Chapter 19—“Delta Dawn, what’s that flower you have on?”
Back at the shack, life settled into a comfortable routine. The girls and I took turns being the “cook of the day,” and I got to sample some pretty nice cooking. Mary’s mother was Italian, and she made good pasta dishes. Debbie and I were both “meat and potatoes” kind of people, and Aimee made the most amazing dishes with vegetables and fruits that I would never have considered potential meal material.
We occasionally noticed Patricia in town, the person Mary had identified as being the one that was keeping tabs on us, but we saw her less and less frequently as time went on. Although Aimee was worried about the motives of that person, the rest of us decided that it wasn’t worth the risk of trying to contact her. Aimee reluctantly agreed with the family consensus.
We made occasional trips to some of the islands that comprise the state of Hawaii, and we shopped to purchase some maternity wear for Mary, who started to show after about twelve weeks. Mary had completely avoided alcohol, even though the doctor had said that a glass of wine every week or two probably wouldn’t hurt. Mary’s decision was one of practicality. She had never really been a big drinker, and she wanted nothing to possibly endanger the life of the “little critter” that was growing within her, using Mary’s term for her unborn baby.
Charles Penet, Debbie’s Uncle Chuck, gave us the name of a firm on the big island that had some first rate talent that were accountants with law degrees. We put this firm on retainer to handle the hassles of day to day life, such as working out how our various savings, “incomes,” tax returns, and other things that would be difficult for us to handle on our own. At first, Aimee was the primary family contact with this firm, but as time went on, we all felt comfortable with the firm and they ended up helping out a lot in the mundane details of life.
Since all of the partners within the firm had law degrees and were therefore subject to lawyer-client confidentiality agreements, Aimee readily revealed the nature of our relationship to them. The response? The person she told laughed, explaining that the “little beach” near our house that we frequented so often was once the site of a hippie commune! After a year or so, with all the business that our family was doing with the firm, a branch office in Kanahena was opened in order to make it easier for us to visit with them when needed.
At the suggestion of the law firm, we added a few more guest houses around the property, and put older clothing of ours in them. The idea was that we should be able claim that some of the unmarried people on the property were actually living in the guest houses.
The firm also ensured that our property was properly zoned for multi-family living, so the fact that so many unmarried people were at the same place would not arouse undue suspicions, especially in the light of Mary’s pregnancy. The last thing we needed was family services coming by and declaring our lifestyle an endangerment to the children.
We hired a carpenter to oversee the construction of the guest houses as well as add new extensions to the shack, which allowed us to add Debbie’s desired workout room. For the first day or so, the men from the carpenter’s firm seemed to love looking at the three women at the house, but to give them credit, they were professionals and did such a good job, we ended up using the same company repeatedly whenever we needed some work done with the house.
As I said before, the workout room was Debbie’s idea, and she purchased a Universal Gym and exercise mats for the room. Mary taught her sisters the basics of self defense. Aimee surprised Mary, handling herself very well and warded off Mary’s attacks almost effortlessly. Aimee, however, refused to attack Mary, saying that the best way to win a fight was to avoid one. As a result, Aimee didn’t spar much at all, at least with Mary, since Aimee was very anti-aggressive. Occasionally I did see Aimee work out with Debbie.
Debbie also had taken self-defense classes in the past, and found Mary to be an interesting teacher. Mary taught Debbie more aggressive moves. Despite Debbie’s eagerness, her progress was slow. As Mary’s pregnancy developed, it became dangerous for Mary to continue sparring, so Debbie hired an instructor that agreed to come out to the shack twice a week and continue Debbie’s education.
Mely and June were still around, occasionally. Both of them had a condo on the big island that Debbie purchased for the two of them, and that is where Mely stayed most of her time. June, on the other hand, took to staying more and more in one of the new guest houses on the property so she could be readily available when one of us needed her services. June was also very excited about Mary’s pregnancy, and the two women were often seen together, taking shopping trips together about once a week.
The first letter arrived from Kristen (from the Goddess club), and she had told us about how happy she was to be looking forward to her first child. Mary wrote back for all of us, telling her excitedly that she was also pregnant now, and added a lot of girl talk that expectant mothers are prone to do.
When Mary was in her fourth month, William Voder sent a message to Aimee that Colonel DiPietro had more or less abandoned his investigation of the four of us, although there was still an agent on Maui that would inform him if our status changed.
I could tell that Debbie was starting to get cabin fever. Hawaii is truly an island paradise, but truth be told, Debbie loved traveling. She kept reminding me that I had promised to take her to all of the Goddess clubs, and the closest one was in Los Angeles. She also reminded us that she had interrupted a tour of her father’s properties when she had met up with Mary and me in San Diego.
I polled Mary and Aimee, and found that they were all willing to take a small trip back to California and the southwestern United States, so June rented a Cessna to take us to the big island, and from there, Mely flew us to the mainland.
The Goddess club in L.A. was a bit larger than the one in Chicago. Even though the House Band wasn’t playing there at the time we were there, the place was sold out and the entertainment was still first rate. The group performing when we were there had the intriguing name “Aural Fantasy,” and their style of blues music was wonderful, although I didn’t recognize more than one or two of the songs during the entire night.
At the club, most of us drank soft drinks (pitchers, actually) and Aimee drank apple juice. We were all willing to give up alcohol in deference to Mary’s condition. Since the club had a policy of free drinks for designated drivers, our waiter declared our entire table safe!
While we were in California, Aimee surprised us by announcing that she was going to head north to do some research. June drove her to her destination, which turned out to be a midwifery school up state. Aimee took general lessons on learning how to help out with a first time delivery. The classes were fascinating to Aimee, and soon, Aimee would get her DONA certification as a doula, a term that means “woman servant.”
