You Could've Heard a Pin Drop
Chapter 1

Copyright© 2010 by woodmanone

I’m sure you have all heard the old cliché “It got so quiet you could’ve heard a pin drop”.

When I walked through the door of Kelly’s bar, it didn’t get that quiet but damn near it. There was a large crowd of regulars and the noise level went from a loud party roar to an almost church service quiet.

The reason for the reduction in the noise level was sitting in a back booth with another man or maybe I should say her new man. The bar crowd was almost silent with only a few muted whispers, waiting for the confrontation between me and her. I’m Jake Connors and the people were waiting to see what I was going to do.

The her mentioned is Jackie Sanders and until two weeks ago, she was my fiancée. Billy something another was the asshole she was with but he didn’t really matter; he was just the guy she was using to piss me off.

I walked to the bar and Kelly slid a glass with three fingers of Jack Daniels down the bar to me. He knows what I drink because I’ve been a favored customer for a lot of years; especially in the last couple of weeks.

Kelly’s was my hangout and I had been coming in at least once a week after work for the last several years. The last two weeks I had been in Kelly’s every night. I was trying to drink my way through his supply of Jack Daniels.

I know alcohol doesn’t solve any problems and the problems are still there the next day or whenever you sober up. What alcohol can do is help you forget while you’re drinking. I needed to forget what happened between Jackie and me at least for a little while.

If I didn’t dull my senses with alcohol my mind went round and round with questions. How could she do that to me? Why would she do that? Did I do something to cause her actions? And so on, round and round, with no concrete answers.

Half of my drink disappeared quickly and I leaned against the bar looking at the mirror behind it. That mirror gave me a perfect view of that back booth and the two people sitting in it. Jackie saw me standing at the bar and through the mirror I could see her watching me.

I had to admit Jackie looked good. She must have dressed especially nice just to yank my chain. She had on a dark green skirt that finished about three inches above her knees. It showed a lot of leg because she was 5 feet 10 and had beautiful legs that went all the way up to her ass and back.

She had on some kind of frilly top that showed enough cleavage to tease a guy. The light green color complimented her auburn hair, blue eyes, and her freckles. I knew from experience that she had freckles on some of the more interesting parts of her body too.

Add to this package the fact that her face was classically beautiful and Jackie was a walking wet dream. When she walked across a room most men and some women would watch her glide past. The way she looked tonight was just another knife in my heart.

I downed the rest of the Jack, pushed off the bar, and started toward Jackie and her friend.

“Jake?” Kelly said with a worried voice.

“I know Kelly. I’m just going to talk to her that’s all.”

“C’mon Jake, I don’t want my place smashed up,” he pleaded.

“It’s okay Kelly, I’m just gonna talk. I’ll walk away before any trouble starts. Just like the last time.” I tried to reassure him.

Last week when Jackie came in looking for me I told her to stay the f•©k away from me and to stay away from Kelly’s. I was afraid I would lose my cool and before she could say anything I left the bar. I wasn’t gonna leave this time.

As I walked closer it was obvious that I was upset and the guy started to stand up.

I wouldn’t want to be sitting down looking up at an angry me either. I’m 6 feet 4 and about 230 pounds of muscle. My hard body and muscles come from hard work not the gym. I work construction and like the most guys in my line of work, I’m in good physical shape. I have grey eyes that become laser like when I’m mad and right now they were boring holes into the shit head sitting with Jackie.

“Sit down,” I ordered him as I got to their booth. He sat back down but looked at me with a smirk.

“Hello Jackie, I see you brought the asshole with you this time,” I said. The guy started to say something but stopped when I held up my hand, again with a smirk showing on his face.

I turned to Bill and said, “Friend, this is between Jackie and me. Just stay out of it, okay?” I really didn’t think macho man would mind his own business but I hoped I could say what I wanted to say without any trouble.

“Look Jackie, I told you last week to stay away from me and stay away from Kelly’s. I don’t want to see you and I especially don’t want to see you with your lover.”

“This is a public bar and I can come in if I want to,” she replied defiantly.

