Jack’s round eyes rolled over in his head to focus on Mike’s close, way too close, face. A look of recognition crossed those eyes. Mike crinkled his nose and looked down at the spreading wet spot in Jack’s pants and the widening puddle of urine forming on the floor around Jack’s shoes. Mike let go.
“Get cleaned up,” he said, heading back into the house.
Harriet was in the kitchen with Patience, washing her hands in the sink.
“What were you two talking about in the garage?” she asked.
“I was just apologizing for being such an ass before,” said Mike, as he heard Jack enter behind him. “But, uh, Jack spilled his drink. So he needs to go change his pants.”
“That’s fine,” said Harriet. “Patience and I are just getting ready to set the table.”
Mike thought that it was the best quiche that he had ever eaten. Sautéed green beans and fresh fruit completed the meal. Harriet was a little concerned that Patience wasn’t eating anything, but Mike assured her that this was completely normal. He also pointed out that Jack wasn’t eating much either. Jack apparently didn’t feel well and everyone agreed that he looked a little green around the gills.
“I heard you speaking to Jack in the garage,” said Patience on their way home.
“Did you hear everything?” asked Mike.
“Are you upset with me?”
“No, Mike. I could never be upset with you.”
“I just thought that you might be disappointed that I wasn’t more jealous over you.”
“You’re not feeling jealous yourself? Or upset that I love Harriet more than I love you?”
“I would expect you to love her more than you love me,” said Patience. “You have known me for only a few days. You’ve known her all her life. Your love for your children is just one of the many things I like about you, Mike.”
When they returned home, there were several packages waiting on the front step. Two were quite large—as big as the box that Patience had arrived in. One was small and flat. Three others were odd configurations. Mike picked up the small, flat package and examined the address.
Mr. Mike Smith
11 North Willow
Springdale, California 82803
As it turned out, this was the only one of the packages addressed to him. The others had all been sent to Patience D. Smith at the same address.
“What the hell is all this?” wondered Mike.
“These are some of the purchases that I have made,” Patience replied.
“These aren’t all clothes?”
“Of course not, Mike. I’ve started selling some of your old things on eBay, and I realized that there were a number of things that I could buy and sell for a profit.”
“Are you sure? There’s a lot of junk on eBay. That’s why I sell all mine there.”
“I’m sure. This package is from Submit Fashions.”
“Really?” wondered Mike. “That sounds like some kind of fetish shop.”
“Well it isn’t,” said Patience. “It’s a store that sells sexy clothing for young ladies.”
“Such as yourself.”
“Such as myself. I noticed that you enjoyed watching me in my new clothes.”
“Indeed I do,” replied Mike.
They took the packages in and Patience removed most of them to the garage. Mike sat down and opened the one small package that had his name on it. Inside was a new texTee. It was like the one that he had used in the hospital. It had a brushed grey finish and a larger screen than did his old one. He turned it over and flipped the on switch.
“Good evening, Mike,” it said aloud.
“Do you like it?” asked Patience from the hallway.
“It’s beautiful, but I wasn’t planning on buying a new one. My texTee isn’t that old.”
“I noticed that you liked the one at the hospital,” she said.
“I did like it, but I don’t remember saying anything about it.”
Patience poked her head around the corner and grinned. “It won’t be long before I know what you need before you even know that you need it.”
“Just as long as you don’t tell me ‘I’m sorry Mike, I’m afraid I can’t do that”.
“I doubt I’ll need to do that,” she replied.
“Well there you go.” Mike turned back to his new texTee. Time Magazine was loaded and he began reading the political department.
“What do you think?” asked Patience a few minutes later, now back in the center of the living room.
“I think Barlow is an asshole. Why is he cozying up to the religious right? You know he hates them.”
“I mean about my clothes.”
“Holy Crap!” said Mike, looking up at last. “I thought you said that wasn’t a fetish store.”
“It is not a fetish store. This is what all the young women are wearing.”
“Then all the young women are dressing like sluts.”
Patience was wearing a halter top and a pair of short shorts, both of which were made of some kind of very shiny white plastic material. She had a matching pair of shin high white boots with platform soles that had to be three inches high.
“How do you propose to walk in those?”
“I can walk just fine,” said Patience, and began doing a sort of 1970s electric slide, sideways across the living room. “Does that mean you don’t like my new clothes?”
“I didn’t say that,” Mike laughed. “Did you buy a swimsuit from Slave Fashions…?”
“Whatever. Did you?”
“As a matter of fact, I did. Would you like to see it?”
“No. Save it for tomorrow. We’re going to the beach.”
“That is very exciting, Mike,” said Patience, exactly as excited about it as she was about anything Mike suggested.
