Sunday, February 13, 2011


"I’m not gonna show you," she said, "so don’t even ask." 
     It was early Sunday morning. Jenny Forlan and me pulled an opening shift at the coffee shop, Jenny doing her flirty, overcaffeinated vixen thing and me doing my silent, grumpy, hungover thing. Jenny’s a senior at Central High School but she’s not your average 18-year old. Jenny makes me blush. A lot. Believe me, I know what you’re thinking but you could not be further off-base. You gotta meet Jenny, that’s all I can tell you.
     "I really don’t mind the scars," she said. "That’s the only drawback, you know. The scars underneath. I don’t mind, though."
     Jenny got new tits. Her parents bought them for her high school graduation.
     "When I graduated from high school," I said, "my dad gave me five hundred bucks. That’s actually not bad considering it was almost twenty years ago. It’s like he was paying me off for disappearing when I was seven. I bought a candy-apple-red 1974 Mustang with it. The license plate said Ford 74."
     "You’re old," she said.
     "It’s not like it wasn’t used when I bought it. I just got lousy taste. ’74’s probably the worst year ever for Mustangs."
     "Epic fail."
     I love all the new pop cultural youth lingo bullshit. My friends and I spoke our own language back in high school. In fact, we invented some pretty cool word constructs that eventually leaked out to other parts of the state, I’m not even kidding. In college I had a conversation with this guy from Lincoln who accused me of being scared to shotgun my beer. We invented that. My friends and I said "scared" more than anyone ever had any right to. If you were tired and wanted to call it an early night, you were scared; if you didn’t think it was cool to smash out all the street lights down at the old folks’ home, you were scared; if you couldn’t score with a horny little fox like Jenny Forlan, you were scared. We invented it, and it preceded us everywhere we went.
     "You want to see them, don’t you?" she said.
     "I’m fine, I can see them all right from here."
     "No, you can’t."
     I turned on the bake oven and the overhead fan. We didn’t open for another hour so there was still some time to kill. Jenny’s tiny but she’s got a great little ass and she knows it. She’s one of those girls who’s in perpetual performance mode.
     "I showed Daniel last night," she said. "He kept bugging me until I showed him."
     Daniel Estrella works at the coffee shop a couple nights a week. He has a full-time day job working for the state, filling pot holes and sweeping up at work sites. He’s one of those nice guys who tries to become best friends with every girl he meets, that’s his angle. He does all right.
     "What did Daniel have to say?"
     "He liked them. He said they came out perfectly even. Sometimes they can wind up spread too far apart. Unnatural-looking."
     She took the soft drink nozzles from the sink and attached them to the six carbonator pumps on the soda machine. I finished up filling a large insulated carafe with fresh brewed coffee.
     That does it, I decided. If Daniel Estrella gets to see them then I wanna see ’em, too. What the fuck? Why not? 
     "Hey, Jenny?"
     "You can’t see them."
     "What? I wasn’t gonna ask you that."
     "What were you gonna ask me?"
     "Did you see the Red Sox game last night?"
     "Good game."
     "Who pitched?" she said.
     "Who pitched?"
     "Lackey. They won."
     "Lackey sucks."
     "Yeah, he was awful last year. He’ll be all right, though."
     I don’t need to see them. I’m almost forty years old, I’m a professional. Integrity still counts for something.
     "Hey, Vic," she called from the kitchen.
     "Come here for a second."
     I was kneeling in front of the bake case counting the day-old cheesecakes and pastries. I imagined her standing by the dishwasher with one hand placed on her hip. I could see her clearly in my mind.
     At just this moment a tall city policeman rapped his knuckles hard against the glass door three times and pointed at his watch.
     "Eight o’clock," I almost shouted, as if he could hear me through the glass. Cops always expect special treatment. Let him wait outside.
     The cop climbed in his cruiser and slowly backed out of the strip mall parking lot. I waited by the cash register and looked up at the television mounted on the wall. The local news was on.
     "You’re lucky he doesn’t tow your truck," she said as she walked back in from the kitchen. "Your inspection sticker’s from the 1990’s."
     "It’s vintage," I said.
     "So are you."
     Jenny’s a good kid. And I know what you’re wondering about, too. Did I get to see them? Hey, give me some credit here, I’m just a guy. And if you had the chance to see something like that, knowing that each of us only gets one loop around this circle, what would you do? 
     Integrity still counts for something, right?