David A. Schwinghammer
· Soldier's Gap
· Soldier's Gap
· Mengele's Double, Chapter 9
· Seminary Boy, a memoir
· Fisher of Men, Chapter Nine
· Soldier's Gap, Chapter Three
· Honest Thief, Tender Murderer, Chapter Nine
· Fisher of Men, Chapter 8
· Honest Thief, Tender Murderer, Chapter Eight
· Bereavement Blues
· Fisher of Men, Chapter 7
· Speed Dating With 'Janeane Garofalo'
· Missoula, book review
· Another Shakespeare Doubter, book review
· Flights of Passage, book review
· The Lusitania, book review
· The Wilderness of Ruin, book review
· A Beautiful Mind, book review
· Another Planet, book review
· The Three Stooges, book review
· The God Particle
· Empire of Sin, book review
· Widow's Peak
· Alumni Game
· Girls Who Wear Glasses
· The Do Drop Inn
· Ode to Neve Campbell
· Jacks or Better 101
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Books by David A. Schwinghammer
Detective Black puts a tail on
Charlie Zelnick; Charlie has dinner
with a Mary Kay saleswoman who's been
trying to seduce him.
"Life is the game that must be played.”
--Edward Arlington Robinson
Black watched Mary Held shellac her fingernails with claret-colored polish. Strange haircut that, blue-black, very short with bangs, like the style the flappers wore in the twenties. A rumor circulating around the station had it there was some hanky-panky going on between the captain and his receptionist. Must be something to it; Black had never seen her do any work.
As Mary flapped her hands about, trying to dry her digits, the intercom buzzed. She carefully punched a button. “Yes, Captain.”
“Send Black in here.” Mary nodded toward the door. He passed her desk, damn near overcome by the eau de rose she’d slathered on.
Black went in and stood, waiting to be addressed. Once, when Black had first started here, he’d barged right in and slouched in a chair opposite the captain. Pillsbury had chewed his ass for a good five minutes. Pillsbury had been an Army officer before he’d gone into police work and still expected his underlings to grovel.
“Come in, sit down,” Pillsbury said. He honked into a tissue, growled to clear his throat. Several dozen tissues were crumpled in the wastebasket. “Would you like a drink?”
Protocol called for Black to refuse, although Pillsbury was a notorious drunk and had at least one DWI conviction and several careless driving guilty pleas that had been reduced. A close personal friend of the chief of police, the comedians on the force called the captain Teflon Don.
“No, Captain,” Black said. “Thanks anyway.”
Pillsbury sniffed and slapped the table. “Damned cold, practically living on Vitamin C.”
Probably screwdrivers, Black thought.
Black was here to report on the Bendix kidnapping and was waiting for a signal to begin. Pillsbury opened a file, felt around in his breast pocket for his glasses, the Ben Franklin kind. Looked like a fag---what next, a ponytail with the rubber band holding it in place?
“What’s this about a Marv Kleinschmidt?” the captain said. “Guy worked at Bendix’s apartment. Some kind of tree worker?”
“We don’t know that for a fact, Captain. Marv Kleinschmidt was a boy who attended Central who stuttered. As you can see from the report, we found a cameo that we think the perp gave Bendix. We were able to trace it to the jewelry store where this Marv person bought it.”
“How did you know his name was Marv?”
“I was just getting to that. We took the description back to Bendix’s apartment. Her next door neighbor identified this Marv person who pruned trees at the apartment complex. The manager said Marv stuttered.”
Pillsbury peered at him over the top of his reading glasses, waiting for him to continue.
“We checked with the speech therapist at Central. She was new, but she knew the lady who’d worked there previously.”
“Good work, Black. And she told you about Marv Kleinschmidt?” Pillsbury pushed back his chair, stood, moved toward the bar, splashed bourbon into a tumbler.
“He’s an insurance agent. Doesn’t look like much of a lead. Our guy works with trees.”
Black craned his neck towards Pillsbury, scowling down at him. “Anything else?”
“Been interviewing the staff at television station, concentrating on the males, you know. The sales manager, a Cal Ernst, older guy, ready to retire, had a father/daughter relationship with Bendix. He’d go way out of his way to help her. Take her car in to get it serviced, never did anything like that for the other girls.”
“How old is this Ernst fellow?”
