Rafael Hernandez, forty-seven year old married father of two was a twenty- year employee of the Orange County Parks and Recreation Department who loved to get together with his co-workers for a little pool once a month. He was the consummate family man, coach of his daughters’ soccer teams, deacon in his home church and faithful husband. Rafael’s wife Benita was most proud of the loving home and family she and Rafael grew and maintained over the past eighteen years. Their daughters Maria fourteen and Marta, nine were loving little girls who excelled academically and athletically as well. Rafael spent all of his time with his family or at work except for that one night a month that he played pool with the fellas. Miguel, a younger coworker whom Rafael had grown fond of shared a meal with Rafael’s family on this particular night before they left to play pool. Miguel needed a designated driver; he had intentions of tying one on that night. Rafael was a non-drinker so he really didn’t mind driving his young friend. In actuality he liked the young man’s company; being in his presence helped Rafael recapture his youth somewhat. Over dinner they enjoyed light conversation filled with laughter and smiles.
“So Miguel, you still thinking about studying abroad?”
Benita asked all smiles, beaming with pride for the young man and the bright future he had ahead of him. She viewed Miguel as somewhat of a surrogate son, the boy she never had.
“Yes, they have a program in Barcelona that seems very interesting. After I get my bachelor’s degree I’ll be on my way.”
Rafael chimed in.
“I thought you were going to play second base for the Rays or the Marlins. You’ve got a great glove, pull that batting average up a little bit and you never know what can happen.”
“I appreciate that Rafael but I’ve got a long ways to go to make it into the big leagues. That’s just a pipe dream at this point. I think I would be better served furthering my education rather than counting on my limited athletic ability to provide me with fame and riches.”
Miguel finished his statement with a light chuckle and Benita patted him on his shoulder supportively. Miguel continued on.
“I do intend to finish the season strong though and win the division title.”
Rafael encouraged his young fiend further.
“That a boy. Well, what ever you decide to do with your future I know you will be successful.”
Miguel turned his attention to young Maria and Marta.
“So I hear both you girls are the leading goal scorers for your teams and both of your teams are first place.”
The girls answered in unison.
They both giggled at their synchronicity. Rafael looked on proudly at his two budding little superstars.
“Yea the girls are really playing their hearts out this season.”
He looked down at his watch then rushed Miguel along.
“C’mon Miguel finish up so we won’t be late. I’m playing Carlos in the first game and I can’t wait to kick his butt.”
Benita tried to no avail to slow her husband down and extend their lovely meal.
“Give him time to finish his meal Rafael, he’s still a growing boy.”
They all shared a laugh as Miguel stuffed the last of his third helping into his mouth, stood, patted the two little girls on the head and thanked Mrs. Hernandez for the wonderful meal. Both men climbed into Rafael’s truck and they were in their way.
“So Miguel, you go out last night?”
“Yea, I met a new chica last week named Juanita. We were together last night but we don’t really go out much if you know what I mean.”
Rafael chuckled along with his young buddy before responding.
“Oh what I wouldn’t do to be nineteen or twenty again.”
“When you played college ball I’m sure you had all the girls.”
“Well… I had a few but I was never quite what you would call a ladies man and I certainly wasn’t a gigolo like you.”
“I’m not a gigolo, I accept a few gifts here and there but I don’t give it up just to get money. I can’t be bought, no old broads and no fat chicks.”
They shared another laugh as Rafael pulled into the pool hall. They could see Carlos, Raul and Raymond through the window sitting at the bar waiting on them. Rafael and Miguel entered the establishment to joyful greetings and genuine smiles from their coworkers.
“Hola Rafael, Miguel. How you ladies doing tonight? You ready for your pool lesson?”
Carlos started in with his normal playful teasing as he shook each man’s hand and ushered them to the bar. The friends played a round robin tournament with Rafael emerging as the victor. He won twenty bucks from each guy and all the Sprite he could drink. The rest of the guys threw back pitcher after pitcher while sharing stories about their conquests of the past. Miguel was the only one with current relationships to boast about. Many of Carlos’ were fictional. Rafael knew this to be true but never called him on it. Unfortunately for Rafael he had only been with two women other than his wife in his entire life. Young Miguel was no fool either but he played along humoring his older friend.
“Really Carlos you had the mother in the basement and the daughter in the bedroom at the same time?!”
