Shades of Jealousy
Posted on 15 May 2023 @ 17:51 by Deputy Sheriff III Elijah Gillett
1,737 words; about a 9 minute read
Location: I-64W, east of Raleigh, NC
The temptation to stick his foot into the carburetor and get them home was something Eli was having a hard time resisting.
Especially with Isi’s silent treatment echoing between them.
Eli passed several more commercial trucks, flexing his fingers to keep from gripping the steering wheel of his 2019 Black Mazda Miata too tight. He could already notice a stiffness in his fingers and knew he had to cool out.
The trouble was, she wouldn’t tell him what was wrong.
He’d tried to ask a few times and she had just shook her head and looked away from him, her own jaw muscles tight as they pushed down US64W. He running the convertible at just over 70 with the top down. It was a fairly nice day. Not too hot. A few clouds. The top was down and they were both wearing noise cancelling earbuds with his smart phone streaming Keke Palmer.
Eli began breaking it down in his head, pushing past the part of him that wanted to just ignore her until she actually told him what was wrong. But he liked to at least have an idea of what the game might be…
They’d went to Raleigh to attend one of her best friends weddings that weekend and everything had went well he’d thought. He’d downplayed his job (as usual), using the tactics he’d been taught to change conversational subjects and answered vaguely. Eli was proud of his job and knew the work was important, but people (generally) much preferred to talk about themselves.
With a wry grin, he acknowledged that most people were like a dog and squirrel when it came to being distracted. Not wanting to be the squirrel during this particular analysis, he broke down the day.
They’d both slept in with Isi sleeping in her old room at her grandmother’s house and Eli crashing with a friend from the academy. They were adults, but not THAT adult in the eyes of her grandmother, Ms. Kelsey, who had made them a late breakfast and everything had been fine. They’d left right around 12:30, tanked up hit the road.
Eli realized it had been when she was picking out music on his phone.
She was fairly used to unlocking the phone by just flashing it in front of his face and he didn’t mind: he didn’t have many secrets and he assuredly wouldn’t keep any of those on a mobile device. He racked his brain as to what might have been on his phone.
He hadn’t taken many pictures over the weekend. He and Dave had went out for bbq and beers at Dave’s partners place. That had been a carbon monoxide college between the BS and the cigars. The wedding had been among her friends and he’d snapped a few of her in the god-awful spearmint green and white bridesmaid dress. Any pictures of her and her friends she’d wanted, he’d used her phone.
Mostly he’d tried to be polite and appear not to be bored. He’d not had more than a few drinks at the reception and those had been beer only and nursed through the evening. Eli had focused on making sure Isi had had a good time and putting on a good face in front of her friends and acquaintances.
What he hadn’t done was sort through messages and emails that morning. It was their last day off and he was due on shift tomorrow. Nothing had flagged important so he’d left it alone. Eli chewed on his lip for a few minutes. He couldn’t pick the phone up and start messing with it now…and he didn’t want them to get all the way back home with this shit up in the air. Sighing, he used the volume control on the steering wheel to turn down the music and thumbed the walkie-talkie app oh his phone.
“Ok. What is on my phone that you saw and I didn’t?,” he asked.
She didn’t say anything.
Quickly checking the traffic and his mirrors, Eli downshifted, breaked and pulled onto the shoulder of the road. Even though it was a four lane, the shoulder didn’t have a lot of room and the car was crowding the guard rail as he brought it to a stop and scooped his phone up and began thumbing looking things over.
There it was. He’d received a text and it was from one of Isi’s acquaintances. Racking his brain, Eli finally dredged up the blonde’s name. Rachel. She was blowing him a kiss, wearing a fairly thing tank-top and boy briefs: both mostly enough to not reveal everything.
The caption said simply, Call me, maybe?
Glancing at Isi, he found her twisted in the seat, lips pressed tight, arms crossed and glaring at him.
“This?” He asked, half snorting. “I don’t know anything about this, Isi (He pronounced it Izzie).
“Why is she sending you that then? How did she get your number in the first place Eli,” the diminutive dancer asked him.
