Redemption

By

Russell Hatler


It wasn’t a particularly reprehensible rape, as rapes go. Of course, she was fifteen and he was twenty-three so technically you could call it a rape. But she was physically mature for her age. Even the bartender thought so and they were trained to know about those sorts of things. So, when the cops came knocking at his door you could say he was surprised. But that wasn’t the bad part. When he offered to pay for an abortion she dithered.


Frank, that was the guy’s name, Frank, worked in a shoe store. Not just any shoe store. Frank worked in a store that sold high priced sneakers. Athletic shoes. Running shoes. Hiking boots. High class stuff. He was paid minimum wage, of course, but every time he sold a hundred-dollar pair of running shoes, he got fifteen-bucks in commission. You figure twenty pair of shoes a day, and pretty soon we’re talking big bucks. And Frank was a born salesman.


That’s how Frank met her. Ruthie, she said her name was. Had a Visa card with her name on it and everything. Ruth Ann Vincent. She came in looking for women’s athletic shoes with a firm arch support. Said she played tournament tennis. Hard courts. Frank chatted her up, of course. That’s what guys are expected to do. The age-old mating dance. Propagation of the species and all that. And Ruthie responded with a shy smile.


Ruthie was slender, legs that traveled all the way up to her firm ass and what can only be described as a remarkable bustline. She had on a pair of ripped jeans, threadbare at the knees, and a faded San Francisco Giants T-shirt. Which was unusual because there weren’t a lot of Giants fans in Omaha. Frank was a White Sox fan himself, but he didn’t discriminate when it came to business. That plus the fact that he was pretty sure Ruthie wasn’t wearing a bra. Pointy nipples are a dead giveaway.


Ruthie bought three pair of tennis shoes. Frank talked her into joining Swishers, the store’s “frequent buyers” membership club. When she gave him her cellphone number for the application, he jotted it down on a pad of note paper and said jokingly, “I’ll give you a call after work” to which she replied softly, “Please do.”


Frank had sweaty hands the rest of the afternoon, all the way up to closing time at 6:00. When he thought about those pointy nipples his mouth would go dry. And he thought about them a lot. It wasn’t as if Frank was a newbie. Heck no! Frank was a player. But Ruthie was special. You could tell that from the moment you laid eyes on her.


At 7:30 he gave Ruthie a ring. Invited her out to dinner at Ross’s Steak House. She said fine, she’d meet him in the parking lot at 8:30. Frank said he’d be driving a silver Corvette. Ruthie said she’d find him.
Frank put on a button-down Tommy Bahama dress shirt and slacks. On the back of his shirt was a stylized martini glass with an olive on a toothpick and the caption “Party Time!” To complete his sartorial ensemble Frank slipped on a pair of red tennis shoes. Frank was loaded for bear!


He parked at the back of Ross’s parking lot, out where the overhead fluorescent lights were dim. Summer nights in Omaha are sultry but pleasant. A light breeze had sprung up. It was a night filled with promise. Ruthie drove up at 8:45. She parked her maroon Camry next to Frank’s Corvette, got out of her car and slid into the passenger seat. She had on satin pants and a silk blouse. Loose sandals.


“Are you hungry?” she asked innocently.


Frank was immediately hard.


“Not really,” he whispered.


“Me neither,” she smiled. “I know a place.”


They drove to a roadhouse just outside town where the music was loud, and the crowd was louder. Frank ordered a Stella and Ruthie ordered a margarita on the rocks, no salt. The waitress checked the birthdates on their driver’s licenses, nodded and winked at Ruthie. When the drinks came Ruthie raised her glass and grinned.


“You seem to be smitten with my breasts,” she whispered. “You like?”


“I love,” said Frank.


“They have rooms upstairs,” said Ruthie. “We can take our drinks.”


“What’s the rush?” asked Frank. “The night’s young.”


“I have two finals tomorrow morning,” admitted Ruthie with a frown. “I was studying when you called. I’m pre-med. My scholarship depends on me maintaining a three-point-five GPA. But I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to spend some time with you, Frank.”


“Then let’s go on up,” said Frank. “I don’t want to put a dent in your grade point average.”


“Let’s see if you can put a dent in something else,” said Ruthie playfully. “I’ll get the room key.”


They mounted the stairs in the back. Ruthie led Frank down a darkened hall to a closed door with the number four nailed to the front. She inserted the room key in the lock and pushed the door open. Inside the sparsely furnished room were a wash basin, a metal folding chair, and a double bed.


“Toilet’s down the hall if you have to go,” Ruthie said, unbuttoning the silk blouse and stepping out of her satin pants. She wasn’t wearing underwear. God she was gorgeous.


“Nope, I’m good,” murmured Frank.


