By Shotzette


By Shotzette

Rated R


Sequel to Missy’s “Oneida County”


This is only a work of fan fiction and is not intended to infringe upon anyone’s copyrights or intellectual properties.



The sharp pain in Laverne’s lower back jabbed her into awareness.  Here eyes open and she blinked in surprised of the familiarly unfamiliar setting.  Top bunk, messy kitchen table, dust bunnies on the floor—Lenny’s apartment.  She gasped as she realized that the dust bunnies weren’t alone on the floor but were being kept company by Shirley’s slip, Carmine’s good pants, Squiggy’s purple shirt—


Laverne sat bolt upright and was immediately rewarded by the sensation of her head banging into the low ceiling.  Gracelessly, she half fell off the top bunk, nearly gagging as the sudden scent’s of Rhonda’s “Naughty on the Nile” and Carmine’s musk threatened to overwhelm her.


The scenes of the previous evening rushed back to her with frightening clarity.  Good god, what had she done?  She looked back towards the bunk, and Lenny’s eyes opened as if on cue.  “’Morning,” he mumbled as his hand went to his back and rubbed it reflexively.  His low-pitched groan negated further conversation.


“Would you mind if I…” Laverne gestured to his bathroom.


Another groan was her answer.


Laverne averted her eyes from the towels on the bathroom floor that were speckled with telltale droplets of blood.  She stepped into the shower stall and let the hot water bombard her as it blasted away the evidence of the previous night’s misadventures.  She breathed in an out deeply as she forced herself to try to relax.  The pair of cool hands gently clasping her hips surprised her, making her squeal and jump.


“Showers work better when you use this,” Lenny said as he grabbed a small oval of soap.


Laverne grinned then blushed at the intimacy in which he started to lather her body.  Like you didn’t do anything like this with him last night…


He smiled at her as he turned her under the pulsating spray and she backed into him, surprised to find him soft and dangling.


As if he read her mind, he said, “I’m still tired from last night.”


Laverne said nothing as an odd sensation of relief filled her.  Instead, she turned in his arms and hugged him briefly before taking the soap from him and returning the favor.


Minutes later as she put on her beautiful, but inappropriate for eight in the morning cocktail dress, she looked over at Lenny.  Her white knight sat on the bottom bunk, nude save for a damp towel around his mid section.  “Do you want to borrow my toothbrush?”


“No!”  At his crestfallen look, she amended, “I need to go home and see Shirley anyhow.  I want to talk to her before work.  I really don’t want to talk about all of this, “ she gestured to the clothes still scattered on the floor, ”on the job.”


Lenny’s smiled sadly at her as he rose from the bed.  “I understand,” he said as he took her in his arms and gently kissed the crown of her head.  “I need to talk to Squiggy, too.”


“What about Carmine,” Laverne asked, and then immediately regretted her words as she felt his body stiffen and his arms tighten around her uncomfortably.  The tableau of the previous night, Lenny pounding himself into Carmine with an almost animalistic look in his angry eyes resurfaced in her mind, and she instinctively drew back from him.


“I ain’t got nothing to say to Carmine again, ever,” were Lenny’s flat words.


“Len,” she began.


“Can we just talk about it later?  Like tonight?”


Laverne nodded, understanding all to well how difficult the next several days would be, and kissed him good-bye wordlessly and left.



Shirley Feeney shivered as she pulled her thin blanket more tightly around her slight form.  The thermostat read sixty-eight degrees, but she was shaking like a leaf despite the heavy flannel pajamas and the thick terrycloth robe she’d worn all night.  She was exhausted, she felt like she’d been tremoring for hours since her hysterical run from the boys apartment.  Vaguely, she remembered slamming her front door behind her, most likely right into Squiggy’s face, before jumping into her hours long hot shower.


Shirley moaned in despair, as much as she had scrubbed herself raw with the washcloth, the dirtiness was still there.  How could she have allowed herself to do the things she’d done the night before?  With all of her might, she willed herself to turn back the clock to yesterday morning, when Carmine was still a man’s man and her boyfriend, and Laverne was her best friend—nothing more.


The focus of her thoughts walked hesitantly into their bedroom, clad in an oriental satin dress that looked only whorish in the morning.


Shirl?”  Laverne’s voice was unusually hesitant.


“I’ve already called in sick for the day; a bad headache in case anyone asks.”  Shirley rolled over on her creaking single bed, turning her back to her friend—enemy—lover?  She didn’t exactly know what to call Laverne today.


“Do you want to …”


Shirley drew a harsh intake of breath.  “What?  Do I want to do what, Laverne?  Forgive me, but after last night that’s a loaded question.”


“Talk.  About what happened last night.  About you and me.”


Shirley attempted to keep her tone light, yet the shrillness in her voice made her own skin crawl.  “You and me?  There is no you and me.  We’re roommates; roommates who put on a tawdry little show for our boyfriends,” Shirley winced as the consequences of last night danced before her eyes, “—ex boyfriend—last night.  Nothing else.”


Shirl…” Laverne’s voice was pleading now, and more dangerous.


“Laverne, do you mind.  I really wasn’t lying about having a headache.  Please just leave me alone and go to work, okay?”  Shirley then closed her eyes and tried to will herself to go to sleep, to fall into the oblivion that last night’s tossing and turning had robbed from her.  She kept her eyes firmly clenched shut while Laverne sped through her morning ablutions and slammed the front door five minutes later.


Then the tears flowed anew.



Carmine Ragusa stood under the stinging cold spray of his shower, teeth chattering and skin prickling with cold.  He ached to lather himself with the bar of Ivory Soap, was all the dirt and shame away, but the thought of touching himself, even for hygiene, made his dry heaves return with a vengeance.  The thought of any man’s hands, even his own, were unthinkable.


Bastard, he thought, as the memory of Lenny Kosnowski leaning into him made him gag, and made him realize that he had no choice in his next action.






“Here you go, sir.  We did have some leftover silver ribbon in the back.  I hope your wife likes her anniversary gift.”


The older man beamed at her.  “Thank you so much!  Millie is going to love this silver tea set.  Did I mention that it’s our twenty-fifth anniversary?  That’s the silver one, you know.”


Laverne nodded absently as she forced herself to concentrate on the old man’s chatter.  “Yes, that’s why I put on the silver ribbon, to match the Bardwell’s commemorative twenty fifth-anniversary wrap.”


“Thank you so much, young lady.”


“It was my pleasure.”


“It’s so nice these days when you see someone who goes that extra mile.”


Then you would have really been impressed with me last night, Laverne thought, as she forced herself to maintain eye contact with the man as she handed him the gift box.  Damn it, was it always going to be like this from now on, her not being able to leave that night behind ever?




The soft voice to her left startled her, and she realized that shed been staring off into space.  Again.




Lenny shrugged and flashed a subtler version of his sheepish smile.  “I just wanted to see if you were doing okay after…”


“I’m fine,” she said quickly, not wanting anyone to accidentally overhear any of the tidbits from last night’s debauchery.