“Isn’t it bad enough that you f•©ked me over just before our wedding but now you want to rub it in by bringing your damned lover in here?” I wasn’t a happy camper.

“Why don’t you find another bar then, I like it here,” Jackie goaded me. “And I’ll, I mean we’ll keep coming until you talk to me.”

“You don’t want to talk; you want to justify your actions. What you don’t understand is that I don’t care why; it’s enough that you did. This is my hangout and has been for years. You don’t care about Kelly’s; you just want to rub it in that you’re with this dipshit now. I promise you won’t like what happens if you keep coming in here.” I kept my word to Kelly and turned to walked away.

Mr. Macho wouldn’t let it go. “Hey big man, now I’ve got a few things to tell you.” He came out of the booth and stood, holding Jackie’s hand.

I turned to face him and had to admit, the guy was good looking. He wasn’t as big as me, only about 6 feet and probably 190 pounds but he did have a presence about him. Wearing a nice sports jacket, shirt and designer jeans, he was a picture off the front cover of GQ magazine. Designer jeans for Christ sake, I thought.

“What do you want Mr. GQ?” I said to goad him a little.

“First whatever concerns Jackie concerns me; we’re friends. Second, you don’t order her or me around; we’ll go anywhere we want, when we want. And Third, I’m a third degree black belt and you don’t scare me.” Now he was really smirking and stepped closer to me.

I don’t know what he was thinking. Maybe his martial arts training gave him confidence, maybe he thought showing that he wasn’t afraid of me would make me back down or maybe he was just showing off for Jackie.

Jackie warned him saying, “Bill don’t, he’s like a dangerous animal when he’s in this mood.”

“Well Mr. GQ, you better listen to your “friend” because your mouth is writing checks your body can’t cash. Take a piece of good advice and get out of my face,” I said. That’s when he hit me.

I’ve got to admit, he was very fast and I didn’t see it coming. He hit me right on the nose and when I took a step back, he hit me again. More surprised than anything, I tripped on a chair and fell on my ass. As I fell I pulled a table and a couple of chairs with me.

Bill was standing in some kind of “kung fu” stance with a big grin when I got up. As I stood I threw one of the broken chairs at him. When he ducked the chair, I kicked him in the nuts. Not very sporting I know but in the area I grew up in you did whatever was necessary to win.

He doubled over and I grabbed his hair, lifted his head, and hit him with my ham like fist. It was his turn to hit the floor. I had wanted to nail this asshole for some time but I restrained myself; I was afraid that I would kill him if I kept going. Jackie was screaming as I knelt down to him and picked his head up again.

“One thing they forgot to teach you at the dojo Billy Boy, every once in awhile you run into somebody you shouldn’t screw around with. I’m that guy.” I dropped his head, stood up, and looked at Jackie.

“You’re the one that should be lying there bitch. This is your fault. Now get this piece of garbage and get out before you join him,” I ordered. Normally I would never hit a woman, but my resolve was being tested here.

Jackie stared at me with anger and something I was surprised to see ... sadness. She had knelt down to Bill and said “Damn you Jake. Why won’t you listen?” She helped Bill get to his feet and supported him out the door.

I went back to the bar and Kelly met me with another drink. “I enjoyed the show big guy, even if you did break some fixtures,” he said with a smile.

“Sorry about the breakage, I tried to walk away,” I answered. “I’ll pay for the damage.”

“Naw, that jerk knocked you into the table, he’s the one that should pay. Don’t worry about it.”

I was working on my next drink when the police and the EMTs arrived. The police came up behind me and ordered me to stand up, put my hands on the bar, and told me that I was under arrest. Before they could handcuff me, I had at least 30 people explaining that I was defending myself.

They asked Kelly if he wanted to make a complaint because of the fight and the broken fixtures, but he just laughed and told them no way.

The EMT that was working on me said that someone had called them and they called the police when they heard that it was a bar fight. He told me I needed to go to the ER because my nose was broken and the cut over my eye needed stitches. It wasn’t the first time that my nose had been broken. Bill must have tagged me pretty good. I don’t know because it was just a blur after he hit me.

