Justus E. Taylor
Copyright © 1994 by Justus E. Taylor
Amanda Cosie hefted two heavy green ledgers from her desk over to the
big black safe
on wheels whose doors stood open every working day at four-forty-five
p.m.. As she slid the
books onto a shelf, she awkwardly lifted her wrists and dropped her
hands downward at forty-
five degree angles while she eyed the edge of the shelf for stray
dust that might have otherwise
clung to the cuffs of her silk blouse. She completed the pile
of books in the safe by adding
several journals and some work papers on which she had begun the end
of the month's trial
balance. Then she glanced over her shoulder toward the open
doorway which separated her
office from that of her boss Cary Elliot, owner of the new car dealership.
Amanda was pleased
to see that Mr. Elliot was placing a bottle of wine and two glasses
on his desk, as he did every
Friday at this time. She quickly found her purse and she started
twisting her rump enticingly as
she negotiated the short hallway that ran from the office area to the
During a full ten minutes in the lady's room, Amanda rehabilitated every
aspect of her makeup;
lipstick, blush, eye shadow, eyeliner, mascara, a touch of hair spray
which buttressed the slightly
teased pile of dark hair which added two or three inches to her five-foot-five
checked her pantyhose for runs, she twisted her skirt so that the seam
in the rear exactly split
her shapely behind. She then cuddled a small atomizer in her hand
and sprayed her neck and
ears with the expensive cologne she kept in her oversized black-leather
handbag. Finally, she
smiled coyly at her own image in the mirror, winked, reassuringly pushed
her hands upward
under her cups and then left the room feeling very self-satisfied.
As Amanda entered his office, Cary Elliot, seated behind his desk with
his hands in his
pockets, stood up and was somewhat obvious about shifting his underwear
to make his organs
more comfortable. She pretended not to notice this gesture as
she leaned over the desk to
receive a kiss on the cheek from the short, pudgy and balding Cary,
before she poured herself
onto the small red-leather couch that flanked his desk. Swiveling
in his chair to face her, he
moistened his lips, stared at her through the flame as he lit a cigarette,
and eventually spoke
sweetly to her.
"Let me pour your some wine, My Dear. You've been doing a great
job for me. You
surely must be the world's greatest bookkeeper. And I think these
Friday afternoon meetings
we have help to keep everything on track, right?"
"Sure, Mr. Elliot. I know your management technique keeps me satisfied,she
taking that instant to recross her legs slowly enough to produce flickering
pictures for him, like
the burlesque machines cranked with a handle in very old penny arcades.
Shifting himself and his glass of wine over to the sofa, and resting
his right hand on her
thigh, he lowered his voice seductively and whispered, "So how long
is it going to be? We've
been denying ourselves for too long now. Your husband and my
wife would never know the
difference. They'd probably even benefit 'cause we'd become real
easy to get along with, right?"
"Some day soon, Mr. Elliot, very soon. I promise you, but I have
to get going now. You know
I'm supposed to be waiting on the corner for Buster by five-thirty.
If I'm not there on time he
might think something funny was going on,then make me stop working
here. You know,so
jealous it's just ridiculous!" Easing herself forward, off the couch,
and rising to her feet, she
leaned over toward Mr. Elliot and touched her right index finger to
her lips, and then to his.
Moving to the open doorway to her own office, to get her coat, she
wiggled her rear so vigorously it almost required a contortion. Then, with the mink coat
slung over her shoulder, she
poked her head back into his office and throatily delivered her farewell.
"Good night, Lover!
Have a great weekend, you Hunk"
Cary Elliot remained on the sofa for several minutes after Amanda had
passed through the
hallway and out of the glass front doors. Having already drained
his glass of wine, he stretched
forward to set the empty glass on his desk, out of the way, so that
he could use both hands to
help raise his bulk from his seated position. once on his feet, he
peered into the imitation
mirrored mosaic that hung behind the couch, and finding a little corner
where the light enabled
him to get a clear reflection, he smoothed a few gray hairs on his
bare scalp, patted down his
mustache on either side of his mouth, twisted his head and raised it
a little, almost to profile, and
spoke to himself: "you devil you," he purred, you've kept her going
for five years!" He flicked the
button of an intercom on his desk and ordered: "Have Michael bring
the car around. I want him
to take me home now."
