The House Of Robles Ch. 21

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Frankie Strikes Back

For the first time in a long time, Frankie Robles actually felt a little liberated. He was sitting back on a blue and white striped beach chair, under a crisp blue canopy where customer vehicles were normally parked and towel dried. Sure, the young man was still at his afternoon job at the car detail place, but other than that everything was looking up.

Frankie thought back to a few of the more memorable events of the last day. He’d started growing a goatee that his manager at the restaurant hadn’t liked that at all. Never mind that the manager had a goatee, and one of the hosts also had one. And so, when the manager had started hounding him and following him around the restaurant, trying to get Frankie to shave, he’d gone over to the time clock and punched out. As the manager gaped at him in utter shock, Frankie informed the pestering man that he would be sitting out front with the customers and enjoying his last meal there, while the manager prepared his last paycheck, which he was legally obligated to do. While Frankie waited, he ordered the biggest steak the joint offered, enjoying every morsel of it. Once everything was done to his satisfaction, he’d driven back home.

Frankie surprised Carmela by showing up well ahead of schedule. His wife had been looking rather dreary as of late, and maybe even a little depressed. Also, she hadn’t been staying out as late as she had been previously, but Frankie didn’t give a shit. Whatever her problem was, it was going to remain her problem, as Frankie no longer wanted anything to do with her.

He hadn’t answered Carmela when she’d asked him why he was home so early. Instead, Frankie pulled out his wallet and stepped in front of the coffee table. One by one, he’d taken out his hated credit cards and dropped them on the table.

“I’m not paying this one anymore,” He said. “Or this one, or this one.” He paused when he got to the last credit card. “And this one, I’m going to max out and buy myself whatever the fuck I want to.”

He walked upstairs, changed into his uniform for his second job, and left the apartment a short while later. He hadn’t even bothered to shut the door behind him.

Fuck her, Frankie thought.

Carmela called him a few times, as he drove over to the detail place. Frankie didn’t answer. He arrived at his job a couple of hours early. With so much time to spare, he thought it would be a good time to start sending his wife all those pictures he’d been saving up. These would be the shots of that sex romp he’d participated in with his brother, his cousin, and his brother’s girl. Frankie laughed as he went over the images, recalling what a wild night that had been. One by one, he went through the chore of sending all those pictures out. Frankie couldn’t even imagine what Carmela’s reaction would be when she started browsing through them.

His wife tried calling him while he was busy sending her the shots. This irritated him because the calls would interrupt him; he had to start the task all over again with whatever picture he was working on. With no remorse whatsoever, Frankie ignored the calls.

When Frankie was done, he scanned through his missed calls in case he’d gotten one from somebody else, like from his hot little cousin, for example. Diamond totally wanted to see him again. Despite the fact that little vixen was his cousin, Frankie totally wanted to see her, too. He especially wanted to see her hot little ass.

Unexpectedly, Frankie found one new number among the handful of calls from Carmela. It was a text, and it simply said Hi.

He replied with his own text: Who’s this?

The answer: Jennifer Eight.

This stumped Frankie, because he didn’t know anybody named Jennifer, much less a Jennifer Eight. What kind of a name was that? He figured it was his brother sending him a prank call. The message he sent back was: Call me in five minutes.

The answer: Okay.

Frankie spent the five minutes clocking in and getting his supplies ready for work. He’d already seen that there weren’t any cars waiting to be washed or detailed on the lot. This is when Frankie had taken a comfortable seat on the lawn chair.

The young man had nearly forgotten about that weird phone call, until he heard his phone ring. It was that same unknown phone number again. Frankie tried to think of something witty to say to his brother, assuming his brother was behind the call, but when he didn’t come up with anything he simply greeted, “What’s up?”

“Hello?” A low, timid voice came back to him.

The voice was female, so that was a good start, right? “So tell me, how does somebody get named Jennifer Eight?”

The caller giggled. It wasn’t an unpleasant sound to Frankie’s ear.

She said, “There are way too many Jennifers around here. I could have been Jennifer Three or Four, but I chose Eight because I graduated in Oh-Eight.”

That made her only a couple of years older than him, Frankie calculated. Maybe it was time for him to turn on the charm. “Where do I know you canlı bahis from?”

“You don’t know me.” Jennifer replied. “I’m the girl that called you to tell you that your wife was cheating on you.”

