Chapter 26 – Ruthie’s only choice
Throughout April, Mike quietly continued driving Sam’s truck around
campus and collecting money from meters. It was a routine that he
started to enjoy, apart from the extra income that he was taking in. He
spent his afternoons listening to news on the radio, took breaks when he
wanted, and spent most of his time working alone. He could certainly see
why Sam had no ambition to do anything else, because it was not a
Nevertheless, Mike realized that he would need to start taking a
ticketing machine with him, because the freeloaders of Lot Econ-A had
noticed that he no longer was out there to harass them. Meter
collections began to drop as students returned to the lot and found
their cars had been parked all day and were not ticketed. No, that
wouldn’t do. Those meters were Mike’s main source of personal income and
those little bastards had no right to just sit there and not pay.
Starting on the fifth week of Sam’s vacation, Mike always took a
ticketing machine with him when he worked the meters and spent as much
time writing tickets as he spent emptying canisters. He started working
hard again, not because of his old determination to persecute the rich
crowd, but because he wanted to make sure the meters (especially the
ones that were jammed) always got paid.
During the sixth week of Sam’s absence, Mike accelerated both his
ticketing and his collections. He figured out how to jam meters himself
without making it look suspicious, and in doing so took in an extra
couple hundred dollars per day. He assumed that Sam would be back next
week and with his co-worker’s return, his “perk” would come to an end.
It turned out Sam wasn’t coming back. The department director took
advantage of his absence to force him into retirement. Over the next
several weeks Mike would hear enough rumors and gossip to figure out
that Sam was forced out because of his health insurance premiums, which
had been set up decades before during a time there still was money in
personnel budgets for that type of thing. It was ironic that had Sam
known about the health insurance issue, he easily could have paid the
premiums from the money he was taking out of the meters. However,
because the manager considered Sam an honest and loyal employee, he
assumed that there was no way Sam had the extra income needed to pay
those high premiums. It was easier to push him into retirement.
Mike was aghast when he realized what the department had done to his
mentor. He also felt very guilty about his role in facilitating Sam’s
removal, because it was obvious that he had been selected not to assist
Sam, but to replace him. Neither Mike nor Sam had any clue that was what
had been plotted in the front office. When he found out the full story,
he wanted to call Sam and apologize, but…apologize for what? That he had
been the pawn that was used by the director to make sure Sam could be
pushed out the door?
Mike knew that the department, on paper at least, would save a bundle by
replacing Sam with a student employee. Mike’s pay went up only slightly
and he was not eligible for any benefits. Also, Mike would be even
easier to replace than Sam if he ever ended up costing the department
too much in wages.
Throughout the final weeks of the semester Mike noticed that two other
older employees of the parking department had disappeared, also forced
into retirement, no doubt. By the beginning of May noticed that the
dispatcher was not her usual smirky sarcastic self. At the end of the
semester, she too would be gone.
Because Mike was more observant than most of the other student
employees, he could understand how truly corrupt the parking department
was. The department was a money-making machine, and yet it did not share
any of its income with the rest of the university. Obviously a huge
amount of money had been spent to build the parking garage, but a lot of
that expense had been funded with credit and not paid up front. As for
everything else…the parking trucks were old and in poor condition, the
meters were all older (which was part of the reason some of them were
always jammed), and the parking lots received only minimal maintenance.
So where was all the money going? Not to the employees, that was for
sure, because the students were earning barely more than minimum wage
and had no benefits. Well, conditions in the main office totally
contrasted with what was outside. The secretaries had the newest
computers and office furniture and the director had an oak desk. Mike
started noticing what the office staff was driving to work. All of them
had very nice cars. So…that was what the efforts of Mike and his
co-workers were paying for: a fancy office and fancy cars for the
director and his favorite staff members. As Sam had said:
“Ain’t spending it on us, that’s for sure.”
