Nancy was on her way to Red’s office only to find him buzzing open the front door to let in a man in a lumberjack shirt.

   “Just leave it on my desk.” Red called as they passed Nancy.

   Nancy turned to watch the man go by. As Red reached the warehouse doors the man looked back to look at her with his head a little down and a shy grin. Nancy gave him a crooked smile and the man was gone with Red.

   Nancy touched her cheek where the permanent crease was beside her mouth. She returned to the clerical area where Wendy was. ”He’s going to sign it when he gets back.” Nancy said.     

   “Sign what?” Wendy asked, deleting her way through the morning emails.

   “My vacation leave.”

   “Going somewhere hot and sexy?”

   “I’m going hiking.”

   “With who?”

   “Alone. It’s just daytrips.”

   A lawn mower was heard powering up. Nancy and Wendy looked the windows. From the side of the warehouse the man came out pushing a gas mower. A baseball cap shading his face.

   “Look at him. Have seen him before?” Wendy asked.

   Nancy shook her head. “Actually, I passed him when he came in. He smiled at me.”

   “There you are. Get some of that. You can go mountain climbing on your vacation.”

   Nancy sat down to prepare invoices for billing on her computer. Wendy stood by the windows.

   “He’s got boots on. He’s mowing the lawn in boots. Why do they got him pushing that? There are three thousand drive mowers in the warehouse and they set him up with a push mower.” Wendy leaned closer to the windows. “He’s tall, tall. Yum, yum.”

   “You’re on collections today.” Nancy said, without looking up.

   “Fine, you saw him first.”

   Nancy went to the printer.

   “He’s taking his shirt off. Good man, it’s too hot out there. That’s disappointing, he has a t-shirt underneath.”

   Red came by with Nancy’s vacation leave form. “Approved. Wendy, call Cash Grass and tell Ben if he doesn’t pay, I’m coming to that mansion he lives in and I’m rototilling his front lawn.”

   “Do you want me to say that? Those words?”

   “No, tell him it’s over a hundred and twenty days and we don’t want to have to turn it over to a real collection agency.”

   Nancy printed invoices for mailing, while Wendy made phone calls. The man mowing the surrounding lawns slowly got closer to the windows.

   As lunch approached the man appeared by Nancy desk. His t-shirt was soaked with sweat. His lumberjack shirt was tied around his waist. He was smiling at Wendy. 

   Wendy looked up. “Charlie! Shut the front the door. Charlie.” Wendy hugged him. She tapped Nancy. “You have to meet Charlie. Charlie is the best date I ever had!”

   Charlie blushed and shook Nancy’s limp hand.

   “We met through a friend. I talked him into taking me to this Thai restaurant. He was burning up trying to eat the ginger soup. I told him all sort of wild stories. The kind that guys usually get excited about, and not a peep from Charlie. Then when the meal was over, I moved in real close and I asked him. ‘What are you thinking about?’ You know what he said?”

   Nancy and Charlie looked at each other, knowing this was how Wendy was when telling a story.

  “Charlie said, ‘I thinking I’m running out of socks and if this is done before nine, I could swing by the mall and pick up some.’” Wendy let out a huge laugh. “I went with him and we both bought socks! It was the best date I ever had and we never went out with each other again. He is the only honest guy I’ve ever gone out with.”

   Wendy laughed some more, then looked at Nancy and Charlie beside each other. She held up her hands to keep them in place. “I’m going for lunch. I’ll talk to you both later.”

   Wendy left.

   Charlie wandered over to the windows. “Was that you looking out?”

   “That was Wendy. I only looked out a little.”

   Nancy smiled and Charlie smiled back.

   “That’s warm shirt for this weather.” Nancy pointed to the lumberjack shirt.

   “I thought I was going to be stuck in air conditioning all day. They don’t tell you what you’re doing with the temp services, they just send you places.”

    “You do a lot of temp work?”

   “No, I left my old job for new one with better pay and now they’ve pushed back my start date a month. I’m not sitting around for a month.”

   “What kind of job?”

   Charlie wrote a number on a sticky note on her desk.

   “I was not asking how much money you make.”

   “Yes, you were.”

   “Yes, I was.” Nancy laughed and held the sticky note to cover her mouth. She crumpled the note and tossed it. “What do you when you’re not working?”

   “Make plans.” Charlie took out his cell phone and placed it on Nancy’s desk for her to see as well. He pressed for contacts. Created a new one and keyed Nancy’s name in. He pressed the space for her phone number and waited.

   “You’re pretty confident.”

   “No, I’m terrified, but I’d feel worse if I missed out.”

   “What kind of socks?”


   “What kind of socks did you buy? With Wendy?”

   “Wool. Wool socks, for hiking. Wendy got some fishnet things. She’s great, but no sparks for me.”

   Nancy smiled and typed in her phone number. “I’m only agreeing to coffee. And I’m buying.”

   “You’re buying?”

   “Yes, right now I have the better job.” She gave him a firm handshake and handed back his cell. “I have to get back to work.” She forgot it was lunchtime and made a show of working on her computer until Charlie quietly left.

   After some nearby greasy diner lunch, Charlie spent the rest of the day pushing new drive mowers onto the cut lawns. Tomorrow was supposed to be some sort of anniversary sale. A hired security guard appeared as Charlie was cleaning up. Wendy found Charlie in the warehouse at a washup sink.

   “How’d you make out?”

   Charlie looked at her.

    “Come on? Nancy won’t tell me. She doesn’t talk about guys.”

   “She’s got a great smile. It’s a wicked smile. Like she’s got a secret.”

   “Oh, Charlie. I have to tell you. That’s a birth defect. She’s got that line down the one side of her cheek. It’s like a long dimple. It’s a defect. It gives her a crooked smile. Don’t say anything about it.”

   “What are you talking about? She’s gorgeous.”

   “Uh-huh. What’s with the boots?”

   “Oh, they wouldn’t let me mow without steel toe foot protection. Some lawsuit, health and safety thing. They wouldn’t let me use one of the drive mowers, either. I might tip it over on myself.”

   Wendy laughed. “I’m telling Nancy you’re not to be trusted.” 

May 20, 2023 22:18

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RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

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