Even though Frankie thought he was completely over Carmela, the words still made him wince.

Jennifer went on. “Yup, I was the one who set your wife’s phone on the dresser, so you could hear what she was up to.”

Frankie remembered that night well, when Carmela had taken on two surfers at the same time. Well, he’d gotten back at her, hadn’t he, by sending her all those explicit pictures a short while ago? “So, one of those guys was your boyfriend, right?”

“I made that part up. He wasn’t really my boyfriend. He was just a guy I liked, but I don’t like him anymore.”

“Oh.” Frankie said, wondering why this girl had called him in the first place. “If you have any more bad news for me, you might as well save your breath. My wife and I are pretty much over.”

“That’s not why I called.” Jennifer replied, sounding shy again.

“You just called to say hi?”

“Well, kind of…”

Frankie could just imagine her, whoever she was, with her knee bouncing up and down nervously as she spoke to him.

“Well, then I guess I should properly introduce myself. My name is Frankie Robles. I work at a car detailing place downtown, near the airport. I used to be happily married. That was up until my wife decided to set a new world’s record by sleeping with half the planet.”

“She’s that bad, huh?”

“Oh, yeah.” Frankie confirmed. “But I’ve decided that I’m not going to stress about it, because I just don’t give a shit about her anymore. So, what’s going on with you?”

Jennifer sighed. “I’m bored. All the guys around here suck. All they want to do is surf all day, or smoke out and drink beer, and get laid. I mean, I don’t mind doing some of that stuff, but I don’t want to do it for the rest of my life. You know? Anyway, I was going through all my contacts for somebody to call up. I still had your number because I got it off your wife’s phone that one night. I decided to just call it and see who you were.”

Frankie mulled this over, but apparently Jennifer misunderstood his pause.

“Look, it’s okay if you don’t want to talk with me…”

“No, it’s not that.” Frankie halted her. “I just want to make sure that you’re cool talking with a married guy, who will probably be a divorced guy pretty soon.”

“That doesn’t bother me. It’s just that all of my friends live like on the same four blocks. They all do the same things and hang out at the same places. San Diego is a whole lot bigger than just four blocks, right?”

Frankie understood what she meant. He hadn’t really seen much of the big city until Carmela had taken him out of the ghetto.

“And besides, your wife is a bitch.” Jennifer added. “Do you know that when I first saw her, she flipped me and my friend off? All we were trying to do was figure out who she was, because she just showed up like out of nowhere!”

“That sounds like Carmela.” Frankie laughed, before he decided, “Okay, so let’s hang out. I have all my mornings free for the rest of the week. Pick one.”

“You don’t even know what I look like.”

“You sound like good people. It doesn’t matter what you look like.”

“Every guy who has ever called me has wanted to see my picture first.”

“See, I’m different than those guys already.” Frankie chuckled. “Okay, I have a couple of sexy pictures of myself, from this photo shoot I did a few days ago…”

“Are you serious?”

“No, I’m kidding about that. What happened was that my brother dared me to pull my shirt off in public a few nights ago. He took some shots of me posing. They’re not all fancy or anything, but at least you’ll know what I look like. I’ll send them to you in a couple of minutes, okay?”

“Are you sure you don’t want a picture of me?”

“No.” Frankie replied. “If every single guy you know has to see a picture of you before he’ll go out with you, then I want to do things different. The first time I set my eyes on you, it’s going to be in person, face to face. Fuck it.”

“What do you mean, fuck it?”

“Well, when I first met Carmela, we were both in high school. All these other guys were after her, too. It was a big competition because she was so good looking. At the time, I was all excited because I beat every other chump for her hand. I mean, I loved her and everything, but Carmela didn’t turn out anything like I thought she would. So, from now on, I’m going out with a girl because of her heart and not because of her looks.”

“What if I’m really, really ugly?”

“Then I’ll only take you out at night.”

They both laughed.

After observing Frankie’s inactivity, his manager Fat Miguel came over and tossed a cleaning towel on his lap.

“I’m not paying you to sit out here and get a suntan.” Miguel growled at him, before he retreated back to the car wash, where a couple of cars were lining up. “Get your ass in gear, Frankie!”

Into bahis siteleri the phone, Frankie said, “I don’t know if you heard that, but I have to go.”

