Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold

BOOK: Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold
8.81Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold

J. L. Salter

 

δ

Dingbat Publishing

Humble, Texas

 

In addition to the complete text of
Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold
, this ebook also includes two sample chapters from J.L. Salter's
Rescued by That New Guy in Town
, plus two sample chapters from
Bob Ross, Vampire Hunter
by Rob Marsh, also available from Dingbat Publishing.

 

CURING THE UNCOMMON MAN-COLD

Copyright © 2013 by Jeffrey L. Salter

ISBN 978-1-940520-07-0

 

Published by Dingbat Publishing

Humble, Texas

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without written consent, excepting brief quotes used in reviews.

eBooks cannot be sold, shared, uploaded to
Torrent
sites,
or given away
because that’s an infringement on the copyright of this work.

This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and events are entirely the produce of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual locals, events, or organizations is coincidental.

This book is licensed to the original purchaser only. Duplication or distribution via any means is illegal and a violation of International Copyright Law, subject to criminal prosecution and upon conviction, fines and/or imprisonment. No part of this e-book can be reproduced or sold by any person or business without the express permission of the publisher.

Dedication

If I dedicate this novel to my wife, people will naturally assume that I’m a big baby when I get a cold. Oh, well, what the heck… dedicated to Denise Williams Salter.

Chapter 1

August 10 (Monday)

 

“I don’t think I can hold up…” Amanda’s eyes were full. “Jason just left the doctor.” Her apartment suddenly felt smaller.

“What on earth is wrong?” Her friend Christine had just arrived and already plopped down on the small sofa. “Cancer? Paralysis?” She probably pictured even worse diagnoses because Christine zealously read supermarket tabloids.

Amanda groaned softly.

Christine grabbed her younger friend’s shoulders. “You’ll feel better if you talk about it.” She moistened her lips slightly. Medical news was known to be among her favorites, along with stories about nasty divorces.

Amanda looked for her nearest tissue box. “It’s… a… man-cold.”

Christine sighed heavily. “Don’t wind me up like that. I thought this was a real
situation
.”

“It is!” Amanda had been home from work about twenty minutes and still had her heels on. “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

“Just ship that basket case back to his momma.” Christine snapped her fingers. “Let Margaret wait on him hand and foot for the next week.”

“More likely two weeks. Remember when he was sick in January?”

“I thought he had triple-Nashville-man-ditis or something.”

Amanda nodded. “Totally helpless. He could barely use the bathroom by himself.”

“Look, Jason was overindulged from the get-go. I bet Margaret nursed him too long. Ship him back.”

“I can’t.” Amanda closed her eyes. “She absolutely won’t take him.”

“His own momma?”

“The last time a sick Jason stayed at her place, it nearly put Margaret in the hospital.” Amanda lowered her voice. “She said Jason moaned every waking hour. Hardly ever moved from her couch for over a week… and he
limped
, for cryin’ out loud!” Amanda shook her head. “I can’t live with that.”

“You can’t let him stay here! You won’t survive two days with Jason’s sick-over.” Christine sputtered. “There’s got to be somewhere else… somebody else. Maybe he can bunk with a buddy.”

“A buddy? Just picture irresponsible Kevin trying to assist helpless Jason who’s down with a deadly illness. Kevin would hightail it out of his own apartment so quick you’d think he just spotted a fumigation fog sliding under his door.”

“Slow down and rethink this.” Christine touched her friend’s forearm. “Do you really know this person well enough to nurse him back from near-terminal man-sniffles?”

“Know him? We’ve been sleeping together since the Halloween party last year. My place
and
his!”

Christine leaned in closer, even though she should have remembered this development. “At his place too?”

“Three times.” Amanda was prepared to list the dates.

“Hmm. That is serious, I guess.” Christine waved her hand briefly. “Okay. So you do have an investment, so to speak. The issue is how to tend Jason enough that it even registers with him, yet not so much that the effort kills you.”

