Keith never got much mail. Bills went straight to his accountant and he’d never been much of one for correspondence. Today, what showed up was his Players subscription, which he wasn’t sure whether Lesli would let him keep. And a few guitar magazines.
He put them all on the kitchen counter, an envelope falling from between, landing on the floor. He picked it up and paused. The return address, written in a pretty script, read L. Bonne. That’d be Linda. The return address also had a long number after her name and read Chowchilla Federal Women’s Prison.
He shook his head and dropped the envelope on the magazines. It didn’t take a clairvoyant to surmise his baby cousin’s long-running river of luck had, at last, run dry. If she wasn’t serving time for crack possession or prostitution, he’d be surprised.
He lazed into the living room and saw Bruno’s luck wasn’t going so well, either. The boys had him backed into a corner, biting, swiping at him, jumping on him and, in general, making the poor cat miserable as hell. Bruno hissed and spat. Unfazed, they kept right on harassing him.
He tried swiping back. Not hard enough to hurt either of them, but in an effort to hold them at bay. Didn’t work. They were having a ball double-teaming him. Finally, he leapt up on the mantle, out of reach. Shook his head as they sat down below, trying to figure out how he’d done that and how they could get up there after him. He just stared at them. Then gave Keith a very dirty look.
Keith laughed and went in the kitchen, filled a bowl full of pretzels, poured ginger ale into a tumbler of ice and took the tray back in, setting it on the coffee table. Then, he grabbed his guitar from its case. Not that he was hungry. Or that he needed to practice. He just wanted some distraction from his thoughts.
It weighed on him that, despite both their best intentions, he and she had to make it from here to there. Without, as he’d seen happen to way too many heart-over-heels couples, winding up hating each other.
“I guess they don’t call it risk for nothin’.” It weighed on him that the only problem they’d solved so far was not living together. They were about to try and do something that wasn’t the least bit easy — fit two strongly independent individuals into one relationship. He promptly decided the weight was one he could bear and gave her the benefit of the doubt while he was at it.
Lesli was, after all, no ordinary woman. In his estimation, even more than most women, what she wanted to have, what she set out to do, she determinedly would have and accomplish. He had no idea, as he set his axe aside, relaxed, propped his feet up and reached for the remote, just how much of a wild card actually knowing what she wanted would turn out to be.
Keith found an ancient horror flick on one of the classics channels: It! The Terror From Beyond Space. Which, his dad had told him, was where they cribbed Keith’s all-time favorite Alien. According to his old man, a fairly reliable authority on all things cinematic — and not a half-bad drummer in his day — “Son, that ain’t nothin’ but a ‘50s B-movie given A-movie treatment.” It was about half-way into the movie. Before it got much further, Keith was sound asleep.
Next week: Lesli and Keith set up house
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.