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I was at a cookout that Calvin and Melissa were having a couple of months after Calvin’s kissing incident with Clara. I wonder if he told Melissa about that.  Anyway, they have one of these cookouts each year.  This time, things were very different.  For the last couple of months or so, I’ve noticed how Calvin seemed to be happy, for lack of a better word.  He wasn’t his usual down in the dumps self.  He had a kind of sparkle in his eye, and he seemed to be overall happy with life.  For one thing, he wasn’t complaining much about his marriage.  As a matter of fact, he doesn’t talk much about his marriage at all these days.

Anyway, I was standing next to Melissa at the table with the juices, beers, and other drinks.  There were some pastry thingies too.  I’m not sure what they were.  I do know that they were absolutely delicious.  They had this cream inside, but it wasn’t your typical cream that you might find inside of a Dunkin Donut.  It was rather heavy, sweet and salty at the same time, but not a lot.  It was just enough so that you knew it was there, could taste it, and then bask in its deliciousness.  Those were some really good pastries.  I don’t know who made them, but they were going fast.  I got some because I happened to be standing next to them and noticed how people kept coming by and grabbing them.

Well, as I was standing there with Melissa and enjoying those delicious pastries, she said something that caught me off guard.  She said, “You know what, Jimmy.  I’m happy for Cal now.  He seemed so distant before.  He has been really happy these last few months.  I was beginning to think he wasn’t happy with me or something.”  I almost inhaled the pastry that was in my hand, even though I was “inhaling” them anyway because they were so good, and I wanted as many as I could get.  I didn’t know what to say to Melissa or if I should say anything at all.  She seemed to be clueless about Calvin’s encounters with Clara, which were many these past few months.  Calvin has been a new man ever since that first kiss she gave him a while ago.

A few moments went by and I still didn’t know what to say.  Out of nowhere, however, I said, “What happened?  I noticed the same thing.  Are you guys expecting or something?”  She chuckled and said, “No. What are you trying to do?”  Nothing, I said. “I was just trying to figure out why he changed so drastically.”  She said that she didn’t know.  Nothing changed at home, she said.  I knew that was really a problem because Cal was always complaining about his marriage.  He wouldn’t come right out and say things, but I’ve known Calvin a very long time and I know what he means when he does and says certain things and how he says them.

I asked Melissa if she knew of anything different on his job.  Maybe he got a new boss that he likes and the dread of going to work wasn’t so bad, even though Calvin never really complained about his job or his boss.  Melissa said that she wasn’t aware of anything significantly different on his job except for a new employee that he met several months ago. She said, “Maybe that’s it.  He found a friend on his job.  I don’t know.”  I was floored.  She really didn’t know about Clara.

Then the most awkward thing happened that I would have never expected.  I had excused myself from Melissa to go over to Calvin as he was talking to some folks.  They were joking and laughing, and I wanted to get in on the action.  Not that I didn’t like talking to Melissa.  I just wanted to get into the guy activity going on near the pool.  I walked over and started in on the conversation when all of a sudden came this beautiful woman from the side of the house.  He had put a sign outside directing people where to come for the cookout.  I was expecting to see a man with her, perhaps her husband or boyfriend, but no one else came behind her.

She was a very good-looking woman.  She had a really nice, yet simple hairdo.  She had strong looking yet subtle legs.  They were the kind of legs you would see on TV advertising a short dress or something…or to entice a man to buy whatever was being sold.  You could tell that she works out with those legs. They looked purposefully strong and not just the results of a good diet.  She had on white shorts that stopped several inches above the knee.  Actually, Melissa had on a similar pair of shorts.  Melissa looked pretty good to tell you the truth.  Sometimes I wondered what the heck Calvin complains about. His wife is gorgeous.  Clara had a dark blue blouse with white dots in them.  She was dressed respectfully, but you could definitely see the well-defined curves she possessed.  She was definitely a brick house, from an old song I used to hear on the radio by the Commodores.  She was larger than a 36-24-36 though.  I wouldn’t call her a plus-size woman, but she definitely was not skinny.  She had meat on her in all the right places.

