Authors: Rita Brassington
The Good Kind of Bad
Secrets don’t stay secret for long
THE GOOD KIND OF BAD
By Rita Brassington
First Kindle Edition © 2015 Rita Brassington
All rights reserved. No part of this e-book may be reproduced in any form other than that in which it was purchased and without the written permission of the author.
This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This e-book may not be resold.
‘Hell, look what I did.’
After Joe swung the Chevelle’s wheel to the right, I glanced down to see his cigarette eating a pretty brown hole into my silk wedding gown.
‘Joe!’ Frantically throwing the butt out of the car window, I grabbed a handful of singed Vera Wang. ‘I’m supposed to treasure this dress forever. Now look at it.’
‘Ah, you will treasure it. It just has character now.’ Then Joe pointed to the six lanes of slow-moving vehicles ahead of us on the Kennedy Expressway. ‘I’m sorry, okay? But look at this traffic. Blame these ass-hat Chicago drivers, not me.’ It wasn’t long before another cigarette was retrieved from behind his ear. ‘Come on, let me make it up to you when we get home, huh?’ He reached for the radio dial before smoothing back his mane, today strangely tamed; waxed and parted for the ceremony. ‘Intergalactic’ by The Beastie Boys blasted out as Joe joined in, complete with finger jabs and chin juts. ‘—
too sweet to be sour, too nice to be mean
. . .’
I grinned, arching back my head. ‘You’re so romantic.’
He tapped out the beat on the steering wheel. ‘Don’t worry, we’ll get to the romance. That champagne is losing its cork when we get home, wifey.’
‘Champagne? I think we only have beer.’
Beastie Boys known to let the beat
. . . beer o’clock it is. Man, will we get wasted tonight.’
It’d been thirty minutes since we’d said our vows before the priest at St. Martinus Church, Chicago, three weeks after meeting. Whirlwind didn’t come close, my head spinning like a ceaseless carousel, but I’d gone with it.
It was my new motto. Say yes, to everything, including drunken wedding proposals from beautiful, subversive men.
It’d been barely enough time to learn my new husband’s surname, never mind walk down the aisle with him. As for knowing, let alone understanding, the
Joe Petrozzi? One thing I’d learnt during our brief relationship was how economical with the truth he was.
My salt-of-the-earth Average Joe lived in Armanti Square on Chicago’s South Side. It was hardly the best address in the city ‒ something he’d skilfully kept under wraps until
I’d agreed to hot foot it up the aisle ‒ though it was easy to forgive his secrecy. Joe was the most gorgeous man I’d ever met. He smouldered. He preferred his shirt off to on. Add that to the compliments he lavished on me daily and the wedding was a no-brainer, a done deal. I’d felt this odd thing called
. He said I was gorgeous, clever
intelligent: ‘Like, you must’ve gone to one of those
schools.’ Yeah, Oxford University was almost a cliché in itself, but it wasn’t about that. You know, our opposing ends of the spectrum deal.
I didn’t want to be the reliable, predictable, spoiled daughter of Howard Clarke, businessman
, any longer. I was a Petrozzi now, wife to an Italian-American UPS delivery driver who drank Czech beer and ran mystery errands.
After Joe turned my stomach by suggesting fried chicken for the wedding breakfast, we landed outside his (sorry,
) apartment, a tired and dingy affair on Belvidere and South Evergreen. It was a place last decorated when his Chevrolet Chevelle rolled off the production line in ’75, and, without Joe, it would’ve been as far from home as my imagination allowed.
Craning my neck to the fourth floor while my silky column gown skimmed the grime below, it felt so unreal, and yet I was trying not to let
dawn on me.
Though it was all part of the fun. It was a life where he smoked cigars and I ate nachos in bed until noon, our diet’s main food groups were Jack Daniel’s and Papa John’s and we stayed up so late the sun regularly peeked its way through the paper-thin curtains. It was a life where we laughed. Joe’s unstable on-a-knife-edge existence meant substandard apartments on shoddy streets were par for the course.
Appointments and to-do lists, chores and obligations . . . they were now surplus to requirement. That was a life I didn’t need anymore.
There was no schedule, apart from Joe’s call to employment. If we wanted to go out, we didn’t stay in thinking about it. I was flooded with life for the first time in forever, and one I wanted. ’Til death us do part, I was now part of a team: Mr and Mrs Petrozzi doing Chicago.
Upstairs in what was our honeymoon suite for the next forever, Joe stood in the bathroom with his feet rooted to the floor, summoning me with one long, bended finger. After swaggering forwards in his rented tux, like a cowboy in ill-fitting chaps, he reached out a hand and swept me in close, my cheek tingling from his coarse cheek stubble, like venturing out after winter’s first snow.
Apart from his head being a smidgen too big (though not in physical size), there was little to fault Joe for. He was a grown version of the fake rebels I’d dated ten years before. His inherited ancestral features had been watered down in the melting pot, though were still proudly presented for my delectation.