He blinked as a hurt and confused look crossed his face.  “Oh, “ he said and then turned to leave.


Laverne instinctively reached out and grabbed his arm, not wanting a misunderstanding with him on top of all the other turmoil in her life.  “Len.  No, I’m not, “ she said with a quick shake of her head.  “Not really.  I just don’t want to get into it here.”


Lenny smiled gently back at her as instant comprehension flared in his eyes.  “I get it.  Is Shirley here?”


“No, she called in sick.  That’s pretty much all she was able to tell me this morning.”


“I still haven’t seen Squig.”


“Lenny, I swear, I never thought anything like his would happen…”


“But it did.  Look, I know that you don’t want to talk about it now, but we gotta talk about it.  I just couldn’t talk about it this morning; it was still to fresh, you know?”


“I know.  I want to talk about it, and see you tonight.”


“How about Shirley?”


Laverne bit her lower lip.  “I think I gotta back off with her right now, Len.  I tried pushing this morning, and I ‘m just afraid of pushing her too far.”


Lenny leaned in towards her, dwarfing her between his frame and the wall as the pungent scent of sen-sen and licorice enveloped her.  “Do you want to be alone with me tonight?”


Laverne gently placed her palm against his chest as she for once in her life craved personal space.  “I don’t think back is up to another night in your bunk.”


“Mine neither.  It’s a great bunk, but it ain’t built for two.  Besides, I think that Squiggy might need some time on his own too.”




“So… how do you feel about spending the night in a motel?  With me.”




He shook his head vigorously as he took a step away from her.  “Honest, nothing naked needs to happen.  I just want us to have some privacy, a good night’s sleep, and a chance to talk.  There’s a little motel off of Wilshire.  It don’t look fancy or nothing…”


“Sounds good.  My shift is over at five.  Let me pack a bag, and I can meet you there.”


“I could pick you up…”


Laverne shook her head, the thought of being alone in a room with both Shirley and Lenny too overwhelmingly frightening to contemplate at the present time.  “It’s better this way.”





Shirley trudged down the steps into her living room as her head throbbed mercilessly.  There wasn’t any aspirin in the bathroom, and she was praying against the odds that the out of date bottle that she and Laverne kept in the kitchen cabinet was still there.  Food would make her headache go away, but she couldn’t endure yet another round of vomiting.  Spending the morning hunched over the bowl had exhausted her, and as much bile that she expelled, she felt like she was not truly empty of poison.  Is this how it’s going to be from now own; gagging every time I seem my reflection?  Knowing what I’ve done?  Lillian Feeney’s disapproving voice had been screaming at her for hours, all direct from the toll-free location within her own skull.  She felt dirtier than she ever could have though possible, diseased and rotten—a creature so horrible that everyone must be able to see it on her—smell her shame, such ugliness decayed everything around it.


The lock on the front door clicked as she watched the knob slowly turn.  Oddly, she felt no desire to protect herself from the big bad world.  Even the most repulsive of perverts and sex fiends would shun her, and rightfully so.


Squiggy peered around the edge of the door.  “Hello.”


Her nausea returned.  “What do you want?”


He looked at her nervously, only making eye contact for a split second.  “I just wanted to bring you your dress,” he said, as he held out her crumpled party frock.


Shirley shuddered as memory of the feeling of the straps of her dress slipping down her arms returned in force.  “Get rid of it!  I never want to see it again.”


His dark eyes turned pleading.  “C’mon, Shirl.  I’m sorry.  Real sorry for what happened last night.  I never thought…”


“That I was a tramp?”  Her words were flat to her own ears.


Squiggy looked at her as if in shock.  Nah, you ain’t.”


She shook her head in disbelief.  “How could you of all people not see me that way?  After what I did with you, with Carmine…” With Laverne, with Rhonda… 


“We all did stuff last night.  We was all trying to—okay,” he said with a wince, “I don’t know what everyone was trying to do when I walked in, but…”


“But nothing, Squiggy.  There are two types of women in the world, and I just became a different one last night.”  The age-old memory of her and Laverne in high school made her tremble as it returned unbidden.  Maybe three types of women; good girls, whores, and THAT kind…


Shirley, everybody was,” he looked confused as he groped for the right word, “different last night.  It don’t mean nothing.”


“No, it does.  It means everything.  My god, what sort of a life can I lead now?  What sort of man will want me?  The image of Carmine moaning rapturously under Lenny’s assault made her retch and drove her to the sink.  Taking deep breaths she tried not to think about vomiting on the already dirty dishes that were arranged with an almost military precision in front of her.  Breathe in, breathe out, close your eyes, say you’re A, B, C’s, and count to ten…  When the spasms in her gut quieted, she was aware of Squiggy stroking her back very gently through her heavy chenille robe and flannel pajamas.  She leaned away from his touch before she could enjoy the tender comfort that it offered.  “Don’t.”


“Don’t what?” he asked, his voice hushed in a reverent tone that one would use in a church.


Don’t touch me.” She repeated.  Like anyone one else would want you after last night.


“You said you loved me last night.”  His tone was plaintive and incredulous. 




“Did you mean it?  Do you love me, Shirley Wilhemini Feeney?”


She looked into his dark eyes and saw a naked need and yearning that broke her heart.  For all of the thorny bluster he usually work like a mantle, Squiggy was more naked before her at this moment than he had been the night before, more vulnerable when she had found him crouched behind a cactus, bitterly weeping over leaving his moth collection behind in Milwaukee.  “Yes,” she said, and was surprised that it was the truth, “I meant it.”


He rushed towards her, a tender happiness lighting up his face, and making him more handsome that she could have ever believed possible in her wildest dreams.  He stopped at the sight of her raised hand.


“No.  Don’t,” she said, as her voice thickened.


“Why?”  He asked with all the earnestness of a child asking about kitten-heaven.


She shook her head sadly.  “It wouldn’t work.  You’re not what I want.”


“You said you loved me.”  He stared at her, dumbfounded.


“I do”, she said as she remembered the taste of Laverne’s lips as they claimed her own fiercely.


“But, why?”


“You’re not what I want, Andrew.”  Laverne’s hands roamed her body aggressively, but non-threateningly.


“I’m making a good living, Shirley—don’t tell Lenny.  He don’t need to know where I keep the big bills or nothing.  I can marry you; take care of you…”


“It wouldn’t work,” she repeated.  “You are what you are, and you need to be with a woman who will want that.”  Laverne’s teeth grazed her earlobe as her nimble fingers teased her mercilessly.  “All I’m going to see is that you aren’t a doctor, aren’t an important businessman.”


“I am an important businessman,” he said, iron tingeing his voice.  “I made Squignowski Talent, I just keep Lenny selling ice cream so he don’t screw up my deals.  I’m gonna be a name in this town one day, Shirley.  I ain’t gonna manage animal acts and clowns forever.”


