* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
She relaxed into her mind's eye and took another look. Yes. He was like most salesman, honest about what he told her and scrupulous about leaving out what might prevent her from buying. After all, he was trying to help her and he didn't want anything to get in the way.
She smiled back.
"Sorry, no," she said. "I don't really need one."
"Today?" he said.
"Ever. Undoubtedly." She added the last quickly to forestall further discussion.
"Can I buy you lunch?" he asked.
"Can you?" she said.
He laughed. "Well, of course. Would you allow me to treat you to lunch?"
There it was. That twinkle in his eye, that little light of merriment that said, We're all in this together why not enjoy it?
Why not indeed, she thought.
"No," she said. "I've got to get back."
He looked as if he was going to protest. She could almost hear him asking, "Back to what?" She was glad he didn't ask. She would not have been able to explain with anything like coherency.
"Okay, then," he said. He looked down at his feet. Then he looked up and raised his hand in salute. "Later!"
That was fast, she thought. But she merely turned, pulling her keys out of her pocket and heading for the parking lot. She meandered among the cars, finding her red Saturn after a couple of false positives. It needed a wash. The paint was scratched along the passenger side from too close a connection with shrubbery along the roadway. She sighed, turned the key, and got in.
The car moved easily along the roadway. She thought of him in a sort of abstract way, wondering what he really had on his mind. There was some darkness lurking just behind his face, moving along the surface of his skin. Some dark thing that he held back, as if it were so huge it would overwhelm her.
She got that a lot. Men often wanted to confide in her. Usually all she had to do was wait. But this time it wasn't working. This time she might have to work at it. To make him tell her, some how. This would be rough. He would go on trying to sell her and she would go on refusing, waiting for the time when he would finally open up and let her have it.
She hoped it wouldn't take too much longer and she hoped he told her the whole truth the first time instead of drawing it out over weeks. She hated the bits and pieces.
She pushed on the brake pedal. Her purse and packages slid to the front of the car, stopped by the passenger side foot rest. The car reared up a bit on it's front end and settled back down. She would have to start paying attention. Construction up ahead.
Forward motion stopped. The car ahead of hers was just as dirty as hers. She could see the silhouette of a head bobbing rhythmically.
What was it? Why didn't he just tell her and come out with it?