From time to time I am posting some of my flash fiction pieces which have been published, but are not available on line. This story was originally published in Bannock Street Books last year. It is inspired by the years I spent in Phoenix in the engine remanufacturing business. It would probably be considered "R" rated, meaning I fixed some of the language when I read it to Mom.
Panty Lines and the Bush Doctrine
Quigley’s upset. I can tell by the way his face is scrunched. Or maybe he’s confused. Hard to tell with Quigley, but he’s usually not confused. Not many grey areas in his universe.
As I head towards the corner-booth where he’s wedged, I consider the possibilities. Accounting might have challenged his expense report – that always sets him off. Or perhaps it’s because our waitperson’s a guy – he does like the ladies. Or maybe he’s still bitter about the City Council’s ban on smoking. It’s been six months, but Quig doesn’t let go easily.
“How’s it going?” I ask.
Quig’s hand dwarfs the bacon-double-cheeseburger he’s shoveling into his mouth.
“Couldn’t wait,” he says. “Here’s your salad.” Slides the plate to my side. “That shit’ll kill you.”
He finishes his burger, cracks his neck. Stares out the window. “Got email from Ralphie,” he says.
Ralph’s retired. Cruises the net for good porn to share. Family man – no hardcore stuff. Likes women with large breasts. Last week a naked gal driving a Beemer down I-94.
“No. This is a video.”
“Not that patriotic bullshit again?” I ask. After 9-11, Ralphie went all red-state. Started sending slideshows of marching bands, flags, parades. America the Beautiful as background music. I’m as god-fearing country-loving commie-arab-hating as the next guy, but that stuff gets old. Took awhile, but by the time we marched into Iraq, Ralphie was back to sending tit pics.
“This was a weather-girl video,” Quig says.
He shakes his head, turns sideways trying to get comfortable. “Chick’s some hotshot weather-person. Got on a tight-fitting dress that clings to her boobs.” The server comes over and fills Quig’s water glass. He’s a guy so Quigley doesn’t bother flirting. “She’s doing her weather thing, hi-low temps, five-day forecast, the usual. When she’s done, the news-anchor invites her to sit down for some happy-talk bullshit. Camera zooms in.”
“Like instant replay.”
“Got it. Zooms.”
“She sits down and I swear to god she’s not wearing panties. Un-fucking believable.”
I swear Quigley’s blushing.
“Do you think she forget them?” he asks.
“Maybe the panty line thing?” I suggest.
“Exactly.” He slaps the table, rattling his ice glass. “She figured, this dress makes my ass look great. Don’t want some panty line ruining my look. Exactly what happened to Bush in Iraq.”
I stare at him.
“Bush had the right idea,” he says. “Looked good on paper. Take out Saddam, show Bin Laden we can fuck him up. But he didn’t think it through. Didn’t figure on those goddamn Sunnis and Shiites getting into it.”
He pauses. This is where he would have lit a cigarette.
“Weather-gal looked great moving that high pressure around the map, but she hadn’t planned on a sitdown with the anchor. Didn’t expect them to have a camera filming at pussy level. Didn’t consider all the possibilities.” He pokes the table with every word.
“You’re right,” I say. “Exactly like Bush.”
Quigley nods. Pushes the bill to my side. Squeezes out of the booth.
“Know what scares me?” he asks.
I shake my head.
“A thousand weather-girls out there and nine hundred and ninety-nine are wearing panties. Every goddamn day. So how does this girl get caught?”
“Unlucky I guess.”
“Hah!” he says. Gives me a look like I’m a salad-eating wienie with no idea how the world works. “They’re watching us.”
“They are?” I ask.
“Every move we make my friend.”
And with that he grabs his keys, heads to the exit. When he gets to the door he turns and points to the security camera.
He mouths the words: “Every move.”