The hailstones leapt from the pavement, like maggots fried in hot grease. This storm promised to be pretty much like quite a number of other storms we’d had this winter, except for the fact that the precipitation, although being a shade of white that approximated snow, was actually quite a bit harder and more apt to raise a welt if it hit you on the head, which shouldn’t be a problem if you’re smart enough to come inside. I put my feet up on my desk and set my mind free like one of those flowers, the Wandering Jew. The irony didn’t escape me either—me being a catholic and all… I stared at the red brick wall, the one that was the same color as a brick red Crayola® crayon.
She walked into my office like a centipede with ninety-eight missing legs, and caught my eye quicker than one of those pointy hook latches that used to dangle from screen doors and would fly up whenever you banged the door open again.
Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two opposite sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master®, and her eyes were limpid pools, only they had forgotten to put in any of that chemical pH-adjuster. I knew she was trouble. When she looked back at me, my thoughts tumbled in my head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free®. I struggled to keep my composure, but I knew it was no use. I was about to fall for her like a mob informant falls into the East River, except that, hopefully, I wouldn’t splash when my blanket-wrapped cadaver hit the water.
"Can I help you?” I asked. I know… it was inane. Whenever I’m tense, I mutter the first thing that comes to mind. Thankfully, it was after lunch, so I wasn’t subconsciously led to ‘Would you like that super-sized?’
”Maybe…” She spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it. Her raven hair glistened like nose hair after a sneeze.After she spoke, a thunderclap broke the silence; an ominous sound, much like that of a thin sheet of metal being shaken backstage during the storm scene in an off-Broadway play that can’t afford a special-effects machine. The whole room had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and Jeopardy® comes on at 5:00 p.m. instead of 5:30, and our conversation seemed as forced as the dialogue during the interview portion. Is that Alex Trebek a weenie, or what?
“Look, sister, I’m a busy guy…” I tried to sell her cool… with all the effectiveness of a little boat gently drifting across a pond in the exact same way a bowling ball wouldn't.
“Oh?” Her eyes were like two brown circles with big black dots in the center. She leaned against the desk, scooting her butt onto one corner as she crossed her legs, forcing my eyes to the pink flesh the same way a rancher forces a calf into a chute before he pokes it with a Hot-Shot. “I have a message for you. Remember your buddy, Hackstraw?”
I wasn’t about to fall for this old ruse… “I have lots of buddies,” I scoffed. “And don’t call me Hackstraw! If you’d looked at the door when you came in, you’d know my name is Smithers. I know a guy named Hackstraw, though.” That ought to let her know she’s not dealing with a pinhead. I have a mind like a steel trap, and not one that has been left out in the weather so long it’s rusted shut, either.
Now, she looked as perplexed as a hacker who means to access P:thur.quim102.comaaa/ch@ung but gets P:thur.quimaaa/ch@ung by mistake. In her long fingers, she held a tapered white cylinder that looked as long as one of those cigarettes you might see Bette Davis or Joan Crawford smoking, only without the holder. Her artistic sense was obviously exquisitely refined, like someone who can tell butter from I Can't Believe It's Not Butter®.
Her voice was so husky it could have pulled a dogsled, and she possessed a deep, throaty, genuine laugh-- like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up. She reached into her bag and pulled out a dagger, holding it up in front of her. A blind man could see it was as sharp as the tone used by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee(D-TX) in her first several points of parliamentary procedure made to Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) in the House Judiciary Committee hearings on the impeachment of President William Jefferson Clinton.
“I pulled this out of him when I found him laying behind my building. Hackstraw fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty® bag filled with alphabet soup.“ Her vocabulary was as bad as, like… well, like whatever, know what I mean? She stood up and walked closer to me, looking very much like someone I had never seen before. I hadn’t noticed her height, but she was as tall as a five-foot-ten-inch tree. This woman was some package, all right… one of those that UPS® leaves at your door, the one you don’t have to sign for.
Even then, I knew we were destined to be one; long separated by cruel fate, I envisioned us as star-crossed lovers racing across a grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Youngstown at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from South Bend at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.
In my muddled state, the pistol she now brandished had gone unnoticed, like the period after the Dr. on a Dr Pepper® can, but it was big enough to give me a bad case of barrel envy. She had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while. Was that lust in her eyes or was she simply crazy as the wacko who gets locked up for killing a whole bunch of people?
We’d never met, but there we were… just like two hummingbirds that had also never met. Now, I was lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, mind you, but a real duck that was actually lame… maybe from accidentally stepping on an extremely sharp pebble or a land mine or something, use your imagination, I’m sure you can come up with something vivid and interesting.
Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do. "Oh, Jason, take me!" she panted, her breasts heaving like a college freshman on Dollar-A-Beer Night. That exact moment was the one time in my life that I actually wished my name was Jason. Dropping the pistol, she wrapped her arms around me, a ballerina gracefully standing en pointe and extending one slender leg behind her like a dog at a fire hydrant.
Silently, for a moment we swayed like an oscillating electric fan set on medium. She was growing on me like E Coli on room-temperature ground round. It was becoming more and more apparent that she was as easy as a TV Guide crossword. When she sat down on my lap, I thought I heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.
Sweet nothings wafted into my willing ears. Her voice had that tense, grating quality, like a first-generation thermal paper fax machine that needed a band adjustment.
But, she wouldn’t make a sucker out of me. She was just a little too slick, a little too accomplished. For her, this was as much a tradition as a father chasing his kids around the back yard with a chainsaw— No, no! I wouldn’t be her patsy!
Suddenly, filled with revulsion, I looked at her and saw my ex-wife’s face. Once again, I saw in her expression the revelation that our marriage of twenty years had disintegrated because of her infidelity. It came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM. It hurt the way your tongue hurts after you accidentally staple it to the wall… I hate it when that happens.
What did this broad want?
To be continued… (possibly)