Keith staggered into the lobby of his apartment building looking like death warmed over. Jesse’s sub was on duty at the reception desk. A disagreeable blue-eyed blonde, Germanic as best he could tell, chiseled cheekbones, legs nearly up to her neck. Probably a frustrated would-be model. Had she half a personality, he’d of been glad to hook her up with any one of a dozen contacts in her field. Well, the field to which she aspired.
She wasn’t nuts about Keith to begin with and made a melodramatic show of how little she thought of his pouring himself in the door, fragrant as a barroom floor. He cared not at all and wished her luck in her modeling career — competing against, well, serious competition.
Checked his mailbox. Nothing but the usual junk mail. And a couple paychecks. He went up. And slept like the dead.
The stars were out when he woke. Took off his shoes and socks, went and ran a shower. Then made a cup of coffee. Popped a couple Alka-Seltzers. Why ever Lesli wanted to talk, one thing Keith knew he couldn’t do. He could not screw it up. Not again.
He consoled himself that he hadn’t begun dealing with any women yesterday. Incredibly wondrous as she is, Keith reminded himself, Lesli’s mortal. An ancient Smokey Robinson and the Miracles song went, “If you can want, you can need, and if you can need, you can care. If you can care, you can love. Say when you want me, I’ll be there.”
She wouldn’t’ve said to call if she didn’t want. If she didn’t care. He shook himself. Enough of enough.
Next thing, Keith was stretched out on the sofa, pillow under head. Nursing a hangover, fishing around on the remote to find a game. It being midday, pickings were slim. The Yankees playing Detroit. Oh, well, he had two favorite clubs: the Mets and anybody who was playing the New York Yankees.
Talk about not a care in the world. For the first time since she’d dumped him, he wasn’t worried about Lesli. He should have been.
Came a knock on the door. “Who in the…?” It had to be that dingbat from across the hall. He called, “Who is it?”
There were only a few voices he’d recognize from just one word. None of them belonged to a woman. It had to be her, but to make sure, he asked, “Me who?”
“If you don’t open this door, dammit—”
Good God in heaven, it was her. He snatched the door open, trying not to wet himself. There she stood, barely wearing a dingy pair of cut-offs frayed at the top of her thighs, faded tanktop beneath which she shook, apparently braless. Tennis shoes looking like they’d been through a war. That was her alright. When Lesli had downtime, the lady believed in dressing down. And looked better bummy than most broads do in a ballroom gown. Hell, he reflected, she’d look good in a gunny sack.
“Well?” She pursed her lips in a small scowl. “Can I come in? Or you going to just stand there and keep staring?”
“I do that a lot. Sue me.” He let her in.
Butch immediately ran up Keith’s leg, digging his claws at the thigh, leaping to his shoulder. “Friend of yours?”
“Yeah, well, wait ’til you meet his brother.
“You have two of them?”
“Yeah. Butch’s brother’s name is Sundance.”
“Yeah, yeah. I got it. After the movie. I got your message. They oughta meet Bruno. What did you want?”
“’Hunh?’ Haven’t heard from you in all this while, I figured whatever it was had to be important. So, what is it?”
“Les, you told me last night you wanted to talk.” She gave him a blank look. “Out at the gig. Brenda’s bar.”
“I said what?”
“That’s why I called you. You said you wanted to talk.”
“How the hell I know? That’s all you said.”
“Oh.” She stared at her feet.
“You don’t remember, do you?” Embarrassed, she didn’t say anything. You don’t love a woman like Lesli Hall and not have enough sense to know when it’s best to keep your mouth shut.
Next week: Keith’s high hopes are dashed.
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