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Duane Pesice

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The Redheaded League Revisited
By Duane Pesice
Monday, March 25, 2002

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It was a Monday, an ordinary, unremarkable Monday, and I was riding the bus to work. The Sun-Times sat open on my lap, the sports section read, waiting for me to get back to it as I ruminated, looking out the window.

I was wishing for a cigarette and trying not to remember that I had quit a few days before as the bus pulled to a stop on 31st street and a redheaded woman climbed on board. Couldn't help but to notice her brilliant green eyes as she flashed a shy smile, noticing my glance. Redirecting my eyes to the paper, ostensibly examining the prospects for germination of the human race from asteroid residue, I examined her further.

No ring on the left hand. Hmm, I thought to myself. That's a good sign. Her hair was tied back in a ponytail, cinched by a small butterfly, the colors of which clashed with her sea-green blouse. A small chain disappeared down into the neck of her blouse, inviting my eyes to follow it down into her cleavage. A stray shaft of sunlight caught her in its glow at that moment, rendering that blouse translucent enough for my to see that it was a Celtic knot, before averting my eyes again to the paper.

She sat down across from me, smiled again. "Hi," I said, over the paper.

She crossed her legs, revealing a length of tanned, well-formed calf, and a tantalizing peek of the thigh that the calf was attached to, beneath the fabric of her blue-gray skirt. "Hi yourself," she said, in a voice that could melt dry ice.

I'm only human. I confess that the mental images that formed in my mind at that time are not suitable for family publications. To hide my state of flusterhood, I buried myself once again in the newspaper, reading about the doings of City Hall. Periodically, I glanced up from under my eyebrows. Each time, I watched her eyes shift away, just avoiding mine.

Okay, I thought, and put down the paper. "What's your name?" I asked.

"Carla. Yours?"

I told her. "Never seen you riding this bus before," I began.

"I've never ridden before. My car is broken." She smiled again, tightly. "This isn't my idea of transportation..."

I laughed lightly. "Granted. It's a long way from the limo you deserve to be riding in. Are you going far?"

She reached up and pulled the wire that told the bus driver she would need to stop, making her right breast bob enchantingly and project against the material of her blouse. "Not far at all. This is my stop."

I reached into my back pocket, pulled out my wallet. "Here," I said, proffering one of my business cards. "Would love to continue the conversation sometime."

She produced a card of her own, stowed mine away in her front pocket, next to her heart, disembarked.

The possibilities of the universe are endless. Who could say where a chance meeting could take you?

I arrived at my stop shortly thereafter, alit, and repaired to the small restaurant where I habitually dawdled over coffee. The Baker Street Cafe, it was called, though nowhere near any street of that name. Somewhat irregular, but a nice little place nonetheless.

Took a seat in a booth fronting on the sidewalk, ordered coffee, pulled out her business card. Carla Moran, it said. Manager, Human Resources. The company name was so stylized as to be unreadable, but the phone number and email address were legible. I made a mental note to send out a note, put the card back in my breast pocket, unfurled the paper.

Colleen, the perky (too perky!) waitress, brought my coffee, offered pie, which I took her up on, dimpled at my suggestion of sharing the pie (but declined). I knew her name was Colleen because her butterfly-shaped nameplate said so.

Enjoyed the pie, read the comics, watched Colleen flit about, batting her big green eyes at every male in the place, wiggling her small bottom as she walked in her slightly-too-tight skirt and trendy high-heeled sneakers. Too young, I thought, leaving a tip.

Began the walk to work, across a busy street, where the aperture moment of the blinking green eye of the traffic light didn't last long enough, making every crossing an adventure. Distracted by thoughts of the two lovely Irish lasses I had encountered, and by thoughts of an old flame, an Irishwoman herself, who had moved away to a far southern land years ago. Hadn't thought of her in ages...Cathy, how have you been, what are you up to...had visions of a houseful of carrot-topped kids, a puzzled husband still trying after all this time to figure her out (never will happen), momentary pangs of regret that I didn't go with her.

Dodged cars trying to make a right on red, successfully crossing the boulevard once again, strode with hands in pockets toward the office, still with shamrocks on my mind. Used my id badge to unlock the outside doors, trudged up the stairs into the office proper, unloaded the newspaper into the garbage, booted up the computer.