I promised to go to the hospital when I finished my drink and the EMT laughed. His partner came in from outside and said that the guy out side had a broken nose too. He also said that Bill’s nuts were going to be sore for several days.

Even exchange, I thought. Maybe I even got the best of it because he wouldn’t be f•©king Jackie for awhile, but then again neither would I. Looking at myself in the mirror, at the swollen nose and the cut over my eye I thought back over the events that led me to my current physical state.

My mother was a single parent; my dad just disappeared when I was eight. Mom and my grandmother raised me and my older brother James who was twelve. Although we never had a lot of money, we always had clean clothes for school, enough to eat, and a decent place to live.

The neighborhood we lived in wasn’t the inner city but it wasn’t far from it. It was a tough area for a boy to grow up in and a lot of my friends and kids I knew got into trouble with the law. The only reason that James and I stayed on the straight and narrow was because of my mom and grandma.

I wasn’t afraid of the police or jail, I was afraid to disappoint my “ladies”. I could have taken punishment or jail but I couldn’t take the look of disapproval that they would have had if I got into trouble for stealing or something. I know James felt the same way.

James waited until he was seventeen and with Mom’s permission enlisted in the Marine Corp. He came home for two weeks after his boot camp and I didn’t see him again until I was a senior in high school, a period of four years. Then it would be several years before I saw him again.

My “ladies” made sure that I studied and learned something while I was in school. After high school there wasn’t the money needed for college so I joined the military like my brother. I enlisted for four years. For some reason, maybe my size, I was assigned to the Corp of Engineers after basic and AIT. That’s where I learned about construction and grew to like it.

My first sergeant liked me because I always hustled, worked hard, and would step in to help on any project even if it wasn’t my specialty. He thought I was a virgin and decided to include sex education to my learning process ... I mean why pass up pussy when it’s shoved in your face, right? I didn’t tell him that I lost my virginity when I was sixteen, maybe actively gave it away is closer to what happened.

My tour was coming to an end and the Army offered me a reenlistment bonus to reup but I turned it down. I wanted to go home and see my mom and grandma, get a job, and help them financially the way they had helped me.

So I said good bye to the Army and the engineers and went home. I got lucky and landed a construction job as an apprentice rough carpenter. Later I branched out into other construction specialties and became an all around type of guy. Three years later I met Jackie.

We met at the bank where she worked as a teller. I needed someplace to cash my checks and a friend took me to the bank to set up an account. Jackie was the teller that handled my first transaction and pretty soon I would wait in line just to get to talk to her for a few minutes.

Other tellers would motion me over to help me but I waited for Jackie. I waited and got up my nerve and after two months of seeing and talking to her once a week, I finally asked her if she would go to a movie with me.

“I was beginning to think that I would have to ask you,” Jackie said with a smile. “I would love to go to movie with you.”

Jackie and I dated at least once a week, sometimes more, for the next three months. After our sixth date she invited me into her apartment. I didn’t leave until the next day. Jackie was everything a man could want in the bedroom. Not only was she drop dead gorgeous, Jackie was wildly uninhibited in bed.

She like oral sex, both giving and receiving; me too. Jackie liked to be taken from behind doggy style; I like to do her that way too. She enjoyed being on top or bottom, in fact there wasn’t much that she didn’t like sexually; me too.

She still had a few dates with other men but we hadn’t said anything about not dating others so I didn’t feel like I could bring it up. It did eat at me to think that she might be doing the same things in bed with other guys that she did with me.

We were going out to dinner on Friday after she got off work and maybe some dancing on Saturday evening. I planned to tell her that I was falling in love with her and wanted us to only date each other while we were at dinner Friday evening.

Jackie and were having an after dinner drink and I thought this would be a good time to make my suggestion. Before I could say anything, Jackie said something that blew me away.

“Jake I know we were supposed to go dancing tomorrow night but I’m going to have to cancel. Something came up and I can’t go. I’m really sorry and I’ll make it up to you,” Jackie said. She acted like she really hated to cancel.