She closed her eyes as his desperation became too painful to watch.  “You can’t guarantee me that, Squiggy,” his nickname giving her the emotional distance she needed.  Laverne’s lips trailing down her torso…  “I want to be married to someone richer, someone who’s guaranteed to go places…”


“Like Carmine?”  Squiggy’s voice held the bitter tone of a decade’s long jealousy.


She flinched as if he had struck her.   ‘No.  Not him.  Never.”  Holding Laverne in her arms, crouching above her as she reached down and--  “I can’t be with people who aren’t going to give me what I know I need to be happy, Squiggy.  I can’t lie to myself anymore about what I am.” She swallowed noisily as her vision blurred with tears, Laverne, shuddering beneath her in climax as she moaned aloud  “It doesn’t matter who I love.”


Squiggy’s dark eyes glared at her, snake like as his rage propelled him away from her and towards the door.  “I take back what I said earlier, Shirley.  You are a tramp-- the worst kind!  You’re the type who ain’t got no feelings but will screw any guy with enough dough!” 


In his red-faced tirade, his accent sounded even more like Laverne’s.  “Then we both know where I stand, don’t we?” she whispered sadly, to her slammed front door.






Laverne rushed through the front door of Cowboy Bill’s and made a beeline to the register.  Get your check, and get out.  The last person that she wanted to run into today of all days was her father.




Laverne groaned aloud at the familiar voice as she turned around and willed her self to look and act normally.  However, the person who caught her attention wasn’t her father, instead, it was the man with the stony expression that was standing behind him.  Carmine.


Laverne clenched her jaw and forced herself to look away and focus on her father.  “Hey, Pop.”


“Hey, Pop, my eye!  What, you come in here, don’t even look my way, and head straight for the cash.  Is that how I raised you?”


Laverne’s eyes drifted back to Carmine before she replied.  “Sorry, Pop.  I’m kind of in a hurry and I just wanted to get my check from last week to the bank before they closed.”


Frank DeFazio chuckled.  “You and this one are cut from the same cloth,” he said as he jerked a meaty thumb in Carmine’s direction.  He said the same thing as when I ran into him here.  Whassamatter with you kids these days?  No time for conversation, for talking to family…”


“Sorry, Pop, “ she repeated almost robotically.  “I’m just in a hurry today, that’s all.  You got somewhere to be too, Carmine?”  She asked, as the thought of him talking to her father did horrible things to her stomach.


His phony smile never reached his eyes.  “Yeah, Laverne.  Places to go, people—well, you know the drill.”


Frank stepped between the two of them and draped his beefy arms over their shoulders.  “Laverne, Carmine… you two gotta learn to slow down, smell the roses.  You can’t spend your days running from one thing to the next.”


The concept of her workaholic father preaching Zen broke through Laverne’s tunnel vision.  “Pop, where’s this coming from?”


“Edna,” her father groaned.  “She is furious that I stayed too late working here last night and made us late for the party.”


Ice crept up Laverne’s spine and she felt the blood drain from her cheeks.  “Pop, you told me last week that you and Edna weren’t coming to Lenny’s party.” Stay calm, stay calm; maybe you’re just hallucinating…


“I know!” Frank yelled, unnecessarily loud as always.  “Sunday night was the little league championships and they always have their awards banquet here.  That’s why Edna got her nose out of joint, that I’m always working too hard and not stopping to enjoy what I got.    I decided to have Mary close up, but I stayed late to help her out with the cash drawer and we ended up missing most of the party.”  Frank had paused to take a breath and fan his rant-induced red face, when he glanced up at her quizzically.  “By the way, where did everybody go?  When we got to your place there was just cake and food lying around, but no people. “


Laverne opened her mouth and willed words to come forward.  Her own father had been in the building while she…


“We went up to the roof, Mr. DeFazio,” Carmine said smoothly as his eyes never left Laverne’s. 


“The roof?” Frank asked as his brow furrowed making him look like a pudgy schnauzer.


“Lenny and Squiggy bought some fireworks back from their last trip to Tijuana and we were going to set them off.”


“We didn’t see no fire works.”


“That’s cuz they didn’t work,” Laverne responded in a hollow tone.




She blinked before further clarifying her lie, praying at the advanced age of twenty-nine, she was better at fibbing to her father than she’d been as a teenager.  “They got wet at some point and we couldn’t light them.”


“Yeah, water damage,” Carmine agreed with her, “gotta hand it to Lenny and Squiggy, you just can’t count on that pair to do nothing right.”


“I know that you must have still been around the building, but Edna thought you’d all gone out to catch a movie.  That’s why she stayed and cleaned up some of the mess.”


“Edna cleaned up the mess?”  Mentally Laverne kicked herself for not noticing that morning; as if Shirley would have had the wherewithal to tidy up after a night of non-stop…


“Who do you think put the cake in the refrigerator and through out the trash?  Elves?”  Her father looked at her in askance.


“I gotta remember to thank her,” Laverne mumbled absently.


“You don’t need to thank me, either one of you.”  Like Carmine, Edna’s smile seemed to be pasted on. “ I didn’t do much, I just put the cake in the fridge and threw the trash in the dumpster right outside of Lenny and Squiggy’s apartment,” Edna said, her emphasis on the words “right” and the “outside”.


Laverne glanced quickly at Carmine and a tiny part of her was happy to see the look of panic on his face.


“I hope that Lenny’s thirtieth was all that he hoped that it would be, Laverne,” Edna continued, her voice eerily calm but tinged with sadness.  “It’s always important to celebrate milestones, isn’t it?”


Laverne swallowed guiltily and forced herself to look her father’s wife straight in the eyes before replying.  “Yeah.  Good think about milestones, though.  They only come around once.”


Edna’s affirming nod had an air of finality about it, as if she was putting their conversation away in a bottom drawer filled with stained underpants and other sordid things that she’d never like to have see the light of day again.  “Frank, I need you to help me with the drain.”


Laverne couldn’t help exhaling heavily as she watched her father trundle after his wife like a hapless circus bear.  “That was close.  I guess I should thank you.”


“Don’t.”  Carmine’s tone was pure ice.  “I love that man like a father.  I ain’t gonna be the one to tell him what his daughter has turned into.”


“You weren’t complaining last night; about anything,” she said, her shame replaced by spite.


Carmine’s face turned a deep shade of red as he winced.  “That sunova…”


“It wasn’t his fault,” Laverne said, as she shook her head.  “If you want to blame anyone blame me.”


“I really don’t think that you were the one fucking me up the ass last night, Laverne.”  Carmine’s words, whispered harshly as they were, still seemed too loud for broad daylight and a public, if empty, restaurant for Laverne’s taste.


“It would have been fair if I were, all things considered.”  The few times she’d managed to get off of her aching feet were tender reminders of what she’d allowed to be done to her last night, causing her unfailingly to leap out of her chair and endure her throbbing toes.


