Monday, November 28, 2011

Two Ships ~~ Part Two

You haven't missed much. Our story's unnamed narrator just "rescued" a beautiful woman from an overly friendly guy at a truck stop in Iowa, by posing as her husband.

And it's January, 1996.

*  *  *  *  *

Ordinarily, I would have walked around and opened the door for her, but my twisted sense of humor said “Hey, we're supposed to be married,” and I threw the keys to her instead. She got in as I said “Lock it.” She did so. My driver's side door was still locked -- with me on the outside -- as Bob approached.
He was a good head taller than I was. Oboy.
“Hey, about what happened in there,” he began, “I didn't mean nothin'. I didn't know she was your wife, dude.” He extended his hand to shake mine.
I braced for a sucker punch (which never came) even as I reached out to accept his handshake. I smiled. “No problem. She's such a doll, she gets hit on a lot.
He laughed. “I'll bet! You must have your hands full with that one.”
“Nahhh, she's great... except for the smoking thing.” I briefly thought of showing him "my" empty ashtray -- my sister Julie didn't smoke, nor allow smoking in her car -- "proving" that "Sue" wouldn't let me smoke in "my" car, but decided not to push the act any further.
Bob laughed again, and ambled back toward the restaurant.
I knocked on the window, and “Sue” unlocked the door. I got in. “Okay, now what?” she demanded.
“I'm not sure, Sue...”
“And you can stop calling me that,” she interjected, somewhat cheerfully.
“Well, okay then. What's your real name?”
“It's Evelyn.”
“Hm. Kinda old-fashioned.”
“Like that's your business?” She laughed; I shrugged. “Anyway... My friends call me Eve. Or Evie.”
“And I'm... Woody.”
Woody?” she repeated, almost laughing.
“Yeah. It's a nickname, obviously...”
“Obviously! Short for Woodrow?”
She thought for a moment. “Are you a musician?”
"What the hell makes you ask that?"
"I don't know. Woody Guthrie, Woody Herman..." She thought again. "Are you a cartoon fan?" I stared at her quizzically. "I just thought, Woody Woodpecker, maybe?"
"I got the name in high school, and I don't really care to discuss it, okay?" I snapped. I wondered if she could see that I was blushing in the darkness of the car's interior.
"Oh. Okay. Whatever. So... now what?" she repeated. "Can I get out now?"
I looked at the restaurant again. "I suppose it's safe, but if Bob sees you drive off..."
"Don't be so paranoid. What do you think he'll do, jump in his pick-up truck and chase you?"
"Maybe it's not me that I'm worried about!"
"I can handle myself," she said defensively.
"Yeah, you look really tough. Lemme guess, you were a lady wrestler back in the fifties?"
She looked offended to the point of being insulted. "How old do you think I am?!?"
"Easy, easy! It was just a freaking joke!"
"Oh, okay." She paused. "How old do I look?"
I snapped the car's interior light on, which took our eyes a few seconds to adjust to, and briefly studied her face. Oddly, she looked younger -- and even prettier -- when close up. I say "oddly," because it's usually the opposite, if you know what I mean.
I judged her to be about thirty, at the oldest. So, typically for me, I shaved a couple of years off of that and replied accordingly. "Maybe twenty-seven, twenty-eight?"
She smiled. "I'm thirty-five."
"Well, you don't look it," I said, truthfully. And for some unknown reason, I couldn't resist adding, "And I'll tell you something else, doll. You're really beautiful."
I figured that would get another smile out of her, but instead, she kinda slid back toward the passenger-side door. Did I say "toward?" Hell, if she'd slid any further away from me, she would have been outside the car!
"Okay, Woody, I'd better get out now."
"I guess."
"Well, thanks again, for running interference for me. That was... sweet."
I smirked. "Sweet? That's a new one for me."
She unlocked and opened her door. "Well, it was sweet. Nice meeting you, Woody. Good night."
As Eve walked to her station wagon and got in, I rolled down my window and finally lit a cigarette, ignoring my sister's "no smoking in the car" rule. I tipped the seat back as much as the two-seater Corvette would allow and closed my eyes, with my left arm (and the evil "cancer stick") dangling out of the window.
I heard Eve's engine turn over... but not start.
It turned over again and again. Her battery was fine, I could tell. Maybe it was the starter, I thought, or maybe the damned thing just needed a tune-up, like my own did (which is why I'd borrowed Julie's car to begin with).
Eve stopped trying to start it for a minute or two, then attempted it again. Same results. No go. Sounded great, but wouldn't kick in.
She tried a couple more times after short intervals of not trying. By then, I'd finished my cigarette and gotten out of the car.
As I walked over to her, I saw that she'd opened her door a bit. Her interior light was on, and she was crying.
"Hey, Eve," I said, startling her for a moment, "Need some help?" She looked up at me with a "what a dumb question" kinda look. "It's probably the starter," I offered. "There's a pay phone inside the restaurant. Why don't you just call your husband?"
She glared at me like I'd just asked her to pose for some nude Polaroids. Okay, bad idea, I thought. "Well, with all these truckers parked here for the night, I'm sure you can find a mechanic."
"I don't need a mechanic. Besides, what about Big Bob? Sure you want to blow your cover with him?"
"Our cover, you mean... And frankly, I don't give a damn at this point. I'm more concerned about you."
She slammed her fists against the steering wheel. "I don't need a mechanic," she repeated firmly. "And it's not the starter."
"Look, I don't know much about cars..."
"Well, I do. Maybe more than you do!" she said defiantly, wiping her eyes with the backs of her hands.
"Maybe so," I agreed, shrugging. "I mean, if you know more than how to change a tire and top off the fluid levels..."
