Storybook Characters Endangered
Dr. Seuss, Mr. Potato Head, and Snow White sound off.
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 Category:  General Fiction
  Posted: August 23, 2020      Views: 108

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This work has reached the exceptional level
The dinner date finale.
"Between Friends (Part-6 of 6)" by Ric Myworld

Previous chapter: After a rough three nights with Olivia, Brad goes home. The next afternoon, he calls Leslie and makes a date for Wednesday, to meet Aaron and his fiancée.
Brad pulls into Leslie’s driveway at promptly 6:40, five-minutes to spare. He pushes open the car door and steps out as two youngsters ride bikes up the sidewalk, eagerly waving—typically, watching him, not where they’re going. Which recalls that old cartoon jingle, “’George, George, George of the jungle, watch out for that tree.’” CRASH! The children smack into the tree, without serious injury. Brad hurries over and helps the tots up. His assurances soothe hurt feelings and the scraped-knee snubber’s morale.
At the front door, he admires the well-maintained flowerbeds in both directions the length of the house. He knocks lightly three-times and waits. As he was about to ring the bell or knock again, the door slowly squeaks open, a lovely woman’s pleasant smile greets him welcome.
“Come in, please. You must be Brad?”
“Yes, ma’am. I think I’ve talked to you on the phone a time or two?”
“Yes, nice to finally meet you, Brad. I’m Georgia, Leslie’s mom.” Handshakes the universal sign of strength and assuredness, Georgia’s lumberjack-firm grip sends Brad an intimidating message.
“So, very nice to meet you, Georgia . . . I can see where Leslie gets her good looks.” Brad’s comment registers blunder-recognition on his face, true as his words are.
“Likewise, Brad.” She motions Brad toward the couch, “Have a seat. Leslie should be down in a minute.” And thankfully for him, no sooner than Georgia has spoken, Leslie walks down the steps, radiant and gorgeous as always.
Brad and Leslie manage to slip out within minutes and avoid a bulk of idle chitchat and busybody screen-the-suitor questions, to his obvious relief. And surprisingly, Georgia doesn’t follow them out to the car. She just stands on the porch smiling and waving as they open the doors, step in, and drive away.
“Wow, Les, you look beautiful. Not that you don’t always. . ..” Brad struggles not to stammer and stutter. “But, exceptionally-so tonight.”
“Aw, Bradley, thanks for the compliment . . . but let’s not exaggerate. I’m far from beautiful, just maybe okay for a Wednesday-night dinner with your old friends.”
“Well, you’re beautiful to me.” And Brad has never meant anything more. Wishing he could undo the past weekend.
Olivia would most likely be considered the dazzling black Ferrari or Lamborghini that demands attention and flashes danger signals at every curve, and she sure has plenty of curves. While, Leslie more resembles the white S-series Mercedes built for luxury, comfort, and reliable dependability. The sex goddess versus the stuck in your heart and head forever “girl-next-door.” Quick thrills battle lasting security. Leslie every bit as stunning as Olivia, just in a conservative, confident way, without pompous flamboyance.
The parking lot was full at Malone’s, as usual, they drive in circles for what seems an eternity. Finally, already late, they beat the other pursuers to a space near the entrance. Horns blow, and middle fingers fly-up ungraciously conceding such a minuscule victory.
Inside the front doors at the host/hostess station, Aaron’s humiliating yell makes Brad and Leslie spectacle of the whole restaurant’s scrutiny. Nowhere to run or hide, they become “talk of the town” for the evening.  
“Hey, man, good to see you.” Aaron pats Brad on the shoulder and motions, “Come on back . . . our table is in front of the side bar.” Aaron stops, takes Leslie’s hand, appears to introduce himself, and kisses her on the cheek. A little overboard, but quintessential Aaron. Then, he leads her to the table just around the corner. He stands in front, blocking Brad’s view, the girls’ introduction inaudibly muffled by the crowd noise.
Brad’s turn to meet Aaron’s fiancée, Leslie slides aside, and he steps against the table. Instantly, he feels sick. Knees weak and wobbly. So, nauseated and disoriented he clutches the table to keep from collapsing. Aaron’s preface-pleasantries garble into the background babble. Oh, no, how could it be . . . Olivia! Brad gazes, mute, at Olivia’s nakedness. Every little freckle and orifice ingrained in his X-rated memory from their carnal soiree.
Fashionably clad, thank goodness. Olivia sits confident, and perfectly in control. Piercing-green eyes and cocky smirk of the “cat who ate the canary” or vixen who caressed Brad’s body with a tongue-bath slathered in shared body fluids.
“Nice to meet you.” Olivia smiles, nods, and holds out her hand.
“You, too . . . it’s a pleasure.” Brad takes Olivia’s hand, already in a sweat of borderline panic, shaking and about to pee himself.  
Brad makes room for Leslie, so she can scoot into the booth first, then he follows. The funny look on Aaron’s face, real or imagined, curiosity, or recognized awareness of his and Olivia’s changes in mannerism.
Olivia, obviously, the ultimate liar. Probably honed her skills of pecker-head manipulation before grade school. The perfect poker player or spy. Her face never flinches, and style never wavers.
Brad’s expression resembles a sneaky-twerp kid who should’ve been hiding in the corner, straining not to poop his pants. The phony nonchalance rendition only accentuates his frayed hysteria.     
Leslie and Olivia talk like old friends, and Brad doesn’t seem too nervous. Until, they set a shopping date together and excuse themselves to powder their noses, always in pairs. Then, he starts perspiring profusely. Sweat running off the end of his nose. His shirt drenched under the armpits, a giant wet spot in the middle of his chest, and soggy underwear sure to bleed through to his trousers by the time he stands up.  
Brad glances over, Aaron must sense something wrong, staring intensely, either at him or someone behind him. Overwhelmed by the pressures and the girls gone for so long, Brad slumps and bounces off the table as he faints and falls sprawled-out onto the floor headfirst. Restaurant staff call out for a doctor and run to grab smelling salts.

