Lesli was due in on an afternoon flight. Keith had flagged down a cab on Lexington Avenue, hopped in and said, “The airport. La Guardia.” This relationship, he’d realized, was going to call for a lot of going to and coming from airports.
When he got there, she was standing at the baggage carousel looking a mess. His face broke out in a huge Kool-Aid smile. She’d pouted: “Stop laughing!”
“Haven’t made a sound,” he’d said, walking up. “Yet.”
“Don’t you dare — yet or otherwise — ever laugh at me,” she’d warned, looking like someone it was very hard to take seriously.
“They’d kissed. Long, deep. Her arms around his neck, his at about her waist, she’d winked and given a throaty, “Hey, handsome.”
He’d looked around. “Where’s your furry little sidekick, my buddy Bruno?” Actually, she’d had to talk Keith into bringing her cat along. Not that he didn’t dig Bruno, but the poor critter was stupid with a capital “S.” If he’d been human, he couldn’t’ve poured piss out a boot were the directions written on the heel.
Human or not, Lesli would fret over him like a witch on a worry-tit. “They wouldn’t let me get him a seat. So, he’s over where they have the pets.”
Even disheveled, she was impossibly gorgeous. And disheveled she was, hair sticking out wildly from under a Lakers cap. Tank-top shirt half in, half out of those raggedy Daisy Dukes she loved so much. And a pair of flip-flops.
Somehow, she’d made it work. On top of which, not a lick of make-up on and still put a cover girl to shame. And she was in love. With him.
She could tell he was thinking something and gave him a quizzical look: “Well, aren’t you just the cat who swallowed the canary.”
“Oh, am not.”
“Then wipe those feathers from around your mouth. What is on your mind?”
“You, lady. You.” Upon which they’d kissed again, then grabbed her bags and went off to collect Bruno.
“He’s my boy and the whole nine, but, baby, I’m sorry,” Keith had told her. “Bruno is about the dumbest animal on earth.”
“He is not,” she’d pouted, picking the cat up. “He’s just slow.”
“Any slower, he’d go backward.”
“How would you like to sleep on your own couch tonight?”
“Like I’ve always said,” Keith answered without missing a beat, “that kitty is the smartest on the block. Einstein on four feet. Yep. That’s what I always say.”
She hadn’t believed him and, from the look the cat gave him, neither had Bruno. Lesli cooed at the cat, “Thass right. You not stupid, just slow.”
Slow, yes, but stupid too. Keith always tried to keep his unflattering thoughts about her furry four-footed boyfriend to himself. But truth be told, left to his own devices, Bruno might forget how to breathe.
Keith was relieved when, after they’d got back to his place, Bruno had located the litter box set up for him in the bathroom. That was about as smart as he needed the cat to be. Other than that, as far as he was concerned, the stupid little beast could go on being, in Lesli’s eyes, her little feline genius — who had to be picked up and pointed in the direction of his food bowl.
This, no, wasn’t his first time hosting a lady. It was, though, his first time hosting one for the better part of a month. Hell, more than a long weekend. What was he going to do with her constantly hanging around the house? It wouldn’t take long before the walls got small.
Why on earth had he agreed to put Lesli up for three weeks? Because he was in love. Luis called it whipped. Either way, Keith hadn’t been at all sure that going from seeing each other once or twice a week to being shacked up was such a great idea.
For one, there’d been the way Lesli had reacted to that Samantha kid at the airport, feeling threatened by a girl not more than 20. Jealousy can — he’d been there — truly be a deal breaker. He’d watched himself run a wonderful woman, by the name of Jeanette, right out of his life — courtesy of paranoid accusations. He wasn’t looking to be on the receiving end of same.
He’d wanted her here but had to think twice about it. It had been way too early to come to any conclusions. Besides, he’d already said, “Yeah, sure, Les. You can bunk with me on your vacation.”
He’d shrugged off his doubts. If it got to be more than he or she could handle, she did have friends in town. Keith had found himself getting nervous. Looking off and on again at Bruno. Thinking, I got a feelin’, guy, you and me are going to start seeing a bit more of each other.
Next week: Keith considers drowning Bruno in the East River.
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.