"I'm out of gas!" she exclaimed, laughing bitterly.
"Well, for cryin' out loud, Eve, they must sell gas here..." I thought for a second. "Hm. Maybe only diesel. Anyway, we could ask."
She started crying again, soundlessly. "I... can't pay for gas. I'm broke. I'm totally broke." I noticed that a few fresh snowflakes had hit her windshield. Terrific. "That's why I only had coffee in there," she continued. "I couldn't afford anything else, not even toast!"
It occurred to me that I'd ended up paying for my "wife's" coffee, but I didn't correct her, of course.
I thought about my own finances. They were low, sure, but not that low. "I could buy you a few gallons, enough to get you wherever you're going."
She looked at me suspiciously. "And why would you do that for me? What would you expect in return?"
"Are you kidding? For three or four bucks worth of gas? All I'd 'expect' is a 'thank you.' Wow, give me some credit!"
"Sorry. But... I couldn't let you do that anyway."
"Yes, you could. Just enough to get you to wherever you're going, like I said."
Eve rested her head against the steering wheel and whimpered something.
"I'm sorry, Eve, but... What did you say?"
She raised her head and looked up at me plaintively. "I don't even know where I'm going!"
"Oh! Well... Truth be told, neither do I. I don't have a hell of a lot of money on me. I was going to sleep in my car, in this lot tonight! You could do that, too."
"You'll freeze to death! And so would I, if I tried something that silly!"
"Nonsense. Whenever I got really cold, I'd just run the heater, and so could..." I stopped right there. A car's heater will only blow cold air, unless the engine itself is warm. And you can't warm up an engine that won't start, no matter how good your battery is.
Eve stared at me with a grim smile that told me she was reading my mind.
"Okay, here's your choice, doll." I pointed toward the restaurant. "You can -- that is, we can -- go back inside and ask for help, which would probably mean that someone else will give you the hand-out you wouldn't accept from me..." I regretted the use of the term "hand-out" the instant I said it, by the way.
"Or, you can sleep in my car, with me." Her eyebrows rose slightly at the implication of "sleep with me." I laughed. "Oh come on, now, Eve, you know what I meant! Besides, Corvettes themselves may be chick magnets, but there's no way in hell to get laid in one of them!" She laughed and nodded. "We'd both have to sleep sitting up, actually. But it's better than nothing."
Eve nodded again. "Okay, okay. Just give me a couple of minutes, and I'll be over there soon."
That was weird, I thought, but I just nodded and went over to start Julie's 'vette, figuring that Eve and I should start the night off with a warm car. There was already a thick layer of snow on the car when I got inside.
I couldn't start the heater for a couple of minutes anyway, so I lit another cigarette. I almost had time to smoke the whole damned thing before Eve finally came over and got in. I'd already rolled up my window, after extinguishing the Winston in the snow on the windshield, and started the heater.
I frowned at her. "What on earth took you so long?" She didn't answer. "Did you want to fix your make-up, so you'd look pretty for me?" Eve's eyes narrowed. "Lighten up, doll, it was just a joke."
"What is it with this 'doll' bit? Who do you think you are, Bogart?"
I put the soggy cigarette clincher in my mouth, and in a passable (but not great) Bogart impression, said, "Whatever you shay, shweetheart!"
She rolled her eyes.
"Is my Bogart that bad?" I asked, smiling.
"Well, it's not terrible, but... Maybe the mustache hurts the look. You resemble William Powell more than Bogart."
Hm. I was liking this Eve more by the minute. She was beautiful, quick-witted, and evidently familiar with classic movies. She also used my "comparison with a celebrity" short-cut for descriptions! And she apparently knew more about cars than I did. I liked a lot of her qualities, I realized... except for one, of course.
The big one. The "married" one.
We were both quiet for a while. Then, she broke the silence. "Well, if you must know," she began, as if I'd been nagging her, "I had to take my bra off!" I blinked. "I can't sleep with my bra on. I never could. Too darned uncomfortable."
"But you can sleep wearing everything else that you have on right now?" By that, I meant the frilly blouse, the brown jacket, and her winter coat.
"I don't know whether to believe that you took off your bra or not," I teased. "Prove it."
This time, finally, she knew I was only kidding. "Yeah, sure, like I'm going to flash my boobs at you? Dream on, Woody!"
I smiled at her and said, "Speaking of dreaming, you should get some sleep, doll."
"What about you?" she asked, with a touch of suspicion in her voice.
"I'm waiting until this damned car warms up, so I can shut off the engine, and the heater. Why, do you think I'm gonna wait until you fall asleep so I can sneak a peek at your beautiful braless boobs?"
Half-seriously, she replied, "Well, stranger things have happened." I don't know what kind of look she saw on my face just then, but she shrugged and added, "Sorry." She took a pair of mittens out of her coat pockets and put them on. "How long does it take for this stupid car to warm up?"
"Good question."
"You mean, you don't know?"
"Well, it's not my car." Her eyes got wide; maybe she was thinking I stole the freakin' thing! "It belongs to my sister, Julie."
"Get some sleep, doll." I thought for a second. "Hey, does it actually bother you when I call you that?"
"What, 'doll?' Oh, no. In fact, I kind of like it. It's cute. Good night, then, Woody." She did her best to get comfortable, and closed her eyes. In a few minutes, she was asleep.
I sat and waited for several more minutes before I realized what was, by then, obvious: The heater in Julie's Corvette sucked. It was totally useless!
Now what should I do?


