One Eyed Jacks Online

《One_Eyed_Jacks》

Nobody's Girl

by Walton Simons

The late-afternoon sunshine warmed them. She lay naked on the bed, hands folded on her stomach, eyes closed. He looked down the outline of her body, trying to hold on to the ecstasy and contentment he'd felt with her only moments before. But it was already slipping away. Women kept it a bit longer. Afterglow. But they lost it, too.

"You could stay awhile," Jerry said. He tried to make the four words sound like it would be more fun than two people could stand. Not that they'd been pushing the limit in that area lately.

"Nope." Veronica opened her eyes and sat up, her long, sweat-soaked brown hair plastered to her face and neck. Jerry hoped it was his technique and not the August heat seeping in. She waited a few seconds, then stood and walked into the bathroom, closing the door after her. "Call me a cab."

"Okay, you're a cab." Jerry hadn't expected a laugh and wasn't disappointed. He heard her turn on the shower. He pulled on his shorts and walked across the carpeted floor into the next room. A five-hundred-dollar bill was in the top drawer of the mahogany bedroom dresser. Along with a new pair of black silk panties and matching underwire bra with cutout front. It was their ritual. Maybe she'd wear the lingerie next time, maybe not.

He picked up the phone and paused for a second, stopping his finger from making a rotary motion. He hadn't adjusted to push buttons yet. Twenty-plus years as a giant ape could do that to you. A cold, sick feeling spread through him. Even Veronica couldn't help when it hit him. He tried hard to push the thoughts away, but that only made it worse when they finally broke through. The world had changed during those years, drastically and unalterably. His parents had moved to Pass Christian, Mississippi, and been killed in Hurricane Camille. Some idiot psychic had told them he'd been kidnapped and taken there. The bodies wound up in a tree three miles inland. All the time he was in Central Park Zoo, fifty feet tall and covered with hair. He bit his lip and punched in the numbers.

"Starline Cab," said a bored voice on the other end of the line.

"Thirteen East Seventy-seventh Street. A lady will be waiting."

A pause. "That's Thirteen East Seventy-seventh. Five minutes. Thank you." Click.

Jerry walked back into the bedroom and stretched out on the bed. The sunshine drove the cold from his skin, but not his insides.

Veronica stepped out of the bathroom. She picked up her clothes and pulled them on in a quick, awkward manner.

"It's not against the law for you to stay sometime," he said. "We could go out to dinner every now and then. Or a movie."

"If it's not illegal, I don't bother with it." She turned her back on him to button her blouse.

"Yeah." He rolled over on his stomach, not wanting her to see the pain on his face. She could be a real bitch at times. Most times, nowadays.

"Sorry" She ran a finger down his calf. "I'll see what I can work out, but no promises. I'm a busy girl."

The intercom buzzed.

Jerry sat up straight. Almost nobody ever visited him here, except Veronica. He ran across the apartment to the intercom and pushed the button. "Hello."

"Jerry, this is Beth. I'll bet you forgot about the fundraiser tonight. You can't abandon me to all those lawyers and politicians."

"Oh, Jesus. I did forget. Hold on. I'll be right down." Jerry walked quickly over to the closet and snatched out a shirt and pants. "My sister-in-law. You should meet her. You'd like her."

"A lawyer's wife?" Veronica shook her head. "You must be kidding."

"You might be surprised. She's really terrific."

"I'm out of here," said Veronica, heading for the door. Jerry struggled into his alligator shoes and hopped across the carpet after her. "Okay, I love you."

Veronica waved without turning around and closed the door behind her.

Jerry sighed and went into the bathroom. He combed his too-red hair and dabbed on a few drops of cologne. He heard the elevator stop. He waited a few seconds until it headed back down. It wouldn't do for Beth to see him with Veronica, who'd probably just say something snotty.

He checked to make sure he had his wallet and keys, then hustled out into the hall and punched the elevator button.

Beth was waiting for him downstairs. She was wearing a floral print shirt and light blue pants. Her blond hair hung