NOTE: Ghost Town-ing is a series of stories that follow Pat and Sherry (Fast Break) as they explore some of the places Jesse and Jennifer (the Sweetwater Saga) visited. Although these stories are connected, each episode stands by itself and you do not have to wait for the entire series to be completed. Nor is it necessary for you to read the Sweetwater Saga series and Fast Break to understand these stories but it is highly recommended.
This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of the author.
PART FOUR - INTERLUDE
by Mickey Minner
"Are you feeling okay?" Pat asked Sherry as they entered the elevator after leaving the Mac's office. "You look a little pale."
"I've just got a whopper of a headache," Sherry tried to smile to hide how sick she was really feeling. "I think all the stuff Mac told us kinda got to me."
The women had spent the past few hours listening to the owner of the Missoula Cougars explain what Pat, the team's head coach, could expect when the league's representatives arrived to investigate her undue influence over her players and her relationship with her now assistant coach and lover.
"Yeah," Pat sighed punching the button to the send the elevator to the ground floor of the arena. "It's all pretty mind boggling," she reached for Sherry's hand. "Let's hope they don't drag their little inquisition out any longer than necessary. You want to grab something real to eat?" she asked after having only sweet roles and coffee to choose from during their time in Mac's office.
"No," Sherry leaned against the back wall of the elevator. "I'm really not very hungry." In truth, she wasn't sure she'd be able to keep anything down with the way her stomach was rumbling.
"Yeah," Pat sighed again. "Me either. I was thinking we could just head up to the Rattlesnake trailhead for a walk," she said, hopefully. It was a habit of hers to head for one of her favorite trails whenever she needed to sort out her thoughts and get herself re-grounded.
Sherry thought for a moment before responding. She knew how much Pat needed to spend some time in the comfort of the forest but she really just wanted to go home to bed. "How about you drop me at the house first?" she said.
"Honey, are you sure you're okay?"
"Yes," Sherry tried another smile but couldn't quite manage it. "It's just a headache. I'm sure after a nice, long nap, I'll feel fine. Just drop me off then go for your walk. By the time you get home, I'll be feeling better."
Pat smiled sadly, "alright. If you're sure."
"I'm sure," Sherry said even though she wasn't.
The elevator doors opened and the women walked silently through the empty lobby and out of the building. Pat's pickup was parked at the curb and she helped Sherry into the cab before walking around to the driver's door.
Sherry buckled her seatbelt then leaned back against the seat and closed her eyes. The leather seat was warm after soaking up the morning sun and the warmth felt good as it seeped into her body.
With a glance at Sherry, Pat inserting the key into the ignition and started the engine. Putting the pickup into gear, she considered if leaving the obvious ailing Sherry alone was the right thing to do but concluded she probably wouldn't be able to do much if she stayed especially since Sherry had said she was just going to take a nap. Calculating that she could get in a short hike and get back home before Sherry woke up Pat decided to go ahead with her original plan.
The drive to their house took less than ten minutes and when they arrived Sherry insisted that Pat not even turn off the engine. "You go on," she said opening the truck's door. "Have fun."
"Honey?" Pat was still having second thoughts about leaving Sherry.
"I'll be fine. Go on. I'll be sound asleep before you make it to the trailhead," Sherry said pushing the door shut. With a quick wave she hurried along the walkway to the front door.
Pat watched Sherry until she disappeared inside the house before backing the pickup out of the driveway. As she drove away from the house, she again questioned her decision to leave. After all, she hated to be alone when she wasn't feeling good. Maybe Sherry was the same way. But Sherry had told her to leave. True, but if their roles were reversed wouldn't she have done the same while at the same time hoping Sherry would stay with her.
The argument in her head continued for a few more blocks.
"This isn't going to work," Pat said aloud. "All I'm going to do is worry about her," she muttered as she slowed the truck approaching a stop sign. Instead of continuing through the intersection, Pat turned at the corner and headed back to the house.
As soon as Pat opened the front door, she knew she'd made the right choice in returning home. The sounds coming from the bedroom told her Sherry had more than a headache and she hurried toward the back of the house.
"Oh, honey," Pat cried, entering the bathroom to see Sherry sitting on the toilet, her head hanging over the wastebasket held between her legs. She rushed to her ailing lover's side. "Sweetheart," she gently rubbed Sherry's back as the woman continued to retch into the wastebasket.
Sherry groaned as another series of spasms clutched her stomach. She wanted to tell Pat how glad she was she'd come back but it was several minutes before she could do anything but groan and throw up.
"Finished?" Pat asked when she felt Sherry's body relax.
"I hope so," Sherry moaned.