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Advice to the Lovelorn -- A "Theme Thursday" Tomorrow Post!

Something a little different today, fellow babies, in keeping with Theme Thursday's "Tomorrow" theme!

Advice to the Lovelorn
The Best Gosh-Darned Advice You Will Ever Get About Getting Over "The One!"

Romantic relationships can be all lah-dee-dah and wonderful when both parties are in love. If one person doesn't love the other, things may very quickly turn to guano.

There are all sorts of break-up situations, and all sorts of break-up aftermath situations. Sometimes the breaker-uppers become or remain friends. I can smugly say that I'm on very good terms with both of my ex-fiancées.

But I'm not talking about that today. Hell, I'm not even talking about break-ups, necessarily.

"Okay, then, Silver Schmuck, what the... fox... are you talking about?"

Today, I'm talking about how to "get over" The One. The One woman or man that you'll either never have (due to unrequited love) or will never have again (due to a break-up).

And in order to avoid muddying the waters, here, I'm going to eschew all awkward "he/she" and "him/her" phrases and just deal with this from the point of view of a man trying to get over a woman.

Now. The good news is that you have found The One. This is the woman you have waited for your entire life, whether that life is made up of 20 years, 40 years, or more.

The bad news? Either she doesn't want you, or she does for a while, then changes her mind.

Maybe she was your girlfriend, or wife, until the split.

Maybe she likes or even loves you, but "only as a friend." (And in the wrong context, "only as a friend" can be the most painful four-word phrase in the English language!)

Maybe she's a co-worker or acquaintance who, in romantic terms, "doesn't know you exist."

