Keith had poured himself some more coffee, went in the fridge and tossed a slice of ham in Bruno’s bowl, then took a calculating look around Lesli’s apartment. Decided the sofa should face the sunset. So he’d moved it.
Her huge snake-plant would look better beside the picture window. So he’d moved that too. Once he got started moving things around, burning away boredom, next thing he knew, Keith was lounging in the relocated easy chair, Bruno purring in his lap, when her key turned in the door.
They’d both looked up at her. Lesli had swept the surroundings in, her expression considerably less than pleasant. Then, fixing him with a searing glare, she’d proceeded to go off: “What have you done? This is my home! Who the hell gave you the right to change anything?!”
Bruno had hopped down and hid in a corner. Keith looked at the scared cat, then back at Lesli, and decided not to say a word. Until she yelled, “Just who do you think you are?!”
“I thought you’d like it.”
“Well, I don’t!”
“Then, I guess I better put it all back.”
“Don’t touch another stick of my furniture. I will do it, myself.” She’d stalked off into her bedroom, leaving him sitting there looking stupid.
He’d done his best to shrug it off, but couldn’t help being in a state of relative shock. And seriously leaning toward either booking a flight that very night or checking into an airport hotel. All the while, beginning to get pissed off at her in return. Which, he’d realized, would just leave the both of them two very pissed off, very unhappy people. He’d made himself a drink.
The bedroom door had opened and he wasn’t sure he wanted to look. Lesli, it turned out, was an ugly lady when she was angry. He looked anyway. Just as she entreated, “Baby, I am so sorry.”
She’d changed from a suit into a pair of threadbare cutoffs, a faded, much-worse-for-wear tank top and was barefoot. Keith had to catch his breath. Bruno, sensing the change in her tone of voice, had scrambled over, glad to be in her good graces. Lucky little so-and-so, Keith ruminated. Lesli continued, “It’s been a bitch of a day. And, well, this all threw me for a loop.”
“Sweetness, I’ll put it all back.”
“No, no. Is that roast beef I smell in the oven?”
“Mm-hmm. Made rice, too, and some collards is on the stove.”
“Biscuits?” She’d smiled like a child.
“Yep, biscuits.” He got up, poured her drink, wanted to throw something at Bruno and turned the evening news on the television.
The rest of the evening had gone without further untoward events. A side of Lesli he’d seen for the first time, though, stuck in his mind. Through the lovemaking. Through packing his bag. Through dropping her off and getting to the airport. Through the whole flight home.
Next week: He discovers still more.
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.