Tallish and slimly built Buster Cosie always complained to his wife
Amanda about having to pick
her up from work every day. His argument was that since the deli-restaurant,
where he waited
tables, was all the way uptown on East Eighty-Sixth Street, and her
job was way downtown at
Tenth Avenue and Fiftieth Street, in the half-hour that it took him
just to drive down and across
town, he could go all the way home by himself; to their expensively
downtown near the Brooklyn Bridge. Buster liked to make this argument
because it always kept
Amanda off balance. When he picked her up he could act grumpy
or pleasant, as he chose. If
he was nice she had to assume he was bending over backwards for her.
If he felt mean he
would just frown and it was assumed that she knew why. Actually,
he loved picking her up,
because he loved to drive. Amanda was willing to tolerate almost
anything, simply to avoid
risking her expensive clothes and jewelry on the crime-ridden subways.
threatened to learn to drive but could never be seen doing anything
to bring that about.
As their three-year-old Buick pulled up to the corner where she was
scrutinized it quickly, before opening the door and taking possession
of the front passenger seat.
She first inserted her butt into the car, then swung her legs in, with
knees only slightly gaped
toward the passersby in the process.
"Thank you Buster," she said, matter-of-factly, while immediately groping
for the seat
belt. She instinctively braced herself an instant before the
car leapt away from the curb, with
squealing tires and a blast of black and blue smoke from the exhaust
pipe. Several cars to the
rear made skidding sounds, sending Buster into one of his usual self-righteous
tirades about the
ineptness of everyone else on the road.
"Did you hear that? Goddamn assholes, I had my signal on. They
just want to lock you
in! They'd keep you right there at the curb for the rest of the
day. Well, up theirs! They ain't
doing that to me. I got a license the same as they have!"
Amanda clutched her hands tightly together and jammed her feet hard
against the front firewall.
She also rocked back and forth in quick movements, hoping to feel the
restraining grasp of the
shoulder belt; but in vain. Her often felt annoyance recalled
the claim in all the owner's manuals,
that you can't move fast enough to activate the belts unless you're
flung forward in an accident.
"Fine," she thought, "and if they don't work then, have the undertaker
send in a complaint"'
"Now look at that dumb bastard on our right," Buster was saying, "he
knows I'm gonna be
turning right soon. And when I speed up, to get ahead, he speeds
up! I bet you if I slowed
down he would too. So I'm not gonna do that! I'll pretend
I'm looking over to my left, and
speed up so fast I'll catch him off guard. That'll also get that other
bastard behind me off my tail.
Every time I hit the brakes he almost hits us before he stops. To hell
with it, I'm
making a left, and screw them all. My signal is on!
Mrs. Cosie suppressed a scream and grasped the dashboard in front
of her, as she
witnessed her husband cutting across two lanes of traffic to make a
left turn at the next corner.
She was sure that at the very least another set of fenders would be
demolished, and she'd have
to charm Mr. Elliot again, to let them have the next good trade-in
that he got, at cost. She nearly
choked as she realized that having made the turn, Buster was revving
the car up to almost fifty
miles an hour within a block, trying to get in front of a small sports
car. She knew that showing
fear only made him more reckless, so she managed to start whistling,
although it was very
By the time they reached their Lower Manhattan neighborhood, the packages
of deli food which
had started the trip on the back seat were scattered all over the rear
floor, some in danger of
leaking their juices, from cole slaw, potato salad and the like.
Buster hated the deli cold cuts,
and the salads, pickles, sliced rye, french fries and the forever,
rice pudding. Still, he had to
bring such nourishment home, five days a week, or risk a non dinner
for himself and their
fourteen-year-old son Alex. If called to court he would have
been willing to testify that Amanda
hadn't cooked, even an egg, for fourteen of their fifteen years of
As they approached the door of their two bedroom apartment on the eighth
floor of a
building that overlooked the East River, they could hear the justification
for the frequent noise
complaints from their neighbors. Alex was blasting heavy metal
music on his stereo, so loud that
it seemed as if there was a live performance in the hall. While
Buster was dropping off the deli
supplies in kitchen, Amanda scurried to Alex's room. Expecting
to find him flaked out on the
floor or bed, she was amazed to find him planted in front of a car
racing video game, which most
often occupied the screen of the IBM computer they had bought for him,
for a school work
"Alex, turn down that noise," she shouted, of course to no effect.
that his back was to her, and that she was being drowned out by the
subject of her complaint,
she moved over to the stereo and began to randomly search for the off
switch. This caused the
music to flutter, warble, fade and at times become even louder.