“Now you understand why I’m freaking.” Amanda moaned again. “Not to mention these are my Hell Weeks at work.”

Verdeville was about twenty miles east of Nashville’s Interstate loop. Amanda Moore’s current crunch was reviewing applications from every Greene County agency seeking federal grants. Some thought she was too inexperienced, at age twenty-eight, for such a significant role and she was not taken very seriously in county government offices because of her shapely legs and hips.

“Okay, back up. Let’s say you were in-the-bed ill, with doctor-ordered bed rest.” Christine’s hand went horizontal. “Would Jason take care of you at
his
apartment?”

“Are you kidding? He’d tell me he’d been evicted and show me a cell phone picture of a notice on his door.”

“Okay, you’re catching on. So, tit for tat.” Christine Powers crossed tanned arms beneath her augmented bosom. Divorced for about four years, she was financially secure because of her lucrative alimony settlement. Frankly, she had too much free time on her hands: brunette Christine had lots of urges and often followed up on them — she behaved more like a redhead. “In fact, if you were the one sick, I’ll bet Jason wouldn’t even help you here at
your
place.”

Amanda merely shrugged.

“Of course not.” Christine showed a satisfied smile. “I’m glad I was able to talk sense into you.”

“You realize I’ve got to help Jason.”

“Why? He’s obviously not worth it.”

“I do actually love him, you know.” Amanda sighed.

“Give me one reason.” Christine rolled her eyes. “And don’t go way back to him rescuing you at that New Year’s Eve party. Jason did real good in a scary situation, but you can’t let him coast forever on a single night of good ole boy gallantry.”

Actually, Jason had been Amanda’s very chivalrous knight that memorable evening nineteen months ago, and his rescue was both literal and figurative. However, Amanda loved Jason more for the connection they’d made since then. “Well, right now I can only think of his eyes — they’re deep and soulful… and loyal.”

“A spaniel has interesting eyes and loyalty. Get a dog.” Christine was uncommonly pragmatic at times. “And that’s his most endearing quality?”

It was sometimes difficult to ignore Christine’s negative attitude toward the man in Amanda’s life.
Why does she
have it in
for Jason?

Christine frowned. “So you actually intend to cancel your own home life for the next two weeks and baby Jason?”

“Don’t really have a choice. I can’t totally refuse to help my boyfriend. But I don’t think I’ll survive his sickness.”

“Okay, the only workable option is he stays in his own apartment and you bring deli soup each evening.”

“You must be joking.” Amanda bent forward until her face nearly met her knees. “He’ll be on Facebook and e-mail telling everyone he’s been abandoned to die. Somebody would probably start up a blog to raise donations for his cure.”

“Yeah. He does tend toward the dramatic. Probably got that from his momma, too. When boy babies nurse that long, they suck in a lot of drama.” Christine didn’t explain her certainty that Jason had spent more than the typical phase at Margaret’s breast. “Plus, I thought guys who played all those team sports didn’t get sick. This is weird.”

“You know, it is pretty suspicious that he fell ill during the one sliver of August when none of his leagues have any games scheduled.”

Christine’s mind obviously churned. “I still say there’s got to be another solution.”

“I’ve been pulling my hair out, looking for it.” Amanda tugged on the longer front tresses of her inverted bob cut — honey brown coloring this year. “I hate guys getting man-sick. If you and I had a cold like that, we’d just keep on going.” She moaned again. “I’m in for total misery with no escape. He’ll sit around in his jammies all day, contemplating what’s inside his jammies. Guess what he’s thinking about while I’m at work all day.”

“Sex… with you.”

Amanda nodded and closed her expressive blue eyes. “One time in that January siege, I was up all night bringing water or pills… or just listening to him whimper. I dragged myself to work, put up with nine hours of B.S. from my boss, and then crawled home. There was Jason — a stupid smile on his face, sprawled on the couch in those ratty jammies.”

