Bewildering Stories

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by Charles Richard Laing

The dame at the bar had a great pair of legs.

I was clear until after next shift, so I decided to sidle on over and try to make a connection. I wasn’t needy, mind you. It just never hurts to ask.

There were empty stools on either side of her. I picked the one on the right. Well trained, the bartender had another drink in place before my fanny hit the vinyl.

The dame looked over at me and gave me a long slow up-and-down. She didn’t favor me with a warm inviting smile, but she didn’t spit in my face either. I decided to take this as an encouraging sign. I pressed on.

“Can I buy you another drink?” I asked smoothly. She didn’t say a word to me. Instead, she raised her glass in the air, drained the last few drops, and sucked the ice cubes into her mouth. The bartender came over and slid another scotch on the rocks in front of her.

I sat and watched her drink for a while. I bought her a second, and then a third. Throughout it all, my new friend didn’t say a word. She just sat and drank. Occasionally, she would bob her head in time to some ancient yet timeless country tune. I just watched her. Close up she wasn’t much to look at. But by God she had those legs...

“Nice legs,” I said, hoping it didn’t sound too much like a line, but knowing that it unmistakably did.

“Thank you,” she said. Her first words were spoken with just the proper degree of drunken insincerity. ‘Thank you’ is a hard phrase to slur, but she succeeded. Clearly she was several stages past blotto.

“I’m not just saying that. I really mean it,” I said, not certain why I was explaining myself to this woman.

“Ummmmm,” she replied, still not impressed.

“I’ve seen some nice legs in my day, but those are absolutely perfect. I should know. I’m in the business.”

Those were apparently the magic words. As soon as I said them she turned and looked me over again. Clearly I needed to be reevaluated. Satisfied, she shifted a little closer to me.

I was used to the reaction. It happened all the time. I could read her mind now. I knew exactly what she was thinking.

“Do you really like them?” she asked. She tried to purr seductively. She failed.

I nodded. The bartender, having eavesdropped on out conversation, decided I suddenly rated. He set an unasked-for drink in front of me. A double.

“I’ll let you have them for five thousand,” she said. She tried her best to not sound desperate. Again she failed miserably.

I sighed and took a long sip of my drink, letting it swirl around in my mouth while I stalled for time. I wanted to be both kind and diplomatic.

Two years ago, you couldn’t have touched legs like these for less than twelve grand apiece. Unfortunately for the dame, the market had shifted. Supply far outstripped demand.

“I’m sorry. If you had kidneys, or a liver...” I started to explain.

“I know,” she said, cutting me off. “I hear it all the time.”

“Internal organs,” I said. “That’s the big ticket item these days. That’s what everyone’s scrambling to get. Lungs. I can’t keep them in stock. Not with all the damage is doing to the Elders.”

I knew what I was talking about. I had just picked up three lungs out at Rant Towne. With the markup I’d be getting I was suddenly and spectacularly in the green.

“Tell you what,” I said. “I’ll give you five hundred for the pair.”

I knew it was a pity proposal, but I also knew she wasn’t likely to see a better offer.

Her face turned hard and red. She wasn’t shy about what she thought of my offer. She told me to go to hell. She told me she’d sell them to a restaurant cart before she’d take such a loss. Then she speculated on the exact relationship I had with my mother and a number of farm animals.

I just let her rave, until she actually did spit on me. My afternoon complete, I wiped my face clean, settled the tab, and headed for the door.

She stopped me. Minutes later I headed for my car with the legs tucked under my arm. I was a happy man. I could afford to wait until the market shifted back.

Copyright © 2004 by Charles Richard Laing

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