Thursday, August 18, 2011

Chapter Thirty

Portland Headlight, Cape Elizabeth, Maine

My jaw was sore. My pride hurt worse.  Dolores directed the small army of Blue Jackets as they bagged anything suspicious. 
These guys have a plastic baggy fetish.
I held the compress a little further up my jaw.  The team had set up Klieg lights and yellow tape to cordon off the area.  I'm sure the box van control unit had a stale coffee maker to complete the stereotype.
Dolores walked back my way.  She looked me up and down and shook her head.  “You look like hell.” 
“Maybe it’s the hair cut?”
She came right up to me and tousled my hair.  Then, in a surprise move, gave me a deep hug and whispered in my ear.
“I think it’s a little more than the haircut, boyfriend.”
Then she stood back and pierced me with one of her patented Dolores glares.
Uh oh.  Here we go.
“Jake, what have you gotten into?”
“You got a year?”
She chewed on her bottom lip.  I remember that from high school. 
“No, I don’t have a year.  Give me the five-minute version.  But this time, start at the beginning.”  She crossed her arms in front of her.  “And Jake, don’t leave anything out.”
I hesitated.  I searched her eyes.  Then I noticed her hand – an engagement ring. 
A big one too.
“Congratulations” I nodded my head toward the impressive rock.
She caught my look, held her hand out and sighed.  “I know. About damn time.  After my luck with men …” Then she caught herself.  “Don’t change the subject, Jake.”  She crossed her arms again and began to drum her forearm with her fingers.
I sighed and let it out.  “Okay, here's what I know, and here's what I’m guessing.  I wanted to sell my business to take care of Moira.” I used my five minutes -- and more. Dolores never blinked; she just kept on drumming her fingers.
When I was done she looked at me, then out into the darkness.  She kept drumming.
“Jake, you were always one of the smartest guys I’ve ever known.  But dear Lord, you are dumb as a post!”
“What?  Come on …” I started to protest.
She cut me off. “Jake, its because your greatest strength is also your greatest weakness: Your heart, Jake.  You lead with your heart.”  I stared at her.  I had no idea what she was saying.
She sighed, shook her head and came over and hugged me again.  “You are so naïve, boyfriend – and I am so cynical.”
Then she sat on the tailgate beside me.  She gazed past the lights and told me exactly how naïve I was.  I listened.  And felt sick.
Dolores left nothing out. 
But I had.  I touched the hidden pocket in the burqa.

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