So… at the beginning of the seventh week of Sam’s absence, Officer #
36’s temporary assignment became permanent. Permanent, in a manner of
speaking, because he could be dismissed at any moment. But, as long as
he could hold onto his job, Mike would grab as much money as he could
and pad his savings. He wouldn’t think about the future, because the
future would come soon enough. He would concentrate on the money,
because to have money was to have power and control over one’s own fate.
As he stared at the growing stacks of rolled quarters hidden in the
wardrobe of his dorm room, a thought crossed his mind: the possibility
of helping his dad make mortgage payments. Why not? If he continued with
his new gig into the foreseeable future, why couldn’t he use some of
those quarters to give back to his dad?
Mike pondered what to do. The problem with helping his parents was that
Mr. Sinclair would want to know where he was getting the money. If he
suspected that Mike was obtaining his money from doing something
illegal, he would angrily refuse it. Mr. Sinclair always had been
scrupulously honest and would berate his son for touching “dirty money”.
There was some hypocrisy in his attitude, because of what he was
planning to do to his lender when they foreclosed. However, he
considered his slight-of-hand with the “underwater mortgage” payback to
an economic system that had betrayed him, and thus different from what
his son was doing: stealing money outright.
Still, it was a relief for Mike to think that he no longer was worried
about his own finances and instead had enough money to start worrying
about those around him. Another pleasant thought occurred to him: he now
was in a position to help his girlfriend. If she wanted to, Ruthie could
tell Jake Burns to go fuck himself. At the rate he was bringing in
money, Mike would have enough to pay her tuition as well as his own and
still have plenty to spare. As for living in the dorm next year, there
would be no need for that. He’d get an apartment and simply have her
move in with him.
Ruthie did notice the ongoing change in her boyfriend’s fortunes. Now,
if he wanted something, he bought it. If she wanted something, he bought
it. That became especially apparent when Mike and Ruthie went to his
parents’ house to celebrate Easter and Mike treated his entire family to
a catered Easter dinner. The food was the best food anyone sitting at
the table had eaten for a long time and must have cost Mike a small
fortune. Ruthie noticed that her boyfriend’s parents were grateful for
their son’s generosity. However, they also appeared bewildered
concerning where he could have earned the money. Mike sensed his
father’s unease, so he talked about the change of assignment at his job
as though it were a major promotion and told them that he had received a
Ruthie wondered what really was going on at Mike’s job, because back in
January Mike had mentioned that he was working with one of the older
employees and it did not seem like his meter job was that big of a deal.
Now all of a sudden it was a big deal, and there was no further mention
of that older co-worker. She knew that something was going on.
However, she decided not to confront him about it. It was nice to see
him not so bitter about his life, and even nicer to be dating a person
that had some money and was willing to spend it on her. There was one
favor in particular that convinced her to not ask questions. A few days
after Easter, she had a bad toothache. Two mornings later he drove her
to Santa Cruz and took her to his dentist. It turned out she needed two
fillings. Ruthie objected, knowing that there was no way she could
afford two fillings and X-rays. The hygienist gave her a strange look.
“Ms. Burns, it’s been taken care of. Your boyfriend just paid.”
“He did? How much was it?”
The hygienist looked at her clipboard. “Looks like it was $ 537
“…and he paid it? All of it? Just like that?”
“Yes. Paid in cash. Why? Is there a problem?”
Ruthie shook her head. Bewildered by her boyfriend’s generosity, she lay
back in the chair and winced as the Novocain was injected into her jaw.
As April progressed and the end of the semester loomed ever closer,
Ruthie understood how totally dependent she had become on Mike. There
was no way she had wanted that to happen, but it seemed that her life
had not given her any choice. All of her attempts to reach out to anyone
other than her boyfriend were rebuffed. Most people were not nearly as
rude to her as Shannon had been, but it was clear that everyone Ruthie
talked to, especially other college students, simply were not interested
in getting to know her.
She knew that there were guys who would have been interested in her, but
only for the same reason that piece of shit at Junior Prom had been
interested in her. She knew that she was physically attractive and that
there were guys who would have brushed aside her creepy personality if
they could use her for their own sexual relief. She wanted no part of
that. The squalid experience on that dirt road two years before was a
sufficiently painful lesson for her. There was no way she’d want to risk
going through that again.
There were women that Ruthie looked at longingly. Jen was the one she
was most attracted to, but there were others. She understood there was
not a chance she’d ever connect. One unpleasant incident at the student
center stood out in her mind; that involved a female customer who
periodically bought coffee at Ruthie’s shop. The student sat down to
drink her coffee just before Ruthie went on break, so Ruthie took her
snack and took a seat at the next table. She sat admiring the other
woman, working up the courage to try to talk to her. Suddenly the
customer stood up, approached Ruthie, and snapped:
“You got a fucking problem?”
Ruthie blushed, but was so shocked that she couldn’t answer. She just
shook her head.
“Then you need to stop staring at me!”
The other girl walked off and Ruthie never saw her again. It was a minor
incident, but one that left her badly shaken.
So that was it. Guys didn’t interest her, she could not connect with any
of the women she liked, and she was becoming increasingly distant from
her family…as though she were ever all that close to them anyway. She
was totally alone, except for a single person who cared about her.
Mike was the only one…
At the end of April, Ruthie received a call from her mother. She was
surprised, because the two women had not spoken to each other for over a
month, not since the conversation when Ruthie “came out” as an atheist.
When she picked up her cell phone, Ruthie tensed up, torn between
wanting to make up with her mother and wanting to be firm with her
opinions about religion.
To Ruthie’s surprise, the topic of religion never came up. Doña Lisette
had other things to worry about. Ruthie’s grandfather had fallen ill,
was bedridden, and required constant care. As the only daughter in the
family, the responsibility fell on Doña Lisette to return to Culiacan
and care for her invalid father. Of course Ruthie’s cousin Alex already
was right there living in his grandparents’ house, but there was not a
chance in Hell he’d demean himself by doing something useful for his
At any other time Doña Lisette would have tried to find another solution
for her father’s care, but at that moment she had nothing to keep her in
the US. Her possessions were gone, she was estranged from her daughter,
and it was very likely she’d finally be laid-off from her job by the
middle of the summer. As far as she was concerned, it was time to go
Ruthie was trying to recover from that shock when her mother hit her
with another piece of bad news. Gerardo’s baby was in coma and was not
expected to survive more than another day or so, which was the reason
she was calling. Doña Lisette wanted Ruthie to go with her to the
funeral, since that probably was going to be the last time she would
have a chance to see her brother and her daughter in the same place.
“Mom…of course I’ll be there. Why wouldn’t I go?”
“I don’t know about you, Ruthie. That’s why I had to call you and ask. I
never know what you’re going to do. I don’t really feel that I know you.
You’re my daughter, but I don’t know who you are.”
No Mom, you really don’t know me, thought Ruthie to herself. You never
knew me. You never understood me, and it was the same with me and you.
Our worlds are different. We’ll never understand each other, but that’s
no one’s fault. I guess it was too bad that we got separated when I was
a little kid…I know that didn’t help any. I know you tried with me. You
did what you could, and maybe I didn’t turn out so bad…not like Alex…but
we’re strangers, and we always will be strangers.
She would have wanted to say some of that, but all she could get out
“Mom…I’ll be there, OK? I’ll be there. You don’t have to guilt-trip me
A funeral is never a pleasant event, and certainly if the ceremony is to
commemorate the death of an infant, that makes a funeral considerably
worse. However, the baby’s funeral was exceedingly somber for another
reason, because it seemed to be, in a way, a funeral for the entire
family. Ruthie’s relatives would be going their separate ways as soon as
the ceremony was over. Her mother was going to back to Mexico, her
cousins Rosa and Alex already were absent, and Ruthie had heard a rumor
that Gerardo and his wife were splitting up. As for herself, she had
always been the outlying member of that family, the one who really never
fit in. She was going away too, because with her mother departing for
Mexico, she would never again have any reason to set foot in Salinas and
had no intention of doing so. Whatever the future held for her, it would
have to be somewhere else.