“How can you be with him?  Be with a faggot?” Carmine asked, his nose wrinkling in an expression of pure disgust.


Laverne shook her head.  “He ain’t that way, Carmine.  Last night was different.  He did it for me; I thought I’d like it…” Her last words filled her mouth with bile as the vision of Lenny pounding himself brutally into Carmine reasserted itself in her mind.  He’d been smiling then…


“Well,” he said as he nearly spit out the bitter words, “was it good for you?”


“No, she admitted as she suppressed a shudder.  “I wanted to throw up when I saw the two of you together.  It wasn’t like I imagined that it would be.”


His jaw dropped and threatened to collide with the battered linoleum.  “You imagined that?”


“Yes,” she admitted as her cheeks reddened.  “Trust me, though.  I won’t again.”


Carmine shook his head in obvious disbelief and shock.  “What sort of a girl are you, Laverne?”


His accusatory and judgmental tone rankled her even further.  “The sort you enjoyed fucking last night, and the sort that has been your friend since we were fourteen.  What kind of guy are you, Carmine?”


He sneered, his usually handsome face turned into something ugly; something that she wouldn’t want to see in a dark alley.  “I ain’t a queer like Lenny that’s for sure.”


“He’s not,” she growled, “I don’t know how many times I gotta tell you that!”


“You can say it as much as you want, he didn’t have you bent over!”


“You weren’t complaining at the time,” she spat.


Laverne felt the sharp tips of the faux stucco wall covering scratch against her back when Carmine shoved her viciously against the wall.


“I ain’t that way!” he whispered harshly against her face, his red-rimmed eyes merely a scant inch from her own.  “I ain’t a pervert like those guys; like those freaks, like…”


Laverne felt a momentary stab of fear at his angry strength and lack of control, but she couldn’t back down.  “Sonny?”


Carmine blinked again in shock and looked like he’d had cold water doused over him as he stepped away from her quickly.  “What?  I can’t believe you.  I mean I know he dumped you and all, but going around telling lies like that behind a guy’s back is just rotten.”


She shook her head and shrugged her shoulders experimentally as she pulled away from the wall.  Hope there aren’t any bruises, don’t know how I’ll explain that to Lenny.  “They ain’t lies, Carmine,” she snapped.  Her fear and anger slowly gave way to incredulity.   “You didn’t know?  Really?”


“There wasn’t nothing to know, Laverne!  Sonny was into girls and girls were all over him; yourself included,” he added with a mean sneer.


She nodded, the pain from her betrayal by Sonny fading to a near pinprick after the trauma from last night.  “Yeah, he wanted to like girls and he was pretty good at pretending that he did.”


“Enough,” Carmine snarled, “I don’t wanna hear anymore lies about Sonny!  He was a stand up guy, unlike Lenny, the pansy.  I mean, yeah—Sonny was cheap.”


“I know he made you eat off of the same paper plate all week.”


Carmine nodded.  “Yeah.  He also would turn the heat on unless the thermostat was below sixty degrees; he wanted us to push our twin beds together instead for body heat.  Then we started showering together to save hot water---Oh my god…” Carmine’s voice trailed off and his complexion took on an ashen tone.


Laverne smirked.  “Yeah.  But I guess he was still a stand up guy in your book, right Carmine?”.  She felt a small thrill of triumph as she watched his legs buckle under and a small twinge of disappointment that he was close enough to land in a nearby booth rather than kiss the ground with his ass.  Hypocrite.


She watched him sit there, alone, and shrunken seemingly inside himself and was mildly surprised by her own lack of sympathy and the fact that she felt no urge to offer him comfort of any sort for once.   “Have you talked to Shirley yet?


Carmine turned her way, but his eyes seemed to stare right past her.  “How can I look her in the eye after last night?”


“After last night, how can you not talk to her?”




She shook her head and tried to quell the dread that rose within her.  “I’m serious.  Carmine, you know better than anyone that she was saving herself—for marriage.  You can’t just take her virginity and then never speak to her again; you know what that would do to her…”


He shook his head violently, his movements more akin to spasm than denial.  “No, no I don’t.  I don’t know nothing about nobody and last night proved it.”  He looked up at her, the boyish earnestness once again on his face.  “I mean, I always wanted Shirley, but I never thought we’d end up doing it on Squiggy’s bed with you and Lenny watching.  Then again,” he said, as the bitter sneer that she was growing to hate crept across his face once more, “I never thought I’d walk in on you and Shirley.  My god, how long has that been going on?”


Laverne squirmed uncomfortably.  It had been hard enough to tell Lenny of her one time—until last night—experiment with Shirley, but telling Carmine? 
”It only happened once; a long time ago.”


“Right… “ He said, as his eyes seemed to spit he word “dyke” at her.  “Then again, it probably wasn’t hard for her to keep sending me upstairs all of those years for cold showers knowing that you were there to take care of her, was it?”


“It’s not like that,” Laverne insisted.  For me, anyhow.


Carmine paled again.  Squiggy.  My god, Shirley fucked Squiggy right in front of me.”


Laverne’s remaining sympathy shriveled like a daylily.  “Don’t go acting all wounded there, Carmine.  You were giving it to me and Rhonda pretty good last night too.  You can’t blame Shirley for anything she did last night,” she said as a particularly disturbing image of Lenny taking Shirley popped into her head unbidden.  He didn’t—they didn’t.  Not in front of me, anyhow…


She swallowed bitterly and looked at her one time friend—crush? “Last night was a free for all.  It happened and we all have to accept it. All of it.”


She couldn’t run out of the restaurant fast enough.



Lenny applied his right shoulder against the door and bore down on it with his full weight.  The oaken door gave way suddenly and he clumsily flailed into his apartment, arms akimbo.


“Jeez!“  Squiggy jumped away from the cluttered bureau in surprise as cheap knick knacks and parts of old sandwiches fell to the ground.




His roommate coldly turned his back on him and focused his attention back to the dresser.


Lenny then noticed the two plastic trash bags half full of underwear on the floor.  “Are we going on a trip?”


Squiggy snorted, then asked, without turning around, “What, you want me to take you to a poodle grooming convention or something?”


Lenny flushed.  “I ain’t no poodle groomer!”


“I know what I saw last night, Len,” Squiggy replied, his back still turned towards his friend, but he began to empty out the bureau door more quickly.


“You don’t know what you saw.”


Squiggy through down a mismatched pair of balled up socks and whirled around angrily.  “I saw you pegging Carmine!  There ain’t too many ways you can explain that except for the obvious way.”


“You don’t know the whole story.”


“What about what you offered to do to-- Jeez, I can’t even say it…” He turned his back and opened a second drawer.


“That’s different, Squig.”


“Everything about you was different last night, Len.  Man, you think you know a guy…”


Squig, you know me.  You’re my best friend.”


“Shut up!”  Squiggy dashed past him and slammed the apartment door shut with a loud boom.  “Do you want people to hear you?”


