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ONCE BY THE SHORT HAIRS

by

Tom Sheehan



There was a one-way look on her face. Hardness curved her lips, moved out from her eyes in spider web lines on skin that once had been softer. At will her eyes appeared to recess into a center of cold calculation. Only once did she soften her face when another car passed hers and a child waved out the rear window. For that fraction of a second an earlier beauty was visible, it came out of her past like the resurrection of an old photograph, conquered the hard lines she knew were there and were not hard to find. At thirty-two life had made its early claim.

I'll show them bastards, she thought.

She drove the old station wagon as if possessed, her hands gripping the wheel hard, not allowing the vehicle to veer the slightest bit. It was a faded blue '86 Ford.

The rear view mirror flipped over easily as she hit it with her fingers. The eyes looking back at her were harder than she wanted them to be. She relaxed her jaw, tried to let some of the build-up slip out of her body. Down at herself she looked. The blue dress was perfect. The bra was torn in half right at the cleft. It had taken a strong yank to part the material. Her breasts were half way out of their cups.

I'll show them bastards, she thought again.

Relaxation drew at her; she wanted to look sexy, to feel loose. Jerry had spent years telling her to loosen up, to lay back and let it happen. It had been so difficult. She began to think about Jerry, how deliberate and slow he had been, how tenderly he had come to her. "Just wait, honey, when the juices start, you're on your way." But it had taken so long.

The thought of the truck tipping over made her flinch. Always she had believed his last word had been her name. That's the way he had been. After him nobody had ever touched her. Nobody ever would. Jerry was the only classy guy she had ever met. He had told her once about the set-up. For a long time she had forgotten it, but times get tough.

I'll really show them bastards, she thought, as the big truck rolled up beside her car.

The big semi rolled past her and the striker sitting in the rider's seat waved down at her and winked. She winked back, aware of the dress riding up on her thighs, her breasts flooding out.

Blue's perfect, she thought. It was always my best color.

When she braked for the light at the top of the hill the semi was right beside her. The striker looked and saw her looking back up at him, the wide dark eyes now warmer, the mouth softer in a smile of red lips and even white teeth, the bundles of her tits spilling out of their beautiful bib, hair so black and shiny it would spread midnight across a pillow.

At the green light she moved off. The striker yelled, "Have fun, beautiful!" His wave was casual, but he was nodding.

"You're goddamn right I will," she threw back at him over her shoulder. It made her feel good and the softness moved on her flesh, through her breasts, down the flat stomach, into her thighs. The lazy engine fought her foot on the accelerator, begrudged the force and then reacted. The wagon leaped out past the truck.

A great section of I-95 ribboned out in front of her in a long downhill run. Cars, trucks and vans spread out in a serpentine string. Directional signs hung overhead. Restaurants, gas stations, diners and fast-buck operations were as thick as litter on each side of the road. The abrupt introduction of a reservoir on the right hand side offered the only break in the commercial landscape. So distasteful was it, it made her wince. She realized today she was in a wincing mood.

Out in front of her she suddenly recognized the gas station. In a small recess she pulled off the road. Traffic continued to flash by. Through a small pair of binoculars she studied the station, counted ten cars and wrote all the registration numbers on a pad. She watched and waited. Another Ford wagon pulled in, was gassed up and drove off. A van did the same. Twenty-three vehicles pulled into the pumps and were serviced. At the twenty-fourth vehicle she sat straight up in the seat. It was a brand new Cadillac. Two blonde girls about thirteen got out of the car and walked around the side of the station. Turning the key in the ignition, she jammed on the accelerator. This was the break she needed. The wagon bucked once, twice, and leaped in response. She pulled into the station and parked beside the Cadillac.

A young attendant, about twenty-one she guessed, raised a finger at her and nodded. The two blonde girls came out from beside the station. They looked like twins, precious twins. Her jaw tightened when she saw the activity inside the station. Five or six men had quickly gathered in the lube room. Her face hardened, her breath came in short, quick gasps. Her hands gripped the steering wheel.

Through her teeth she muttered, "You dirty rotten bastards." The girls got into the Caddie, which moved slowly away from the pumps. A heavy-set man was at the wheel. She took a deep breath and let every muscle in her body relax. It was now!