“Never heard of an older guy doing something like this. I worked a similar case when I was a young lieutenant. Only the vic was a clerk at Woolworth’s. Disappeared walking home. It was a lot easier in those days. No Miranda legislation. We had a list of suspects we’d haul in here every time a girl went missing. Sure enough, one of them had her locked up in the basement. But that’s neither here nor there.” Pillsbury moved back behind his desk, and gingerly sat down in his huge upholstered chair. Hemorrhoids. He removed the half specs and set them on the desk, reached over for another Kleenex and rubbed his nose. “What about boyfriends?”
“Bad luck with the boys, according to the other girls at the station. No current boyfriend.”
“Check on her old flames. Maybe one of them had bad feelings about getting dumped.”
“We’re working on it, Captain. We’re in touch with Bendix’s mother.”
Pillsbury scratched his head. “One more thing, Black. That dispatcher. Level with me now. I know how it is, considering the divorce and all. I’ve been known to sew a little wild oats myself. Is there anything to this harassment complaint?”
Fucking bitch. He’d show her harassment.
“I have been using somewhat rough language around her, Captain. I’ll try to lighten it up. You don’t really think I’m that hard up, do you?” Both of them laughed raucously.
Black picked up the phone and dialed Butler Plumbing. He waited while a secretary went to ask her boss if he remembered hiring a Marv somebody to trim trees at Cedar Grove apartments. Black could hardly keep his eyes open, had a hard time paying attention to what the secretary had been saying on the phone. He’d been having trouble sleeping since Melanie left. The damn bed seemed to tilt; he couldn’t get comfortable.
“Detective Black, this is Alec Newman. I’m the bookkeeper here at Butler Plumbling. We’ve hired a dozen or so handymen at Cedar Grove over the last few years, but none of them have the first name Marv or Marvin.”
“Are any of them short in stature?”
“I wouldn’t know, Detective Black. We send out the checks through the mail.”
“Could you make a list of the names you do have? We’ll take it from there.”
“I’ll fax it over if you’ll give me your number.”
“Appreciate it, Alec.”
Black gave him the number and hung up the phone. He was so tired; he’d just put his head down for a few minutes, reflect on his glory days.
The green felt desk cover turned to misty grass as Jim Black burst through the line on a trap play, immediately lowering his helmet to make the middle linebacker pay when he tried for the tackle, but the backer fell down and he was in the clear. There was nothing like it, no sense of freedom greater than knowing you were on your way to a touchdown. He took a deep breath, sucking in the sweet grass-scented air, a mistake because the safety raced over and flew at his shins, knocking him off stride, and he toppled to the ground, his helmet caked with sod. A fifteen yard gain that should’ve been a touchdown.
When he rolled over to get up, he noticed the yellow diaper. The zebra had flagged him for motion before the snap. This was the same guy who’d called it a fumble when he’d clearly broken the plane of the end zone in the game against Mankato State. He’d have to find some way to run the little fucker over one of these next few plays.
Jim Black shifted in his chair, almost woke up as the drool began to build on the blotter. Instead he rested his head on his arms . . . Jim Black squinted through the scope of thirty-thirty at the blond co-ed below with the plaid skirt extending a foot below her knees. He squeezed off a round and the blonde’s head exploded in a cloud of magenta. The ants down there were scurrying for their burrows. One bespectacled bookworm was a little slow and Black was able to wing him in the kneecap before he rolled into the bushes. He fired another round, trying to scare him out of the bushes into the open for a clear shot.
A lone figure walked out from behind a bulletin board on the quad announcing coming events. He could clearly see it was Melanie, and she was wearing a SWAT uniform. He opened up again, sparks broadcasting off the sidewalk, but she kept coming. He didn’t know what to do. He couldn’t allow himself to be taken alive, especially by a woman.
Jim Black snapped awake, he’d been sleeping at his desk, drooling on the blotter. Thank God the captain hadn’t seen him. He’d been having some pretty peculiar dreams lately, but this one was really wacko. Jim Black wasn’t the type to worry about nightmares, but this one was as memorable as the Kennedy assassination. He reached for his notebook, wrote the dream down. It took up three pages in his notebook. Maybe he’d talk to the department shrink about this, just for shits and giggles.
Massaging his face, reveling in the bristle, he lit a cigar, then buzzed Penny for coffee. He couldn’t fathom how Zelnick, a midget reporter from a small-town newspaper, could find out so much about the guy who kidnapped Bendix when he, Jim Black, had drawn a blank.
