Continued from last week's story 'What I Thought I Said'
"Say it again...what you just said, 'cause surely I didn't hear you right the first time!"
Tiny lightning bolts streaked across her darkened eyes and I swear I caught a glimpse of smoke billowing from her nostrils as Leslie the mail lady sent a half eaten banana split spinning across the table, splattering whip cream all over the Dairy Queen napkin holder.
I cleared my throat cautiously and spoke in a whisper as I struggled to force air into my lungs.
"Leslie, I asked you if you would like to go with me to that country bar up in the city this weekend and maybe dance?" I swallowed hard awaiting her next storm surge.
As I feared, she leaned across the table bringing me into swatting range and with a curled lip she responded.
"The last place on this planet I want to be is in a bar! Men in bars are sorry!"
She said it with such emphasis that little spit droplets escaped from her lips as she accented the word 'SORRY.' Then, just in case I missed the whole sentence, she repeated it again, with more spit spewing from her pretty lips. Her head began to bobble like a bobble head doll as if she just had a new revelation.
"Matter of fact, men, in general, are sorry! Men only want one thing!"
And there it was. We men have heard it all our lives..."Men only want one thing!" We have heard it all our lives from those who think they know us best...women. But, doggone it, they always stop right there. They never tell us what exactly that ONE THING is. So, here we are, us men wandering hopelessly around in a stupor, trying to figure out just what women think we want. Hell, we're so busy worrying about that, we ain't even got time to think about what women want...
"And let me make something else crystal clear, mister! I come with baggage. My kids and I are a package deal. We do everything as a family! Ain't no man going to drag me away from my children. Kids can't go to a bar! What are you thinking?"
My eyes veered from side to side at people sitting nearby, staring intently, eavesdropping.
"Oh! And no man is getting in my britches until he puts a ring on my finger and my name on his checkbook. Been there and done that and got the kids to prove it!"
I knew my face had to be beet red and I was very aware that every Dairy Queen patron had their eyes fixated on me, awaiting my next move. I had to play the man card.
"I don't want in your britches. I just wanted to take you out dancing. Most women would jump at the chance to go out dancing. I'm sorry I pushed your button...sorry I asked you out. Believe me, I am really sorry I asked you out."
"Hiiieee, you two!"
I glanced up over my shoulder into the most beautiful blue eyes in west Texas.
"Hi, Jacy." I wanted to die right there. Jacy Morrow of all people had witnessed my public humiliation.
"I was just sitting over there," she pointed a finger at a booth behind me, "and I looked up and saw you and...what's your name, mail lady?"
Not waiting for an answer, she continued, "I must say the two of you really make a great looking couple! So, mail lady, are you taking good care of my man? 'Cause I don't loan him out to just anyone. He's a special guy and I can't have women kicking him around. I must say, girl, that you look really...um, you've got a blob of whip cream on your upper lip. Well, I just wanted to say 'hi' since I don't see you much anymore, Rusty. I best get back to my DQ Dude."
Jacy patted me on the shoulder as she turned to leave.
I grabbed my hat and scooted across the bench. Leslie, speechless, followed my lead.
We walked across the parking lot in utter silence, Leslie finally speaking.
"Who is she to you? Have you two ever dated?"
I shook my head, "No, never went out with her. That's just Jacy being Jacy."
As I began veering off toward my pickup, Leslie slowed her pace, finally stopping in the middle of the parking lot, staring at me as I made my retreat.
I paused and looked over my shoulder reluctantly.
"You wanna come over to the house Saturday night and watch a movie?" Her eyes were clouded with doubt as she spoke.
Truthfully at that very moment, I couldn't care less if I ever saw Leslie the mail lady again. I eyed her as she stood there in the Dairy Queen parking lot like a desperate little school girl crushing on the star quarterback.
'Do yourself a favor and tell her no,' my mind whispered in my ear. Then I saw the tear resting gently on her cheek.
"Sure, sounds good."
"Jack," I began as the barber tilted my head to the left, "a woman told me yesterday that men only want one thing. What one thing is it that we want?'
The man sheared a healthy portion of my hair off as he pondered my question.
"I just want football season to start. I think my wife does too. I quit pestering her for sex when football season kicks off."
