David meets a very special help meet
The Lady in Gold
For the lips of a . . . woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil:
Proverbs 5:3 (KJV)
I stood there in a daze, eyes closed, my mind assaulted with unwelcome images of my upcoming doom. Sammy, my beloved son, his beautiful, slightly twisted smile turned to terror as he looked down the barrel of a gun. My own scream as I am tossed headfirst into the Lake of Fire.
In sharp contrast to the torment in my soul, a soothing, enchanting voice asked me a question. “Do you need some help?”
That voice, the voice of a woman. It kindled a flame in by body. I spun around. There, sitting in the driver’s seat of a car, a gray Nissan Pathfinder SUV of all things, parked along the street, was the most beautiful woman I’d ever imagined. My feet, of their own volition, pulled me forward to the stunning siren. As I stepped forward, my eyes, unable to break from the perfect lines of her face, drank in her beauty like a man three days into the Sahara. Honey blonde hair framed her porcelain face; piercing emerald eyes drove any rational thought far away.
I know not how long I stood and stared, but a sweet melody seemed to draw me back from the green depths of her gaze. “-- okay? Are you ill?”
Somehow I pulled myself from her gaze’s spell. “Oh, I’m fine. Maybe a bit tired.” Then the totality of my situation hit home again, five-hundred pounds of gold to transport with my son’s life, my very soul on the line. Yet they dimmed in the radiance of her beauty. I struggled for words, my mind locked in orbit around her radiance.
Her eyes sharpened a bit and she opened her full, luscious lips exposing ivory white teeth. I felt myself start to drift, but her words brought me right back to reality, or at least some bizarre version thereof. “Davy, I know about the gold.” That broke her beauty’s spell. How could she know? Is someone nearby? With a gun? I managed to break her grip on my eyes and looked around for the inevitable henchman bearing the ubiquitous revolver aimed yet again at my scarred chest. A panicked scan revealed no one lurking in the shadows.
“Davy, I’m not here to hinder, I’m here to help.” The welcome words rolled off her lips like honey, easing my fears. Probably reading the confusion on my face, she continued. “The . . . Great Lord sent me. I know everything.
“Great Lord?” I’d never heard anyone call God that before.
“Well, of course that’s God.” A subtle shiver touched her body. Which I noted equaled her face’s beauty. Her melodic voice seemed to change in tone a bit. “Just seem to get a bit excited at his name. I know this because I am a special servant, not your typical woman.”
“Well, I can see that.” I wondered. “What are you? Some sort of female angel?” I thought back to all the angels I had seen on my trip to Heaven, all beautiful beyond description, yet not overtly male or female. There was no questioning her gender.
“No, a regular person, just more focused, you might say.” Her emerald eyes flashed, the edge on her voice deepened. I could see it was time to change topics. She closed those emerald eyes for a second and I heard the locks snap upward. “Load it in the back.”
“Of course.” I went to the back and opened the hatch. Glancing around, I didn’t see anyone nearby, so I started loading the gold bars. At twenty-three pounds each, I could only carry four at a time, two stacked in each hand. Hard to imagine, but each load cost a cool two million. I finished in a couple minutes. Breathing heavily, for hauling over five loads of nearly a hundred pounds each does require some effort. A glance inside to catch a view of her beauty was rewarded by a sensuous wink. I closed the hatch after covering the gold with an old military-green tarp, noting the twelve-million dollar bulge, and stepped to the passenger’s door.
“Oh, you can drive. The keys are in the ignition,” she said from the passenger’s seat right before me. I blinked. What? She was in the driver’s seat seconds earlier. When did she switch seats? Or did she? That wink must have fried a few brain cells.
I sprinted around the SUV and hopped into the driver’s seat and off we went. I started with small talk, the weather and all, really difficult while driving with her though. Now my Michelle was the best looking woman I ever dated, or even hoped to date, but this woman . . . Duh, I didn’t even know her name.
“Sorry for being so dense, but could you the favor me with your name?” I asked, stunned at my boldness.