“Wait! Is tomorrow too soon for me to call you? To hang out, I mean?”

“Tomorrow sounds great. Just remember that I have to be at this job by two. So if you’re going to take advantage of me, you’d better do it early.”

“Okay, bye!”

Frankie shut his phone and hauled his body off the beach chair. Jennifer sounded nowhere near as timid at the end of the call as she had at the beginning. In fact, he would dare say that she sounded excited. The young man discovered that he too might have been a little eager to see this new girl, this mysterious Jennifer Eight, as he trotted over to give his boss a hand.

At around ten the next morning, Frankie drove up to Mission Beach to see her. They met at the Belmont Park rollercoaster. Most of the shops and venues were open, but foot traffic was sparse that early.

Jennifer Eight turned out to be a mere wisp of a girl. She stood at a lean five-four, with hair a combination of gold and brown. Jennifer wore a navy blue, zippered hoodie and worn jeans. She had the look of a pixie with clear blue eyes, a tiny, delicate nose, defining cheekbones, and soft, thin lips. Her skin was only lightly tan, as if she avoided the sun-drenched beaches most of the time. As Frankie considered the girl, he thought her to possess a certain, classic beauty, something that was a stark contrast to the darker and more exotic flavor of his wife Carmela.

And Jennifer was nervous, so much that as they toured the broad sidewalk between Belmont Park and the sandy beach, Frankie was doing nearly all of the talking. He leaned closer and nudged her arm. “Say something.”

Jennifer shrugged. “I like your pictures.”

“Oh, and now that I’m standing right next to you, you don’t like me in person?”

“That’s not what I meant.” Jennifer glanced over, only to see that Frankie was teasing her. Right after, she turned her head in the opposite direction. “Look, I’m not a saint, okay? When your wife flipped me off, I got so mad that I wanted to get back at her right away. I did it the first chance I got. That’s why I put her phone in Brad’s room, okay?”

“So, this is like a mercy date, because you feel guilty about screwing up my already screwed up marriage? You don’t really like me at all?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“Then what you’re saying is that you like me a whole bunch?”

Jennifer suddenly looked flustered. “Are you going to keep teasing me all day?”

“I should stop, huh, and do something else?”

When Frankie thought about it later, he was hard pressed to come up with a reason for what he did next. At the moment, it just seemed like the most natural thing to do. He reached out and clasped Jennifer by the arm, but instead of pulling her to him, he stepped before her. Frankie held her close, observing how different she looked, and how different she felt from Carmela. Jennifer Eight seemed to be from an entirely different world than the one he knew. In many ways, she truly was.

For a long moment, Frankie wondered if his new interest felt the same way about him. Jennifer gave him an answer of sorts, when her slender arms tentatively reached out to his waist. It felt extraordinary to have this new girl hugging him.

“Do you know that Carmela was my first and only girlfriend?” He mentioned.

“Do you know that I’ve never been in love?” Jennifer replied.

For a few moments, they both allowed themselves to forget who they were and where they came from. They became two lonely souls searching for and finding a connection in a great sea of emptiness. With their eyes they talked, sharing an unspoken language of all things eternal, of the complexity of human existence. It was a quiet language, conveying desires both fulfilled and unfulfilled, and foretold of the collision between two vastly different universes that was about to take place. In his arms, Frankie held Jennifer Eight. As the young man contemplated this, he knew that the number eight could also stand for infinity.

She rose up on her toes, reducing the distance between them. Frankie felt compelled to bridge that wonderfully small gap. They had their first kiss together. Not only was it passionate and worthy, but it was also beautiful and unforgettable.

The time slipped through their midst like water. They spent the remainder of their date walking and talking. Above all, they explored each other’s tender lips, mouths and tongues, and in trying to pry the secrets from one another’s eyes.

“I’m going to be late for work.” Frankie lamented, giving his newfound love one, then two, then three pecks. The last of these included a quick nibble on Jennifer’s lips. Breathlessly, he said, “I have to see you again. You just tell me what day and what time.”

“Do you really want to see me again?”

“Are you kidding me? I want to take you to work with me, just so I can still see you now! I want to bahis şirketleri call off, so I can stay here with you. I should do that. If you tell me to, I swear I’ll do it.”

“No, you go do your job. Just don’t, you know, forget about me.”