"Sit there while I get a wet cloth to wipe your face," Pat said, stepping to the linen closet next to the bathroom door. "You've got more than a headache, don't you?" she asked sympathetically. "You should have said something," she frowned as she soaked a wash cloth in warm water, upset with herself for leaving Sherry when she should have known her lover was sicker than she said.
"Thanks for coming back," Sherry said, lowering the wastebasket to the floor. "I hate being alone when I'm sick."
Pat smiled, using the wet cloth to clean Sherry's face.
Sherry took the washcloth from Pat and held it to her face to hide her embarrassment from her lover.
"Next time, say something," Pat whispered, running her fingers soothingly through Sherry's hair. She smiled when her lover's head bopped as Sherry nodded in agreement. Leaning down she placed a kiss on Sherry's forehead then pulled back abruptly. "Honey, you're burning up," she said, now even more concerned.
"How can you tell?" Sherry looked up quizzically.
"My lips, your skin. It's better than a thermometer," Pat explained returning to the linen closet and the shelf of over-the-counter cold medications, pain killers and first aid supplies. Removing two tablets from a bottle of aspirin, she replaced the bottle of pills on the shelf. Picking up a glass off the sink, she filled it with cold water. "Take these," she told Sherry, holding out the glass in one hand and the pills in the other.
"I'm not sure they'll stay down," Sherry muttered accepting the offerings.
"If they don't we'll just try again later." Pat waited until Sherry had swallowed the aspirin. "Now, let's get you into bed."
"Let me wash this out first," Sherry reached for the wastebasket.
"I'll take care of that," Pat stopped her lover, placing the receptacle out of Sherry's reach.
"Pat, you shouldn't have to," Sherry said shyly. "It's yucky."
"Sweetheart," Pat smiled at Sherry. "I love you, the good and the yucky. I don't mind. It's all part of the 'in sickness and in health', right?"
"We aren't married," Sherry frowned. "And I hate to have you have to clean that up."
"Well, we should be. And if it'll make you feel better, I promise to throw up some time and let you clean it up," Pat laughed.
"Deal," Sherry grinned.
"Good. Now to bed with you."
Pat followed Sherry into the bedroom and helped her remove her clothes. "Put this on," she said pulling an oversized t-shirt out of a drawer in the large dresser. "It'll help keep you warm." The women normally slept in the nude but she wanted Sherry to have the extra warmth since she was already chilled with a fever.
Sherry pulled the t-shirt over her head before crawling between the sheets. "Did you just ask me to marry you?" she asked, watching Pat tuck the blankets in tightly around her body.
"No," Pat said making sure Sherry was completely cocooned by the blankets. "I said we should be married, and we should," she said bending down to kiss Sherry on the tip of the nose. "But we still have a lot to learn about each other, like how we both hate to be alone when we're sick."
"Oh," Sherry said, disappointed by Pat's answer.
"Hey," Pat softened her voice. "Someday, sweetheart," she smiled. "But I'm not…,"
"It's okay," Sherry said, struggling to pull an arm free. She reached up to caress Pat's face, "I understand." And she did. Pat had once before been on the verge of asking someone for their heart when she had had her own broken instead. If the love of her life needed more time, she was willing to wait. Just not forever. "When the time is right," she told Pat to let her know she understood.
"I love you."
"I love you too," Pat kissed Sherry again, this time on the lips.
"Uck," Sherry shivered in disgust. "That must taste awful."
"Not one of your better kisses," Pat grimaced, wiping the back of her hand roughly against her lips. "Now go to sleep."
Sherry yawned, rolling onto her side. "What are you going to do?"
"I'll get a start on those tapes Mac sent home with us." The team owner had given the women a dozen tapes of potential recruits to view. "Give a holler if you need something."
"Kay," Sherry mumbled, already falling asleep.
Pat stood smiling as she watched Sherry drift off to sleep. Deep in her heart she knew the woman in her bed would never hurt her the way Karen had and that made her love her all the more.
After washing out the wastebasket and placing it next to the bed in case Sherry needed it again, Pat retreated to the living room. She found the pile of tapes on the coffee table where Sherry had left them. Picking a tape off the stack, she moved across the room to the large entertainment center Sherry had added to the newly furnished room and put the tape into the VCR. Settling onto the couch, she turned on the television and pushed the mute button. She wasn't afraid of disturbing Sherry since she knew the sound wouldn't carry back to the bedroom, it was just that she preferred to watch the tapes in silence.
Each two hour long tape contained five to ten minutes of play highlights of different college players. Pat made notes of the players' abilities and the possible advantages or disadvantages of them playing for the Cougars which she would give to the team owner. Mac ultimately was responsible for choosing which players would be offered a spot at the upcoming Cougar tryout camp but she took her head coach's comments seriously and the picking of new players usually turned out to be a mutual decision.