“What?  I ain’t done nothing to be ashamed about.  Well, today at least…”


“I just thought you was a different kinda guy, that’s all.  I mean, you was giving it to Laverne pretty good when I walked in last night…”


Lenny’s back stiffened and he blinked rapidly to clear the memories of the night before from them; Laverne-- two feet from where he now stood, with Carmine hunched over her…“I don’t want to talk about that…”


“…But when I saw what you was doing to Carmine…”


“Laverne asked me to.  I don’t think about Carmine that way, Squig.  Or any other guy,” he lied.


“It wasn’t your thinking that gave me the heebie jeebies last night, it’s what you were doing to that guy.  Carmine’s a dancer; I shouldn’t be all that surprised.  I just wish that Shirley hadn’t had to see that,” he mumbled quietly before clearing his throat and emptying the dresser drawers again with a vengeance.  “How could you, Len?”


“It’s not what you think, Squig.” He took a step towards his friend, who seemed a continent away in the tiny studio apartment.


Immediately Squiggy’s body tensed up, his hands balled up into fists like he needed ot defend himself.  “Stay back.”


“What?”  Lenny’s jaw dropped.  He’s afraid of you…


“Stay over there.  Just because, okay?”  Squiggy’s hands dropped to his sides, but his dark eyes still held suspicion and distrust.


Squig…” This time the name was more like a plea.


Squiggy turned his back and once more began haphazardly throwing clothing into the trash bag in front of him.  Y’know how the landlord offered us two hundred in cash to get us out of our three year lease?”


Lenny blinked in surprise at the sudden change of topic.  “Yeah, like we’d ever give up our bachelor pad…”


“I took his offer today.”


“You what?”  Lenny’s gut filled with dread as he desperately tried to keep his breathing under control.


“Don’t worry, we’re splitting it fifty-fifty; fifty dollars for you, one hundred and fifty dollars for me.  We gotta be out by the first.”


“Where are we gonna live?”


Squiggy shrugged.  “I’m going to bunk at the Y for a day or two; I know it’s a lot of dough, but a man of my stature shouldn’t be seen sleeping on park benches no more.  I opened Rhonda’s mail one day—by accident, it wasn’t one of her little Frederick’s of Hollywood plain brown wrapper boxes—and she’s moving into that big building two blocks off of Vine.”


“The one with the really great trash dumpster?”


“One and the same.  I think that I can wear the building manager down with a little green back action and the old Squiggman charm—“


“You should bring as much money as you can, Squig


“Maybe so, maybe so.  Anywho, I won’t need a place over there as big and nice as this one since I’m going to be on my own.  It will only be temporary—I ain’t gonna sign no lease longer than two years this time around, and …”


Lenny took a deep breath and asked the question that he feared the most.  “What about me?  Where am I gonna live?”


Squiggy kept his back to him.  “That ain’t my problem Len.”


“Can I stay with you?”


Squiggy whirled around, throwing a mostly clean tee shirt into his face in anger.  “No!  No, Len.  We can’t be roommates no more.”


“Because of last night?”


Squiggy rolled his eyes incredulously.  “Yes, because of last night!  Lenny, you’re a fruitcake!  How am I supposed to stay roommates with you after…”


“I don’t think about you that way,” he said, as he averted his eyes so that Squiggy couldn’t tell he was lying.


Squiggy wasn’t fooled and shook his head.  “I wish I had just stayed in the girl’s apartment last night, eating cake, and looking through their underwear drawer—Laverne’s got some great stuff, by the way.”


Lenny nodded.  “I know.”


Squiggy’s nose wrinkled as if in distaste.  “Does she let you borrow it?”


“No!  I mean, I’ve seen her in it.  Before last night,” he said in a lame attempt to assert his own masculinity.


Squiggy looked confused.  “And being with her was so bad you turned fruity?”


“No!  I mean, no, I ain’t fruity.”


His friend shook his head sadly, “You’re asking me to believe you or my own eyes, Len.  That ain’t good.”


“We can’t be roommates no more?  Really?”


“No, Len. We can’t.”


“Are we still friends?”


“I don’t know.”  Squiggy shrugged and looked away from him for a long moment before turning back to him.  “Maybe someday.  Y’know, after you’re married—to a girl, and have a couple of rugrats.”


Lenny sat down heavily on the lower bunk—the scene of the crime, and tried not to think of birthday cakes and bus stops.  “I’m gonna miss you, Squiggman,” he said as his throat choked up with tears.


Squiggy shoved he rest of his possessions in the garbage bag and barreled past him.  He stopped when he reached the apartment door and said sadly, without turning around, “You’re the only thing I’m gonna miss from here, Lenny.  Believe you me, the only thing.”





Taking a deep breath, Carmine knocked on the partly opened apartment door before saying, “Hello?”


“Carmine?”   Rhonda Lee looked up from her packed suitcases.  “How kind!  You’ve come to help Rhonda pack…”


He glanced around at the bare floors; the apartment had an almost eerie emptiness to it.  He was then keenly aware that he had never been inside Rhonda’s apartment before, but after hearing the tales of waterbeds and mirrors on the ceiling, he felt distinctly let down.  “So, you’re really moving?”


“Wasn’t that what Rhonda said at her little good-bye party last night?”


“Actually, I think all of that was a birthday—never mind.”  He stood there awkwardly for a moment staring at the statuesque blond in her tight tank top and cut offs, forcing himself to believe that his lack of interest in her was due to the fatigue from last night-- not anything else from last night.  “I just wanted to see if you were okay.”


“Rhonda is splendid, Carmine.  Then again, you learned that last night, didn’t you?”


Carmine sucked in his breath.  Relax, she doesn’t know.  She left early before Lenny…  Once again, Carmine forced on his performance smile.  “Glad to be of service.”


She glided over the bare floors and held out an overly perfumed piece of pink notepaper.  “I meant what I said, here’s my new number and address.  Rhonda wouldn’t mind seeing you again.  Please,” she said as she pulled back her hand, “don’t pass this on along to the others.  Rhonda really doesn’t want Lenny or Squiggy camping out in the lobby of her new building.  You understand?”


“More than you could imagine,” he replied as he repressed yet another shudder for the day.  “Say, Rhonda, how much is the rent going to be in your new place?  I’m thinking of moving on myself.”


“Really?  Breaking up the old Milwaukee gang?  Rhonda always thought you people were joined at the hip—and not just last night.”


“Cut it out.”  His words came out more harshly than he meant them too.  Reflexively, he pasted on his performance smile.  “I mean, it’s just time to move on, y’know?  Focus on my career.”


An expression of relief crossed Rhonda’s face.  “Finally, you’re using the big throbbing organ between your ears for once.”


“Come again?”


“Rhonda did this morning remembering how good you were last night, but that’s not the point,” she said with a naughty giggle.


“I don’t get it.”


