Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The first time

Allie knew that the hated ivory brush was part of a dresser set, including a comb and a mirror, Tom had given me as a wedding gift. She’d asked once if Tom had begun using this hateful thing as soon as we got married. I’d told her, no, not right at first. But sadly, it wasn’t long before he felt it was needed. I remember this happened just weeks after Mattie went to live with her daughter and new grandbaby. It was a terrible shock to my system and sometimes it still is. 
We’d only been married about six months and were still really getting to know one another when I needed minor surgery on my foot. It was no big deal, but it was very slow healingand I was having a lot of trouble with swelling during the day. Tom babied me after the surgery for a full week – which should have been long enough for me to recover. He barely let me walk at all and we were finally starting to get the swelling under control. 

“Are you going to be alright here by yourself?” Tom asked, as we lay in bed Sunday evening. “I miss Mattie. We need to find someone else to help out around here. I can make arrangements for a nurse for a week or so.”
We had someone to clean and maybe cook a little every other day so I told Tom, “I don’t want anyone but Mattie around all the time. And I certainly don’t need a nurse. I’m fine. I’m going to lunch tomorrow with the girls and one of them will pick me up. So don’t worry.”
“Oh, no you aren’t,” Tom told me, emphatically. “You’re staying home until that foot heals.”
I began to bristle. “I’m not your prisoner! I will come and go as I please. I’m not driving, I won’t be out long and I’ll be careful with my foot. Stop being so bossy!”
“No, you’re not my prisoner. You’re my love and I am the boss. You’re staying home tomorrow. That’s it. Understand?”
I huffed and turned my back to him. Tom was sweet about it. He kissed the back of my neck and whispered, “I’m taking care of you, whether you like it or not.”
The next morning, Tom got me set up for the day on the couch. I had the remote control, a plate of sandwiches and even a thermos of tea. I had strict orders to get up only to use the bathroom and to keep my foot elevated all day. 
Right, sure. That was Tom’s plan – unfortunately, that was not my plan. I had every intention of going out with the girls just as we planned. You have to understand that back then I hadn’t yet fully grasped how my marriage was going to be. I had done anything I felt like doing for a number of years and I had every intention of continuing the same way. I am embarrassed to say that the idea of lying to Tom really didn’t bother me. I had lied most of my life – to my parents, my first husband and often to the men I dated later. It was no big deal to me. Usually I felt it just kept everyone happy. Honestlythat was how I viewed it. 
Annie came to pick me up around 11:30. “Are you sure you should be going out?” she asked, as she watched me hobbling around.
“Now, don’t you start. I’m fine. I’ll take the darn crutches to keep you and Tom happy, but I’m not going to sit here staring at the walls all day.” 
Annie let me off at the door. In the hotel lobby, I spotted a pay phone. I called Tom at work to tell him I was resting and I’d call him to check in later. I hate that I used to lie to Tom, but I have to say that I was very good at covering my tracks.
We had a lovely lunch and visit. But having to use crutches was a big pain as I tried to find a comfortable place for my foot while we ate our lunch. When we were finished, I went to the restroom and to pay the check. Trying to manage my pocketbook and crutches was wearing me out. My foot was beginning to really hurt and it was swelling again. By the time Annie got me homeI was exhausted and in pain. 
“You take these sandwiches home,” I told her. “And pour out half that tea.”
“So Tom won’t know you went out today, right?” Annie asked. I gave her a sour look and didn’t reply.
As I got settled back on the sofa, I called Tom once again and told him not to call because my foot was really bothering me and I was going to take a pain pill and go back to sleep.The phone rang several times that afternoonbut I didn’t bother answering.
Tom got home about six. “How was your day?” he asked, giving me a kiss.
“My foot’s bothering me a lot. I think I might need another pain pill.”
Tom uncovered my foot and a concerned look came over his face. “Cassie,” he asked sharply, “did you go out today?”
Keeping my eyes closed, I snuggled down into a pillow to keep from looking at him, and said, “Nope, I’ve been right here.”
The phone rang again and Tom answered. “What’s that?” I heard him ask. “I see. Thank you, I’ll get it tomorrow.” When the call ended, Tom picked me up off the couch and carried me to the bedroom. I hadn’t even looked at him and it wasn’t until he put me on the bed that I glanced at his face and realized he was not happy. 
“What’s the matter?” I asked. One thing I will say for Tom, he never tries to trick me into digging myself into a deeper hole. He always just tells me. 
“That was the restaurant that called. You left your billfold there today,” he told me.
 Not truly realizing how serious he was going to take thisI said brightly, “Oops, I guess you caught me!” One more look at Tom told me he did not see this as an‘oops’, but something much more serious.
“Cassie….” He stopped and shook his head.“Cassie,” he began again, “I told you to stay home and you didn’t. You put your health and recovery in danger by not allowing your foot time to heal. And you lied to me.” 
I suddenly realized what was coming. I wasn’t always quick on the uptake back then. “Tom, you can’t spank me, my foot hurts!” 
“Well then, aren’t you lucky Im not going to spank your foot,” was his only answer before pulling me over his lap. He took time to make sure my foot was cradled on a pillow before he sailed into my behind. I knew he was really upset and he was spanking hard. He was saying something about how I was going to mind him and take care of my health. At least I think that’s what he was talking about. I wasn’t exactly concentrating on his words. I managed not to curse. By this time, I had learned that swearing only made the spanking longer and harder. But I was begging him to stop!
After many agonizing minutes, he did stop. He slid me off onto the bed and stood up. But he didn’t hug me like he usually did. 
“Girl, you’re going to have to listen to me and take better care of yourself, do you understand?” I was snubbing and sniffing as I nodded yes. I lay down to pout a bit when Tom said, “Cassie, we have to talk about your lying now.” I looked at him quickly and saw that he was holding the ivory hairbrush. He had never used anything but his hand before.

