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A. Frank Bower

    Bob’s sleeping it off. So, what else is new? It’s Saturday. His big, bulbous

body will stay there until ten-thirty when the dog wakes him to go out. That gives

me three hours to get rid of this headache. Peppermint Schnapps instead of milk

in my coffee. He’s such a pain in the ass when he’s drunk. I wanted him to ask

me, but did he have to be schnockered to do it? And in the Saucehorse, in front of

all the regulars? So much for romance.

    I left work yesterday and entered the Sawhorse Grill at 3:45, as always. Bob

had my vodka rocks and draft waiting next to his. I kissed his cheek. “Thanks,

Hon. How’d your day go?” I sat, thinking, Clueless jerk; you think that kiss was

a sign of affection. I’m gauging you; this is your fourth drink. This nose knows.

    He said, “We’re celebrating. I got a contract today. The new eight-floor

apartment complex on Newton Street.”

    “That’s a lot of plumbing. ’Way to go, Bob.” I held my glass up for clinking.
    Bob drank, then touched glasses, his eyes showing me what his mouth leaked
next. “I’ve been thinking you’d congratulate me with kissy-kissy.”

    I did the coy ploy. “We’ll see.” I knew damn right well I’d go down on him

later. Didn’t I always, to keep him from jumping the gun during intercourse?

Besides, it made me come. God forbid Bob ever figure that out. Let him go on

believing I did it out of pure love.

    I downed my vodka. “Get me another.” I smiled. “Maybe it’ll lubricate my

mind right.” While Bob motioned to the barmaid, I thought of the one time in two

years of living together when I didn’t feel up to having sex. I wore bruises for

three weeks. I never faulted him—and certainly never let him know how pissed

off I’d be if he said no. I hefted my second glass, glanced at my bald-headed

partner and toasted, “To us.”

    Somewhere between round nine and twelve—I’d caught up—Bob hobbled

back from the bathroom. Weaving, he stood at his barstool and tried to focus on

my eyes. “Ya know, kid, we’re a good team. We oughta make it permanent.”

    I said, “Is that a proposition…I mean, a proposal?”

    With effort, Bob sat. “Hell, yeah. Whadaya shay?”

    Even loaded, I knew we have too much in common to waste. “Okay.”

    “Shealed wid a kish,” he said, puckering at me.

    I pour a second schnapps and coffee. “Here’s to my engagement.”

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