She looked up at me through her thick eyelashes. Was any part of her not perfect? “Sure, I’m Pseftis.”
She chuckled, “No, silly, Pseftis. It’s Greek for pretty little girl.”
I chanced another good look at her, heavy on the pretty, light on the little girl. “So, you’re Greek?” I didn’t really see any Greek blood in her. Her skin was quite fair. I had to suppress an urge to touch that skin, I had half a mind to simply let go of the steering wheel and hold her.
“Yes, people say that. My grandfather was Greek. He married a northern European and migrated to the US. My parents gave us children Greek names.”
I pondered that for a while. Somehow my mind drifted around and made a connection. “So, you have, sis- ah sisters?” The thought of more women like her seemed almost blasphemous.
She pursed those plump lips. “No, silly, two brothers. They live in New York.”
“Ah, New York, the city of Pizza and Hot Dogs,” I said. For some reason, after a trip years ago with my parents to New York, all I could remember was the food. Guess I was sort of hungry.
“Mmm, sounds good,” she said. “I know just the place, an out of the way spot just up the street a few blocks.”
I looked forward. I had almost forgotten I was driving. After I centered the Pathfinder in the lane, she gave directions. Soon I pulled up behind the eatery. Still downtown, crumbling driveways, trash bins, and decrepit fences decorated the alleyway.
I managed to pull my eyes away from her, opened the door, and stepped onto the ubiquitous broken beer bottle glass. As I crunched my way to the restaurant’s rear entry, two thoughts entered my mind: where’s Pseftis, and what about the gold in the back of the car? I turned around; there she sat, in the car, waiting for me. Duh. I crunched over and opened the door for her. She gave me a knee-buckling smile and smoothly climbed out the car, poetry in motion. The glass didn’t even crunch under her delicate feet.
The gold pressed on my mind. We can’t leave five hundred pounds of gold for anyone to steal. As I closed the door I asked, “Ah, what about the gold, er, Psefis . . .”
“Just call me Sefti, silly,” she said. “Don’t worry, I have just the thing for this.” The smile dimmed on her face as she turned to the Nissan. She laid her hands on it and murmured something. Her face twitched an odd way, and it happened. In an instant, Pseftis and I stood a full fifteen feet from the car. How odd. I tried to take a step to the car, but somehow I just couldn’t do it.
“What the hay?”
“Oh, it’s nothing, just a repel charm.” Her face returned to her characteristic smile.
“Repel charm?” I asked. I stretched my hand toward the car. I could almost sense the air firming before my outstretched hand. “What is that?”
“Oh, it’s nothing. All it takes is a little . . . faith. It will keep anyone away, our gold is safe.”
Wow, I tried to scan my memory of what little I knew of the Bible and those Sunday school lessons. Didn’t remember any repel charms. We made our way to the restaurant, again her delicate feet didn’t disturb the broken glass scattered across the asphalt. Walking beside me, I realized she wore a dress. Revealing enough to catch anyone’s attention, yet . . . not too much. Time for my “A” game for a thought struck me: Pseftis and I, together. Oh, Sammy too, of course. I repressed the thought of keeping the gold.
The smell of stale alcohol assaulted my nostrils. Yep, must be some sort of sports bar. Sure enough, as we entered the dimly lit main room, a huge bar covered the entire wall to the left, behind it, the kitchen. TV’s hung all over the place showing any of a half dozen games. Several tall chairs and tables sat arrayed across the floor. To the right, hugging the wall, squatted a few booths, dimly lit, even in the day.
“Let’s grab a booth so we can talk,” Pseftis said.
I had difficulty taking my eyes off her. She almost floated, and that figure would make a theologian sweat. I tore my eyes from her and looked around, in a bar, a woman like this would cause trouble. The crowd was light, a couple women, maybe a dozen male patrons, yet no one spared more than a quick glance at us. Odd.
Pseftis slipped into the booth smooth as glass. I felt like a klutz following her in. I waved over a waitress. As she approached, her eyes half closed in boredom, Sefti said she just wanted a Ruby Dutchess, having just eaten. The waitress totally ignored Pseftis, doubtless jealous. I ordered, “I’ll take a cheeseburger and a Gose beer, seeing how I have to drive. Sefti here will take a Ruby Dutchess.
The waitress sucked in a quick breath and dropped her order book. “Oh, sorry.” She chanced a quick glance at me, then one in the general direction of Sefti, then high tailed it to the kitchen without writing down the order.
“What’s up with her?” I asked.
“Maybe it was the order, a Ruby Dutchess is blood red. But a Gose beer? Really?”
“Sure, I . . .” Remember David, “A” game. “That’s how I roll.” A glint of light seemed to touch her eyes. “What is a Ruby Dutchess anyways?” I asked.
“One shot of pomegranate, two of Champaign,” she answered.
I just sat there, watching her lips move, imagining my lips on them, any vocal response seemed hours away. With a start I realized my mouth was open.
“So, I imagine you are wondering how I know everything,” she asked.
“I . . . well . . .” Come on David, “A” game.
“Of course. I received a series of visions. Your inheritance, the kidnapping, your clever ploy to keep the gold, it’s an amazing story.” She gave me a little wink when she mentioned the gold. “And, yes, your widowed wife orchestrated everything.”
A surge of both anger and admiration filled me. Yes, that was clever, those kidnappers had no right, my . . . widow? Never thought of her as that, but yes, she had no right either. And to think Pseftis thought I was clever, trying to hold onto the gold. I shook my head slightly with a pursed-lip smile. She nodded, smart girl. A thrill of excitement flooded me. We’re going places.
A question smacked me right between the eyes. “Ah, Sefti?” Cute name, I could grow to like that. “I was wondering, did your visions include that guy following me?” I glanced to the front and back doors almost expecting that masked man to appear. Or worse, panic seized my throat - the gold.
A slight frown marred Pseftis’s face a bit, she turned her head sideways. “Yes, of course. Nothing to worry about, he’s just a friend, with cleanup duties.” She opened her mouth to talk further, doubtless about my fear for the gold. But she turned instead to the approaching waitress. “Ah, our drinks.”
The waitress approached, drinks in hands, her eyes wide open now. Without a word she set the Gose before me. She stayed leaning over the table with the Ruby Dutchess in her left hand, slightly trembling. I looked at her, puzzled and starting to get angry. What? Does she think I’ll drink this too? I waved toward Pseftis, the waitress set the drink down before her, spun around, and headed for the kitchen.
“Don’t worry,” Pseftis said, “The waitresses always give me a hard time here. I’m the only one that orders that drink.” She stood, somehow scooting out of the booth in a single movement.
She looked down at me. “I know you’re concerned about the . . . tarp. Let’s go.”
I followed her out, the fear of losing 500 pounds of pure, yellow, shimmering in the daylight gold sort of weighed on one’s mind. But I still noted several new people at the bar, about thirty now, and no sign of Mr. Cleanup, I figured I could recognize him.
We stepped outside. Sure enough, the Nissan appeared untouched. No one was near. In fact, no one had parked anywhere close. All the new arrivals had parked several spots away.
“Go ahead and check if anyone’s touched it,” Pseftis said.
I stepped forward, but a dozen feet away I simply stopped, unable to take a single step forward. Sure I couldn’t get near, how weird was that? But perhaps someone else could.
“Just touch me and we can approach,” she said.
I looked down at her and swallowed.
“You may take me by the waist, but no Russian hands or Roman fingers. Capeesh?”
I stilled my hand’s trembling, “A” game David, “A” game. I held her waist with my right hand. An electric bolt shot from my hand to my head.
“Wow, I felt that,” Pseftis said, looking up and me and smiling.
We stepped forward, no resistance. I saw the tarp in place through the rear window, a familiar bulge showed beneath. We headed back, but she stopped after we cleared the area of the charm. She looked down at my hand on her waist. I snatched it away.
She looked up at me, her teeth flashing. I think I dove into her twin emerald pools. She said, “Interesting, huh? We could do anything together.”
I blinked to break the spell, this woman, more potent to a man’s senses than a quart of Jack Daniel’s. As we returned to the sports bar, my mind latched again on Mr. Cleanup.
“And this friend of yours, the one with cleanup duties. What exactly is he doing and who is he?”
She spoke from before me without even turning around. “Oh, he’s not my friend, he’s yours. Not that you know him, really. He’s just following behind, making sure things go according to plan.”
Right, but whose plan? Hey, where’d that thought come from? We returned to our booth. Again no one seemed to notice Pseftis, really odd with all these men. My hamburger sat at my place. We took our seats. There was a note tucked half under my plate.
“On the house, no tip requested.”
“Hm, interesting,” I said. Surprised at my hunger, I dove into the burger, washing down gulps with the most excellent Gose, just the right combination of tart and salt. Pseftis just looked at me with a patient smile on her face. Soon I finished the burger and drink. I washed it all down with some ice water the waitress left behind while we were gone. She just left her drink untouched.
“Aren’t you going to touch your drink?”
“I just wanted to ask you some questions first.”
I nodded as I sipped more ice water.
“Do you think I’m pretty?”
I snorted my water all over the table in front of me.
“Pretty? Are you kidding?” I wiped up the spray with my napkin. “Look, Michele, my widow . . .”
Pseftis’s eyes flashed as her cheek twitched.
“A” game, David. “Let’s face it, Michele was the best looking girl I ever dated, but you are the best looking woman I’ve ever seen. And that’s in person, TV, or even on the movies.”
“Really? You think so?” She took up a ridiculous pose, one hand holding her hair, the other hand held out to fend off imaginary fans.
“You’d better believe it. The studios would start a bidding war over you.”
She laughed, then looked at me intently. “But am I more than pretty to you?” She made another pose, a very subtle one that awakened the animal side of me.
“Yes, you’re . . . sexy.”
“Hmm, I like the sound of that,” she said. She almost seemed to grow, if that was possible. Somehow, she became clearer, like I was really noticing her. I didn’t understand, but I liked where this conversation was going.
“Would you like to touch me?” she asked, moving her hand ever so slightly closer to mine.
“Of course.” I lifted my hand from the table.
“No.” She held that same hand up, stopping my hand. “Would you like to . . . touch me.”
Panic slipped in as the verbal part of my mind went totally blank. Finally a few words made their way to my lips. “Sefti, I’d say every man in the country would like to touch you, as much and often as possible.”
She laughed. I heard a small pop and felt a rush of air. I didn’t look for its source; my eyes were only for her.
“I think I’ll have that drink now.” She took it in her hands and drank it down in seconds. She was right, the drink was blood red. I watched as she licked her lips clean.
“Time to go.” She scooted out of the booth, I followed. Out of habit I pulled out my wallet. Hey, on the house. I put it back and walked with Pseftis back to the rear exit. By now the place was packed, had to be over a hundred in the main area now. And every last one was staring right at Pseftis. She bolted for the exit, I followed at a run.
We managed to get out first with the sounds of shouts and whistles behind, then men started pouring out. Something took hold of me. I ran back, shouting something, and threw a wild left hook at the first guy. His head snapped sideways and he fell in a heap.
I stepped right on his limp body and threw myself at the next guy, had to be six and a half feet and a pair of hulking arms. My right elbow caught him at the base of his jaw. His eyes rolled up as he fell straight back.
The rest of the guys skidded to a halt. I stood there, fists clenched to my sides, breathing heavy. “Anyone else?”
The guys held their hands up, shook their heads, murmured things and made their way back into the bar. All but the two I hit. They lay unmoving, sprawled on the ground.
I turned and saw Pseftis had stood right behind me, her eyes wide with admiration. “Nicely done. You may hold me as we return to the car. Fielder’s choice.”