Why the hell did he even answer the damn phone? Shit. As soon as he saw Merle's name come up on the caller I.D. he should have known his night was about to be ruined.
It wasn't that Merle meant to cause him problems. Exactly. It's that Merle had a way of making his problems Daryl's problems.
This time wasn't any different. "Hey brother I really hate ta do this to ya but we got us a little situation, Carol n me, an we really need ya ta give us a hand."
Oh well maybe it wasn't too bad, "What? That piece a crap ya drive break down again?"
"Don't be a wise-ass little brother, it don't become ya. Nah it's like this, Carol an my little man Titus both got 'em a ragin' case a the flu an I'm pullin' an extra shift tonight. Problem is, Carol had a meetin' she was supposed ta go to an she can't make it now, too damn sick. I can't go for her cuz, a course, I'm workin'. I told her not ta worry, I thought you'd probably be happy ta go for her. It'll only be an hour or so."
Did you see it? You see how he did that? Asshole. So now if Daryl didn't go he'd be letting Carol down, leaving her hanging, that damn Merle was a manipulative sumbitch. Shit.
Merle knew it was Monday and he knew Daryl had plans. Dammit. It was his Monday night routine. He'd get home, get out of his work clothes, shower up and get his ass down to the Blind Goat Tavern to drink beers, eat chicken wings and watch Monday Night Football. "Well gee Merle, I's gonna stay home n wash my hair, paint my toenails an watch one a them Lifetime movies, but alright what the fuck. What I gotta do?" How bad could it be?
"Well it's over at Titus' school there in the main buildin', in the multipurpose room 221. Starts at 7:00 sharp. Thanks brother, I owe ya one."
"Nah, ya don't owe me one Merle. Ya owe about 200."
He fried himself up a sirloin patty, some cottage fries, and a few eggs for supper, took a quick shower and got himself over to the meeting. He tried to look nice for Titus' sake, it was his school and all. He wore his black jeans, his best shirt - also black and long-sleeved - you know, to hide his tats and whatnot, and his leather vest with angel wings on the back.
He figured it was going to be a roomful of Mama's and Daddy's, discussing whatever kinds of boring shit Mama's an Daddy's discussed at these meetings. He thought he'd just slip in the back, write down anything he figured Merle and Carol needed to know, and slip back out. How big a deal could it possibly be? Shit, Titus was only in first grade.
And just what the fuck is a multipurpose room? What had become of schools? Why were they having meetings on Monday night during football season? And in some kind of room no one could decide what the hell it was supposed to even be. Multipurpose his ass.
I think it's safe to say, Daryl Dixon was feeling a little cranky about the whole thing.
He got there 10 minutes early, walked in the room and it was nothing but Mommies. He wondered how come no Daddy's came. Why was he the only man in the room? He had no idea. All he knew was these nice suburban mommy ladies were all checking out the goods, namely him. They were looking at him like they'd been on a diet for two weeks and he was a jelly doughnut.
He liked a little subtle female attention once in a while, why not? He was a healthy man. But a room full of somebody's mommy giving his ass a second look, well it was making him every kind of uncomfortable. Where the hell were their husband's? Home watching football? Yep, that had to be it. Daddy was home with the kids, no doubt watching the football game, while mommy came to the boring ass meeting.
He went up there to the front and signed the name on the list, Dixon in big bold letters. Just to prove they'd been there and all. You know, they were upstanding parents interested in their child's schooling and whatnot like that. In other words it was a big load of happy horseshit.
The lady sitting there with the list, and seemingly in charge of this raucous affair, batted her eye's right at him. Honest to God he was starting to really feel awkward. Feeling awkward was his natural state of being, but this whole experience was adding to it immensely.
He could swear that one gal who "accidentally" bumped into him was trying to cop a feel. How long had it been since these women saw a man? Shit, pickings must be slim if they were coming after him.
The woman sitting there asked him if he wanted to buy a ticket for the 50/50 raffle. Huh? "Sorry ma'am I got no idea what that is." And she giggled and damn if she didn't rub on his arm while she explained, "Well now, you just buy a ticket and when we have the drawing at the end of the meeting, if your ticket is the winner you get to keep half the revenue generated by the ticket sales. We keep the other half to provide art supplies for the children."
So, in other words, if he didn't buy a damn ticket he was an asshole who didn't want kids to have crayons? "Yeah, okay sounds real nice I'll take five of 'em." Merle now owed him five bucks and 200 favors.
Finally the meeting was starting, thank God. The sooner the damn thing started the sooner it'd be over. Seriously, how long could they discuss whether or not to replace the swings in the kindergarten play area? Either do it or don't do it but let's just move this thing along ladies.