He drew on his cigar and watched the smoke billow toward the ceiling. Well, at least, the little twerp had given him the name Marv and what he did for a living. Shouldn’t be too many tree trimmers who stuttered. Maybe he’d get lucky with Alec Newman’s list.
You had to give Zelnick credit. Why hadn’t that PR bitch told him about the cameo? Probably afraid of him, just like Melanie.
She’d pissed him off so bad that time he’d hit her. Stupid bitch wanted to go home to see her parents, all the way up to International Falls, when he had tickets to see the Vikings play the Bears at the Dome.
He wrote Newman’s name on his blotter above the Butler Plumbing number. He’d also need to talk to Dorie Bendix’s old boyfriends. But, primarily, he’d put a tail on Zelnick. Either Zelnick had something to do with the kidnapping or he was the reincarnation of Sherlock Holmes. Either way, Black would be there with his pooper-scooper.
Zelnick had been right about him being worried about the newspapers making a stink over an amateur solving the case. He’d have to change his tactics with the little ink-stained wretch, maybe invite him out for an Ancient Age or two. Why couldn’t life be more like football, where you could bull your way through the line, like a tractor over a speed bump? There wasn’t any negotiation in football.
He yawned, stretched, glanced at his watch. It was close to four. Zelnick probably already had another lead, and now that Jim Black had pissed him off, he wouldn’t be sharing it with him. Brilliant, just brilliant. Who could he get to put a tail on Zelnick? It would have to be somebody who’d keep his mouth shut. Maybe that kid Novak. What else did he have to do besides writing speeding tickets?
The phone buzzed. “Detective Black, Dennis Swegman to see you.”
“Newspaperman from the Bugle.”
“I’m expecting a fax from Butler Plumbing. It come in yet?”
“I haven’t seen it. What about Swegman?”
What the hell, he didn’t really have anything better to do. Maybe the kid had something he didn’t. “Show him in, Penny. And bring me that damn coffee.”
Swegman hung his coat, the heavy Eskimo kind with a hood, and his knit cap with a silly red tassel on Black’s hat rack, and took a chair, drawing his notebook like a six-shooter. Swegman was the kind of geek he’d picked on when he’d been in school. One of them would do his homework, another would furnish lunch, and somebody else would cough up pocket change.
“Thanks for seeing me, Lieutenant Black,” Swegman said. “I know you’re a busy man.”
“That’s Detective Black. What can I do for you?”
Swegman opened the notebook, ran his boney finger down the page. “We’d like to know more about the harassment complaint Dorie Bendix filed.”
Black sighed, swiveled in his chair and focused on the picture behind his desk of him scoring a touchdown in the North Dakota State game.
He turned and looked at Swegman. What a poor specimen this kid was. Hadn’t he ever heard of Clearasil? “She said she’d seen this man in the park while out jogging. He was there walking a German shepherd. But, Dennis, surely you know that there was nothing we could do. This is a free country after all . . .” He turned and studied the picture again.
He’d played middle linebacker on defense, patterning himself after the great Dick Butkus, who had been truly crazy on the field. You needed to psyche your opponents. Tackle high or go for a knee. Just once or so a game. Enough so’s they’re afraid, but not enough to get kicked out of the game.
“Ah, Detective Black . . . We have a source who says the man with the German shepherd was short, shorter than Dorie Bendix.” Swegman ran his skinny finger down the page once again. “Let’s see, she was only 5’ 2”. That would make him an extremely small man.”
Black opened the lower drawer of his desk, the big one meant for files, took out the football autographed by his teammates he’d received after his hospital stay, tossed it to Swegman, who dropped the notebook and snared the ball with his fingertips.
“Play any football, Dennis? Your name is Dennis, isn’t it? I played two years at South Dakota State. Gained 500 yards as second string fullback my freshman year. Coach Fyler didn’t believe in starting freshmen or it would’ve been more.”
Black stared at the picture again, at the cheerleaders in the background. He was 6’ 3”, weighed two hundred twenty pounds with black piercing eyes. Melanie, the head cheerleader, had been all over him. She was an English lit major and did all of his papers for him.
He rocked back in his chair. “My sophomore year I gained 200 yards in the first game against North Dakota State. Went through the opposing line like beans through a Wetback, carried the ball thirty-five times and felt like playing another game.”
“Ah, Detective Black, can you verify that Dorie Bendix described the man in the park with the German shepherd as being very short?”
Black reached across the desk, took the football, and spiked it off the coffee table. A coffee cup exploded, splashing the reporter with brown sludge and cigar butts. Swegman’s eyes flitted left and right, like a rabbit cornered by a brush wolf.
