Why Me?

Chapter Eleven

We woke up about 3:30 and just cuddled for a while.  But then I had to get up and start getting ready for our guests.  I went into the bathroom, and when I came back, Mike was sitting on the edge of the bed.  He grinned at me.

"Damn, it just keeps getting better and better, doesn't it?"

"It sure does, for me, and I hope it does, for you."

"Oh, you can't imagine how much better!  C'mere, you!'  He grabbed for me, but I dodged out of his reach. 

"Mike, I've got things to do!  We've got company coming for dinner."

"Oh, so now we're going to go getting domestic on me, are we?  Well, at least I can watch how cute you are!"  I grabbed a pillow from the bed and pounded him on the head with it three or four times.

"Now, how cute was that?"  I grabbed my clothes and stomped out of the bedroom.  I could hear him laughing.  He was still laughing when he came out of the bedroom dressed.

"Oh, you are a little tiger, aren't you?"  He went on into the kitchen, still chuckling.  When I got to the kitchen, he was sitting at the table.  There were two cups of coffee there.  "Are you going to join me, or would you prefer a chunk of raw meat?"  He grinned at me and indicated the coffee sitting at my place.  I sat down and just glared at him.

"You think you're really funny, don't you?"

He nodded, with a complacent smile.  "Yep, I'm funny, and you're cute.  Makes a good combination, don't you think?"

"Mike, sometimes I just don't know how to take you. Are you ever serious?"

"Baby, I don't care how you take me, as long as you take me.  And, yes, I'm serious, I'm serious about you.  I've loved you so long that I just thank God every day for finally bringing you to me."  The loving look on his face brought tears to my eyes.  I couldn't say a word; I just sat there.

We finished our coffee, and Mike looked around.  "What do you need to do?  The house is clean and neat, dinner's on its way.  Looks like your Martha Stewart Award has been reinstated."  He grinned at me.

"You're pushing again, fellah!  I want to get the table all set and ready, and I need to make a tossed salad.  Oh, and we need to change the sheets, before we can go to bed tonight.  They're kind of a mess!"

"Hey, I didn't do that, so don't blame me!"  He was chuckling now.

"Well, it's your fault!  If you weren't such a good lover, we'd have a lot less laundry around here!"  I couldn't stop the grin, as I looked over at him.  I got up and poured him another cup of coffee.  "Why don't you just sit here and keep me company, while I throw a salad together?"

"I can't think of anything I'd rather do at the moment."  He gave me a big smile and settled back with his coffee cup.  I went to the fridge and pulled out the makings for a big tossed salad.  It didn't take long to get it ready and back in the fridge.  Then I got out dishes and flatware and went into the dining room to set the table.  He followed me.

"Why don't you give me the plates and salad bowls?  I'll set them out, and you can lay down the silverware.  You do a much neater job than I do.  I always get them on the wrong side."

I set down the dishes I was carrying and grabbed the flatware from the top of the stack.  He went around the table setting plates and salad bowls at each place, and I followed him, laying out the flatware neatly.  When we were finished, he looked at the table.  "I don't think the maitre d' at the Krebs could have done it better!  What do you think?"

I reached up and gave him a kiss on the cheek.  "I think you're right!"

We went into the bedroom.  The bed was a mess, blankets and top sheet crumpled in a heap on one side, and the bottom sheet, stained from our love-making was wrinkled and twisted.  Mike shook his head.  "I don't know about you; we may have to put you in Depends!"

"Well, that will solve the problem!  But you're not going to like the solution very much—think about it!"

He looked at me with a rather surprised expression.  "I never thought about that!  Well, there's got to be an answer!"

"There is; it's called 'laundry'!  Now, pull those sheets off, while I get clean ones."  I went to the hall and got a set of clean sheets from the closet.  When I got back, Mike had stripped the bed.  Together we remade it, spreading the blanket and bedspread over the clean sheets and tucking everything in.  Mike looked it over.

"There!  Your sister and her stuffy husband will never know what's been going on here today!"  He was looking awfully pleased with himself.  I gathered up the dirty sheets and headed for the kitchen to throw them in the washer.  He followed me.

"You know, you make all this housekeeping stuff look so easy!  My Mom's like that.  I can't imagine what the house would look like if Dad and I had to keep it up by ourselves!"

"Let's hope you never have to find out!"  We went back into the living room.  I looked at the clock.  "We've got over an hour before Annie and Paul get here—and they'll be here at 6:00!  Paul is very punctual."

"Wanna watch some TV?"

