroom.” she replied.
“Hold on, hold on.” I said and she stopped on the bottom step, turned and looked at me. “Shouldn’t we be saving ourselves for marriage?” I asked.
I think that was the first time I ever saw Maureen at a loss for words. I pushed past her and raced up the stairs. She was close behind. I beat her to the bedroom but not by much. Maybe Linda had it right after all?