Keith reckons with a new and different Lesli


Keith studied Lesli across the restaurant table, watching the wind play with her hair, wondering just who this maniac was.  She sat there, eyes still filmed over, half-grinning, half-grimacing. He edged back far enough to not get smacked again and, said, “You pop up out of thin air, break up my lunch date to boot? Do you know that woman probably will never speak to me again?”

She sheepishly nodded with a slight, self-satisfied smile. He said with a perfectly straight face, “You better be pregnant.”

Shaking her head, she coughed. “No.” The waitress came back. Lesli palmed her a $20 and asked for a shrimp salad. Keith ordered his usual cheeseburger burnt to a crisp.

His amazed wonderment at her sudden appearance was wearing off. On top of which, he’d always had a weak spot for the woman she’d just run off. “Lesli Mari Hall, explain yourself.”

Lesli sat up straight. Like a kid called on in class. “You never call me that.” He was done with this. But, patiently as possible, sipped at his drink. He’d wait it out, all gentlemanly and such. He didn’t owe Lesli any more than that. And one of these days, sooner or later, Kisa might calm down, give him another shot.

Lesli put her fingertips to where she’d hit him. This woman, he thought, is driving me out of what little mind I have. “Maybe I don’t deserve you,” she said.

That snapped him out of it. He could handle this lady in most of her frames of mind. Feeling sorry for herself wasn’t one. “Les, look.” He was going to say something more, but she cupped her palm around the back of his neck and pulled his head to her. Grabbed with both hands, smothering him with a great big, sloppy wet kiss. A few of the people near them applauded.

She pressed a palm to his chest. “Why aren’t we together?”

“Uh…‘cause you dumped me?” She kicked him. “Ow! Lesli, I wish you wouldn’t do that.”

“Shut up. Don’t be such a baby.” She wheedled, giving him a coy smile, “You really did love me, didn’t you?”

He rolled his eyes. This woman. “No. But I was extremely fond.” Lesli kicked him again. “Damn, woman!”

“I said, you did love me, right?”

“Yes!” He rubbed his aching shin.

“And still do. Right?” She pulled her foot back to give him another good one.

“Yes, Lesli. I still do.”

She was having a ball roasting him on the hot seat. “You still do what?”

“In another minute, I’m gon’ reach across this table and—”

“And nothin’. You’re not going to do a damned thing. Except tell me what I want to hear. Still do what?”

She shoved him. He piped up: “Love you.”

Then say it, damn it. The whole thing.” He sat, staring at this wild woman who first slapped the taste off his mouth and now kicked him and, had a cop sat in Keith’s lap, she’d’ve got away with it. “I said,” she punched his arm, “say it.”

He rubbed the arm. She arched an eyebrow, balled her other fist. Do I really, he thought, want to spend my life with this beautiful, crazy woman? “I still love you, Lesli!” he yelled. “I love you.”

More people applauded. “See? That wasn’t so hard, was it?” Had the nerve to calmly sip her drink and wink. Then gave him another kiss.

Somebody said, “That poor guy doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell.”

His buddy replied, “I’d trade places with him in a split second.” Keith and Lesli laughed. The food went uneaten. They got up and walked away, arms around each others’ waist. Went to her place. Made love.


Next week: Keith proposes

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