Sunday, September 23, 2007

Two Guns - Chapter 10 - Waiting for a Girl Like You

The soothing azure ocean of her dreams made room for the whooshing waves in the background when Sharon came to again; the sun was shining, and when she sat up, the rays blinded her for a few seconds. A small part of her brain tried to say that a rising sun couldn't shine through the front windows if the boat was pointed west, but she was still too tired to listen to that. With a stroke, she rubbed the rheum from her eyes and looked around. She found Mark standing at the stove without a shirt, heating up a pot of water.

"No sugar on my toast," she said by way of greeting; Mark turned to face her, smiled a bit and nodded.
"I prefer 'Good morning'."
"Yeah, good morning to you."
"Thank you. Now, toast is gonna be a bit hard, but..."

Sharon tried to move her legs, which reminded her that she'd had sex last night.

"How did you clean up?" she asked.
"This" - he held up a washcloth - "and a pot of hot water. I'm warming up one for you right now."

Sharon gave him that look.

"Please tell me there's another one," she said. Mark's look swayed from her face to her uncovered breasts - don't draw attention don't draw attention ah shit she saw you move on move on dammit! - to the washcloth, and then he made a show of not looking at Sharon while he climbed the steps up into the pilot house. Sharon heard a few more footsteps outside, then a splash.

"Begone!" Mark shouted; Sharon suppressed a small giggle. When he walked back in, he saw that she still wasn't doing anything for her modesty, so he covered his eyes and carefully stepped down back into the cabin.
"This isn't easy, you know," he said, trying to find a tone that wasn't offensive.
"Don't play this game," she said, still emphatically not hiding anything. "They were perfectly fine yesterday."

Mark uncovered his eyes and looked at her.

"No entrapment here," she said. "Come on, get your fill."

He looked some more.

"Satisfied?" she asked.
"Not yet..."
"Would you prefer a different pose?" she asked, leaning to the side a bit.
"No, that's alright."

And he looked.

"I'm not trying to shut down something I approved," Sharon said with a tone of resignation, "but I wanted to demystify my body, not put it on exhibition."
"Hey, you opened that door. Also, they are still perfectly fine."

Sharon stretched out, thrust out her chest and smiled.

"...the pot's boiling over," she moaned huskily.

Like a flash, he turned and wrenched the pot off the stove, splashing his hands with some unexpectedly hot water and shaking the uncomfortable fluid off while trying not to spill the whole container all over the floor. Behind him, Sharon sunk down deeper into the bed, raised the sheet over her head and started laughing like a maniac.

"This is not funny," Mark said, turning back to her; Sharon giggled and lowered the sheet a bit, letting him see her eyes peeking out.
"Fuck yeah, it's funny. Don't you hear me laugh?"
"You dirty little..."
"What are you gonna do about it, big man?" she said, lowering the sheet to where it could show off her grin.

Without looking, Mark opened a drawer, fished out another washcloth and dipped it into the pot full of hot water. He wrung out some water, then weighed the damp cloth in his right hand.

"You brought this on yourself, you know," he said, then stepped up to the bed and climbed onto it. Sharon giggled and hid under the sheets in response, while Mark dug at the pile of fabric between them, trying to catch her.

And lo, there was much laughing, scrubbing and squealing.


After dressing - some, ahem, time later -, Sharon climbed up into the pilot house and surveyed their position. The boat had drifted overnight, leaving them turned away from the shore and maybe a few miles further out. Mark - now himself dressed in a Saturday Night Fever suit entirely too small for him, yet wearing it with dignity - restarted the engine and slowly brought the tender back on course, then brought the boat to speed and aimed for Sheepshead Bay to the North. He was more somber now than during his romp with Sharon, but still riding the emotional high.

"You ever been there?" she asked as she strolled up next to him, then leaned on the console and looked at the waterfront in the distance.
"Couple of years ago." He sucked in a tiny bit of spit and air, setting his teeth on his lower lip in something approaching an un-whistle in look and sound. "T'was nice."
"So," she said, then didn't continue as she fought her voice for words. "How do we handle this? Do we just...forget about it?"

Somehow, Mark felt no surprise whatsoever.

"No, I' I'm not saying that we should, I'm just..." She threw her head back, closed her eyes and counted to ten - in Latin, as Mark noted with faint approval. "Okay. Start over. I'm not sure how we should proceed from here. I was asking about your opinion." When he didn't answer, she added "In my charming, rhetorically stunted way."

He tried not to smile and failed. A part of him actually felt relieved.

"I don't know, either. Life's funny that way."

She returned his smile. There wasn't much to say in response.

"We have nine more days," Mark said. "Why decide anything now?"
"So we enjoy the ride," she said.


Of course, the clothing situation hadn't improved since the day before, so their first stop after dropping off the tender and a short walk on the promenade was a clothing shop. It wasn't haute couture, just rough denim and cotton suitable for a blue collar neighbourhood, but it provided Mark with an opportunity to place a phone call with Alex.

"It's quiet now," Alex reassured him. "Everybody's taken a step back, and we're working out the new ground rules."
"So you need me."
"I'm not gonna lie, I would really like for you to be here," Alex said, sounding a bit too cold for her age. "This isn't an easy time. But we've really got a chance here, you know?"
"I don't think I follow," Mark said, concerned because he usually did follow. That felt uncomfortable.
"Daddy always aimed for detente with the cops. Now we've got you - and you're the man of the hour, believe me - as liaison. This is gonna help us more than a dozen triggermen on the streets."
"This isn't political."
"No, no, of course not, and that's really great! I mean, look at it this way: if you hated her - which you don't - I'd order you to stay on her, make it look good. But you actually do like her, so it's like, win-win. Right?"
"...right. I just don't want..."
"Mark, look. It's all good. You're out there, I'm here. We both do our jobs, okay?"
"Okay," Mark said, letting his breath out. He felt the tenseness of a bad conscience slip off him. "Take care...boss."

He thought he heard Alex laugh.

"Talk to you later," he said, then hung up.

"What do you think?" Sharon asked, parading around in a fresh set of jeans, a denim jacket, flannel shirt and dockworker boots. The smell of fish pervaded Mark's nose without actually being present.
"Very...nautical. Does that chafe?"
"You're about to find out," she said with a wicked smile, then pointed to a similar getup lying folded on the counter.
"You guessed my size."
"I had your old clothes on the boat and all the time in the world to read the labels."
"Solid police work, as always," Mark replied with a smile. He reached into his pocket, slapped a few large bills onto the counter (to the apparent indifference of the craggy-faced shop owner) and went to change in a small cabin.

"We should get a car," Sharon said.
"Oh, definitely."
"And something to eat."
"Oh, can we go to Coney Island?"
"Because I want to ride the Cyclone!"
"No problem."
"I kinda wanted to for a long time, you know."
"But I didn't dare."
"I think I'm feeling bold today."
"That's great."
"Yeah, we're definitely gonna ride it. It'll be great."

He stepped out of the cabin with the new clothes. His flannel pattern was a bit darker than hers, but other than that, they were wearing basically the same outfit.

It's a wild decade, Mark concluded, then smiled. "How do I look?" he said.
"Ridiculous," Sharon said, keeping a totally straight face.

He gave her a lopsided, one-eyed glare. She just stuck out her tongue for a second and laughed, then grabbed his arm and dragged him out of the store. The shop owner waited until they were well out of the door, listened to the little bell ring when the door slowly drew closed, then took the wad of cash and started counting it.

"Half woulda done it," he said, then shrugged. "City folk," he said, to nobody in particular.

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