Burnt Ends and Pie
Mari turned over in bed, yawned and stretched. If there was one thing that Mari loved even more than a good cup of coffee, it was a good night’s sleep! Saturday mornings were the one thing that she almost never missed. If by “never missed” you mean she could care less if she didn’t roll out of bed until noon on a Saturday morning. She was naturally a night owl and did not care if she missed the morning. On this particular, morning, er, early afternoon, she did notice something she had missed. A text. Mercifully it was only a half hour ago that the text had arrived. She looked at her phone.
“Mari, had a blast and enjoyed the wonderful conversation last night! I was wondering, are you free this evening? I have some brisket that I’m smoking today and would love to have you over for dinner tonight if you are available to come! ~Locke”
Mari took all of two seconds to process and respond. “Yes, I would love to come over, do you need me to bring anything to go with dinner?”
A moment later he replied, “No, wait, yes. If you would like to bring a dessert that would be awesome! Oh, I have a pool and it is a nice night, so if you want to bring a swimsuit, that would be good too.”
Mari took a second to process that. Dessert, no problem, Bill Miller’s BBQ was her best bet, since she loved their coconut cream pies! The part that took her a moment to process was the whole swimsuit bit. She was a bit nervous about that, being on the curvy side of the spectrum, but she decided it couldn’t be too bad. While, it would be a bit revealing for her to wear her swimsuit, she wondered, just how comfortable Locke was feeling if he was inviting her to swim. Her gut told her that he must really be comfortable around her. She also recalled their conversation the night before where they both discussed how they were putting things all out, because if this was going to go somewhere, it couldn’t happen without honesty from both sides and acceptance from both sides. So she figured, that he really must want to make sure everyone is fully comfortable with one another for sure. Mari took a deep breath and replied, “Sure thing, I was thinking a Coconut Cream Pie from Bill Miller’s how’s that sound?”
Locke pinged back. “Sounds good, I love their Coconut Cream Pie! Were you planning to swim?”
Mari gulped and responded. “Yes, I’ll bring my swimsuit, but just so you know, what you see is what you get! I am no model!”
Locke texted, “Ha! Darling I’m sure you will look just fantastic to me. Just so you know, I am no model either, what you see is what you get, too, we are just two imperfect peas in a pod you know! 😉 “
Mari sighed. Of course he would say that. He just has quite the way with words, especially when he happened to bring her words from last night back to her. That guy! “Alright sweet-pea (you see what I did there Mr. Locke?) I guess we’ll be in this mess together then, two imperfect swimsuit models in a pod. What time shall I head over?”
Locke responded immediately. “Well, sweet-pea (I guess this is our official nickname then, isn’t it? 😉 How about 6:00? Sounds good?”
Mari smiled. “Well, sweet-pea it is for the two of us then, guess I’ll have to stop calling students sweet-pea or you’ll get jealous, then, huh? Lol!”
Locke’s next response tickled her. “Yup, especially if I find out Finn is muscling in on that nickname, then I will have to have a firm, Uncle to Nephew talk to him about it. 😉 See you at 6:00!”
Mari, lazily gave one more good stretch before getting out of bed to start her day. She had a few things to do to get ready. Find her swimsuit, plan her outfit and maybe while out and about, find a simple little gift not because it was a special occasion, but just because.
Mari, dug around and found one of her swimsuits that would work, a fun tankini, that had a built-in skirt on the bottom, it kinda had a retro feel that she liked. She packed her things, including her favorite towel, because a good traveler always knows where her towel is! It was a nice mid-century modern looking house tucked in the heart of Alamo Heights. Very nice. She thought as she pulled into his driveway. She made her way to the door and rang the doorbell. Locke opened the door and greeted her with a hug and a kiss. Mari suddenly felt a rush and a warmth of energy fill her from head to toes. As she breathed in his delicious natural scent with just a hint of cedar and smoke from the BBQ, she thought, Oh yes, ladies and gentlemen, I do believe we have what you might call, chemistry, going on here, she thought happily.
“Come on in, take off your shoes and make yourself comfy. The brisket is nearly ready, the wine is chilled and I have the picnic table set up in the back when all is ready to go.”
Mari observed, that Locke was barefoot and looked quite nice in his khaki cargo shorts and a rather cool looking black guayabera shirt. So, she took off her shoes and began to relax. “Locke, I brought us a pie, where do you want me to put it?” she asked, taking in his place, observing the mix of modern and retro decor that somehow seemed just right, not only for the house, but him too.