Whatever the reason, you've either lost her, or you'll never have her. You're in agony, emotionally! You just barely make it through today, and you wonder "How will I ever make it through tomorrow?"

So. You want -- and, more probably, need -- to get over her merely to function in life. But you can't.

And why can't you get over her, fellow babies? Say it with me: Because she's The One!

The One. The One you waited for. The One you dreamed of. The One who's everything you ever wanted. The one you'd kill for, die for, and walk through fire for.

Getting over The One -- once you've determined that you want to, that is -- is one of the most difficult things you'll ever be faced with in your life. No exaggeration. 

How can you possibly get over her? You can't, right?

Wrong. And I'm here to help.

There is a foolproof method, but it's in two parts... and you have to be willing to do both parts or you'll fail. Dismally.

(And just for the record... I'm not trying to get over anyone at the moment... so don't personalize this to connect it to The Silver Fox! This post would be pointless to the point of being onanistic if it were directed toward myself! Heh.)

So without further ado, here it is:
1. Do everything in your power to insure that you'll never see her again.

2. Whenever you think about her -- and you will -- think of the negatives.

Okay, now, you know I can't be brief without imposing serious restrictions on myself, so here's where I elaborate.

1. "Do everything in your power to insure that you'll never see her again." Okay, you've long since determined that being just friends (or less) isn't gonna cut it. But everything -- everything -- about her drives you nuts! She's perfect, at least, in your eyes, and every time you see her you fall in love with her again.

So stop looking at her. No, really. You want to get her out of your life? It's time for drastic measures. She Is The One. She's so effin' wonderful, every time you see her... BAM! The Thunderbolt hits.

So stop looking at her.

"But... she lives in my apartment building." Then move. Change your flippin' address! I'm not joking.

"She works with me." Change your job. "But in this economy..." Shut up. Find a new job ASAP, and quit your current one. "Easier said than done..." Yeah, yeah, yeah. Do it. I'm not joking.

"But she works at the supermarket I always go to," or "I see her all over town," or... Oh, stop. Nobody's forcing you to go anywhere or to do anything where you "have" to see her. If you really want to avoid seeing her, move to another town. You'd better believe I'm not joking.

And I never said that it was going to be easy.

Now #2. "Whenever you think about her -- and you will -- think of the negatives."

"What negatives? She's The One! She's perfect! She's effin' perfect!"

Oh, of course. Silly me. 

Sometimes you don't have to literally see The One to fall under her spell. Memories of The One and all her endearing little ways can zap you! So whenever that lovely little face intrudes upon your mind, do everything possible to put that image in a bad light.

Focus on the bad times. And if there reallllly weren't any, spin the good times into bad times.

She was so cute and giggly when she'd get a bit tipsy? No. She was a f***ing lush who drank too much!

She always had a joke to lighten every sad occasion? No. She never took anything seriously!

She was popular with all your friends? No. She encouraged all your friends to want to sleep with her!

You get the idea, I'm sure.

At least, I hope so, because I've just given you The Official Silver Fox Double Whammy Secret of How to Get Over The One, and now... You're on your own!

Thanks for your time.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mr. Terrific... Loser? -- Part One of a "Comical Wednesday" Post

Today is Part One of a two-part post featuring one of comic books' "second-stringers."

Most of my regular readers know by now that Captain America is one of my all-time favorite superheroes. (Your eyes aren't playing tricks on you, by the way. That's not Captain America pictured above!) And quite a few of you know when my love for the character began, which was when I first saw him in an issue of Fantastic Four... 

Immediately followed (for me) with the good Captain's appearance in Avengers #5...

...which featured this inspirational scene.

Wow. So, basically, what Cap was saying is that all one had to do to grow up to be Captain America -- or a reasonable facsimile -- was "eat the right foods and get plenty of exercise and eight hours of sleep."

I was, like, eight when I read those words! I could grow up to be just like one of my four-color heroes! As long as I had a good diet, worked out, and got my rest, I too could...


So that was how "frail Steve Rogers" became the mighty Captain America? Ohhh, great. Surrrre, I could grow up to be another Captain America... if someone injected me with the right drugs. Terrific.

But hey, did I just say... "terrific?" Yep.

