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“Well,” Misty said in response to Joe’s question, “I got to ask Randy some questions that were bothering me and I feel like I should be ready by next Friday. It’ll be good to have this over and done with and to complete my certification.”

“More money?”

“Yeah, a little bonus once I pass the test and a little more salary to go along with it. I’m just ecstatic that they pay for the course and materials.Plus it opens up more job opportunities for me within the company. ”

“Investing in their assets, always a good idea. You do anything fun today?”

“I went to Jazzercise with Julie. She’s been asking me to go and I kept blowing her off, so today we went over lunch.”

“Any good?”

“Yeah, it was fun. Not exactly the kind of workout I usually do but I guess that’s a good thing. Shake things up, get out of my routine, take my body off of automatic pilot.”

“Yep, that’s all important stuff alright. Did you want to head to the pool?”

“No, I thought we were going to the movies?”

“Oh, right, right! I forgot! What did you want to see?”

“I thought we’d see ‘Jewel of the Nile’ or ‘The Breakfast Cub.’”

“What happened to, ‘View to a kill’ or ‘Back to the Future’?”

“Wrong movie theatre. ‘Jewel’ has Kathleen Turner in it?”

“That sounds fine, sweetie; whatever you want. Are we going to eat first?”

“We’d better; our entertainment budget is getting stretched. I’ve got potato salad in the fridge and hamburgers on the grill just waiting for me to turn the gas on. Shouldn’t be more than ten minutes.”

“I’ll get dressed.” Joe reached out his hand and squeezed her shoulder. Misty grabbed his thigh and gently squeezed back. “Ohhh!”

“What?!”

“Oh, umm, I fell off my bike and bruised my leg today. You just squeezed a tender spot.”

“Fell off your bike? How’d you do that?”

“I wasn’t paying attention and a driver surprised me. I hit the curb and wound up on the sidewalk. No biggie.”

“You sure you’re all right? I can see the bruise on your leg, now that I’m looking at it and is your elbow bleeding!?”

“Barely. I cleaned it up and I’ll be fine! I didn’t hit my head or anything.”

“Hmmm, well you, sir, need to be more careful! I need you around.”

“To open jars and lift heavy boxes?”

“No, to have and to hold and honor and cherish. Are you okay? Is this job thing really bothering you?”

“Yes, yes and thanks for asking but really I was just kidding! I’m fine! Hungry, but fine, hint, hint, hint.”

“Get dressed, I’ll cook.”

Saturday, 09/13/86

Joe woke up with Billy Ocean singing in his head. “When the going gets tough, the tough get going! When the going gets rough, the tough get rough. I got something to tell you, I’ve got something to say, I’m gonna put this dream in motion, never let nothing stand in my way.” He wondered why he would wake up singing that particular song and then smiled when the answer filtered into his consciousness. “I guess it’s time to get rough,” he subvocalized as he reached over to Misty and gently cradled her head in his hands for a moment and tenderly kissed her cheek before slipping out from beneath the covers.

Six thirty three. Joe switched the alarm to off and put on the running shorts he had left on the floor the night before when he had gotten dressed to go see “Jewel.” He scooped up his discarded pants, polo, under-ware, tee shirt and shoes that he had unceremoniously shed as quickly as possible after the movie. He smiled as he remembered the urgency with which he had slipped into bed. He quietly laid his shoes in the closet and hung up the pants and polo and tossed the tee back in the drawer while the rest went into the hamper. Ha! He wouldn’t even get the more in sorrow than in anger puppy dog look from Misty for having not put his clothes away because she hadn’t seen them there on the floor. Score!

He quickly used the bathroom, smiled again as he passed his slumbering bride who made a noise suspiciously reminiscent of snoring and then shut their bedroom door as he made his way into the kitchen. He couldn’t decide if Misty were more beautiful in the morning or in the evening and eventually gave up on trying to decide. One thing was certain though, he found his bride enchanting, alluring and irresistible.

Joe decided to use the extra half hour to do some long neglected strength training and stretching. After grinding the coffee beans and setting his cup perking he grabbed Billy Joel’s album “52nd. Street,” turned the volume low, flipped the vinyl to side two and started the turntable. He usually started his morning workout routine with stretching but had selected this album and side for the first song.

“She cuts you once, she cuts you twice, but still you believe. The wound is so fresh you can taste the blood but you don’t have strength to leave…” filled the air. His friend Gerry Graminsky had shown him a great start for a workout session by doing four sets of 25 pushups with a thirty second pause between each set. It didn’t sound too difficult but the last set was always tougher than one would expect. “Stiletto’s” pounding lyrics and beat, even at low volume, were great tone setters for the challenge and Joe jumped in with enthusiasm.