A doula is a woman, usually one that has been through childbirth, who helps an expectant mother during pregnancy. A doula is differentiated from, say, a midwife in that a doula assists the mother before, during, and after delivery as an adviser, whereas a midwife is a medically certified professional that actually delivers babies. The role of a doula was very well suited for Aimee’s disposition. Aimee took a few classes to learn more about the concept and the role of a doula in childbirth.
The rest of us spent a few days seeing the sights in Los Angeles, and when June came back (without Aimee), we all drove south to San Diego, where we spent about a week.
During our trip, June was our driver. Aside from that, we treated June as if she were a full part of our group, which she really seemed to appreciate.
In San Diego, I pointed out the hospital where I had been in a coma, and we went inside to pay a visit to the nursing staff that had spent so much time watching over me. Of course, they remembered Mary and me, and we introduced Debbie and June as our friends. The nurses were excited to hear that Mary and I had married and that Mary was expecting. She even got a free ultrasound, although I made the nurses promise not to reveal the gender of our child... Mary was the kind of person that really wanted to find out at the last moment.
We stayed at Debbie’s apartment complex, staying in separate apartments. Debbie and I stayed in the apartment where Debbie had been living when we met, and June and Mary shared Mary’s old apartment. We hired some people to help pack some of the things that Mary still had in that apartment and arranged for shipping of Mary’s remaining stuff back to Makena. Mary (and I) had many fond memories of this apartment, and I knew that I would be sad when we left San Diego, knowing that we’d probably never stay at that apartment again.
During our week in San Diego, we visited Peter’s Restaurant a couple of times. This was the place where Mary had once worked as a waitress. Peter, the owner of the place, remembered Mary and the rest of us, and we introduced him to June. The meals, of course, were as excellent as they had been before.
Another place we visited in San Diego was a place that Debbie had heard about that she wanted to see. She told us it was a barbecue restaurant, and it was supposedly a place where they filmed scenes of a Hollywood movie about the Navy that I hadn’t seen.
Upon our entrance to the place, we passed through the bar. It was difficult to miss the odd collection of autographed feminine lingerie hanging from the ceiling. My impression of the place was that it was a sleazy bar, and I wondered what the attraction was for Debbie. I quickly found out that the food was surprisingly good—the ribs were simply marvelous!
During our meal, I asked my companions if any of them wanted to donate to the collection of underwear in the bar, and only Debbie volunteered, although Mary and June talked her out of it eventually.
From San Diego, June drove us to Arizona where we stopped for a few days in Tuscon, which was a city close to the army base where Mary had been stationed. Mary knew a few places in Tuscon from her time in the service, and was happy to show us all around. This was one of the few places we stopped where Debbie didn’t have property, so we ended up staying at a nice hotel instead.
We continued driving east through Arizona and New Mexico to the outskirts of El Paso, Texas, where Debbie had a ranch. Like the ranch in Utah, this ranch had people working it, and we stayed at a guest house that was the size of a large house with three bedrooms. We had once been warned that this place might be bugged, so we were careful to keep our conversations neutral in case somebody might be monitoring us.
Despite the fact that the guest house had been adequately stocked in anticipation of our arrival, the three of us mostly ate out in town, and even spent a couple of nights in a hotel there.
June went to the airport in El Paso and picked up Aimee, who had returned from her doula classes, and she told everybody what she had learned, explaining the concept of a doula to us.
It was about this point that it was Mary that was starting to get restless. She kept mentioning that she wanted to get back to Makena. Aimee assured everybody that Mary’s restlessness was mostly due to Mary’s hormones changing and the fact that she just wanted a single place to rest and relax, much like a pregnant cat will search out a comfortable place to rest and eventually have her kittens.
I would soon learn that Aimee’s educational trip would be a boon to all of us.
After spending a week in El Paso, we went to the airport where Mely met us in Debbie’s jet to take us back to Maui.
Despite the fact that our latest adventure had ended, we all enjoyed the peaceful relaxation of life at the shack, which was quickly becoming our home base. Debbie seemed happier than she had been before we had taken the trip, and we all decided we would spend the rest of Mary’s pregnancy at the shack, planning for the upcoming delivery. June and Mely, equally excited about Mary’s impending childbirth, stayed with us also in Makena, taking up residence in one of the guest houses.
In private, I promised Debbie that once Mary’s child was born, we’d continue our tour of the country, and make sure that we’d visit all of the Goddess clubs. Although I had every intention of carrying through on this promise, it turned out to be overly optimistic.
Mary looked positively radiant as an expectant mother. After she started to show, I decided to use alternate sexual positions to keep my weight off her. My reasoning was that I didn’t want to do anything that might possibly endanger the new life that she was hatching. Mary and Aimee both complained that I was being way overprotective of Mary, but I already knew that. I was excited that I was going to have a child, and I couldn’t wait until the delivery date. Aimee occasionally joined Mary and me in bed, and those nights were usually the most relaxing nights Mary and I spent together.
I didn’t ignore Debbie or Aimee, but I did focus most of my nighttime activities with Mary, mostly to reassure her that I wasn’t taking her for granted, and that I loved her even though her figure was changing. Mary’s womb was expanding, and her breasts will filling out nicely, and I made every effort to assure Mary that she was still looking wonderful.
Over the next few months, I saw Patricia a few times when I was in town, usually when I was shopping. She was the person that Mary had identified as a person that had been following us. I no longer saw her as constantly as much as I had a few months earlier, and seeing her seemed more a coincidence now, rather than us catching her watching us.