The spattering of tattoos, the tousled black tresses, and not forgetting his penchant for muscle vests . . . any calls for cliché were knowingly accepted. Maybe that was the point; the mystery and charm that oozed from every mispronounced word and monosyllabic sentence he chewed over for an age, like tomorrow would be fine for him. Besides, I was itching to figure him out.
not my type, the type I’d got out of my system as a naive sixteen-year old, but now he was my husband. It was all very
I mean, the new me. Reckless me. Preppy guys were so last season. Expensive taste in leather shoes and button-down Oxford collars? I wanted to slum it with a man who shopped at the thrift store, a guy who got so drunk he could barely stand and if it came to it, would lay down his life rather than cower and call the cops. As an added extra, I knew marrying Joe would send my mother’s head into orbit. That was if she ever found out.
Who proposes to a girl they’ve just met, calling their beauty ‘one they can’t live without’? After flushing my life down the toilet and saddling myself with the burden of Will, of what I’d done, I’d woken on the other side of the Atlantic one bright April morning and acknowledged the stark, honest glory of the real world.
‘This place needs . . . what’s it called again?’ Joe enquired, throwing his rented dinner jacket onto the bed, stripping to his skin and flexing his triceps in the wall mirror like he’d taken to the stage on Mr Universe;
baby oil, naturally.
He knew how to make my heart flutter, I had to give him that. ‘A cleaning lady?’ I quipped back, waiting for him to again saunter over after his macho display. I savoured the moment, posing in my Vera Wang slice of perfection on the off chance I was being papped by
through the small sash window. Needless to say, I was unashamedly ignored as Joe took a rain check on me and pulled on the Rocky T-shirt draping the bedpost.
Then came the air prod, the self-affirming jolt of his intellect. ‘The feminine touch, that’s it. That’s what this place needs.’
‘So you’d be fine with a few ormolu mirrors and colour co-ordinated crockery?’ I teased, my hands hip-bound.
‘Ormolu? Oh yeah, his stuff’s great. I know you love that designer name crap, why don’t you get yourself some? Whatever you need to feel at home.’
‘About that . . .’ I began but he turned his back to me, his attention now on the top dresser drawer.
I was still in my wedding gown, still wildly expectant, though flinging paper and correspondence from the drawer was far more engrossing to Joe. I knew what it meant. It was errand-running time, and time for Joe to exit stage right.
Turning back to me with a face as blank as the walls, he stabbed the piece of paper further into his pocket to disguise what he’d retrieved.
‘What are you doing?’ I was aiming for nonchalant, but sounded more like the Spanish Inquisition.
‘You don’t mind if I head out for a while, right? I have this thing. It won’t take long, Scout’s honour.’
‘You have a
? On our wedding day?’
‘Don’t pull that lip down, baby. Flash me a smile, come on.’ As the fingers waggled on his outstretched hand, a grin spread across his face. ‘I married the most beautiful girl in Chicago and she’s all mine. How’d I get so lucky?’
‘Flattery won’t work on me, Joe.’
‘Sure it will. You married me, didn’t you?’
I gave him a look that I hoped screamed suspicion. If it did, his face didn’t acknowledge it. ‘And Scouts? You?’ I asked instead, reaching for his T-shirt and pulling him in for a kiss, though he moved back with a knowing smile.
He was already heading for the door with the biker jacket over his shoulder when he turned and shouted, ‘I’ll be back soon, so don’t go sneaking out and marrying someone else while I’m gone, all right?’
True to his
title, my new husband owned an eclectic line of vintage jackets, boots and anything else adorning the fashion pages of FHM, albeit on a thrift shop budget, though I’d yet to find any evidence of a motorcycle.
Smiling, I had to remind myself of this laidback life’s rules. I was fine with it, really. So he was already leaving. So we were the only guests at the wedding and he hadn’t brought any rings to the church because he thought they were ‘included in the wedding package’. It’d been funny, really, although Father Richard hadn’t been the slightest bit amused, especially by Joe’s dress shirt sporting the half-tuck. At least the priest hadn’t noticed the opportune appearances of Joe’s whisky flask when his back was turned.
Watching Joe slam the front door, I slumped down on the bed, still dressed in virginal white. My lake view suite at the Four Seasons had become a one-bedroom sublet on the South Side due to Joe’s
pick-up line. It’d been a new one on me, but it’d worked. After all, Petrozzi was no longer just
surname, and it all slotted perfectly into my ‘say yes’ plan.
With the poky apartment now the marital home, I mentally began work on the ‘feminine touch’ shopping list. It included a double mattress minus visible springs, triple locks (due to what-could-have-been gunshots from another apartment on our floor last week) and various lifestyle necessities Joe had neglected to purchase such as an espresso machine, a floor-length mirror and some semblance of a wardrobe.
I was aching to put a stamp on the pre and post-me life of Joe. Prior to the wedding, my week at Chez Petrozzi had done little to reshape the long-established
. The fridge still contained a half-eaten jar of mustard and sausages minus much-needed biohazard tape. Sybil, Joe’s Shih Tzu, growled each time I approached her meal mat and the main staple of Joe’s film collection appeared to be porn.