Rhonda linked her arm through his and her voice dropped a few degrees of its seductiveness in favor of a patronizing tone.  “Carmine, you are an excellent singer, a remarkable dancer, and maybe a passable actor—with a lot of acting classes.  However, you need to showcase yourself in the right circles; something that you have not been doing.”


“I have an agent…” Carmine winced as Lenny and Squiggy flashed before his eyes, hip deep in their own amateurish incompetence.


Rhonda shook her head sadly.  “You need a real agent, someone who knows how this town actually works—someone who can get you in front of the right people.”


His eyes narrowed with suspicion.  “What do I have to do in front of the right people?”


“Nothing that you I think you will have any problems doing in front of a crowd after what Rhonda saw last night.  Trust Rhonda, Carmine, she knows how this town works.”


He stepped back from her and turned her in front of him as he peered into her dark eyes.  “Did you ever make this offer to Sonny?”  She had to have known--


“That big queen?”    Apparently surprised by his expression, Rhonda asked, “What, you didn’t know?”


“Guess not,” he said as the now-familiar taste of bile soured his mouth.  “So, Laverne was telling the truth after all…”


Rhonda rolled her eyes in exaggerated frustration.  “Please, you couldn’t see what their relationship was about?  I guess spending time with a very masculine woman, who likes sports, and judging by last night-- pussy as well, wasn’t that big of a change for him.  Rhonda was actually surprised to see how much Laverne liked men last night; Rhonda always assumed that Laverne’s relationship with Sonny was convenient on both sides.“


“A lot of surprising things happened last night,” he muttered.  “So, you never wanted to help Sonny with his career?”


“Rhonda offered, but thinking was never one of Sonny’s strong points.  Sonny liked men—exclusively.  Had he been a little more selective with the men he chose to like, he could have had one hell of a career.  Instead, he found little anonymous nobodies to play with.  It’s a shame, with his looks, he could have gone very far as long as he was willing to be discreet.”


“How do you know that he only liked men?”


“How else do you explain his not being effected by Rhonda?” she asked in a husky whisper as she stepped closer to him and laid the palm of her hand against the front of his pants.


Carmine was relieved to find himself twitch in response to her touch.  “That’s as good an answer as any.  So, do you want to introduce me to some people who could help me?”


Rhonda smiled a predatory smile.  “That can be arranged.  Rhonda switched agents last month—No, I didn’t mention it,” she said, apparently anticipating his question before he could ask it.  “Do you think I wanted Squiggy camped out on my doorstep day in and day out?” she asked before pressing closer to him.  “Anyway, my new agent has a lot of connections in a more specialized area of Hollywood.  The films aren’t mass marketed, but they have their own very devoted following.  They aren’t big budget, but the work is steady.  They’re usually shot on location, or in smaller private studios in The Valley.”


“You think they’d like me?” he said as he pushed himself closer to her, feeling relief and arousal simultaneously.  I want you; only want women like you…


“After what Rhonda saw you do last night, they will eat you up…”


As he pressed against her curvaceous frame he tried hard not to think of waif-like, skinny girls—or anything else without large breasts.




Laverne pulled back the musty smelling drape and peered out of the motel window into the parking lot.  It had been a mistake to tell the hotel manager that her “husband” was tall, odd man.  The jerk had already sent three weirdoes to her door and the last one had been pretty hard to get rid off, considering he had a hook for a hand and all.


A fumbling noise at the door caught her attention and Laverne looked around quickly for something that could be used as a weapon.  She breathed a sigh of relief when the door opened to reveal Lenny, who was studying the key in his hand with a strange expression on his face. 


He caught her eye and favored her with a weak grin, “Scratch marks from his hook, I guess,” he mumbled.


She sat down on the bed, self-conscious and not knowing why considering all they had shared last night and other times.  “How was your day?” She winced at the Donna Reed-iness of her voice.  She didn’t think that Donna and Alex would have ever had to have the discussion that she and Lenny were about to, unless of course a bridge party with the Cleavers and the Nelsons that had gone horribly wrong…


Lenny shrugged and averted his eyes.


In an instant, she was on her feet in front of him, cupping his chin and forcing him to look her in the eye.  “What is it?” 


Lenny opened and closed his mouth a few times before any noise came out of it.  Squig,” he finally whispered.


“Did he and Shirley…” Laverne never finished her question.


Lenny shook his head and then looked away from her, apparently finding the worn and dingy carpet fascinating.  “I dunno, Shirley’s name never even came up.  He hates me, Laverne.  He thinks I’m a big fruit and he don’t want to live with me no more.”


“Nah, Len.  He’s just upset, he don’t mean it.”


“Yeah, he does.  And he should, I mean.  It ain’t really a lie, not about him no how.”




“He knows, Laverne,” Lenny said quietly.  “He knows how I really feel.  Maybe he’s always known deep down, but he ain’t never had to have it thrown in his face.”


Laverne cursed Squiggy’s timing silently.  “Then it’s his loss.”


Lenny whirled around and glared at her.  “Don’t say that!  He’s the best friend I got in the whole world!  I don’t know what I’m gonna do without him.”


“I don’t know what I’m going to do without Shirl.”


“Did she…?”


“No, but,” Laverne said as she swallowed heavily and the tears she had held at bay all day began to trickle down her cheeks, “she might.  She wouldn’t even look at me this morning.”


“I’m sorry.”


“It’s my fault.  I shouldn’t have started this.”


Lenny shrugged before saying half-heartedly, “Maybe, but no one forced anyone to do anything.”


A quick flash of the memory of Lenny dominating Carmine so brutally made her gasp before she could stop herself.


“Laverne?”  Lenny asked as he reached out to touch her.  A frowned crossed his face when she flinched back from his touch.


“I’m tired,” she lied.


His blue eyes held an ocean of hurt.  “Right…”


“No, really…” she finished lamely.


“I hate it when people lie to me, Laverne.   It’s about what I –did to Carmine.”  Lenny bit his trembling lower lip and looked at the motel room door.


She reached out and grabbed his sleeve before he could bolt.  “No.  It’s what you did with Carmine.  I just—I just have never seen you that way, Lenny.” Except for that night at the Royal Cactus…




“No!  Mean, like you enjoyed hurting him.  Part of me was shocked, but part of me wasn’t.  The part that wasn’t shocked scared me more,” she admitted reluctantly.


He turned his back to her and walked to the window.  “I liked it,” he said in a tone that was almost matter of fact.  “ I mean, I didn’t like doing what I did to him as much as I liked the fact that it hurt him.”  Lenny’s shoulder’s slumped forward and his entire frame seemed to shrink and dwindle within itself.  “I’m some kinda fruity monster, Laverne.  Maybe you should run.”


His words galvanized her and she walked up behind him and pressed against his back, the satiny smoothness of his Lone Wolf jacket caressing her cheek.  “I ain’t the type to run, Len.  It’s just something that I need to realize about you.”