Despite the fact that that our family had jointly decided that it wasn’t worth the risk of contact, Aimee actually struck up a friendly conversation with the woman one day at the market. According to Aimee, Patricia was easy to talk to, and readily admitted to Aimee that she was a private investigator. Aimee did not let on that she knew that Patricia had been investigating us, but after their conversation, Aimee felt that Patricia’s demeanor wasn’t quite natural, and the entire visit ended up worrying Aimee rather than easing her mind, although Aimee didn’t explain what was bothering her.
As Mary’s pregnancy progressed, Aimee warned her about the dangers of retaining water in the hot climate. She made sure Mary removed her rings from her fingers before they would swell, and Mary took to wearing her gold and platinum marriage rings on a necklace that she wore every moment of the day, keeping them “close to her heart.”
I had thought that once Mary became pregnant, the other two women would also be chomping at the bit to have their own children as well. That didn’t turn out to be the case. I asked Aimee about this one day.
Aimee answered, “This is Mary’s time. Debbie and I have our lives ahead of us, and we want Mary to have her time in the limelight. This may be her only child, and we’re all excited and happy for her. She is even starting to mother us even more than before she became pregnant. Waiting also allows us to space our children apart so that the older ones will help the younger ones grow up without too much competition.”
“Sounds like you really thought this out,” I said.
“Debbie, Mary, and I had a long talk after the wedding in San Francisco, and I had plenty of time to think about it when I was learning about childbirth.”
I asked, “Aimee, did you take those courses in California just for Mary?”
“Actually, I did it more for myself and our entire family, rather than just for Mary, but Mary was a big part of it. My aunt that helped my mother in a similar way before I was born, and my mother told me that it was her sister that made a big difference for her. When I was studying, I was fascinated by the concept of the doula, and I wanted Mary to have the same advantage that my mother had. My aunt wasn’t a doula by name, but she was a helpful influence with my mother.”
I was proud of Aimee. It was obvious that her efforts were truly focused on our family.
About two weeks before Mary’s due date, Debbie rented a condo near the hospital so we would be close when the time came. The delivery would be in a birthing room in a hospital that Aimee recommended in Oahu.
At five minutes after nine o’clock in the evening, on June 21, 1989, Dawn Elaine Montgomery was born, weighing in at eight pounds, nine ounces. In the delivery room was Mary, her husband, and her two best friends that she called her sisters. The birthing room wasn’t too crowded, and Debbie’s money went far. Aimee’s doula training and our collective Empathic abilities really seemed to help Mary during the intense labor contractions that she experienced. The doctor was impressed at how smoothly the delivery went. Mary’s labor had lasted nearly six hours, which was apparently a short period for a first-time delivery with an older mother.
The name Dawn had been selected by all three of the women, and Elaine was Mary’s mother’s name. My only contribution to my daughter’s name was my being asked if I liked the name they chose.
I remember with pride holding Dawn for the first time, when a nurse handed her to me. It was obvious to me that she was the most beautiful girl in the world. At birth, she had dark hair, pudgy cheeks, and purple skin. Despite the fact that Dawn’s face was contorted as she cried, I knew that she would have a smile that would light up a city. In retrospect, she could have had scales, a goatee beard, and an ankle growing out of her head, and to me, she would still be the most beautiful little girl in the world. I handed her to Mary, telling my wife that she had done a great job.
Debbie and Aimee held Dawn soon afterward, and the nurses took a very lovely picture of my daughter, naked except for a silly knitted cap that the nurses insisted on putting on her head. They could at least have given her a diaper or something; somehow I knew that picture would cause her no end of embarrassment when she got older. Debbie, who had her own camera, had the nurses take pictures of Dawn with the four of us as well, and I had mercifully made sure she was properly wrapped in a small blanket the hospital had handy.
Around midnight, the nurses came into Mary’s private room and spirited my daughter away into the nursery, saying that she had enough excitement for her first three hours of her life. Not too long after that, Mary fell asleep, totally exhausted. We decided to call it a night—the nurses had told us that they would wake up Mary if Dawn woke up and needed nursing.
When we left Mary’s room, we found June and Mely still in the reception area. They had already seen Dawn in the nursery, and congratulated me, although I assured everybody that Mary did most of the work. June drove us back to the condo, and we went home for the night.
Aimee fell fast asleep as soon as her body hit the bed. Apparently, she had experienced a lot more emotional drain than usual during the childbirth process. Aimee would eventually be able to parlay her experience later on when she went to get her certification as a doula.
Debbie didn’t seem as sleepy as Aimee, and the two of us talked once we were at home.
I cuddled with the curvaceous Debbie. “Aimee told me that one of you will be the next one to try to have a baby. Dawn is going to be a hard act to follow.”
Debbie smiled at me. “There’s no rush to have a bunch of children right now. Aimee has said she was considering not having children, or waiting some time.”
“How do you feel about children, Debbie?”
Debbie shrugged. “I’d like to see how it feels once Dawn comes home. Dawn is as cute as a button, and she has your eyes. I bet you she’ll have Mary’s dark hair.”
“I think I see Mary’s cheekbones in Dawn as well.”
“You’re really proud, aren’t you, Jim?”
“I never felt that I would be looking forward to having a child until Mary showed how determined she was to become a mother. I mean, I never considered myself husband material, let alone a father. At first, I thought I would do it just for Mary, but after a day or so, I was actually looking forward to having my own daughter.
“Everybody that saw you tonight could see you were a proud new father.”
“It was nice that Mary got a private room, and that Aimee secured the birthing room for the delivery, Debbie.”
“Aimee thought it would be money well spent.”
I nodded. “I can’t begin to tell you how much that we appreciate all the stuff you’ve done for this family.”
