Rob's father came up to him on his eighteenth birthday, and tossed a *** of cash at him. "Time to be a man", he said in his usual gruff manner, "Get yourself a hot one". His grinning face seemed more like a sneer, but Rob wasn't all that surprised. Throughout his adult life, he was thankful and glad that his mother kept him fairly grounded, did the best that she could, molded him into the man that he was, and he marveled at how she put up with such an *******.
Her name was Kat, but there were no introductions, not while he was soliciting her for ***. She was a few years older than he, but Rob never asked for any details. He just wanted to get on with it, for he felt not only awkwardly nervous and ill-prepared, but halfhearted in his approach to buy some time, to hook up with a stranger in the shadows of the street lamps.
Sure, if his old man wanted to give him some money—free cash—why the hell not? Instead of finding a "hot one", Rob was face-to-face with a burned-out and vulnerable, young woman who tried to hide behind her ****, seductive exterior. She was equally as halfhearted as he was about getting it on, for business-as usual seemed to weigh her down like a heavy chain wrapped about her ankles
So Rob opted out of this whole thing. He asked if he could buy her a cup of coffee. Why not? It was a chilly night, and they wanted to warm up—in a legitimate way.
They found a small, late-night diner. It wasn't long before Kat admitted she made a huge mistake, and would do anything to get another start. Her regret was leaving Nebraska, leaving her hometown—her mom, her little sister and brother left behind. Her father was the dearest man she ever knew, but he died when she was eleven-years-old. If only he could see her now. She would be so ashamed to face him, and glad he wasn't around to witness this sordid path she regretfully chose.
Once, Nebraska seemed like an insignificant blot on the map of the world, but now it was inviting to her. She longed to make amends to her family and to get back to the basics. She wasn't sure what she would do with her life, but what she had right now wasn't what dreams were all about. It was a world of unscrupulous pimps and men who lurked around, wanting their fill, their lusts exposed discretely, yet so ****** upon her to be met.
She had enough. Rob was the first guy that came along in a long time that really cared to listen to her, though he seemed more a boy than a man. Yet she's been with his kind before. She has seen all kinds—white and blue collar, old and young, married and single, the well-experienced and the sexually inept, the *** addicts and first-timers, the boring, the daring, the *****—yet safe ones—as well the creepy kind that a street-smart lady needed to have eyes in the back of her head for.
When they went to the bus station, together, Rob admitted, "I got to tell you, straight. I'm still thinking you could be scamming me for drug money...and I'm maybe a complete *****... but I want to take this chance." Kat smiled, a tender sort of a smile, and gave him a soft peck on the cheek, along with a big bear hug. "You're an angel", she declared. She really was beautiful, with big, lovely eyes surrounded by big, fake lashes. Seen through eyes of his inexperience—his innocence—she really felt beautiful, something she hasn't felt in a long while.
Kat wanted to pay Rob back for giving her the needed, extra money to buy her ticket. She offered to do that in the best way she knew how and made him an offer. Having a night of free *** wasn't what Rob ever wanted. No, there were no strings attached. So she jotted down her mother's address in Nebraska, and told him to be in touch. "I want to prove to you that I'm turning my life around. I'm going to do it, too. I promise", she said, sincerely. She had no trouble looking him in the eye, tears beginning to well up, and she began to choke up while saying, ”I just can't thank you enough".
Whether he did the right thing or not, Rob would wonder. He would never forget her—even if he wanted to forget. Only a brief couple of hours with her, but she made an impact in his mind, like a branding iron that would sear the hell out of his brain. Later, he lied to his dad, and pretended to be thrilled that he got the chance to have such an awesome night—just rocking! It was the best birthday present so far! For a moment, he thought of telling him the truth, but he pictured his dad saying, "You *****! You wasted your chance and my money!"
Rob decided that he wasn't going to write her. He just didn't want to know, instead wanting to assume she made it out okay. He decided to keep the paper with her address, anyway. It took him several months, after mulling it over in his mind, to actually write her a brief note to ask how she was managing. Did she really go back home? Was she doing alright? Did she put her ****** life behind her?
It was only a week when he received a letter back from Nebraska. Rob kept that letter to himself, never telling a soul about Kat. She was back with an old boyfriend from high school, staying with her mom and working part-time as a cashier in a supermarket. She was so eager to write him back, thrilled that he finally contacted her, and wondered why on earth it took him so long. Rob believed her, like he first did about her story, and it was a relief to hear from her. He was glad he took the chance. It seemed to pay off.
He heard nothing back from her until over a year later. This time she sent a picture in her letter. Kat and her boyfriend broke up, for the second time, but she was now married to her good friend's cousin, Nolan. She was glad it didn't work out with the first guy, because now she was pretty happy and couldn't imagine her life any other way. Rob smiled as he saw the picture of the couple, and she was holding her little girl in her arms. He name was Willow, a cute, little girl with strawberry blonde hair.
Thanks, again, Rob! It is all because of you! You’re a sweetheart. My hero!!!
He didn't want to take the credit. He was no hero. It was bound to happen, with or without him. Rob was quite sure now that he would not write her another letter, but did pick up a card to congratulate her, to acknowledge he got the good news and was glad for her.
He still had that picture of her, and the last news he found out about Kat is that she moved to Colorado with her husband, and now had a son, Nolan Rob. Her husband got a better paying job, and she felt at home near the mountains. A picture of the kids came with it, and her two smiling children conveyed the innocence that she once had and cherished.
Wanted you to see my boy. His middle name, Rob, is after you! I figured you'd know this, but I want to tell you, anyway! :D Much love from us to you, Robbie!
Time has passed, and during that back-and-forth. Rob's parents split up, sold the house, and he had graduated from college and was on his own. Contact with Kat waned down to nothing at all, and it probably was just as well. Were things still going good in her life? Rob still wondered and hoped so.
Now he was married, with a nice house and boy and girl of his own, thinking of Kat, now and then. He envisioned her doing well, a far cry from the young woman in a scene that replayed in his head, a night when he helped an unhappy and desperate lady get a chance to find her life, again. If ever his day ******, such thoughts could pick him back up.
He'd never cease to wonder about her, but what he did for Kat belonged in the past. If it wasn't happily-ever-after for her, he'd rather not know. He did his part, was glad that he had enough maturity and integrity to do the right thing, but no way was he a knight in shining armor. Still, he was a hero in her eyes, a reluctant hero of sorts. He could live with that.