“Well I didn’t give it to her or anyone else,” he told her defensively. She snatched the phone and pushed it within inches of his nose. “That bitch put makeup on, trying to make you think she wakes up looking like that. You must have given her your number Eli.”
He leaned back from the finger, crossing his own arms after pulling his sunglasses off. “I am way too smart for that,” he finally told her. “I danced with all of your friends and that was it, though the way the booze was loosening things up, I’m surprised I’m not getting more texts.”
Eli gently reached over and removed the phone from her grasp before she got the idea in her head to answer the text. Proactively, he deleted it. Isi was still staring at him and he thought quickly, then snapped his fingers. Sorting through the phone, he brought up a picture Isi had sent him and showed it to her. “Remember this, Meuf? (Which he pronounced as Muhf).
She let her laser glare fall from him for a second and saw a picture she’d sent him with her and her grandmother the afternoon they’d arrived. “Yes,” she said, reaffixing her glare on him.
Eli snorted and set his phone down, put his glasses back on and began checking his mirrors to pull them back into traffic, revving the car’s engine and giving her time to get just a bit madder.
“Well girlie,” he said, “You sent that picture out to about fifteen people, including your blonde friend Tasha. Apparently she’s at least that smart.”
Silence weighed in the car as Eli dropped the clutch and pulled them out into the highway. The RX wasn’t a sports car by any means, but it was fun.
He turned up the music, continuing to ignore her but after about five miles, he felt her hand on his bicep and she activated the walkie-talkie app. “That makes sense. I’m sorry Eli.” She said, contriteness in her voice.
“That was a shade of jealous I’ve never seen in you,” he said, keeping his eyes on the road.
“You’re mad at me?” She asked.
“Just trying to decide if I still want to make those special stops I mentioned,” he said, letting a grin touch his lips as he passed the same trucks he’d passed earlier as he got them back up to speed.
“I’m sorry I was jealous,” she amended, kissing his bicep now and he made a production of wiggling his arm around a little and twisting the wheel back and forth, making her grab on tighter.
“Tell me about the special stops,” she said, as he felt her breath touch his ear and he swallowed.
It had been a weekend away but they hadn’t gotten to spend any quality time together. Not with Ms. Kelsey keeping an eagle eye on her youngest grand daughter.
“Well,” he said. “I know how much you love the Five and Dime, and the Piggly Wiggly. Now I just have to think if I have that kind of time.”
She giggled and leaned her head agains his arm, “I do really love the Five and Dime but if we’re going to pick one over the other, I’ll pick the Piggly Wiggly this time. We can shop and I’ll make supper.”
He gave her a side glance as the car bounced over uneven highway and he said, “You? I thought you didn’t cook, New Yowk City girl. I thought you-all ate out all the time. When you decided you could risk it and not gain a few ounces.”
She poked him in the ribs and said, “Well, Ms. Kelsey gave me some recipes.” As he glances at her appraisingly, her face took on a wicked look. “Grandma did give me some advice, since you and I have been seeing each other a few months.”
“What advice was that,” Eli grumbled with humor. “Keep your door bolted?”
“No. She’s realistic,” Isi said, blushing now. “She said that since I seemed half serious about you, I needed to make sure we were compatible in all respects. I needed to make sure..”
As she paused, Eli steered with his knee for a moment to push his sunglasses back up so he could meet her eyes.
“Make sure everything feels right and… Well. Satisfies..”, making sure to keep his eyes on the road, Eli grinned a smile into her and asked, “Why Isi Louise Williams is is your grand-momma telling you to test drive the hell out of me?”
She giggled again and said, “Yeah. Basically. And said that if she was ten years younger she’d be after you herself. You should watch your step next time we visit…”
“She’s a fine old gal, but damn,” Eli said. “I may not sleep tonight with that image in my head, Isi. Thanks a lot.”
Snickering then, Isi said, “Well, that’s part of the idea. We shop. I make supper.”
As she kissed his bicep, she reached up and pushed his sunglasses down as she said, “And I’m desert.”