Jarrell did not have a good night. No sirree. Not at all.
First, Ashley accused him of sleeping around. He explained that he had driven to Kansas City, as in Missouri, and back. He had texted that information but she was too stoned or apathetic to read it or understand it.
Then, after explaining WHY he had driven to Kansas City, Ashley demanded that Dan provide her with free weed. Jarrell declined to twist his friend Danno’s arm.
Later that evening, Jarrell asked for some physical affection from Ashley. In Jarrell’s mind, once-a-week was barely enough for a man of his age.
Ashley took that as an invitation to reopen the conversation about free weed. And then Krystal joined in. “Free weed!!!??!!!”
Then they dog-piled on Jarrell. Nobody had bothered to collect water while the electricity on. Somehow it was Jarrell’s job to figure out a way to get water out of the well. And to cook nearly every dinner (since somebody else made breakfast and lunch, they figured that put Jarrell on the hook for dinner). And bring home the food.
All Jarrell wanted was a little bit of nookie and a good night’s sleep. Both appeared impossible.
Merle was confused when Jarrell hopped on his bike two hours after sunset. That was not when they usually made the four mile trip to town.
Merle was a running dog but he was hard pressed to keep up with Jarrell as he pedaled his “mad” out. Jarrell slept on Danno’s couch.
Jarrell wasn’t at his best the next day.
Leslie commented on that.
Jarrell spilled his tale of woe to the older, matronly woman.
She listened. She sent a few text messages. She read the responses and sent a few more messages.
At lunch Leslie informed Jarrell that she had a guest bedroom that he and Merle could crash in for the next month, while he got his feet beneath him.
She had texted her husband, Darwin, and he reminded her that their daughter was moving back home. Merlot, their daughter, did not object to Jarrell using her bedroom since she knew he was not a slob. She only asked that he leave at least three days before she arrived.
That puzzled Jarrell. “Merlot? It seems like I would have remembered somebody named Merlot. What year did she graduate?”
Leslie mentioned a year ahead of Jarrell.
While upperclassmen might not attend to those beneath them, lowerclassmen were painfully aware of the cohort ahead of them. Jarrell racked his brains and still came up empty.
Then Leslie gave him a hint. “She was embarrassed by her name so she went by ‘Melody’.”
Then it clicked for Jarrell. Melody was a tall, quiet girl, rail-thin and who was so pale as to approach transparency.
“Merlot is an unusual name for a girl. How did you pick it?” Jarrell asked.
Leslie blushed. “It seemed like a good idea at the time.
“Darwin and I were really into wine. We would go on a vacation with the specific intention of dining in a very high-end restaurant. We would order a wine we had researched and then order meals that had flavor profiles that provided the best back-drop for the wine” Leslie said.
“People do that?” Jarrell asked, mystified.
“They do when they order a $500 bottle of wine” Leslie assured him.
“Well, about twenty-five years ago we ordered a bottle from a very small, very select pressing from Northern California. It was ambrosia, the nectar of the Gods” Leslie swooned.
“One thing led to another. I, we, didn’t take precautions and I conceived” Leslie said. “Do you want to guess what kind of wine it was?”
“Merlot?” Jarrell asked.
“Precisely” Leslie said. “And I will have to kill you if you ever let ‘Melody’ know that you heard it.”
No problem. In a month he would be living somewhere else and would likely never see Melody again.