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Excerpt from

Girl Like That
By
W.G. Kelly

"Wow," Harn leaned forward in his seat, elbows on the dashboard. "Look at her go."

Just a few feet past their bumper, the little office was like a fishbowl, a big sheet of glass for the front wall. Harn looked away from the boats and there was the office girl standing at her desk, toe to toe with some athletic looking dude. The posture was unmistakable: lover's quarrel.

Pete pulled the trunk release before he looked up.

"Oh, yeah..." Pete peered through the windshield.

"Figure that's our captain?" Harn said.

Pete didn't answer. He made a noise of disdain low in his throat, like a repressed sneeze.

"She didn't seem taken yesterday," Harn said.

"She don't look too taken now," Pete snorted again. "Wha'dya care? We ain't comin' back."

Harn watched the girl, saw the anger in every line, and all he could think was what a nice little ass she had on her.

"She should be a weather girl or something," Pete said. "Something on TV. What's her name?"

"Sara," Harn said quietly. "And if that’s the captain, he's Daniel. Daniel something or other."

Harn watched the little scene inside the office and he thought about how Sara had looked yesterday. How natural she made it seem when they were chatting. How easy it could be. How she smelled and how clean she was. Stuff like that.

"We gotta get going," Pete said and looked down at his watch.

Pete slipped out of the car and stood beside it while Harn eased out his side. A little of the argument leaked through the big glass windows of the office. Harn could make out the tones of Sara's voice, but none of the words.

"You wanna walk in on that?" Harn stuffed his hands into his pockets.

"Nah," Pete said. "I don't."

Harn scuffed at the ground with one toe. Pete turned to look back down the way they'd just come, at the little blacktop snaking away up the hill to the office, at the boats bobbing in the marina down below. He cleared his throat.

"We’re almost done," Pete said. "Right?"

"Yeah," Harn said.

Three hard years where a lot of other guys just as smart, just as desperate had gone down one way or the other, Harn thought. We’re the smart ones. Or at least the lucky ones.

"How far away are we?" Pete asked. "How long till we're done?"

He turned back to watch Daniel continue to take shit from Sara.

"I don't know, man," Harn said. "Three or four hours? Depends how fast this boat is, right?"

"We can do three or four hours," Pete said.

Harn was silent. Inside the office, it seemed that the argument was losing steam.

"Slam your door," Pete said. "Real hard."

Pete pushed his door closed with a whump and made a point of looking back down at the boats for a bit, and Harn did the same thing a moment later. When they turned back the girl was sitting at the desk, smoothing out her skirt, and the man Harn had pegged as their captain was retreating into the back of the office.

"Let's get this going," Pete said and they went in quickly, Harn quieting the little bell on the door with his palm while Pete stepped to the desk.

"You made it!" Sara said.

Not yet, Harn thought, but close.

She had on a cutesy little thrift store sweater, all patched elbows and seventies colors and as he noticed this Harn was struck by how cold it was inside the office. Not much warmer than the parking lot, except for the wind. He unzipped his jacket halfway before changing his mind and Sara frowned.

"Sorry about the heat," Sara said. "We're having some work done...but you guys don't care, right? You'll be on the boat in a few minutes." Pete smiled at her, pulled off one glove and stuck out his hand.

"Pete, right?" she said, half standing. Harn was struck by the light her smile brought to the room.

"Mornin', Sara,” Pete used her name so casually. “Sorry we're a little late."

Harn knew Pete was going to lay on the charm and work her a little bit, trying to sound like people on TV. Harn doubted she noticed.

He was forcing himself to hold onto the idea that she was just like a waitress. Nice enough girl, working for the tip and just pretending to like guys like him and Pete. Just a waitress, doing her thing, nothing personal. There would be plenty of pretty girls, Harn thought, after they got through the next few hours.


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