However, I have to say.  She didn’t look that much different than Melissa except that Melissa doesn’t work out and her curves are simply because she doesn’t eat a lot of crap.  Melissa is active, so I suppose that’s why she doesn’t look like a slop or anything like that.  Melissa would turn heads wherever she goes too.  We all are just used to seeing her, I suppose.  This woman was wearing white sandals and her feet were well groomed, as was everything else about her.  She wasn’t groomed as in extensive makeup and the like.  She was just nice looking and had a body that was a head turner.

There were a few moments of silence when we all first saw this woman walk into our domain of eats and treats.  Some lucky guy has her and we all wanted his autograph so to speak.  The next thing you know, Calvin goes running over to her all happy like a little boy who just discovered he was going into Disney World or something.  He hollers, “Hey Clar!  It’s great you could come by.  I wasn’t sure if you would be able to make it or not.” She said, “I wasn’t sure either.  Since I had some time, I decided to stop by and see Mr. James in his own habitat.” They both chuckled.

He started introducing her to us all since we were right near the pathway coming from the side of the house.  She smiled at us and said hello.  What a beautiful smile.  We all melted under the power of her radiating glow.  She looked each of us in the eye as she said hello and she had a rather firm handshake for a woman.  What confidence, I thought.  We were all stumbling because she looked so good.  It was like the most popular girl in the school came over to talk to us trolls.

He then took her over to Melissa and introduced her.  I followed.  I was concerned about how Melissa would take this new coworker that she only heard about.  I’ll bet her response would have been much different if she knew what she looked like.  Naw.  Calvin wouldn’t do anything stupid.  Right?  She smiled at Melissa as Calvin started introducing her.  Calvin said, “Clar.  This is my wife, Melissa.  Melissa.  Meet Clara Jones.  She’s the new hire I told you about at work.”  Melissa put her hand out and shook Clara’s hand.  Clara and Melissa kind of stared at each other just for a moment.  It was like two cats about to square off, but just for a moment.  Maybe it just seemed that way to me since I had a broader context of the situation.

Clara said something that I did not expect.  She almost shouted, “This is your wife?!  You’re kidding! She’s beautiful.  What the hell are you working out with me for. You should be working out with her.  She must work out because, well, look at her.”  Calvin looked at his wife then he looked at Clara and then back to Melissa.  At that moment his expression was like a man who just realized he put his foot in his mouth and that there was no way back.  Was Clara just trying to get in good with Melissa or was she serious.  Did she see her and Calvin as mere co-workers in a platonic relationship or was she scheming?  Wait a minute!  Do they work out together!!  No way.  He can’t be that stupid and even still, not tell Melissa.

Melissa had a really awkward look on her face.  If I could read what was going on in the unseen realm, I would have to say that she was fighting off a flood of tears and hurt feelings.  I was with her, in regard to being shocked that Calvin would be spending so much time alone with this woman and not tell his wife. I’m not saying that a man and woman can’t have a platonic relationship, even though such relationships are very precarious.  The fact that he has been regularly spending time with her is really nuts…stupid, and I can see the pain that dropped on Melissa as a stream of movie clips of what might be going on between her husband and his workout buddy were passing through her mind.