Her left shoulder dropped over as the young attendant came to stand beside the wagon.

"Help you, Ma'am? Fill 'er up?" Her left breast was almost out of the blue dress. Looking up she saw the bulging eyes of the young man staring down at her. Imperceptibly parting her legs she twisted around and looked coolly at him. "Look, honey," she said in her sexiest voice, slightly opening her legs more, "I've got to use the ladies' room to do a quick repair job. I may be a few minutes, okay?" The attendant, his eyes still bulging, said, "Yes Ma'am! Yessiree!"

"I've got to be honest with you." She decided to turn it on more. "I've got this terribly important date with a big banker who's married and my damn bra just broke! I hope you don't mind if I go in the ladies' room and fix it up. You just fill it up and check what you have to check and just move it over there out of the way like a real sweetheart and I'll be out as soon's I get ole mother's boobs back in place. Okay, hon." She threw him a look he had never gotten.

He stood transfixed beside the wagon. Swinging the door open until it almost hit him. "If you don't move I might just damage the most important part of you." As an afterthought she clucked her tongue at him.

The young attendant almost swallowed his own tongue as she slid long, luscious legs out into full view, the dress flowing well behind her, the patch of white telling her that her panties were showing at the crotch. The kid's eyes, she thought, were like turtle eyes in the National Geographic.

The adrenaline was really pumping, and she turned the body motor on to full as she crossed the concrete pad of the station. She felt like a lioness in the midst of the pride, her thighs vibrating as heels hit concrete, her buttocks bumping their still-sharp saucers against the blue sheath of her dress, her breasts high and proud and nearly out of the dress.

I'll show these bastards, she said again to herself.

In the ladies' room she put her pocketbook down on top of the commode. In front of her the mirror was clean but she did not look into it. Her fingers ran through her hair. Casually, but with a sensuous movement, she opened the two buttons on the blue dress above the belt that pulled in at her waist. Her full breasts flooded it, the utter creaminess that Jerry had loved. The bra, ripped at the cleft, hung uselessly from the shoulders. With a teasing shrug the dress was off her pulled from her shoulders and then came the bra. The exposed breasts were magnificent, high and perky, creamy white, and each bore a near-orange aureole around deeper nipples. No kids and just Jerry all these years. Her lips parted slightly.

From the pocketbook came a spool of thread with a needle, slanted into it, already threaded. The ease of it all moved through her body. Standing straight, head cocked at a small angle, she began to sew. One hand, seemingly with a mind of its own, momentarily caressed one nipple that slowly extended. That slow hand moved again across the grain of the nipple. Slowly, teasingly, he began to massage it. Her eyes closed down on themselves. The bra fell to the floor with the needle and thread still in it. Then two hands were moving on two breasts and her head began a rhythmic swing. Her hips joined the rhythm, the inner music, a unity taking place. She could feel her panties getting wet as she rubbed and massaged and kneaded the dark-stained orbs. Her mouth opened wider and her tongue slid over her lips, wetting them, making them glisten under the overhead light.

Again she thought, I'll show them bastards. I'll really show them.

Her whole body was in tune. She was loose. The juices were there! Again she thought of Jerry and slipped one hand down inside her dress, touched the hair at her crotch, moved further to feel the juices welling there. She stretched her hand, a finger searching, the belt pressing on her forearm. Oh, Christ Jerry, she thought, the times we missed. The times we missed. She mouthed his name. Her tongue followed around on her lips silent as punctuation, tasting the memories.

Suddenly her whole body shook. To all of it she gave extra energy, gave it what wasn't really there to give, hung her mouth open, climaxed without feeling it.

You bastards got it coming, she muttered.

Her hand came quickly out of her crotch, out of her dress. Her eyes opened clearly, sharply, as she pulled a piece of paper from the pocketbook. Quickly she unfolded it and held it up in front of the mirror. Jeezus, she thought, I'd love to be on the other side right now.

On the paper, in large letters, she had boldly printed FUCK YOU GUYS!!

Her arms swung immediately back into the dress and it came over her shoulders. She buttoned one button with a deft, rapid motion and grabbed the handle of the door.