“We all contribute, Jim. Most of you contribute more than I do.”
“That’s not true!” I said, hoping that I wouldn’t have to have the same conversation that I once had to have with Mary. “You are all an important part of the whole.”
“I know, Jim,” Debbie said softly. I could feel a wisp of Debbie’s melancholia start to permeate the room. “I mean, you all go out of your way to tell me how much you appreciate me. Sometimes, however, it feels like you tell me so often that you are trying to convince yourselves.”
I hugged Debbie. “No. The person we’re trying to convince is you. We can all feel your uncertainty at times, my lovely Radio.”
Debbie nodded her head and smiled, still holding me tightly.
I moved my face and kissed Debbie on the cheek. I continued kissing Debbie until she moved her face so that I could reach her lips and she started kissing me back.
I’m not exactly sure how long we kissed, but it was a long time. The two of us fell asleep in each other’s arms.
The two girls and I visited Mary the next morning. Aimee had made some cinnamon buns, one of Mary’s favorite breakfast snacks. She also brought some milk, orange juice, and some other snacks in a picnic basket.
We found Mary and Dawn in bed together. Dawn was asleep, cradled in Mary’s arms.
“Hello, Gorgeous,” I said after seeing the tableau. “Who’s the beautiful woman that’s holding you?”
“You sweet man,” Mary smiled. She noticed the girls with me. “Hello, Aimee; hi, Debbie!”
I had a vase full of flowers that I purchased at the hospital gift shop, as well as a beautiful pink teddy bear and I presented them to mother and daughter. Mary oohed and aahed, and Debbie put the vase onto the night stand next to Mary’s bed. Mary moved over carefully, trying not to disturb her daughter, and inhaled their fragrance. Aimee presented Mary with a stuffed pink flamingo as well.
We all said our hellos, and each of us kissed Mary, and gave a quick peck on Dawn’s cheek.
“Aimee made some cinnamon buns,” Debbie announced.
Mary didn’t answer that, but made a yummy sound instead.
“Did they feed you breakfast?” Aimee asked.
Mary shrugged. “Bland eggs and some toast with decaffeinated coffee.”
“We have milk and O.J. with some pastries,” I said.
Aimee was setting up her picnic basket on one of the tables in the room. She pulled out a paper plate and put one of the buns on it, and poured some milk for Mary.
Debbie carefully took Dawn from Mary’s arms, careful not to wake up the infant.
A nurse came into the room with a disapproving look in her eyes. “Only two visitors at a time are allowed.”
We all stared at the nurse with disbelief.
Aimee said, softly, “You know as well as I do that that particular rule does not apply to private rooms. In addition, Mary’s doctor has said that our presence here has had a calming effect on the mother, rather than the opposite.”
“Who do you think you’re talking to?” the nurse demanded, raising her voice.
Aimee is not a person that you can bully. When she gets angry, she doesn’t yell. If anything, her voice gets softer, and she lowered her voice even more. “From your name tag, it appears that I am talking to Nurse Dennon. From your attitude, though, it would also appear that I might be talking to a candy striper who is dressed up in a nurse’s costume.”
The nurse looked at Aimee in disbelief.
Aimee wasn’t finished. “This man here is Mary’s husband, Captain Jim Montgomery,” she said, indicating me. “Debbie and I are also part of her family. We have the permission of the director of this hospital that our needs would be met and that the people would be treating Mary here as a guest, and not as a sick patient. Delivering a child is not the same as being treated for a disease, and if you were a nurse, especially one on a maternity ward, you’d know this yourself. Nobody requested you to come into this room. You may now leave or show me the reason why you are in this private room, without having been summoned.”
You could have heard a pin drop. Dawn squirmed a bit in Debbie’s arms and opened her eyes. Thankfully, she didn’t cry.
“We’ll see about this,” the nurse said, not wanting to back down. Nonetheless, she bid a hasty retreat and left the room.
I’m very sure that Aimee had done her homework. She had made arrangements in advance of Mary’s labor to ensure we received the proper treatment. Hospitals are usually especially accommodating to people that are willing to pay cash in advance. If the nurse were to check things out, it would definitely turn out that Aimee’s words were, if anything, an understatement.
“I’m sorry, Mary,” Aimee said after the nurse left.
“Huh?” Mary asked, confused. “What for?”
“I’m sorry I caused a scene in here.”
“That’s all right.”
“It is not all right that I made a scene, and I’m sorry if it made you feel uncomfortable,” Aimee insisted. “I didn’t want that nurse to start imposing unnecessary rules on us.”
“Forget about it, Aimee,” Mary said. “I’m sure the nurse didn’t realize.”
There was an awkward silence, but I found myself staring at my beautiful daughter, who was now awake and lying quietly in Mary’s arms. Dawn’s eyes were big and round and were the most amazing shade of blue that I’d ever seen, although all three girls said that Dawn had my eyes.
Debbie saw where my attention was directed, and with Mary’s permission, she took Dawn from Mary, walked over to me, and handed me my daughter.
“You look amazing,” I said to Dawn. “You have your mother’s cheek bones.”
The incident with the nurse was all but forgotten as the four of us started fussing over our little bundle of joy.
After few minutes, Dawn started to fuss. I quietly delivered her back to Mary, who decided to feed her. Aimee helped her get Dawn into the correct position (those lessons she took in California were wonderful!), and soon, Dawn was happily feeding at Mary’s breast.
As I mentioned before, Mary’s breasts had increased their size during her pregnancy. At this point, they were nearly the same size as Debbie’s. A few weeks before, Mary had let me have a taste of her milk, which was an interesting experience. Although I wasn’t a person that found anything sexual in lactation, Mary seemed to enjoy the attention.