I pursed my lips and nodded my head in deep thought.
"Naw, I don't think football is the right answer, Jack. It's gotta be more than that."
Continued from last week's story 'And That's How It Started'
I nonchalantly slurped on my Sonic Route 44 Root Beer as the mail jeep came to a sudden stop in front of the late Sam Tolbert's residence. Dust from the caliche road engulfed the vehicle, literally hiding it from my view. Momentarily, just as one might expect at a Victoria's Secret modeling event, Leslie the mail lady emerged from the grit, her brunette hair flowing in the breeze. She flashed a warm smile as she made her way up the old, broken sidewalk toward me.
"What are you doing sitting on poor old Sam Tolbert's porch?"
"Waiting on you!" I replied, adjusting my straw hat to shield me from the sunlight.
"No, really...because that's kinda creepy." Her eyes narrowed as she gazed cautiously at me.
"Sam's son T-Roy is out of town and he's expecting a life insurance check any day. He asked me to check the mailbox until he got back."
"Um," she pursed her lips as her eyes dropped to the two pieces of mail she held in her hand, "Here's an electric bill and looks like a Get Well card, maybe. Oops, maybe the post office didn't get that one delivered in a timely manner."
I held my hand out for the mail and she grinned, "Not so fast, mister! I have to put these in the mailbox...postal policy."
I let her dingyness slip by unnoticed as I thoughtfully glanced at her long legs standing before me.
"Well, sit down for a minute!" I scooted over a couple of inches to make room for her tiny hiney.
"This is my last stop. I suppose I could."
Just as I had envisioned, she slid down onto the old boards besides me, mere inches separating us.
"So Leslie, how long have you worked for the post office?" I questioned as I sipped another shot of root beer.
"About six months."
"Are you a single girl?" I knew of no other tactful way to approach the subject.
"Yes...for about six months. And I'm hardly a girl. I have five children!"
"Oh wow. And I suppose they all attend school in Sunup" This was a trick question which I hoped would give a reasonable idea of this beautiful woman's age.
"No, not hardly!" she laughed, "One is a pharmacist, one is a football coach. My oldest daughter is married with two little ones. And then I have a twelve-year-old and a six-year-old."
"Hum," I replied as my rusty brain began trying to calculate her age, "you must have gotten an early start. You don't look to be um...I'd guess, thirty-five."
"Haha," she laughed as she slapped my leg, "you missed it by ten years!"
"No way you're that old! Want a drink of my root beer?" I offered the cup to her.
She placed her lips on my straw, her eyes focused on the road. I felt my heart quiver as her lips puckered around the straw. She was a true work of art, I thought to myself.
"I best go, I suppose," Leslie rose as faced me, "I still have some work at the post office before quitting time."
Oh okay," I stood up, "Guess I'll meet you here tomorrow! Maybe that check will show up."
The mail lady smiled and turned toward her Jeep then spun around.
"I have a great idea! Why don't you give me your number and I can text you if the check comes in." she whipped out a very large phone from where I did not know.
I eagerly shared my number, watching over her shoulder as she saved the number on her phone.
"Got it! Bye!" she gave me a sultry look as she flung her hair and retreated to her little white mail jeep.
Old Sam Tolnert's life insurance check would show up the following day, but that didn't stop Leslie the mail lady from texting me daily and often right at bedtime every night. For the next few weeks we'd meet down at the Dairy Queen and share a root beer or an ice cream cone with some good conversation sprinkled in. It was a Wednesday that I decided to make my move. The two of us were working our way toward the middle of a banana split and I thought to myself, 'How can you get more intimate than this?'
I scooped a maraschino cherry into my spoon and placed it against her lips. She giggled and opened her mouth, allowing me to gingerly lay the cherry on her tongue. Her eyes sparkled as she chewed the fruit, a tuft of whipped cream adorning her upper lip.
"Leslie," I began, "I'm not much of a drinker but I do like to scoot a boot now and then. Would you like to go dancing with me Friday night up in the city?"
The girl froze in mid-chew. Her eyes grew dark, almost black as a sinister look came over her face.
"What? What did you say? Say it again 'cause I surely didn't hear you right the first time!"
