Henry

She danced elegantly around, or so Henry thought. In fact, she was clumsily and self-consciously working, doing a mediocre job of her task, but in his mind, she was a godsend. She nimbly and swiftly fixed problems that Henry had been fiddling with to no avail for years.

At the moment, Susannah was in the laundry room, separating the whites, blacks, and colors into three separate piles. She held up each shirt to check for stains, biting her lip like a little girl busy coloring a universe on the wall with crayons. She placed the white laundry, stains painted with bleach, into the white, run down washing machine she worked like the old silver car she had been driving for ten years. She coaxed it to life with the same gentle bedside manner she had used with his mother, the reclusive old cat lady whom she was able to soften deftly within five minutes.

Her armory of warmth and tender care was something Henry needed greatly. He watched her, dancing along to some presumably beautiful music floating and bubbling through her mind. His eyes moved from the melodic nodding of her head to her sweetly swaying hips. Instead of the nervous shifting that Cindy herself imagined, Henry saw a beautiful maiden spinning with ribbons in a wheat field, the purple and yellow of a late summer sunset tingling on her skirt, puffed out by the air beneath it. The air beneath it...

Henry stopped himself short. That wasn't proper and he knew it. The man who had spent 4 hours the previous evening looking through explicit images of unrealistically proportioned girls, covered by nothing but a plasma screen was now concerned with what was proper. He couldn't bring himself to imagine what must be under her loose-fitting scrubs. He had to preserve her virtue from his thoughts.

He suddenly felt her eyes on him, and he blinked, to see her looking at him as though she were naked in front of her elementary school principle. She blushed, and stared self conscious of her work. Henry looked down at the white hanes socks that covered his flat feet, thinking he was caught.

"Mr. Fawkes? Am I doing something wrong?" she asked. Henry looked up with initial excitement. He was in the clear for fantasizing. But not even waiting for an answer, she went on. "I'm so sorry, it won't happen again, I–"

Henry stopped her. "Don't worry, Cindy. It's not a problem. You're doing everything right."

Cindy blushed. "Oh, okay. Thanks Mr. Fawkes–"

Once again, he cut her off. "Please," he said suavely, "Call me Henry."

Cindy's face continued to grow redder by factors of ten now. If this were to persist at such a pace, she would reach the color of his vermillion polo shirt within minutes, he thought. Seeing her girlish embarrassment, he turned away, and returned to the kitchen, peeking up at her feminine form from behind his newspaper and mug full of bitter black coffee. Whenever she would change pace, seeming as though she may turn, he would quickly begin to read about the losses the dow continued to take, despite the so-called recovery. "Bear Market," he would mumble, just so loudly that she could hear him if she was listening. "Interesting."

***

That evening, after Cindy put Susannah to bed, Henry met her at the bottom of the stairs.

"I just want to thank you for all that you've done for my mother today," he said to her, placing a check in her hand. She respectfully refrained from peeking at the check, carefully creasing it and placing it in her simple black purse. She waited patiently for him to move out of her way, like a sheep waiting for the help of a border collie to lead her home. He didn't move.

"Thank you," she said to him, still waiting, still afraid to suggest that she wanted him to move.

"I was wondering–" he began, but then stopped himself. It was too soon. He would scare her. "Never mind. Have a good night, Cindy. I'll see you at 7:30 tomorrow morning?"

"Yes, Mr. Fawkes."

"Henry," he corrected her gently.

"Right. Good night Henry." He moved out of her way and she brushed past him anxiously on her way out the door. Henry stood, watching the back of her with the same intensity as that afternoon. She pulled the heavy wooden door shut and walked through the dark down the un-illuminated cobblestone path to her silver sedan. She pulled open the door, sat down, clicked on the little overhead light, and fumbled through her bag for the cheque Henry had just handed her. Upon reaching it, she unfolded it, looking to see how much she had been paid. She squinted at it, still unsure of the amount and cursing herself for not setting a price in advance. She grasped at her reading glasses, also in her Mary Popins purse, and, unfolded the earpieces with her teeth. She slid them across her temples, and stared in awe at the number on the "Amount" line of the slip: six hundred dollars. She scanned for a decimal point, assuming she must have missed one, but she saw the little 00 over 00 in the corner and she knew it was true. she had been paid $40.00 to the hour.

There must have been some sort of mistake, she thought, but, seeing his light go on upstairs, she decided not to bother him until the next morning. She stuck her keys in the ignition and listened to her car rumble to life. She turned her head, carefully backing out into the street, and turned, flicking on her headlights and driving back towards home.

Henry watched from upstairs, smiling. He considered moving to the attic for some entertainment, but decided against it. Porn is for the loveless, he thought to himself, and I no longer fit that category. He stretched himself out across his equally antiquated full bed, brushing his fingers against the simple engravings on the mahogany bed frame. He sighed and smiled, his toes tingling with the anticipation.

The End

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