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The Cover of a Book
by Bill Tope

A gorgeous twenty-something woman
alighted from a taxi, stood at the door
of the hack and paid off the driver. 
She took off walking briskly down the
boulevard, the fabric of her summer
dress whispering as it stretched across
her limbs and torso. 
As always, she was acutely aware of
the attention that she attracted from the
male pedestrians in her immediate vicinity. 
It was the same practically everywhere she
went.  Her lips formed a tight, unsmiling
line.  It was a "No Vacancy" sign for any
overheated male adventurers. And they
were everywhere.
One man in particular, a tall, rangy,
mustachioed creep she immediately
characterized as the "lean and lanky" type,
had fallen in behind her two blocks ago
and continued to follow close on her heels. 
She wondered, when would he make his
move, trying to either hustle her or else
insult, humiliate her.  He even sported a
cowboy hat.  God!  Every damn man was
the same.
She exited a crosswalk just as the streetlight
changed,. leaving the creep stranded on the
other corner. Good!  But, despite the danger,
the man ran the gauntlet of angry motorists
and dared cross against the light. a fusillade
of horns blaring in his wake.  She thought,
he must have had oysters for dinner.  In a few
steps he swiftly overtook her.  She braced for
his clumsy, lecherous approach. "Ma'am?" he
said.  She kept walking.  "Excuse me, ma'am,"
he said again.  She turned to face him.
She stopped so abruptly that he nearly collided
with her.  "What is it?" she said frigidly.  In spite
of her icy tone, he smiled widely.  Probably won
hearts with that damnable smile, she thought
irritably.  "Ma'am," he touched the brim of his hat.
"Well?" she answered him, scowling darkly.
"You dropped your billfold back several blocks," he
told her.  "Probably when you paid off your cab."
"My..." she began searching furiously through her
"I looked inside the billfold, ma'am, and there's a
driver's license in their with your picture on it.  "It's
yours."  He smiled again, somehow more kindly
this time, she thought.  Her cheeks burned as she
took the wallet back from the stranger.  "Please,"
she began, "let me give you something for..." He
interrupted her. "No, thank you, ma'am, I just done
what anyone would of done."
"Then for your trouble," she began rifling through her
wallet; yes, all the money was still there.  "No trouble,
ma'am, I assure you."  Again that wretched smile! 
"But there must, let me buy you a cup of
coffee, then," she offered.  He noticeably withdrew
from her.  "Thank you ma'am, I'm married,' he said
stiffly. "Appreciate the offer, though."  he touched his
thumb and forefinger to the brim of his hat again and
withdrew back the way he'd come.
He mouth fell open a little.  But, she thought, I wasn't
coming on to him; that was the furthest thing from my
mind, I only wanted to... Then she took a deep breath,
released it.   Her lips twisted wryly.   "I suppose," she
said wistfully, "that fair is fair."  Shaking her head a
little at a lesson learned, she continued on to her

Originally published by Children, Churches and Daddies