Mike spent the remainder of the evening gathering together everything that they would need for a day at the beach. Then he watched the news and joined Patience who was waiting in bed for him. They spent a very enjoyable half hour together there, and afterwards Mike had just enough awareness to note her leaving him alone as he dozed off.
In the morning Mike loaded the beach chairs, umbrellas, and towels into the car, along with the ice chest full of food and drinks that Patience had prepared before he had gotten up. They hopped in the car and drove west. Though they were in California, Springdale was a good three hour drive from the coast. The time went by quickly though. Mike listened to the radio. Patience watched him with devotion in her eyes.
After three hours and eight minutes of driving Mike reached Oceanside, California. He pulled into a filling station two blocks away from the beach and topped off the car’s fuel.
“Hydrogen?” he asked, pointing the hose in Patience’s direction.
“No, thank you.”
He noticed that across the street was a surf shop. He sent Patience over to rent a boogie board. When she arrived back, she not only had the boogie board, but a shopping bag as well.
“What did you buy?” he asked.
“Since I have a new swim suit, I thought that it was only appropriate that you have one as well.”
“Oh shit,” said Mike. “Good thinking. I didn’t even pack one. I don’t think I even have one anymore. It’s been so long since I came to the beach. I hope you remembered that I am a fat, old man.”
“I don’t believe that you are fat or old,” said Patience, with a frown. “The average lifespan in the United States is seventy nine point three years for men, and you already look healthier after only a few days of exercise and nutritional eating.”
“Talk about damning with faint praise,” grumbled Mike.
They drove the two blocks to the beach, but the public parking lot was completely full. Mike paid forty-five dollars to park his car for the day in a private lot. Normally, he would have complained about having to pay so much just to park, but nothing seemed to bother him anymore. After trucking the ice chest, chairs, towels, umbrella, and boogie board down to the sand, and finding a good spot just above the high tide line, the two of them went to the public changing rooms.
Mike liked the swimsuit that Patience had picked out for him. It was long, almost to his knees, and was bright orange, yellow, and red. He thought it was the type of suit that a young man would wear. It made his head swell a little to think that Patience thought it was appropriate for him. When he stepped out of the changing room and saw Patience in her suit, his mouth fell open. Her suit was without a doubt, the smallest bikini that he had ever seen. Even on the internet. The little patch of material in the front could not have been more than an inch wide and it stuck up only an inch and a half above the joining point of her legs. The back had no patch of cloth at all. It was just string. The top could have been custom made for her, in that the two triangular cups so fit her round ripe breasts that there was not a jot of material wasted. Wondering if she might be arrested for indecent exposure, Mike looked around. He was shocked to find that most of the young women at the beach were wearing suits very similar. It had been a long time since he had been here.
Though there were plenty of women with small sexy suits on the sandy shore, Mike noted that almost every eye still turned to Patience as they walked to the beach chairs. While he sat, Patience rubbed SPF 210 sun block on all of his exposed surfaces.
“I suppose you don’t need any sun block?” he asked.
“I’m shielded against much greater radiation that I am likely to be exposed to here, Mike.” Patience replied.
“So you don’t tan?”
“No. I will remain always the shade that you chose when you ordered me.”
For the next several hours, Mike and Patience hopped through the surf, built a sand castle, knocked it down, pulled each other along on the boogie board, and had a great time. Though he was initially concerned about water getting into the small openings in the back of her neck, Patience showed Mike that she had protected against such a calamity by covering the area with a clear plastic patch. By the time Mike thought about food it was early afternoon. Patience had packed quite a picnic lunch–sandwiches, fruit, Jell-o, and diet sodas. After he ate, they swam, and continued playing in the surf, Mike pointedly entering the water without waiting for an hour. He refused to be responsible for propagating an old wives’ tale.
When night eventually fell they strolled along the beach, listening to the pounding of the waves. They walked to the opposite end of the stretch of sand, several miles from where they had parked, and found a seafood restaurant. They smiled and talked over the candle-lit dinner, though Patience didn’t eat. Then walked back down the darkened beach, hand in hand, pausing every so often to look at the moon reflecting off the waves. When they reached their picnic site, they found they were all alone on the sand.
Patience leaned over and kissed Mike deeply, her tongue darting in and out of his mouth. He returned her kisses and more. She deftly removed the tiny bottom of her swim suit and pulled him over onto her, as he frantically pulled at the strings that held up his trunks. Their lovemaking left a sensual imprint in the sandy beach.
“Like sea otters,” said Patience.
“That was a pretty good day,” said Mike.
They gathered up their belongings and carried them back to the car. Loading the things in the back seat, Mike opened the passenger door for Patience and then climbed in to the driver’s side.
“Yes, this certainly was a pretty good day.”