"Sure, why not?  What's on?"

"There should be a ball game; we could watch that.  Unless they go into extra innings, it should be over by the time Annie and Paul get here."  Oh, yeah, just what I wanted to do!  Spend my afternoon watching a bunch of jocks chasing a ball around!  I never did see the point to baseball, and football's worse.  Those guys are trying to do serious damage to each other, and all for the sake of getting a silly-looking ball to one end or the other of the field!  "Sure, Mike, that sounds like a great idea!"  What a liar you are, Dave!  If he knew the truth, he'd be out of here in a minute.  And that is precisely why he will never know the truth!

We settled down on the couch and snuggled, as Mike watched his favorite team trying to annihilate their opponents.  From Mike's occasional groans, I gathered that they weren't being too successful at it.  I didn't care; I had Mike here with me.  They could chase that stupid ball until hell freezes over, for all of me!

The doorbell woke me from a pleasant dream on Mike's shoulder.  I shook my head, and glanced at the clock.  6:00. Oh, Lord, they're here!  Mike helped me up from the couch.  I was still a little groggy.  I made it to the door and opened it.

I was surrounded by a tight hug and a kiss on each cheek.  From the nice cologne, I was sure it wasn't Paul.  Annie kissed me again.  "I'm so glad to see you, Davie!  It's been ages!"

Paul stuck out his hand stiffly and shook hands with me.  "Good to see you, Dave."  We went into the house.  Mike stood up from the couch, as we came into the room.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw both Annie and Paul looking up, and up, as he uncurled to his full height.  I heard Annie gulp.

"Guys, I'd like you to meet Mike Dorczek.  Mike, this is my sister, Annie, and my brother-in-law, Paul."

Paul thrust out his hand to shake, and winced slightly.  I knew that Mike was putting on a little pressure, and I could see that look in his eyes!  Annie just stood there with her mouth open, staring.  And I think she was drooling a little.  She turned to me.  "Uh, Davie, who…what…how…?"

I just grinned at her.  "I told you I'd made some changes in the house.  How do you like the changes I've made?"  She gulped two or three times before she could answer.

"Um, well, I guess I wasn't expecting…well, you know!"

Mike was chuckling by now.  "Well, I see that Davie isn't the only one who talks like that.  It must be genetic, a family trait!"  He reached out and pulled Annie into a big hug.  "I'm so glad to meet you, Big Sister!  Davie just worships you, did you know that?"  He kissed her on the cheek and released her.  I noticed Paul standing a little stiffer, and his lips were beginning to pucker.  Annie, on the other hand, had been completely swept off her feet!

"Hey, guys, dinner's about ready.  Why don't you sit down and relax, and I'll get everything on the table.  Mike, can you give me a hand?"  He raised an eyebrow in my direction, but followed me into the kitchen.

"Did I do something wrong?"

"Not in the least!  They both reacted just about the way I expected.  Annie wants to take you home, and hug you, and squeeze you, and call you 'George'!  And Paul isn't too happy about that.  But he'll get over it.  It took him a while to get used to the idea that Annie and I hug each other every time we meet.  I think he puts a little too much starch in his bath water!"

Mike grinned.  "Well, looks like he's going to have to loosen up a little, or take the chance of snapping when he bends over."

I got a couple of platters from the cupboard and pulled the pot roast out of the crock pot.  It was done perfectly.  I got a big slotted spoon and fished the vegetables out of the broth and stacked them on the other platter.  Then I got out a bowl and poured the broth into it.  "Mike, if you'll get the salad out of the fridge and toss it with a little of the Italian dressing in the door of the fridge, I'll slice the roast, and we're ready to eat!"

When everything was on the table, I went to the living room and called Annie and Paul into the dining room.  Annie grinned.  "Well, Paul, you eat well today!  Davie's always made better pot roasts than I can!"  Paul just smiled.  We sat down, Annie and Paul on one side of the table, and Mike and I on the other.  For a while we just ate, then Annie looked up and spoke to Mike.  "Where did you and Davie meet?  I know he doesn't go out much."

Actually, Davie and I have known each other a little over ten years.  We work together."

Paul's head came up, and he gave Mike a thin smile.  "So you work in the same factory?"

"Well, it's a machine shop, if you want to be technical, but yes, I guess you could say so."

"And what do you do there?"  Paul's attitude was beginning to bother me.  It felt as if he wanted to put Mike down, for some unknown reason.

I'm the line supervisor.  I'm sort of in charge of production."

"Oh, that sounds like a rather challenging position."