No! Forget it! You are not using that thing on me! I thought in a panic when the realization hit me that I didn’t have a choice.
“No, Tom, please, not now! You just spanked me hard! You can’t do this!” 
I was wrongHe could and he did. 
I thought a hand spanking hurt – and it surely did, but this was something else altogether. I know I was already sore but that brush simply burned like fire. He was going slow and deliberately. It didn’t last longbut that brush and I developed an instant, and intense, dislike for one another that lasts to this day.
I will saylessons were learned that day. Tom learned that I wasn’t above lying to him. I learned he absolutely would not tolerate it. I also learned that I hated the ivory brush andunfortunately,Tom learned thattoo. It quickly became his weapon of choice when he thought I really messed up.
I complain a lot about that horrible brush. But if the truth be knownit is used a lot less thait was during the first few years of our marriage. I guess I don’t see it, well, feel it, all that much anymore. Maybe a couple of times a year. And there have been years where it was never used at all, if you can believe that. But everywhere we have ever livedit has stayed on my dresser, unless Tom has it packed. It was my wedding gift from Tom and it is my lot in life. I guess that there's something to be said for heirlooms, but certainly not this one.

Note from PK:

If you enjoy Cassie's stories you can read all about Cassie and Tom and their friends in the Cassie's Space series.

Friday, March 08, 2019

The Spat

Anyone who has read any of my stories, knows Sue. Other than Tom, Sue is the dearest friend I’ve had in this life. She, like Tom, feels like part of my very soul. We’ve laughed together, cried together, loved together and certainly gotten in trouble together. And it’s been this way nearly since the moment we met over fifty years ago. But that doesn’t mean that on rare occasions we don’t disagree. As Allie poked around for another story, she got one that I don’t think she expected.
Allie and Lily are always eager for a new story. They seem to think that anything negative from my past is fodder. One day this past summer Tom, Andy, Steve and Ryan were golfing so we girls had gathered on the deck at my house. As Allie stretched her beautiful long legs out, she complained, “Look at these scars,” she fussed, pointing to her knees. Daddy used to tell me I’d never be a Rockette because I used to beat the heck out of my knees when I was little – skating, biking, just running around, it seemed I kept them beat up. I’ve got a scar on my arm, too where I caught it on a snag when I fell water skiing.”
I glanced over and rolled my eyes. “You’re hideous,” I told her, without emotion. “You look just like the bride of Frankenstein. Girl, do you really want to compare scars with three old broads like us?” 
“Where do you have scars?” she asked.
We all three started laughing. “My tummy looks like a road map,” Annie said, sounding pitiful. “Back when I had my gallbladder out and a hysterectomy, they had to cut you wide open. But Andy doesn’t seem to mind, so I don’t.”
“And of course Cassie has her bullet hole scar from when she shot herself and that woman,” Sue started.
“Shut up,” I snapped. I’ve told you a million times, she shot me, and you know it.” I glared at Sue. But as I stared, I began grinning. “I do have this scar on my cheek bone,” I said, lightly stroking the spot, although the scar could barely be seen these days. I continued, staring at Sue, “And I have a scar on my earlobe, too.”
Sue’s eyes narrowed. “Too many damn wrinkles to see the one on your face anymore,” she growled. “And, how about the scar I have on my shoulder and the one I have from nearly getting my ear torn off? And it was your damn fault.”
“You started it!” I snapped.
“I did not!” Sue said, her voice rising.
“Law, what ya’ll fussin’ ‘bout now?” We hadn’t heard Lily come out the door. 
“Nothing,” Sue and I answered, in unison.
“They were, too. Lily, come on out. I think we’ve got another story coming,” Allie called as she laughed. “And it sounds like a good one.”
“I have nothing to tell,” I said, primly.
“Me neither,” Sue agreed.
Sue and I sat stubbornly silent as Allie looked crestfallen.
“I’ll tell it,” Annie jumped in. “I probably tell it wrong and I’ll put my own spin on it. But I think I remember most of it. Of course, you tell things best Cassie,” she added, grinning.
“I guarantee she’ll tell it wrong,” Sue said, icily. 
“If I’m going to tell this, I need something to drink,” I told them.
“I’ll get us some sweet tea,” Lily said, heading back inside. 
“No Lily, I need something stronger than that. How about a little wine?”
“Me, too,” Sue chimed in.
“You don’t need no wine. You know ya’ll gonna have some at supper,” Lily fussed.
“Fine, if you don’t want to hear it,” I said, haughtily.
“Oh, come on Lily, give in,” Allie said, jumping up and heading inside with Lily. 
They were soon back with three ice teas and two glasses of wine. Taking my wine, I looked over at Sue with a small questioning grin. She shrugged, and then gave me a slight nod.
I laughed as I looked back to Allie and Lily. They looked like they were waiting for a movie to start. “This is a girls’ only story,” I told them, firmly. “I don’t want any of the men to know we’ve even told you about it. Deal?” They nodded and I began.
“This was way, way back. Tom and I had only been married a few years. I think it was the same year as the cruise. We were all at one of the conventions and Sue had spent the day before ‘the incident’ getting me in trouble.
“Stop right there, you big liar,” Sue growled at me.
“Just hush, I’m telling this.”
“Fine,” she snapped, “I’ll tell them the truth later.”
“Sue and I spent the day together getting ourselves in trouble,” I amended. “Annie was there too, but she wasn’t feeling well or something. I know she stayed in her room. We’d planned to hang around the pool all day, but it was raining so we made the tour of all the hospitality rooms.