“I didn’t mean it to end that way,” he said with a slight quaver in his voice, “but I just started remembering how he treated me bad all of the time when we was kids— how he still does.  And then I thought about how he treated Shirley.  His first time with her, and it was with us?  What kinda guy does that?”


Laverne thought of her earlier encounter with Carmine at Cowboy Bill’s.  “I don’t even want to go into what kind of a guy Carmine is right now.”


“And what he did to you…” The quaver in Lenny’s voice gave way to a tone that was dark and guttural.


“Don’t let what happened between me and Carmine add fuel to the fire.  He didn’t do anything to me that I didn’t agree to, Lenny,” she said and she was disappointed to see him flinch and look away.  “Was it because I let him…”


“Yes!”  His shout made her ears ring as his fists grasped her upper arms almost painfully.  “Why him? All the times when I asked you, you said no.”


“I didn’t want to say no to anyone last night,” she said, hating her whiny tone as the bitterness seemed to roll off of her tongue, “I just—I just didn’t want to be the one to say ‘no’ at a love in, that’s all.”


Lenny stared at her, incredulous.  “So it was a big naked game of chicken for you?”


His words and the imagery that they conjured jolted Laverne out of her plea as an insane bubble of laughter exploded from her.  “I’m sorry, Len.  I ain’t laughing at you, it’s just…” She couldn’t stop and giggled at him helplessly.  “Naked.  Chickens…”


Lenny’s mouth twitched right before he once again lost the battle with his self-control.  “Chickens.  Naked…” his chuckle was born in his belly and hurtled out of his mouth with walrus-like resonance.  His knees seemed to buckle under him and he fell over on the bed, still laughing.


Laverne joined him, as her laughter gave no sign of stopping.  It wasn’t funny, she knew it deep down, but it felt so good to do something besides cry and worry.  Her cheeks ached and tears ran down her cheeks. As her hilarity slowly subsided.  Next to her, she was dimly aware that Lenny’s wheezy laughter was abating as well.  She lay on her back for long moments and breathed deeply.  Funny, it felt like a foreign action, like she hadn’t breathed all day.  She felt a large warm hand envelope hers and squeezed the fingers back companionably.  A glance to the curtains made her realize that the only light outside now was the streetlamp in the parking log.  Laverne also realized how exhausted she was.


Lenny raised his head of the bed and watched her undress with mild interest, confusion crossing his brow as she put on her slip again after taking everything else off.  “Am I missing something?”


She smiled and stifled a yawn.  “I’m beat, Len.  It’s just been a really long day.”


He shook his head.  “I know, I’m kinda tired too.  It’s just I thought you was gonna stop off at home and pack a bag.  I kinda like some of your Frederick’s of Hollywood stuff.  On you of course, not me,” he added hastily.


Laverne shook her head.  “I didn’t want to see Shirley tonight.  Does that make me a bad person?”




“I just—I know I’ll see her tomorrow, but today was bad enough as is.  I just bought myself a new pair of panties and a toothbrush and toothpaste at Bardwells after my shift.  I can change clothes at home tomorrow morning before work, or…”




She shrugged and realized that propriety meant something else today than it had on Sunday.  “Or I won’t” she said as she flipped back the heavy cotton bedspread and slid between the slightly scratchy—but clean, sheets.


A loud think on the floor let her know Lenny took one of his boots off, and a twin thump two seconds later let her know that the first boot wasn’t lonely.  She closed her eyes and took a deep breath as she focused on the harsh sound of his zipper, the soft thump of his jeans landing on the floor and the hiss of his satin jacket hitting the night table.  The soft glow that was visible through her closed eyelids gave way to blackness with the click of a switch and the mattress sagged beneath Lenny’s weight.  His warm arms encircling her and the comforting softness of his t-shirt made her almost forget her fatigue.  Laverne inhaled the comforting scents of brylcreem and licorice and she remembered what safe felt like as sleep claimed her.



Shirley groaned aloud at the pain in her neck.  Her eyelids fluttered open to the strobing light of the television set.  Groaning, she raised herself up from the couch and tried to orient herself.  Reaching out, she turned off the television set.  As the white noise of the static ended, she heard keys jangling in her door.  Shirley’s eyes strayed to the softball bats in the umbrella stand by the door out of habit; here eyes resting on Laverne’s.


The apartment door opened suddenly and Laverne wandered in, staring at her keys and cursing softly.


“You know that the lock always jams if it’s going to rain,” Shirley said quietly.


Laverne jumped slightly at the sound of her voice and then glanced at the graying light pouring in from the window.  “You’re up early.  Did I wake you?


She shook her head.  “No.  I never really went to sleep.   Are you okay?”


Laverne shrugged. “I guess.  You?”


“I don’t know.  Andrew—Squiggy came by yesterday afternoon.”


Laverne’s head snapped up.  “Really?  What did he half to say for himself?”


Laverne’s angry tone caught Shirley’s attention.  Surely she couldn’t hold a grudge for what she did with Squiggy after what she let Carmine, Lenny, Rhonda, and…  “Huh?”


“About Lenny.  He told Lenny that he didn’t want to be roommates with him no more.”


Lenny.   Shirley was surmised to feel a flare of jealousy flicker within herself. “I can’t imagine why.”


“Don’t.”  Laverne’s tone was flat, harsh.


Shirley crossed her arms in front of herself.  The judgmental attitude seemed familiar and safe.  “Well, Laverne, you do have to admit that we saw some things on Sunday that were pretty unnatural.”


“Shirley, we did some things that were pretty unnatural.  All of us.”


Shirley flinched at Laverne’s cavalier attitude.  So it meant nothing to you.  Just like last time… “Not like that.”


Laverne threw her handbag down on the coffee table and made her way to the refrigerator.  “Have you talked to Carmine?”


Shirley blinked in surprise.  “Why?  I never want to see him again.”


The sharp slam of the plastic cup on the cheap Formica tabletop echoed through the apartment.  “Damn it!” Laverne swore, “I told him that he needed to talk to you.


Her jealously flared again.  “So.  You’ve been with Carmine?”  Again?


Laverne glanced at her distractedly as she mopped up the spilled juice with a paper towel.  “I ran in to him at Cowboy Bill’s while I was picking up my check.”


“So...” Shirley hesitated and then felt foolish for doing so.  “Where were you last night?  With Carmine?”  Touching him the way you did behind my back all those years ago and right in front of me two days ago?  Letting him touch you?


“I stayed with Lenny.  We didn’t want to be alone, but we figured that you and Squiggy probably did.”


So now I’m like Squiggy to you? “I sort of wanted to talk to you,” she said, not bothering to hide petulance in her tone.  “About what happened.”


“Shirley, I am real sorry.  I had no idea that things would turn out the way that they did.”


“What did you want to happen, Laverne?” The question that had been eating away at her for the past thirty-six hours hung in the air between them.  “Have you been thinking about that other time that we—you know—all of these years?”  Shirley’s cheeks flushed with embarrassment at the wistfulness of her tone.