“Just hand him the December
Cosmo
and tell him you’ve got a headache.” Christine looked into her friend’s tear-stained face. “You didn’t fall for that old routine.”

“I did, back then, but I’ve wised up. So it’s mainly a matter of extra guilt.” Amanda recalled the previous occasion. “Don’t even get me started about the mucous and coughing… plus he hadn’t showered in two days. Yuck.”

Christine’s expression clearly indicated she shared that characterization.

Amanda slowly toppled over onto the vacant cushion. “I feel sick myself. Maybe I’ll go home to
my
mom.”

“Arizona? In August?” Christine poked her friend’s shoulder. “Just pull up your big-girl panties and tell him no. Jason cannot stay here with you, period. Just break the news quick and steel yourself against his whining.”

“I can’t. I’ve been trying to tell you: he’s already on his way over. Right now.”

Christine quickly began gathering her belongings. “You’ve got two choices…”

“Suicide is one. What’s the other?”

“Seriously. This is the time to decide if Jason’s going to remain part of your life. Because if he does, this ultra-high maintenance side of him is going to kill you.”

“What’s the second choice?” Amanda tried to look hopeful.

Christine shrugged. “Become his nurse, errand girl, and sex slave for the next two weeks.”

Amanda’s tears gathered again. “Well, there’s one thing I won’t do. Absolutely will not do.”

Christine nodded solemnly. “I wouldn’t do that, either, ’specially if he hadn’t showered.”

“No. I mean I’m not going to call in sick for him.” Amanda clamped her jaw shut. “Jason can make his own calls every morning.”

“Oh, I thought you meant the other thing.” Christine held up her hand, signaling a new subject. “Well, if Jason does stay here, he sleeps on the couch.”

“No, too much in my way out here. Back in my guestroom.”

“You couldn’t fit a sick hamster in there.”

“I cleaned it up, a little.” Amanda had not intended it to sound so defensive.

“Show me.”

Amanda escorted her friend down the short hall to the guestroom. Boxes were stacked along one wall and a single bed occupied a corner. Extending from another wall was a treadmill with a long row of clothes hanging on each handrail.

“I didn’t know you also had exercise equipment in here.”

“Mom insisted on leaving it here when she and Dad moved to Tempe.” Amanda shrugged. “I only use it for closet overflow.”

“I did that with Daniel’s treadmill for a few years. Works better if you stack bricks under each back corner.” Christine pointed. “That helps level out the handrails so the clothes hangers won’t slide down to this end.”

Amanda fleetingly wondered where she could find some free bricks. “Well, anyway, a human can certainly fit in here.”

“Okay, I guess so, since you’ve got that path through all those boxes. Might need a map, though.” Christine obviously didn’t approve. “Although now that I think about it, you don’t really want him too comfortable. So maybe this hamster nest is a good idea after all.”

“It doesn’t matter where he stays, really. In this tiny apartment, he’ll never be more than about twenty feet away. Coughing, whimpering, calling for whatever kind of attention.”

They left the cluttered guestroom and returned to the living space. Amanda crumpled to the couch and curled into a crescent. She knew the dreaded uncommon man-cold was incurable — so nobody even tried. They just gritted their teeth and stuck it out… or they packed up and left. Not many options. “You’ve got to help me.”

“Sorry, there’s no cure.” Christine started to leave, but stopped suddenly. Her eyes brightened and her fingers twitched slightly. “Unless…” She sat again. “Well, it’s a long shot, but theoretically possible.”

Amanda straightened slowly and pulled hair from her damp eyes. A few strands stuck in the corner of her mouth where drool had started to collect. “Do you have a plan?”

BOOK: Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold
8.81Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The Best I Could by R. K. Ryals
Vivir y morir en Dallas by Charlaine Harris
The French Revolution by Matt Stewart
Doubtful Canon by Johnny D Boggs
Blindness by Ginger Scott
Nobody's Goddess by Amy McNulty
Rough Trade by Dominique Manotti