There were always tons of hospitality rooms and the booze flowed at each. I guess we drank pretty steadily from before noon until I headed back to the room to meet Tom and get dressed for the cocktail party.
“You two been bad girls all your life,” Lily interjected. 
 I ignored her and continued with my story. “I’ve always been pretty good at hiding how much I’m drinking from Tom, as long as I keep my mouth shut. And he didn’t suspect anything was amiss as we headed out. But the more I had to drink, the more my old habits began to resurface. Tom told me later that it was bad.  He said he first noticed something when he heard me laughing and cursing with a bunch of men. When he got me away from them he said I was coming on to him, um… loudly and somewhat less than discreetly.”
Allie’s eyes were wide and I grinned at her. “You can just imagine how that went over with Tom. He whisked me out of there pretty quickly and put me to bed.”
“Didn’t he whip your butt?” Lily wanted to know. “He sure should have.”
“Whose side are you on, Lily?” I asked. 
“I ain’t never gonna be on ya’lls when you been drinking like a fish. That’s for sure.”
I continued, “To answer your question, no, not that night. However, the next morning, after I’d sobered up some, the man flat wore me out. He wasn’t angry, but he was a man on a mission and that mission was to convince me of the evils of drinking. Tom doesn’t exactly spank gently these days, but I know it was worse back then. He spanked long and hard and I was sore as a boil when he finally felt he’d gotten his point across.
“But we talked a long time too. I expect I cried more from the talking than the spanking. I knew I’d embarrassed Tom, though he never said that. But I so wanted to make him proud and I felt guilty. He was so sweet. He held me and eventually made me feel like the most perfect wife in the world. I still don’t know how he managed to do that.
“Later, after another little nap, Tom told me, ‘I’ve ordered room service to bring up a late lunch for you and Sue and Annie. Steve, Andy and I have to get our presentation ready for tomorrow morning. I’ve ordered ice tea for you all – that’s it. No more drinking on this trip. Are we clear?’ I agreed with no argument.
“Tom headed to Andy’s room and the girls joined me. Sue looked a little worse for wear, as I’m sure I did. Annie was kind enough not to ask how we were feeling. Sue seemed to be in a foul mood almost the moment she walked through the door. She was mad as hell about something, but I had no idea what. 
“Lunch came and, somewhat reluctantly, I sat with the others. It hurt. Tom had spanked me thoroughly and I’m sure I winced as I sat. I couldn’t help it.
“Annie tried keeping up a little small talk. Neither Sue nor I helped much. We had barely gotten started, when Sue simply exploded.  ‘That sorry son-of-a-bitch! I’m gonna kick his ass!’
“Annie and I were completely taken off-guard by how vehemently she spoke. I was at a total loss. What in the world had Steve done to her? He certainly didn’t spank at that time. I’d shrunk back in my chair from her unexpected anger. Looking at her, I was almost feeling panic as I asked, ‘What the hell did he do?’
“Sue had jumped to her feet, too agitated to sit. ‘That bastard beat you and I’m not putting up with it this time!’ she shouted.
“I knew I was a little hung-over, and my brain might not have been following as fast as it could have been, but I was lost. I stood, too. I wanted to help her – she was so distraught, but she wasn’t making any sense.
“Looking at me with fire in her eyes, she spat out, ‘I know that asshole Tom beat the shit out of you, but you don’t even tell us? You just take it? We’re supposed to ignore the fact that you’ve been crying? That you wince every time you move? You need to leave the bastard until he gets his temper under control. I can’t go through this shit again.’
“I finally realized what she was saying. Actually, she was saying two things – one was crazy and the other… the other, I couldn’t even let myself begin to think where she was going with that.
“Poor Annie sat staring not knowing how far this was going. But I’d heard all I was going to listen to. Trying my best to rein in my anger, I said, ‘That’s a lie and you can shut your damn mouth! Tom did not beat me. That’s absurd and you know it.’
“’He didn’t beat you? Sit down!’ she shouted. ‘I want to see you plop down in that chair.’
“’Get out.’ My voice was menacing. We were both so angry, breathing hard and staring each other down. 
“’Cassie you know I love you. Can’t you see he’s hurting you? I can’t ignore that.’
“’Tom does not beat me. Our marriage is different. We do things our own way. I’m fine with it. You know we’re happy. Why are you doing this?’
“’I can’t stand to see you take up for him like you’re some little doormat. He’s convinced you that he has the right to beat you and you’re such an idiot that you’ve bought into it. I can’t stand by and watch this again. Tom’s no better than ________.’
“And then she did it. 
“She said my first husband’s name. 
“It’s not a common name. I never hear it and I never want to. I’ve never mentioned his name here and I won’t. But she didn’t just say the name, she said it in the same breath as my wonderful Tom. She had actually said that Tom was the same as … him.
“I don’t know if she expected me to take a swing at her – the fool certainly should have. She should have run like hell. My fist caught her right below the eye and she staggered back in shock. But she didn’t stay shocked long. She came at me. Her first punch split my lip and then, boy howdy, it was on. It was your typical girl fight after those first few blows. We’d knocked the cart with the food on it completely over. We were on the floor rolling, kicking, scratching, biting, head butting and hair pulling. Part of me wishes I had a video of the whole thing. I know we were a sight to behold.