Then she walked in the door and slipped in the seat right next to him. Holy shit, she was the prettiest mommy there, she was the prettiest mommy anywhere, she was the prettiest woman period. She leaned over and whispered, "Did I miss anything important?"
He whispered back, "Shit I can't tell. It depends on if the swings in the kindergarten play area get ya all worked up or not. I ain't that excited myself."
That was when she knew she shouldn't have had that glass of wine before coming to this stupid meeting. She started laughing out loud, hard.
And damn if her laughing didn't make him start to laugh. That's when that lady upfront, the one with the list and the raffle tickets said, in a pretty dang pissed off sounding voice, "Could you two in the back keep it down please? Let’s try to keep the focus on this important topic."
Of course that was fuel to this particular fire, now they really got a hardcore case of the giggles. You know how that goes, you get started and you just can't stop. The forces of evil seem to have control over you and you are powerless in their clutches.
He stood, he needed to get the hell out of there for a minute but something made him hold his hand out to the pretty blond, she took it and they slipped out to the hall.
When he realized he had her hand he kind of panicked, he let it loose. "Shit sorry, on top a everythin' else now your husband's gonna kick my ass."
"I promise he won't, I don't have one. What about you? Is there a little woman at home?"
Things had taken an interesting turn and he wasn't laughing anymore. "Um, no just a black cat with a lotta attitude. I better get back in that meetin’ an try ta pretend I give a shit. I made a promise ta my sister in law I'd do this thing. I s'pose I'd better try an hang in, even if it means sittin' through the most borin' meetin' ever."
Let's pause right here and discuss what's going on back at Merle and Carol's…
Merle's sitting in his big old lazy boy recliner with a cold beer and a sack of pork rinds, watching Monday night football. Of course. Titus is long gone to bed and Carol had been reading a romance novel when her cell buzzes. It’s a text from a gal she met at afterschool playground, where she volunteers.
This woman, Maggie Rhee, has a daughter Camille who’s in Titus' class. Carol and Maggie became fast friends. You know how it is, Mommies standing around chatting while the kids are running off excess energy. Over a few weeks they'd shared a lot. A lot included Carol telling Maggie about her brother in law. He's the nicest, sweetest man in the south. He just never seemed to meet the right woman. A shame really, he’s the loyal type, the hardworking type and the extra handsome type. Oh, and the well-built type to boot.
Why no sooner did Carol share that, than Maggie shared with Carol all about her sister. She’s a darling woman, blonde, blue-eyed, petite and just as nice and sweet as a gal could possibly be. Ah but the poor young woman had nothing but trouble with men. Maggie just couldn't figure out why this world seemed to be so lacking in the perfect man for her sister.
And so the plan was born. Carol knew Daryl would never agree to anything that even vaguely hinted at a blind date. Maggie knew the very same thing about Beth. They had to get sneaky, after all, sneaky is half the fun.
You might ask how in the world did these women talk their husbands into going along with their scheme? Well I'm here to tell you.
Carol played it straight with Merle, "Okay here it is Merle, either you do this or you go to that stupid meeting. I have been to every one of those things and I'm sick to death of that stuff."
Merle figured it was a win/win for him, he didn't have to go to the stupid meeting, and he didn't have to listen to his wife complain about going to the stupid meeting. He called Daryl.
Glenn went along for those very same reasons. He called Beth.
Meanwhile back at the meeting…
The hot topic had switched to the amount of homework kindergartners and first graders are given. Daryl looked to the woman next to him and innocently asked, "Are they shittin' me? Kindergartners got homework?"
Old what's-her-name up in front there was getting over his ass in a hurry, "Sir, would you please watch your language!"
And he looked to the woman next to him, "Shit what'd I do?"
And she started laughing again, causing him to start laughing again, and he got up again, and he gave her his hand again, and that’s when they got the hell outta there.
When they were safely out of the multipurpose room with no purpose, he got a little brave, "After all that B.S. I need a beer and the rest of the football game. Why don't ya c'mon with me? My bike's out front."
"Do you have any idea how much trouble I'm going to be in with my sister and brother in law?"
He shrugged, "Bout the same as me with my brother and sister in law."
"Okay good, just so we both know we're in trouble, and yes let's get out of here. My name's Beth."
"It's nice ta meet ya Beth, I'm Daryl."
She hopped on the back of that bike like she'd done it a million times, wrapped her arms around him and held on tight. "Are ya all set back there?"
"Ready as I'm going get." And they were off.
He didn't go straight over to the Blind Goat Tavern. He liked the feel of her back there holding him. So he took a little spin around town, then pulled up in front of the bar.
Usually he was a guy who bellied right up to that bar, but she was with him so he seated her at small table and asked, "What can I get ya ta drink?"
"Well since it's a tavern I suppose I should have a beer. Bud please."
Damn, pretty, funny and she drank beer and his favorite brand of beer.