I in return froze, my eyes glued to that patch of whipped cream beneath her nose. My mind frantically replayed my last sentence...I got nothing out of the ordinary the second time around.
I gasped a breath and cleared my throat. With a quiver in my voice, I responded, "I could be wrong, but here's what I thought I said..."
Continued from last week's story 'Just Jacy'...
My eyes fixated on the spinning digits on the gas pump, my jaw set in determination. With the speed of a striking diamondback, I popped the trigger on the handle. Uttering a mild curse, I shook my head in defeat.
"Twenty dollars and three cents! I'll never hit on twenty even!"
As I screwed the gas cap on, my eyes raised and fixated themselves on a little mail jeep scooting up to the convenience store, brakes squealing.
"Whoa! I've never seen a mail lady that looks like that!"
I watched as a long, tall filly exited the jeep, her long brunette hair flowing in the west Texas breeze. As she entered the store, I couldn't help but notice her legs were even longer than that ravenous head of hair. I also couldn't help but notice her shorts, which probably were not official post office issued attire, but as I pursed my lips, were very nice fitting shorts nonetheless. I sighed. I had been avoiding Jacy Marrow, the manager of the convenience store, for a couple of weeks, still mortally wounded from her rejection. I decided I could 'man up' and venture inside for a Dr. Pepper...and a closer look at that mail lady.
Jacy's eyes immediately locked onto mine as I stepped inside, a twinkle flashing only briefly as she again turned her attention to the mail lady standing in front of her.
"I have no clue where Baker Road is. Rusty, can you help this...person out? Do you know?"
I dutifully and eagerly stepped toward the two, my fleeting glance turning from Jacy toward the brunette.
"Hi, I swear I've never seen you around town before." I extended my hand and introduced myself.
A warm smile spread across her face, "I'm Leslie. I usually work up the road in Sunup. I'm here covering for Bob Rickett while he recovers from knee replacement surgery. So, could you help me? This is my very last delivery of the day and for the life of me, I can't find Baker Road."
My eyes focused on those beautiful hazel eyes set so delicately into...
"If you two would kindly step aside, I could take care of these other customers!" Jacy brought me back into reality with her sharp command.
"You know, I didn't even know Sunup had a post office, Leslie." I smiled as her face lit up as I gently touched her arm to move the two of us away from the counter.
"Baker Road is right at the end of this side street. It's a dirt road that leads to the edge of town. Not but one house at the end of the road and...say, is that mail for Sam Tolbert, 'cause he died last month. I'm good friends with his son, T-Roy. I could just take the mail to him."
A look of bewilderment passed over her face, "Oh...no. I have to deliver the mail at that address...policy, you know."
I grunted softly under my breath, "Well, think you can find the place? I don't mind letting you follow me over there."
Leslie smiled graciously, "No, I think I can find it now, providing you gave me good directions."
I nodded, 'Left at the end of that street. Can't miss it."
My stare followed her out the door and I watched as the mail jeep pulled away.
"Wipe that drool from the corner of your mouth!" Jacy snapped, "And exactly where have you been the past two weeks. I texted you several times and you never replied. I bet you'd be right on it if that mail chick texted you!"
"Jacy, don't get your panties in a wad. I asked you out, you respectfully declined, and I respect that. I just decided maybe I should just keep moving along."
"Well, you sure give up easy!" Her blue eyes flashed.
"Okay, do you want to go out with me this weekend?"
"No, not right now. I'm pissed at you right now. Come back tomorrow and ask me again! And why did you even come in here anyway?"
"Oh yeah, I...uh needed a Dr. Pepper."
"I'm sure glad you called me. I got called out of town to work and I'm expecting a life insurance check for a substantial amount." T-Roy's voice boomed in my ear.
"How substantial?" I asked as I reached into his dead daddy's mail box.
"Well, I'd rather keep that personal...ten thousand dollars! I called the insurance company and they said the check was in the mail."
I studied the envelope in my hand, "I dunno. It could be an insurance check."
"Open it!" came T-Roy's voice eagerly over the phone.
"Naw, it says 'Your subscription to Maxim has expired."
I heard a sigh on the other end of the phone.
"Could you do me a big favor and check the mailbox every day? Way out there, somebody is liable to abscond with that check. That'd be my luck. I gotta get that funeral paid off!"