“Poor Annie was terrified. She realized there was no way she could possibly get us apart and she ran down the hall shouting for the men. They heard her cries and were already coming. Andy grabbed her, but Tom and Steve were heading for the noise we were making. I guess you can just picture what they walked, or rather ran, in on. Each fellow tried to grab his own wife, but we weren’t quite ready to give up the fight.
“I’d been in my share of brawls during my time on my own. I’d learned quickly, don’t stop fighting until your opponent wasn’t moving. When Tom tried to pull me away, the only thing that registered in my mind was that someone was trying to stop me. And that meant it was an enemy. That’s why I slammed my head back into his face – I had no idea at the moment that it was Tom. That was how I, unfortunately, managed to give him a bloody nose in the process. 
“Tom got me locked in a bear hug, and by saying my name over and over, he finally stopped my struggling. Steve was helping Sue to her feet. She looked rough. Her blouse was ripped nearly off, blood was running down from her shoulder and dripping from the back of her ear. Her face was also bleeding from her lip and her nose.
“I had fared little better. My cheek was split open over my cheekbone, and my mouth and nose also dripped blood. One earring had been torn through my ear, which added to the bloodletting. 
“Even Tom was bleeding as we stood there, all of us in shock. It seemed quiet for a moment, all you could hear was Sue and I breathing heavily. 
“Then into the quiet I heard Steve ask, ‘What the hell?’ Tom seemed at a loss for words.
“’Andy, get some wet cloths,’ Annie told him, taking command. ‘Sit, both of you,’ she barked at us.
“Responding to the authority in her voice, we both sat side by side on the sofa as she and the fellows huddled around. Annie and Andy were the ones cleaning the wounds and pressing the cool cloths to our faces. They worked for a few minutes before Andy spoke. ‘They need a doctor. We’ll have to go to the ER.’
“Sue and I both looked at him, startled. Then we turned and looked at one another. We said a lot with that look. Sue and I love one another. It’s deeper than a friendship, it always has been. She stood by me and tried her best to protect me during my first marriage. That marriage wounded her as well as me. After that, she and Annie had probably kept me alive for those five years before I met Tom. Our fury was spent. The look we shared was only love. And gently, because of our wounds, we hugged briefly.
“‘What, what … what caused this?’ Steve asked in bewilderment.
“Sue and I immediately turned to Annie and each of us gave a slight shake of the head. This didn’t need to be discussed with the men. This was just between us.
“‘Oh, no,’ Tom snapped, ‘you have to tell us what in the world happened here.’
“‘Tom, we need to get them to a doctor,’ Andy repeated. ‘Some of these places are going to need stitches.’ 
“He was right. Once we got to the emergency room, my cheek and ear were stitched. Sue got a few stitches to make sure the ear I tried to rip off would stay on and they cleaned the bite wound on her shoulder. 
“Back at the hotel we all gathered in Annie and Andy’s room – neutral territory, I suppose. ‘Should we just head home?’ Steve asked.
“’Why?’ Sue and I asked together. ‘We can’t go, you all have a presentation in the morning,’ Sue continued.