Not long after my brief disillusionment with ol' C.A., I found a new, "purer" hero in the pages of Justice League of America. He was actually a member of Earth-2's Justice Society (JSA), a 1940s hero who'd come out of retirement in the 1960s long enough to participate in a couple of the annual two-part JLA/JSA crossovers.

And his name was Mr. Terrific, "The Man of 1,000 Talents!"

He didn't get much cover space, no, but the following interior sequence floored me!

So, Mr. Terrific was nothing more than a "costumed athlete," right? Well, so was Batman, of course, but... Batman was also... well... Batman, fer cryin' out loud! And in five lousy panels, Mr. Terrific... kicked! Batman's! ass!

Today's Mr. Terrific had absolutely nothing to do with a mid-1960s TV character with the same name. I should add...

Besides, the sad sack pictured above also needed drugs to become a superhero!

Over the years, I did a lot of research on Mr. Terrific, and found that his first appearance was in the following valuable first edition.

Wonder Woman held the cover spot of every issue of Sensation Comics, so Mr. Terrific never appeared as the featured character on a comic book cover -- that I know of -- until the 1960s.

And now, for reasons that I'd rather not discuss -- heh -- I'm going to save myself a lot of work!

From Wikipedia: Terry Sloane was a rich man whose photographic memory, Olympic-level athletic skills, and mastery of the martial arts made him a virtual Renaissance man. After graduating college at age thirteen, he eventually became a renowned business leader in the community. Having accomplished all of his goals by the time he was in his early 20s, Terry felt there were no challenges left for him to pursue, leading him towards suicidal tendencies. However, upon seeing a young woman jump from a bridge, Sloane reacted quickly and saved her. He learned her name was Wanda Wilson. Sloane assisted her brother, who had been caught up in a gang, by adopting his Mister Terrific persona. He then created the "Fair Play Club" to stymie growing juvenile delinquency.

Mr. Terrific was created by Charles Reizenstein & Hal Sharp. To some degree the idea behind Mr. Terrific was nothing terribly new. The concept of the genius who uses his extraordinary intelligence to fight crime lies behind many heroes of the pulp magazines and the comic books (Doc Savage, Batman, and Sandman are only three of many such characters). In Mr. Terrific, however, the concept was brought to the forefront; in his earliest appearances he is called "the human dynamo who is stumped by nothing." While to some degree Mr. Terrific was simply another spin on the crimefighting genius archetype, however, the character also grew out of the economic realities of the time. In 1941 the United States of America had not fully recovered from the Great Depression; poverty was still rather common. And it is an unfortunate fact of life that extreme poverty can sometimes lead to a life of a crime. Mr. Terrific's desire to teach children about "Fair Play" and his desire to give them a place where they can be safe from the allure of crime (the Fair Play Club) are both reflections of the social realities of the United States in the era directly preceding World War II.

Here's some cool stuff from Mr. Terrific's debut:

The above, refreshingly non-violent resolution to the story proved that criminals are not only "a superstitious, cowardly lot" (as Batman once said in that origin sequence they show every 47 minutes or so), but they're also a bunch of dumb bananas!

Yep, Terry Sloane (also spelled "Sloan" over the years) could indeed do just about anything!

I sure as hell can't train my cat!

Mr. Terrific was never officially a member of the 1940s JSA, but he did assist on one of their cases...

Apparently, there wasn't enough about Terry Sloane for anyone in comics -- readers as well as DC's own writers and artists -- to find particularly dramatic. So, during a period in the late 1970s when my youthful comic-reading habits were at a relative low, the following issue of Justice League of America appeared:

Where's Terry Sloane on that cover? Think about it.

And we'll see you next time, in Part Two.

Thanks for your time!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Two Ships ~~ Part One

A few posts ago, I gave you not one, but two chapters from a longer story called "Two Ships." Some of you requested more. So for the next few weeks, I'll be posting a chapter at a time, on or about Monday. That's all you need to know, except for the fact that the narrator is not me. This is a work of fiction. Hope you like it.

Thanks for your time.