When he got back to the table he handed her the beer, her eyes were on the set above the bar. He had to ask, "So ya like football Beth?"
"No I don't like football at all, I love football." He'd just taken a big gulp of his beer and he nearly did a spit take. This woman was getting more perfect by the minute.
Just as he was thinking that, damn if she didn't turn her eyes away from the set and focus them right on him. "I'm so happy you asked me to come with you Daryl. There's only one thing missing that's keeping this from being the perfect evening."
He looked at her, puzzled, "What's that?"
That put the icing on the cupcake, yep, she was perfect. "Well then I best take care a that right now, ya want regular or extra spicy?"
"Oh extra spicy of course. I'm no wimp." And there came the sprinkles on top of the icing on the cupcake. And watching her eat those chicken wings was a treat in itself. She didn't seem the least bit concerned or embarrassed when that sauce got all over her lips and cheeks, and chin, and under her nose.
Who knows what the hell possessed him? He leaned across the table and kissed her right on her extra spicy lips. She smiled at him and said, "Now we're double extra spicy, and I like it." Okay now he was in love with that damn cupcake.
"So what is it you do Daryl?"
"I got a very important position here in the county. I'm a collector."
"A collector? Collector of what?"
"I work for the county sanitation department, I'm a trash collector. Impressed yet?"
Again she got those damn giggles, "I am. I also work for the county sanitation department, I'm in billing. I guess you could say your hard work is keeping me in a job."
They stayed out way too long and had way too much fun for a Monday night. When they pulled up to her place he walked her to her door and reluctantly said goodbye, "I had a real nice time, thanks a bunch for comin' with me." He nodded his head and turned to go.
Oh no, no, no this wouldn't do at all. She took his arm and when he turned around she put her arms around his neck and she kissed him deeply. His arms went around her and he had no problem at all returning that kiss. She scolded him mildly, "Daryl you forgot to tell me what time you're picking me up Friday." His arms were still wrapped around her and he looked in those pretty blue eyes on that pretty face, he was confused.
Shit, had he lost his mind? "Did I say I was pickin' you up on Friday?"
"Well you hadn't mentioned it yet, but I was sure you meant to. You know, that you wanted to take me out, spend time with me and all."
He smiled a funny little grin, "Well I promised a young guy I know, his Dad's a friend of mine, I'd come watch him play high school football Friday night."
"Okay that’s good to know. It’s going to be casual, I'll dress appropriately. What time should I be ready?"
Now he laughed softly, "I'm gonna have ta pick ya up early, can ya be ready at 5:15? Game time is 5:45."
"Yes, I'll be ready. Boy I'll be hungry by the time the game is over too, I usually eat kind of early. I guess we'll probably just go out for pizza and beer then after the game, huh? That sounds really good."
And he was laughing a little bit harder, "Yeah that does sound real good. Meat lover's?"
"Absolutely, is there any other kind? What about Saturday, where are we going then?" She was keeping a straight face but it wasn't easy.
He, on the other hand, was laughing pretty good by now, "I thought we'd take the boat out, go fishing, how's that?"
"Oh that's awesome I love fishing! Thank you so much for asking me, I'd love to go with you! Why I could even pack us a picnic lunch."
"Well that sounds real nice cuz I usually just go hungry while I'm fishin'.” He was in the game now, “I s'spose ya wanna know about Sunday, huh?"
"Oh yes please. I like to plan ahead." Now she lost it, just a little, and small giggle slipped right out.
"Well good cuz I got that day worked out for us too. I's thinking we'd watch the big NASCAR race and I'd grill us up a steak. Whaddya think?"
"Oh my gosh yes! NASCAR! I love it as much as I love football. Maybe we could switch channels back and forth between the two."
They were having a little fit of the giggles now, the neighbor's light flipped on, and they tried to keep it down. He leaned over and whispered in her ear, "I never thought I'd meet the woman of my dreams at some PTA meetin'."
She smiled and whispered back, "I think going to that meeting may just be the best thing I ever did."
Before he left they exchanged phone numbers and did a little more serious kissing, you know, just to seal the deal. "Don't forget to call me tomorrow Daryl because I'm going to be missing you."
"Yeah well I's thinkin' I might stop in and see ya in the billin' department tomorrow, I got a question about my bill."
He gave her one more kiss and a wave goodbye before he was gone.
Meanwhile the very next day Carol got the word from Maggie, she knew the plan had worked. She couldn't wait for Merle to get home that night and when he did she told him, "You lost the bet, you owe me twenty bucks, and you're on dish duty for the next week. And don’t forget, Saturday afternoon you're taking Titus to Johnny Rae's birthday party. I’ll be having wine time with Maggie."
Glenn suffered a similar fate.
It was all for the good because love had blossomed in the multipurpose room, that now had a purpose.