What the Old Man Did 11

April 19, 2012

We had been rash to suppose that that building was safe. As a result, we’d lost our cooking and sleeping gear. The nights had been cooling off and one of the reasons I’d wanted to head south, along with the nasty littered roadway, was warmth. I knew enough geography to say that some place like Florida would be much more congenial for a winter season. But for now, we had to find replacement items.

In the preceding six weeks, I’d found Toni to be a capable, good companion. That’s why I avoided too much staring or laughter. I didn’t want this to become anything more than just a business arrangement. She however, had other ideas. One night, having just replenished our food supply with some reasonable looking stuff, she sat down next to me. Usually she would sit opposite. Directness was a feature with her. Not a bug. At least I didn’t think so until now.

“I want to ask you something,” she said.

I just looked into her eyes. She looked back for a moment and then looked away, then down.

“Do you like me?” I was instantly wary.

“What do you mean? I mean, I think you’re great. You pull your weight and you know a lot more than I do.” This was clearly not the direction she wanted to go.

“Thanks. But what I’m getting at is, do you think I’m attractive?” Wow. I could see that no matter what I said, I was in some kind of trouble. On the other hand, pausing too long was not good. I decided on the truth.

“Yes.” I looked away from her, embarrassed. She said nothing. Finally, I looked back.

“You’ve been with a woman before, right?” I nodded.

“So why haven’t you ever, you know, tried anything?”

Here was my chance. But naivete was bursting from me and I didn’t even know it.

“Well, I thought we were doing well and I didn’t want to mess things up. You know, people and emotions and stuff. It could ruin things.” She smiled.

“Well, I don’t feel that way at all. I think we’re pretty good together and I don’t see why it can’t be more.” My reasoning powers were not what I hoped. Not giving any ground, she continued, “Hold my hand.” Stumped as to how I could put a stop to this, I thought cooperation in the name of delay was wisest. I slowly took her hand. It was warm. Smaller than mine, soft and yet somehow strong.

“It’s sort of polite if you look at the person you’re holding hands with,” she stated matter-of-factly.

I looked at her. She was lovely. Those green eyes that seemed to glow now in the dusk. Without thinking about it at all, I leaned toward her slowly, seeing her lips slightly parted. I pressed mine against hers. Feelings I had suppressed swirled around in my mind. I felt her hand touch my face, stroking it. Gradually I came back to my senses and pulled away. She smiled at me. What had I done?

She wasn’t finished.

“So have you ever thought that maybe this world needs something to bring it back on course?”

This I could answer, no problem.

“Yes. But short of time-travel, how would that ever happen? There must be billions of those things out there. How will this place” I swept my arm around meaning the whole world, “ever be normal?”

She wasn’t put off.

“I think we do it a little at a time.” Now I didn’t have a clue what she was driving at. I did my best to look confused.

“I mean, like a home, you know? With a house and, uh, kids and stuff,” she finished so rapidly that I could hardly distinguish what she was saying. When I put it together, I must have looked astonished.

“I’m serious. It’s the way things are supposed to be!” She ended in a kind of shout. Instinctively, I looked around.

She waited.

Finally I figured out something. I had fallen for her. Crap.

“I think that’s a bad idea for a couple of reasons. First, I do like you. A lot. Second, suppose we did this thing you’re talking about. There aren’t any doctors or hospitals or anything like that. What if you got sick, or there was a problem, you know, with having a baby. All I could do is watch you die. I’m not going to do that.” Whatever she saw in my face, she must have liked it.

“I’m going to die someday.” She said simply.

“Maybe so. But I am not participating.” She frowned but without making any pretense, threw her arms around me and kissed me in a very immodest way. I tried to pull away, well at least a little, but she knew she had me.

The sun was high when we started driving.

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