Summer was sick to her stomach for days after talking with Officer Angelo. She knew she should have told him about her relationship with her neighbor, Terry Dugan, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. Besides, Terry couldn’t possibly have killed her dog. Not if he loved her like he’d said. It had to be Dan Green or god knows who else. Still there was something about Terry’s demeanor that night when he returned home late to find her and Nathan sitting outside drinking. He’d been pretty drunk himself, making it even harder for Summer to read him. He seemed genuinely surprised about Alfie, but wasn’t particularly consoling. At the time, Summer attributed it to their recent break up, that and the fact that Nathan was with her. Terry had definitely displayed a jealous streak over the last few months. He had insisted on her not seeing, and definitely not sleeping, with anyone else. He got particularly annoyed when Summer would let Nathan - the two were just friends - stay on her couch from time-to-time when Nathan had had too much to drink or was too high to drive.
Even once it had occurred to Summer that Terry may well have done this terrible thing, she didn’t contact the police. As far as Summer was concerned, she had told Officer Angelo the truth, at least to a point. She saw very little of her next door neighbor because of their crazy work schedules. Summer, who usually opened at The Coffee Shop, was out of the house by 5:15, and Terry almost never got home until after 10:00 pm. Once in a while they’d see each other in the evening, just long enough to exchange greetings.
It all started early one morning when Terry came in looking for a large black coffee. Normally he didn’t drink coffee, but Terry had been up half the night drinking and was hurting, as he’d said, “big time.” Since he had some time to kill before work, he sat down at the coffee bar. Summer couldn’t remember what they’d talked about, probably the weather or maybe the club scene in Newport. It was a comfortable conversation. Terry liked to charm and Summer liked to be charmed. Several of her friends had warned Summer early on when she expressed interest in Terry, about his reputation. It wasn’t like Summer to get involved with an older guy, but she genuinely liked Terry. Typical of Summer, she thought she could manage the situation. From the very beginning she knew she shouldn’t be involved with someone who lived so close, but she also believed that the relationship - if you could even call it that - was just casual. The close proximity was just another convenience that worked for both of them. By its very nature their relationship was supposed to be uncomplicated. No one knew, and no one ever would.
Summer and Terry had agreed to keep their relationship quiet from the beginning. The secrecy added just the right amount of mystery and excitement. They’d take turns surprising one another. Summer, would be waiting in Terry’s bed when he got home. Terry would send flowers to Summer at The Coffee Shop with cards signed "from your secret admirer." The female baristas would crowd around a large box of ruby red roses, or a vase filled with orange lilies when they arrived for Summer, each questioning her endlessly. Summer would join in this guessing game. Who was this secret admirer? Was it a customer? Maybe an old boyfriend? Nathan would have to deny responsibility for these beautiful bouquets more than once. Summer enjoyed the attention. It was, throughout that long cold winter, just the right diversion. All the fun and none of the drama.
As winter passed, Terry became more demanding of Summer's time. He started suggesting that they take "it" public. Summer managed to dissuade him, by agreeing to spend more time in his apartment. At the same time Terry was demanding more time and attention from Summer, she had begun to hear rumors that Terry was actually involved with another woman, Laura Palmer, an old girlfriend from high school. The last thing Summer was going to tolerate was the same old double standard. Besides, Summer wasn't really interested in a long term relationship with Terry. She liked him well enough, but love, like spring, had yet to appear.
It came to a head a week or so before Alfie’s little life was snuffed out. Terry and Summer had spend the early part of the evening drinking and getting high. They had just finished fucking - Summer insisted on calling it that. Terry preferred making love. They were wrapped around one another when Terry started talking.
"Look Sum, I know you don't want to hear this, but I really have fallen for you. I mean it," Terry paused, but only momentarily. He didn't want her to cut him off yet. "Seriously, I love you. We have a great time together, right? The sex is great. I don't see why we can't step out of the shadows now that we've given it some time,” again, Terry paused. This time hoping Summer might agree.
Summer said nothing.
Terry continued. "I know we agreed to keep it light, but the truth is I can't. I think about you all time. Look, I’m not that good with words ok? But I know what I want when I want it. And I want you. Hell, Summer, I need you in my life, my everyday life. We could live together. What do you say? Summer, please say something."
Summer said nothing.
"Christ, Summer," Terry said, turning again to face her. Pulling her close, he pushed the blond hair from her face and stared into her blue eyes. "What's a guy got to do, Summer, to hold on to you?" Not expecting a response, Terry continued. "Is it the age difference?” The two were eleven years apart.