"Well, it keeps me busy."

"And how long have you worked there?"

"Let's see, I was a sophomore in high school, so I must have been 14 or 15.  I'm 34 now, so that would be about 20 years."

"Oh, really?  I would have thought that your parents would insist on you getting an education.  You can't do anything of importance in this world without a good education.  But, of course, there are those who don't see the value of education."  His chuckle was almost a sneer.  I was getting more and more upset.  I glanced over at Annie.  She was looking at Paul as if she were seated next to a total stranger.  He apparently didn't notice, because he kept on.

"And have you thought of the future?  Without a good education, you certainly won't have much chance for advancement, even in a factory."  His smile was almost gloating now.  Mike just looked at him with that easy smile of his.  His voice was soft and calm.

Well, Paul, you see, my family is European.  They believe very strongly in the value of education.  I was the rebel.  I've always liked working with my hands, so my Dad put me to work in the machine shop, learning the different operations on the assembly line.  That was my reward for doing well in my school work.  And I could only work during school vacations.

"When I graduated from high school, he insisted that I go on to college.  He wanted me to study business and accounting, but I wasn't having any part of it.  He finally agreed to let me study mechanics and engineering.  When I graduated, I went to work full time at the machine shop, and I've been there ever since."

"Well, with a little luck and a college degree behind you, you may be able to find a better job."  The damn fool was actually smirking.  I had had it!

"Paul, there are a few things that Mike has left out of his story.  He's really a very modest person.  He doesn't like to brag about himself.  First of all, he told you the truth; he loves working with his hands.  That's why he stays with the job he has.  He is the line supervisor.  He can do every job in the process of assembly, because he has a lot of experience in every one of them.  The men who work for him admire and respect him.  They would do anything he asks of them.  His college degree in 'mechanics and engineering'?  He graduated magna cum laude.  And there are a couple of other things you need to know about this simple factory worker.

"As you know, the place where both Mike and I work is Allied Machine Shop.  It was formerly known as Dorczek Machine Shop.  Mike's grandfather came to this country from Czechoslovakia.  He was a machinist, and he invented a new type of brake system for big, over the road trucks.  It is one of the best, if not the very best one of its kind on the market today.  He started a little machine shop, which grew into what it is now.  I have worked there as their bookkeeper for the past ten years, and I can tell you it is a great place to work.

"I just had dinner with Mike's family last night.  His Dad was telling us that the shop has a huge order from a big trucking firm, and that they are going to have to expand as fast as they can to meet the order.  They are putting on a second, and maybe a third, shift.  That means that someone is going to have to coordinate the three shifts and be sure that they are operating at full capacity.  Mike has just been promoted to floor manager to take care of these responsibilities, not because he is related to the management, but because he is the best person in the place to do the job.  His promotion takes effect this coming Monday."

Paul's eyebrows were raised, and he had that smirk on his face again.  "Well, I'm sure that will be a big promotion for you, won't it?'  That did it!

I stood up and put my hand on Mike's shoulder.  Annie's eyes were wide, but she just sat there, waiting.  I looked at Paul, and I guess he realized he had crossed the boundary, but he wasn't going to back down now.  Mike reached around me and hugged me.  I glanced at him, and he had an almost pleading expression on his face.  He was asking me to drop it, but I couldn't!  It had gone too far!

"Paul, you seem to think this man is 'just some dumb redneck working in a factory.'  Well, I've got news for you!  Yes, he works in the shop, because he loves the work, and he does it well.  That's how he got to be line supervisor over men ten years or more older than he is.  He's done well enough that he was chosen floor manager, not because of his connections, but because of his ability.  But there are a couple more things you need to know, before you write him off.

"Mike is in line to become manager of the whole operation, when the present manager retires.  He doesn't have to work at all.  You see, Mike is the major stockholder in the corporation; he owns the whole damn place.  And if he wanted to, he has the financial backing to buy that rinky-dink little place where you work, and he could fire your sorry ass!  Now, I don't know where you get off, acting so superior, but this is the way it is.  Nobody comes into my house, sits at my table, eats my food , and treats the man I love the way you have treated Mike.  Until you can apologize to him and change your attitude, you are no longer welcome in this house!  Is that clear?"  I was shaking, but I wouldn't back down.  Not this time!

Annie was crying.  Mike was looking so miserable that I half expected him to cry, too.  Paul sat there for a minute, just staring at me with his mouth open.  Then he stood up.  "Are you coming, Annie?"  He headed for the door.  Annie was devastated.  "Oh, Davie, Mike, I'm so sorry!  I didn't know; I've never seen him like that!"  She burst into tears again and hurried to follow Paul out the front door.

