Category: Romance Stories

The Plumber's Daughter Ch. 04

by beagle9690©

Author's Note: as with the previous Chapters I continue to delve in detail into Marie and Patrick's past and hint of their future to put their Romance and deep feeling for each other into perspective. Some won't like the story for its lack of constant vicarious sex. While others will like it for the balance of both in keeping with the Romance that it is.

*****

MARIE:

IT'S A SMALL MIRACLE; despite the telephone call in the kitchen when Patrick had Dad banging his telephone on the table; my blue knight received from my father what my ex husband couldn't in our 16 years of marriage...Dad's respect.

Actually three small miracles occurred; two on the first day of our visit and the 3rd during lunch the next. My father hugged him and thanked him for bringing me home to them. Dad kissed Patrick's cheek catching Patrick completely by surprise. My love's eyes got big like when I kissed him in Macy's in front of the clerk and I stuck my tongue in his mouth. My blue knight glanced in my direction and I smiled and nodded to assure him it's my father's way so get used to it from now on.

Dad stepped back with his hands on Patrick's shoulders looking him directly in the eyes. This is Dad's way of apologizing, a rare occurrence under any circumstances and asked "Do you still demand an accounting from me, Son?"

"No, Sir, that field is plowed under," and he hugged Dad briefly slapping his back...minus kissing Dad on the cheek of course...that first happened on the day our twins were born and that was the first time I saw Patrick cry...and Dad was crying along with him as they hugged Sam who was standing between them twisting his ball cap in his hands "happier than a Blue Jay in a field of sunflowers" one of his many quaint expressions and just as thrilled, Sam barely managing not to cry now that he was a grandfather; the dear sweet man that he is.

I mentioned a third small miracle...an astonishing sharing of tradition with an outsider to the family; the men in the Bernardino family, especially my Dad's two brothers now living in Connecticut, cling tightly to the tradition of who receives a heel from the bread. It is a serious matter with them. At family gathering there are enough loaves of crusty Italian bread for each to have their accorded heel. Nonetheless, regardless of who is hosting the get together; the first heel from the first loaf cut always goes to Dad; it's our Tradition that goes way back in our family.

My Nonno Aldo, Dad's father took both heels from the bread when he was alive. Bread is sliced by the oldest male at the table and the basket is passed around after we say grace. Dad is the eldest son and after Nonno died, Dad sliced the bread and had his choice of heels.

He dropped out of school at 17 and worked two jobs to take care of his mother and his younger brothers; Vincent 13 and Rico 15. They found part-time jobs after school to help out. There was no way the Bernardino brothers will allow their mother to clean houses for other people to support the family. Dad wisely gave Uncle Rico a heel to keep peace and harmony among his brothers and in turn Rico gave Vincent half of his.

Dad and Patrick were sitting next to each other at the kitchen table. There was a large antipasto platter and fruit on the table. Mom and I were sitting beside our men. Dad sliced off the heels from the bread and put them on Patrick's plate...the first seed of the plowed field and Patrick gave one back to Dad, nodding in acknowledgement. My father's gesture of respect was solemnly accepted and returned and both Mom and I wiped a tear from our eyes.

I first shared the story of the tradition of bread with my Blue Knight while we were sitting at the farm on the porch swing wrapped in a quilt. It was a wonderful starlit night and we were listening to the crickets. Over our antipasto salad, Patrick told my parents how his father always received the liver, gizzard, heart and neck from the turkey or chicken served at a meal regardless of the bounty before them.

His Dad did it to remember the hard times. Patrick's father joked that he was so poor while growing up when the Great Depression came he thought it was an improvement. Patrick described how during the Depression his grandfather and father raised chickens to be canned for their own consumption and nothing went to waste; including the feet from which his mother made a flavorful broth for chicken soup and they were thankful to get it. He joked it took 24 chicken feet to make a cup of broth, however, that one cup kept him on his feet all day long.

Patrick described when he was growing up how they rarely purchased beef being Dairy Farmers. Eventually a cow aged to the point where it stopped producing enough milk to become a source of beef, however tough, to be canned by his mother or traded off for a spring lamb or a hog to be butchered.

