The Inner Crab

The Pickup Artist

It was a day of the sort my life usually produced: hum-drum, routine, run-of-the-mill, boring, monotonous, dull, bland - the kind that seemed to run on and on forever without purpose. I had just come from my favorite coffee house, Chez Cup-O-Joe, when I was very nearly overwhelmed by the bombardment on my senses that seemed to have been placed for my wonderment alone on the corner for which I was heading. She was a goddess, the fulfillment of my dreams; I scrutinized her tawny, lithe image and filed it in my brain under Fulfillment of My Dreams, Number 774. This was destiny, I decided; if not, why were my premiums so high?

Thinking fast, I grabbed a potted plant off a nearby window ledge and swaggered quickly toward her. My heartbeats were flurries. A soft humming noise made my head tingle, and it seemed as if all of the particles of fate in the universe were gathering together at this one point in space and time. Then I let fly a burp thick with the taste of Maatjes herring, however, and the humming stopped.

As I neared this blessing in flesh, her finer features sharpened in my vision. I could make out the pout of her lip, the delicate shape of her nose, and her soft brown eyes, which suddenly turned on ME!! I was still five feet from her, and when her gaze caught mine I stumbled to a halt, smelled my breath against my hand, and moved within arm's reach of her. She still held me in her gaze, and her face now wore a look of what was either fond amusement or abject terror - it was hard to say. Silently, hoping against hope that somehow this woman and I would be on the same wavelength, I proffered my potted plant. She continued to look at me in silence for what seemed like twenty minutes, but could only have been about five. Then her body convulsed lightly, as if she had reached some powerful conclusion. She accepted the plant from me, and turned to rummage through her purse. "For what?" I wondered out loud, causing her to jump a bit. She looked at me again to make sure I was still there, and then continued rummaging until she found what she was looking for. As her hand withdrew from her bag, I could see that it held a bit of paper. Her phone number, I thought, and my heart sang, although a little off-key. Venus must be watching over me.

What she handed me, however, was a five-dollar bill. I took the bill from her trembling hand, turning it over and over to see if it doubled as a note of endearment. It contained nothing that wasn't there already. Then it hit me: she was playing hard to get! Well, two can play at this game, I thought, as I tucked the bill in my pocket.

I was preparing an incredibly witty reply when a bus rolled up. She watched me as she got on, paid her fare, and found a seat by the aisle. I suddenly felt a little giddy, and I kissed my palm and flung it at her. It was hard to see her through the tinted window, but it seemed that she shuddered when I did this, obviously touched by such a forward yet sincere gesture. As the bus pulled away in a cloud of exhaust, I smiled sadly to myself. As I turned to go, however, I noticed a small white card on the sanctified ground where she had been standing. I stooped to pick it up, and nearly wept with delight when I realized what it was. It was a business card - two of them, actually, stuck together - and they were hers! Somehow I was certain of that. Erika J. Lang, the card said, and she worked for a company I hadn't heard of before. No matter, I thought. This was an act of flirtation and fate as sublime as any such act could be. I held the cards to my breast and headed home to my phone.

Site Contents © 2004 Robert M. Rowan

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