However, she was put at ease, I suppose, by Clara’s comments.  Maybe, just maybe Clara wasn’t after her husband.  Maybe she was just a coworker who just wanted a partner to workout with.  Maybe that’s all there was to this thing and there was nothing to be worried about. Just maybe.  Melissa looked at Calvin with the most hurt expression you could imagine on a human being, but it was only for a moment.  Melissa quickly composed herself and smiled at Clara and offered her a pastry.  I’ll bet Melissa thought, right after her offer, that surely Clara would refuse with a body like she has.  However, Clara laughed and said, “I was eyeing those things for a while now.  I noticed a few other people were eating some.  I figured that they must be good.”  Melissa had a great smile on her face.  It was a smile of pride, like someone just told you that you were the best pianist in the world or something.  Melissa said, “Thank you so much.  I made those.  I made a lot of them and I fear I ate too many of them myself.”  Clara then said, “Well, I’m going to be right behind you because I’m going to eat some of these too, and they both started to laugh.  Clara ate one, paused, and then said, “Yup.  Baby. You’re going to have to make some more of these because I’m going to eat them all up!  You’ve got to give me the recipe, even though I can’t cook nearly as well as you can.” They both laughed, and Melissa seemed like it was love at first sight with Clara or something.

The girl thing happened.  It seemed as though Clara and Melissa were bonding or something.  Cal and I were left outside so to speak.  We walked away as they were gabbing at each other like two hens trying to make a point at the same time and enjoying the squawking too.  We went back over with the rest of the guys and I slapped Calvin on the back of his neck too.  I hit him harder than a normal joke slap would be.  He was really stupid, and I think he knew it.  However, the other guys were looking at him with envy and concern all at the same time.  I think they would have lynched him if the law allowed.  We all loved Melissa. She was the sweetest person you could meet. She was kind, courteous, giving, and just all around pleasant, even though she wasn’t giving it up to Calvin, so says he.  We all would fight Godzilla for Melissa, and even though Cal was our boy, we would beat him down if he hurt Melissa, husband or not.

I said, “What the hell are you doing, stupid!? How in the world could you be hanging out with that bombshell and not tell you damn wife, stupid!?”  The rest of the guys chimed in too.  “Yeah, Cal.  What the hell were you thinking?  Was the little head doing all the thinking here?”  Calvin was looking at the ground at this time and then he briefly looked up in the direction of Melissa.  He then looked up at me and looked right through me as a man trapped in a bottle crying for help, but no one could hear him.  He said, “Yeah.  Hey.  I’ll be right back.  Don’t eat all the pastries.”  I said, “Yeah.  And why didn’t you say that Melissa made those?  I would be bragging all over the city if Linda made those!” He rushed into the house and I followed him.  I knew something was up with Calvin because I’ve known him almost his entire life and mine.

As he got into the kitchen area, I said, “Hey.  Cal.  What’s up?  You alright man?”  He said, “Oh. Yeah. I’m fine.” I said, “No you’re not, stupid.  Don’t hand me that crap.  I know you.  Tell me right now or you’ll be sorry.”  Something was really wrong with Calvin and he wouldn’t say what.  He kept saying that he was alright and for me to go back to the food.  I grabbed him by his arm and turned him to face me squarely, and then I grabbed both his shoulders.  “What gives, Cal?  Don’t feed me the horse crap either.”  I said, “Cal.  Cal.  Did you have sex with her?”  I hit the button with that one.  It looked as if Calvin was going to burst into tears like you would only see in a little girl when her little brother takes the head from her favorite doll and uses it for a bug farm or something.  Calvin said, “Dammit.  Dammit!!  I’m sorry.  I’m sorry.  Excuse my French.”  I never heard Calvin cuss before.  He was a Christian that took his religion seriously.  He even taught the youth in bible classes and the like.  What was wrong?  Did he have sex with this woman?  No way.  Clara definitely didn’t act like something was going on, or else she was just that shrewd. Calvin wouldn’t hold his head up and look at me.

He said, “I’ll be right back. Go out and mingle dude.  I’m fine.  Really.  I’m fine.”  He only glanced at me at the last, “I’m fine,” and then walked away.  I thought he was going to the bathroom, but instead I saw that he went to his bedroom.  Something is eating away at him and he wouldn’t say.  I know Calvin.  I know when something’s up.  I’m afraid of what it might be though.  I keep thinking about Melissa in all this.

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