Granted, both Patrick and his Dad had a roof over their heads and enough to eat while growing up. It is the little things and luxuries that I've always taken for granted while growing up such as a new this or that. At times Patrick had to settle for used or hand-me-downs. I went regularly to a beauty parlor with my Mom and my Dad to a barber.

Patrick's Mom cut his hair and his father's hair and she used her skills as a seamstress to put aside a small portion the money she earned to go to a beautician; her one luxury in life. I've seen photos of his mother and she was a strikingly beautiful woman. They had so much; and they had so little; and they had what money can't buy: it put into perspective the first time I brought him a cup of coffee, something that pleased him so much; and after, we sat on the front porch swing wrapped in a quilt listening to the crickets and watching the fireflies.

My Dad needled Patrick about not having indoor plumbing on the farm and they didn't until 1965. Electricity in the farm house came a mere 10 years earlier and only after they did the barns first.

Patrick's father was also a staunch optimist and great admirer of Will Rogers. He quoted him in part saying "We farmers have to be optimists or we wouldn't still be farmers." After lunch, Dad and Patrick went to Dad's social club to play Bocce.

DOMANIC BERNARDINO:

IF MARY HADN"T INTERCEEDED I would've cried uncle or received a sore or sprained hand for my stubbornness. While I was in the bathroom washing my face and changing my shirt, I was contemplating 'Here is a man who possibly might be good enough for my daughter despite the motorcycle. Patrick was holding back out of respect for an older man.' He has a sense of humor and apparently he can dish it out as well as take it but who ever heard of a Marine with a Purple Heart who doesn't curse or swear at all. Joe did some checking on him. He assured me Patrick is a good and decent man. He assured me Marie is in safe hands and given my daughter's temper and sometimes saucy mouth, Patrick will be a good match for her.

I can accept Patrick marrying her if that's what Marie wants. I've noticed the way he looks at my daughter and she him. I'll ride on a motorcycle to hell and back if they give me grandchildren and not care where they live.

It's six blocks to my Social Club and we decided to walk. We stopped at a small Market owned by a friend of mine. I wanted to get a fresh can of talcum powder to get a good grip on the ball. As we were leaving two young men entered who I will refer to as rabbits as you shall soon understand why. They were wearing ridiculously expensive sneakers, hoodies and baggy carpenter jeans and the fools underpants were showing.

One went to the back of the store and the other to the checkout counter. It is said New Yorkers are cold and unfriendly and never get involved and that is a load of crap; not this New Yorker; although crappers are an integral part of my livelihood...a little plumber humor here...I digress; this is my neighborhood and they have no business here causing trouble or worse.

I looked at Patrick and we were thinking the same thing; that confident half smile he returned was all I needed to know...game on...they cast the pallino and we went back into the store to finish their game.

The black rabbit at the counter pulled out a large Gurkha Kukri knife, almost a short sword that was hidden under his sweatshirt and began violently slashing and chopping the items on the counter near the cash register demanding all the money. I knew Patrick had a large bowie knife concealed under his jacket and wondered if there was going to be knife play. Joe told me Patrick was an amateur fencer.

I glanced to my future son-in-law and he was nowhere to be seen...mere seconds later a heavy metal display rack full of snack pastries came screeching across the floor like a speeding freight train full of Twinkies, Zingers and Ding-Dongs with Patrick as the caboose...talk about a sugar rush.

Not to be left out I jumped aboard too ride the rails and pushing together we slammed the "fruit of the loom" underpants showing against the counter and pushed the rack over the top of him as he slashed ineffectually with the Kukri knife before we pinned him to the floor.

So much for his big knife when I stomped on his hand to make him let go of it and I kicked it away. Sal came from around the counter and sat on the rack to weigh it down...good idea! Yes, he struggled to escape; cursing and threatening to kill us if we didn't let him up...easily solved...I banged the black rabbits head on the floor until he stopped squealing and lay still and behaved.

With him out of the game it was three good guys to one bad guy. Patrick went to the back to flush the other one out...how did he describe it to my friends at the St. Nicolas Social Club over drinks? Oh yes, "like a beagle flushing a coney out of a thorn patch". The mangy rabbit came running down the dry goods isle holding onto his baggy pants to keep from tripping on them with Patrick close behind snapping at his heels.