After watching less than a quarter of the first tape, Pat turned off the VCR and television. She popped the tape out of the machine, grabbed the rest of the tapes and quietly walked down the hall toward the bedroom. She was worried about Sherry and sitting in the living room where she couldn't see her wasn't helping the situation.
Preferring to snuggle in bed with Pat when they watched movies, Sherry had added a television to the bedroom with a VCR/DVD player conveniently placed on the nightstand beside the bed. That way, the women were able to change movies without having to get out of bed.
Pat slipped off her shoes and jeans. It felt cool in the room even with the heater turned up for Sherry and she decided to sit on the bed with the blankets covering her legs. She eased herself gently down onto the mattress being careful not to wake her sleeping lover. Picking up the dual remote, she switched on the television again being quick to mute the sound, this time so as not to wake Sherry. Then she placed a tape into the VCR/DVD player and began watching the players being highlighted.
Pat looked down when she heard Sherry moan softly. She smiled watching her sleeping lover scoot closer to her and wrap an arm around her legs. "Love you too, sweetie," she whispered, laying her hand tenderly on the back of Sherry's head.
Sherry woke up with her bladder screaming for relief. "Ugh," she moaned.
"Hey," Pat hit the pause button when Sherry whimpered in pain as her stomach muscles protested being awakened. "How're you feeling?"
"Like I've been run over by a bus," Sherry muttered, rolling away from Pat to get out of bed.
"Where are you going?"
"I have to pee," Sherry grumbled, childishly. She hated being sick and she didn't care if she sounded like a baby.
Pat smirked, watching Sherry walk into the bathroom. Then she tossed the blankets aside to follow her. "You should take some more aspirin," she said as she pulled the bottle off the shelf. "I'll get you some juice to take these with. You want orange, cranberry or apple."
"Apple," Sherry groaned, holding her ribs. Why did throwing up always make you hurt so much she wondered not for the first time in her life.
"Apple it is," Pat grinned. "I'll be right back."
"Goodie," Sherry sighed. "I get to be tended to by little Miss Nurse Cheerful," she grumbled even though she was enjoying the special attention. She managed to brush her teeth and crawl back into bed before Pat reappeared with her promised glass of juice.
"Here you go," Pat said placing the glass on the nightstand next to Sherry's side of the bed. "And I made you some toast in case you're hungry."
"Thanks," Sherry looked suspiciously at the toasted bread. She was hungry but was afraid her stomach might not take kindly to any food being deposited into it. "I think I'll just stick with the juice for now," she said after swallowing the pills. Get back in bed," Sherry said, reaching out to touch her lover's bare leg.
"Okay," Pat climbed over Sherry to reclaim her spot under the covers.
"Much better," Sherry scooted next to Pat pulling her pillow with her. She squirmed about until she was comfortably pressed against her lover's thigh. "How do they look?" she asked, seeing the frozen image of a player shooting a basket on the television.
"Some good, some really good," Pat pressed the play button on the remote. "But so far none who can offer much to our roster.
"So what exactly are we looking for when we review these tapes?" Sherry asked. The coming season would be her first as a coach and she still wasn't sure exactly what all was expected of her.
"We're looking for players who can fill specific positions or situations."
"And what would those be?" Sherry yawned as she sleepily watched the television.
"This year, we're looking for post players. With both Dawn and Ashley signing with other teams and Terry announcing her retirement, we're pretty thin at that position. And I always keep an eye out for good all around players, someone who can step in and cover any part of the floor. I like to have a couple of them on the bench every year," Pat explained, soothingly rubbing Sherry's back.
"Oh," Sherry yawned again as her eyelids slid shut.
Sherry woke to a dark room. The television was off and it was apparent that the sun had set hours before. She was still pressed against Pat but now her head was resting on Pat's shoulder and her sleeping lover's arm was wrapped around her waist. She needed to go to the bathroom.
Pat's eyes popped open as soon as Sherry tried to slip off the bed. "Hey," she said, her voice thick with sleep.
"Sorry," Sherry whispered in the darkness. "I tried not to wake you."
"It's okay," Pat tossed the blankets aside, swinging her long legs over the side of the bed. "How you feeling?"
"A little better, I think," Sherry said as she padded into the bathroom with Pat a few steps behind her. "What time is it?"
Pat glanced back at the clock on the front of the VCR/DVD. "A little after midnight."
"I slept that long?"
"It's good for you. I'm going to get you some juice, do you think you can eat anything?"
"Maybe," Sherry shrugged. "But I don't know what."
"I've got just the thing," Pat smiled, smugly. "You get back in bed and I'll be right back."
Watching Pat almost skip out of the bathroom, Sherry wondered what her lover was up to. She hoped whatever it was didn't involve too much in the way of food as her stomach was still gurgling and rumbling with discontent. She took a few minutes to wash her face and re-brush her teeth before heading back to bed.
