Meet the Baumgartners

Selena Kitt
4 mins read
Published almost 3 years ago
Chapter 8

Meet the Baumgartners (Chapter 8)

It was almost dinner time when Carrie woke and remembered Maureen. 

“What is it?” Doc murmured, his eyes still closed. He’d sensed she was awake.

“I have to call the hotel and get my messages.” 

“Want me to get the phone for you?” Doc asked when she gave no indication of moving out of his arms. 

“No, I’ll do it.” When she finally untangled her limbs from Doc’s, she discovered her assumption had been correct—Maureen had left her a message. “Mo wants me to meet her at Captain Tony’s in…” She glanced at the digital clock on the nightstand. “An hour.”

“Did she say anything else?” 

Carrie shook her head. 

“Well let’s go then. Besides, there’s something I want to show you.”

Doc insisted on making them something to eat—sandwiches—before they left, and she hadn’t brought any extra clothes, so she insisted they stop by her hotel so she could change. Doc flipped through the TV while she fussed in the bathroom, and he gave a low whistle when she came out wearing a white sundress and sandals. 

“Nice.” He sat up, admiring her, first with his eyes, and then with his hands, running them up the backs of her bare thighs.

“Let’s go before we end up staying…” she murmured as his hands cupped her behind.

“I wouldn’t mind…” He tilted his head up and she leaned down to kiss him, briefly, then grabbed his hand and pulled him toward the door. 

The bar wasn’t too crowded yet. Doc ordered them some “pirate’s punch” which proved to be fantastically good and had Carrie relaxed in minutes. They sat at the bar and talked for a while, but every time Doc touched her arm or her hip, she would remember the morning they’d spent together and her whole body felt lit up. 

“So, I told you I wanted to show you something.” Doc helped her off the bar stool and led her through the bar. There was a tree—a live tree—growing up through the floor. They passed it, coming to a roped-off out-of-the-way corner. “Guess what that is?”

“A bar stool?” She stated the obvious.

“Not just any bar stool.” He grinned. “Guess who sat on that bar stool?”

“Ernest Hemingway.” The deep, booming voice came from behind them and Carrie turned to see a big, gray-bearded man wearing a Hawaiian shirt and khaki shorts. “Every day for twelve years. Three o’clock on the nose.”

“Hey Cap’n!” Doc exclaimed, clapping the old man on the back. “I was hoping I’d run into you.”

“Where’s your mom and dad?” the old man inquired.

Doc shook his head. “Just me this time—came with a bunch of friends for summer break.”

“And who’s this?” The gray-bearded man turned his attention to Carrie.

“I’m Carrie,” she replied, holding her hand out.

Doc made introductions. “Carrie, this is Captain Tony.”

“The Captain Tony?”

“Yes ma’am.” He tipped his white sailor’s hat at her as he shook her hand. “Meetcha.” 

“I can’t believe Hemingway actually sat here.” Carrie turned her attention back to the vinyl-covered barstool. 

“Would you like to sit on it?” Captain Tony asked.

Her eyes lit up. “Could I?”

“Well, you have to make an offering,” Doc said, grinning. 

She gave him a sideways look, already suspicious. “What kind of offering?”

Captain Tony cleared his throat and pointed at the ceiling. She hadn’t noticed before—although how she’d missed it was beyond her—but the entire ceiling was full of bras of all shapes and sizes. 

“You’re kidding me.” She stared at them both, then up at the ceiling, then back to Hemingway’s barstool. 

“Okay… okay, fine.” She reached behind her back and unhooked her bra through her sundress, pulling one strap off, and then the other, slipping the entire thing out through one of the armholes. 

“Here.” She held it up, not realizing until that moment that they were being watched. The whole bar cheered and the bartender snapped a Polaroid of her holding up her underthings. Then he hopped over the bar holding a staple gun.

“I’ll take that.” He stepped up onto one of the stools and stapled her white cotton bra to the ceiling overlapping a leopard print bra and another made of red satin lace. 

Captain Tony opened the red velvet rope and waved her through. “Have a seat!”

Carrie wasn’t going to give up her prize, and she made sure Doc got the Polaroid camera from behind the bar to take a picture of her on Hemingway’s barstool. 

“Worth it?” he asked, still grinning.

Carrie glanced up at her bra, up there for all to see. “Totally.”

