It was a few minutes after eleven o'clock when my old man dropped me off at the curb in front of my place.
"You wanna come up and say good night to your grandson?" I asked.
"Nah, the little guy's probably fast asleep by now. Just give him a kiss for me."
"Will do. Good night, pop."
In those days, I lived on the second floor of an old brick house, next to the Lutheran church, on Main Street, in Monotoning. All the upstairs windows were dark. I tried to sneak like a thief into my own home. But my key rattled like a sabre in the door knob and the oak stairs creaked and squeaked beneath my booted feet as I made my way upstairs.
Kat lay sprawled on the sofa in the living rom, watching the news on television in the dark. I set my duffel bag down in the doorway. Quick and silent as an Indian, I stole up behind her and switched on the old, brass floor lamp next to the sofa, instantly filling the high-cielinged room with a flood of blinding, white light.
Kat sat bolt upright. Her reddish-brown hair swirled around her pretty face as she glanced over her bare shoulder. Seeing me, her eyes lit up and she smiled. She jumped to her feet and hurried around the sofa to greet me. She looked fantastic as always in a bright, yellow woolen tube top and a pair of cut-away jeans.
She studied me for a moment with one eye closed. "Well, at least he didn't bruise that pretty face of your's," she said, with that alluring smile of her's that I knew all too well. "That would've been a real shame."
"Are you going to ask me if I won or lost?" I asked.
"So, did you win or lose?"
"Oh, sweetie, I'm so happy for you," she crooned and reached out a hand to gently touched my cheek. "What a wonderful way to close out your career. Are you hungry? You want something to eat?"
"Pop and I stopped at the coffee shop in the hotel for a cup of coffee and a piece of pie before he brought me home."
Kat frowned. She didn't like anyone feeding me but her.
She leaned into me then, pressing her huge breasts warm and firm against my chest. I bent down to kiss her moist, luscious lips. It wasn't long before I felt the heat start to rise inside of me like the mercury in a thermometer on a torrid summer day.
Her slender fingers fumbled frantically with the big, brass buckle on my belt.
"No, wait," I gasped, barely managing to break away from her. "Give me a minute. I want to say good night to the little guy first."
"Okay, lover. But don't take too long."
When I came back from kissing my son goodnight, I found my wife standing in the open doorway to our bedroom, gloriously naked. She smiled that alluring smile again, as she opened her arms wide to receive me. It was only a couple of seconds before my ragged T-shirt and jeans, and boxers, and socks and boots joined her clothes on the floor.
We made love twice that night, the first time fast and furious, like a pair of alley cats, and the second time, slow and langorous. Afterwards, kat shook loose a cigarette from her pack of Newports, on her nightstand, and lit it, and nestled her head against my sweaty chest. She had a big, satisfied smile on her face. A light breeze blew through the open window, on my side of the best, rustling the curtains.
"So, are you sorry you had to give up boxing?" she asked.
I sighed. The moment I'd been dreading had finally come at last. I waited one more second. Then I said, "I didn't exactly quit."
"Huh? What do you mean you didn't quit?"
"Well, after the fight pop asked me if I'd be interested in turning pro."
"And what did you tell him?"
"I told him yeah."
Kat leaned over and placed her burning cigarette in the ashtray on the nightstand. She turned back to me and lifted herself up on her elbow. The blanket slipped down to her waist, revealing her breasts. That big, happy smile left her face. She glared menacingly at me with her hard, dark eyes.
"Nicholas Michael Lowry," she fumed at me. When she used my full name like that, I knew I was in serious trouble; I cringed. "Will you please tell me what the hell is wrong with you? How could you do something like that---to me, to your son?"
She stared at me, expecting an answer, but I had none to give her. I just shrugged.
"You're going to be twenty-one in another four months. You're going to be an adult. When are you going to start acting like one?"
"But you used to like my boxing," I said. My words came out sounding weak and lame. You used to come and watch me fight all the time."
"That was back when we first started going together," she said. "Then it was something new and exciting. But I was always afraid you might get hurt."
"Unfortunately, getting hurt is a part of the game. But that isn't going to happen to me. At least, not in the way you mean."
"How do you know you're not going to get hurt? Do you have a crystal ball? Can you see into the future and tell me for certain you're never going to get hurt? Now, you listen to me," she said. "You have a wife and son to think about. Your son needs a father. And I need a whole, living and breathing, hot-blooded man in my life---not a brain dead vegetable that has to be fed through a tube for the rest of his life, because he wouldn't listen to the woman who loved him and took one too many punches to the head."
"I am not going to give up my boxing," I said.
"Your boxing, your boxing? What about your wife? What about your son? Or is your precious boxing all you ever think about?"
"I think about you and the baby all the time."
"Hah!" she snorted. "Well, you're certainly not proving it to me, right now. Your father is a cold, cruel, manipulative son of bitch. And I know for a fact he doesn't like me."
"That's not true at all. He loves you like a daughter."
"I've never seen him treat your sister Denise the way he treats me. Can't you see what he's doing here? He's trying to drive a wedge between us, so that I'll leave you and he can have you all to himself, again."
"Oh, he is not. You're exaggerating."
"Yes, he is. You should be able to think and act on your own without any help from him."
"I am not going to give up my boxing."
"Fine," she snapped at me like an angry dog.
"Fine," I barked at her.
I leapt from the bed. I grabbed my pillow and started for the door.
"Where do you think you're going?" she called softly at my back.
"I'm going to sleep on the sofa."
"Well, here. You're probably going to need this."
I turned just in time to see my little digital alarm clock come flying like a missle straight toward my chest. I took a quick step to my left. The alarm clock struck the wall behind me and clattered to the floor.
Kat and I both froze and stared at each with unbelieving looks on our faces. We held our breaths for a moment and when the baby didn't start to wail, we both relaxed, again.
I scooped my alarm clock from the floor and walked out into the dark living room. I placed my alarm clock on the coffee table without bothering to check it---it was always set for five am---and stretched out on the sofa. It was only a matter of seconds before I fell sound asleep.
It seemed like only seconds later, I awoke to the sound of my son crying in his room. Still half asleep, I staggered through the darkness to his room, just off the landing, at the head of the stairs, and scooped little Timmy from his crib.
The kitchen light was already on and Kat had Timmy's bottle waiting for him. While she fed our son, she looked at me.
"Now, listen," she said, in a firm, decisive voice. "I know how much your boxing means to you. And if that's your dream, then it's my dream, too. I just don't want to see you get hurt is all. Do you understand what I'm telling you?"
"Yes, I do. Do you still love me?"
She smiled. "Oh, sweetie. Don't you know by now, that just because I get mad at you sometimes, that doesn't mean I don't love you anymore."
"I do now."
"Good. And just remember one thing. You're married to me, not your father."
Kat laughed. "You can come back to bed now," she said.