The furor gratefully turns a short-lived drama. Slowly, one eye opens, and then the other. Brad keeps blinking and stretching his eyes as he tries to clear his blurry vision.
He finally catches a glimpse of Leslie and smiles. She smiles back and keeps rubbing cold, wet towels on his forehead and neck. Visibly upset, smears of mascara squiggle down her face like black tear tracks.  
Aaron and Olivia seem to share sharp words just outside ear range, but no sooner than Brad raises his head, they stop and rush over.
“Hey, ol’ buddy, think you’ll make it?” Aaron fakes a smile. “You scared us all.” Aaron shows concern, but the bulk of his sensibilities are directed toward Olivia. She never takes her eyes off Brad. Aaron must notice.
“Oh, what a night.” Two bouncers from the bar help Brad to his feet, and Leslie wastes no time directing them to the car. She thanks Aaron and Olivia for the nice evening and promises all the traditional get-together-soon malarkey as they hurry out the door.


Monday, five-days later, Brad’s phone rings about 9:00 in the morning. Olivia’s sultry unmistakable voice that always screams sex sends a tingling sensation of panic across his whole body.     
“Hello, Bradley darling, I hope you’re feeling better . . . have you missed me?”
“Hi, Olivia.” His mind freezes. Two-less working brain cells than a cow in use. No sense trying to negotiate any real strategy.
“Well, I must say, Bradley sugar, you don’t sound too excited to hear from me?” Her little, growling-giggle in the background makes him cringe all over.
“Honestly . . . why are you calling Olivia?” Brad glad to muster a few words in succession without slobbering down his chin.
“Wow . . . are you serious? I’m calling because we need to figure out how we’re going to handle this situation.” All grows quiet on both ends of the line. . .. Brad has to say something, but what?
“Olivia, what are you talking about? We made a foolish mistake.” How could she ever think it was anything more? “You’re engaged to Aaron. My lifetime friend—if he ever speaks to me again. Listen, this stops now—and, don’t call me again—EVER!” And he hangs up.  
Brad’s mind races. A single-night’s moral lapse in discretion becomes an unimaginable three-night aphrodisiacal foray. One bad choice can change four-lives forever. The ring of a phone or doorbell chime destine his heart to skip a beat and stomach to churn from now on. Truth, a deep, black hole of emptiness in his gut. Guilt drives a compelling obligation to confess his transgressions against Aaron and Leslie. Yet, he can’t be the one to trigger Olivia’s fate.
His phone rings again, this time it’s Leslie. He answers, “Good morning, to what do I deserve such an early pleasure?”
“Morning, Brad.” Then, he senses something wrong when all goes quiet.
“Is everything okay, Leslie?”
“Well, not exactly.” Leslie clears her throat and her voice quivers as she begins to speak again. “I’m sure it was probably obvious the other night when Aaron took my hand and kissed my cheek. So, I won’t try and keep it secret any longer. Aaron and I dated whenever he was in town for over two years.”
Brad can’t believe his ears. Dated? Aaron and Leslie? And for, almost, three years. Dated, meaning . . ..

Guess it’s fair to say, everyone has their own secrets.


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