“The captain doesn’t want you to print that! He doesn’t want the guy to know we’re looking for him. He’ll split if you do and we’ll never find Bendix.”
Black picked up the football, walked behind his desk, put it back in the drawer, took out his jersey with the big number 33 on the back, held it up for Swegman to see.
“In the second game of my sophomore year, Coach Fyler said there were scouts in the stands from the professional teams, unheard of for a sophomore. It was student body right on the first play and the left end, the outside linebacker, and the safety went down like dominos. I ran thirty-five yards for a touchdown. We held the other team, then on the next play from scrimmage, I took the handoff and went right up the middle. The middle linebacker tripped me up at the last second and I went down. The nose guard fell on the back of my knee and I couldn’t get up. The team doctor looked at the X-rays and shook his head. In those days they didn’t do anterior crucial ligament operations. My football career was over.”
“I’m sorry about your injury, Detective Black.”
Black put the jersey back in the drawer. “Thank you. Dennis, I want you to be very frank with me. I need to know who told you about the man in the park . . . Because . . .” Black took his switchblade out of his pocket and punched the button, the blade flashing like a match in the dark. “. . . because, if there’s a leak we’ve got to plug it. Do you know a reporter from Dorie Bendix’s home town, name of Charlie Zelnick, looks like a reject from one of those old Bowery Boys shorts?”
Swegman was about to have a nervous breakdown any second. “H-he came to see me; he knew all about the man in the park.”
Black ran the tip of the blade under his fingernails. “What else did he tell you?”
“Ah, he found a cameo that the kidnapper gave to Dorie Bendix. He warned me not to print that--”
“That’s okay then, Dennis. You can say we’re hot on the trail of the kidnapper, and we should have him in custody within the week. How’s that?”
Swegman nodded, stumbled to the hat rack, got his coat and hat, and hurried out the door.
Shouldn’t have any more problems with him. Jim Black shook away the cobwebs. Had to get back to what he was paid to do. What had he been about to do? Oh yeah, the old boyfriends. He’d get somebody else to do that.
He glanced around the room. There were Styrofoam cups littered all over the place. He hit the buzzer. Penny Kaplan, dispatcher, general gopher, and filer of harassment complaints, entered the room. The ditzy blonde dressed like a refugee from the fifties with those hoop skirts and rolled up socks. Like the girl in the dream he’d just had, the one whose head had exploded.
She dropped a roll of fax paper on his desk. “Penny, this place is beginning to look like a pig sty. Can you clean it up a bit? And get me another cup of coffee.” Jim Black wondered whether she dressed that way to discourage him. She had a nice little ass.
“The janitors ignore the stuff that isn’t on floor level. Lazy bastids.” She did a rapid circuit of the room, gathering the cups in a teetering stack and was out of the room before he could find further fault.
He picked up the fax and read the names. Probably another dead end. He dialed the first name, Eddie Forster. Eddie was 6' 3". Bertram M. Cooper and Ed Westfield did not have phone numbers listed. He got a message from two others. None of those who answered were even remotely short.
Black set the list aside. He couldn’t get Zelnick out of his head. Could be he already knew where Marv lived. If the perp had any brains, he’d have put Bendix in the trunk and split for Montana like Zelnick said. Yeah, you had to think like the felon. Marv had seen that little piece of fluff on TV and started fantasizing about what it would be like to go to bed with her. Marv was going to get his own little sex machine. Keep her in this hole in the ground and take her whenever he wanted. Black had this feeling, though, that Marv was still around someplace, and he wouldn’t be able to stay away from trees.
He felt his chin. Damn, he needed another shave. The captain had stopped him one day out in the hall, suggesting he shave before he came to work. He tried to tell Pillsbury he had, but the captain had waved him away. Some day that supercilious son of a bitch was going to wind up hacked to bits, smelling up the trunk of an abandoned Buick.
Black hit the intercom. “Penny, did you get an address on that newspaper reporter we had in the can?” He waited while she looked for it. “Hawkeye Motel off 35? Great. Thanks.”
Yeah, Marv would have to be near trees. Probably loved them more than he did people. The velvet leaves, the balmy bark, the quenching sap. That’s probably what Zelnick was doing now, tracking tree freaks. He’d get Penny to keep trying the names on the Butler Plumbling list, and he’d go catch a breath of fresh air. Legwork. That’s how that second-rate Joseph Pulitzer had found out about Marv. Then, if that proved futile, he’d tour apartment complexes to see if anyone else had hired Marv. Those apartment managers were all people who did maintenance for reduced rent. They wouldn’t know anything about trees. Yeah, that would be the way to nab the little tree frog.
