She came off the van looking like she owned the place. Tall, long brown hair, slender of frame, eyes and lips like those belonging to girls one would customarily see gracing the covers of magazines. She could’ve been a model in another life. Unfortunately in this life she was just another case number assigned to do community service in lieu of jail time.
Bobby Simms is the name. I’m a Rigger by trade. I’ll climb any ladder, crawl across any catwalk regardless of the height so the show can go on as advertised. Today my crew’s task was to put up a full production stage for an outdoor jazz festival.
We had eight hours.
The Community Service people assigned twelve of their finest charges to us. Jerri, the aforementioned beauty, was assigned to me. My job was to keep her busy for six hours.
The first thing I noticed, aside from the fact that she was gorgeous, was that she was at least two inches taller than me.
I like tall girls.
The second thing was that she did a lot of staring.
“Can I ask you a question?” I said as we walked toward the first task of the day, which was to paint the surface of the stage.
“Why not,” came her bored reply.
“Why do you keep staring at me?”
She stretched both arms over her head as her lips parted in a funny little half-smile.
“Well,” she said. “If you must know, I’m trying to imagine what it’s going to be like.”
I raised one eyebrow quizzically.
“You know, when I get back to my real life.”
“All right,” said “And I fit in, how?”
“Oh, it’s not about you. You just remind me of one of the cops I punched when they arrested me.”
My eyes widened and I said, “You punched a cop?”
“Yep! Right in the mouth.”
I rocked back a bit on my heels and gave her the once-over.
She said, “What’s the matter?”
“I’m sorry, but you don’t strike me as the type who would do something like that.”
She said, “Normally I’m not. But when I drink I get a little crazy. And that night, I had a lot to drink.”
“And they arrested you?”
“Two counts of battery on a police officer; three counts of reckless endangerment; driving with a suspended license and DUI,” she said matter-of-factly.
I had a genuine criminal on my hands!
“Talk about tying one on.”
“No kidding. And look at this.”
She held up her arms—each wrist was scarred by two ugly gashes where I could imagine handcuffs having bitten cruelly into her twenty year-old flesh.
“You don’t think it had anything to do with the punching the guy in the mouth thing, do you?”
“So what if it did?” she said defensively. “I’m a girl! And…and if you don’t mind me saying so, I’m hot.”
She certainly had that one right.
I handed her a long-handled paint roller and a five gallon bucket of flat-black stage paint.
“What am I supposed to do with this?” she asked with a stunned expression.
I swept my arms around the area.
“Paint the stage.”
“And what are you going to do?”
“I’m going to sit over there in the shade and watch to make sure you don’t miss a spot.”
Her perfectly formed lips pouted fetchingly and she dropped her head, looking at me from under beautiful, hooded eyes.
“You mean you’re not going to help me?”
She stomped her foot.
“This is not fair!”
I raised my eyebrows and said, “Really? Care to explain that to me?”
She sat down on the stage and stretched her impossibly long legs out in front of her while leaning back against her hands.
“It isn’t supposed to work like this.”
“See, you were supposed to think I was really, really cute and everything, and I was supposed to go sit down and watch while you work.”
“Bummer,” said I.
She smiled and leaned forward enticingly.
“So, you wanna’ go out with me later on tonight?”
“Will you be drinking?” I said cautiously.
“Okay then,” I said. “Better get busy.”
“You mean I still have to paint the stage?”
“Oh,” I said. “And I’m driving.”