Tomato Red

Tomato Red by Daniel Woodrell

Book: Tomato Red by Daniel Woodrell Read Free Book Online
Authors: Daniel Woodrell
thinkin’ about me last night?”
    “Uh, no.”
    “You didn’t ? It felt like maybe you did.”
    “I did jack off. I ain’t denyin’ that .”

    Her nose wiggled fast as a wink and was chased by a grin.
    “I believe you just answered my question, hon. It was sweet of you.”

12
    So-so Desire
    THEN CAME A Monday.
    I knew it wouldn’t go well, but it went even worse.
    “I can’t find my feeling for this. I have to think, think, think before every move.” Jason had his flabbergasted beautiful face in the pooched-out part of the screen-door screen, whispering to Jam and me. We both sat to the side of the stoop like trash cans, but he took our advice whenever he slunk to the screen and could hear us. “I don’t flow at this. I don’t flow at this at all.”
    The woman’s car sat in the drive, and it was a glistening blue boat of a car, a Caddy, and its presence in our dirt-rut drive asked the question, What’s wrong with this picture? The woman had gone into the powder room, but not to powder from the sounds of it. She’d had a shampoo, a set, a manicure, and had gotten so flirty toward Jason with her words and tone and squeezing fingers that he’d started to freak.
    I whispered, “Put your hand on her thigh.”
    “Then what?”
    “Uh, well, slide your hand up under her skirt, there, and say, ‘How ’bout I take your temperature, ma’am?’ ”
    “ What? ”
    Jamalee shoved me and made a sound of pity.
    “That’s awful, Sammy. That’s pitiful. That might work on the pigs you’ve gone with but, huh-uh, not with this gal.”

    “What then?” There were beads of sweat in his voice. “And give it to me quick. I hear the toilet paper rolling.”
    “Jason,” I said, “don’t do anything except respond. All you’ve got to do is stand still, don’t run , and give her a smile or two. Believe me, she’ll ransack you on her own any minute now—she’s probably in the john puttin’ her thing in.”
    “Her wh—?”
    The woman wore heels that took charge as she walked, went snap snap snap across the floor. Her smell reached out to me—outside, there, even, on the dirt—and it did the job. That smell set a mood, set a mood so I wanted to sprint in there and tell Jason to scamper his fabulous skinny ass out of the way and let the big dog eat.
    His face through the screen expressed doom.
    He turned to face the footsteps.
    “Now, Mrs. Mallahan, perhaps I should practice my head-and-neck massage. Would you care for a cup of tea first?”
    “What I’d care for, tiger, is if you’d call me Linda, as I keep askin’.”
    “Okay, Linda. I have herbal tea or regular-tea tea.”
    “Sit by me on the couch, there, tiger, and explain herbal flavors to me. I’m a bourbon person, most often. You, pretty fella, are takin’ me to new places.”
    “You sure you want me to—uh, you know, sit by you? Linda?”
    Those footsteps started snapping.
    “Did I sound like I was confused about what I want?”
    He started to follow.
    “Not too much.”
    He was, I think, guessin’ every inch of the way. Jason, I’m sure, hadn’t had any pussy since pussy had him. He’s on the couch, there, pretty quick, guessing his way toward her fulfillment, throwing every guess he’s got at the woman, and he
only had one guess or two in his bag to start with. All he had to offer her was his beauty and that so-so desire.
    Me and Jamalee are anxious lumps beside the stoop, at the ready to give coaching instructions during any time-outs. Our spot is under the porch rail. There are bugs under there, cobwebs and fallen wasp combs, and old sharp-edged bottle tops you discover suddenly with your butt.
    “Did you ever even ask that boy if he could fuck a woman?”
    “I don’t ask questions I don’t want to hear the answer of.”
    The sky had turned ash gray and greasy with sweat, like a heart attack was coming up from the south. The dirt smelled inviting. The sounds from the couch carried through the tiny shack and sifted out the

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