Alex started rocking in his chair,
apparently groovin' to these effects while still intent on his video
game. Finally, in frustration,
Amanda went to the wall and yanked out assorted plugs and adapters,
causing the room to
suddenly fall silent, as even the computer's picture shrunk and disappeared.
Then Alex turned
around. "Hey! Mom, why'd you do that?"
"You were so busy blasting everybody out of the neighborhood I couldn't
attention to turn down that noise, that's why!"
"You see? I could have been doing a paper for school and the whole
thing would have
been erased," he protested unconvincingly, pointing to the computer.
"You? Do a paper for school? About what, scholarship tesses?"
she chided sarcastically,
"Anyway were going to have dinner in a minute. Wash your hands
and come to the table."
Still feeling put upon, Alex probed for a nerve by mumbling: "Where
is it from this time, a
candy stand in a movie theatre?"
You better shut up, if you don't want to be slapped in the mouth," Amanda
She was surprised that she was still sensitive about her notorious
lack of food preparation.
Gathered in the dining alcove, the trio ate in spurts of silence, broken
report to Buster about Alex's addiction to the car racing video game.
"He's a boy; that's natural
for boys," Buster defended, seeming to perhaps even stick out his chest
a little as he spoke.
Amanda persisted, needing to get Alex in some sort of trouble, in retaliation
for his remark about
her never cooking. "Boys are also supposed to grow up to be men
and know to earn a living!
What's he gonna learn from those dumb games while he brings home grades
that don't even
reach passing. We really couldn't afford that computer, but we
sacrificed things for ourselves.
The best we can do now is make the minimum payments on our charge cards.
The interest is
just killing us! And for what? For him to sit listening
to that so-called music while he sees how
many accidents he can get into on that toy game? He's gonna wind
up just like you, Buster. I
think you'd keel over and die if you ever thought I might enjoy riding
in our car with you."
"That's not fair Amanda. My driving is excellent! Those
assholes on the road create the
problems. Every time I've been hit it's been by some jerk who
wasn't watching what I was
doing. You've never been hurt in our accidents have you? Even
while totaling three cars we've
always come out all right, so I must be doing something right!"
Noting the rising heat between his parents, Alex decided it was a strategic
moment for him to
deliver some bad news. "My Home Eco Teacher wants one of you
to come to school at eight
o'clock tonight for a conference," he discreetly slipped in between
Buster and Amanda were more distracted by the idea of having to do
something by eight
o'clock, since it was already six-thirty, than by the actual content
of their son's whispered
remarks. Amanda caught her balance first and raised a question:
"Home Eco? Only the girls
take that, don't they?"
Alex was gratified that the first question hadn't been why anyone had
to go to the school.
He mastered a simple conversational tone as he responded. "Oh,
you remember, all the schools
make the girls take shop and the boys take cooking and sewing so as
not to be accused of being
sexist or something."
Buster had begun to warm to the notion of getting out of the house for
the evening, no
matter what the reason. He immediately volunteered to go, and
he announced it quickly so as to
preempt his wife's options. "Of course I should go and see what
this is all about. It's dark, so
it's safer for me to go since I can drive over there. What does
you teacher want? You get in
some trouble? What'd you do? Tell me so I can think up an excuse
before I hear her
complaints. C'mon Alex my boy, what harmless prank did you pull?"
"Nothing Dad. I didn't do nothing. Well, except I haven't
been showing up for the
sissy-fied cooking class. A lot of my friends cut it too.
I shouldn't have to take that, since
everybody , especially us, knows you can eat out of restaurants and
never cook anything... I
don't mean anything Mom. Don't get mad. But it's true isn't
"I can understand where you're comming from son," Buster coaxed,"
but you should have
gone to the classes even if you didn't bother to cook like you meant
it. But anyway, I'll smooth
things out with your teacher. Just put in an appearance now and
then till the end of the term."
