Alicia’s first thought was how could Gharith have been so insanely right? Her second was to scramble for her phone. But she didn’t have her phone. It was in her Prada bag which she’d left in the car so as not to look conspicuous. Her sunglasses were tucked into the neckline of her tight black T-shirt, and her credit card was jammed into the pocket of her smart black culotte pants. At the last minute she’d stuck a pink NY Yankees baseball cap over her hair, maybe not such a good idea. She wanted to pull the cap off or turn it around so the logo was in back. Ricky was staring at her indifferently, waiting for payment. Alicia wanted to puke.
Just the feel of his eyes on her person made sirens go off in her head. When he put his hands on her sports bra to access the ISBN number, she knew she’d never wear it. Emil was standing next to her, flipping through a magazine. He had no idea what was going on, so she kicked him in the ankle. His reaction – “Ow! Why’d you do that!?” – was totally uncool. Ricky stood not three feet from them, his eyes reflecting no interest whatsoever. She wanted to get in his face, punch him. “That the guy?” Emil said sotto voce. Then he coughed and cleared his throat when he saw the man’s name tag. “I’m gonna pay,” he said, stepping in front of Alicia.
“What? Oh no.” Emil put the magazine back on the rack and held out his credit card.
“Find everything okay?” Ricky asked.
Emil laughed with triumph, not humor. “Sure did!”
At that moment Ricky looked at the two of them more carefully. His glance moved from Emil’s face to Alicia’s breasts, and then up to her eyes. “You folks enjoying your visit to Harrison?” he said slowly.
“Very much,” Emil said.
Alicia stared right back at Ricky and said, “Are you from here?”
“No, ma’am. I’m from Ohio. My wife’s from here.”
“That right?” said Emil, sticking his card into the machine. “How long you been here?”
Ricky started bagging their items. His hands were short and stubby, with a wedding ring that fit so tight it looked like it was embedded in the flesh. “Let’s see. We married in 2003. Fourteen years.”
“That a fact?” Emil said. “You have children?”
“Yeah. Two. A girl and a boy.”
“Nice,” said Emil. “Tell me something. Ever been to New York City?”
To be continued…
Cover photo ~ http://www.talkingproud.us/PhotoGallery/PhotoGallery/PhotoGalleryWhacky.html