August 1 Alan

SHE'S THE PRETTIEST THING I've ever seen. All porcelain and pretty like a doll, smelling powdered and smiling delicately when she hands me my change. Some flower girls have way too much hair, and they don't shave anywhere no better than motorcycle mamas; but her fiery orange mane is like a halo half-tucked under a floppy hat. How'd she get such blazing eyes and bright curls without a freckle? She's one of those flawless, silver-spoon babies grown up into the sort of young lady only the sun and sea of California can make. She might have been a mermaid. Her skirts disappear behind the sparkling counter.

I walk out of the shop and look at what I bought. Incense, Black Love. Shee-it. I didn't even know where I was the moment I walked through the door. I went in hoping to score some weed, the store has such a freaky name. And if they bristled or balked I'd bust up some stuff or at least take something. Full of pipes, bottles, twinkling bells and clicking beads, the place felt abandoned. And then I saw this angel. . . .

I paid, the drawer merrily dinged, she handed me the change with a flutter of strawberry eyelashes. I've helped myself to the till on more than one occasion. Instead I dropped fifty cents for some stinky musk and actually said thank you when the drawer shut. Her hands are delicate as little birds. I couldn't say another word: too hairy and covered with dirt. Wish I could do something about the damn scowl always on my brow. Mama called it my Valentino stare--but it comes across as creepy, not seductive, around here, around now.

I hop on my hog and rev out of there with an impressive roar. Was she watching me? When I come through Laguna Beach again I'll come scrubbed. I swear I'll get the courage to know her name.



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