Violet stood in front of her closet in her underwear with her hands on her hips and a scowl on her face. “What the heck am I supposed to wear to New York City?” she muttered to herself. “And how do I pack for this weekend?”
“Perhaps you should wait to ask Victor? He should be over in an hour or so to pick you up,” Heidi suggested.
“Knowing that man, he’ll be here sooner than that,” Violet grumbled.
She shook her head and pulled on a little skirt and a tank top. The packing would have to wait. Then she headed to the kitchen to make the birthday boy a special breakfast.
Victor awoke to Ronnie’s Little Red Corvette ringtone.
“Ronnie, isn’t this a bit early for you?” he groaned into the phone, his head still slumped onto his pillow. A blast of loud music made him pull the phone away from his ear.
“♪ ♫…You say it’s your birthday! Well, it’s my birthday too, yeah…♩ ♬ ” Ronnie sang.
Victor burst out laughing as he listened to the whole song.
“♪ ♫…Are ya gonna have a party, party…♩ ♬ ” Ronnie asked, still singing.
“’Fraid not, but I am going into the city with my ...uh...a friend,” Victor said, stretching.
“Awesome! Staying at the apartment?”
“No, I got us rooms at the Ritz,” Victor replied.
“Rooms? Like plural? Ah, Dad, what kinda birthday is that? I want you to get...”
“Don’t say it!”
“....married. What did you think I was gonna say?” Ronnie asked.
“Never mind,” Victor said. “So, how’s your summer going?”
“Real busy, but having a great time,” Ronnie said enthusiastically.
“Doing what?” Victor asked casually.
“You know, this and that. Freebase is...”
“What did you say? Freebase?” Victor said sitting bolt-upright and suddenly wide wake.
“Freebase is my friend’s name…nickname, actually. His real name’s Frances, so you can see why he don’t wanna go by that name.”
“Though in all probability I may regret asking, why is your friend called Freebase?” Victor asked, bracing for the answer.
“It’s not what you think. He’s not into drugs. As a matter of fact, he’s like totally into healthy stuff, raw foods and yoga, Tai Chi and weird shit like that. He won’t even let me bring Doritos into the apartment and forget about beer!”
“Being you’re not of age yet, that’s a good thing,” Victor said, hoping his son was telling the truth.
“True, but Freebase is twenty-two, so it’s really weird that he doesn’t want any.”
“So, why do you call him Freebase?”
“I have time,” Victor said.
“Okay, short version. Every time we play stickball he wants to get on base for free. He makes up these stupid rules nobody ever heard of. He says there’s different stickball rules in Jersey,” Ronnie said derisively.
Victor laughed. “They got different rules for everything in Jersey doesn’t mean we have to put up with them in New York.”
“That’s what I told him!” Ronnie said laughing. “Anyway, Freebase is mostly all right. He’s a good leader for the ban…uh…”
“For the what?” his father asked, smirking. He was now more positive than ever what was going on.
“Hey, Dad, I gotta get going,” Ronnie said, now evasive as anything.
“Still keeping secrets, huh?”
“Happy Birthday, Dad! I hope you get lucky tonight,” Ronnie said. “I wanna meet her soon, okay? Can you at least tell me her name?”
“Tell me what you’re up to and I’ll tell you her name,” Victor countered.
“Uh, guess we both got secrets. Love you, Dad,” Ronnie said.
“Love you, too, Ronnie, thanks for the birthday song, but next year you might consider just a card,” Victor joked.
“Where’s the fun in that? Anyone can get a stupid card!”
“Crazy kid,” Victor mumbled as he hung up. He smiled as he showered and dressed. This start of his birthday weekend boded well. He could barely contain his excitement.
He had just pulled into Violet’s driveway when Doctor My Eyes sounded from his cell.
“Both my boys are up early today,” he said into the phone.
“You’re kidding me! Ronnie beat me? I’m mortified!” Simon grumbled.
“Happy birthday, Dad. Sorry I couldn’t be home. I was gonna take you out to dinner.”
“I’m not going to be home,” Victor said. “I’m just on my way to the city… with a lady friend.”
“Dad, that’s fantastic! She in the car with you now?”
“I’m currently in her driveway. My sons’ have been delaying my progress with all these wonderful birthday greetings.”
“Sorry, I’ll let you go, but, tell me. Is this the lady you told us about, the one with the ghost husband?”
“You know I don’t believe in that ghost stuff, Simon,” Victor said.
“So, you got her to date you without you having a chat with her husband? How did that happen?”
“First…we’re still just friends,” Victor said reluctantly.
“Dad, you gotta talk to her ghost!”
“Stop it, okay? There is no ghost…not a real one,” Victor said.
“Coulda fooled me,” Richard said.
“You staying at the apartment?” Simon asked.
“No, the Ritz.”
“That oughta be romantic. Know the room number? I’ll send her flowers. What’s her name?”
“I’d rather not say,” Victor said.
“Come on, Dad. Unlike Ronnie, I can keep a secret,” Simon said.
“I’m sure you can, but until there is something to tell…let’s just call her a friend.”
“What are you hiding? Do we know her?”
“I’d rather not say,” Victor replied.
“That’s lawyer-speak for yes, isn’t it? Come on, Dad. Tell me.”
Victor laughed. “Thanks for calling, Simon. It’s always good to hear your voice, but it would be nice to see you…if you get the chance.”
“I’ll try, but I'm really busy. Happy Birthday, Dad. Good luck with the lady and her ghost,” Simon said.
“Thank you, Simon,” Victor said, chuckling. “Love you.”
After a slight pause came, “Love you, too, Dad.”
Victor sprinted up to Violet’s front door. He didn’t bother to knock. He knew she had left it unlocked, which only served to infuriate him. One day—heaven forbid!-- he might find her dead or worse. He didn’t want to think about it.
As soon as he opened the door, loud music assailed his ears and he could smell something delicious cooking.
“Lordy, she didn’t,” he muttered, even as he knew Violet obviously had.
In the kitchen, he got a flash of déjà vu. He had been here before.
There she was dancing seductively will stirring something in a skillet on the stove. She sang alone with Shakira and her truthful hips . Violet proved a good match.
It was when she turned to chop tomatoes on the center island that she saw Victor staring at her and she let out a blood-curling scream.
“Victor, you are the limit!” she shouted, her heart going a hundred miles an hour. “You are determined to kill me from fright, aren’t you?”
He chuckled and went to her. He hugged her until her feet were no longer on firm ground. “I can say the same about you. Perfect start to my birthday.”