Keith and Lesli

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Helen plans a big splash


“By all means, baby, eat in peace,” Helen St. James said when Keith complained about the interruption. “By all means.” And whisked everybody out of the dining room. Keith thought on it a hot minute, then shelved the idea of singing, polishing off what was left of his breakfast. Then, went to the hotel, packed, and caught a puddle-jumper back to Minneapolis. For a brief meet with Jeff Christensen, who lived in Stillwater, was recording there, and had called and asked Keith to back him up. Continue Reading →

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Keith a singing movie star?

He’d caught a catnap on the flight from the Twin Cities. Middle of the afternoon, filming in Chicago at Rosa’s Lounge, Keith sat at the bar wondering just how much longer it’d take. He’d never quite got used to the hurry-up-and-wait of making a movie. Even the tech crew, who were all accustomed to this kind of thing, clearly were bored to their bones. He finished thumbing through the local edition of the New York Times, absently humming Bobby Womack’s “Facts of Life.” Sipped at his drink. Continue Reading →

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The show must go on

Hey, Helen!” Keith hollered across the stage. “You ain’t gon’ b’lieve this!” She was on the stage scanning the surroundings, taking a breather. And idly responded, “Yeah, yeah, what?”

“Your boy just got arrested.”

Helen gave him an ugly look. “What’re you talking about?”

“Cop got Mensah.” He went over and picked up the half-can of beer he’d left sitting around. “What!?”

“Go outside and see for yourself.”

Which she did. Continue Reading →

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Keith stays the night

Keith hadn’t expected an invitation to stay the night. But Mari would hear of nothing else. So, here he sat, lounging in a robe and trunks borrowed from his father-in-law-to-be and nursing a beer, toking on a joint, watching his woman climb up out of the water and stand, shaking her hair, toweling off. As she started to rub the swell of her hips, his gaze went from admiring to a look of embarrassment. He was not quite comfortable staring at her body in front of her parents. Averting his eyes didn’t help because they fell on Mari, who looked every bit as stunning in a string bikini as her daughter did. Keith decided to talk to Hank: “So, how you like them Mets?”

“Yankee fan myself.”

“Okay, nobody’s perfect. When they gon’ get a decent shortstop?”

“Well, there won’t be any second coming of Derek Jeter. But, they got a kid coming up at Triple-A. White boy, switch hits, good with the glove, runs well. We’ll see.”

Lesli came over and flounced right down on his lap, taking the joint. “Hey, handsome.”

“Hey, yourself.”

Mari was laughing on the telephone. “You have to meet him. He’s such a gentleman. And quite easy on the eyes.”

“Mother, who are you bragging about my fiancé to?”

“Your aunt.”


“Do you have any other aunts?”

“Oh, Keith, you have to meet her.”

Keith looked to Hank who immediately put his head in his hands. He would find out later, in Hank’s den, with the other two running their mouths in the living room while something played on Lifetime, “Keith, get out of town while the gettin’s good. You think my wife is a piece of work. Her sister’s crazy as a rat. You got past Mari. Don’t press your luck all in one visit.”

“Got it. Tomorrow mornin’, catch the first thing smokin’.”

“If you value your sanity you will.” With which Hank finished his cup of coffee, his last spoonful of chocolate mousse, said, “’Night” and was gone. “’Night.”

He heard from the living room, “Come on, woman, let’s go to bed.”

“You don’t have to ask me twice.”

After a minute, Lesli came in. Wearing a Cheshire cat smile, her favorite, raggedy jeans-cutoffs and the string bikini top. “Wanna see my old bedroom?” She somehow managed to say that and look reasonably innocent yet lecherous at the same time. “Can’t wait.” The room had one poster left from before she went away to college at California State. A photo her dad had taken of Blair Underwood and Carl Franklin standing around, apparently shooting the breeze, after one of Hank’s lectures. The rest basically was blank. Nicely appointed, but blank. Your typical guest room. “So,” she said brightly, bouncing on the bed. “Whaddya think?”

“It’s a nice room.”

“No, stupid. How do you think today went?”

“Well,” he went over and laid down on the bed, kicking his sneakers off, “meeting your mother sure explains a lot about you.”

Her mouth fell open. “And what the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“Ain’t neither one of you got the first lick of sense. But, y’ damn sure got personality. Continue Reading →

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Lesli joins the two-percent club

“I’ll grab something more to eat after I get there,” Lesli said as she prepared to leave for work. “Hit the commissary, then tackle that damned letter to the board. They have got to approve the plan to add a fourth floor. It’s expensive as hell, but baby, it makes sense. Even a big-shot operation like that has to keep up with the times and keep improving. Keep tourism here instead of losing it to other cities.”

She had a point. And he’d seen some of this woman’s well-written letters. The board would side with her on the expansion or have to come up with a damned good reason why. Funders knew about this beautiful, brassy exec with a mind like a steel trap. The director had seen to it. Yeah, that new floor likely was as good as done. “Know what I feel like eating?” she asked. Idly, more to herself than to him.”

“Nope.” He had clicked on the remote and was watching the news with a lapful of Bruno, Butch and Sundance. For once the kittens were leaving the old guy in peace, hanging out, watching the news with Keith. “Not ’til you tell me, no.”

“A banana split. With the works. Different kinds of nuts, rich whipped cream, lots of syrup, the whole nine.”

“Mm-hm, sounds good.”

“And a bowl of tomato soup.”

Keith lowered the volume on the television. “What was that? Did you just say—”

“Yeah. Continue Reading →

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Keith resolves not to spook his new partner

Keith clicked the television on and quickly got bored with Harris Faulkner talking about whatever the hell it was. He hunted through the DVD library and couldn’t believe Lesli’s contributions. The woman was crazy about romantic comedies and had damned near everything from How Harry Met Sally to Boomerang and beyond. And she loved nature documentaries, especially when it was about dinosaurs or big cats, leopards, tigers, panthers and such. He smiled, remembering an afternoon that was just about as ugly as this morning, weatherwise. “Did you know,” Lesli’d asked, “that panthers actually are leopards?” She looked like some sort of cheerleader in a shiny, soft basketball jersey and matching, power blue shorts, bouncing up and down on the sofa. “Okay, so where are their spots?” “Right there!” Continue Reading →

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