Tuesday, January 15, 2008

"Border Collector"

Start: Border Land (Page 13, Copyright 1993), by S.K. Epperson
End: The Bone Collector (Page 13, Copyright 1997), by Jeffery Deaver
The story between them: by Michael Rigg

Vic's mouth curved. "Just like that?"

"Just like that for about the last two months. that girl's so tight you couldn't get a greased sewing needle up her ass with a sledgehammer. She was a blast until I moved in, then it was 'no, let's stay home and save our money for some new furniture.' She sent me running to the store for toilet paper and Tampax, and she expected me to fix things that have been broken since the hope chest opened."

Vic was smiling openly now. "Sounds like marriage."

John cringed at his friend. "Ha. Very funny."

"I'm serious. Why don't you two get married? You sound like me and Jackie ten years ago."

"You can't be serious."

Vic's smile faded quickly but still held a telltale trace of humor. "Do I look like I'm kidding."


John shrugged off Vic's attempt at breaking his Susie rant. What good are friends if you can't vent to them without them trying to fix every damn thing. He hefted the smaller of his two suitcases, leaving the larger one and the garment bag for his friend to carry, and headed toward the gate.

Vic was a whole person larger than John so it was no chore for him to heft the bag and case. He quickly came into step beside his friend. "I'm serious but I'm not serious."

"Typical Vic."

"No, I'm serious."


"I could be your best man."

"You couldn't be my worst woman."

Vic laughed. "I'll forget for the moment that that makes absolutely no sense and just say, 'yes I can'."

"Can we just drop it," John sighed as he hefted the suitcase onto the scanner belt and stepped toward the security arch.

Vic put the garment bag and other case on the belt behind John's and stepped up to the short line across from his friend. The distance and somber grind of the security check-in did nothing to silence him. "I couldn't be more serious, Johnny boy. You and Suze are meant for each other. Shit, a moment ago you wouldn't shut up about her."

"I was complaining then, Vic."

As the two men passed through their respective security medal-detecting archways they maintained silence. It was John who broke it as they collected their bags. "What if I did marry her, huh? What if I did?"

Shrug. "So? What if you did?"

John poked Vic's rock face of a chest, "You and me would be over. No more frienship. No more poker. No more, 'hey, buddy, wanna come over for some beer and piss off the balcony,' you get that?"

"I get it," Vic smiled back without hesitation, "And you need it."

"Don't say get laid."

"I was gonna say get married, but since you mention it--"

"No! Now knock it off. She's right up here somewhere." John consulted the wrinkled ticket from his pocket. "United flight 121."

Both men stood outside the boarding area and scanned the croud. Vic saw her first. "There she is. Hi, Suze!"

Susan Sutton waved back weakly. She looked beat.

"I ain't gonna butt in. You go to her and keep her company."

John's smile matched Susan's but only momentarily. "Good idea. She looks completely drained."

"Must've been one helluva conference," Vic laughed. He helped John shoulder the garment bag and the other suitcase, then waved his friend off. "Remember what I said," then he hummed the wedding march.

"Shut up and go," John laughed. Here they were parting and he finally let himself relax a bit.

Susan greeted John with a limp hug, her laptop bag crunched between them and her too weak to move it. "Hi, babe. How was the meeting with the Realtor? Did you get the storefront?"

"How was the conference?" John countered. But he didn't wait for Susan's tired reply.

She stood in the line of passengers, her lean body listing against the weight of her laptop computer. John rattled on about interest rates and new ways of restructuring the deal but all she could think was: Friday night, 10:30. I wanna pull on my sweats and hit the hay.

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