All of them she caught spilling out of an inner room of the station, the young attendant, two others in the same blue work uniform, others in civvies. Over their shoulders and through the phony mirror she could see the inside of the ladies' room clearly, the overhead light as bright as day.

They were dumbfounded, embarrassed, ashamed. They stared at her as she took up her final, resolute stance, legs firmly apart, the blue dress fully buttoned, the old hard look back on her face. The transformation was incredible. Formidable she looked in her stance.

"Okay, you dirty bastards," she said, "this is a stick-up."

They stared at her, their mouths opened.

"I want every dime in the till. Every goddamn dime you got in your pockets!" And then she added the first of her threats; "I'll blow the whistle on you guys so goddamn fast your fucking heads will spin."

Not one of the men moved, though their poise was shattered, their eyes hangdog.

"If you don't snap it up, I'm going to tell the guy who drove that Caddie in here a little while ago. Those two kids were his twin daughters in that fucking room. Thirteen years old they are! He's in the rackets. I've got the registration number of every damn car parked out there." Over her shoulder she pointed to the concrete pad and the station yard. "Do you know what that son of a bitch will do when I tell him about you guys. He'll bust the balls of each one of you. He'll probably do it himself."

t was sinking in and she saw it. Hands feebly reached into pockets. Wallets came into view. She opened her pocketbook. "Ol' mother's got the collection basket right here, boys. Just drop it hand. No holding back, not a friggin' dime." The cash register rang. The No Sale sign popped up. I have them all by the short hairs, she said to herself.

One of the men looked more pitiful than the rest. He irritated her and it showed in her voice. "What kind of work do you do, buster?" she said to him.

He answered trance-like. "I'm a salesman."

"What do you sell? Any samples?"

He was near apologetic with his answer. "Chain saws and stuff like that." He shrugged his shoulders.

"Well, buster, you go over to your car and put all your wares in the blue Ford wagon. Now hop to it like a nice boy or all hell is going to break loose around this fucking place!" The threat was close to physical.

The man did not look into her eyes. "You've got all the money, isn't that enough?"

"Look, pal, when your boss and your little wife hears about this your ass will be dead. I mean it! Thirteen year old kids, for Christ's sake!"

The salesman moved out to his car.

he addressed the others. "You guys, if you are carrying samples or anything, I want them all put in my wagon, pronto. Now move it!"

The men in civvies moved out of the station.

Just inside the lube room door she watched the parade of gear being moved to her wagon. Christ, but her pants were still wet. Jerry would have been proud of her. She had carried it off.

The rear of the wagon was soon full of an assortment of gear and boxes and bags. As she walked away from the lube room she pumped her ass one more time for good measure. Let them bring that home with them.

One of the men in civvies, a gray plaid suit, nodded and smiled as she drove off with a last wave and smile. Nobody but the docile salesman had said a word. The young attendant finally said, ''I don't fucking believe it!"

They were all standing there ten minutes later, thinking about how she looked in the ladies' room, but talking about the heist, when an oil burner service van pulled into the station. A young man leaped out of the driver's seat and approached the group of men.

He was visibly excited, mumbling, shaking his head at first.

"You guys won't believe what I just saw down at the lights where the Fellsway comes in." Back down the road he was pointing, animated, his feet in an odd shuffle, a sense of incredulity suddenly blatant about him. "There's this blue Ford station wagon parked across from me at a red light, heading southbound and a broad's behind the wheel. All of a sudden she screams like she's dying and she jumps out of the wagon. Honest so help me, there's a fucking snake around her neck. I mean a real fucking snake! It scared the hell out of me and I'm way across the road. I don't like snakes no way so I just screwed. Can you imagine that? A real fucking snake. Must have been eight feet long." His hands were spread apart as wide as he could stretch them, his eyes almost as wide.

The man in the gray plaid suit walked slowly to his car. There was a smile on his face as he opened the door. A legend, in gold leaf lettering on the door, said, BURTON"S WILD ANIMAL FARM.

He climbed into the car and drove off.





ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Tom Sheehan is well known to our readers, with an interview and several of his stories already published in 3am Magazine, including several episodes of his serial novel, An Accountable Death. Be sure to read Tomís poem, Once Screamed to the Flag-waving Drunks at the Vets Bar, Late, in the Evening


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