Hearing Pat coming back from the kitchen, Sherry reached an arm out from under the covers to turn on the lamp on the night stand.
"Here you go," Pat was grinning broadly as she entered the bedroom. "Just what the doctor ordered. A glass of orange juice mixed with 7-Up and a dish of Jello, banana-strawberry, with fruit cocktail. Regular not the chunky kind," she said overly seriously. "And extra cherries. Not fresh but the candied ones that come in a jar."
"Pat," Sherry said suspiciously as she looked at her lover's offerings. "How do you know what I like when I'm sick?"
"Your mother told me," Pat grinned, placing the dish of Jello in Sherry's lap and handing her a spoon
"My mother," Sherry gasped. "You called my mother?"
"No," Pat held the glass of orange juice/7-Up concoction in front of Sherry. "Take your aspirin," she instructed when Sherry made no move to do so on her own. "Your mother called and I told her you were sick."
"My mother? You talked to my mother?"
"Yes," Pat smirked. "She seems very nice. And concerned about you too, I might add. I told her you'd call when you were feeling better."
"Oh, god," Sherry groaned.
"So what's so wrong about me talking to your mother? She obviously knows we're living together since she wasn't surprised when I answered the phone."
"It's not that," Sherry said, after finally swallowing the pills. "Thanks, this is good," she smiled at Pat and took another drink from the glass.
"You're welcome. She knows you're gay doesn't she?"
"She knows I say that I'm gay," Sherry took a spoonful of Jello.
"She doesn't believe you?"
"Let's just say she thinks I'll eventually grow out of this little phase I'm going through if she's patient enough."
"I hope she's a very patient woman," Pat couldn't help the giggle that escaped from her lips.
"It's not funny," Sherry pouted. "I told my folks I was gay when I was seven years old and Mom still thinks it's a phase. She's okay with any of my gay friends I bring home, but with me 'it's just a phase, dear'."
"What about your father?"
"He's fine with it."
"One out of two, that's not bad," Pat said, walking to her side of the bed and slipping back into the warmth of the blankets.
"What about your parents?" Sherry asked, spooning the last bite of Jello into her mouth. "Did they accept you being gay?" She placed the empty bowl on the nightstand then snuggled under the blankets next to Pat.
"Dad split when I was sixteen," Pat said, pulling Sherry closer to her. "He decided his twenty-something secretary made a better trophy wife than my mom. I had very little contact with him after that especially when his new wife starting having babies," her voice revealing little emotion as she spoke. "I didn't come out to mom until I graduated from high school even though I'd known for as far back as I can remember."
"How'd she take it?"
"She listened to me, smiled sadly and never spoke of it again."
"I'm sorry, Pat," Sherry shifted positions so she could hold her lover.
"It's okay," Pat sighed, grateful to have her lover holding her. "I knew how she was years ago. It's why I didn't tell her before I did."
"That must have been awful."
"It was. I really could have used her support, especially after Karen left."
"Did she ever…?"
"No. Right up to the day she died, she refused to acknowledge it."
"I'm so sorry, baby."
"Did mom say anything else?" Sherry asked after the women had laid in silence for some time.
"Just one thing."
"She said you're a big baby when you're sick."
"She's right," Sherry said, rolling away from Pat to switch off the lamp. "So be a good nursemaid and hold me while I go to sleep," she said, draping her body over her lover's.
"With pleasure," Pat smiled.
"Thanks for the Jello."
"When did you go to the store? I never heard you leave." Sherry knew that Jello, fruit cocktail and 7-Up had never been present in their kitchen cabinets before.
"I didn't. After talking with your mom I called Mac.
"Mac," Sherry cried, pushing herself up to look at Pat in amazement. "You had Mac go to the store for me?"
"Well, I would have called Pete but since Mac ordered us to have no contact with any of the rest of the team until the league's inquisition is over I didn't have many choices. And I knew Mac would still be in her office so it wasn't too much for her to stop at the store and drop off the stuff on her way home."
"Of all people to call, you called Mac," Sherry groaned, collapsing back down onto her lover.
"If it makes you feel any better, she thought your choice of 'feel better' food was adorable especially the extra cherries."
"Oh, god," Sherry groaned louder, again pushing herself up to look at Pat. "You do realize I can never look Mac in the eye again?"
"It's not that bad," Pat chuckled.
"It's bad enough," Sherry frowned, dropping back down and burying her face between Pat's breasts, nipping at the tender skin.
"That's not nice," Pat moaned as her body responded to her lover's actions.
"Suck it up, Coach," Sherry growled. "Neither was calling Mac."
To be continued in the next episode of Ghost Town-ing
To view photographs of the places Pat and Sherry visit
in these stories
-- go to http://www.mickeyminner.com/photographs.html --
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