Rising from the table Buster ambled toward the bedroom saying:"I think
I'll take a flop for a half-
hour, and then head over to the school. Write down the teacher's
name and room number for
me so I won't have any trouble finding her." After closing the bedroom
door behind himself, he
stretched out across his bed; the twin bed that was farthest from the
Buster was annoyed when he awakened to find that it was already eight-fifteen.
the bedroom, noticed Amanda was half-asleep on the living room sofa,
being lulled by the tv's
flickering picture and steady drone. Alex had apparently left
the apartment to hang out with his
friends. Quickly zipping into his blue ski jacket, he dashed
for the elevator which, luckily, was
discharging passengers on his floor at that moment. When he reached
the Buick in the basement
garage there was that ever reliable exhilaration that seemed to expand
every cell of his body
whenever he unlocked the car's door. He slithered in behind the
wheel, checked that the seat
was all the way back (even though no one else ever drove the car) to
fit his six-foot torso, so
that he could stretch out his arms to the wheel; like his vision of
a race car driver. After
punching the electronic door opener, he guided the car up the ramp
to the street. Glancing to his
left, down the one way street, he gassed the motor and the car quickly
hooked to the right, out
onto the roadway, where he popped out the clutch to make it take off
like a rocket, down the
It was close to nine-fifteen as Buster was searching for room
four-three-seven where he
was to meet with a Ms. Hannah. At the instant he found the room,
he saw her with her coat on,
about to extinguish the lights and close the door.
"Excuse me, Ms. Hannah?"
"Yes, I'm Ms. Hannah."
"I'm Buster Cosie, Alex's father. I'm sorry I'm so late, but Alex
forgot to tell me about
the meeting until the last minute. You know how kids are.
Is it Too late? Can we still talk?
I'm really sorry to inconvenience you." Buster's concern not to inconvenience
steadily grew as he became aware of her shapely body and very attractive,
"No, I guess you're not that late," she answered reassuringly."I do
want to get an idea of
what the problem is with your son. Come in and have a seat.
Sit here, by my desk. There's no
way that anybody your size could be comfortable at one of those student
Buster was flattered that she was actually noticing him as a person,
not only as a
student's father, and he made every effort to smile to enhance his
attractiveness. He removed his
glasses and tucked them into his jacket as he employed his sexiest
tone for his next question.
"So, has my son been giving you a hard time about your cooking class
"Oh, Christine will be fine. It's so much easier to communicate
if we can drop the
formalities. It's not even a matter of his being unruly as such.
He just never shows up for the
class. I could merely fail him of course, but I wouldn't feel
that was doing my job as an
educator." She was careful not to sound bitchy as she continued: "Is
it some notion he has about
'woman's work' and being macho and all that? If that's it I'm
sure it would help for you to
explain to him how the old roles game has almost completely disappeared,
with so many women
in the work force now. You know!"
"Yes, I agree with you one hundred percent," Buster enticed, through
broadly smiling lips. Then,
taking on a carefully drawn frown, he made his commitment by promising,
"You can stop
worrying right now. I'll straighten him right out when I get
home. And I don't mean with orders.
I'll explain things to him and reason with him as I always do. Of course
I have the ability to get
tough too, if that was ever necessary, but I'm sure he'll see the light
without that. The problem is
solved! I'd really like to talk to you some more, not just about Alex.
He's important, but not that
important, if you catch my drift. Is there a place near here
where we could go for a drink?"
Christine felt like her mind had been read. She smiled happily
as she supplied the fact that
there was a cocktail lounge only two blocks away that was sophisticated
While seated in a booth and nursing two glasses of white wine, Christine
became increasingly comfortable in the dimly lit bar. Soft shadows
emphasized the good looks
of each to the other. "Are you by any chance a widower , or even
divorced?" Christine spoke
off-handedly, leaving it fairly clear that the answer was not going
to be critical one way or the
Well, looking at you I'm sorry to say that I'm married," Buster responded,
using a ploy
that he knew was honest, but still a compliment. I think marriage
has it's good points," he
added, "in the beginning that is. But after fifteen years of
it I frankly wish there was some way to
push a button and make it all go away." As he said this he was also
searching under the table
with his foot, and soon encountered her leg, which he gripped from
the thigh down
with his own two legs.