June and Mely came in to visit for an hour or so, bringing a box of chocolates and a vase of orchids. Each of them appreciated that we allowed them to hold Dawn. They held her as if she were a delicate piece of crystal.
After only two days at the birthing center, Mary and Dawn were ready to go. Mary told me that after the confrontation with Aimee, she had never seen or heard from that nurse that had tried to limit Mary’s room to two visitors at a time. With that exception, the entire nursing staff were cheerful and helpful for the entirety of her stay.
Mary had been told that walking and swimming were two exercises that would help her lose the thirty or so pounds that she had put on during her pregnancy, and she was advised not to try to starve her way back to her normal weight, since that could adversely affect her health and that of Dawn, who Mary was nursing. Another form of daily exercise, we found, was just looking after Dawn. Despite the fact that she had four people ready to dote on her, it took time before we fell into a routine.
It was easy to fall in love with a beautiful baby like Dawn, and the four of us equally shared in all the parental chores, with the notable exception that only Mary nursed the baby, being the only one properly equipped for that role. Mary occasionally found it necessary to draw her milk using a breast pump, and afterward each of us could take turns feeding Dawn with some of Mary’s saved milk.
I had thought that Mary’s mood swings would end after the delivery. Aimee explained that this wasn’t the case. Apparently, Mary’s hormones were still changing, but thankfully, we had our mind connections to reassure Mary that she was truly loved and appreciated by everyone, and we were thankful that there was no postpartum depression. It would be difficult if a misunderstanding were to go unheeded, so we were all watching over Mary almost as much as we were watching over Dawn.
It took a couple days after coming back from the hospital before Dawn’s nighttime habits stabilized. Her feeding schedule seemed to be about every couple of hours, but she managed to sleep about six hours straight at night, and for about four hours during the day as a nap. We fit our lifestyle around her. One or more of us would always be with Mary during Dawn’s meals, happy to talk with her. I worked out a five kilometer course along the roads around the shack where Mary could exercise, and I found myself enjoying our daily strolls, wheeling Dawn in a carriage.
Mely and June were usually around as well, urging us to go out to dinner so they could have a few hours with our precious baby.
During the first two weeks after we returned from Oahu, Debbie added equipment to the exercise room that Aimee had recommended for Mary’s recuperation, as it would be a few weeks before Mary was able to once again work out with Debbie as they once again practiced their martial arts together.
Meanwhile, Debbie and I sparred together occasionally. We were about evenly matched, despite the fact that I was physically stronger. The only problem with Debbie was that she wasn’t overly aggressive, and that gave me a slight advantage. Her advantage, of course, was her voluptuous body, which would occasionally distract me to the point where Debbie might actually get me in a simple hold. When that happened, of course, I’d squirm around until I was on top of her, and the sparring match would be called on account of sex. Debbie jokingly suggested that it would be more efficient if we simply sparred together in the nude.
About ten weeks after Dawn was born, Debbie and Aimee made a trip to New York together, mostly to get a few of Debbie’s loose ends tied up. Debbie asked her Uncle Chuck to arrange for the sale of a few of her properties that she’d never have any interest in keeping. The ranch in Salt Lake City would be given to Angus and his growing family as a gift, and a few of the other properties could be sold or given to their caretakers. Charles suggested that some of the ones that Debbie indicated be retained as possible investments in the future, which is why Debbie’s father had purchased them in the first place.
In addition, and I didn’t know it at the time, Debbie formed a limited partnership into which she put everything she had inherited from her father, naming the four of us as equal partners, and the firm in Hawaii as our legal and accounting staff.
While Debbie and Charles Penet were discussing the partnership, Charles suggested that Debbie keep a small portion, perhaps only five million or so, in a safe deposit box or someplace else that didn’t draw interest, so if anything catastrophic should happen, she’d at least have something to fall back upon. After discussing this, Debbie finally decided on a course of action that seemed to satisfy both Debbie and her Uncle Charles: Debbie, each of her sisters, and I would have some sort of safe deposit box or whatever they came up with. The exact details of this arrangement remain unknown to me to this day, but I think, since Debbie has never been embezzled, I’ll probably only find out about it if I outlive Debbie. If anything, it will become a legacy to each of my children equally. That money isn’t important to me; I still have more money than I really need at that bank in San Diego where Mary used to work, although I only think about it once a year at tax time. It’s not anywhere near what Debbie had, of course, but it was still a nice sum.
Debbie and Aimee were lucky enough to see the House Band perform at the Isle of the Goddess location in New York. Kristen recognized the two of them when they got into the club, and arranged for Debbie and Aimee to sit with her personal manager, Patty Nadal. The girls were surprised when they discovered that Patty just happened to be babysitting Tricia Beth, Kristen’s six month old daughter. The two musicians spent some time at their table between sets, and even dedicated a song called “Tricia Beth” to the youngster in the second set. Pictures of Dawn were traded for those of Tricia Beth, and everyone promised that our families would be exchanging letters and even more pictures soon.
While Debbie and Aimee were visiting the Big Apple, Mary and I took the opportunity to get closer together. I let her make lunch while I cooked supper, as my expertise in the kitchen was starting to increase.
I tried sparring with Mary in the exercise room, but I could easily tell that Mary was pulling back quite a lot with me. She was close to black belt material (she wouldn’t actually tell me how close), and the only thing I had over her was raw strength and that wasn’t much. Additionally, strength can work against you in most martial arts styles. Mary was ruthlessly aggressive in her workouts, which was alarming.