I was still standing there, looking at Paul's empty chair.  Mike stood up and drew me into a hug.  "Are you all right, Baby?"

I looked up at his face, so filled with love and concern, and I knew.  "Yes, Mike, I'm all right.  In fact, I don't think I've ever been so all right!"

Mike leaned down and kissed me tenderly.  Then he pulled back a little and gave me a long look.  He was shaking his head.  "I called you 'tiger,' but I didn't mean for it to go to your head!  You really are a tiger when you get mad!  Remind me to never get you that pissed at me!"  He chuckled.  "But I've gotta tell ya, Babe, I was so proud of you!  You stood right up there and faced that stuffed shirt down.  And the fact that you did it for me….  I just don't know what to say.  If I had ever had any doubts about how you feel about me, I certainly wouldn't have any now!"

"Oh, Mike, he was treating you like some kind of pond scum, and I just couldn't take it any longer.  I'm afraid I've lost Annie, but if that's the price I have to pay, I can live with it.  You are the most important person in my life, and I'm not going to let anyone badmouth you."  Then I had to chuckle.  "Is that clear?"

"Yes, sir!  Perfectly clear!  And, Davie, I love you all the more for it!  It was worth waiting ten years, just to see your face, hear you as you took him on!  You are something else, Davie, my boy!"  He wrapped me in that warm hug again, and we just stood there at the table, lost in our own world.  I have no idea how long we stood there, but eventually we pulled apart, reluctantly.  I looked at the table.

"Oh, God, there's all this food!  Are you hungry?"

"No, not really."

"What!  Do you mean I've found a way to keep you away from food for more than fifteen minutes?"

"Well, yes, but please don't make it a habit!  You're really scary when you get mad!"

"Well, why don't we clear all this away, and put everything away.  It will be just as good, warmed up tomorrow, for dinner.  We'll just stack the dishes, and I'll do them in the morning.  What time is your family expecting us?"

"They usually have Sunday dinner about two in the afternoon.  Mom spends all morning cooking, and then it takes half an hour to cart it all over to Grandfather's house.  Even if we're a few minutes late, it won't matter, because they quite often don't get to the table before quarter after, or two thirty."

"Good.  Then we'll have time for a leisurely breakfast and for me to go into an anxiety attack before we go."  We were both chuckling, as we cleared the food and dishes from the table and took them to the kitchen.  Mike finished clearing up the dining room, and I started putting food away.  It didn't take long, and Mike grabbed me as I was headed toward the sink.  "There's a whole pot of coffee sitting there.  It would be a shame to waste it, wouldn't it?"

"Now I see why they chose you for floor manager.  You're a very smart guy!"  I grabbed a couple of cups and filled them.  When I turned to the table, Mike was grinning at me.

"I don't know if you're cuter, when you're being domestic, or when you're defending my honor." 

"Just never mind.  We can discuss that some other time, say in twenty years, or so."  We sat and sipped our coffee in silence.  I started to get up to refill the cups, but Mike stopped me.

"I've got a better idea.  Let's just shut everything down and go to bed."

"Sounds like a plan to me!"  I left our empty cups on the table.  We could use them in the morning.  Mike went ahead to the bedroom.  I turned off lights, made sure the front door was locked, and followed him into the bedroom.

When I got there, he had turned down the covers and was gazing at the sheets.  "Well, we've got clean sheets, but probably not for long!"  He grinned at me.

"Well, it's your fault they get messed up!  And if you think I'm going to get up in the middle of the night and change the sheets, you're crazy!"

"OK, OK, Tiger, just relax.  I'm not going to ask you to get up and change the sheets."  He was really laughing now, and I couldn't help but join him.  It didn't take us long to strip down.  Mike slipped into bed and held out his arms to me.  That did it!  I almost melted right there on the spot!  I managed to get into bed, before my shaky legs gave out.  Mike reached across me and turned off the bedside lamp.  Then he pulled me to him.

I woke up early, with a full bladder and a fuller heart.  God, I love that man so much!  Thank you for bringing him to me.  He could have chosen anyone, but for some bizarre reason he chose me.  Why me?

I eased out of Mike's embrace and headed to the bathroom.  I got there just in time!  While I was there, I decided to shower and shave, to save time later.  When I came out of the bathroom, he was lying on his back, snoring softly.  He looked so like a little boy that I just wanted to hug him—yeah, hug him and squeeze him and call him George!