“Okay, I guess we can go dancing next Saturday. What came up anyway?” I didn’t read anything into the cancellation, I was just curious.

Jack looked down at the table and didn’t say anything. Either she didn’t hear me or she doesn’t want to answer I thought. I was getting a bad vibe about this broken date.

“Jackie what came up?” I repeated more forcefully.

She sighed and looked at me. “One of the other guys I date sometimes has an emergency and I’m going to help him.”

“What kind of emergency and how can you help?” The bad feeling was getting stronger. I don’t think I’m going to like this, I thought.

“Well, Bill is going to an awards dinner for his company tomorrow night and his date got the flu or something and can’t go. So he asked me to go in her place and I told him I would,” Jackie was hesitant with her answer.

“Why do you have to go? Why can’t he go by himself?”

“It would look funny if he went alone, I mean his boss and everybody will be there,” she explained. “It could hurt his career; I mean it would look like he didn’t care enough to get a date.”

“Let me get this straight now. You’re going to break a date with me that we made over a week ago so that you can go out with another guy that just asked you yesterday. Is that about right Jackie?” I think the sarcasm showed in my tone.

“It’s not like that Jake. This is an emergency,” she said in her defense.

“It’s exactly like that. I’m sure glad that one of his female f•©k buddies didn’t get sick, you’d probably consider that an emergency and want to help out with that too.”

She was shocked that I reacted the way that I did. Jackie apparently thought I would just roll over and accept this bullshit.

I motioned for the check, paid the bill, and stood up. “C’mon, I brought you here and I’ll get you back to your place. After that, you’re on your own,” I told Jackie.

The ride home was less than comfortable. Jackie tried to talk to me and explain again why she “just had to help” Bill. I never made a comment, or answered her questions, or said a word on the entire trip.

I pulled up in front of her apartment, reached across her, and opened the door.

“Aren’t you coming in tonight Jake?”

“You’ve got to be shittin me Jackie. Get out,” I said with more force than I intended. She got out and I peeled rubber getting away.

Jackie called me on Sunday morning. When I realized it was her I hung up without saying a word. She called back and I let the machine answer. Jackie left a long message on the machine saying that going to the dinner with Bill wasn’t a romantic thing; she was just helping him. She said she cared about me, that we needed to talk and please call her. When she finished I erased the message.

The next two weeks when I went into the bank to cash my checks, I made it a point to go to any teller but Jackie. If her window was available I would stand in line at another window. If she motioned me over to her window, I ignored her. Twice she came out from behind her counter and tried to talk to me and both times I walked out of the bank. I just plain didn’t want to talk to her.

Some people will say I was acting childish. They will say that I should talk to her. To those people I say f•©k you. You weren’t the one that was shit on. It wasn’t pride, it was anger that she would screw me around the way she did.

Three weeks to the day when I came off a job site, Jackie was leaning on the fender of my truck. Damn it, I thought, how did she find out where I was. I put my gear in the bed of the truck and opened the driver’s door.

“Jake,” she almost shouted. “You’ve got to talk to me sometime.”

“No I don’t,” I replied and got into the truck.

“Are you going to just leave me here? I caught a ride with a friend and don’t have a way back to the city,” she was concerned. “Can you at least give me a ride back to my place?”

Oh hell I said to myself, I can’t leave her out here. I motioned for her to get into the truck and took her home. Every time Jackie tried to talk I would hold up my hand or shake my head no. She finally got the hint and kept quiet. We got to her place and I reached across her and opened the door. When I sat back up, Jackie reached across and grabbed my truck keys and jumped out of the truck.

“Now you’re going to talk to me or you’re just going to have to sit there,” she said with a self satisfied smirk.

I got out of my truck, went to the wheel well and got the magnetic key holder that held an extra key to my truck. Holding it up so Jackie could see I climbed back into the cab and started the engine.

“Jake, please. This isn’t fair,” she pleaded.

She’s right; it was time to put an end to this. I looked at her and nodded.

“Go ahead talk,” I told her.

“Come inside and I’ll make you coffee or a drink,” she asked.

