I listened to that weasel, George Carpenter, spew out my life story as I stood in the dark shadows between the buildings on River Street. It was my life, yet I knew it would have sounded pathetic to her. Her in her fancy clothes, her sporty little car in her grandmother's drive, her request for wine at a backyard barbecue. She had an air about her, like she was better than the rest of us. Better than this town. And maybe she was.
But there was still something about her, and the way Katie was responding to her that was unnerving. First, her impression at Sound System when she mentioned she was from Chicago. Then, earlier today while she gardened in her grandmother's weed-ridden plots and Katie wanted to cross the yards to be closer to this stranger.
I was up on that hot roof pounding away in the warm July sun when I felt those eyes on me. Ocean blue, that's how I'd describe them. I'd felt that look before. Women appraising my lean muscles and the crazy six-pack I got from all the construction work in the summer. I was use to the skim along my body, but it was more than that with her. She stopped at my eyes as if she was studying me, as if she saw more than a body, and it freaked me out.
I didn't need her trying to examine my soul. I was damaged enough by one woman, and perfectly happy to just let my body do the only deep talking with any woman thereafter. Sammie was in town and I was preparing to lose myself in her with bodily conversation tonight, but I could feel that uppity brunette down in the yard, struggling with the garden, wanting to speak to me.
When Katie went under the bushes, my protective nature took warrior status and I made it down from the Mueller's roof in record time. I didn't mean to startle her. Emily, she said her name was, and I assumed she heard me come up behind her. You know what they say about a live wire and water...it's an electric shock that can stop your heart...and that's what it felt like when I placed my hand over hers to twist the rusty spigot on the side of her Nana's garage. I worked with electricity, repairing sound machines, but this current was nothing like I'd felt before.
I stepped back, but her fright made her jump into me. My bare chest hit the back of her moist t-shirt and I had an instant physical reaction. I hadn't responded that quickly to a woman in a long, long time and I was embarrassed that her eye scan might have seen my immediate arousal. My jaws clenched in concentration to calm myself and steel my heart. Revive is the instant response to a stopped heart, and when her eyes met mine a second time, up close, I felt that first life-restoring pulse deep within me. It's ironic that an electric current jump starts a heart frozen by electric shock in the first place. I was all kinds of hay wired in front of her, so I stormed off after I introduced Katie and her speaking issue.
George was describing the details, the sorted ugly ones that everyone knew about my ex-wife, but he couldn't explain to Emily why my daughter wasn't talking. Hell, I couldn't explain why Katie didn't speak. As they stood to leave the bench they sat on, I had to step deeper into the shadows when Emily looked over her shoulder towards the dark space between the buildings. I knew she couldn't see me. No one really had, seen me for me, in a long time, but those ocean colored eyes searched the darkness for a long moment and I felt like if she didn't recognize me, she heard me. She heard my jump-started heart beating for her.