I came out of the bar and checked the message board. The plane was on time. Katherine was in the air and moving towards me. I sat down and waited. Across from me was a well-groomed woman reading a paperback. Her dress was up around her thighs, showing all that flank, that leg wrapped in nylon. Why did she insist on doing that? I had a newspaper, and I looked over the top, up her dress. She had great thighs. Who was getting those thighs? I felt foolish staring up her dress, but I couldn’t help myself. She was built. Once she had been a little girl, someday she would be dead, but now she was showing me her upper legs. The goddamned strumpet, I’d give her a hundred strokes, I’d give her 7-and-one-half inches of throbbing purple! She crossed her legs and her dress inched higher. She looked up from her paperback. Her eyes looked into mine as I watched over the top of the newspaper. Her expression was indifferent. She reached into her purse and took out a stick of gum, took the wrapper off and put the gum in her mouth. Green gum. She chewed on the green gum and I watched her mouth. She didn’t pull her skirt down. She knew that I was looking. There was nothing I could do. I opened my wallet and took out 2 fifty dollar bills. She looked up, saw the bills, looked back down. Then a fat man plopped down next to me. His face was very red and he had a massive nose. He was dressed in a jumpsuit, a light brown jumpsuit. He farted. The lady pulled her dress down and I put the bills back in my wallet. My cock softened and I got up and went to the drinking fountain.

Out in the landing area Katherine’s plane was taxiing toward the ramp. I stood and waited. Katherine, I adore you.

Katherine walked off the ramp, perfect, with red-brown hair, slim body, a blue dress clinging as she walked, white shoes, slim, neat ankles, youth. She wore a white hat with a wide brim, the brim turned down just right. Her eyes looked out from under the brim, large and brown and laughing. She had class. She’d never show her ass in an airport waiting area.

And there I was, 225 pounds, perpetually lost and confused, short legs, ape-like upper body, all chest, no neck, head too large, blurred eyes, hair uncombed, 6 feet of geek, waiting for her.

Katherine moved toward me. That long clean red-brown hair. Texas women were so relaxed, so natural. I gave her a kiss and asked about her baggage. I suggested a stop at the bar. The waitresses had on short red dresses that showed their ruffled white panties. The necklines of their dresses were cut low to show their breasts. They earned their salaries, they earned their tips, every cent. They lived in the suburbs and they hated men. They lived with their mothers and brothers and were in love with their psychiatrists.

We finished our drinks and went to get Katherine’s baggage. A number of men tried to catch her eye, but she walked close by my side, holding my arm. Few beautiful women were willing to indicate in public that they belonged to someone. I had known enough women to realize this. I accepted them for what they were, and love came hard and very seldom. When it did it was usually for the wrong reasons. One simply became tired of holding love back and let it go because it needed some place to go. Then usually, there was trouble.

At my place Katherine opened her suitcase and took out a pair of rubber gloves. She laughed. “What is this?” I asked.

“Darlene—my best friend—she saw me packing and she said, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ And I said, I’ve never seen Hank’s place, but I know that before I can cook in it and live in it and sleep in it I’ve got to clean it up!'”

Then Katherine gave off that happy Texas laugh. She went into the bathroom and put on a pair of bluejeans and an orange blouse, came out barefooted and went into the kitchen with her rubber gloves.

I went into the bathroom and changed clothes also. I decided that if Lydia came by I’d never let her touch Katherine. Lydia? Where was she? What was she doing?
I sent up a little prayer to the gods who watched over me: please keep Lydia away. Let her suck on the horns of cowboys and dance until 3 am—but please keep her away. . . .

When I came out Katherine was on her knees scrubbing at two years’ worth of grease on my kitchen floor.

“Katherine,” I said, “let’s go out on the town. Let’s go have dinner. This is no way to begin.” “All right, Hank, but I’ve got to finish this floor first. Then we’ll go.”

I sat and waited. Then she came out and I was sitting in a chair, waiting. She bent over and kissed me, laughing, “You are a dirty old man!” Then she walked into the bedroom. I was in love again, I was in trouble. . . .

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