I sat in the truck for a few seconds and said, “I’m good, start talking.”

“That night with Bill wasn’t what you think. He just needed a companion that evening; it wasn’t a romantic date,” she told me. “We didn’t do anything but go to the dinner and come straight home.”

“Yeah, but what did you do when you got home?” I asked with a nasty look.

Jackie was shocked and threw my keys at me. “F•©k you Jake,” she yelled and turned to enter her apartment.

“I’m sorry,” I shouted at her. “That was uncalled for and I apologize. Please come back and let’s settle this.” I realized that I had stepped over the line with that last comment.

She calmed down and said, “I don’t understand why you got so upset. I told you it was an emergency situation.”

“No Jackie. An emergency is when Bill calls and says he cut off a finger or hand, please come take me to the hospital. An emergency is when he calls and says he’s fallen and broken his leg and needs your help. Those are emergencies; Bill needing a date is not an emergency.” I got out and stood in front of Jackie.

“Don’t you understand? When you broke our date to go out with him, no matter what the reason, you were saying that I didn’t count with you as much as he does. I wasn’t very happy that you were dating other guys anyway and then you tell me that I’m not important enough for you to keep your date with me.” I hadn’t realized until just then how hurt I had been by Jackie’s actions. The anger I knew about but the hurt was a surprise.

Jackie apologized again and she got me to talk some more. She finally got me to go inside for coffee. Then she talked me into staying for dinner. I didn’t leave again until the next morning. Yeah I know I’m a wimp. What can I say? I was about half ass in love with her and when she came out of her room wearing nothing but high heels, my little head took control. Jackie hadn’t changed in the three weeks that I hadn’t seen her; she was still a sexual dynamo.

The Army and then the construction crews taught me a lot. They taught me a good work ethic, they taught me to do the job right and they taught me to be dependable. They didn’t teach me how to deal with women. So I took her back.

Jackie and I become exclusive or were going steady or whatever you want to call it. We didn’t date other people. This continued for about six months. She never broke another date with me, but there were a few nights that she couldn’t go out. She was visiting her mother or having a girl’s night out or some other innocent sounding reason.

Jackie and I didn’t move in together but spent very few nights apart. I thought if this is what married life is like, I’m all for it. I bought an engagement ring and proposed to her in Kelly’s after a movie. Not the most romantic setting but Jackie must have liked it. She said yes through her tears. We planned to get married in three months and I was looking forward to being a family and maybe having kids.

The month after I proposed I began to hear little things concerning Jackie. On more than one occasion a couple of the guys that I worked with would kid me about Jackie and me having an open relationship. I took it all as a joke until Rose saw me at Kelly’s one night and sat down to talk to me. Jackie was on one of her girl’s nights and I was there alone.

Rose is a friend and is Jeff’s sister; Jeff is one of the guys I work with and a good friend. I had dated Rose a few times before I started dating Jackie. Rose is a good looking gal but there wasn’t a spark there so we decided to be buddies.

“Where’s Jackie tonight?” Rose asked with more than normal curiosity.

“Hey Rose. She’s out with some girls from the bank again. I think I’ll have to put a stop to that after we’re married.” I laughed.

“Jake, you better check your woman. She’s doing stuff that an engaged girl shouldn’t be doing,” Rose sadly told me.

“What are you talkin about Rose?” Normally I don’t pay any attention to gossip or rumors, but Rose was a close friend.

She hesitantly told me that three or four times in the last two months she had seen Jackie at Bailey’s and she wasn’t alone. Rose told me that Jackie was sitting with a good looking, well dressed guy and they seemed to be more than casual acquaintances.

This guy and Jackie would dance very close and seemed to be really into each other. Rose said that they didn’t do anything raunchy but she didn’t think it would pass the boyfriend test.

“I’m sorry as hell Jake, but you’re my friend and I don’t like seeing you get screwed over,” Rose finished.

I thanked Rose, finished my drink, and left. If it had been anybody other than Rose, I would have just brushed it off. It was only about 10 PM and I wondered if I should check up on Jackie. I remembered Jackie’s emergency date with Bill and the fact that her nights out with the girls didn’t start until we got back together.