Oh well, flushing rabbits is a young man's sport, while Bocce is mine so I stepped to one side as Patrick's 6' tall plus white rabbit tried to run past me; he didn't make it. I tripped him and sent him wildly flailing his arms and legs as he slid stomach down across the floor; halfway out the door and partway on the sidewalk. He hit his head on the door frame on the way out leaving him momentarily stunned. Confused, he crawled all the way out with his pants half off. He sat up and leaned against a fire hydrant as a small crowd started to gather.

Patrick picked up my canvas bag full of bocce balls as he walked outside and stopped, taking one out and dropping the bag to the sidewalk. He rolled it between his finger and palm; tossing it up in the air twice to gauge its weight and density. He ordered the white rabbit to stay put and wait for the Police to arrive.

Getting his second wind the rabbit pulled his pants up. He ran about 50 feet before Patrick wound up like a pitcher on the mound and threw it like a fast ball, hitting him between the shoulder blades and knocking him off his feet again while New York's Finest arrived to answer the stores silent alarm...

PATRICK:

THE LOOK IN HIS EYES assured me he had my back and Marie is right; her Dad is not one to mess with. It's fortunate the handshake didn't escalate because I surmise my future father-in-law is a lot like Sam; he will go all out in a fight with no holds barred. He didn't hesitate a second to help me and banged that mangy flea-bit rabbit's head on the floor to subdue him; smart move.

Mr. Bernardino knew both those Patrolman by their first names. They took our statements and advised us they'd contact us if something further came up. Most likely those two mangy flea bitten rabbits will plea out at armament saving me to return for a trial.

What a great bunch of guys at the Saint Nicks Club; they made me feel right at home when Mr. Bernardino introduced me around. I took a great deal of good natured kidding about my Bocce technique of throwing overhand instead of underhand and the drinks flowed like an artesian spring. I played baseball at a young age and built up my pitching arm, starting by throwing rocks. If they fit in my hand I threw it and as I grew larger and stronger so did the size of the rocks.

I never had the time after school to use the fancy equipment in the weight room; the hard manual farm work had the same effect and there was plenty of lifting, pulling, bending and squatting there. I've picked enough rocks out of the fields and especially as a teenager until I joined the Marines. Sam hired me out to do his fields to earn spending money. He gave his two champion prize winning stud draft horses, Caster and Pollex a workout. One or the other pulled the oversize wood sledge and I'd fill it with rocks. Sometimes Anne would help out to lead the horses for him. She was a tomboy in those days; all rough and tumble.

It was a bit awkward after I turned her down for the dance though. She was all business then, although she did see to it I had plenty of cold water and sandwiches because of the agreement I made with her Dad. I was obtuse to the fact that she really liked me; more than liked me. We did play together as small children; our Dad's being best friends.

I've never played Bocce before so the guys took me outside to the clay courts to demonstrate the finer techniques of the game. This is the real New York City and the many good people who live here; they're the people the media seldom talks about because it's the bad news that sells. Mr. Bernardino actually called people at home to come and join us and in all the drinking and eating and celebrating, we forgot completely about Marie and Mary.

DOMANIC BERNARDINO:

WHEN WE ARRIVED AT THE CLUB, I took Patrick right to the bar and introduced him around. I left him alone for a while to make some telephone calls and then we celebrated with everyone there and anyone who came later. We watched the news report about us on the TV in between going to the courts to teach him the game. Patrick was very at ease there and I'll say another thing for him; the man doesn't have short arms. They reach into his pockets to put his money on the bar to buy round after round of drinks when his turn came up and apparently he can hold his liqueur. It will be a challenge to drink him under the table. I haven't had a good toot like this in years.

MARY BERNARDINO:

IT WAS ALMOST 10:00 PM and the boys weren't home yet. Patrick wasn't answering his cell phone. Just before we left to go to St. Nicks we received a telephone call from Mrs. Goldstein who was excited that there was a hero living in the brownstone next door. Rachel went on to describe the 10:00 PM news story she saw about them.

We went online to the local station's website and found a brief earlier interview of one of the thug's mother. She went on and on to describe what a good boy he is; everybody likes him at her church and how he sings in the choir. He was enrolled at city college and all the other blah, blah; the etcetera, etcetera, plus the usual explanations, accusations and excuses why he is the real victim here.