Mary was shedding the natal weight she had gained, and she once again was close to her original weight. I found that the look in her eyes when she was sparring told me that it would be the biggest mistake of my life to allow myself to become distracted by Mary’s lovely body when we were exercising, as I had been prone to do with Debbie.
By this time, our daily walk/jog route had grown close to ten kilometers, and we jogged part of it. Dawn seemed to enjoy it when we raced down the road. June occasionally joined us on our jogs, having nothing much else to do now that Mely had returned to the big island.
Mary and I spent some time putting up a swing set for Dawn, even though she wouldn’t be able to use it for a while. We also spent a part of each day on a blanket at the beach. I must tell you that having a beautiful daughter at the beach is a great way to get the attention of girls, and it is a delight when girls—most topless and some even bottomless—would approach you to strike up a conversation and look at and coo over your daughter. Mary didn’t seem to mind this attention, as a lot of it was lavished on her as well, people telling her that her figure was fantastic for a mother of such a young baby.
Mary, June, Dawn and I became regulars at some of the local restaurants downtown. The people always doted on Dawn, and we we would put Dawn’s carrier on top of a high chair. The fact that Dawn usually slept throughout our meals made her less of a problem for other customers trying to enjoy their meals. However, to be safe, we usually ate a couple of hours before or after the times that the restaurants would be crowded in order to minimize any impact that an occasionally fussy Dawn might have on other patrons. This seemed to be common practice, as we saw other couples with young children at those times.
Debbie and Aimee hadn’t come back yet from New York, and now it was me that was starting to get cabin fever. It was nice to be able to relax and not have to worry about anything except playing with your daughter or changing her diaper, but the newness of this was wearing off. Even the swing set had been completed, and I was looking for something different to do.
I started reevaluating my life. When I was younger, I had decided that I would join the army and pursue a career in it until I retired. A twelve year coma did away with that. Now, thanks to Debbie’s wealth, I had nothing to do except stay at home. The novelty, even now having a wonderful daughter, was no longer there.
Mary noticed how I felt, and she brought it to my attention almost before I had actually acknowledged it myself. “Jim, what are you going to do with your life?”
“Huh?” I asked, feigning ignorance.
“I’ve been living with you for a year and a half, Jim,” Mary said. “You pace when something is bothering you, and it’s starting to drive me crazy.”
“I’m sorry, Gorgeous,” I said. “I guess I was also thinking about how I wanted to spend the rest of my life.”
Mary nodded. “Feeling useless cooped up in the shack?”
“That’s not completely it,” I said, wondering how to express myself without hurting Mary’s feelings. “Let’s take our walk. Let me get Dawn’s stroller and we’ll do a good ten.”
I found the equipment, and dressed Dawn in a cute two-piece bikini that Aimee had bought right before she left for New York.
As we went outside, I saw June doing stretching exercises on the lawn.
“Jim, Mary... going for your walk?” June asked, noticing me pushing Dawn.
“Mind if I join you?”
“Sure thing, but we’re just walking today,” I said. I didn’t know if we were going to continue the conversation that Mary had started now that June was around. June, however, was too nice a person to deny her request. She worked out even more than Mary did, using mostly the Universal Gym that Debbie had installed inside our house, occasionally getting Mary to do stretches with her. I also saw June constantly swimming laps in the pool and running up and down the beaches, apparently favoring the sand as it made her exert more effort when she ran.
Mary, on the other hand, didn’t see any problem continuing our conversation in front of June. Mary wasn’t going to let me get off the hook so easily. “You still haven’t told me what you want to do with your life, Jim.”
“What more do I need? I have you, Dawn, Debbie and Aimee. We have Debbie’s lovely employees,” I said, smiling at June. “We can hop on a plane or be driven anywhere.”
“And you’re bored to death,” Mary pointed out.
I shrugged. “I don’t know what I want to do. Long ago, I had planned on being in the service, but that’s no longer possible.”
“You could re-enlist,” Mary pointed out. “William told you that you were only given a disability discharge because you were put in harm’s way.”
“You were in the army, right?” June asked, feeling free to enter the conversation.
“Yeah,” I said. “One year plus twelve and a half in the hospital.”
June bent over and tickled Dawn, who squealed in reply. “Do you qualify for the G.I. bill?” June asked me.
I didn’t know if I did, but June’s question had started my mind working on new possibilities.
“You should do what Mely and I do when we’re on the big island,” June suggested. “We take courses at the University. Sometimes we do it to just learn new things, so we take the courses that sound exotic. Debbie pays us well enough for doing next to nothing, so we have more than enough time on our hands.”
“I never thought of that,” I said. “I might be too old for the University, though.”
“Bullshit,” Mary said. “Grown adults attend University every day.”
June nodded at Mary in agreement.
“Do you have a list of the courses they offer?” I asked June.
“Probably in the cottage,” June said, referring to the guest house where she usually stayed.
“Mary, would you be interested in attending college?” I asked, wondering if she would want to attend with me.
“I would really prefer staying at home with Dawn,” Mary said.
“The University of Hawaii has branches throughout the state,” Mary said. “We could get Mely to commute you to a convenient site.”
“That would take a lot of gas and wear and tear on Debbie’s jet,” I pointed out.
“A Cessna would be easier and cheaper,” June said. “And I could fly that myself. Maybe you’d like flying lessons? I’m not certified to teach, but I think Mely is. I’d really be willing to help.”
That intrigued me.
“There’s other things,” June continued. “There’s boating, scuba diving, even playing golf. You can’t tell me you can’t find a thing to do in Hawaii!”
“June has a good point there, Jim,” Mary agreed. “Living a life of leisure doesn’t mean being tied to a house doing nothing.”