"T-Roy, that's what friends are for. I'd be happy to keep an eye out for that check for you."
The following day I eased up in front of old Sam Tolbert's house on the edge of town and sauntered up to the old wooden porch with a Route 44 Sonic Root Beer in hand. I settled onto the warped and worn old boards and kept my eyes peeled on the road. Thirty minutes later I saw a cloud of dust chasing a little white mail jeep...heading my way. A huge grin spread across my face as I gulped my root beer.
And that's how it started...
Continued from last week's story 'Those Blue-eyed Cowgirls'...
She sucked the last drop from the bottom of the cup, the straw making a noisy gurgling sound causing her to giggle out loud. She gave it one last suck for good measure, her blue eyes darting in my direction mischievously.
"All gone, sweetheart!" I said, grinning.
"Chocolate is such an amazing aphrodisiac. I love chocolate!"
"Aphrodisiac. That's a mighty big word for a blonde to be throwing around!"
Jacy Morrow beamed with faux pride, "You don't even know what the word means. It means..."
"I know what it means. Let me order you another chocolate milk shake."
We both laughed as a cute red headed car hop scooted up to the pickup on rollerskates.
"Will y'all be needing anything else? We're fixin' to close."
"Last chance for that milk shake!" I pointed a finger toward Jacy.
She shook her head at the waitress and smiled.
"Now, don't you agree that this is better than getting naked in a hot tub and getting drunk on cheap wine."
'Oh, definitely!" I replied and rolled my eyes.
Out of the three blue-eyed darlings that had vied for my attention at the rodeo earlier that evening, it had been Jacy that came across the finish line. I'd not regretted my choice for a second even though she had opted for a milk shake at the Sonic Drive-in over a romp in my hot tub. We had spent the better part of an hour slurping through our straws and getting to know each other. As the lights flickered out around us, I realized what I had suspected all along...I was extremely attracted to this woman. With a ten year age gap, I knew it was a long shot, but, I thought as I cranked up the pickup...she was sitting right there in my truck, right beside me like a high school cheerleader.
Her Ford Mustang was the only car left sitting in the rodeo grounds parking lot and I eased the truck up beside it.
"That was fun. I enjoyed the night with you." I spoke quietly, glancing at the girl beside me.
"It really was! You are a great guy. Maybe we can do it again sometime."
I cleared my throat, "So Jacy, want to go dancing with me next weekend?"
Her laughter startled me.
My ego crushed like a beer can, I asked, "Is it the age thing, Jacy?"
"Oh...no, not at all. Maybe someday I will go dancing with you."
"That's not a yes..."
"And it's not a no." She winked and darted toward her car.
(The following Friday)
I handed her my debit card to pay for the breath mints.
"Could I get twenty dollars back?"
My gaze focused on the countertop before me.
"So, I take it you're going dancing without me?"
"Yep. I'll just go dancing all my myself!"
She handed me the twenty and responded, "Walk me out to my car. It's going home time for me."
The two of us stepped out into the waning evening light, walking so close that we could feel the electricity radiating from the other's body. I glanced at the blonde and smiled.
She grinned and tossed her ponytail, "I am so sexually frustrated today."
I laughed, "I try not to get that way...all wound up and nowhere to go with it."
The blonde placed her elbows on the hood of my pickup, glancing downward to be sure she was displaying just enough cleavage then eyed me to see if I was noticing. I noticed just long enough to let her know I had, then gazed into what I considered the most beautiful blue eyes on planet Earth.
She ran her fingers through her ponytail, "I have a headache...and I really am sexually frustrated."
I replied, "Well...I don't have an aspirin...."
She stared deep into my eyes, "But you could help me out with the other?" She glanced back at her car, "I guess my back seat might do."
I grinned, "Back seat of my truck has more room."
Neither of us made a move.
"Well, if you have a weak moment and are tempted to fall for some woman at the bar this weekend, call me instead..ok?"
She brushed her fingertips ever so lightly across the top of my hand, sending a tingling sensation through my whole body, then turned and walked to her car.
"Careful going home," I called to her.
"You too." and she blew me a kiss as she shut her car door.
