I had the worst crush on Mikey Pierce's dad. As excited as I was to graduate high school and go away to college, what I looked forward to more was returning home a grown man who might fit in with the guys Mr. Pierce invited over for poker at his place. Whenever I spent the night at Mikey's, I always wanted to join in their game.
The week before leaving for college, I stayed at Mikey's one last time. While Mr. Pierce and his buddies gambled, Mikey and I stole a couple of beers and watched movies upstairs. By the time it was my turn to sneak downstairs to get more drinks, the card game was over and I thought all the visitors had left.
But Mr. Pierce was in the dining room. He wasn't alone. The man in there with him owed Mr. Pierce a couple hundred bucks from playing cards, and I had a ring-side seat as he paid up.
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At the bottom of the stairs, I peeked around the wall to get a good look in the kitchen. To my surprise, those louver doors were also shut, though they didn't close all the way and the gap they left between the wall and the door allowed a shaft of light to penetrate the darkened kitchen. It illuminated an empty beer bottle that had been left on the counter which now cast an amber glow over the sink's faucet. If I were quick, I could probably sneak in there, open the fridge really slowly so it wouldn't make any noise, grab two bottles of beer, and dash back upstairs before Mr. Pierce even knew I was there.
I had taken off my shoes earlier. My socked feet were silent as I inched across the carpet onto the tiled floor of the kitchen. My heart hammered in my chest, every nerve was on end, and my hair felt puffed in fear all along my arms and the back of my neck. If I were caught ...
No, I told myself. I wouldn't be caught. In my mind's eye I could see myself getting the beers. I crept closer, watched my hand reaching for the refrigerator door, felt cool metal as my fingers closed around the handle. I wouldn't get caught. I wouldn't ...
From the dining room came that sound again, half cough, half clearing the throat. With a voice that seemed steeped in gravel, Mr. Pierce spoke. "So you owe me what, three hundred?"
My hand froze on the handle. Oh fuck. He wasn't alone.
I heard another sound, something sexy, a mingle between a laugh and a moan. "Three fifty. Don't round it down just because you're hard for me."
The words drew me closer. They belonged to RC, Mr. Pierce's friend who had talked with me earlier. Without conscious thought, I relaxed my grip on the handle of the fridge and turned toward the partially shut louver door. "Hard for me?" Is that what he had said?
I expected an angry shout, a denial, something fast and quick that sent this RC fellow packing. Instead, I was surprised to hear the hint of a smile in Mr. Pierce's voice when he answered, "I was cutting you some slack. I know you ain't got the cash."
With a throaty chuckle, RC replied, "I know it's not cash you want from me."
I couldn't help it -- my feet moved forward on their own, heading for the louver door. I stopped at the counter and tried to peer around the gap where the door and jamb didn't quite meet but all I saw was blank wall. Were they talking about what I thought they were talking about? What I hoped they were talking about?