From a prompt by Sari K
He told me he loved me. I said, “Check yourself.”
We were standing on a street corner in Moorhead, Minnesota. The freezing wind from every one of the Great Lakes was charging up my pantlegs and under my shirt. I already felt like I was being groped . . . and now this guy.
“What does that mean, exactly?” he said. His teeth were chattering. My fingers were freezing. I shoved my hands down the front of my pants and he looked at me funny.
“It means, like, I met you literally yesterday, right?” Snow was giving the invisible wind a size and shape and it was spinning around my ankles, then suddenly reaching up and slapping me in the face.
“Ow,” I said.
“The weather, damn it. Sunshine in the summer is somebody kissing you on the cheek, but winter blasts of snow and ice is a curse thrown into your eyes.”
“I would kiss you on the cheek,” he said.
“Your lips would freeze to my face and I would have to spend the next ten minutes kicking you in the knee until all the cartilage tore itself loose from the joint and you went down. Then I would just drag you until you came loose.”
He was shouting now, to get on top of the storm. “See? See? You are amazing. Nobody would say something like that, except you! No wonder I love you!”
“Again, dimwit; check yourself. I have enough trouble in my life without having to take out failing restraining orders on you and ultimately breaking your collarbone with a ball peen hammer.”
“That sounds like the voice of experience,” he said lustily.
“Here comes a bus,” I observed. “You get on it. I don’t care where it’s going. Just get on it and get out of here and I don’t want to see you again. I swear I will shiv you and leave you to bleed out behind those dumpsters on Raleigh Avenue. Totally serious, pal.”
“On one condition,” he said, eyeballing me up and down like a sick puppy with a wild libido. “At least tell me your full name. You haven’t even told me your name, and here I am in love with you and all.”
I sighed. He had on a nice warm coat and it would fit me. If I took him down right here and tossed him into the bushes, I could make off with the coat and leave him for the lakefront wind to finish off.
Again, I let out with a deep sigh.
“Cleo,” I lied. The bus was just pulling up, door hissing as it opened to let somebody out. “Cleo Peabody. Now get the fuck out of here and don’t ever come looking for me.”
He hesitated. The driver was looking at us. “Is that your real name?” he asked.
“Swear to God.”
He looked satisfied. “Okay then,” he said with a smile, and stepped up onto the bus. “I love you, Cleo. I really do. Nothing will ever change that.”
The door hissed shut and the bus pulled away. I was left standing with the terminal shivers. My apartment was only fifty yards away and now that I was unencumbered, I could freely and openly head in that direction.
“God but I hate men,” I said with a wry smile. “Most of the time, anyway.” I nodded to a beleaguered postman as he hustled by. He didn’t seem to notice.
“As soon as this storm breaks,” I said into the cold afternoon air, “I am going to the pound and getting a dog.”
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