What I didn't know as I watched Jacy Marrow drive off into the sunset was that this was just the beginning of a beautiful...well, I don't believe a word exists for what we would come to be. It would take me some time, years, in fact, to figure out that Jacy...was just Jacy. I pulled the pickup out of the gravel parking lot and headed in the direction of the city. Hells bells, I had plenty of women just waiting to dance with me. I shook the thought of Jacy Morrow from my mind and turned the radio up loud. It would be the next morning before I found the text on my phone that read, 'Think of me when you dance with her...'
Continued from last week's story...
I made my way into the rodeo grandstands, my Ariat boots thumping against the wooden planks of the walkway. As I scanned the bleachers, my heart beat kicked up a notch at the sight of all those pretty women who for just one night a year become full fledged cowgirls with their boots and hats and tight fitting jeans. There were wives and moms, school teachers and bank tellers, Sunday School teachers and beer drinkers scattered throughout the stands. Somewhere amongst the crowd, I was sure there would be a few single women keeping a sharp eye out for a cowboy or two. I strolled the length of the stands, my eyes continuing to scan the crowd as the rodeo announcer's voice boomed through the air.
"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the seventy-fifth annual rodeo! Let's all stand as our riders present the colors!"
I paused and placed my hat on my chest as what seemed like hundreds of horses and riders entered the arena. Old Glory and the Texas flag took center stage of the dusty arena as the Star Spangled Banner played. A prayer followed and with an 'amen' the announcer boomed,
The grandstand roared as the first gate opened and a bucking bronc lurched into the arena, a helpless cowboy clinging to a rope across the horse's back. I shook my head as the poor boy hit the dirt. I spun on my heel as I felt a pinch against my ribs.
"Jacy! You made it!"
"Yes!" her blue eyes flashing a smile, "This is my Dad."
"Oh, I've seen you down at the co-op," I smiled as I shook the old man's hand, "I never knew you were Jacy's dad!"
The three of us talked through the bareback competition and the calf roping, me finally excusing myself with,
"I hate to think of wading into those restrooms, but..." I tipped my hat to the two and turned toward a very long line at the far end of the stands.
Jacy grinned and hollered, "Look us up later!"
As I stepped out of the men's' room after a ten-minute wait, I felt a tap on my shoulder.
"See, I made it. Do I look cowgirl enough for a rodeo?" Her blue eyes glistening in the fading sunlight.
I allowed my eyes to wander the length of her and replied, "Oh yeah, you look like a bona fide cowgirl to me!"
We got caught up in conversation through the barrel races and I even missed the Mutton Busting competition. Vickie finally excused herself with,
"Well, I really, really need to pee! Look me up later!"
I paused at the concession stand, my parched mouth yearning for a bottled water. My mind pondered the prospects of dating Jacy Morrow or even Vickie the waitress as I stood patiently in the long line. Both were promising, I admitted to myself. Lost in my thoughts, I inadvertently brushed against the woman standing in front of me. She turned around and smiled. My eyes widened. The woman from the courthouse! The ravishing, blue-eyed blonde who had read my mind this morning now stood face to face with me. And...well, to make a long story short, I missed the bull riding.
I climbed into my truck and started her up, sitting patiently while the mass of other pickups and horse trailers began fighting for a place in a long line of headlights and dust. A text came:
'Where are you?"
"Waiting for you in my truck."
"There are hundreds of trucks out here!"
'Mine's the only one with the left blinker flashing."
Moments later, the passenger door opened and I smiled as those blue eyes flashed in the darkness.
"Okay, I found you finally! What now Cowboy?"
A full moon illuminated the glimmering water of the pond as we sat on the tailgate of my truck.
"You ever been skinny dipping?" I smiled slyly as I glanced at those blue eyes next to me.
'Not since I was eighteen," she giggled, "What are you suggesting?"
"Well, it is a beautiful night for a swim."
"Ew, in this water with fish and ducks and snakes? No, thanks!"
I laughed, "Can't be scared all your life!"
"I'm more of a hot tub and wine girl these days."
My common sense told me not to say it...don't say it!
"Well, I have a hot tub and there's a bottle of wine in the fridge."
An uncomfortable moment of silence passed as I mentally kicked myself for saying it.