He dropped his pants to the floor and unbuttoned the Tommy Bahama shirt. The martini glass seemed to twinkle encouragement in the dim light seeping through the torn window shade.


They tumbled into bed together. Frank was inside her before they hit the mattress. She held on tight as Frank bucked and quivered. He exploded in a convulsive orgasm, rolled over and collapsed on the bed beside Ruthie’s trembling body.


“Well, that beats the shit out of reading crib sheets for Anatomy 101,” Ruthie grinned when she had regained her composure. “I’d like to hang around for round two, but I really need to get back.”


They dressed in silence as newly acquainted lovers do. Frank paused as he was buckling his belt.


“What do I owe you for the room?” he asked, taking a wallet out of his back pocket.


“Two fifty,” Ruthie answered, accepting the bills from Frank. “I think we ought to do this on a regular basis. School’s out next week. Just for your information.”


Frank drove Ruthie back to the empty parking lot and watched as she sped off into the night. Jesus. He was in heaven. He was in love.


The next afternoon, he was in police custody. Turns out one of the boys in blue knew Ruthie’s parents. They all attended church together, Ruthie included. Alfie Randall was at a high school class reunion at the roadhouse when he saw Frank and Ruthie come into the bar. He was going to mention something, but he was busy at the moment trying to reignite an old flame while his wife was in the ladies’ room. He did go out and jot down the license plate number of the silver Corvette in the parking lot when he saw the couple traipse hand in hand up the back staircase. Alfie knew what was going on. He’d enjoyed the comforts of room four several times in the not-too-distant past, all in the line of duty of course.


Alfie didn’t report the rape until after he’d eaten breakfast the next morning. They ran the license plate number through the DMV database and got Frank’s name and address from the registration. As luck would have it, Frank had Thursdays off from his job at the Westroads Mall shoe store. The Law Enforcement Officers (LEO) tracked the clueless perp to his second-floor apartment where he was in the living room, sprawled on the sofa, playing video games (WiFi was included in the monthly rent) and brought him downtown for questioning. Cuffed and busted.


Frank got himself a good lawyer who told him he was facing up to fifty years in prison. Frank patiently explained he thought Ruthie was legally of age. He pointed out that she had a fake id. He noted her physical assets, the zeal with which she entered into the act, and the exchange of cash at the conclusion. All to no avail. Frank said he wanted a second opinion. The lawyer said he was pretty sure Frank was gonna get fired too.


So, all things considered Frank was pretty shook up when Ruthie said she wanted to keep the baby. She told him on one of her Sunday visits. Ruthie said she was awful sorry about the whole mess but that she thought Frank should consider himself lucky the judge had reduced Frank’s sentence from twenty-to-fifty to one-to-five since this was his first offense. And she did say she hadn’t done this sort of thing much before, but she needed a new bike, and her parents were pretty strict.


There was this girl, Sally, in the neighborhood who’d showed her the ropes and got her the fake id. It was also Sally who’d introduced Ruthie to the owner of the roadhouse outside town. Sally was no stranger to the game. She was five years older than Ruthie. Kind of like the big sister Ruthie never had. Sally was a frequent plyer of the facilities at the roadhouse. She confided in Ruthie that sometimes she pulled down as much as a thousand tax-free bucks a week, after expenses.


Ruthie adored Sally. She appreciated Sally’s sage advice, especially when it came to some of the more exotic sexual peccadillos men were prone to be dazzled by. But for Ruthie, Frank was more than a potential source of revenue. From that first day in the shoe store, she felt there was a spark. And, despite the age difference, she did think Frank was a special kind of guy and she was planning to wait for him until he got out. Moreover, she thought once he’d paid his debt to society, Frank would make a terrific father.


The baby, an eight-pound seven-ounce girl, was born on Ruthie’s sixteenth birthday. They named her Elspeth Louise. She looked a lot like Ruthie and a little bit like Frank. Frank was paroled seven months later. He’d taken a course in network security while he was inside, and he took to it like a natural.


Frank and Ruthie moved in together after his release. They got married the week after Ruthie graduated from high school. Her parents never liked Frank, but they eventually got used to the idea that their only daughter had married a jailbird. After all it was her who put him in prison.


Frank went to work as a network security analyst for a large insurance company in Omaha. He said later it beat the shit out of selling running shoes. But there were nights when he missed the illusory freedom of his bachelorhood. And he did miss the Corvette which they were obliged to trade in on a Toyota SUV on account of they don’t make infant car seats for a Corvette. But he never once regretted the night he took Ruthie to the roadhouse.


Frank turned out to be a model father and a wonderful husband. And every once in a while, Ruthie would dim the bedroom lights, tie Frank to the bedposts, and whip the bejesus out of his pliant ass. Just to spice things up.