But first he’d put a tail on Zelnick. Black hit the buzzer again. “Penny, get me Tom Novak. Tell him to meet me at the Arby’s parking lot in fifteen minutes.”
Black got his gun out of the cabinet. Zelnick wasn’t going to go home. Maybe if he talked to the guy man to man, over drinks, like he’d said. Black could get a reading on him that way. Make a pretty damn fine detective if he weren’t so wimpy looking.
What the hell! Jim Black could share a little of the glory, and Melanie’d see that and think he’d changed.
“Call the woman, you putz!” the cat had said, and since Charlie hadn’t had a woman since he couldn’t remember when, he managed to suppress his guilty conscience telling him he had to be true to Angela. She’d turned down his invitation to see that movie. And what was that about not wanting to be touched!
Actually he could remember his last roll in the hay: He’d been drinking all day in this little country western bar called the BAR X and he’d asked this woman to dance 'cause the band was playing “Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison, and he could never resist that song. He’d been surprised she said yes since he was getting a little drunk, and usually he showed it after a couple of beers. They’d sat out a couple of dances and talked about her kids. She had five of them, four girls and a boy, ages four to fourteen. Her name was Julie and she’d said, “My husband is a musician, or rather I should say my ex-husband is a musician, a horn player, the worst kind.”
Before he knew it they were having sex in the front seat of her car, and he woke up the next morning with this little kid staring down at him saying, “I want breakfast.”
Charlie dialed the number Shirley had given him, as confident as he’d ever been, not a moment’s hesitation. “Shirley Anders speaking.”
“I thought I’d take you up on your dinner invitation,” he said.
“Who is this?”
Maybe this hadn’t been such a good idea if he’d made that great an impression on her. “Charlie Zelnick, the reporter from Hydrangea. I talked to you about Dorie Bendix.”
“Gosh, I’m sorry. I was working on my accounts, and when I work on my accounts, I get so preoccupied. Why don’t you come on over. I’ve got dinner in the oven. You like pot roast?”
“Does Linus like his blanket?”
Twenty minutes later he was ringing the security buzzer at Dorie’s apartment building for the second time.
The woman’s dark hair was stacked so high Charlie began to suspect she was wearing a fall. Her skin was flawless, so alabaster that if he touched her he’d leave a bruise. Little bears cavorted on the vest she wore: a bear wearing a Santa hat, a bear holding a Christmas tree, a bear beating a drum, a bear dressed as a toy soldier. A white turtleneck and stirrup pants completed the ensemble.
“Let’s put some meat on those bones,” she said, holding him with eyes the color of Dutch chocolate. Could she have really said what he’d heard? No one had ever said that to him, he’d been a chubby child.
The stereo was playing what he thought was Stan Getz, definite make-out music.
“We can sit down to eat right away if you’d like,” she said. “I can only have meat once a week. Big boned you know.”
“I like ‘em that way,” he said. She smiled, her eyebrows arched like the wings of a soaring bird.
He sat down at a small dinette on a raised level near the kitchen. She took the meat out of the oven, cut off the top of the roasting bag, burned her finger. “Damn,” she said. “I’m not much of a cook. Usually I have salad and maybe a little cottage cheese. Would you believe I once weighed two hundred and ten pounds?”
“I wanted to ask you about Dorie, Shirley. Did you know her very well?”
“I have to let this roast set for five minutes. I talked to Dorie a few times outside the mailboxes down in the lobby. I hope you didn’t come here just because of her.”
“Would you like me to mash those potatoes or something? I’m an expert potato masher.”
“There’s butter and cream in the frig. Dorie told me she was thinking of taking a job in the Twin Cities. Do you think she might be there?”
He scooped the mashed potatoes into a bowl he found in the cupboard. She cut the meat and put it on the table. She had green beans simmering.
“I don’t think she’d leave her car. I’d say your little man Marv absconded with her.”
She sat next to him, brushing his arm with her breast. He couldn’t be this lucky; there had to be a man hiding in the closet, waiting for him to make his move.
“Couldn’t be him,” she said. “I like to go for a walk when I get back from my circuit and I used to talk to Marv once in a while. I’m pretty much an outdoors girl, and he let me cut some branches for him. Everything he said was ‘Yes, ma’am, no ma’am. Hand me that ax, ma’am.’ Beautiful manners.”