Marie and I drove to the club see exactly what they were up to and it was a good thing we did. The men were in no condition to walk home and had a snoot full.

MARIE:

THEY WERE SITTING AT A CORNER TABLE talking quietly with a half empty bottle of Jim Beam Black and two shot glasses. They both were disheveled and relaxed and they had smiles on their faces. They were obviously having a great time. When we walked to their table, Dad stood up and teetered in place for a second or two before sitting back down to finish his shot and boy was he plastered.

Patrick finished his shot, stood up and bowed to us announcing "Ladies, my Queen" he kissed my hand "please forgive us for not calling. We lost all track of...of ...of what we were doing. Isn't that right Dominic?

My Dad nodded and slurring his words slightly said "We're running a tab so please sit down and have a drink with us. I've about had enough or not; what about you Patrick? Are you ready to admit I'll be the last man standing? "There's half a bottle of fine Bourbon whiskey left" Patrick replied.

"Good point Son" and Dad filled both their glasses and they drank them down before he asked us "Do you know what happened?"

"Yes, Dom" my Mom teased "One of the sweet little darlings mother claims you and Patrick brutalized those innocent and misunderstood youth who walked into Sal's store to buy milk and cupcakes and the knife was for self-protection. Thank you but we'll pass on the drinks."

"Wait that's not" Patrick started to say so I put my finger on his lips and whispered "Mom's teasing." "Oh...oh, I get it" he whispered "Marie, I really like your father." "I can tell, sweetheart, but don't you think you've had enough to drink?" "Nag, nag, nag, and we aren't even...even hitched yet." I realized he was teasing me "Yeah, I'm feeling pretty mellow and your Dad is trying to drink me under the table. Can you get me out of this?" he whispered kissing my cheek.

"What are you too whispering about?" my Dad asked. "Patrick says he's really likes you Daddy and is proud to have met you." "Did he now" my Dad said standing suddenly with the help of Mom holding on to steady him as Patrick nodded in agreement. "I like him too, Princess; he has guts. Your mother and I are coming to visit you on his homestead. I want to see where my grandbabies are going to be living."

"What grandbabies? Do you know something I don't know and when were you going to tell me about the trip, Dom?" My Mom asked. "What babies, Patrick?" I asked "Shouldn't I be part of that equation or are you and Dad planning for the stork to deliver them? I imagine you and Dad have already picked out their names." I just had to tease him about it. "Oh, boy" he said grinning "thanks for all the help."

"I believe I just did, Mary" Dad answered her "A change of scenery can do us both good." "But Dom, you hate to leave the City. I practically have to use dynamite to get you to Connecticut to visit your brothers." "Patrick says he can fix Dad's old Barlow knife and he wants my advice about updating his plumbing; it's over 50 years since it was put in."

"Do you mean that old pocket knife in your sock drawer with the broken blade and bone handles? I asked "Yes that's the one" Dad replied. "And you sweetheart" I said hugging Patrick and kissing his cheek "What's all this talk about babies? We're not even engaged yet, let alone hitched, Mr. Buchanan!"

"I um, I ah" he started to say when Dad piped in "How about we discuss everything over coffee and pie?" thinking he was coming to Patrick's defense and getting out of the drinking situation gracefully "we've both had enough to drink and don't need to prove anything, right son?" "Yup nothing at all" Patrick answered going along "sure, coffee and pie sounds great!"

The excitement at the store and following celebration really took their toll on my Dad who fought to stay awake on the short ride home. Dad fell asleep in his chair before the coffee finished brewing so Mom quietly ushered him off to bed and joined him leaving Patrick and me alone together for the first time since we got here. After I finished putting the pie away and the coffee to cool for iced coffee tomorrow, I changed into the long pale yellow flannel night gown I found in the bottom drawer of the dresser in my old room. I found him Patrick sitting the long way on the couch in his tee shirt and boxers and he was partially covered with a cotton blanket. I kicked off my fuzzy yellow slippers, another thing Mom saved for me like the nightgown and snuggled up between his legs before putting my head on his chest. Patrick kissed the top of my head and put his arms around me. He sighed contentedly saying "I think I overdid the drinking a bit. You're not angry or annoyed at me are you?"

Category: Romance Stories