The Pot Thief Who Studied Georgia O'Keeffe

The Pot Thief Who Studied Georgia O'Keeffe by J. Michael Orenduff

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Authors: J. Michael Orenduff
closer to another operation. Never mind that it was giving me something rather than taking something away. It still involved hospital, surgery, pain and fear.”
    She bit her lip. A teardrop teetered. “I need to tell you something scary.”
    â€œAnother thing on the list?”
    â€œYes. And another one we are never to speak of again.” She took a deep breath. “In addition to saving pennies, I started saving midazolam.”
    â€œThat’s a semiprecious stone like agate, right?”
    She didn’t laugh at my lame joke.
    â€œDentists use it for sedation. Florida used it to execute William Happ.”
    â€œOh.” Something twitched in my stomach.
    â€œA woman named Angie Crowley stopped at a convenience store to use a pay phone. Happ smashed her car window and kidnapped her. After raping her, he strangled her with her stretch pants and threw her body in a canal.”
    I swallowed hard. “Sounds like Florida put the drug to good use.”
    â€œI had enough for another execution.”
    I stared into those green eyes. “I’m glad you didn’t use it.”
    â€œI almost did. Then I thought about my parents. I couldn’t do that to them. I decided a happy life is a lot more important than a breast.” She paused and smiled. “Especially one made from butt tissue.”
    After we stopped laughing, she said, “I flushed the midazolam. I used my operation money for a down payment on this condo. I traded shag carpet, Formica and harvest gold for polished concrete, granite and stainless steel. I gave my clothes to Goodwill. I bought designer dresses and expensive perfumes. I made myself beautiful again. Then I started dating.”
    â€œAnd men from the four corners of the Earth celebrated.”
    â€œRight. Until I told them I don’t have—”
    â€œI thought we were never to talk about that.”
    She cried for a few moments—smiling while doing so—then regained her composure. “If it got to the stage where I liked them enough, I told them. They all said it didn’t matter. Then they stopped calling.”
    â€œGlad they did. Otherwise you might not have been available for me.”
    â€œI suspected right from the start that you were the one. The man who would like me despite—”
    â€œThere is no despite . There is nothing to get over or learn to deal with. It’s not like you keep a glass eye in a jar of water on your nightstand.”
    â€œI think maybe your sense of humor is what made me think you wouldn’t run away. When you made light of my dramatic moment by hoisting your ankle onto my bed, it was the happiest moment of my life.”
    â€œIt was the second happiest moment of my life.”
    â€œWhat was the happiest one?”
    â€œIt hasn’t happened yet.”
    She blushed. Which was interesting to watch, given her complexion.
    â€œAnd it won’t happen tonight,” she said.
    First the neighbors heard me swallow. Now they heard me sigh. “Why not?” I asked, trying not to sound petulant.
    â€œIt’s too soon after the bombshell I just dropped on you. You need some time to think about it. But you can sleep over if you still want to.”
    We had been asleep only an hour or so when Susannah called to tell me her car had died on the way back from La Reina.
    Sharice said, “You can’t leave her stranded all night.”
    â€œYou’re right, but this is only the second night we’ve slept together.”
    Her giggle is childlike and charming. “That’s the second time you’ve used that phrasing literally. It won’t be long until you’ll use it metaphorically like everyone else.” She kissed me. “Go rescue Susannah.”

20
    I t was well after midnight when I spotted Susannah’s Crown Vic on the shoulder of the dirt road south of La Reina.
    On the one hand, it’s a terrible place to be stranded. Even though Rio

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