I noticed that Sharren, who usually gave me a ride home, wasn't in attendance. That was not a good sign. There weren't any buses at 5:30 am when I got off work, and it was a long walk home. Big sigh, and then diving into the night's work, fixing supply-chain problems between the florists that filled the work orders and the customers requesting arrangements. Took my time trying to work with each, customizing the standard emails to the florists and the customers in my own inimitable way, distracted by the prospect of a long walk home, thinking about my newest flame, who was out of town for a conference, missing her cool voice, gentle touch, and wild Irish passion. Eventually got lost in the work, forgetting to take breaks or lunch.

At 5:15 am, one of the girls who worked in my row of cubes stopped by briefly and offered me a ride, saying that she lived nearby. I looked directly into her gleaming green eyes and thanked her from the bottom of my heart. Could see her soul there, waving.

Several minutes later, the group leader informed us that the assignment was ending, and there was no need to return tomorrow, or indeed any other day. Ouch! Two weeks premature...on the heels of a writing site closing down, owing me a month's rent. My mental gears began whirring, trying to determine where, at six am on a Tuesday morning, I might derive some income.

We left early. Jean, the girl that had offered me a ride, turned out to be an interesting and funny conversationalist, attractive with her connect-the-freckles cheeks and those fabulous eyes. Enchanted as I always was, and since my current and I had no commitment beyond continuing where we had left off the last time, I took a chance and asked her out to a barbecue Saturday.

She accepted, and forgetting that I had quit, I asked for and received one of her cigarettes, to quiet my pounding heart. We arrived at my building, where she let me off, clutching the little piece of note paper with her address and telephone number on it. Too late, I remembered that I had already asked Joan, my main flame, to that barbecue. That fact filed in my mental archives for later consideration, I went upstairs into the apartment, tiptoeing so as not to wake up my roommate, who was asleep on the couch with the tv on, as was his custom, and entered my office.

My email box held plenty of messages. Deleting the ones that I knew I wouldn't read, spam and ads and whatnot, and saving the one from my friend down under for later, I dived into a series of messages concerning a place called Penumbra, from an Irishwoman in the southwest, and a chatty message from yet another Irishwoman, this one in the southeast, replying in my usual fashion, half-crazed from caffeine. Following this, I booted up my browser while replying to the message from Mr. Russell, heading immediately to Penumbra.

By this time, the sun was up, and the morning commuters were making their way down to the depot. Feeling frisky, noticing a particularly attractive brunette sauntering by, I dropped a round candle out of the window to attract her attention, asking if she would save it from rolling down the hill into the street.

She was kind enough to do so, giving me a moment to make conversation. Thanked her most profusely, falling deep into her lustrous green eyes, and invited her to lunch the next day, which she graciously accepted. "By the way," she said. "MY name is Melissa. Melissa O'Neill."

Imagine my surprise. By then I was convinced, and am still, that the universe has determined to plague me with redheads and other Irishwomen until the day that one of them drives me finally over the edge. It is most assuredly a conspiracy of the gods, I tell you.

(this is a true story-and it is dedicated to Charlie Delgado, who is probably the ringleader and heartily objects to the sentiments embodied within that statement...readers should know that this conspiracy continues to this day (Hi Jackie), and that I will probably never get to the bottom of it...also, it has begotten a series of stories (upcoming) that have the same theme, with a little more of Conan Doyle pastiche element added, for amusement's sake)

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Reviewed by Nicole Lasher 8/3/2002
I bet other guys wish they had your "bad" luck. ::giggle::
Reviewed by Nicole Lasher 3/27/2002
really fun read...learning how a man looks and feels about beautiful women can only be taught by a man. thanks, teach!
Reviewed by Her Cheekiness 3/26/2002
There is NO conspiracy! *sigh* Have you taken your meds today Duane??


Charlie, HRC
Reviewed by Sharron Tyrrell 3/26/2002
hmmmm you do seem to have a thing for redheads and green eyes ... interesting read ...
Reviewed by Brenda Glasue 3/26/2002

Curiouser and curiouser.

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