"Terry, who is Laura Palmer?"
"Laura is an old high school sweetheart, why?"
"Are you still seeing her?"
"Who told you that?"
"Terry, answer the question. Are you still seeing her?"
"What do you mean by seeing?"
"Let's not play that game Terry. I can't have Nathan over to my apartment, but you can fuck your old high school sweetheart?"
"Jesus, Summer. Who said anything about…”
"Terry, you're good at a lot of things, but lying isn't one of them."
Terry knew she was right. The fact that he felt the way he did now for Summer, made it even harder for him to lie. He'd only seen Laura a couple of times. She came back to town following her divorce and called him one night after a few drinks. She said she just wanted to get together to talk. Terry knew when he'd agreed to meet her that it would end up being more than talk. He went anyway. Now, Laura had become the fuck buddy, not Summer, but he knew he couldn't say that either.
"Terry, I think we need to end this thing now."
"Summer, I don't have any feelings for Laura. She doesn't mean a thing to me anymore. "
"So why are you seeing her and why didn't you tell me. If it was no big deal, why is it now?"
"Wait a second Summer, you're the one whose bringing it up."
"That's right Terry, because while you're sending me flowers and declaring your love and talking about living together, you’re still fucking around and keeping secrets. Look, this has been fun, but I'm done. Honestly, we'd be better off as friends at this point."
"Fuck, Summer. I'll end it with Laura ok?"
"Don't bother Terry."
"You really don't believe I love you?"
"That's not really the question. Terry, I don't believe you, and I'm sure as hell certain that I can't trust you. “
"Damn it, Summer. You're twisting this all around."
"No Terry, I'm just not letting you twist it in the direction you want it to go. I told you I'm not interested in a long term relationship, or marriage, or whatever else it is you're proposing."
The two were both quiet now. Terry had pulled away from her. Sitting up, he reached for a bottle of Maker's Mark on the bed side table. He took a long drink. He didn't know what to say and hoped he could wait her out. He thought maybe he could distract her by suggesting they smoke some more pot. Summer lay on her back. When he turned toward her, she pulled the sheet up over her bare breasts, but continued to stare at him unblinkingly. He waited for what seemed a long time. He could hear the first crickets creaking slowly outside in the foggy night.
"Alright, fine. If that's how you want it, fine.”
"Terry, I think it's best. Look it's been great fun." Summer laughed nervously now.
"Great fun huh? That's what it's been? Fuck you, Summer."
"Now who's twisting everything around."
"What the fuck, Summer?"
"We agreed at the beginning about what this would be. You're the one that's changing the rules now."
"What rules, what the fuck are you talking about. Is this how you justify this bullshit? What rules? Is this a game to you, Summer?"
"No, Terry, it's a game to you and right now you're losing."
"Jesus woman you are harsh aren't you?" Terry grabbed his pants from the floor and slipped them on quickly. He wanted the advantage of being dressed. "You know what bitch? You can go fuck yourself."
"Terry come on."
“Terry come on what, please you again, send you fucking roses, what come on?"
Just then Summer heard Alfie barking in the living room.
"Don't be an asshole Terry."
"Oh now I'm an asshole?" He had his shirt on and was buttoning it. "Shut that fucking dog up will you?"
"I think you should go."
"What the fuck do you think I'm doing?"
"Fine, then just go."
"I'm fucking going." He was looking for his shoes now and heading toward the bedroom door. Alfie was barking louder.
"Alfie's not bothering you." Summer was reaching for her clothes on her side of the bed from underneath the sheet.
"He's going to wake up the whole fucking neighborhood."
“Maybe if you'd stop shouting he'd stop barking."
"Maybe if you'd shove it."
"God, you are immature aren't you?"
"Summer, don't fuck with me."
"That's timely advice coming from you."
"I mean it."
“Just go Terry."
Terry was out of the room and heading for the living room shouting at the dog to be quiet. Summer slipped a T-shirt on over a pair of pajama bottoms, and followed him out.
"Fucking dog," Terry said, slamming the door as he stepped out into the damp cold dark.
Summer tried to quiet the dog, but for the next half hour, Alfie could not be consoled. It didn't help that Terry kept banging on the wall and swearing. Both of them thought about calling the police. Neither of them did.
If you missed the previous installment of Success Through Failure click here: