The Malt Shop

I was walking down the street, just swinging my arms, I mean really pumping them, chugging, really, down the street. My feet were moving pretty fast too, if you want to know about it.

Fine, if you’re going to drag it out of me, I was running just shy of full sprint. But only because you can’t get to a full sprint in the slacks and jacket I was wearing. The shoes weren’t made for much more of an amble, either.

You see, I was on my way to meet Betsy at the Malt Shop.

You don’t know her, but there’s one of her in your town too, and you’ve seen her. Boy oh boy, have you seen her. She’s one of the ones that just drop anchor in your eyes and keep on moving with the slow roll of a summer river. My particular Betsy wore her black hair in a soft beehive. Her eyes were brown and deeper than the bottom of well in the middle of a dry spell. Darn, I should have saved that, should’ve said her eyes cast a spell or some such.

Anyway I was hurrying to meet Betsy, like I said, because I was running a few minutes late, and my mom instilled in me enough respect to never make a lady wait for you. Even though you end up spending a fair amount of time staring at your fingernails, maybe wishing they were just a mighty bit cleaner and trimmed. That, or sat on the stiff chesterfield with her old man staring you down along his nose and whiskers. It doesn’t matter. I was running because I didn’t want to have Betsy thinking I stood her up and have that affect her self-confidence or what not. Rejection can be very traumatizing to us young people, we’re still growing and learning, struggling saplings, the father says.

I suppose I’ll admit I was keen on her as well. Hell, I’m lying. Betsy was the prettiest little thing that ever walked down the street into that Malt Shop, and the owner, the guy has worked there for sixty some odd years, he’d tell you the same. I had a hard time talking to her, mostly mumbles and grunts, but she’d ended up giggling every now and then, and if she wasn’t just laughing at me, then I’d say I was doing more than fair.

I stopped running at the corner and let my wind catch up with me. Rubbed my shoes on the back of my shins to shine them. Slicked down the cowlick I saw in the reflection of the seamstress shop, and, since I was there, practiced my most charming smile. I also gave the darkened window my cavalier smile, and the rogue. I jumbled the three together and it looked about as good as it would get.

More than just about anything, I wanted her to have a good time. Because, word is, when Betsy’s happy, dear sweet wonderful Betsy puts out.

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