Doc ordered more pirate’s punch for them both and then asked, “Shouldn’t she be here?”

Carrie sipped her drink and nodded. “She’s notoriously late.”

“High maintenance sort of girl?”

“I love her, but she’s…” Carrie shrugged one shoulder.

“Spoiled?”

She smiled, but she couldn’t help but think of her friend fondly anyway. “You could say that.” 

“But you’re not.” He took a drink and looked at her. “Spoiled, I mean.”

“I don’t know.” Carrie looked thoughtful. “I probably would have been if…” She let the rest of her thought trail off, but Doc filled in the blanks. 

“The accident?”

“Foster families don’t really spoil their kids,” she said. “Especially when they’re very… religious. Very fundamentally, evangelically religious.”

“Don’t look at me.” Doc held his hands up in a warding off gesture when she glanced over at him. “My parents are both lapsed Methodists. No fire and brimstone here.”

She smiled. “That’s good.”

“Hey you.” Maureen breezed in, all cleaned up, wearing a respectable navy blue sundress and a matching hat with a little white daisy on the front. “Sorry I’m late.”

“That’s okay,” Carrie waved her apology away as Doc slipped off the barstool beside her.

“I’ll be back,” he said, excusing himself, and Carrie knew he was just giving them time.

“Guess what, Care-Bear?” Maureen’s eyes were over bright, even in the dim bar. Carrie knew, somehow she just knew, but she played dumb.

“What, Mo?”

“He asked me to marry him!” Maureen squealed, holding out her left hand and showing off the biggest diamond Carrie had ever seen. 

“I’m so happy for you.” Carrie hugged her friend, swallowing hard. What else could she do? “If you’re happy… are you happy?”

“Of course I’m happy!” Maureen exclaimed, waving her left hand around again. “He’s going to seminary next year, and we’ll live in married housing.” 

“Good thing he’s not Catholic,” Carrie joked, sipping her pirate’s punch. “So I guess we won’t be roommates next year.”

Maureen’s eyes softened and she leaned in, touching her forehead to Carrie’s. “Well, we knew that would have to end sometime.”

“Right.” Carrie managed to smile. “Well, I’m happy for you. Really, I am.” Who was she trying to convince?

“He’s waiting for me outside.” Maureen waved the bartender—the same one she’d been ogling the night before—away when he asked what she wanted to drink. “I’m leaving with him today. Tonight. We’re going to Vegas.”

“But your ticket…”

“It’s transferable.” She shrugged. 

“Your parents are going to have a heart attack.” Carrie tried to imagine Mrs. Holmes—Maureen’s immaculately dressed and coiffed mother—when she discovered her daughter had eloped to Vegas. “And I won’t get to be your maid of honor…”

Maureen laughed, putting her arms around Carrie’s neck and kissing her cheek. She smelled just of Jovan Musk now—no more tequila. “We’ll have a big wedding next year. I just want to seal the deal. If I don’t do it now…” Her voice trailed off and Carrie’s thoughts completed the sentence in her head, You’ll never do it at all. 

Part of her wanted to beg Maureen to reconsider, to stay in Key West, hell, to spend another night with her and Doc for that matter. It felt as if her friend was heading down a road she couldn’t travel… and vice versa. 

“I promise, you will get to wear a godawful bridesmaid dress.” Maureen giggled into Carrie’s ear. She pressed her lips there, just behind Carrie’s ear, making her shiver. 

“Come on, Maureen.” It was James, standing tall behind them. “I’m double parked out there.” 

Maureen slipped off the bar stool, leaning in to whisper, “I love you Care-Bear… I gotta run.”

“Love you, too, Mo...” Carrie’s words never reached her friend’s ears. Maureen was already halfway to the door by the time she got them out. 

Then Doc was there, putting his arms around her, holding her up. “Are you okay?”

“She’s marrying him. Tonight. They’re going to Vegas.” The words were a shock, said out loud that way.

“I heard.” So he hadn’t been far. “I’m sorry.”

Carrie swallowed, looking toward the door where Maureen had disappeared. “She’s got to live her own life.” 

“We all do,” Doc murmured against her ear. 

She nodded, resting her head on his chest. “I just kind of hoped we might be going the same direction…”

“Well, maybe you’ll find someone else who’s going your way,” he whispered, his arms tightening around her.

She smiled, hugging him back. “Maybe I already have.”