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Emily Frankel. All rights reserved.

Rose – page 5
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rosequote5aHe wished he'd asked Hank how long ago Mr. Marechal had died. He wished he could pat her head, he was almost overcome by the impulse to touch her hair, feel it. Being next to her, he could see it was a couple of inches long, thick, not fuzzy but soft and silky looking. Not gold. Almost white.

Rose was aware of their shadows cast by the streetlights, his taller shadow enveloping her smaller one with every step. She was remembering walking home from the high school fair with her husband Perry, him carrying the shopping bags, rustling leaves, their voices back and forth arguing about something...the restaurant...or was it something to do with his mother?

Middle of the next block, Wynn was sweating. She wasn't saying anything. He searched for a topic—the mild weather, the stars, the big old houses along the avenue like gingerbread castles, the huge old mansion they were passing. It had a extremely neat geometrical level-trimmed hedge.

Rose ran a hand over the prickly neat hedge. It had tiny red berries like the one in the yard where she and her brother used to play. Wynn studied her profile....35, 26, 35, weighs 120, strong nose, stubborn chin, perky round breasts like goblets—was that Shakespeare or the Bible? He looked away, chiding himself for imagining his hands on her breasts when they hadn't yet had a conversation.

A car full of teenagers, radio blasting, came careening around the corner. Thinking saved by the bell, Wynn launched into one of his pet subjects. "How can they call that music? No tune, can't understand half the words. Why do they have to play it so loud?"

"I think noisy music is what kids need nowadays, to drown out the rest of the world."

"You can say that again!" Wynn grabbed onto it like it was a life-preserver in the deep water. "Guns, violence, overcrowded cities, noise! Traffic jams! Honking horns! They're demolishing four buildings on Market Street right across from where I work!" He knew he was running off at the mouth, but at least she was nodding.

"At the station it drives me crazy—six commercials every six minutes!"

"You're an engineer at the radio station?"

"The 'T.F.M.' Technical Facilities Manager. It's a fancy name for Mr. Fixit. I do a lot of hanging around waiting for a minor disaster. When it hits, five, ten hours of tinkering, trying to make old equipment act like new for a few more months, when I know, hell, the boss knows what we need is million dollar computerized equipment that'll cost him and me our jobs!"

Rose looked at him sharply.

"Anyway, it pays my bills, and when I'm bored, I can always read a magazine in the commissary."

"Sounds as if it's time for a change, Mr. Winslow. You need something more challenging to do."

"I'm forty-seven. A man my age can't just pick up and go down the road."

"Why not?"

"Well, it's sort of complicated."

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