Back in his room, Deacon paced the floor nervously, quietly berating himself. “Oh, my God! Naked! Jeez, what is she going to think of me now? Boorish and an exhibitionist!”
Further remonstrating himself, he dressed slowly. He got his foot caught in his boxer shorts, nearly tearing a hole in his favorite pair. He found some relatively clean jeans, an old shirt that had seen better days and a large, red bandanna for his own hair since the cap had failed to keep most of the dirt off his scalp yesterday. He couldn’t find clean socks for about ten minutes, then his boots were missing. He realized he’d left them in the living room, so he marched out there to get them wearing two different colored socks.
She was sitting in the living room dressed in well worn jeans, a tank top and a flannel shirt with a blue bandanna over her short red hair. Boots on her feet, she was tying them snugly so they wouldn’t move around too much and cause blisters. Her socks matched. He also got a tasty glimpse of her breasts struggling over the top of her shirt. It occurred to him that she wasn’t wearing a bra. Momentarily distracted, he walked over to get his boots, barking his shin painfully on the heavy coffee table.
“Dammit!” he let loose a long string of expletives which would have made most sailors proud, and fell onto the couch clutching his shin.
“Are you all right? Do you need an ice pack?” Hillary jumped up to help him, nearly tripping over her laces.
He shook his head, gritting his teeth. “I’m fine,” he gasped.
“You’re not. Now quit being a big baby, and let me look.”
She shoved his hands aside and rolled up his loose pants leg. The skin was broken slightly and a large purple bruise was already rising.
“You should ice that down before you go. It’s going to swell more, if you don’t.”
“Yeah, I know. I wanted to go walk on the beach.”
“Stay put,” she put a restraining hand on his shoulder, shoving him back to the couch. “I’ll get some ice.”
She walked into the kitchen, aware of his eyes on her. She gave her hips a little extra swing for his benefit. She had not disliked what she had seen earlier. It made her realize how long she had been without a man in her life. Way too long, she thought sadly. She didn’t realize the look of sorrow on her face, as she went back to the living room with the ice in a towel until he gave her a funny look.
“Hillary, are you all right?”
She turned her face away from his gaze, leaning over ostensibly to put the ice on his bruised shin. “Fine. I don’t go by Hillary, by the way. I go by Kacy, from Kassandra, my middle name.”
“Kacy suits you better anyway. Sorry about the comment last night….”
She didn’t let him finish the apology. “Sorry for being such an insufferable bitch.”
She hid her face from him, feeling tears well up in her eyes. She knew she’d been horrid to him. Sometimes she watched herself do and say things to people, as if she were watching a play. The ice was cold on her fingers, she moved her hands abruptly away, but he stopped her before she could rise.
“Thanks. I always seem to be doing stupid shit like that to myself. My girlfriend… ex-girlfriend was always laughing at me. She never got me ice, she would just giggle while I stumbled to the freezer.”
“Sounds like a real sweetheart,” she said, her accent coming out stronger than she intended.
“Sometimes,” he added quietly. “How about you, got a significant other in your life?”
Kacy’s face clouded and Deacon realized he had hit on a poor subject. Too late to change the question, he waited to see how she would answer.
“Not anymore,” she said simply. “He was killed.”
He felt like smacking his head on the coffee table. It couldn’t possibly hurt more than his leg, and he figured it might teach him to watch his mouth.
“I’m sorry. I know that doesn’t really help much….”
He looked at her, seeing her actions from a different angle now. She was building a wall around herself, to keep the hurt away. Kind of like me, he reflected in a sudden dive into self-realization.
“Was it long ago?”
She shook her head. “About a year. He was a stunt man. He was killed when one of the stunts went wrong. Shall we get to work now?”
“It’s a little early really. The volunteers won’t be getting in for about an hour.”
“Good,” she said briskly. “I want to get a feel for the place, and see the sets. Dino said the plans were in one of the offices there.”
“Yes,” he marveled at her self-control. “Locked up in the lighting designer’s closet as a matter of fact. Oh, and I have a few keys for you.” He tossed her a ring full of duplicates he’d had made, each one as carefully labeled as his own.
“Thanks,” she said. Her voice sounded funny as if she were forcing herself to sound upbeat. “Let’s go then, shall we? I assume you have a car at your disposal?”
“Yeah, well sort of. But the theater isn’t far, we can walk there.”
“You oughtn’t you know,” she looked down at his leg. “If you’ve a car we should take it.”
He nodded slowly, trying to remember where he had left his keys. Closing his eyes, he fought around his pain and humiliation, visualizing where he had left them yesterday.
©2021 Dellani Oakes