"I'm thirty seven and I was once married for three years," she volunteered.
"I don't think it
was all his fault that it didn't work out. I'm a very passionate
woman not every man can handle
the pressure of that; if he's not a guy who's always hot to get to
it. I think of sex as a kind of
currency.You spend it on another person if that's a person you want,
and that other person does
the same to get you, and keep you! Do you know what I mean?"
"Of course I do," Buster forcefully agreed, "and if there was ever a
man who was always ready
to make love, it's me! My wife is the very opposite, never wants
to give it up. We even have
twin beds! I must admit she was a little better the first six
months after we got married, but for
almost fifteen years now she'd be every bit as happy if I never raised
the subject. Let me get
you a fresh drink," he interjected this as a statement, without asking,
since he felt he had a vested
interest in Christine becoming a little light-headed.
By casually glancing at his watch, Buster noted that they had been talking
for an hour-and-
a-half, while consuming three drinks. Christine's eyes loomed
large and misty in the dim light,
and he was imagining all manner of things about her mouth. "It's
getting on towards midnight," he
commented lightly, could I possibly give you a lift home? If
you're not driving I'm sure you don't
want to chance public transportation this late at night." "That sounds
good, Buster, she beamed,
but I have to warn you that I live out in Queens.How late are you allowed
to stay out? Oops, I
take that back! It sounds like a bitch. I'll simply say
yes, and when we get to my house you're
invited in for a night cap, O.K.?"
"That's super! You're some sweet, beautiful woman.
Let me help you with your coat. I'll take care of the check at
As they left the cocktail lounge they noticed that it had been snowing
lightly for a while
and there was about a half-inch of snow already on the ground.
Christine guessed that she
should be considerate, and she grasped his arm while suggesting that
perhaps it would be better
if he could help her get a taxi.
"Not on your life," Buster insisted, genuinely happy for the additional
driving challenge the
weather presented. He pushed the light snow off the windshield
and rear window of the Buick
with a brush from the trunk. After about three seconds of warm-up,
he jockeyed back and
forth, out of the parking spot. He blessed the cars to the front
and rear with moderately heavy
raps to their fenders in the process. He then made a partly sideways
and skidding lunge down
the block. Christine snapped on her seat belt and suddenly realized
that the tipsy relaxed feeling
she had been enjoying had to be cleared from her head. Peering
to her left to get a critical look
at Buster, she took note of his fully stretched out arms, his head
tilted forward causing his
transfixed eyes to roll up towards his hairline, staring in fixed focus,
like a preying animal. She
probed, much more weakly than she wanted to.
"Are you all right?"
"Sure I am, except for that stupid son-of-a-bitch in front of us who's
gonna make us
miss the light at the next corner." Simultaneously Buster floored
the gas pedal, pulled out and
around the car in front and caused the Buick to slide slantwise for
several yards before it
straightened out at the moment that he slammed on the brakes, in response
to the traffic light
which had long ago turned red. This move sent the Buick skiing
on the wet snow, into the
middle of the intersection! In Christine this awakened stark
fright! Buster gunned the engine,
spinning the tires for several moments before they caught the pavement,
hurtling the car on it's
next skiing slide which ended well into the next block, a few inches
from the rear of a trailer
Ultimately, they arrived in front of Christine's house in Queens.
Her eyes were closed, as they
had been ever since she had wet herself back at the entrance to the
Fifty-Ninth Street Bridge.
At the bridge Bustet had actually spun the car around one-hundred-and-eighty
degrees and had
traveled backwards for more than sixty feet. Testing the world
by squinting to see if it really was
her apartment building, Christine then leaped from the car and slammed
the door. Then she
opened it again, but only about six inches. Her voice had a razor's
edge, cutting Buster like he
had never heard. "There are two rules of Home Economics that I swear
by. Women who won't
cook don't screw! And men who can't drive can't wait! You're
a sexual miser!" Slamming the
car door again, she marched into her apartment building, and she slammed
that door too!
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