Hello friends! As part of our "Wonderful Wednesday's" feature on our Facebook page, we are highlighting wonderful books that we love. Our first book featured is "Fast Dog, Cool Cat, Hot Dog and a Time for Action" by author Arnold Haber. One of our dear friends, Arnold has agreed to be a guest blogger here with us. He has allowed us to share with you one of his first short stories published, entitled "Hello Gorgeous". We hope you love it and check out his other works!
I knew that this was gonna be one of those days from the get-go. I had that feeling early on...you know, that strange feeling down the back of your neck when you feel stuff’s gonna happen. I guess that’s why my partner always told me when you’re on the job, you got to be ready. I was ready...or so I thought.
So there we were, my partner Sweets and I, moving down the street, not looking for trouble, not expecting trouble, but ready just the same. That was how Sweets wanted it and how he taught me...you see, Sweets is a Greyhound and ‘ready’ is a Greyhound’s middle name (if they had a middle name).
We moved slowly down the street toward the corner, Sweets leading the way as usual, just taking our time but set for anything that might come our way. It was a sultry evening, not much action on the streets. The threat of rain hung like a blanket in the air, so you could almost taste the coming rain.
As we neared the corner, Sweets began moving a little faster. Sweets don’t much care for rain and he gets a little edgy when he feels it’s on the way. We had just reached our first stop...a telephone pole at the corner of the intersection. Sweets checked it out...he was quick but thorough. Man, he missed nothing! He covered every leaf of every weed around the pole’s base and then stretched his neck up and around till he was satisfied the pole was cool. There was no such thing as being too careful, he always said.
In the meantime, I was doing my job, watching the traffic at the corner and making sure the traffic light was working the way it was supposed to. It was what I was trained to do. After a few years on the job, I knew better than to make dumb mistakes. He never liked it if I made dumb mistakes.
I signaled that the street was clear and we headed toward our second routine stop...the streetlight by the school. I understood that this was where this gig could get tricky. You could never tell when a school bus or truck or some fast moving set of wheels might come shooting by trying to make the traffic light ahead. Sweets had made it a habit to remind me about looking around and up and down before making a move and his constant complaining always got my attention. He wasn’t one to overlook the possibility of an error in judgment on my part.
It could have been the heat or the quiet or the damp or what, but I sensed that Sweets was hanging back a little, so I moved out nice and slow covering the front...just like I was supposed to. I eyed the street ahead to make sure we were clear. That’s when things started to go down...and fast. Everything began unraveling right then!
I heard her voice from somewhere behind me and I froze.
I could feel that Sweets had stopped moving, every muscle tense as he stood at my back. I couldn’t move, even though I wanted to...even though I knew I had to.
“Look how he’s watching me, he’s looking right at me. Hi gorgeous,” the voice continued.
Somehow, I found the strength to begin moving. I managed a couple of deep breaths. My eyes were swimming as I tried to focus on the car I could hardly see as I turned in the direction of her voice. My mind was racing and my heart was pounding, a combination which made me as weak as a baby.
It’s her at last, I thought, my dream girl, the one I’ve been waiting for my whole life. That’s her voice! I started to smile, anticipating the magic moment of our meeting after all this time, all those dreams. Man, was I ready! The haze in my eyes cleared and I saw that she was beautiful, leaning her arm out of the car window at the traffic light...staring!
I tried to think of something clever to say but I realized that it wasn’t me she was staring at. This lovely creature was eyeballing my partner. At the same time, he was giving it all back to her...his ears were up, his nose was wet and his whole body was at attention.
“He’s absolutely gorgeous. Hello, beautiful boy, I see you looking at me.”
Never mind him, look at how I’m looking at you, I said to myself. I wanted to speak but I couldn’t get the words out. I thought, sure HE’S gorgeous and that makes me chopped liver. I felt like I just took a punch in the gut as I realized that I had become invisible to this black-haired, blue-eyed vision in the car.
After a few seconds that seemed like a lifetime, I managed to squeak, “He always pays attention to folks who tell him he’s gorgeous. He’s fickle that way.”
The lady laughed, waved and pulled away as the light turned green. I stared after her as she drove down the avenue and faded from sight. My partner came up to me, shook his head and sighed. He moved past me to the streetlight, lifted his leg and made his mark.
“D’ya’ think you’ll ever learn to be cool? C’mon, man...we got to move,” he whispered.
Sweets led the way across the street and past the school. I began to understand a little bit of what he’d been trying to teach me for a long time. That it’s all about him...it was always about him, I was just along for the ride.
Well, like they say, there’s a million stories in the naked city...this was just one of them.
Copyright Arnold Haber, June 2004-All Rights Reserved