“No!”  Laverne looked at her in shock.  “God, no!  I just…”


Was touching me that wrong to you?  “Just what, Laverne?  What did you want that was worth all of this?”  Shirley stared at her and willed the fierce pounding in her heart to stop, as part of her knew Laverne’s answer before the words left her roommate’s lips.


Laverne looked away from her and replied in a small, almost meek voice, “I wanted to prove to myself that I wasn’t in love with Lenny.”


Shirley felt the blood drain from her face.  “What?” she whispered from between dry and ashen lips.


Laverne’s hands dropped to her sides, a frustrated and helpless gesture.  “I know, it was selfish and rotten, and I hurt everyone I care about.” 


Shirley sat down, not feeling the couch beneath her backside, but knowing it was there since she wasn’t sitting on the floor.  Lenny.


Laverne continued, her voice more irritating than static, “I wanted to prove that I wasn’t tied down to him, that I was free to enjoy everything and –well, everybody.  Lenny and I were talking the other day about fantasies and birthdays, and, well—I sort of pried it out of him.”


Shirley tried to keep her voice under control.  Be a lady, ladies never yell.  “Let me make sure that I have this straight.  You…” she paused to swallow, “gave me to your not-boyfriend—as a birthday present?”  Her nausea threatened to return with a vengeance.


“Yes—no!”  Tears began to trickle down Laverne’s cheeks as continued to babble on.  “I don’t know what I thought it would end up as.  I mean—you would walk in on me and Lenny doing it; you and I would fool around a bit, and then you’d end up blowing him.  That’s all that I thought would happen, Shirl.  Honest.  I had no idea that…”


Bile surged within Shirley’s gut as Laverne’s following words became indecipherable next to the sound of the ocean rushing thru her ears.  “You told him, she managed to breathe out the words that were barely audible to herself,” you told Lenny about what we did?  That’s what set this up?”  Fonzie ain’t gonna tell anyone, Shirl.  No one will ever know…


“No!  I mean, yes, I told him, but only after he told me about his fantasy about the two of us…” Laverne’s voice trailed off in to a squeak.


Some tiny part of Lillian Feeney asserted itself inside of Shirley.  “Well,” she said as she stood up straight and looked down her nose at Laverne, “ I guess that makes it okay, then, doesn’t it? 


“No, it don’t.  Shirl, I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t have done any of this; I shouldn’t have started this at all.”


“I thought you were my friend, Laverne.”  And more.    Shirley shook her head in disgust, “All of these years, I thought you were the one person who was always in my corner, who’d always be there for me, and you did this?  You put me in a situation where I ended up going all the way with Carmine?  With Squiggy?”  With you?  “With Lenny?”  Seeing Laverne wince in pain at the mention of Lenny’s name felt good for a small moment.  “How could you?”


“No one forced you!”  Laverne’s tear-choked accusation made Shirley flinch at its ferocity.  “No on forced you to do anything, did they, Shirley?  You could have left at any time, and when it got to be too much, you did.”


“I guess seeing what the man I loved is capable off did send me running, Laverne.  I guess I’m not as sophisticated as you and your boy friend when it comes to perversion.”


Instantly Laverne was on her feet, her usually slumped shoulders squared and ready for a fight.  It was a posture that Shirley had long remembered from their school days, back when her feelings for Laverne first started.  “Shut up.  Don’t you ever say nothing like that about Lenny again, do you hear me?  Everything Lenny did that night was because I asked him to, and I wish to hell I never had.  Squiggy’s moved out and they’re not even speaking no more.”


Jealousy made Shirley’s lips twist meanly before responding. “That’s probably the smartest thing that Squiggy has ever done in his whole life, Laverne, and you know it.”


Her friends green eyes became pleading, overshadowed with hurt and worry for another; but not for her.  “Lenny’s heart is broken, Shirl.  This is ripping his guts out.”


Lenny, again.  But you don’t care that I hurt too?  “That’s Lenny’s problem, not mine, Laverne.”  The cold words gave her some comfort.  She looked at Laverne again and tried to will some iron into her tone.  “It’s pretty funny, isn’t it?  After all these years, your Mr. Right turns out to be Lenny Kosnowski.  I guess you don’t know whether or not to laugh or cry, do you?”  Breathe in, breathe out; forget about her.


Laverne stuck her chin out defiantly; her voice became colder than Shirley had ever imagined it.  “Lenny’s a great guy, Shirley.  I ain’t gonna let no body bad mouth him, and that includes you!”


Shirly turned away from her, not having to see Laverne made her next words somewhat easier to say.  “You won’t have to listen to me for much longer, Laverne.  I decided today that I’m going to find my own place.  It’s time I’m on my own,” she lied as she tried not to replay the scenes from the other night in her head again; the show she put on for all and sundry…  Stop me; say you want me, not him.


When she turned to see her roommate’s reaction, Laverne had already left the room.





Shirley swirled the maraschino cherry around in her ginger ale as she looked around the dim bar.  It was upscale; she had made sure of that, it was merely a waiting area for a moderately pricey restaurant.  The surroundings were nice enough to attract was she was hunting, but not steep enough to make anyone choose between paying their check and being able to pay their rent that month.  It was perfect.


Self consciously, she smoothed the skirt of her off-white dress.  It wasn’t her first choice; the cut was a little too matronly, but her red cocktail dress would have been too much and made her stand out.  He had to think that she belonged here, that these were her kind of people.  Her black and white checked slip dress would have been perfect, she thought as she allowed herself a touch of wistfulness.  It had looked great on her, showed off her assets beautifully.  She suppressed a mild shudder as she remembered hurling it in the wastebasket—no amount of cleaning would have ever been enough for her to allow it against her skin again.


“Excuse me?”


Shirley looked up and smiled automatically.  “Hello.”


A man in the navy sports coat smiled at her, his teeth even and white.  “I was wondering if you would allow me to buy you another drink?”


Shirley shook her head without losing the painted on smile.  “I don’t think I’m ready for one yet, however I’d love to have someone to chat with while I wait for my friend.”


The man grinned back at her.  “He must be crazy keeping a dish like you waiting.”


Chuckling, Shirley replied.  “It’s not that type of a friend.  Sally said that she would meet me here at six thirty, but I’m starting to wonder if she’s forgotten about it.”


The stranger shrugged his shoulders said, with a bemused expression, “Girlfriends…”


Shirley’s jaw clenched as Laverne’s face flashed quickly before her eyes.  Focusing on keeping her tone light, she replied, “I’m sure that Sally just got held up with one of her children, or her housekeeper.  With two children and a husband to care for, I know that she has her hands full.”  You invented Sally; the least that you could do was give the woman a life; a decidedly married and normal life…


“Well,” he said as he clinked his glass to hers, “here’s hoping that Sally’s forgetfulness works out to my advantage.  My name is Walter.”