“Aimee told me she’d teach me to use computers,” I said, starting to get some ideas myself.
“Yeah. She’s teaching me Lotus 1-2-3,” June said. “Mely’s got a Macintosh as well, and it has the most amazing graphics programs. You can get a great computer system for as little as a couple thousand dollars.”
I picked up the pace of my walking, as the ideas were running through my head. Dawn made a happy sound as her stroller made louder noise as we moved faster down the street. Of course, hearing Dawn’s reaction made me move a bit faster still, and pretty soon, the three of us were running down our path.
It took us about an hour and a half to make the 10-K circuit. Mary went inside to change and rinse off Dawn, who now had a little bit of road dust on her, leaving me with June.
“Jim?” June said once Mary was out of the way.
“Yes?” I said, pouring three glasses of lemonade from the refrigerator.
“If you ever need anything... anything at all, please don’t hesitate to ask. Mely and I usually don’t do have much work to do, and we’re always going out and doing things to amuse ourselves. Feel free to tag along with us.”
“I’ll think about it, June,” I said, handing her a glass.
The way that June was asking me made me feel a tiny bit uncomfortable. Neither Mely nor June ever brought up our unusual lifestyle, although it was be apparent to them that there was something different about the relationships in our house. In addition, the two girls seemed to be best friends and I didn’t want to intrude on their friendship.
June drank her lemonade, and then went out to the back yard.
Later on in the day, I had changed into a bathing suit and went outside to the pool to look for Mary. Instead, I found June swimming laps. She only had on the bottom half of her bikini. I had seen June topless before, sometimes on the nude beach, and most of the time when she was in our pool, swimming laps. She didn’t seem to be embarrassed about her body, and also didn’t seem to mind me looking at her.
“Come on in, Jim,” June said when she saw me there.
“I didn’t want to interrupt your laps.”
“Mary said she’d be coming in. I thought she had been looking for you.”
“Maybe she’s putting Dawn down for a nap.”
“So, join me. You already have your suit on.”
I did so, and June continued her laps.
The water was warm, but cool enough to be refreshing.
June went racing from one end of the pool to the other, doing a smooth sort of somersault when she got near the end of the pool to propel her into the opposite direction. She was marvelously fast, and I found myself sitting in the shallow end, just watching her streak back and forth.
Mary found me in the pool and quietly joined me.
“She’s really fast,” I said.
Mary nodded. “She almost qualified for the Olympics in 1984.”
“No,” Mary answered. “I think it was one of the track events.”
“She told me that her mother tried to push her, and she resisted, I think. She now exercises for herself, and she tells me she enjoys it more this way.”
“She’s got a great wholesome body.”
Mary smiled. “You’re sitting in a pool with your wife and the mother of your child, and you tell me that this topless girl in our pool has a nice body?”
“I know you’re not the jealous type,” I grinned.
“Well, just don’t take me for granted, hubby.”
“I’ll never do that again,” I promised.
The two of us kissed for a few moments when I realized that June had stopped her swimming and was watching us from the deep end of the pool.
I broke the kiss with Mary, and waved June over.
Without hesitation, June swam to the shallow end. “Is Dawn in her cradle?”
“Yes. I must have fed her a quart this afternoon!”
I looked at Mary’s breasts. “I hope you alternated sides. I wouldn’t want you to have one breast like Debbie’s, and the other like Aimee’s!”
Mary playfully splashed water in my face for that remark.
“Speaking of Aimee,” June said. “She called me at the cottage earlier and said that Debbie and she would be arriving in Honolulu the day after tomorrow. Mely will fly them out to Maui and I’ll be picking them up to take them here about three in the afternoon.”
“Great!” I said, having missed the two girls.
“We should do something special for them,” Mary said.
“Like what?” June asked.
“Aimee is easy,” I said. “Just buy about a ton of purple orchids. What do you do for Debbie, though?”
“Cook her favorite meal?” Mary suggested.
“I can’t cook those Asian things,” I said. “Believe me, Aimee tried to teach me.”
“What does Debbie like?” June asked.
“Chicken Pad Thai is one that I can pronounce.”
“I can make that,” June said. “It’s quite simple. Aimee probably has all the noodles and peanuts and everything in the kitchen.”
I shook my head. “I couldn’t ask you to do cook for us!”
June sighed. “Jim, although I work for you, drive you anywhere you want to go, and occasionally fly you around, I am also your friend. I made the suggestion as such, not as an employee.”
Mary gave me a look that told me that I shouldn’t argue the point.
“I’m sorry, June,” I said. “I wasn’t thinking.”
“That’s alright, Jim,” June smiled. “You’re sweet, but you’re a man. Sometimes, your gender gets me all aggravated.”
The three of us played in the pool together for another hour before coming out. I had a pitcher of sangria in the refrigerator and brought it out with three large glasses of ice and poured the cold concoction.
“Only half a glass for me. I’m still nursing Dawn,” Mary warned.
I nodded. “Actually, I only used about half the wine that Debbie’s recipe calls for, Mary.”
“That’s why yours taste fruitier!” Mary smiled. “That’s sweet! June’s right, you are sweet, but I never find you aggravating.”
“You did once.”
“And Aimee corrected that.”
June blushed at the mention of her earlier comment, but seemed intrigued in the banter between Mary and me. She smiled as she took the drink when I offered it to her.
I looked at the lovely blonde. “June, do you think you could fly Mary and me to the big island tomorrow? We can stay at a hotel overnight and then we’ll all meet Debbie and Aimee when they arrive.”
“Why don’t you stay at our condo on the big island?” June suggested. “We’ve got two bedrooms and Mely and I could bunk together.”
“We don’t want to be an imposition...”