“Oh, just put it in the fridge, over in the kitchen and don’t mind Cale on the counter”
“Kale?” said Mari, quizzically.
Locke chuckled “Yeah, I have a betta named Cale, that’s C-a-l-e, he was a gift from Finn, I wasn’t sure where to put him, so he ended up on the kitchen counter and just ended up being good company in the kitchen as I sipped my coffee in the morning, so that is where he lives.”
Mari was still puzzled.“But, why Cale with a ‘C’ rather than with a ‘K’ …”
“Like the leafy vegetable?” interrupted Locke, “Finn was big on the letter C when he gave me the fish and said it had to have a name that started with ‘C’ and well, I had groceries out at the time and I took a look at his frilly fins, and looked at the Kale sitting on the counter and ‘Cale’ it was!”
“Oh, well, then. Makes perfect sense to me,” laughed Marisol.
Mari quickly put the pie away and joined Locke who was now sitting on the couch.
“So, since we have a little down time before dinner is ready, would you like to play a game, watch something on Netflix,” offered Locke, “or go for a swim?”
Mari thought for a moment, what should she choose? If they went swimming first, she felt like she’d look like a drowned rat as they sat and ate dinner. Of course he did ask her to bring swim stuff because, clearly, he wanted to spend time hanging out in the pool, but maybe it should wait until after dinner. Netflix is a perfectly valid choice, but she felt like she’d rather spend a little more time getting to know him better, so, a game it was! “Okay, I totally want to swim, but I want to wait until after dinner, so, let’s play a game!”
“Alright Ms. Mari, sounds like a plan! Okay, here’s the deal, I have a variety of games since Finn is often over so I have a whole range of games, from Candyland to Settlers of Catan and just about anything in between. I love board games.”
Mari looked at the array of games.“Hmm, I think I’ll pass on Candyland for now, what
Locke rubbed his hands together. “Fantastic! I love a good game of Scrabble!” He pulled out the game and plonked down the official Scrabble dictionary.
Mari looked at him, and realized she had met her match! “You aren’t messing around, are you? Official Scrabble dictionary, huh?”
Locke responded with a very confident “Oh yes.”
Mari tried her best, but Locke was definitely the king of Scrabble!
After a long game of Scrabble, Mari was resoundingly beaten by Locke.
“I thought I was good at Scrabble, but you gave me a run for my money! I still can’t believe you beat me!” laughed Mari, after a very competitive round.
“I won, fair and square. I can’t help it if I’m a logophile. I love words, and I’ve got an army of them ready to go anytime I play Scrabble!” teased Locke as he gave her a little punch in the arm.
“I think the brisket is ready, so I’m going to go set it on the plate, would you mind grabbing the potato salad out of the fridge? The bread is already out there ready to go.”
Locke went outside to get the brisket ready and Mari went and got the potato salad out of the fridge and went ahead and grabbed the butter in case they decided to use some on their bread. Mari set things down outside and took one look at the brisket and suddenly her stomach growled, she was ready for dinner!
Locke began to slice the brisket and turned towards her, “Would you like some of the burnt end, I know not everyone likes that part, but me, I love it!”
Mari’s mouth watered at the thought of the delicious burnt ends.“Oh my gosh, YES! I love the burnt ends too! Something about the crispiness and the flavor of the smoke and when you get the fatty crispy bits?That is just divine! So, yes, please, I’d love some of the burnt ends.”
Locke proceeded to slice off the ends and divvied the burnt bits between the two of them. Mari went ahead and served the potato salad on both plates and carried the plates from the smoker to the picnic table as Locke cleaned up a bit at the smoker.
They both sat down and began to eat. Mari was just bowled over by how delicious this brisket turned out! It had that perfect “fall apart” consistency and was just super yummy. This was definitely the kind of brisket that required no barbecue sauce, frankly to put any sauce on the brisket would be an insult to the flavor.
She turned to Locke, “Locke, I think this is the best brisket I have ever eaten! The flavor is perfect and the meat just falls apart! Thank you for cooking this awesomeness!”
“You’re welcome darling! I love to BBQ and you just gave me the perfect excuse this weekend to whip up a brisket!”
“I almost feel like I should have tried to bake something now, to compete with this brisket, but the truth of the matter is, I’m not much of a baker! Which is why I let Bill Miller’s do the baking for me!”
“No need to apologize, the best thing you could have brought through my front door this weekend is you, and for that I am a very thankful, happy man.”