After the final set he collapsed on the floor and rested until his heart stopped pounding and then went through a variety of upper body exercises and stretches from neck to ankles. He decided against the lateral leg lifts when he discovered that the bruising from his fall the previous day made putting weight on his right hip painful. The routine took about half an hour to do well and he finished at  the time he would normally have gotten out of bed. His day’s robust beginning left him feeling more invigorated than he would have had he elected to lie abed for thirty minutes in a state that was neither awake nor asleep. He had been tempted to awaken Misty on the off chance of spending more time in her arms but he knew from experience that early morning overtures were seldom met with enthusiasm by his beloved.

He heaved himself off the floor and after preparing his cup of coffee ground fresh beans and poured water in the machine to await Misty’s awakening. He took the coffee into their bathroom and opened King/Bachman’s Roadwork where he had marked his page. He sat on the toilet and read to page 377 where the date changed to November 28, 1973. He checked his watch and decided he had a few more minutes to spare before he really had to get moving, looked ahead to where November 28 began nine pages later and decided he could read to that point before he would put getting to work on time in jeopardy. He got to page 379 when he heard a tap on the bathroom door. “Joe! Joe! Can I get in there?” Misty asked.

Joe checked his watch. “Sure, sweetie! Hang on just a sec!” He marked his page, put the book in the holder and arranged himself in a way that would allow Misty to enter comfortably. He pulled his shorts back on, finished washing his hands and then opened the door. “Sorry, sweetie. I thought you were asleep.”

Misty stood off to the side of the doorway so Joe could only see her head and right shoulder. “You didn’t wake me up, I had to use the bathroom. Do you mind?”

Joe shook his head and stepped into their bedroom where he grabbed the clothes he would wear on the bike as well as those he would wear at work. He heard the toilet flush and the door opened just before he heard the water running. “Thanks, Joe. It’s all yours.” They bussed one another on the lips as Misty rolled back into bed and pulled the sheets over her silky skin.

He turned the shower on and stripped off his shorts. As the water heated he quickly shaved and then showered with a grin on his face.

Misty had created a lovely visual display as her bare skin had slid under the sheets and Joe was enjoying the fresh image of her as he showered.

Once he was clean and dry he hung the towel on the rack and walked quietly to where Misty lay. He silently looked down at her and grinned. After a moment she opened an eye and looked up at him with her face scrunched up into an interrogative position. “May I help you?” she asked.

“I was just seeing if you’re awake.”

“I’m awake, but I’m not up. What’s up?” she asked scanning her eyes downward to his mid-section.

“I was just looking at you; you’re beautiful you know.”

“I’m glad you still think so. You said that a few times last night as I recall,” she said with a grin.

“Still true. Uhh, is there anything I can get for you? Anything I might do for you?”

“Ohh, Joe,” she whispered huskily. “There is one thing that only you can do for me. What I would love, really love from you, is a cup of black coffee. Is that what you had in mind?”

“I might have been thinking of other services I could render.”

“Like what? Scratching my back? Because it looks like you have to leave here in less than ten minutes and I can’t think of anything else you’d have in mind for that amount of time.”

“Well, I could always leave later if I was going to drive to work.”

“That you could. Is that what you’re going to do?”

“No, I’ll ride. What if I’d said yes?”

“Ahh, but you didn’t, did you? Now you’ll never know.”

“Never?”

“Never for this morning. Yes, please. Start my coffee.”

Joe struggled to put his bike shorts on before walking out of the bedroom and into the kitchen. He switched the coffee maker to on, grabbed a hamburger from last night’s dinner out of the refrigerator along with a generous slice of tomato, some lettuce, onions, a slice of cheese and a bun, all of which he stuffed in a sandwich bag. He grabbed the milk and placed it on the shelf as he poured his obligatory bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios and added pecans. Misty’s coffee was done so he poured her a cup and walked it into the bedroom.

“You sure you don’t want anything more than a back scratch?” he asked as he placed the cup on the night stand.

“You’re sure you’re riding your bike to work?” she asked as she sat up, clutching the sheet to her sternum with one hand as she reached for the coffee with the other.

“I’m sure I have to get going.”

“Then I’m sure I’m fine. You may scratch my back if you’d like.”

“I think I would like. Let me grab my cereal and I’ll scratch with one hand while I eat with the other.” Scratching with one hand was not very effective but neither of them seemed to mind too much.

Joe finished the last bite of cereal, gave Misty a kiss and declared, “Gotta go!” as he got out of bed, brushed his teeth, gathered his belongings and headed out the door singing, “She cuts you once, she cuts you twice, but still you believe. The wound is so fresh you can taste the blood but you don’t have strength to leave…”

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