June rolled her eyes.
Mary interrupted. “Jim, I can see how June thinks you’re aggravating!”
I sighed. I hated imposing on people, and Mary knew it, but she was taking June’s side in these issues. “You’re probably right,” I said softly, not wanting to belabor the point.
After we drank our drinks, I went upstairs to check on Dawn. She was awake, and smiling. She was moving slightly left and right as she stared at a mobile that we had purchased, but after a few seconds, it was obvious that Dawn was more interested in looking at her hands than the mobile that was above her out of reach. I reached into the cradle and picked her up.
Dawn was heavier than normal, mostly at the business end of her diaper. I changed her and deposited the messy old one in the diaper bucket for the diaper service to pick up. Since I was already changing Dawn, I decided to change her from her bikini to a light pink sun dress that Mary had out. Dawn giggled as I sprinkled powder on her body; I found out a while ago that baby powder seems to affect at least Debbie and Mary almost as an aphrodisiac... go figure!
After a few minutes, during which I playfully tickled Dawn, and then played a game where I called her name a few times, listening as she made random noises in response, I decided it was best to go downstairs.
“Awww,” said June when she saw my pink bundle of joy. “Look who is up from her nap!”
I looked around and Mary wasn’t around. I thought this was unusual until I heard sounds from the exercise room. “Oh, Mommy is exercising. Do you want to see Mommy sweat?”
June giggled as I headed into the room where Mary was doing some exercises. Seeing Dawn, she said, “Here’s Mommy’s little girl!” and put down the weight she was pressing and took Dawn from my arms.
“Dawn likes watching Mommy sweat,” I said.
“Daddy likes embarrassing Mommy, doesn’t he, Dawn?” Mary said.
Dawn, in response, just moved her mouth a bit with a big smile and a little drool on her face.
The next day, June flew Mary, Dawn, and me to the big island, calling Mely before we left to meet us at the airport.
When we arrived, Mely saw Dawn and said, excitedly, “She’s getting so much bigger!”
“Babies tend to do that at this age,” June pointed out.
As Mely cuddled Dawn, I asked June and Mely where their favorite restaurant was.
June looked at Mely, and then asked us if we had been to the Little Grill.
I looked at Mary. “I never heard of it.”
“Me, neither,” agreed Mary.
“It’s a Cambodian spot,” Mely said. “Lots of grilled food. Steak for you, seafood for Mary and June, and they love kids like Dawn.”
“Sounds like a treat. What do you think, Mary?” I asked.
“Sounds exotic,” Mary smiled.
“Where is it?” I asked.
“It’s on the way to the condo,” Mely said. “About ten minutes from here.”
Mely offered me Dawn back, so I decided to leave it in her hands. “Dawn, do you want to go to the Little Grill?” I asked her.
Dawn reacted with her typical giggle and happy “coo!” That reaction, however, was due to the fact that I had pulled open her top and breathed against her belly, sending vibrations through her.
“I take that as a yes,” I interpreted. “I think it’s unanimous!”
Dawn squealed again and we headed for Debbie’s limo, where I strapped Dawn into her car seat.
“It’s a pity she has to face backward,” I said.
“It prevents whiplash,” June said.
“I know, but I really doubt Dawn would be looking for an ambulance chaser!”
At the Little Grill, the hostess, an older woman, put up a big fuss when she saw Dawn. She called into the kitchen in her native language, and an older gentleman came out.
“Who is the mother?” the man asked.
We all pointed to Mary.
The man went to Mary and kissed the back of her hand. “May God bless you and your wonderful family for many generations. You bring honor to our little shop.”
Mely hadn’t been kidding when she said that this restaurant loved kids. Dawn was treated as a little princess and loved the attention from her new friends.
The food was indeed quite good: basic food grilled to perfection with additional sauces for added spiciness and taste. Mary caught me trying to sneak a grain of cooked rice toward Dawn and stopped me.
“Jim! You know she’s not ready for solid food!” Mary’s smile showed that she knew I was only playing around.
“I know, I know. It’s just a grain of rice, Mary! She has got to try the food here. It’s excellent!”
The hostess overheard me and beamed at my praise.
When we left, the hostess once again called out her husband so they could say farewell to Dawn and her parents, and they told us that we’re forever welcome into their little restaurant.
Over the years, we came to enjoy visiting that place, and the hostess always remembers Dawn’s name when she comes in.
Mely had a friend who lived in the same apartment complex who offered her services as a babysitter so we could go out on the town that night. Both Mary and I were more than a bit hesitant; we had never left Dawn alone before, except very occasionally with June and Mely. The decision became moot when Mary alerted me to the fact that she hadn’t pressed any milk for a babysitter to feed Dawn, and we didn’t want our daughter using formula.
Instead of painting the town red, we watched television. It turns out that June was an animation junkie, and had a video of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” a Disney movie that had animated “toons” that interacted with real live people. It came out about a year before I came out of my coma and I had heard about it, but had never seen it. The one thing in that movie that struck me was the voluptuous Jessica Rabbit. She was very sexy, looking almost like an exaggerated cartoon version of Debbie. I pointed this out to Mary, who playfully slapped me in mock protest.
I remembered watching Disney cartoons when I had been a child, and I had hoped that Dawn would experience the wonder and humor that I had remembered. Dawn did watch the movie with us, but promptly fell asleep on my lap, only waking up occasionally when some wise remark was said on the television.
Mary and I sat together on a small love seat, one arm around Mary’s body, and the other cradling Dawn.
June and Mely sat on the sofa together, occasionally holding hands. The two looked so happy watching the television together.
All in all, it was a wonderful way to spend an evening.