“’Presentation? You two just tried to kill one another and you’re worried about our presentation?’ Tom asked in bewilderment. ‘Tell us what happened. I want to know and I want to know now.’
“I looked Tom straight in the eye, ‘I’m not going to tell you,’ I said simply. Sue reached over and took my hand.
“’I’m not telling either,’ Sue said quietly. ‘Annie?’ Sue reached out to take her hand also, ‘Will you promise?’
“Annie turned a troubled look toward Andy, and then agreed. ‘I promise.’
When I came out of my story-telling reverie , I realized I was again holding Sue and Annie’s hands. I gave them each a squeeze. I had to laugh as I looked to Allie and Lily, their eyes were big as saucers. They had obviously been enthralled. 
Allie found her voice first, “Mom, I cannot believe you and Sue could fight like that. I…” The child truly seemed dumbfounded. Lily still sat with her mouth open, saying nothing.
“How long did Tom let you get away with not telling him the reason?” Allie wanted to know.
I smiled at her. “I’ve never told him. None of us have,” I glanced at the girls and got a nod of confirmation. “They rarely ask anymore. I can understand their curiosity. One minute we were best friends, the next enemies in vicious combat, then with not one word spoken, back to loving one another. Yes, they have to have been bewildered. I suppose we could tell them now, it wouldn’t matter anymore. But somehow, I like the bond of just us girls knowing. I’m not even sure why we told you all. I guess it’s just that we’re all family and I trust you both not to tell the boys. Don’t even tell them you heard the story.” 
“Law, it’s a wonder Mr. Tom let you get away with not tellin’. If I’d walked in and see somethin’ like that, I’d had to know what got you two fightin’ one another,” Lily finally spoke up. “How you two make up without talkin’?”
Sue laughed. “We just seemed to understand one another at that moment. I think we both felt in our minds then, that the other one had actually started the fight. I think we feel that way still,” Sue told them, looking over at me.  I nodded. 
“I guess we both felt we’d been justified in the fight and that it was over,” I added. “Of course, the irony of the whole thing wasn’t lost on us either. I mean, Sue beating the crap out of me for not leaving a man she was worried was beating the crap out of me. If that’s not irony, nothing is.”
“Sue was scared for me – I guess she had worried a bit ever since the cruise. And that day, being hung over, and realizing that she had been at least part of the reason I’d been in trouble with Tom in the first place, she just let her fear take over. Sue always gets mad when she’s worried or scared.” 
“I was scared,” Sue agreed. “I didn’t like it for years after, but that day… I don’t know maybe it was because I was hung over. I knew how bad I was feeling and then to see Cassie hurting when she sat – I just lost it. I’ve calmed down over the years. I suppose Tom does have his good points,” she admitted, grudgingly.
“Ya think?” I laughed
Storytime was over. Allie got up, came over to me and gave me a kiss. “Love you, Mom. I can’t wait until they make a movie of your life. I hope they pick someone amazing to play your daughter-in-law.”

Note from PK:

If you enjoy Cassie's stories you can read all about Cassie and Tom and their friends in the Cassie's Space series.