Before I knew it I was in Bailey’s parking lot; I guess I had made the decision to check up on her. Bailey’s is a large club on the other side of town. Inside the place a bar ran down one wall separated from the tables around the dance floor by a chest high divider. The place was fairly crowded for a week night but I found a place at the bar where I could see the dance floor.

It didn’t take long to spot Jackie; she had just finished dancing and came back to a table with several other people at it. There were two guys at the table; three counting the guy that Jackie had been dancing with. Mostly it was girls that Jackie worked with. Nothing wrong with that I thought; man was I wrong.

Jackie and her dance partner sat down side by side at the table. The guy said something to Jackie, put his arm around her, and pulled her to him. She smiled at him and kissed him. It wasn’t a peck on the cheek but a full fledged, stick your tongue down the throat kiss.

Jackie was wearing a little summer dresser held up by two straps leaving her shoulders almost bare and showing a lot of cleavage. After the kiss the guy hand was sort of hanging over her shoulder and his fingers would brush the top of her breast now and then. Jackie was rubbing his leg and appeared to love the attention.

Rose was right; Jackie’s actions wouldn’t pass the boyfriend test.

Finishing my drink, I pushed myself off the bar and started toward Jackie and her friend. I had no intentions of starting trouble but I wasn’t going to put up with this shit. Our engagement was over and I wanted my ring back, at least that’s what I told myself. But I also hoped that her buddy and/or his two friends would want to get involved. That would be just fine with me.

Just before I rounded the room divider, my friend Jeff stepped in front of me. He grabbed my arm and tried to pull me away toward the door. I shook his hand off and turned back toward Jackie and her friends.

“Jake, don’t,” Jeff said. “If you go over there will be trouble and you don’t need it.”

“I’m not going to start anything. I just want my ring back from that bitch and I’m going to get it. No trouble, I’ll just get my ring and tell Jackie that we’re over,” I explained.

“Bullshit. Your eyes have that crazy look in them. If you go over there one of those guys will say something and all hell will break loose. They’ll end up in the hospital if they’re lucky and you’ll end up in jail; maybe for a long time. You don’t’ need that.”

I listened to Jeff and then started to push by him saying, “Stay out of it Jeff. If I have to put you down to get around you I will.”

He shook his head, stepped back and said, “I can’t believe that you’re going to let that cheating bitch ruin your life. You’re an idiot, go ahead.”

I stepped around Jeff and found Rose standing in my way.

“Are you going to put me down too, Jake? That’s what you’ll have to do because I’m not letting you go to jail tonight.” Rose stared at me defiantly with her hands on her hips. “I knew you would come here, I could see it in your eyes. I called Jeff and we decided to follow you and keep you out of trouble.”

I hesitated and stared back at Rose. If the situation hadn’t have been so sad, it would have been funny. This little girl about 5 feet 6 standing in front of this 6 foot 4 behemoth; trying to stop him from making a bad mistake.

It’s nice to have good friends. Rose had shocked me into thinking and not reacting. She and Jeff were right, if I went over there someone was going down.

Jeff and Rose convinced me to confront Jackie in a more private setting, preferably when she was alone. Good idea, I knew I would never physically harm Jackie and I could get my ring back. That was cut in stone, I wanted my ring and I wanted shed of Jackie.

On my way home the more I thought about it, the more I didn’t want the situation to continue any longer than necessary. I drove to Jackie’s place and parked a couple of houses away to wait for her. She shouldn’t be very late because she had to work tomorrow.

If she came home alone, I would get my ring and tell her to go to hell. If she came home with that guy and he wanted to get involved, that was his problem. Either way, it would be settled tonight.

About midnight a car parked in front of her apartment and Jackie and the dude from the club got out. They walked hand in hand to her door. Jackie turned to say good night and in the next minute they were making out.
There was no doubt, they were swapping tongues and grinding against each other. If it’s possible to f•©k with your clothes on, those two were doing it. After five minutes or so, Jackie pushed him away, smiled, and said something to him that made him laugh. She unlocked her door and turned back toward him.

