A relationship, the beginning of love and a life together . . .
|The first time I met William Sloan, I was in The Black Palomino, a bar in one of the declining neighborhoods in southwestern Boise. It was not an auspicious beginning, I realize, but I was immediately attracted by his gentle charm, his pleasant -- though undistinguished -- appearance, and his aura of quiet sorrow.
I'd been employed at the Black Palomino for several months and, while it wasn't the best situation I'd ever had, it did serve to keep body and soul together.
William spent his evenings quietly reading or musing at the back end of the long bar, as far away from the rock band as possible. In the semi-darkness, he seemed to prefer to keep to himself, tending to his own thoughts and affairs. During the course of an evening, he quietly nursed three or four beers to completion while lost in thought or, on a more outgoing day, chatting with those around him.
His inclination toward silence and reclusiveness didn't prevent some of the young women in the place from hitting on him from time to time. They knew something good when they saw it and behaved accordingly.
This attention seemed to amuse William, but he was ever polite and friendly. I observed a couple of these encounters flower into friendships and the possibility of more than a friendship. However, somehow, after a few weeks, the developing romances seemed to collapse of their own weight. The friendships did continue after the more serious opportunities dissipated, and William was, in the future, a willing ear listening to the problems of these girls in dealing with their romances. His aspect and responses were quite fatherly, though his age was close to the ages of his confidants.
I could not be critical of William's drifting approach to life. My own background was spotty enough that I was forgiving of the deficiencies of others. I was raised by an inattentive mother, who often neglected my brother and I in the pursuit of romance and adventure. I learned while young to fend for myself and keep out of my brother's path. Thus, when I approached maturity and my mother ran off with her current boyfriend, never to be seen again I was able to take care of myself on the streets.
Soon, however, I discovered that I also was governed by the same weakness that controlled my mother. This happened when I met Johnnie Black. Johnnie was handsome and strong and so charming that I could no more resist him than I could capture the birds that fly. To me, he was everything wonderful and adventurous that could come into my life. He told me he'd always love me, take care of me and provide for me. And, of course, I listened and believed every word he said. Looking into those gorgeous blue eyes, sparkling with fun and erotic desire, how could I do anything else but walk beside him and share his love.
And, so, by the time I discovered that I was pregnant with my two wonderful little sons, Johnnie Black was gone, over the hills, into the next state, looking for other conquests.
I worked hard and tried to be a good mother to my boys, but single parenthood is a hard path to walk and I know that I didn't do the best job for them that I could have. The day finally came that a welfare agency took possession of those beautiful boys and found -- I can only hope -- good homes for them where they can grow up straight and proud. I'd have done it myself if only I could. Often, as the years have passed, I've wished that I might have been able to visit them from time to time, but I realize that it's better for them that I didn't.
The years after I lost the children were bad ones for me. I didn't seem to care what happened to me and I lived the wild and rowdy life. I fell in with bad companions and existed day-to-day and door-to-door, living life on the wild side in the worst of ways.
There came a day, however, when I sat down and took a hard look at who I was and where I was going. I could see my options growing narrower and narrower and the future looked dark indeed. I decided to break away from the gang I was running with and straighten myself out as best I could.
With a little luck and some help from friends, I ended up gainfully employed at the Black Palomino and carefully walking the straight and narrow. As I put on the lost weight and my skin and hair became silky once again, I began to regain my self esteem. I timidly cast my glances about, looking for a proper relationship that might sustain me as the years went on.
As it happened, the more I watched William Sloan, the more I was drawn to him. He seemed kind and gentle and somehow so lonely. He stirred not only my interest in a stable relationship but also those long-dormant mothering instincts, the need to take care of another living creature.
There came a day when the Palomino was almost deserted and William was sitting quietly by himself at the end of the bar, reading the Idaho Statesman and sipping his beer. Taking a grip on my courage, I strolled casually to his end of the bar, swinging my hips just a little, and seated myself on the barstool next to his.
I looked at him with an eyebrow raised in challenge and he gave me that same patient smile I'd seen him give before to other female admirers. He didn't say a word and neither did I, but we seemed to share an immediate rapport and the silence was not strained. I glanced around to see how the boss was reacting to my desertion of my duty post, but it was a quiet night and he didn't seem to mind.
William and I sat side by side for several hours, communicating intensely, though few words were spoken. At one point, he reached out and gently touched my cheek with his hand. My heart soared and I felt the warmth of that touch throughout my body.
I must admit that I behaved boldly and wantonly that night as I followed William from the Black Palomino and accompanied him to his home a short distance away. I followed him home and I never again returned to the Black Palomino.
William and I established housekeeping together with relative ease and only a few problems. Naturally, there were some adjustments for both of us, particulary for him as he brought me into his solitary bachelor life. I had to adjust to his somewhat sloppy ways of housekeeping and he adapted to my constant washing. I'm convinced that I brought enough light and warmth into his house to make up for the changes I must have caused.
And, so, we're together now, however informal our arrangement may be. It seems this time I've truly landed on my feet, for he seems as happy with our relationship as I am.
He's due home from work soon now and I'm happily awaiting his return. He'll hug me and stroke me and pour some milk into a bowl for me. And I'll curl my tail contentedly around my body as I drink the milk and produce that rumbling, roaring purr in my throat that he so enjoys.