The Donaldsons - Cover

The Donaldsons

Copyright© 2022 by Lazlo Zalezac

Chapter 4

The dreaded date had finally arrived and Melinda was not happy about it. It was the evening that she was taking Mike O’Connor out for a steak dinner. She decided that if she was going to have to do something so abhorrent that it was worth doing it with a bit of class. She checked out her appearance in the mirror and was pleased with the image reflected back at her. She was wearing a conservative black dress that flattered her figure without looking too sexy. At least, that was her opinion.

Armed with a small black purse and reservations at the best steak house in the area, she headed towards the limousine parked in front of her house. Looking like someone had shot his favorite dog, Jim stood by the rear door holding it open for her. When she approached, he looked over her outfit. Surprised by her choice, he asked, “Are you sure that you want to wear that dress?”

“Why shouldn’t I wear it?” Melinda asked.

“He might get the wrong idea,” Jim said. He felt that any woman who showed up on a date with him dressed like that was advertising that she interested in him. Although he had never met Mike he was pretty sure the man would come to the same conclusion.

“Don’t worry about that. I’ll put him in his place if he gets the wrong idea,” Melinda said with a smile. She had spent half the night coming up with little witty retorts that would make him look like a fool if he made too much of her appearance.

“Yes, Ma’am,” Jim said. Gracefully, Melinda got into the car. Jim closed the door and went to get in the driver’s seat. He muttered, “This is going to be a disaster.”

Settling into the back seat, Melinda said, “Jim, let’s pick up Mike and get this evening over with as quickly as possible.”

“Yes, Ma’am,” Jim said.

“He wasn’t all that thrilled about us picking him up at his house,” Melinda said.

“I wonder why,” Jim said worried about what they would find when they got to Mike’s house. He wasn’t sure why, but he felt like he was forgetting something very important.

“He probably lives in a dump,” Melinda said satisfied that Mike was finally on the defensive. She added, “It is about time that asshole got a little taste of his own medicine.”

“This evening is going to be a disaster,” Jim said while starting the limousine. Jim checked the mirror just in time to see Melinda double-checking her make-up. For someone who was not interested in the man with whom she was going to a restaurant she seemed to take inordinate interest in her appearance. “This is going to be a disaster.”

“What was that?”

Jim asked, “Why did you ask me to handle your security this evening?”

“I don’t know,” Melinda answered evasively. She wasn’t about to admit that his name was the only one she could remember when asked who she wanted on security that evening.

“You know that Tripp is going along with us,” Jim said.

That little announcement surprised Melinda. She hadn’t even considered that Mike would have his protector with him. The idea of having to deal with the two cousins together terrified her. She said, “I didn’t think about that.”

“I wish I was in Afghanistan,” Jim said maneuvering the car down the street.

Neither one spoke for the rest of the trip to the gated community where Mike lived. The only voice came from the GPS navigator when it announced that Jim was to make a turn. Jim stopped the car at the gate and waited for the young man stationed there to take notice of them. The kid looked to be fifteen years old. The young man walked over to the driver’s side of the car and waited for Jim to roll down the window. The young man asked, “May I have the name of the person you are visiting, please?”

“I’m here to pick up Mike O’Connor,” Jim answered.

The young man stuck his head through the window and looked in the back of the car. Grinning broadly, he said, “Nice to meet you, Melinda Davis. Cousin Mike said you were pretty and he wasn’t lying. If he hadn’t already laid claim to you for a wife, I’d be asking you to go to my senior prom with me. Since he’s claimed you, let me be one of the first to welcome you to the family.”

“I’m not marrying him,” Melinda said shocked that someone so young would even suggest taking her out on a date. Every clever remark she had dreamed up the previous evening deserted her.

Jim’s eyes darted the name badge worn by the young man. He groaned when he read the last name. He said, “He’s an Ables.”

Feeling panicked, Melinda said, “Get me out of here, Jim.”

The young looked at Jim for a second and then asked, “Are you Jimbo?”

“Yes,” Jim answered wishing he was anywhere but there.

The young man stuck out a hand and said, “Welcome to the family, Jimbo. I’m Wally Ables. I heard that you are going to marry my cousin Tripp. She’s told me all about you.”

“I’m not marrying her,” Jim said.

“That’s what you think. She’s got her sights set on you. Us Ables never miss once we take aim at something. You’re as good as caught,” Wally said proudly.

Jim said, “I’m not that easy to catch. If you don’t believe me, just ask the Taliban.”

“Cousin Deuce says that they’re not so tough; there are just a lot of them,” Wally said.

Knowing how Deuce felt about the Taliban, Jim knew better than to argue. He said, “I’d feel a whole lot safer in Afghanistan facing the Taliban than being here facing Tripp.”

“Damn! Tripp is going to orgasm when I tell her that,” Wally said slapping his thigh and busting out in laughter.

“It wasn’t that funny.”

Between bouts of laughter, Wally said, “You really do know how to sweet talk an Ables woman. I’ll let you through the gate and then give her a call to let her know you’re coming.”

Jim leaned forward and rested his forehead on the top of the steering wheel. He could hear Wally chuckling while walking back to the guardhouse. Wally’s voice carried well enough for Jim to hear, “She’s going to be all over him like gunfire at an Ables family picnic.”

Jim moaned. “This is a disaster.”

With the date spinning out of control even before it began, Melinda said, “We pick them up and drive straight to the restaurant. You are not to stop on the way there; not even for red lights. We won’t order any appetizers or drinks before dinner. I’ll order our steaks to be served raw so that we can eat and get the hell out of the restaurant without having to wait for them to be cooked. I’ll ask for the check when they serve the food. We’ll be out of there in fifteen minutes, max.”

“That sounds like a plan to me,” Jim said.

Melinda sank into her seat and asked, “How many cousins can they have?”

“They’ve got a lot,” Jim answered. He pulled through the gate and headed towards Mike’s house.

Melinda looked out the window and said, “It looks like a nice neighborhood. I wonder why he didn’t want us to pick him up here.”

Jim noticed a woman watching them from her living room window. He turned his head to get a better looking thinking that his eyes were playing tricks on him. The light reflected off the windows and he couldn’t see her anymore. Not quite sure of what he had seen, he replied, “I’m not sure.”

The road was wide with houses set back from the street and hidden from view by hedges or trees. Jim kept getting occasional glimpses of people through the trees, but they were just flashes that were too short to make out any details. There was something strange about it, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. Some idea was tickling the back of his brain, but it didn’t have a sense of danger to it that would have grabbed his full attention.

The GPS navigator announced that they had reached the address Mike had given them. There was a wall of very well trimmed hedges surrounding the property. Jim turned the car into the driveway thinking that Mike must spend all of his spare time gardening. The landscaping around the house was spectacular. There wasn’t a leaf out of place. Jim muttered, “I wonder why he didn’t want us to see this.”

Amazed by the profusion of flowers that surrounded the house, Melinda said, “Wow. Look at that yard.”

“It is nice,” Jim said.

“I don’t think the neighbors would appreciate it if we honked the horn to let them know we are here,” Melinda said.

“You’re probably right.”

Melinda said, “You better go up there and let them know we’re here.”

“I’d rather not,” Jim said even while unbuckling his seatbelt. He nearly hit his head on the ceiling when Melinda screamed. His pistol was in his hand before he knew it.

“There’s a naked man coming here,” Melinda shouted.

Jim stared at the naked man for a full five seconds. The topless woman at the window and the flashes of people through the trees suddenly made sense. He groaned and said, “This is a clothing optional community.”

“What?” Melinda asked on the verge of hysteria.

“I kept thinking there was something I was forgetting. I can’t believe that I forgot that Lockwood Estates is clothing optional,” Jim said. The full implications of what he had just said came crashing in on him. He looked up at the house in horror thinking that he wouldn’t survive if a naked Tripp stepped out of the front door.

“We’re in Lockwood Estates?” Melinda asked in a shrill voice that reached a volume that was close to a scream.

“Yes,” Jim said putting away his pistol. He used the button to lower the window on the front passenger side door. Leaning over, he called out, “Hey, could you let Mike O’Connor know we are here?”

“I want to meet the pretty lady who is going to marry Mister Mike,” the man said moving to the front car door. His voice was that of an adult, but the inflection sounded like an eight year old kid.

Jim stared at the man realizing that he was mentally challenged. Having a naked mentally challenged person around his charge was not the best plan from the prospective of being a protector for an attractive woman. He wasn’t quite sure how to handle the situation never having encountered one like it before. He muttered, “Oh Shit!”

Melinda said, “I’m not marrying Mike O’Connor.”

“That is not what Mister Mike said,” the man replied sticking his head through the window.

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