Ruthie’s mother was not leaving for Mexico until the following day, but
Ruthie decided to say goodbye to her after the funeral had ended and
return to Davenport. They hugged each other for the last time. Whatever
they needed to say to each other would remain unsaid.
That night, Ruthie decided it was time to share her darkest secret with
Mike. She put her bath brush in her backpack and went over to his room.
The two students stripped off their clothes and Mike assumed that they
would be massaging each other shortly and that either he would get to
enter her or would have to settle for a hand-job. Instead, Ruthie laid
the bath brush on the spare desk next to her computer. Already Mike
suspected what she wanted him to do with it, but Ruthie said nothing.
Instead she told him to turn on his computer and handed him the
thumb-drive she had taken to Dr. Hartman’s office a few weeks earlier.
“I’m gonna trust you with something. It’s something that no one, except
my counselor, knows about.”
Mike looked at the pictures in amazement. Ruthie noticed that, when he
was about a fourth the way through, his penis started to stiffen. He was
embarrassed, but he couldn’t help himself. A lot of the pictures were
“You were doing this to yourself?”
Ruthie blushed and nodded.
“With the same brush that’s sitting on the desk. It’s a long story.
Someday I’ll tell it to you, but a lot of it’s in the pictures.”
“It was something you got off on?”
Ruthie blushed and nodded. Then she continued:
“I…I’m feeling kinda sucky right now…I can’t explain it…but I was kinda…you
know…wondering if you’d like to…you know…with the brush…”
She noticed his penis was totally erect. He was blushing. She picked up
the brush and handed it to him. Then she placed her hands on his bed and
spread her legs.
Even though he already had spanked her once, Mike couldn’t believe what
Ruthie was doing. She was asking him to punish her.
Mike’s mind was full of doubts over what he was about to do. Among other
concerns he was wondering what would happen if Ruthie modeled in art
class on Monday with bruises on her bottom. However, he was more worried
about hurting her lovely body. He treasured the sight of his
girlfriend’s naked figure and was reluctant to do anything to injure
her. And yet, at that moment he found the sight of her bent over his bed
He positioned himself and touched the brush to her bottom. She was
trembling slightly. He was curious and did not start spanking right
away. Instead he rubbed the back of the brush over her vulnerable
backside. She took a deep breath and started trembling more, but did not
move out of position. Finally he was ready to begin.
He started out slowly, giving her moderately hard swats on the lower and
middle part of her bottom. He was careful to hit only one side at a time
and not hit anywhere near her hips or her pelvis. He suspected that in
high school she had probably punished herself in rapid bursts, nerved
herself for the next round, and then started with another burst. He
would not punish her rapidly, but make her anticipate each swat. He
struck, then rubbed the brush over the next spot where he planned to
hit, and struck again. The spanking was very painful and unnerving for
Ruthie. Her knees were trembling. She just wished the spanking were over
with, but the irony was that it was up to her to end it. All she had to
do was tell Mike to stop, and yet she was determined not to do so. She
wanted the spanking to be as severe as possible.
Finally, she did break down and started crying. Mike noticed that no
longer were her knees shaking from fear and anticipation, but instead
her upper body was shaking from sobs. Mike was totally aroused, but he
knew that, unlike the night of her birthday, she was not aroused at all.
And yet, she needed a release…and was trying to find it with the
bath-brush. Her bottom already was very red and swollen.
Mike didn’t want to hurt her any further. He placed his hand on her
“That’s enough, Ruthie. I want you to stand up.”
She obeyed him and stood up. She then hugged him and cried into his
shoulder. They said nothing more.
They lay together in Mike’s bed. Tears were still running down her
cheeks when she noticed he was still very hard. She massaged him until
he came. She didn’t want sex that night, but she felt that at the very
least she owed him a hand-job. When he finished and shot semen all over
his stomach, she toweled him off. Then he fell asleep.
For Ruthie sleeping was more difficult because her bottom was so sore,
but that feeling was what she had wanted for the past three years.