Raul and Raymond rolled their eyes at one another in disbelief as Carlos continued on with his Latin “Mrs. Robinson” story. Later the conversation drifted to back to pool and a website the guys all visited where pool enthusiast congregated to talk about their favorite hobby. They shared tips, old pool stories and information on up coming tournaments in the area. In addition to the postings and comment area members could also chat privately with one another. Raul, Raymond, Carlos and Miguel were already members so they encouraged Rafael, or “The Shark” as they called him, to join as well.
“Yea Shark you should join, it’s only twelve bucks a month. It’s called RiskyRack.com.”
Rafael scratched his chin and pondered if he should do it or not.
“I don’t know guys, you know I’m not real good with computers and I don’t know if Benita would like it.”
Carlos couldn’t pass up the chance to make jokes at his buddy’s expense.
“Oh don’t tell me Rafael can’t go on the computer without Mama’s permission. I thought you were The Shark, your acting more like a blow fish; because that blows. You have to be the king of your castle Papi. Do you wear the crown or the apron?”
The group chuckled and even Rafael had to crack a smile.
“Relax fellas, I’m the captain of my ship. I just like to talk things over with my wife that’s all and I am still The Shark. I just kicked all of your butts didn’t I?”
Rafael had a laugh of his own then snatched the beverage napkin from Carlos’ hand that he’d written the name of the website on. The guys hung out around the bar for another hour or so before heading home. Rafael dropped Miguel off at his place then made the short drive to his home. His dog Pedro met him at the door, tail wagging. Rafael offered his pet a treat then looked in on his daughters. Both girls were fast asleep so he made his way to the master bedroom where his wife lay a awake reading a novel under the soft glow of her nightlight.
“Did you have a goodtime Ralphy?”
“Yes Sweetheart, a goodtime was had by all.”
“Did you win?”
“Yup, every game, like taking candy from a baby.”
“Well good Baby, I’m glad you had fun, now come to bed.”
“Sure Sweetheart. Oh the guys told me about a pool website they go on, it costs twelve dollars a month. I’d like to join too. Is that okay?”
“Sure Honey, you deserve to have some outlets. You work so hard.”
“Thank you Benita, thank you.”
She rubbed her husbands back then turned and put her book mark in between the pages she was reading. Benita turned off her night light as he turned on his.
“Now come to bed Ralphy.”
With that being said Rafael kicked his shoes off, stripped down to his underclothes, turned off the light and slid under the covers.
The next morning Benita woke early, prepared breakfast and helped the girls get ready for school before kissing Rafael goodbye and heading off to the law firm where she was a paralegal. Rafael left shortly afterwards driving Maria and Marta to their schools then heading to Barnett Park to start his shift. He was in high spirits looking forward to his daughters’ soccer games later that evening. Raphael visualized both his girls earning scholarships to play in college if they continued on the paths they were on. The father/coach couldn’t be more proud. After work Rafael picked his girls up from school, walked the dog with them, then cooked dinner for the family. When Benita arrived home from work the family sat down to dinner together, said their grace then dug in. Two hours later the girls were on the field dominating once again. Rafael ran up and down the sideline giving instruction while beaming ear to ear. Both Maria and Marta won their games by two goals and each girl had a goal and an assist. The family celebrated at Twisty Treat the girls favorite ice cream parlor after the game. When they arrived home the girls showered and went to bed while Benita and Rafael settled in for a little “mommy and daddy time”. They climbed into their marital bed and tried to rekindle their romance. It wasn’t meant to be. Rafael couldn’t quite perform leaving him feeling slightly inadequate. Benita, the ever supportive wife, wouldn’t allow her husband to feel low about his lack of sexual prowess.
“It’s ok honey, it happens to everybody. We’ve been together a long time and sometimes we need to do things to spice it up a little bit. I love you Baby and I know you love me, tonight’s just not our night.”
She gave a faint smile and Rafael sat up in bed. Benita rubbed him on his back, Rafael turned around and put his feet on the floor. He slid his slippers on before speaking.
“I think I’m going to go read a book or something Babe. You go ahead and get some sleep.”
Benita could hear the somberness in his voice. She really had no rebuttal for him that would restore his confidence. So she simply responded.
“Ok Honey, just don’t stay up too late.”
With that being said he walked slowly down the hall with his tail between his legs. Rafael turned on the hood light over the stove once he reached the kitchen. He grabbed a book off the counter and cracked it open. As he looked down into it he saw the beverage napkin with the pool website written on it out of the corner of his eye. He placed the book down and picked the napkin up.
