The rest of the week was pretty quiet. I had quite a few conversations with Sarena as they traveled. She had Ma pretty under control, which was an amazing feat. She took my suggestions and ran with them. She was smart and creative. I was very impressed. She dealt with my mother like Svengali. Though her intent wasn’t evil, she was slick I had to hand it to the woman, she was a master at the art of distraction. Ma was putty in her hands.
I got up Friday morning with a thrill of anticipation. I was going to meet the woman of my dreams this evening. I hoped that we would fulfill one another’s fantasies. At least, I hoped I fulfilled hers. I knew already she exceeded mine.
After doing my morning trip, I pulled up at the elementary school to wait for the kids. They were going to a concert. Someone had somehow convinced the London Symphony Orchestra to come to Cheyenne and perform. I was actually pretty excited about it. Because I was driving, I got a free ticket. I hadn’t heard an orchestra since I left the City. The teachers had asked me to stay with their group because one of the chaperones had canceled at the last minute. I could put up with some rowdy fifth graders for a few hours. They behaved remarkably well for me.
The concert was great. They played some of my favorite pieces and a guy came out and talked to the kids about the orchestra, who played what parts, what the instruments were called and all that. It was pretty interesting. Even the dumbest kids got something out of it and they talked about it all the way to the park where we were having a late lunch. After they ate, the kids ran around the playground for a little while, before the teachers rounded them all up and put them back on the bus.
All through lunch, some of the moms were looking at me me as I sat at a table with the teachers, eating my lunch. Afterward one lady came over and sat across from me.
“I’m sure I know you,” she said softly. “You look so incredibly familiar.”
“I got that kind of face,” I said with a smile. I’m wondering the whole time where this lady knows me from and if she’s gonna let it drop.
“I’m sure I know you.” She sat there studying my face real close, her eyes kind of squinty.
I was trying politely to get rid of the woman, so I looked off at the playground like I’m ignoring her. She got a clear view of my profile and gasped.
“Oh, my God!” She leaned over, hissing at me. “I’m sure of it! You’re Big Mike! Oh, my God! I’ve got to tell my friends!”
“No, you don’t,” I countered. “I kind of like my privacy. It’s bad enough you figured it out.”
She seemed ready to jump up and start yelling.
“Please,” I said. “I didn’t mean to get so popular. That was kind of an accident. If my new girlfriend finds out about this, she’ll have a fit and break up with me. And I really like this girl, so please. . . . Okay?” I gave her the sad puppy eyes, placing my hand over hers.
“She’d really get upset?”
“Yeah. She’s kind of jealous. Her ex-husband was a real jerk. He played her real bad. I’m trying to show her not all men are pricks, you know?”
“I completely understand. You’re really sweet to think of her.”
“Thanks, Mrs. Learner. You’re a doll for not ratting me out.” I smiled, patting her hand.
She took a piece of paper out of her purse, scribbling her name and email address on it, sliding to me all subtle like.
“That’s Ms. Learner, I’m divorced. Would you add me on Facebook? I promise, I won’t tell the girls.” She nodded slightly at the other mothers. “They’re all married,” she whispered.
I chuckled, winking at her. “I’ll sure do that. Thanks, Ms. Learner.” I folded the paper and put it in my right back pocket. She got kind of giddy when I did that.
“Is that where the tattoo is?” She got all big eyed and fluttery.
“Other side,” I pointed to the left. “You a friend of Shelly’s?”
“No. A friend of a friend of hers sent me the link to your picture. You should seriously think about posing for the cover of romance novels.” She suddenly got all businesslike. “This is my business card. I’m a professional photographer. We could put together a great portfolio. I freelance and anything I sold, you’d get twenty-five percent. If you’re interested, call me.”
I picked up the card, somewhat surprised. “All this time I’m thinking it’s a pick up,” I laughed. “You’re a photographer, huh? Pretty cool. That model gig pays okay?”
“For you? I think it would pay very well. You let me know. We can all use extra cash, right?”
“Yeah. Got to run it by the little woman,” I said deferentially. “If she doesn’t mind, I’ll do it.”© Dellani Oakes 2014