Wednesday, May 8, 2013

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 16

     I seem to keep running into Susan Maddock, at the store, at traffic lights, she even came to my church last week; seems she and Pastor Mike's wife, Debbie, work together, and she invited her to services.

     Not that I mind....I really enjoy talking to her, and I want to get to know her better. I know she's been married once, to a psycho she divorced after he went up on felony assault charges,  and that shehas a sister in Toledo. This, I got from Debbie-matchmake much?-but that's okay.

     Take last Friday....I decided to head to Miz Susie's for lunch, rather than fight with Dougie over a sandwich; I'd bring him back something, anyhow. I pull into the lot, and just as I'm about to dock, this bright red Mini-Cooper darts into the slot I'd picked....the nerve! There's another space about two down, so I park my deuce and a quarter there, and clamber out, bent on reminding this jerk about a little thing called manners.

     The Coop's door pops open, and out comes Susan, in a dress just the right shade of green, scarlet hair tied back in a ponytail (hooray for ponytails!) with a  big white daisy pin holding it together, and she's laughing herself silly..

      "Wish", she says, giggling under the words,  "I'm sorry, but the look on your face...." by this time, I was grinning like a schoolboy, ninety percent of which was just being near her- I can only imagine what Dougie would have to say.  I suddenly felt all gangly, and awkward, like I was at the Sixth Grade dance again, and I was trying to work up the nerve to ask Bobbi Smith to dance, which never happened. Rather than stand there gawking like a tourist, I decide to speak.

     I ask her, "Taking a lunch break?" "Nope, she says, "I've got the day off. I was headed to the craft store next door, but lunch sounds pretty good, about now.....how is this place?"

    Thank you, Jesus, for openings.... "Well, if you're into soul food, which is mainly just comfort food, it's the best in town. Besides, I'm treating, if you don't mind."

     "I should mind", She says in a faux- Yiddish accent, "a free lunch....heaven forfend!"

     Next thing you know, we're at a center table drinking iced tea, and watching Miz Susie and Co. work their magic. We shared a basket of wings, fries, and rolls, licking the grease off our fingers and laughing at each other's comments.  I noticed Eula, Suzie's oldest, tap her younger sister, Yolanda, on the shoulder, pointing at us, both of them laughing good-naturedly.

     Miz Suzie herself ankled over to our table, a smile spread across her chocolate features.
"Everything good here?" she said, a twinkle in her eye making me suspect she was talking about more than the food.  We let her know with full-mouthed noises of appreciation.

     "Wish", says Miz Suzie, "who's your good-looking friend? You ain't brought a lady in here since Linda".
I introduced Susan, and the two of them shook hands in that easy way women have with each other, that says they like the company.

     "Lemme tell ya", Miz Suzie said to Susan, "That's the first real smile I've seen on that high-yaller face in  ages....you must be good for him.

     "And you," she says to me, "you behave yourself, or I'll spank you like when you were stealin' my pop bottles, and bringin' 'em in to cash, when I had my store, you got that, Wishgood?"

     Like I'm gonna argue. Besides, I had a mouthful of chicken at the time.

     That evening, while I'm sitting watching an old monster movie on DVD, my phone rings-it's her.
"Wish," she starts out, I just wanted to tell you, I had a great time this afternoon, and I....I wanted to let you know that....I'd enjoy seeing you again. THERE! I said it!"

     She clicks off, and I'm standing there, reciever in hand, heart pouinding like a triphammer, both thrilled and scared by what just happened. If she'd have walked in the door right then, I would've plotzed, and probably been in need of oxygen.

     This wasn't lust, this was realizing that a woman who has captivated me from Day One wants to spend more time with me, the second-hand ex-cop who's already worn out his Golden Buckeye discount card.

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