“Hello,” she said. When Earl did not respond, she waved a cigarette before his face. “Hello! Anyone in there?”
Earl caught a glimpse of the cigarette and the porcelain hand that held it ever so delicately. He followed the slender arm to a beautiful face—large, brown eyes, pouty, luscious lips and long, dark hair pulled off her face with thin braids. He smiled and said, “Je vous prie de m’excuser, je n jamais ignorer une telle belle deesse.”
“Ooh la, la, you speak French.” The woman laughed. “Wow! Aren’t you a charmer? I was going to ask you for a light, but it seems you already lit me up.” She paused and admired Earl. He looked like one of those hippies from Height Ashbury—longish hair, mustache and tie-dye T-shirt, yet he spoke with such eloquence that she knew he was not the run-of-the-mill burnout. “What’s your name?”
Earl swirled his glass and took a drink. “They call me Earl.”
“Who calls you Earl—the voices in your head?” she teased.
Reaching in his shirt, Earl pulled out his dog tags and displayed them for the woman. “They do. Now I go by…” he read the numbers, “39859052.”
The woman reached out and seductively fingered his tags, feeling the etching of each number. “Do you mind if I call you 39 for short?”
Earl grinned. She was beautiful and very wise. “What’s your name?”
“They call me Andy,” she said.
Earl’s eyes widened with excitement. “Andromeda?”
Andy laughed. “No! Andrea. Where do you get Andromeda? Who is Andromeda? Is she your lover.”
“A muse more like it,” he said. “She was the daughter of Greek goddess Cassiopeia. She was the most beautiful of all mortals. Outraged by Cassiopeia’s boasts, Poseidon kidnapped her and exposed her for the monsters. She was rescued by her love Perseus. Now she lights up the sky with the brightest star at her heels.”
“That’s beautiful.” Andy admired Earl. “Are you Perseus? Are you here to rescue me? I mean, my name’s not Andromeda, but we can make believe.”
Earl could not take his eyes of Andy. She was indeed the most beautiful woman he had ever laid eyes on. She had innocence in her round face and bright eyes, but she spoke with such strength. There was no doubt she had a goddess within her. “Are you in need of rescuing?”
Andy sat back in her chair and bit her lip. “Every woman is in need of rescuing.” She lit a cigarette and dragged casually. “You see, a woman needs the right man to rescue her from all the wrong men in her life. She needs protection from monsters.”
“Are you terrorized by monsters, my dear?” asked Earl.
“Ev-er-ry single day,” said Andy.
“Well then, if you’d allow me. I’d like to be your champion,” Earl said with a wink. He downed his drink.
Andy played with his dog tags. “How about you and I get out of here.” She whispered in his ear.
It was an offer he could not refuse.
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