Mari, blushed. She had never had anyone say something like this to her before, and she hoped it wouldn’t be the last time he said something like this to her.
“Well, I am just not sure what to say to that, I-I-I,” she sighed at a loss for words, “I thank you for your amazingly kind words, Mr. Locke.”
He got up from his seat, gave her a big hug and a lovely kiss.
“Ms. Mari, I think it is time for dessert”
“Oh?” said Mari, nervously?
“Yes.” answered Locke, as he kissed her with an electricity that she felt down to her toes.
Mari melted into his arms as she savored the moment.
A short while later, Mari remembered, that they did have an actual, sugar based, dessert waiting for them in the fridge. She and Locke picked up their plates and went to the kitchen where Mari sliced the pie and Locke poured them each a glass of wine to go with it. Rather than returning to the picnic table though, they both sat poolside in the lounge chairs.
“Oh Locke, I love your backyard, it is so lush and so green, it feels like a little piece of paradise, I feel like I could spend all day here!’
“I feel that way too, I enjoy spending a lot of time out here when the weather is nice, it just feels so nice to be out here with all the greenery, it makes it easy to pretend that you are far away in some paradise, rather than in the middle of the city!”
Locke and Mari soon finished their dessert, Locke offered to carry their dishes and Mari followed him inside.
“Mari, would you like to hang out in the pool? I mean it could be a little risky, us having just finished dinner and all, but are you up to it?”
“Yes, I’d love to, where can I go change?”
“You can go change in my guest bathroom, right there by the sliding glass doors. If you want, you can even exit directly from there to the patio, gotta love that handy dandy door to the patio!”
As she changed, she found herself wondering if he was going to swim with or without his leg. She’d done enough google searching to know that with some prostheses, you can go in the water with it. From her research, she determined that some people seemed to prefer to swim without their prosthesis, but it really varied and she had no idea what to expect. She figured that for Locke, it would probably depend on what his prosthesis was like and how comfortable he felt, so she still had no idea what he was going to do. She felt a little foolish with all these thoughts going through her head, because in the end it really didn’t matter, except it did. She was falling for Locke and really wanted to make sure that she didn’t do anything to screw it up. She figured as long as she didn’t, run in the opposite direction screaming or just openly stare at him like he was a monkey in the zoo, she’d be fine. Truth be told, she knew those were reactions that she would not have, but she couldn’t help but put some pressure on herself to react in the proper way, the perfect way, whatever that might be. The answer to this of course, was to just be herself, he knew she wasn’t freaked out by his prosthesis, so why would he expect her to
be freaked out by however he swam?
Locke went to change in his bedroom. He eyed the forearm crutches in the corner. He knew that he could change his leg to another one that was safe to use in the water, but he really preferred to swim without his prosthesis. I know so far, she really seems to be okay with this, but she has only seen me while wearing my prosthesis, it is different though, if I choose not to wear one of my legs. I don’t look as disabled when I’m able to walk unaided by additional gear. What if she is somehow grossed out or disturbed by my residual limb? I like her too much to have her be unnerved out by that, but then again, if she is freaked out and turned off by that, I guess it is better to know now. Deep breath in Locke, give it all you’ve got! Alright, crutches you’re on. Foot, don’t fail me now! Mari opened the door that led to the patio, laid out her towel and walked down the steps into the pool and settled, leaning on the edge of the pool waiting for Locke.
Locke emerged from a set of doors that led from his bedroom to the patio. Mari looked at him and smiled warmly. She saw that her handsome guy walked out of his room on forearm crutches and no prosthesis. Well, it looks like someone, for whatever reason, has decided that no leg was the way to go. I think he looks freaking handsome. He looks a little nervous, but I’ll take care of that.
Mari, jumped out of the water, and met him at the pool’s entrance.
“Well, hello handsome.” she purred, “Long time, no see.” she teased as she ran up and hugged him.
“Mari, you are freezing cold!”
“Well then, I guess I better get back in the water and you better join me.” she said as she walked back where she started from and lowered herself down from the edge of the pool.
Locke could not believe his eyes. Not only was she not at all freaked out, she seemed absolutely ready to have her way with him. He was just about shocked by the way that she just hopped out of the pool to hug him and lure him in. Not a moment’s hesitation, not a single bat of an eye at his “situation”. Locke was gobsmacked. He was definitely falling very quickly in love. While he had some reservations at the speed with which things seemed to be happening, he reasoned with himself that he had known her, at least on a surface level, for nearly two months, and that seems to have been long enough to get to this moment.