“That reminds me.” Frankie fished out his phone. “I guess I’m wanting a picture of you after all. So I won’t, you know, forget about you.”

Once he’d taken the shot, Frankie smiled and gave her one last farewell. He trotted through the amusement park’s parking lot, jumped into his car and was soon after heading out into the street.

Jennifer Eight watched the car until it faded off in the distance, before she pulled out her phone. Even as she punched in her best friend’s number, she found herself giddy and nervous.

“You know I can’t talk now.” Her best buddy Kate answered. “You know I’m at work!”

“I just finished up my date.” Jennifer revealed.

“You mean with that married guy?” Kate blurted out. “Oh, my God! I can’t believe you actually went out with him! I can’t believe he actually came out here to pick you up!”

“We didn’t go anywhere. We just hung out by the ‘coaster.”

“Well, shit, Jen! You’re going to tell me all about this guy! As soon as I get my break, I’m going to call you back, okay? Just give a sneak preview of what happened. How did it go?”

“I really like this guy.” Jennifer said.

“Oooh, you’ve got the itch for him, don’t you?”


“Well, I have some advice for you: Do not fuck things up.” Kate cautioned. “You know how you get sometimes. You shouldn’t be hooking up with a married guy anyway! You remember how that bitch wife of his looked at us that one night!”

“I know, I know.”

“Remember what I said: Do not fuck things up. Otherwise you’ll end up scaring him away like you do to every other guy you go out with. Did I already tell you that I’m not liking that he’s married? I guess the honey pot wants what the honey pot wants, yeah?”

Jennifer snickered.

“I’ve got to go, Jen, but I’ll call you as soon as I can. Bye!”

Jennifer closed up her phone and sighed. She did end up chasing all of her potential suitors away, because she was deceitful, manipulative, and because she loved stirring up hornets’ nests wherever she went. It was just her bad luck that this new guy Frankie was married. But if this bitch Carmela though she could step all over Jennifer, well, that bitch would very soon have another think coming her way.

The next morning started off simply enough. Kate had talked Jen into getting her hair done. Since she hardly ever gave herself such pampering, Jen had gone ahead and done it. Her hair was curly and bouncy now. Next, Kate started badgering her about her make-up. Jen was no big fan of make-up, so she went with the bare minimum: dark but unpretentious eyeliner to accent her eyes, a pale blush on her cheeks, and lipstick in a soft pink. Her clothing consisted of the usual zippered hoodie, this time in a crisp, royal blue, which nearly entirely concealed a pretty white blouse she had on underneath. That went over her best pair of jeans. Jen was going for a nicer than usual look, but she did not want to appear as if she’d gone desperately all out. She still couldn’t believe that a guy like Frankie could even remotely be interested in a girl like her, because she was so skinny and there were much better looking blondes than she up and down the block. In fact, she’d half-convinced herself that Frankie wasn’t showing, up until his car turned into the rollercoaster’s parking lot in nearly the same exact way it had done the day before. It was only after she’d gotten into the passenger seat that she decided it was all really happening.

The previous day, they’d gone to one of Jen’s usual hangouts in Belmont Park. For this precise reason, Frankie decided to take her to a place more representative of who he was and where he came from. This turned out to be Chicano Park, located on the mainland foot of the Coronado Bridge.

For the next hour, the pair traversed the block-long and grassy expanse, taking in the colorful murals and goofing around in the artistically canopied, but otherwise open stage for musicians and performers. After that, they meandered and chatted. Here and there, they would find comfortable little niches to make out in, but the area’s plethora of insistent panhandlers and roaming transients cut their rendezvous short every single time.

Then Frankie’s phone sang out. After he checked the caller ID and answered, Jen watched as her handsome date’s features contorted from casual to apprehensive, to angry.

“What’s wrong?” Jen asked, as soon as the call was ended.

“Some shit just went down at my parents’ house.” Frankie divulged. “I have to get over there right away and sort things out, because I guess there’s still drama going on. I’m going to drop you off as soon as I get a chance, okay?”

“No!” Jen protested. “I don’t want to be dropped off. Is it really that bad?”

Frankie sighed. “I don’t know how bad it is, and I don’t want to take you back home either. Let’s just go and see what’s up, and we’ll take it from there. You wanted to see new places outside your neighborhood, right? Well, you’re about to see where I grew up at.”

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