[Read parts one, two and three.]

- - -

for Stephen Dixon.

Pretty girl drove by and he stood and waved and she pulled over, down the street a ways. Could see her smiling at him in her rearview. Nice hands, pretty long fingers. Nice white teeth, pearly white, perfect. Full lips. Fine nose. Thick red hair. Curly. Probably curly down below, too. He was willing to bet. A soft red mound of curls upon which he could rest his tired head. Bet her mound felt like a field of clover. Pretty red clover. Maybe not a field, not too much, nothing out of control, hopefully. But with hair that thick as what she had on her head, you had to wonder. Actually, he dated a redhead once, back in college. A girl named Mary something or other, couldn’t recall her last name. Looked like Rita Hayward, spitting image, except she had a lazy eye, the right one. Tried to talk to the left eye, the alert one, and addressed it as best and as often as he could, and seated himself on the side of the alert eye, to her left. Had to ask her to close her eyes while they were fooling around, said it made him nervous if her eyes were open, trying to protect her feelings, but she said she wanted to see what was happening, and he said something to that. Didn’t remember what, only that he meant it as a joke, what he said. But she didn’t think it was funny, evidently, slamming the door and running away, after saying, “You’re a real jerk, you know that? Don’t ever call me again!” Eventually, he had had to call if off, or she called it off, shortly after she called him a jerk, maybe, he can’t remember who called it off when now. Seemed to remember her dating a star football player after they broke up and marrying the guy and him being drafted into the pros, and they’d probably made out nicely, so it was really for the best he had said that to her, whatever it was he said, in the end. If not, maybe he could make it up to Mary for whatever he said by being especially nice to this lovely gal who reminded him of her now. Even though she was wearing sunglasses, and he’d like to be sure her eyes were all right. He jogged over to her car, a ways down the street. “How’s it going?” she said. “Good, good. Couldn’t be better. And you?” “Fine, thank you. I’m Cherie. What’s your name?” “Henry.” “Nice to meet you, Henry.” “Nice to meet you, Cherie. Are you French, by chance?” “No, my mom just liked the name. She wanted something exotic.” “It suits you,” he said. “Thank you.” “You’re most welcome.” “Well, I was driving by and saw you having some trouble, Henry, and I just wanted to make sure you were all right.” “You can be honest with me, Cherie. I know.” “What do you mean by I can be honest?” “Well, let me give you an example. What I mean by honest is I saw you drive by in this little sports car, with your thick red hair and your pretty face and big breasts and the first thought that came to mind was I wanted to sleep with you. Whadda you say to that, then?” “That’s nice of you to say.” “Thank you for saying so and I’m glad you feel that way. But as I am a man of actions, not words, maybe we should be on our way.” “Get lost, you pervert,” she said, and drove away. No, that was no good. He rushed it, that was his mistake. You couldn’t rush it with a girl named Cherie.

A beauty drove by in her sports car. Red hair, great figure, the works. She honked and waved and pulled over, down the street, and he walked over to say hello. “I was driving by and you looked like you were having some trouble with your mower,” she said. “Nah, I was just about to call it a day.” “You’re done mowing?” she asked, looking back at the lawn, a few houses down. “More than done, I’m finished, I’m through. It’s over between us, me and that junky mower, and I’m just sorry I ever got hooked up with it in the first place. And now that’s it’s over between us, I am what you might call footloose and fancy free.” “Free how?” “Truly free. Completely free . Wholeheartedly—.” “What’s your deal?” “Deal? I have no deal. I tried to make a deal with my wife, but she was unwilling to compromise, so now I’m standing here talking to you about my desire to sleep with you, just without sleeping, to have sex with you, in other words, the two of us, you and me. Not to say it’s my wife’s fault, simply because she’s unwilling to compromise and mowing the lawn is more important in her books than sex.” “You lost me.” “I tend to have that effect on women.” There. A little self-deprecating humor, that was the ticket. Worked wonders with his wife, back when they were courting. Between his self-deprecation and lasciviousness, he had a real one-two punch, though now was a different story. “Are you trying to say you want to get with me?” she says. “Do I want to get with you, my dear? If, in a world of possible meanings, by get with you you mean to encompass sexual relations, my answer is a resounding yes. Very much. Most definitely. I am utterly getful. I’d like to get with you right now, if you have the time. And I assure you I won’t be long, meaning I wouldn’t require much of your time if you don’t have much time to give to my getting with you.” “Do you always talk like this?” “I’m afraid the answer is yes. But first, well, it can’t be first, but secondly, also, that is, let me say I am aware it’s quite daunting, the way I talk. Maybe even alarming, but please don’t be alarmed. As I was saying before you mentioned my way of saying it, the answer is yes, I say let’s. Let’s get, I always say.” “Really?” “No, I suppose not. If we were robbing a bank, like Bonnie and Clyde, I might say, ’Let’s get out of here!’ or ’Let’s blow this joint!’ and I’d jump in the front seat and you could drive us away.” Now that he was standing right next to her, his sweet Cherie, he could see she was as much of a looker as he had thought from far away. Because sometimes you couldn’t tell, you might think a woman was a looker, but then you got up close and she wasn’t what you thought, but that wasn’t the case with Cherie. Quite a figure, too, even better than he had imagined, now that he could get a look at her chest and her bare thighs, on the car seat. He’d like to ask her to step out of the car so he could get a good look at her, from top to bottom, maybe ask her to take off her sunglasses and turn around, nice and slow. “You feeling okay, mister?” No, drop the mister, there was no need of such formalities. “You feeling okay?” she says. Much better. Then maybe he could say he twisted an ankle, kicking the mower, and would she be so kind as to help him walk around to the passenger’s side and drive him around so he could get some air. Some car, too. Wouldn’t mind finding out what this baby could do on the open road. She could probably go zero to a hundred in however many seconds would be really fast. Sure would like to turn her over. “What?” Cherie says. “Sorry, I say things sometimes and I have no idea why I said what I said or what I meant by what I said for whatever reason I said it. And other times, I think something without realizing my mouth is moving, too. If it’s not one thing, it’s the other, but isn’t that always the case?” “You feeling all right, sir?” There! He has her now.

A gorgeous redhead drives by, sees him swoon, kicking the mower, swearing, and he reaches for his heart, hunching over, and she pulls over to check on him. “Are you feeling all right?” “My heart,” he says, “I think it’s my heart. Must be.” “Let me get you into my car, and I’ll take you to the emergency room.” “Thank you, too kind, you’re much too kind.” Jogs over to her car holding his heart. “There you are,” he says, “Guess we should be on our way now.” “Are you feeling all right? You aren’t making much sense,” Cherie says. “I think I need to sit down for a minute, then I’ll be fine. Better than fine.” “You sure you’re all right? I thought you might be having a stroke or something.” “Oh, I’m sure I’ll be fine in a minute, if—.” “All right, then. I just thought you might be in some trouble, but if you’re fine, then I should go. Take it easy, Henry.” “You, too, exotic Cherie. And thanks for the lift. I’ll call you. And if not, as I probably won’t, in all honesty, I’ll see you around the sandbox and we can talk about it then, if we really must talk.” “No problem. And Henry?” “Yes, my sweet?” "I don’t usually mention
it . . . " “No, mention it, tell Henry your little problem. Don’t be embarrassed, my pet.” “Yeah, and seeing as you’re so old, I felt bad for you and figured I should tell you that your fly is open. You’re exposing yourself to the entire street, and no offense, but it’s really pretty gross and women might get the wrong idea and report you to the cops if you don’t zip up.” Well, she noticed, that was a good sign.