HEY, SLUGGER!

Goldie Jones

The rain beat a staccato rhythm outside Catherineís balcony. Rivulets of water coursed down the window panes as she cuddled closer to Vincent. Inside the apartment, it was warm and cozy. As Catherine pressed her head against Vincent's massive chest, his voice reverberated and mingled with the crackling of logs in the fireplace. A flash of lightning, followed by the crash of thunder, made Catherine instinctively move even closer to Vincent. He put his arm around her and continued to read from "Great Expectations".

The scene was complete. Catherine was so comfortable, lulled by her loverís voice, the gentle patter of raindrops, and the bright flames as they flickered high and ebbed to a fiery spark within the logs. She was nearly asleep when she felt Vincent nudging her gently awake. "Catherine, wake up."

"Hunnh?"

"Where is that hot chocolate you promised to make for me?"

Catherine hated to have to get up and go to the kitchen. She couldn't understand why Vincent was so helpless, unless it was because he wanted to be waited on, hand and foot. He could just as easily get up and make himself and her, a cup of hot chocolate. Why did she always have to cater to him? Did he think she was his slave? And why did he have to pick this moment of quiet reverie? Now she became resentful of what she considered to be his "male superiority".

Iíll teach him a lesson somehow, she vowed. "Sorry, Vincent," she said sweetly. "Weíre all out of hot chocolate." It was a lie. There was plenty in the cupboard, but so firm was Catherineís stubbornness, that she refused to budge.

"Thatís okay. Iíll have tea, instead," Vincent said, in his voice of sand and velvet, and resumed his reading.

Itís just no use, Catherine thought. I canít win. Reluctantly, she disengaged herself from Vincentís arms and warm body, and headed toward the kitchen. She put a pot of water on the stove, and took two mugs from the cupboard. While she waited for the water to boil, she spotted something in the corner that a neighbor child had left in her apartment. Inspiration struck! This is absolutely perfect, Catherine said to herself.

At last, the high-pitched whistle of the kettle brought Catherine back to the present. She prepared a tray with a doily and a little vase of silk flowers. Then she cut a lemon into thin slices, and poured some cream in a crystal pitcher. She set the tray down in front of Vincent. "Thereís your tea, dear," she said, sweetly.

Vincent did a double take. "My, we're sure getting fancy, aren't we?"

"Nothing but the best for the best," answered Catherine, when what she really wanted to say was, "Get off your butt and wait on yourself for a change."

"Aren't you forgetting something, Catherine?" Vincent noticed the sugar was missing, something Catherine deliberately left off the tray. She purposely omitted it, to make him ask, but he much preferred guessing games.

"Oh, my, yes Ė I forgot the sugar. Iíll be right back."

Vincent smiled, and said, "I can wait till you bring it." He started to pour his tea, but decided to let Catherine perform that little domestic ritual for him. It was nice having Catherine fuss over him. After all, in the Tunnels, he was the one to take care of everyone else.

Catherine returned to the kitchen, grumbling to herself all the while. But instead of the sugar, she retrieved the red, plastic baseball bat the young neighbor had left. She hid it behind her back and returned to the living room.

"Do you have the sugar, Catherine?" Vincent asked pleasantly, without looking up from his book.

"Sure do, sweetie." And with that, she wielded the toy bat over Vincentís head, and in a voice she hoped sounded ominous, asked, "Would you care for one lump, or two?"

~

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