The typical guy next door.
|Jake walked into the roadhouse. Every head in the room turned to look at him. His eyes swept the room to see who was in the bar and who wasn’t. Ignoring all the patrons gathered there, Jake walked to the bar and ordered a beer. Jake knew that the entire town thought of him as a rebel. He lived life on his own terms and like things his own way. Although he didn’t say much about himself, his car spoke volumes, about who he was. The El Camino was cherry and had ‘The Outlaw’ emblazoned on the back window. He was proud of that car.
As Jake sat at the bar, waiting for his friends to arrive, he thought about his dilemma. Since he was a teenager, Jake had put space between himself and those around him. He worked and hung out with his friends, not needing anyone else in his life. Jake didn’t even have a dog so the only one he was responsible for was himself. He preferred his life this way. It was less complicted. But now things have changed.
Jake finally met a woman who appeared to be perfect for him. Beth accepted him for who he was, a loner. She even liked his car. For the first time, Jake thought about marriage and the thought frightened him. Marriage was a time when you had to give stuff up. Hanging out with friends and drinking beer were not compatible with marriage. On top of all that, he didn’t actually know any married couples who were happy, really happy. Just thinking about all of those unhappy marriages made him sweat.
Jake had just ordered another beer when Drew walked in. Drew looked haggard as he ordered a beer.
“Rough day?” Jake asked.
Drew tipped his beer and drank nearly the entire glass.
“Yeah,” he muttered as he set the glass down.
Just then Al and Jason walked in and ordered beers. The four of them had been friends for a long time. They now hung out at the roadhouse instead of someone’s basement as they did when they were teens. For the rest of the evening they played pool and drank beer. Jake thought, it can’t get any better than this. He didn’t want things to change but knew they must.
He made plans with Beth to go fishing the next night. As he made preparations for the evening’s festivities, he thought of how perfect she was. Beth asked to go fishing. She knew it was one of his favorite passtimes. Women aren’t suppose to like fishing. He then had a thought. What if this was one of those games women play, pretending to like the same things as their boyfriends, at least until after the wedding? That’s when the schmuck finally realized that she hated those things all along. Oh well, he though, I can still enjoy the evening whether she did or not. Some things are just sacred.
There is something about driving a car with the windows rolled down and tunes cranked, especially when the car looked as good as his car. People turned their heads when they heard the car. He just laughed because he knew they just didn’t get it. They would never get him. That’s why he was called ‘The Outlaw’.
Beth was ready when Jake pulled into the driveway and he was surprised at her appearance. She actually looked as if she were ready for fishing, dressed in jeans and a t-shirt with boots. Not all gussied up like women sometimes do. And, oh god, his heart almost stopped, she had her own fishing pole complete with a tackle box. This had to be a joke, right? Women just don’t do that, do they? Jake had never heard of anything like this before. Women are supposed to be manipulative and conniving. Not looking ready for adventure.
“All set?” he asked as she settled into the seat.
“Absolutely.” Beth flashed him a smile. “Where are we going? I hope the fishing is good today.”
“We are heading to Black Lake. I’ve heard the fishing has been good lately,” Jake answered.
“I just wanted you to know that I’m going to catch more fish than you today,” Beth said with a smile.
“Oh, yeah,” he said smiling, accepting the challenge, more than a little surprised.
“What makes you so certain of this?” He asked.
“It just is,” she replied.
The bantering between them lasted until they reached the fishing spot. At the lake, they got all rigged up and threw their lines in the water. It was perfect fishing weather, calm, clear and cool, and the fish knew it. They were biting hard and fast. Before long Jake had caught more fish than Beth but hers were bigger, so he figured they were even.
“How about we take these back to my place for dinner?” Jake asked, finding himself wanting to spend more time with her. “There’s no sense letting them go to waste.” He could hear his father’s voice in his head; it was one of his favorite sayings.
“Sounds good to me,” Beth replied.
When they got back to Jake’s place, he cleaned then cooked the fish. Beth helped with the rest of the food and the two of them enjoyed a nice dinner. All through dinner, Jake kept waiting for something bad to happen. The easy banter they had all through the day kept up. Could I trust this? He wondered. Would she like his friends? Jake was sure she would but would it be worth giving up his freedom for this seemingly perfect woman?
After dinner, they drove to the roadhouse in his car. There wasn’t much else to do in this small town anyway. Al and Drew were already there playing pool. Jake knew Jason wouldn’t be far behind. He made the introductions.
“Do you want something to drink?” Jake asked.
“A beer would be good,” Beth said.
She then went over to the empty pool table next to where Al and Drew were playing. Beth began setting the table up and offered the break to him. She played surprising well. Jake hadn’t met many women who could play very well. Soon they were playing doubles with Al and Drew. Jason finally arrived with his date of the week and after introductions stood watching the game.
After several games of pool, the guys decided to call it a night. Jason and his date left earlier in the evening and Jake asked Beth if she was ready to go.
“Yes,” she said reaching for her coat.
As Jake drove to Beth’s place, she reached out and took his hand.
“I really had fun tonight,” she said.
“So did I,” Jake replied enjoying the feel of her hand in his.
“I’d like to do this again,” Jake said after a few moments.
“I’d like that,” she said softly.
He could just imagine what would happen as they dated more and more. All the old married people in the community would have them married off. That’s what happens in this town. People get caught up in the expectations and jump into marriage and were miserable. Jake didn’t want that to happen. If he couldn’t have a happy marriage, then at the very least he didn’t want to be miserable. There had to be a way to be both married and happy. He thought of hsi friends nad the good times they had. Joe wondered if she would understand.
“What did you think of the guys?” He felt the need to ask.
“They are great. You have all been friends for a long time haven’t you?”
“Friends are really important” Beth said as if reading his thoughts. “I have a couple of really close friends too.”
Jake pulled into her driveway. They sat for a while in his outlaw care, talking. He leaned over and kissed Beth. Not one of those platonic goodnight kisses. This kiss held both a promise and an invitation. As he looked into her eyes, he knew she understood about him, his life and the kiss.
“Do you want to come in?” She asked.
And here is was, the choice. If he came in their relationship would be sealed. Jake’s life would be changed forever. Of course, in this town, people would have them married whether they said “I do” or not. And yet, the good feeling from the evening spent together made him hopeful. For an unfathomable length of time he looked into her eyes. Should he or shouldn’t he...