Thursday, October 30, 2014


                   STRANGERS IN THE MORNING
                    BY ROY L. PICKERING JR.

     My perception of beauty has been forever altered, for she is by all standards of critique known to mankind the most stunning woman to walk this earth.
     Her legs rise gracefully from dainty feet and continue into the stratosphere.  Her body's sultry, dangerous curves take the mind's eye on a journey it will not soon forget.  An auburn mane frames her magnificent visage, then sprawls across bare velvet shoulders.  Her eyes are a color I have never seen, though possibly once dreamt of as a child.  She looks so good it hurts to gaze upon her, but it is infinitely more painful to look away.
     There is a simultaneous burning in my heart, gut, and crotch. I know as I have known nothing before that she is the one.       
     Who am I kidding?  What chance in hell do I have with someone like her? This is the kind of woman you see in magazines attached to the arm of a billionaire or rock star.  Certainly a regular guy like me has no chance.
     The goddess re-crossed her legs, giving me a glimpse of inner thigh.  The road which leads to paradise. 
     I would slay a dragon for her.  I would swim the Pacific, climb Mt. Everest, hike across the Sahara.  All of this I would do simply to hear her say my name.  Check that, to scream it in a fit of passion and ecstacy.  I must have her, or die trying.
     How am I supposed to go about achieving this task?  By saying something to her, I suppose.  But what?
     It is a deceptively difficult question to answer.  A woman like the one across from me has surely heard every line in the book.  If it sounds like a manufactured dime-a-dozen come on, she won't even acknowledge my presence.  I will have to come up with something original and witty.  And it must sound sincere.  Delivery is key.  I must be charming in an effortless way.  This of course will take much preparation.  Unfortunately, time is not on my side.
     She looked at me.  She glanced up and for a millisecond our eyes met.  I think my heart has stopped beating.  Lord I know I don't do this very often, but I'm doing it now.  Give me this and I'll be the best Christian you ever saw.  And if you won't help me out - how about you, Satan?  My soul is yours, just as long as I get to keep my heart for her.  I'll toss in my baseball autographed by Thurman Munson too.  Even my dog, if that's what it will take.  Just please let me have this.
     She has to have a boyfriend who she's madly in love with.  Or crueler yet, she just broke up with someone and can't bear the thought of being with another man.  She decided last week to give die hard lesbianism a shot.  Or perhaps she's just left her doctor's office after finding out that she has a scorching case of something tremendously contagious and irritating.  There will be some impenetrable barrier prohibiting me from being with her.  There always is.
     I consider myself intelligent, adequately attractive, possessing a fairly keen sense of humor.  Maybe I won't be appearing on a list of New York's most eligible bachelors any time soon, but I compare favorably to a good percentage of the bozos I see around me.  Of course this is the subway, so that isn't saying much.
     My bad luck with women is legendary.  It's always the wrong place, the wrong time, the wrong something.  No matter how promising romantic ventures initially appear, the cookie inevitably manages to crumble.  
     This would more than make up for past misfortunes.  She's my every fantasy with a couple extra attractions I wasn't creative enough to dream up.  
     Did that happen?  Maybe it was just wishful thinking.  Perhaps her beauty has intoxicated me to the point where I can't tell what's real anymore.  But I could have sworn she looked at me again.  It was only for a flash, and it's possible she simply felt like looking ahead and I happened to fall in her line of view.  I'll wait and see if it happens once more.  If it does, I'll drop to my knees and beg for her hand in marriage.
     She has taken a magazine from her purse and is leafing through it.  Something she reads amuses her.  I thought nothing in the world could possibly improve upon her beauty.  Then she smiled and I know that I will do anything to be the cause of the next one.
     Our train pulls into Grand Central Station.  I am so transfixed by her gracefulness as she rises and walks that I don't realize she is exiting from the train and my life until it is almost too late.  I spring through the closing doors just in time.
     For five terrifying seconds I cannot find her.  She has gotten lost in the crowd, could have gone in any direction.  Then I see her.  I resume breathing.
     "Excuse me, sir.  Pardon me, ma'am."
     I weave in and out of the masses, doing everything possible to keep her in my sights.  I feel like a C.I.A. agent on the trail of a spy.  The fact briefly dawns on me that I have gotten off at the wrong stop.  I am supposed to be on my way to work.  But what is another dreary day of labor compared to meeting the woman I plan to spend the rest of my days with?
     She gets onto a train headed for Queens and I faithfully shadow her.  It is too crowded for either of us to get a seat, so we stand, our bodies only a foot apart.  The amalgamation of her perfume and shampoo invade my nostrils.  The train unexpectedly jerks, our shoulders briefly touch, a wave of liquid heat blazes down my arm.  She clears her throat.  A chorus of angels could not make a more glorious sound.
     For twenty minutes we are side by side.  In that time I steal countless glances.  I am certain that she sneaks a few peeps in my direction as well, but whenever I try to meet her gaze she is looking maddeningly elsewhere.
     Then it happens.  Our eyes lock in an embrace more intensely erotic than any sexual experience I have ever known.  This is followed by something wonderful, something miraculous.  She smiles, and this time the smile is for me.
     My bedazzlement causes her to once again almost slip my net.  I squeeze through the subway doors and continue pursuit.  Heading down the stairs leading to the sidewalk, I begin wracking my brain for the perfect opening.  Perfection is a lot to ask of yourself before the morning's first cup of coffee.     
     I quicken my pace to get within striking distance.  My heart has accelerated likewise.  I am now only a few steps behind.  To get her attention, I need do no more than reach out and tap her shoulder.  As for what should follow, I've decided to play it by ear.  This isn't a movie where in one short scene the dashing hero captures the heart of the beautiful leading lady.  This is real life.  I'm just plain old Lloyd Briscol.  As I see it, my only chance lies in speaking from the gut.  I will proclaim that as soon as I first laid eyes upon her, I knew it was love.  It doesn't matter that this is the only thing about her that I know.  She is who I want to grow old with, the woman destined to bare my children.  What beyond that could possibly matter?
     Up until today, I have had led a mundane existence.  I've accomplished not a single thing that truly mattered.  In college, a little more studying per week could have changed my C's into A's, and those A's could have put me into medical school.  But I could never find the drive to put in that extra time.  A few more hours of overtime and a bit of kissing up would be all it takes to accelerate the forward process of my career.  Once again, I come up short on motivation.  I do not attribute this lack of aggressiveness to laziness.  It is just my opinion that the only things worth fully pursuing are those which you want with every fiber of your being.  Until I fortuitously looked up from my newspaper on the subway this morning, life had supplied me with a scant supply of such items.    
     With her by my side, I know I can conquer the world.  I simply need the opportunity to somehow make her feel for me as I do for her.
     She turns and heads towards the entrance of an office building.  I have to do something.  I must speak now or forever hold my tongue.  My mouth opens but nothing comes out.
     Perhaps she is reading my thoughts or absorbing my vibe.  Is it possible that all along she has sensed my longing?  Could it be that either God or Satan is answering my prayers?  Whatever the explanation, she stops.  She looks directly at me.  It's as if a spotlight is beaming upon us.  We are the only two people in existence.  I inhale deeply in preparation.  The moment has arrived.
     "Have a nice day."
     For the very last time she smiles at me.  Then she opens the door and is gone.
     Oh sure, I could have said something wonderfully clever.  I could have won her over in a handful of seconds, but what would be the point?  I am not so much of a dreamer that I am incapable of recognizing undesirable truth.  Like it or not but given no choice either way, the world is round.  The sky is blue.  And she could never live up to what I had imagined her to be.  So why let reality ruin such a beautiful fantasy?

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