Through tomorrow, I am publishing excerpts from the novel I am writing, The Psychopath Across the Street. On Sunday, this blog will become a travel blog for about three weeks during my trip through France and Spain and will contain daily updates with photos and descriptions. Then, in June, I will resume publishing installments from the novel, which is based on real events.
If you like my writing, I have several books for sale. Two of them are advertised in the left sidebar of this blog. Click on a cover image for more information on Amazon’s US website. Both are currently priced at $2.99 in ebook form, which is the lowest price Amazon will permit me to charge.
Brigitte had good luck. The third trucker she asked said she was going to San Diego and that Brigitte could ride along. Brigitte decided she liked the name Gail and would keep it for now. Or should she? Riding with a female truck driver made her feel a quite a bit more relaxed, and she might be able to get this woman to help her in San Diego. In that case, the woman might have to know her real name.
“I’m glad you picked me up,” Brigitte said. “Do you live in San Diego?”
“Yep, I’m headin’ home. I’m gonna see my ole man there. He’s a truck driver, too. Sometimes we get to drive together, but mostly we don’t, and I haven’t seen him for three weeks.”
“You must know a lot about San Diego then. Have you lived there a long time?”
“Actually, we live in Lemon Grove, about 10 miles from downtown San Diego. Even on two paychecks, no truck drivers can afford to live in San Diego.”
“It must be pretty hard to get into town from there if you don’t have a car.”
“No, not at all. You just take the trolley. It takes a bit over a half hour and only costs a couple a’ bucks.”
“I’ve got to get a job and a place to live when I get to San Diego. I’ve never been there before,” Brigitte said as she watched the desert pass through the window on her side of the cab.
“Well, what kind a’ work can ya do? It’s pretty easy to get a job in San Diego, but it’s hard to get one that pays enough to live on. Most jobs just don’t pay no decent wages no more.”
“To tell you the truth, I’m not trained in anything,” Brigitte explained. “I guess I could be a waitress. I worked as a waitress for a few weeks. Oh, and I know how to clean motel rooms.”
“Cleaning motel rooms is not a good idea. Most of the maids in the motels are illegal immigrants who work for peanuts. At least as a waitress you have the advantage of speaking English, and good-looking chicks like you can make out OK in tips.”
Brigitte did find a job as a waitress in a small restaurant catering to tourists near the beach. The restaurant was quite busy, and Brigitte left work exhausted every day. However, she did make enough in salary plus tips to afford a room in a private house outside of town. “I’m going nowhere,” she thought to herself. “I’ve got to find a better way to earn a living.”
However, with no more education than a high school diploma, her job prospects were not good. The days when someone with only a high school education could find a good-paying factory job and move into the middle class were over. The alternative seemed to be to marry someone who did have a good job, but that would never work. Brigitte couldn’t imagine herself spending the rest of her life with the same person. Even the people that she was forced to work with in the restaurant were starting to get on her nerves.
That was when Jon came into the restaurant. Jon was an older gentleman, perhaps in his 70s, who had a marked Irish accent. Brigitte waited on him and found him to be a flirtatious old goat. When he opened his wallet to leave a generous tip, Brigitte noted that he had a substantial wad of $50 dollar bills in it. As she picked up the tip from the table, Brigitte leaned over so that Jon could get a good look down the front of her blouse. “I hope you’ll come back to see me again real soon,” Brigitte told him as she turned to walk away. “Make sure you sit at one of the tables that I wait on.”
Jon did come back, and Brigitte spent as much time chatting with him as she could without ignoring her other customers. Jon was from Ireland and was spending a few weeks in San Diego to recover from his sorrow after his wife of 50 years had passed away. His full name was Jonathan James O’Sullivan, and he was from Limerick, Ireland where he owned a modest bread and breakfast that he had left under the management of a niece while he traveled to “America,” as he called the United States.
“My father is from Ireland. He was born in Dublin.” Brigitte told him. She thought it best not to tell him that her father was really from Limerick, too. Jon might know her father’s family. Limerick and Dublin were the only two cities in Ireland that Brigitte had ever heard of.
“Dublin’s on the other side of the island,” Jon replied. But, it’s nice to meet a pretty Irish lass here in America, even if she is a Dubliner.”
“I’d like to visit Ireland,” Brigitte lied. “My father has told me such wonderful stories about it.”
“Maybe you can go, lass. Maybe you can.”
“Look!” Brigitte continued, “I’d like to get to know you better. Do you think we could go somewhere for a cup of coffee or perhaps something stronger when I’m off work?”
“I wouldn’t mind a wee drop of the craychure in the company of a pretty lass.”
“I suppose creature means booze. OK, I get off work at 7. I’ll expect you to be waiting for me when I walk out the front door.”
As promised, Jon was waiting for Brigitte when she left the restaurant and had a taxi waiting to drive them to the Dublin Square Irish Pub & Grill. “Is this what an authentic Irish pub looks like,” Brigitte asked.
Jon shook his head. “No, Lass. It’s a wee bit fake, but it’s the closest ting to an Irish pub I could find here in America.” Jon had trouble pronouncing the th sound.
They sat down at a table, and Jon asked for menus and ordered a Coke for Brigitte and a Stella Artois beer for himself.
“Stella Artois?” Brigitte asked. “As an authentic Irishman, shouldn’t you be drinking Guinness or Murphy’s Stout instead of that Belgian stuff? My dad always drank Murphy’s.”
“Belgian? I thought it was French. What makes you think it’s Belgian?”
Brigitte silently pointed to the drink menu on the table in front of them.
“OK, so tis Belgian, sure enough. The porter that they serve in America just doesn’t taste right. Irish porter and stout don’t travel well. They taste like medicine when you drink them here. In Ireland, they’re completely different drinks, smooth as honey and almost as tick. The closer you get to the brewery in Dublin, the better Guinness tastes. I suggest the Lamb Shank braised in stout. At least the food is much better here in this fake Irish pub that it is in Ireland. I wouldn’t wish genuine Irish food on my worst enemy. Even the English don’t cook that bad.”
When the food arrived, Jon ordered another beer and a “wee drop o’ the craychure” to go with it, which the waitress did not understand until Jon translated it into American, “A shot of Bushmills, please.”
By the time they left the restaurant, Jon was feeling no pain. “Let me drop ye off at your place with a taxi.”
“No,” Brigitte replied. “I don’t know you very well yet. I think it’s too early for me to trust you. I’ll wait here until you drive off in the taxi, and then I’ll find my own way home.”
The next day, Jon was back at the restaurant where Brigitte worked for lunch. “I really, enjoyed our evening together, Lass. Would you be up to having supper with me again tis evening?”
“I would,” Brigitte replied. She thought that sounded more Irish than a simple yes.
“I’ll pick you up at the same time, ten?”
“I get off at 5:30 today, is that too early?”
“No, that’s perfect for what I have in mind.”
“OK, now let me go. We’re very busy now, and I’ve got extra tables to wait on.”
This time Jon did not take Brigitte to a faux Irish pub. He had reserved a table for them on a dinner cruise aboard a ship that sailed around San Diego Bay giving the diners the chance to see the harbor sights as they ate their three-course meal. There was even a small band on board, although Jon protested that he was too old to dance. The truth was that he was also too tipsy. Brigitte was beginning to wonder what Jon might be like when he was sober
When the ship docked, Jon signaled a taxi to pick them up. “How about coming up to my room for a nightcap before I drop you off at your place?”
“No, drop me off in the Gaslight District, please. I think you have intentions that are less than honorable.”
“I do hope that we can become more than friends.”
“Jon, listen. When I was a good little Catholic girl, I made a promise to God that I would not have sex until my wedding night. I’ve kept that promise, and I intend to keep it until I find the right man to marry. If you want more than a peck on the cheek, then you’ll have to prove that you’re the man I want to spend the rest of my life with.”
Brigitte couldn’t imagine a fate worse than being hitched to this doddering fossil. The very thought of his old wrinkled body coming in contact with hers was almost enough to make her physically ill. Still, Jon seemed to be flush with cash, and if she played her cards right, some of that money could be hers. If she had to marry him to get her hands on his money, she’d make the sacrifice.
The next day, Jon was again at the restaurant for lunch. “Look, Lass. I’m going back to Ireland in another week. I’d like you to come with me.”
“I told you I wouldn’t have sex with any man until my wedding night.”
“Well, would you consider marrying me then? We could have a big church wedding in Limerick. You are Catholic, aren’t you?
Brigitte shook her head. “Nothing doing! I will go to Ireland with you, but only if we get married here first.”
“But don’t you want a big church wedding with flower girls and an organ playing and all of the other things that go with a real wedding?”
“I don’t care about any of those things, Jon. We can get married here in San Diego, if you like. We could do it tomorrow. Or, better yet, we could get married the evening before we leave. That way we could celebrate our wedding night in your house in Ireland. I’d like having you make love to me for the first time in Ireland.”
“Can you get married that quick in the States?”
“In California you can. I looked into it. We get a license and then find someone to marry us. Almost any official can do it: a judge, a justice of the peace, even an Indian medicine man. Then we get a witness to sign the certificate, return it to the state, and we’re married.”
“Ok, Lass. I’ll marry you. I don’t have a ring, but I promise to get you a good one with sparkling diamonds just as soon was we’re in Ireland.”
“Aren’t you forgetting something, Jon?”
“Forgetting something? What?”
“You don’t know yet if I’ll marry you.”
“Oh, Jayzus! Do I have to get down on my knees in front of all of teese people?”
Brigitte nodded. Jon slipped to his knees.
“Right! Brigitte, will you do me the honor of being me wife?”
“I will,” said Brigitte. Around them, the other passengers, who had been watching the whole scene, began clapping. Jon blushed. Brigitte gave their impromptu audience a cold stare. Then she caught herself and made a low bow.
The next few days passed in a whirl. The day that they got married, Brigitte insisted on spending the last night in her own room by herself. “As I said, we’ll consummate the marriage when we’re in Limerick.”
“Ah, Lass, you make it very hard on a lad.”
“I’ll meet you at the airport tomorrow. You have the airplane tickets, don’t you?”
“Yes, and don’t forget to bring your passport.”
“Ah, yes, my passport. I got one months ago, but I don’t know why. I suppose it was to travel to Mexico. But, even though Mexico is just down the road I’ve never been there, so this will be the first time I’ve ever been outside the United States. Oh, and Jon, I forgot. I’m going to need some money to settle up some debts and pay the taxi to the airport.”
“Take a taxi to the airport? Won’t we be ridin’ there together, Lass?”
“Oh, yes, I forgot. But I still need to settle some debts and buy a few things.”
“How much do you need, Lass?”
“I hate to ask you for this, but I owe several hundred dollars, and I can’t just go away without paying it.”
Jon opened his wallet and took out five crisp $100 bills. “Is this enough?”
Brigitte was astounded. She hadn’t expected it to be that easy. However, she skillfully covered her surprise and accepted the money as if it were exactly the amount that she had expected. “Yes, that will do for now, but I’ll need some money to buy clothes when we get to Ireland.”