“What the hell.”
He thought to himself as he sat down at the desk in his living room and pushed the button to turn on his tower. Next Rafael reached forward and turned on the monitor. After typing in his password he logged onto the internet.
Rafael mumbled to himself as he typed in the web address. As soon as his membership was completed he logged into his friend Carlos’ group. There he saw all of his friends’ avatars playing virtual games of pool against one another. They recognized him as soon as he arrived. Carlos was as loud and boisterous online as he was in person with his quick humor and easy insults. Rafael’s member name was “Antonio The Ace”. He wanted to relive a bit of his youth reminiscing on times when he was the ace of his high school’s pitching staff and a top prospect in the state of Florida. The guys joked and talked pool while enjoying ads for different pool halls in the southeastern states of America. Eventually they were joined by others including a young girl who called herself “Luscious Little Latina”. She and Rafael hit it off right away. They had so much in common, or so the luscious little Latina thought. She had no idea that she was chatting online with a man who was old enough to be her father. Rafael had taken on the identity of his profile name. He explained himself to be Antonio Vargas, twenty-two year old minor league pitcher and lover of poetry. He posted a picture of himself as an eighteen year old senior in high school in his baseball uniform.
“So you play minor league baseball? That’s so cool! Do you think you’ll make it to the major leagues?”
“Well I think I’m on my way but it’s tough to make it to the big leagues.”
“You seem like you’re dedicated so I’m sure you’ll make it one day.”
“So, you’re a senior in high school?”
“Yea, I’m hoping to go to UCF after I get my associates degree from Valencia Community College.”
“That’s smart to go to community college first to get yourself ready for a four year university.”
“So, Antonio Vargas do you have a girlfriend?”
“No, I was dating someone but we broke up before I went on the road with the team.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, I’m sure it’s her loss.”
Rafael got the name Antonio Vargas from a program of a single A Baseball team. He was the ace of the staff just as Rafael was as a youth. Rafael figured that the girl wouldn’t know enough about Baseball to find him out. The two chatted that night for hours getting to know one another better until he was interrupted by his loving wife. When she entered the room he was quick to minimize the chat icon and answer her.
“Rafael, you coming to bed Baby? It’s getting late and you’ve got to work early in the morning.”
“Yes Babe, I’m about to log off now. I’ll be there in about five minutes.”
She kissed him on the cheek, exited the living room and went back to bed. Rafael ended his chat with his Luscious Little Latina by saying that he had curfew and his coach would be doing his rounds soon to be sure that all the players were in bed. She respectfully wished him a goodnight and they both promised to talk to one another the following night.
The next day seemed to drag on for Rafael as he daydreamed about his Luscious Little Latina. After work he came home walked the dog, cooked dinner for his daughters then attended their soccer practices. Rafael was just going through the motions, biding his time until he could chat with his new friend later that evening. His wife noticed that Rafael seemed to be a little distant on the drive home after the practices.
“Honey, you ok? Rafael?!”
He was caught daydreaming.
“Oh, I’m sorry Baby were you saying something?”
“I was just asking if you were alright, are you?”
“Yes, I’m fine. I was just thinking about work tomorrow.”
“Is everything going well at work?”
“Yea, yea sure; I just need to get some things together for the Frisbee Golf tournament next week.”
Benita reached over and ran her fingers through her husband’s hair. Then she patted him on his shoulder before responding to Rafael’s plight.
“Baby don’t let that job stress you out, you guys take great care of that park. I’m proud of the job you do.”
Benita always knew just what to say to make her man feel whole again when he was down. She understood Rafael’s frustration in being in what he felt was essentially a dead end job. He had been faithful to that job for over two decades and faithful to his family as well, until now. His daydreams were of a young girl just a few years older than his own daughters. He responded blandly to his wife’s encouragement.
“Oh, don’t worry we’ll get it done in time.”
Twenty minuets later they pulled into their driveway, once inside Rafael hurried the girls to shower and get to bed. Benita was on the family computer finishing up some work from the firm. Rafael got antsy as he waited for her to get done. He watched a little Sports Center and took out the trash. Benita was still hard at work. Rafael watched parts of a Professional Pool Tournament as well before growing a little impatient.
“Honey you going to be on the computer much longer?”
“No, I just have a few more things to do. Why, you want to use it?”
“Ah, yea I wanted to log on to the pool site. I told the guys I would be on tonight.”
“Don’t you guys get enough of each other at work? When did you become such a fan of the computer anyway? You used to never use it.”
“It’s just a little harmless outlet for me, that’s all.”
“Well ok Mr. I’ll be off in about ten minutes.”
“Thank you Honey.”
He walked into the kitchen and poured himself a glass of orange juice then plopped back down in front of the television. Rafael stared blankly at the television while fantasizing about chatting with his Luscious Little Latina. Ten minutes seemed like ten hours to him as he pretended to wait patiently for Benita to finish her work. Finally to his delight she walked over and told him she was done.
“Ok Pool Guy the computer is all yours.”
Rafael tried to play coy as if he were so engulfed in the sports report that he hadn’t noticed she’d finished.
“Oh Honey, you’re done?”
“Yea the computer is all yours.”
“Oh, thank you. Let me see what the guys are up to tonight.”
“Well have fun Baby, I’m going to shower and get to bed.”
She walked over kissed him on his forehead and trotted away as they said goodnight simultaneously. Rafael waited for her to enter the bedroom then bedroom bathroom and close the door behind her before he got up and walked over to the computer. His palms got sweaty and his heartbeat quickened as he logged on. Slightly erect he became as soon as he saw her avatar.
“I’ve missed you, how was practice today?”
“Same as usual, I need to get more movement on my breaking ball. Coach is trying to help me with that. How was school today?”
“The usual, I can’t wait to graduate.”
As the Luscious Little Latina rambled on about high school life it suddenly dawned on Rafael that he didn’t even know her name. He may not have known her name but he knew he couldn’t do without her; she gave him his youth back.
“Well, when are you going to ask me?”
“When am I going to ask you what?
“You know; my name?”
It was as if she was reading his mind.
“I feel like I know so well already but yes, I was wondering what your real name was.”
“Christina, Christina Gomez.”
“That’s a beautiful name for a beautiful girl.”
“Oh that reminds me I want to send you something to your email.”
“What are you going to send me?”
“Just give me your email silly, you’ll see.”
Rafael reluctantly gave her his email and two minutes later she asked him to check it. What he found was a pleasant surprise. She attached six photos of herself in a bathing suite to the email. With a note attached saying that there were more to come. Christina was lovely, 5’2”, long brown hair, ample hips, buttocks and bosom with the softest hazel eyes he had ever seen. It was false love at first sight for Rafael.
“I love your photos, you’re even more beautiful than I imagined.”
“Oh thank you, you’re too sweet.”
“Are there really more to come :-0 ?”
“If you like.”
“Oh, I like.”
“LOL, you’re so crazy.”
The two love birds chatted for another hour before Rafael parted her cyber company on the false pretence of once again trying to make curfew. Rafael hadn’t been this excited in years; this girl gave him a new lease on life; without knowing, she motivated him to get in better shape. He now desired to feel and look young so Rafael started running and working out everyday after work. The pounds started to melt off as he became more dedicated to his physical fitness. There was one issuer though… Benita. Benita was working a lot more from home so she needed to use the family computer more frequently and for longer periods of time. Rafael thought of a solution to his problem. He came home with his solution the day after he had to wait for thirty minutes to use the computer for the third day in a way.
“What ya got there mister?”
“Oh I decided to get a lap top so that we could both be online at the same time.”
“Really, you went out and bought a lap top and didn’t even consult me about it? Aren’t you the one who is always concerned about us sticking to a budget?”
“Honey, I never do anything for myself and this is just something that I really wanted and I got a good deal on it. The girls can use it too; they can do their homework on it.”
“I know that you don’t spend much on yourself, I just wish you would’ve talked to me about it first.”
Rafael knew just how to play his wife after being with her for so many years so he offered to take it back.
“If you want me to I’ll take it back to the store. I don’t want you to be upset with me Benita.”
“No, that’s not necessary. You’ve already got it so you may as well keep it and as much as you’re on the computer nowadays maybe it is a good idea for you to have your own.”
He rushed over, embraced her and planted a firm peck on her lips.
“Thank you for being so understanding Sweetheart. I really appreciate it.”
“Anything to make you happy Rafael, enjoy.”
Before she finished her sentence he had already picked up his new lap top and made his way to the basement to charge it. He just couldn’t wait to talk to Christina his Lovely Little Latina.