Her blue eyes lit up as a grin flashed across her face.
"You can't be scared all your life, Cowboy!"
As the truck pulled onto the highway, a text came in.
"My goodness, look at all these texts you have on your phone! Popular guy, huh?"
"Aw, it's the cowboy image. Every woman thinks they want a cowboy until they get one!"
I felt her hand slide into mine and a warm, fuzzy feeling flowed through my body. I glanced over at her and smiled.
"You sure have pretty blue eyes. I really like blue-eyed cowgirls!"
As we cruised down the highway beneath the light of the moon, another text came in...and another...and another...
Continued from last week's story
Riding high on the euphoria of a finalized divorce just hours ago, I dribbled spit on my index finger and touched it to the iron. As I pressed my red Wrangler shirt, my mind lingered on the ravishingly beautiful blue eyed woman who had locked her gaze upon me in the courtroom earlier this very day. I exhaled a deep sigh at the prospect that I'd never see her again. Shrugging it off, I reached for my blue jeans and stretched them across the ironing board. Today was Friday and I was now a free man. A celebration of this great event was my goal tonight, and as I dressed and positioned my black cowboy just right on my head, I set my jaw in determination. It was now my duty as a free man to do what free men do...chase women. And the only place I knew to chase women was at the bar up in the city. As I steered my pickup down the dusty road, I decided I was hungry and perhaps a chicken fried steak would be the best way to kick off this celebration.
I stepped into the diner and seated myself at my usual booth. An attractive blue eyed waitress, probably in her mid-forties, named Vickie, scurried to my table with a sweet tea in hand.
"Let me guess...chicken fried steak."
"How'd you know, Vickie?"
"You never order anything else," she replied with a giggle, "You sure are prettied up. Going to the rodeo tonight?"
"Aw, I forgot about the rodeo! I was going dancing but..."
"No, you have to go to the rodeo. Might find yourself a cowgirl!"
She winked and grinned.
"Two questions. Are you a cowgirl and are you going to the rodeo?"
"Well, I can be and yes, just as soon as my shift ends at eight."
"Well, maybe we'll bump into each other at the rodeo!" I replied as I suddenly decided I just celebrate my new found singleness at the rodeo.
After polishing off an extra large chicken fry and leaving a five dollar tip on the table, I pulled out of the gravel parking lot of the diner and whipped into the next parking lot where the only convenience store in town stood. Breath mints were on my mind as the little bell jungled on the door as I entered, but my eyes were immediately drawn to a perfectly formed butt behind the counter. Jacy Marlow glanced over her shoulder as she carefully loaded a basket of burritos into the deep fryer. Turning around, her blue eyes met mine and a smile spread across her face.
"Hi, Cowboy! Rodeoing tonight?"
"Yep, I'm in the bull riding competition." I grinned and winked.
"Don't take this wrong but bull riding is for young cowboys."
"Well then, I'll just go chase cowgirls. My divorce became final today."
"Is that so?"
I detected a glimmer in her blue eyes. "Yes, and I need some breath mints, just in case. You going to the rodeo, Jacy?"
"Um-hum," she responded as she laid the mints on the counter. "I just need to wrap up some loose ends here and then dash home and change."
"Maybe our paths will cross there."
"Maybe..." those blue eyes locking onto mine, "I'm taking my daddy. He's too old to chase cowgirls but he sure likes to look."
I paid for the breath mints and glanced once more into those blue eyes, "Hope to see you there!"
"Watch for me! I'm wearing my neon pink blouse."
My euphoria had become raging giddiness as I pulled the pickup to a stop at the rodeo entrance. A young cowboy sauntered up to my window and smiled.
"Rodeoing all alone tonight?" he questioned as he took my money.
"I may drive through this gate all alone, but I don't intend to leave alone!" I shot back with a guffaw.
"You go, old cowboy! There's plenty of good looking cowgirls in there already. Good luck to you!"
I eased through the gate and slowly drove through the pasture that served as a parking lot to hundreds of pickup trucks and horse trailers. Dust hung in the air as I came to a stop. My eyes darted around and a huge grin spread across my face.
Rodeo queens and tight fittin' jeans everywhere. It was time to saddle up!
This story continues next week!