“Did you remember Marv’s last name, Shirley?” For an outdoors girl she had the most beautiful hands and nails. Nice enough to model the hand cream his mother used so much of.
She stared up at the ceiling, glass panels with a row of fluorescent lamps furnishing the light. “Damn it, I have such a terrible memory; I know he told me. Seems like it was a name like Murphy, but that’s not it. Some kind of Irish name. I have to change the record. Do you like jazz or would you rather hear something else?”
“Whatever you like, Shirley.” He took another piece of roast and another scoop of mashed potatoes, more string beans. Johnny Mathis came on the stereo.
“Do you dance, Charlie?” she said.
She was a very good dancer, so good she actually made him feel coordinated, a surprising development since he’d always felt he had to be the clumsiest man this side of Jerry Lewis. They danced cheek to cheek; she was a good three inches taller without the hair.
“Shirley, have you ever been married?”
“Once, just out of high school. Let’s sit; I want to read your palm. I did Dorie’s for her once, but I don’t recall telling her anything about any kidnapping.”
They sat on the couch; she’d removed her shoes; her toenails were the same color as her fingernails, a scarlet red, to go with her scarlet past, he thought. Probably a high-priced courtesan, charges a thousand dollars a night. This Mary Kay saleslady crap is a cover, so the cops don’t come down hard on her.
“You have a very long lifeline,” she said. “And you’re going to have a big family.”
How the hell could that be? He was fifty fuckin’ years old and his peds dispenser didn’t always fire.
“How about you?” she said. “Have you ever been married?”
“Confirmed bachelor. I guess I never got married because I was a teacher, and ninety-nine per cent of all female teachers are married. The rest are dogs.”
“Don’t call women dogs, Charlie.”
He’d botched it again. When would he learn to keep his stupid mouth shut? Gary Cooper had it right. Yup and nope should be enough for any guy. No, she was still holding his hand, kind of caressing the palm with her thumb and squeezing with the middle finger. Symbolic or what?
“You know what I think, Charlie. I think you fell in love in high school and for whatever reason she wouldn’t have you. That’s what I think.” She took some pins out of her hair and her mane cascaded down her back, all the way down to her butt. It was all hers.
“It’s getting late, Charlie, and I brush my hair a hundred times every night, even when I’m loaded. Would you like to help me?”
Nothing had ever felt as good as brushing that woman’s hair, but it took him a while to acquire a decent technique. “Deeper,” she said. “It won’t hurt me. I like it when you’re rough; it gives the scalp a nice workout.” And so he started at the back of her head, at the point where the hair takes off in all different directions and dug down with the brush, a fancy little thing made out of mother-of-pearl or some similar kind of weird stuff, until he lost his hand in the heavy tresses, and then he pulled down sharply. “Ouch, you snagged me,” she said. “Here like this,” and she took his hand and ran it up and down a couple of times like a mother teaching her five-year-old how to ride a bike, and he leaned in closer to get a better grip and the tingle almost got the best of him since he wasn’t used to being so near such a sensual creature. He put his other hand next to the brush as a guide as he pursued each stroke.
“Can’t imagine why any woman would want to cut her hair,” he said.
“Oh, you wouldn’t believe what a bother it is,” she said. “Sometimes I wake up looking like that snake-headed lady in Greek mythology. What was her name?”
“The Medusa . . . Your hair is so silky,” he said. “It’s almost better than . . .”
“I’ll do you when we’re done. Are you keeping count?” I’ll do you? Had she said what he thought she’d said?
She seemed to be able to read his mind. “Silly. I meant I’ll massage your scalp for you. You’re really lucky, you know, to have that full head of hair. Most men your age have at least some hair loss. I know; I was a beautician once. The pay was diddly squat. That’s how I got to be a Mary Kay spokesperson. One of my clients was a supervisor. She said I had such an outgoing personality so why not go into sales. She said I could triple my salary, and I did!”
“I could fall in love with your hair,” Charlie said. “Do I remind you of anybody, Shirley. Somebody famous?”
None of the hair was coming off on the brush. This woman had to be the healthiest mortal on the planet.
“Let me think.” She took his face in her hands, searched his eyes, pushed the hair away from his ears. “I don’t know. Cary Grant with more hair.”
She had to be putting him on. And then she did his hair, and it was even better.
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