Keith resolves not to spook his new partner

Keith-&-LesliKeith 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!” She’d pointed at the television screen. “Just if you get close enough to see ’em,” she grinned, “you might not live to tell the tale.”

He snapped out of his mini-reverie and pulled out The Long Riders. She liked it because the story was fact-based — she’d looked it up — and a lot closer to real history than those old, bullshit movies from the ‘50s that made Jesse James and his gang out to be, a la Tyrone Power, angel-faced heroes who could do no wrong.

Keith liked it because the acting was tight and all the parts were played by real-life brothers: Carridenes, Quaids and Keaches. He showed Lesli the cover and she gave her approval. They put the flick on and he stretched out on the sofa, Lesli holding his head on her lap. “I’m gonna kill that kid to death,” he swore, still brooding on Cousin Linda.

“You will do no such thing. Now, shut up and watch the movie.”

Before long they both dozed off.

He woke a while later to a clear head. And Lesli to a cramp in her leg. He sat up as she stretched, rubbed her thigh. “You okay?”

He wasn’t sure. He nodded anyway. Starting this happily-ever-after phase of things couldn’t help but be tricky. There were bound to be, occasionally, times when the walls got small.

Anybody who entered this kind of thing all rosy-eyed ought to think about, for instance, how they’d handle their first fight without one being able to say, “You know what, you really piss me off. And I’m not doing wonders for your disposition, either. It probably a good idea tonight if you stay at your crib and I stay at mine.”

There wasn’t going to be any of that.

He got the sense that she’d easily spook. He didn’t think she’d get actual second thoughts about being together, but she’d probably get pretty shook up. For a strong, fiercely independent chick, she picked some of the weirdest ways in which to be insecure. But, hell, that was the lady he fell in love with. Hence, he needed to be as reassuring as he could be. At all times.

She decided to go to work after all. And now was parading around the bedroom, stalking just the right drawers and bra to put on. Which suit? Pants or skirt? With which blouse? Which hose? Times like this, he was glad as hell all he had to do was put on some work clothes and walk out the door.

“So,” she called, “whaddya feel like making for dinner?”


“My favorite.” She came out holding her stomach with a quizzical expression. “Know what? I’m hungry again.”

“So,” he shrugged, “eat.”


Next week: Lesli’s hunger takes an unexpected turn.

Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.