Mattresses and Mean Steaks
“I think I’d better be going,” John said in answer to Keisha’s request for him to wait until she got Mori ready for bed. He’d already had another beer while watching the sunset on her front porch.
“All right I hope I’ll see you again, John this has been nice,” Keisha said smiling up at him.
It had been nice, a nice relaxing evening, “I’ve enjoyed it; thank you for asking me to come.”
“You’re welcome back anytime, Mori will hate she missed you leaving.”
“Yeah well tell her I said good night and that I enjoyed her birthday.”
“I will,” Keisha still stood in front of him, was he or wasn’t going to kiss her?
“Um, well good night,” John met her eyes and touched her lips briefly with his, turned and walked down the path toward the parking area. He hoped he hadn’t made a complete fool of himself. It had been an awkward moment. She expected a kiss and he had been reluctant to give her one. Was he that afraid of being hurt again? It was just a kiss, it didn’t mean anything. It didn’t mean anything at all he told himself unlocking his car and settling behind the steering wheel.
After putting Mori to bed Keisha cleaned her kitchen and poured the last of the wine in a glass and took it outside to the glider. She ran her hand lightly across her mouth and closed her eyes still feeling the brush of a kiss, the softness of his beard against her chin. He’d been so good with Mori, so gentle and kind and understanding. She closed her eyes and hoped her need hadn’t scared him off. It had been a long time since she had invited anyone to her house. She hadn’t wanted to let him go.
John was cleaning out his refrigerator. It was after midnight and he couldn’t sleep he got up and went to the fridge for a bottle of water and ended up tossing out and washing the shelves. At least it was something physical to do. He needed something physical to keep his mind at bay. Drying the last rack and slipping it back in he wiped off the bottles of sauces and dressings and put them back in after checking the use by dates. Satisfied with the job he washed the outside of his fridge and finally tossing the sponge in the sink he wandered back to his bedroom.
He sat down on the side of the bed for a moment and got up again going into the spare bedroom where he had his radios and computer set up. He was almost wishing he’d get a call out. He sat down at his computer and after a search ordered a new mattress and sheets.
Sometime after 3:00 in the morning he fell across his bed and slept for four hours. Groggily he stumbled into the kitchen and made coffee. As he leaned against the counter waiting for the coffee he told himself he couldn’t go on like this, he just couldn’t. He closed his eyes and a picture of Keisha flashed through his brain, that mass of dark curling hair he wanted to get his hands into. He went to the bathroom and splashed cold water on his face. Taking a towel to dry he looked at himself in the mirror; his eyes were bloodshot from lack of sleep. Maybe he needed to see somebody, maybe he was cracking up.
The breeze blowing up the street had all the wind chimes playing a mad symphony outside Keisha’s shop. Inside she was bagging up a sale of candles and special soaps. She didn’t see him at first only a sense that someone had entered the shop. She thanked her customer and placed the money in a drawer. Coming from behind the counter she saw him looking strangely at some diffusers.
“May I help you with that Constable?” she smiled coming up beside him.
“What do you do with this, what’s it for?” he asked
“It’s to scent your room, you pour the scented oil in this little bottle and place the diffusers in, it soaks its way up and smells nice, do you like it?”
“Yeah I guess its okay,” he looked skeptical.
“It works I assure you, see they even have scents for different moods. What mood are you in this morning?
“None, I’m not in a mood.” He looked at her briefly and looked away. The touch of her hand on his arm made him jump.
“John, I’m sorry, well I think this might work for you it has relaxing properties. Shall I wrap it up for you?”
“Consider it a gift,” she picked up the box and took it back to the counter.”
“Um, Keisha I’m on rounds I can’t take that with me.”
“Oh that’s right, well you can come back for it later. I’ll keep it for you, right here.”
“I uh actually came in here to thank you again for dinner last night and to say I’d like to return the favor. I’m not much of a cook but I can cook a mean steak.” He walked over to the counter where she leaned.
“Mean steak, what does it do that makes it mean?” a smile played around her mouth.
“It puts up a fight but I don’t give up until I got it knocked out on the grill.”
“When is this fight supposed to take place?”
“How about tonight around 6:30?"
“I’ll call Mrs. Warrick and see if she will keep Mori for me. Mori likes to spend the night Mrs. Warrick reads her stories.”
“Oh well, you can bring her if you’d like, I don’t mind.”
“Umm I think not, some other time we can all do something together.”
John took a deep breath, “Okay well I’ll see you then, better get on down the street.”
“John, thank you.”
He smiled at her and turned walking out of her shop pulling his sunglasses down as he met the sidewalk. He was tired of fighting it.