*  *  *  *  *

January, 1996

The closest I'd ever gotten to Iowa before 1996 was during a cross-country trip I'd made, by bus, in the early 1980s. I'd stayed overnight in a grand old hotel in Chicago, Illinois, which housed a bar with a jazz band, before traveling on toward California.
I'm a tad shaky on geography, so I tend to tag any state north of the Mason-Dixon Line that's also between New York and freakin' Nevada as part of the boring (to me, anyway) “Midwest,” so that includes Illinois, Arkansas, Ohio, Nebraska, Montana, etc.! So to me, Iowa is one of those. And frankly, I probably never would have gone there without a damned good reason.
Well, thanks to the fact that my friend Kelly had a two-pack-per-day cigarette habit while she was alive, I ended up with a "damned good reason." Kelly, who was roughly my age (39, like Jack Benny, ha-freakin'-ha), had been smoking since she was eleven or twelve, and by the time she got around to writing to me, to tell me exactly where she'd ended up after disappearing from New England in the early 1980s, my ex-girlfriend and lifelong buddy was dying from lung cancer and emphysema. It was a toss-up as to which one was going to kill her first.
Emphysema “won.”
After canceling everything pressing that I was able to in my own hectic life, and postponing the rest, I'd borrowed my kid sister Julie's Corvette and driven out to Iowa to see Kelly. I got there a couple of days after New Year's Day.
My intention was to offer Kelly a place to stay back in Connecticut, with me, but it was obvious when I arrived that she wasn't going anywhere... anywhere on this plane of existence, anyway. She was already in the hospital.
I only had a couple of weeks with her before she died. Her ex-husband, John, the guy she'd spent the last several years roaming the country with -- long story there, and one I won't bore you with -- handled the funeral arrangements. Thankfully, there were no kids involved, so it was just him, his friends and family (Kelly didn't have many at all), and a very uncomfortable me at the wakes and funeral service. John wasn't a bad guy, just an admittedly poor husband, so he saw to it that I only felt moderately out of place until my final respects were paid and I could zoom out of there, which I did fairly late in the afternoon.
Those last few days, I hadn't slept very much, so I didn't even make it to the state line before I needed to stop for a good night's sleep.
My original expectation had been to stay with Kelly at her apartment, but by the time I got to Iowa, she had no apartment. She was already a permanent resident of the small hospital in which she died. So for me, it was a motel, paid for night by night. That ate up my so-called traveling money pretty well.
Now I was faced with a small supply of $20 traveler's checks that I was counting on to buy me enough food and gasoline to get me back to Connecticut. So, I wondered, what should it be on that first night? Food and cheap lodgings? No food, and cheap lodgings?
Maybe I could find a 24-hour Denny's with a large parking lot. That way, I could fill my stomach and sleep in Julie's 'vette, regardless of the fact that tonight was the first really cold night since I'd gotten to Iowa. Did Iowa even have the Denny's chain, I wondered? One way to find out...
I never did find a Denny's, but sometime well after midnight I did find a truck stop (with a restaurant attached) that was, naturally, open all night. It had a diner-style counter and a few booths.
Typically, I did something stupid before I entered the restaurant itself. I pumped a few dollars into the cigarette machine and grabbed a pack of Winston Lights. I say “stupid” not because of the fact that smoking is, admittedly, a dumb habit, or even the consideration that it had just killed a close friend of mine. Nope, I'm referring to the fact that I've been an on-again, off-again smoker for years -- I'll smoke for a year or two or three, then quit for six months, then start up again for a year and quit for two, and so on -- and right now I was, supposedly, a non-smoker.
Well, I guess that designation would change as soon as I lit one up, right?
It was also stupid that I chose that very moment to buy a pack. I couldn't afford it. Not that anyone really can, in the long run.
I sat at the counter. The waitress, whose name tag read “Denise,” plopped down a one-sided, photocopied, laminated breakfast menu and asked me if I wanted coffee. “Please,” I replied. “Make it a double... and leave the bottle.” She laughed politely and walked away.
From my right, I heard a giggle. I glanced over to see an attractive, thirtyish-looking woman with long dark hair, parted on the left, with a few stray bangs falling haphazardly across her forehead at an angle. She was clothed in the way that I suppose people mean when they say “smartly dressed.” That is, she sure didn't look like she belonged in a truck stop. She was too well-dressed for that. Nothing at all provocative, though. I mean, I'd read stories about truck stop hookers, but this lady certainly wasn't dressed in “that” way.
Besides, do they even have hookers in Iowa? Doubtful. Maybe they fly 'em in from New York or Las Vegas for business conventions, and such?
She wore a long, dark brown skirt with a matching jacket, and a cream-colored, ruffled blouse. On the counter stool to her left she'd draped a tan coat. Its hood and collar were trimmed with some kind of off-white fur, or faux fur.
From five stools away, I couldn't see her too clearly, but she was pretty. Really pretty. Her eyes looked to me to be some dark color, brown or hazel, perhaps. I didn't spend much time looking at them. Too bold, even for me.
was able to spot that she wore a wedding ring, with a good-sized diamond engagement ring atop it.
Now, before you make too much of the fact that I checked out her left hand for jewelry, let me oh-so-defensively point out that for me, that's force of habit. I hadn't been planning to make a play for her. If this had been a bar or lounge as opposed to an all-night restaurant, well, yeah, maybe. She was damned good-looking, as I've already said.
I looked back at her face. Usually I compare someone to an actress or other celebrity, for ease in description, but I can honestly say she didn't look like anyone I'd ever seen before, famous or otherwise... but she was gorgeous on her own merits.
She seemed a bit self-conscious, maybe because she'd laughed aloud at what was admittedly a very meager joke, or maybe because she felt I was “checking her out.”
Anyway, I smiled and turned back toward Denise, who had brought me a mug of coffee and an ashtray in case I should decide to open the pack of cigarettes which I'd placed on the counter in front of me.
“Ready to order?” she asked me.
I hadn't even glanced at the menu. I scanned it quickly, asking “How many links in a side of sausage?”
“Three.” I studied the price, and glanced up at her with my eyebrows raised. “They're big links...” she added, smiling playfully.
“For that price, they'd better be hot dogs.” She laughed politely again. I wasn't sure if she found my exhausted attempts at humor actually funny, or if she was shilling for a bigger tip.
I didn't see English Muffins anywhere on the menu. “Do you have English Muffins?” She nodded. “How about Swiss cheese?” She pointed at the misspelled “Swiss Cheese Omlett” on the menu. “Great. Hold the omelet, and place a slice of Swiss cheese on each half of a toasted -- not grilled, please -- English Muffin. Side of sausage, and some matches.”
“Do you want the matches with the sausage, or the English Muffin?”
Now who's the comedian?” I asked. She smiled, and walked away.
While I waited for my food, I opened the pack of cigarettes and took one out. I hadn't had a cigarette in well over a year, so I no longer carried a lighter. As I impatiently waited for Denise to bring me some matches, the pretty lady a few stools away called out, “You're not really going to light that, are you?”
I turned to her and good-naturedly answered, “Eventually... But I promise not to, until the waitress brings me my matches.” She didn't think that was anywhere near as funny as my “leave the bottle” line, judging from the frown on her face.
A few moments later, when Denise handed me a book of matches, I paused before lighting up, and looked over at the lady. She was facing forward, but watching me out of the corner of her eye. I sighed and placed both the matches and the cigarette beside the pack of Winston Lights. I shot a look her way again, and saw a slight smile from her as she continued drinking her coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or whatever.
I wolfed down my English Muffin and the three fair-sized sausage links in record time. Denise kept refilling my coffee, as well as that of the classy-looking young lady. (Yeah, the refills told me that it was coffee that she was drinking.)
A tall, blonde, beefy-looking guy entered the restaurant, and he gave out with a weird sort of hum when he saw the young lady. He boldly walked up to the counter and sat down on her immediate right. “Hey, baby!” he said, cheerfully.
Denise shot him a dirty look. “Bob... Don't...”
Bob laughed at her. “Aw, quit it, Denise! Just bein' friendly.” He leaned over toward the young woman. “What's yer name, honey?”
She was obviously a little frightened. She wouldn't even look at him, which means she faced me. Well, she was faced in my direction, if not exactly looking at me.
I'm not sure why, but I slid off of my stool and ambled over to the two of them, chuckling cheerfully as I said, “Sorry to ruin your night, pal, but Sue's my wife.”
Bob seemed good-natured enough, and not at all menacing, but who knew? He looked up at me, and then over to where my coffee cup and cigarettes rested five seats away, and said “If she's your wife, why aren't you sittin' next to her?”
Still facing away from Bob, the woman's eyes met mine with an exasperated look, as if to say “Yeah! That was stupid!”
Without missing a beat, I said, “Are you kidding? She hates it when I smoke! Won't even let me light up in my own car!”
Bob laughed and said, “Whoa. Dude, you need to grow a pair!”
I forced a laugh and nodded, then looked at the young lady and said, “You ready to go, Sue?” She stood and picked her coat off of the stool next to hers. I grabbed her bill from the counter, and she followed me back to my seat as I picked up mine (as well as my pack of butts), and walked to the nearby cash register. Denise blinked as I handed her a two-dollar tip.
My new “wife” and I walked toward my car. Hers, a late-model station wagon, was only a few parking spaces to the right of my sister's car.
“Hey, thanks,” said “Sue” quietly, right before veering toward her own vehicle.
I turned to acknowledge her, and noticed that back at the restaurant, Bob was standing in the doorway. “Come here!” I hissed.
Her dark eyes flashed. “What? Excuse me?”
“Get in my car!” I insisted, and before she could protest, I said “Big Bob's watching us, and... Oh, shit! He's coming out here!”
She got panicky in a real hurry. “What? Why?”
“I don't know! Maybe he noticed that my ashtray was spotlessly clean! Get in the car!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Unofficial Biography

