Bill Todd -- Tim and Sharon
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 Chapter 42


     Sharon was just finishing a run in Mission Bay Park when she heard a man calling to her from behind some bushes. When she turned, he stepped out into the open. It was Jimmy. She had had no idea that he was within thousands of miles, and greeted him with as much confusion as affection. Apparently feeling the immediate need to explain himself, he said, “My new girl friend has left me, and I want to come back to Meredith.”

Collecting herself, she replied, “I gather that you aren’t sure of your reception and want me to tell you how things stand.”


“In brief, I think it won’t work, and that it would be a mistake to try.”

“Oh. How is she?”

“Pretty well, considering that she was just barely allowed to leave the psych ward. A little irrational at times, but mostly in good spirits.”

“Does she mention me or ask about me?”

“She occasionally calls herself a dumpee, but no direct references. Of course, I don’t really know how you came to split up, but I think she wants to forget you and move on. How are you doing?”

“Not well. I can’t sleep much and dropped out of graduate school.”

“Jesus, Jimmy, you were going great guns! Are you that upset over Meredith, or the other girl, or both?”

“Both, I think. I’m also running out of money. I have to get a job.”

“Well, look, there’s a little breakfast place across the way where the others won’t go. I have some money tucked into my shorts.”

“Yeah. I have to be careful. Audrey won’t speak to me. Howie has met me, but he doesn’t like to because he can’t tell Audrey. I don’t know how the others feel.”

“Tim certainly doesn’t hate you, nor does Enoch. Diana might identify with Meredith to some extent. Meredith might want to meet you, but it might also really set her back.”

“Will you be my girl friend, Sharon?”

“By God, Jimmy, you’re just reaching out desperately in all directions! Are you that lonely?”

“I guess so.”

“You do have friends besides us, don’t you?”

“Casual acquaintances in the math department. They think I’ve gone crazy.”

“You may be crazier than Meredith. At least, she’s on the mend.”

As they settled down with omelets, Jimmy asked, “How are the rest of you doing?”

“In one way, fine. Tim’s leg is healing, and he and Enoch are out of the NFL. However, you may remember that we came out here with big ideals. We’ve recently discovered our limitations.”

“How so?”

“We did want to help people in various ways, promote good habits and practices, and do it in an environmentally helpful way. It now looks as if we can’t accomplish shit.”

“It couldn’t be as bad as that.”

It was noticeable that, as soon as Jimmy got off his own immediate problems, he sounded like his old rational self. Sharon replied,

“We have had one small success.”

Jimmy was quite curious about Chris, and eventually asked, “Why is that such a small success?”

“Because it really only concerns one person.”

“You said you were also providing support for his father.”

“Okay. At most, two people. And it’s taken most of us to do just that.”

“I think that’s a lot. I’m in a position to appreciate that.”

“I’m sure we’d support you, Jimmy, if it weren’t for Meredith.”

“I understand that.”

“Actually, there is something I might do. Have your coffee while I go outside with my cell phone.”

Sharon was happy to hear that Doris was alone. Once she gave her the news of Jimmy’s arrival, Doris responded,

“I’m really not too surprised. Relationships seldom break cleanly. There are usually a lot of painful stops and starts before the final break.”

“Yes. In fact, there was one breakup before this one.”

“Can you keep Jimmy away from Meredith?”

“I think I’m accomplishing that.”

“If they were to meet, and perhaps make love, they might announce that everything’s fine. But it really wouldn’t be.”

“I think I can ship Jimmy back on the next plane. But he needs a job and wants to work in a bookstore. I wondered if Harold …”

“Yes. I talked on the phone with him the other day, and he’s looking for help for the holiday season.”

“So you’ve become friends?”

“Yes. Very platonic, but pretty close. Harold’s a good and intelligent person, and he’ll be a stabilizing influence for Jimmy.”

“Jimmy has to go back to mathematics, but a respite might be good for him.”

“Can you stall Jimmy for a few minutes while I call Harold?”


Looking in the window, Sharon saw that Jimmy was eating contentedly. Doris called back quickly and said, “You can tell Jimmy that the job’s waiting for him.”

When she went back in and sat down, Sharon said, “Everything’s arranged, Jimmy. We’ll put you on the plane today, and there’s a really neat bookstore with a nice owner waiting for you.”

“Wow, that was quick!”

“I arranged it through Doris, whom you’ll remember from the funeral.”

“She’s a friend of Meredith, isn’t she?”

“Yeah, but she’s a sophisticated person, much more experienced than Audrey and myself. She doesn’t expect anything to be simple.”

     Sharon, not wanting any reversals on Jimmy’s part, parked in the free area she had discovered near the airport, and accompanied him to the check-in. With the ticket arranged and some time to spare, they sat down in the only little eatery not under TSA control. Jimmy now seemed pretty rational, and said, “There was always this thing in our group about making plans to better ourselves and society in general. Is that part of being young?”

“If so, we’re aging. The alternative may be not to have any plans at all.”

“I’m not sure what my plan is, if any.”

“After a respite in the book store, you’ll go back to school and continue as before.”

“I guess so.”

“We met an interesting high school teacher who said that she’s mostly interested in getting young people not to make serious mistakes. She thinks they’ll do fine on their own if they don’t compromise their lives in some way.”

“I suppose my affair with Meredith was the sort of mistake this woman would have in mind.”

“In a way. But you’ve had good times with her and learned a lot. It’s okay as long as you don’t keep repeating the mistake.”

“Well, you’ve kept me from doing that. And gotten me a job. Thanks.”

As Jimmy stood up to go, Sharon gave him a hug.

    After leaving Jimmy, Sharon returned to the marina. The first person she met was Meredith, walking Wolfgang. Or not so much walking as being dragged around in circles. There was nothing new in that, but there was a difference in Meredith. As Sharon stepped in to help, Meredith giddily remarked,

“There’s a wonderful big squirrel over there that we’ve been chasing all morning.”

Lately, it had been hard to tell whether Meredith was being humorous or manic. However, just then, Wolfgang did a swoop, winding his rope around their knees, and bringing both Sharon and Meredith to the ground. Lying on the turf and swearing, Sharon still had the leash. As she was being dragged, Meredith stood up and laughed. Sharon, getting up and organized, said,

“Wolfgang is amazingly quick and powerful. It would take something like an NFL lineman to control him.”

“But he’s terribly handsome and exciting.”

Sharon, full of inward doubts about both Meredith and Wolfgang, went to the deli to seek out Tim. When she found him, alone at a table, she related the events of the day and concluded,

“I’m not sure who’s crazier, Meredith or Jimmy. Or Wolfgang.”

Tim nodded, evidently in agreement, and asked,

“Where’s Meredith now?”

“She and Wolfgang were headed for our dock. I needed some separation, so I came here.”

     The docks at Tim’s marina were almost deserted on weekdays in November, and it was beginning to get dark. Tim asked, “Can she control him down there?”

“Probably not. I tried, and, with your broken leg, you can’t do much.”

“The other day, Wolfgang chased a heron to the edge of the dock, and almost skidded off it. Would she let go the leash if that happened?”

“I don’t know. Of course, it wouldn’t be far to swim.”

“But not so easy to get up on a dock from the water.”

“Okay. I’ve recovered. Let’s go check.”

Sharon held the dock gate open for Tim. It was high tide with the gangway almost parallel to the water. Sharon liked high tides with everything ugly covered up and the ocean brimming against the land. It was, in fact, an unusually high flood tide, and Sharon remarked to Tim,

“If global warning makes it like this a lot of the time, it may be rather nice.”

As they made their way down the darkening dock with empty boats tugging gently and rhythmically at their lines, Sharon wondered idly if there had ever been a murder on the dock. There wasn’t anyone in their sight, and Tim said, “It’s weird that people don’t go near boats at this time of year in a place where there really isn’t any winter.”

“Well, there’s no football game on. We can’t blame it on the NFL.”

It wasn’t until they were almost up to Tim’s boat that they heard something. Sharon, running to the end of the finger, saw commotion in the water. The person with just her head showing was Meredith. Sharon, kneeling on the dock, surprised herself with the speed with which she grabbed Meredith’s arms and yanked her out on top of herself as she leaned back. That left Wolfgang, seemingly half-drowned, flailing in the water. He was much harder to rescue, but Tim, abandoning his crutches, crawled into position to help Sharon.

     Sharon next thought of hypothermia. The ocean temperature was probably in the high fifties, but Meredith wasn’t very fit, and she had probably been in the water some time. Wolfgang was running crazily up and down the dock, which was all right with Sharon.

     Whatever her state, Meredith’s hands and arms felt like ice. Sharon bundled her into the cabin, and, without trying to get her on to a bunk, threw her to the deck and yanked her wet clothes off. She then grabbed a sleeping bag and wrapped it tightly around her. Meredith, teeth chattering, couldn’t manage speech.

     When Tim eventually made it into the cabin, and felt Meredith’s face, he said, “We’ll have to do it according to book.”

The standard treatment for hypothermia was simply for people to get naked and press as tightly as possible against the victim. It struck Sharon as an embarrassing situation, but that was the least of her worries as she furiously undressed. Tim got his shirt off and pressed against Meredith’s back while Sharon was in front. At that moment, Wolfgang jumped down on them. His claws dug into Sharon’s side, but she protected her eyes and held Meredith ever tighter.

     Meredith certainly felt cold to the touch, but not, as Sharon had feared, like a giant ice cube. Perhaps she hadn’t been in the water all that long. In any case, she did start speaking, not clearly enough for Sharon to understand, but not like a dying person. Then, gradually, there was a change. Meredith moved more against her, running her hands up and down Sharon’s back, and even seemed to be patting the wiggling and writhing Wolfgang. Sharon was about to declare that the crisis had passed when she realized that Meredith’s touches were, not only caressing, but sexual. As it seemed that Meredith might be working up to an orgasm, Sharon disengaged and got covered up. She wasn’t sure how much Tim understood, but, in any case, he let go of Meredith and said to her, “It looks as if you’ve warmed up. No need to rush you to the emergency room.”

“Good. I’m allergic to emergency rooms.”

Sharon said, “I hope I wasn’t too rough when I dumped you here in the cabin.”

“Not at all. They were much rougher in the ER when they ripped my clothes off and put me in a gown.”

 Tim looked embarrassed by the situation, but, when Sharon got dressed and announced her intention of taking Wolfgang for a walk to calm him down, he decided to join her.


Bill Todd -- Tim and Sharon
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