“Sure,” Tim said, and Cleve took the cheap plastic chair next to Tim; it squeaked a little under Cleve’s weight. “Maybe you’ll have an idea.” He pulled a beer out of the styrofoam cooler and handed it to Cleve. “Not ice cold, but it’s been sitting out here all evening so at least it’ll be cool.”
Cleve stuck the can in the holder on the arm of his chair and scooted the chair around to face Tim. “Red… is this about the dream, or something else?”
“Both, I guess. These truck dreams — everyone’s having the dreams together, right?”
“Yeah, as far as anyone can tell.”
“So if Sara… in the dream…” he trailed off. “I want to believe I’m seeing what I think I’ve been seeing, but—”
“Sheee-it,” Cleve laughed, popping his beer. “You finally wakin’ up?”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m gonna tell you something, Red, something I wouldn’t say if you weren’t my best friend. More than that, my brother in arms…” He took a long swig of cool beer.
“What is it?”
“Just this: we both want the same woman, and she only wants one of us. And it ain’t me.”
“So — she —” Tim drained his can and waved his arms.
“Yeah, she —” Cleve waved his arms in mockery, sloshing his beer a little. “But she ain’t gonna wait forever for you to make up your mind.”
“Yeah.” Tim stood, weaving a little in the chilly October air. “Can you believe it’s not even been two months since this all happened? But sometimes, it feels like years. Sometimes I try to think about Rebecca, remember what she looked like, and — and all I see is Sara. Cleve… thanks. I owe you one.” He walked back into the townhouse.
“Damn right you do!” Cleve laughed, not sure if Tim heard. He turned his chair back to the wall and watched the waning moon through the thinning leaves, pushing through a few wispy clouds over the roofs of the houses. “Well, Mr. Moon,” Cleve said, putting his feet on the railing, “I just threw away a long shot at love, but at least I did the right thing by them both. And maybe I’ll get some sleep now.” He hoisted his beer can heavenward then drank.
“Tim? Are you okay?” Sara whispered at the figure at her door.
“Hi, Sara,” Tim said, using the door frame for balance. “Yeah, I’m okay, I guess. I’ve just been doing a lot of thinking…”
“Hi Tim,” Ashley said, peering around Sara. Tim thought her fuzzy pink one-piece made her look even younger. “What’s up?”
“Ashley, I know you don’t want to sleep, but Tim and I need to talk for a minute, okay? Go back to bed.” The girl shrugged and walked away.
Tim smiled. “You two doing okay?”
“Yeah. I think that dream last night’s about the only thing that ever got to Ashley. The girl’s like a rock sometimes, it takes a lot to get her off-balance. Jennifer and I are talking about taking over #116, you know; it’s that three-bedroom place up by the street that nobody wanted. We think it’ll be good to have the girls together, and there’ll be plenty of room.”
Tim nodded. “Sara, I — I’ve been wondering for a while —” he reached for her.
Sara stepped forward and took his hand. “It’s about time,” she smiled. “But from the smell of you, you’ve been doing more than thinking tonight. You come back tomorrow when you’re sober, and we’ll see where we want to go from here.”
Tim’s beer-flavored whew about knocked Sara down. “Oh… thank God. I was hoping I wasn’t just imagining it.”
“Go on back, Tim,” Sara said. “We’ll talk tomorrow.” She kissed his cheek before he had a chance to react, and closed her door.
A nudge brought Tim out of a restless sleep. “Cleve? What’s up?”
“Not Cleve,” Sara whispered. “You better?”
“You mean sobered up? I guess so. You okay?”
Sara sat on the bed. “Yeah. Ashley finally gave up and fell asleep, then I couldn’t rest. I put her to bed and made sure she wasn’t gonna wake right back up before I came up. It’s five o’clock now, I hope that’s okay.”
“It’s always okay for you, Sara. I hope you know that.” He worked an arm out of the covers and reached for her; she took his hand.
“I do now. I kept wonderin’ if you’d ever come around.”
“I was… afraid, I guess. I didn’t believe that you’d go for me, with the other guys around here.” He put his other hand on her back and rubbed up and down her spine.
“Mmmm. You can do that all night.”
“I had something else in mind…”
Sara chuckled and kicked off her slippers, then slid under the covers. “Yeah, me too. But there’s two things I want to make sure we get straight first.”
“Uh-oh,” Tim laughed. I’ve already got one thing straight, he thought, putting his arms around her. They kissed briefly.
“I don’t want you sayin’ nothing about never being with a black girl before,” Sara said. “We all got the same parts, and they all work the same way.”
“Just a different paint job, right?” Tim said. “What’s the other thing?”
“We’re not using condoms.”
Tim laughed again. “I can’t get away from the Catholic women, can I?”
“I’m not Catholic, Tim. But I’ve always wanted children, and with the way things are now… people need to be having kids. Cody and Sondra will probably be having a baby sooner or later; Jennifer moved out of #107 because she got tired of hearing them goin’ at it ’most every night and she didn’t want to have to explain it to Caitlin.”
“Yeah… okay. If it doesn’t work out with us, I’ll still help raise our kids. That’s only fair.”
“I was hoping you’d say that,” she said, and kissed him. He returned the kiss, and they wrapped themselves around each other for a few minutes. Sara reached up to unbutton his pajama top; he unzipped her flannel.
“Too much stuff in the way,” Tim said, tugging at the sleeve of her gown. She pulled her arm through, then her other; he pulled off his pajamas. Naked, they came together again, kissing and groping. Tim rolled onto her and thrust inside, trying to be gentle about it; Sara moaned and wrapped around him, pulling him in all the way. They rocked together a long time on the bed, kissing, moaning, gasping, grasping.
“Come with me!” Sara gasped. And he did, hard and deep.
For a while afterward, neither moved, except for the occasional twitch, nor spoke. “I’ve got to get back,” Sara said finally, gently rolling him off her. “I don’t want Ashley to wake up and not know where I’m at.”
“Can I come with you? Ashley will have to get used to me being around anyway.”
She kissed him, then shrugged her robe on. “Why not?”
Tim threw his pajamas on, found his slippers, and followed Sara back to her unit. They made love again, more quietly but just as satisfying, before falling asleep.