(Most of what appear to be photographs in the following post are actually cave paintings. Yes, they're that old. Just sayin'.)

Many years ago -- many, many, many years ago, fellow babies -- on this very date, a foxling was born in a building many referred to by a brand new word: "hospital."

The fox-child was precocious, to say the least. To the doctor whose hand smacked the newborn baby's pink buttocks, the child said "You do that again, and I'll run you over as soon as I get my first tricycle." There is also an unsubstantiated report that the young lad inappropriately touched one of the hospital's prettier nurses.

In the above shot, the boy's older sister  restrains him
from chasing after an attractive young married woman.

"Sam" would have to do until he grew old enough
to ride The Lone Ranger's Silver, or Zorro's Toronado!

"Stick with me, baby, I'm goin' places!"
(Note the unscripted hand-holding!)

"I'll remember you, sucker. And someday..."

Early, solid crushes on at least two of the young girls pictured.

Making nice with an alien invader on Christmas Day!

The alliance fell apart, however, when the
lad joined the ranks of the superheroes!

Remember this coat...

Mom sure could get her money's worth when it came to clothing! 

Sister Kathy has a "Boy, this is fake, but I don't wanna tip off my liddle
brudda!" look on her face. "Liddle brudda," I must say, looks kinda stoned.

What a charmer! 

Don't ask. No, really. Don't ask.

A brief stumbling block on the young superhero's road to fame!

Don't ask. No, really. Don't ask.

Uncle Ebeneezer in "The Ransom of Red Chief"

"School's... out... for... ever!"

First band, the stupidly-named SHUDR.

Better band. No groupies due to first fiancée.

Wonder what the song was...

Los Angeles, 1982, traveling in the footsteps of Jim Morrison, kinda/sorta...

26th birthday, 1982. The Doors. Of course.

"Put the camera down and come over here..."

"Now will you put the damned camera down?"

Hallowe'en, mid 1980s

In recent years, illustrations have largely replaced
actual photographs. (Welcome to South Park!)

As I said, "In recent years, illustrations
have largely replaced actual photographs."

Not sure how this ominously-lit Polaroid sneaked in here...

*  *  *  *  *

The changing
Of sunlight to moonlight
Reflections of my life
Oh how they fill my eyes
The greetings
Of people in trouble
Reflections of my life
Oh how they fill my eyes
All my sorrows
Sad tomorrows
Take me back to my own home
All my cryings
Feel I'm dying, dying
Take me back to my own home
I'm changing, arranging
I'm changing, I'm changing everything
Oh, everything around me
The world is a bad place
A bad place, a terrible place to live
Oh, but I don't wanna die
All my sorrows
Sad tomorrows
Take me back to my own home
All my cryings
Feel I'm dying, dying
Take me back to my own home
All my sorrows
Sad tomorrows
Take me back to my own home

*  *  *  *  *

I guess today's post would almost qualify as a Sepia Wednesday?

Next Wednesday, I promise, a new Comical Wednesday post about the original Mr. Terrific.

Thanks for your time, fellow babies.

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