Some guys would have went belly up and been all torn up by seeing what they were doing. Some guys would wait and get pictures or other evidence to use in confronting their cheating partners. And some guys would do what I did.

I didn’t hesitate and went right to Jackie’s door. They didn’t notice me at first and then Jackie looked over the guy’s shoulder and saw me. She let out a small scream and stepped further away from her friend. Of course I heard the classic line.

“Jake, what are you doing here?”

“I’m breaking up with my lying, cheating, whore of a fiancée. I’ll take my ring back bitch.” I grabbed her hand and pulled off the engagement ring. Then I heard the rest of the clichéd lines.

“Wait! It’s not what it looks like. Bill’s just a friend. We weren’t doing anything. It doesn’t mean anything,” Jackie said.

“Bullshit. I saw you and your “friend” at Bailey’s Jackie.” Her eyes got big and she put her hands up to her face. “Yeah, that’s right; I saw the kissing, hugging, and his hand on you. I saw you stroking his leg and loving the attention. I also saw the make out session just now.”

As I finished talking to Jackie, Bill put his hand on my arm and told me to get away from her.

“Billy Boy, you wouldn’t be here unless she invited you, so I’ll give you one warning. Take your hand off me and stay out of this,” I told him.

He braced himself to come after me, but before he could do anything Jackie stepped in between us. “Bill, please leave. Don’t make things any worse,” Jackie pleaded with him.

He stepped back and walked toward his car. “I’ll call you tomorrow Jackie,” he said, smiling at me.

“Don’t leave on my account Billy Boy. Stay, go inside and finish what you two started at the door,” I told him. I turned to Jackie and said, “It doesn’t matter to me because we’re done Jackie.

I walked past Bill and started toward my truck. Jackie was following me crying and trying to get me to talk to her. I never said a word went to my truck, and drove off. Two or three blocks away I had to stop because I was shaking so bad. The anger was boiling inside of me and I needed to calm down before I drove into a tree or ran over someone.

After ten minutes or so, I restarted the truck and headed back to Jackie’s. Why I did it, I can’t explain but I had to know if Bill stayed or left. I drove past Jackie’s and his car was gone. For some reason that made me feel better.

I know it’s a cliché but it’s true anyway. If you love someone you can’t turn it off like a beer tap; no matter what they have done. You may hate them, but you hate them because you love them. I guess that’s why I felt better when Bill didn’t spend the night at Jackie’s.

So here I sit in Kelly’s as I finish my Jack Daniels and trying to decide which hospital to give my business to. I promised the EMT that I would go and besides my nose was starting to hurt and my eye was swelling up.

Jackie had called several times after that night at her door, but I refused to talk to her. She would say we needed to talk and I would say no we don’t and hang up. I guess she got the message after eight or nine times. That’s when she started to come to Kelly’s.

Two nights after the dust up, I was in Kelly’s having my usual and showing off the stitches over my eye and the bandage on my nose. I was still depending on Jack Daniels to help me get through the nights.

There weren’t a lot of people in the bar, maybe 20 or so regulars but it got really quiet all at once. It was the old “you could’ve heard a pin drop” scenario all over again. I looked into the mirror behind the bar and saw Jackie standing behind me. Oh shit, not again I thought.

“Jake please talk to me,” Jackie pleaded. “If you will just talk to me for a few minutes I promise I won’t come into Kelly’s anymore, if that’s what you want.”

“Okay Jackie, grab a booth. I’m going to get another drink and then I’ll come and talk to you. You want something?”

After getting my drink and a white wine I slid into the booth across from Jackie and said, “By the way, where’s Billy Boy? Didn’t he want to come with you?” I asked with dripping sarcasm.

She smiled a little and answered, “No, he said he never wanted to see you again. I think you destroyed his confidence in his black belt. It was a mistake to bring him with me, but I thought it might goad you into talking to me. Guess I was wrong, huh?”

“You wanted to talk so talk. Let’s get this over with.” I wanted to get away from her because I didn’t want her to see how much I was hurting.

Jackie started with the clichés again. I’m sorry, it didn’t mean anything, it wasn’t what it looked like and it’s you I love. I listened to her spout all the usual bullshit until she wound down after about five minutes.

“Enough! First, you don’t cheat on or lie to someone you love. I’ll tell you what it looked like. At the club, it looked like you were lovers. At your door, it looked like you two were humping each other like dogs in heat. That’s what it looked like. And it did mean something, it meant everything to me. It meant that the woman I loved, my fiancée, the woman I was going to spend the rest of life with was a cheating bitch. No don’t start crying now; it’s too late for that bullshit.”

Jackie had started to cry, loudly. She got control of herself and I continued.

“I was told by several people that you were out partying with some guy on you girl’s nights out, but I didn’t believe the rumors and gossip. I didn’t want to believe that my lady would do that. It wasn’t until a close friend told me she saw you that I knew you were cheating.” I stopped to take a drink and Jackie jumped in.

“But I didn’t cheat. I didn’t sleep with Bill; we just danced and fooled around a little. Maybe I did let things go too far that night, but I wasn’t going to sleep with him. I wasn’t Jake,” she told me.

“It isn’t just the night that I caught you, although that’s a big part of it. You used your girl’s nights as an excuse to spend time with Bill and lied to me about it. The first time you lied to me, you cheated. The first time you let him hold you too close as you danced, you cheated. The first time you hugged him or the first time you kissed him, you were cheating.” Now I was the one that had to get control of myself; I was getting mad all over again.

“The fact that you didn’t sleep with him doesn’t change the fact that you were cheating Jackie. I believe that you would have screwed him if things kept on the way they were. The next time you probably would have invited Bill in. Let me ask you something. If you had known I was at Bailey’s would you have still acted the way you did with Bill? If I had been at your door would you still have had the make out session that I saw?

Jackie hung her head for a few seconds and then looked over at me. “No, I wouldn’t have done any of that if you had been there. It wouldn’t have been right and you wouldn’t have liked it.”

“Then what makes you think it was alright to do that shit behind my back?” I stopped waiting for an answer but she couldn’t or wouldn’t give me one.

“Okay Jackie, we’ve had our talk and nothing has changed. You say you love me; well that’s your misfortune. I still love you and that’s my cross to bear. At least until I can get you out of my heart. Now, I expect you to keep your promise and stay out of Kelly’s. Good bye Jackie.”

I got up and went back to the bar. Kelly saw me coming and had another drink waiting for me. It took a few minutes but Jackie got up walked past me and out the door. I never saw her or Bill again. I heard later that she quit her job at the bank and moved to the west coast, alone.

Two years have passed since Jackie and I broke up. I still go into Kelly’s almost every night, but most of the time I drink club soda or coffee. The Jack Daniels still gets poured for me but only on the weekends and then with moderation. I found I didn’t need it after Jackie and I talked that night.

Do I miss her? I certainly miss the sex; she was the best I’ve ever had before or since. The idea of “us”, a family, and the life with someone you love is what I miss.

Am I bitter? No, I don’t think so. I still want to get married and have a family but none of the ladies I’ve met and bedded have touched me in that way. But I keep looking.

I’m still working construction, but I’ll have to get out of it in the near future. I fell off a scaffold about a year ago and messed up my knee big time. Right now I can keep working but there will come a time that the knee won’t hold up to the abuse.

My brother came home about six months ago with a bum leg too; it got shot up in some shit hole third world country. He uses a cane to help him walk but that’s okay. James won’t have far to walk behind the bar.

You see Kelly wanted to retire so James and I bought the bar. Between the two of us we were able to come up with most of the cash and Kelly financed the rest of it. Maybe I can get into the office and do construction planning or scheduling but even if I can’t I’ll be okay with my share of the bar. I’m already cutting back on expenses because I don’t have to hire a bouncer.

So here I am, starting a new career and looking for the right woman. In the mean time as an English friend of mine says, life goes on.

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