I got some clean clothes from the drawer and went out to the living room to get dressed.  Then I went to the kitchen, dumped an almost full pot of coffee down the sink and made a fresh pot.  I had just settled down with my first cup, when he came shuffling out of the bedroom.  He looked like an abandoned puppy!  "You left me.  You left me all alone in there.  I missed you."  He staggered to the table and sat down.  I got up and poured him a cup of coffee.  It was a beautiful late summer morning, and we just sat there, waking up and getting ready to face his family.  Somehow, I didn't feel as nervous about the prospect as I had before.  Maybe my set-to with Paul last night had given me a little courage.

We finished our first cup of coffee, and I got up to refill our cups.  I was just about to sit down again, when the phone rang.  I went into the living room to answer it.  It was Annie.

"Oh, God, Annie, I'm so glad to hear your voice!  I thought you would probably never speak to me again!"

"Davie, I can't tell you how sorry I am for what happened last night!  And I've got to tell you, you were absolutely right in everything you said.  Paul was way out of line.  He doesn't think so, of course!  He's gone down to the health club this morning.  He and his buddies from work go there two or three times a week.  He'll get lots of sympathy there!  He certainly didn't get any at home!

"I called to apologize, and to tell you that you've got one helluva hunk there!  Hang on to him, Little Brother!  He's worth fighting for!"

"He sure is, Annie, and if I had to, I'd do it all over again.  I can't begin to tell you what he's done for me in the past couple of weeks.  I'm not the same little mouse I always was.  He keeps telling me I'm special, and you know what?  He makes me feel special!"

"Oh, Davie, I'm so happy for you!  You deserve the best, and it looks to me as if you've found the best!"

"That's the funny part, Annie!  I didn't find him, he found me!  He told me he's been watching me and waiting—for ten years now!—and he finally got up the courage to invite me out for dinner.  It just developed from there."

"Well, Davie, I'm so happy for you!  I love you, and I know you love me, but you needed someone else, and now you have him!  I couldn't be happier!  And, Davie, I'm so glad you finally grew a pair!"  She was giggling, as she hung up the phone.

I must have had a strange expression on my face, when I went back to the kitchen.  Mike looked up from his coffee.  "Are you all right?  Who was that on the phone?"

I slumped down in my chair and picked up my coffee cup.  "It was Annie.  She called to apologize again.  And she thinks you're a hunk; didn't I tell you that?  Oh, and she's glad I finally grew a pair!"

Mike almost fell out of his chair, laughing!  When he had recovered and caught his breath, he shook his head.  "I knew there was a reason I liked that girl!  She's my kind of girl—as far as girls go!—and I think we're going to be really good friends.  What say, we go out for breakfast this morning, and we'll clean up the kitchen—and change the sheets, again!—when we get back.  He was still chuckling, as he got up and turned off the coffee pot.  Then he turned around and picked me up out of my chair.  He held me to him in a bear hug and looked deep into my eyes.  "I'll never be the one to tell her that you already had a pair!"  He started laughing again, as he set me on the floor. 

Editor's Notes:

Well Arli said that he wasn't sure if I would hate him after reading this chapter.  I have no idea why he would think such a thing. The only thing I could wish for was a longer chapter. 

This was simply beautiful.  Davie has truly found a precious person that loves him deeply and he loves Mike too. That was a terrible way for Paul to act and Davie gave him just what he deserved. If I had been in Mike's position at that point, I might have slugged that pompous overstuffed snob. Annie sure married a jerk, didn't she.  I hope either he straightens out or she dumps the creep.  He sure doesn't deserve someone as nice as she is, not the way he acted.  Did anyone notice that I get involved in these stories?  Well I do. Arli is one of those talented people that brings his stories totally to life.  I mean that, I really want to meet Mike and Davie.  Well the next time I go to the unnamed city where this wonderful story takes place, I am going to be sure to look them up. I think I am going to ask Arli where it takes place so I can make my plans to go visit them.  That goes for Jim and Glen as well, since I have no idea where they live either. I hope they are somewhat close to each other, so it won't be a situation where I have to plan several trips. I already know there has to be trips to Fremont and Ithaca. Maybe I can get Ben and Grant to help expedite the situation in getting everyone together for a really special treat, so I will have to ask E Walk to get me in touch with them. If I keep this up, maybe I can name everyone and not leave anyone out, but I don't want to make this thing too silly, well maybe I do want to, but I will not do that. I just want the next ten chapters finished in the next day or so.

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher