Ruth’s Secret – part 3

Did you miss the previous parts of this story?

part 1 | part 2

Ruth's Secret
Image provided by
Eva Mostraum @

Shelly called the number Ruth left in her voice message. It took Ruth five complete rings to answer. “This is Shelly. You left me a message?”

There was rustling sounds in the background at Ruth’s end. “Yes. Shelly, does anyone else know about the envelope being in your drawer?” A man asked if there was ice in the freezer.

“Did I catch you at a bad time, Ruth?”

“No — no worse than any other. Does anyone else know?” Shelly heard clanging.

“No, no one knows but me.” Shelly had more questions racing through her mind now than there had been earlier at work. How do I slip in these questions without her flipping out on me? She’s never mentioned a boyfriend at work. Sure it’s possible, but from the way she talks, she doesn’t have time for a social life.

“Shelly, can I trust you?”

“Yes, why?”

“Can I trust you to keep this to yourself?”

Shelley wrinkled her brow. “Yes, Ruth. What do you want to tell me?”

Ruth sighed audibly and begins to tell her story. It was all because she had assumed she was receiving more from her grandmother’s estate. Before the money was sent to her, she had bought a condo and a new car thinking she’d find both easy to pay off with the trust fund she’d be getting. When she did start receiving the money, it was only enough to contribute to the cost of the condo. “I was a fool, Shelly. I can’t get rid of the car either. How would I get to work, the grocery store, wherever I need to go? This is not a town with a subway system, you know.”

Shelly agreed with her. “I like our town, Ruth, but public transportation isn’t one of its qualities.” She shifted her weight on the stool she was using at the peninsula that separated her kitchen and dining area.

Ruth continued with her saga. She did the sensible thing and started looking for a second job that would enable her to keep the car. “I looked into a couple of the fast-food places thinking I could work as the evening manager. I quickly dismissed this when I found out everyone has to start at the bottom. Minimum wage was not going to help me. I thought about doing some kind of work through the Internet. Shelly, with all my education, I’m not qualified for any of those positions.”

Shelly heard the same man as before but couldn’t make out what he was saying. Ruth interrupted her tale to say goodbye to whomever he was.

“Sorry about that. Uhmm… where was I? Oh… after realizing my limitations, I decided to give the newspaper a try. Under photography, there was a want ad for models. Believe it or not, I was qualified according to the specifics listed. And I got the job. They were willing to work around my schedule.”

Shelly’s eyes got as big a saucers. The only type of photographers she knew about who would work nights and not demand days were the ones into porno. Is Ruth really doing porn modeling?

Ruth had gotten the hint from the silence on the phone. “Shelly, this isn’t porno.” There’s still silence. “Shelly, I couldn’t ever do ultimate nude pictures despite the fact that I still wear a size four.”

Shelly finally spoke. “Ruth, what does this photographer do during the day?”

“He runs his studio. Listen, what I’m doing is a little shady. It’s in that gray area between right and wrong, okay?” No words coming from Shelly. “I’m a pin-up model.”

“Augh! So if you’re not nude, what are you wearing?”

“Sexy lingerie. And yes, some of it is so shear that I might as well be nude — but I’m not.” Silence. “And I get paid $260 under the table for three hours of posing.”

“Okay… and?”

“The shootings are done here at my condo. The photographer just left. Can you keep my secret?”

Shelly pondered a moment before answering. “Sure, but why was the envelope of money in my desk drawer?”

Part 4 is here.

New Beginnings – Part 2

It’s taken me a while to write part 2 of this series. Part of the problem is that I’ve had to piece memories together in my head. This isn’t an easy thing when you have chronic short-term memory loss. If you haven’t read part one of this series, you can click here to do so. (A new window or tab opens so you can easily continue with this post.)

New Beginnings - Part 2
Image provided by
Jono Martin @

Shortly after I got the car, I, also, got a job at a financial company located in the industrial park, Denver Tech. Center that’s south of Denver in a suburb. It wasn’t the greatest of jobs but with my disability, I knew that I was fortunate to have it.

In many ways, finding a job as a person with disability was easier back then than it is now. Employers used to feel that if I wanted a job, they were willing to try me out. The only thing they insisted on was that I agreed that their insurances wouldn’t cover anything connected to the disability and it would be treated as a prior condition. This would include health, life and personal injury. It sounded fair to me. It still does. Yet, employers of today have it in their heads that at some point, I’m going to sue them for something. Well, no one said that people weren’t foolish.

I did data entry at this company. Yes, boring work. I sat in a cubical with a balance sheet spread out across my desk, punching in the numbers for their computer. Back then, one computer filled an entire room. My desk, along with four others were lined up against the wall of this room with their 5 feet walls on either side to insure a quiet environment for each desk. It certainly wasn’t my dream job, of course, but it was my first full-time job.

I, also, hooked up with someone I knew before the stroke. No, he didn’t go to my high school. I worked with him at a part-time job I had at a cinema. I was the one in the booth taking the money and doling out the tickets. He was one of the ushers. I didn’t think one way or the other about Mike then. He was just a co-worker, nothing more. However, unknown to me, he wanted to ask me out but couldn’t muster up the courage.

The one thing that was scaring everyone away from me, the stroke, was the very thing that made it possible for Mike to approach me. Did he think I was perfect before? Nay. Could he have thought I was out of his league before? Maybe, although I can’t fathom why.

Truth be known, I do know what it’s like to be afraid of someone who has a disability. Before the stroke, I worried about how the person would react to my line of contact with him or her. I was afraid of saying the wrong thing or doing the wrong thing. There are a few, a very few, who still think they can “catch” the disability if they get too close, but I think most people are more afraid of doing something to upset the person with the disability — so they avoid the situation instead of taking the risk.

Mike was willing to take the risk.

Mike and I dated until the last of September that year. He had decided to go into the Marine Corps. He felt that his parents were disappointed in him, and had it in his head that if he was a Marine, he’d automatically be accepted by them. I asked him to write to me once he got out of boot camp so I’d have his military post address. He never did write, but I saw him a year later.

I’ll be telling you about how my life progressed in later posts. I want to batch them in an attempt to make them easier reading.


It Was My Black Cloud – Part 2

It Was My Black Cloud - Part 2
Image provided by
Bradley Gordon @

Robin picked me up a little before 7:30 that evening. As it usually was with him, I had no idea of where we were going. My head was still a little tender from the headache I had during the morning and part of the afternoon. Once I was in his car he asked if I was okay. I told him about the headache but said that it was gone now, which, technically it was. He gave me a quick peck on the lips and off we went.

We pulled into the line going into the North Star Drive-In. He had driven to a northern suburb of a suburb of the city. Even though this was out of the norm for Robin, I thought the idea would be perfect for what I wanted to tell him. There were people around but they were in their own cars, which made things private for us. A good place to have a serious conversation.

The movie playing that night was Downhill Racer starring Robert Redford. It wasn’t one of Robert Redford’s better movies but it wasn’t a flop either. Before the movie started, Robin went to the concession stand and bought us some orange pop. To this day, I can’t figure out why is was the orange and not Coke or 7Up. My preference was Coke and he knew that.

There was still a lot of time before the movie would start. How did I know? The cartoon hadn’t shown up on the screen yet. I decided it was time to spill my guts to him. I told him about Tim. We went over our own relationship. We agreed that our relationship had been casual and honest, at least for the most part, and that both of us had enjoyed the times we had spent together. I was expecting at least a sad face from him but, instead, he looked relieved. It turned out that he had made plans to move to Las Vegas. Whew! All guilt drained away from my thoughts. Our little talk ended on such a good note that I think it surprised both of us.

The movie had just started minutes before we were done talking. We got comfortable in our respective bucket seats of his Challenger and started watching the movie sipping on our orange pop.

About one-third of the way through the movie, I started feeling strange. I felt so incredibly dizzy. Despite this feeling of the entire world spinning out of control, I didn’t feel sick to my stomach. As a person who suffers from motion sickness, this was definitely weird. I remember leaning my head back against the headrest and then nothing. I was unconscious.


Yes, I’m making this a cliff hanger. The reason is that a lot that went on for about the next year is fuzzy for me. If I’m going to tell you about this part of my life, I want to tell you right, not wrong, which can happen so easy when you’re not sure of the facts. There’s a few people I need to talk to before I can go any further with this.

Read part 1 here. | Read part 3 here.


High School Suitors – Part 4

High School Suitors
Image provided by
Ariadna Bruna @

I probably should be telling you about Chris and Charley separate from the boyfriends I had in high school. Yet, these two young men meant and still mean so much to me. Sure, I kissed both of them, but they weren’t the kisses I’d give a boyfriend.


High School Suitors - Part 4
Image provided by
WikiPaintings @

Chris was in my band class. He played clarinet. He wasn’t terrific at it but he wasn’t a failure either. I think he took it as a fill-in class. His passion was visual arts. He was seventeen and a senior back then while I was sixteen and a junior. It stared out with both of us having lunch at the same time. Both of us smoked so we’d trot outside at that time to have a cigarette. One of us (can’t remember if it was Chris or me) asked the other one for a light. We sat on the dead grass of last January, eating our sack lunches, smoking a second cigarette, and talked about our band teacher, Rolie.

This exchange went on until May when Chris came over to my house for the first time. He didn’t come alone. He had his soon to be college roommate with him, Charley. These two guys were different in so many way. Chris was the tall, dark and handsome one. Charley, although tall and had brown hair, was, I’m sorry to say, not handsome. Chris’s hair was dark brown, almost black. It was thick, wavy and went down to his shoulders, just barely that is. Charley’s hair was so thin, curled in just the wrong places, and his hair was as long as Chris’s was. Chris had a choirboy face where Charley had the face of Fagan in the musical, Oliver.

Charley had a few good points about himself that Chris didn’t have though. Charley was smart, way smarter than he would ever need to be. He was a wiz at math and could play the piano as if he were a professional pianist. Moreover, he could play jazz and rock as well as classical. He seemed to have no problems with his grades because of his high level of intelligence. He could carry on a conversation with anyone no matter what his or her age or the subject. He was an amazing young man.

Chris was nice enough and was fun to be with, but he was naive. His life had been sheltered quite a bit more that Charley’s had. He also had a tendency to see things in only black and white. This made him feel terribly guilty when the three of us would go out to the foothills to smoke a couple of joints. For Charley and me, we felt that marijuana should be legalized and we figured we were just getting the jump on it.

These two men were my close friends for two years and our relationship with one other would have gone on longer if it is could. They taught me how to play the card games Hearts and Spades. I learned about the different strategies in the game of Risk. I learned how to do the waltz and the Foxtrot.

Chris and Charley weren’t this versatile by accident. Chris’s family had money. No, he wasn’t filthy rich, but there was enough so that his parents could make sure he was primed to be a successful adult. Charley’s family wasn’t quite as influential with money but did have some. Charley’s family lived in the Netherlands. They were an American family with the father’s career being in Europe. To say it in a few words, Charley got an intentional education.


I will always be grateful to these two for how they helped me discover the world that was outside my “backyard”. What I had to endure after high school is something I don’t think I could have handled with out what I learned from Chris and Charley.

High School Suitors – Part 3

High School Suitors
Image provided by
Ariadna Bruna @

If this is your first time reading a post in this series, you might be interested in reading part 1 and part 2 as well.

This series only reflects the romance I took part in during my three years in high school.

Most high schools in the Denver area during the 1960s and 1970s taught from the sophomore year to the senior year. Freshmen were still part of the junior high school (middle school) crowd.


High School Suitors - Part 3
Image provided by
Adrian Price @

After I refused Dave’s bracelet, there was a brief time when I wasn’t dating anyone. Because some of that time was during the Christmas season, it didn’t seem to affect me. I was busy helping Mom with the cookie baking, putting out the decorations throughout the house and practicing my flute piece for the Children’s Christmas Pageant at church.

A few boys called me for dates during the second semester of my sophomore year. Most were one-night stands. A couple I dated a few more times but the romance just wasn’t there for me. I was probably better off not dating very much because I was struggling to keep a B average in Biology. The subject was definitely not a favorite of mine. I actually did more studying to keep my averages as high as possible.

On Memorial Day weekend that year, the public swimming pool at Mamie G. Eisenhower Park opened. I walked the three miles to get there. I wasn’t shy about jumping into the cold chlorinated water. I had been waiting for the pool fun all school year. Many of the kids I had met the previous year were already in the pool splashing and dunking each other. This was what we did most of the summer.

There were usually about eight or nine in our group ranging from the age of ten up to nineteen. Most of them were my age though. This year, however, there was a new guy in our group, Brad. He was over 6 feet tall, large-boned and lean with muscle. Yes, he was good looking, no doubt about it.

I did what I always did around guys I liked. I did everything in my power to be his friend. And we did become friends. Nothing else happened between us that summer though. As with most things, it was probably for the best because in August I had a chance to go to New York City with a group of kids from around Denver who were the same denomination of religion as I was. Parents weren’t going. Instead, there was a chaperon from each church that was involved in the project. Our mission was to learn how religion still plays a part in our society.

When school started that fall and I was a junior, I was boy friendless except for the ones who were platonic friends. However, the last Tuesday of September, after I got home from school, I received a telephone call from Brad. (He wasn’t going to my school. He ended up in the next high school south of mine.) He asked me to go to a party with him. Some of the other kids from the pool would be there so I felt safe about saying yes.

I had a good time at the party. Because Brad was a gentleman and didn’t make any crude moves on me, I was very comfortable with him through the entire evening. We started going out every weekend after that, on either Friday night or Saturday night.

Sometime right before Christmas that year, we went to a Christmas party somewhere over in him neighborhood. At first, it was just the normal teenage party. Some were drinking beer but back then, anyone eighteen could drink it legally so it wasn’t a big deal. We were offered some but neither Brad nor I liked the taste of beer so we declined.

About 10pm, couples started heading for bedrooms. Of course, we knew what was going on behind those doors. I knew I wasn’t ready for something like that yet, and Brad wasn’t pushing me to be intimate yet. We decided to leave and go over to McDonald’s.

A guy that Brad knew (but wasn’t a friend really), Doug, was outside standing next to Brad’s car smoking a cigarette. Brad got me into the car, said hello to Doug and suggested he move away from the car so that there wasn’t any chance of Brad hurting him when driving off. Doug must have been drinking because he picked a fight with Brad. They were evenly matched and the fight lasted over ten minutes. Brad’s right eye was swollen, his jaw was bruised and he had a cut lip. He was a mess.

Yes, he took me straight home and then he went home.

The following day, my friend, Glenda and I walked over three miles to Brad’s home in the snow that had fallen during the night. I needed to make sure he was okay. I bought a get-well card and a Snickers bar on the way to give to him. That’s what girlfriends do, right?

His mom was nice and gracious, letting us in, and taking our coats and mittens. Brad came out to the living room. His face was so swollen. I gave him the card and the candy bar. He gave me a kiss even though his lower lip was hurting.

We dated until January. It turned out that he did want to get intimate and, as I said, I just wasn’t ready. He went on to someone else who was ready. There weren’t any tears. This was high school stuff. I knew I wasn’t ready to get involved seriously so there was nothing to be upset about as far as I could figure.


I guess I was lucky. I never felt that I had to give into the pressures of sex and intimacy that are so prevalent in high school.