She glided into my office with a grace that betrayed her training as a dancer. If it hadn't been her walk, her rhythm would have given it away.
"Are you Mr. Ansen?" she asked in a breathy desperation that made my heart ache.
"Yes ma'am, I am" I said in a way that would let her know that I was hiding my thoughts.
"Good, I am in need of your services" she replied, "it's an urgent matter... and... a delicate one" she continued sheepishly.
"Anything I can do for a lady like you" I said, eying her up and down, "should be considered done."
"Your very kind" she went on, "you see, I've lost my purse."
"I see.. go on"
"I don't much care about the purse, but there is a letter in the purse that I desperately need to get back."
"Why me? It would seem that any cop walking that beat would be the one to talk to." I replied. I had to play this cool. "Besides, what could a dame like you have to worry about with a silly letter?"
"Oh, Mr. Ansen... " she whispered, barely holding back the tears "It was a letter.. it was meant for my best friend-"
"Best Friend... forever?" I interrupted
".. yes, best friend forever... it was a letter to discuss a trip we were planning for the coming weekend."
"This plan, it was important?"
"Yes, we were going to go to the mall, hang out, ya know... feel free... have maybe an ice cream." Her voice gave wings to her dreams as if Hot Topic were born of the mind of Angels.
"Says you.." she replied with a shrug.
"It's not even ice cream... Anyway," I said, trying to change the subject back to the letter "A trip the the mall? Sure it's freeing... sometimes a girl needs to be away from the control of home life.. spend some allowance, get pictures of her and her BFF to stick in her mirror at home. Maybe there's a nice blouse at Justice, or an ironic tee shirt... maybe you sit with a soda and make fun of all the silly boys... sure, I understand... but something's telling me it's not the mall trip that has you upset... am I right?"
"Ma'am, you need to be straight with me if you want this fixed. What was in the letter?"
"I... it was supposed to be nothing, a joke... but there was a picture in the letter."
"A picture of who, ma'am?"
"Polaski the English teacher?"
"Yes, Polaski." She confirmed. "But it wasn't a kind picture... I insinuated that .. that he ... smelled."
"YES!" she broke down. "Oh Please Mr. Ansen! I need a good grade in that class or.. or..."
It started to dawn on me. This was more than just a mall trip and some stink lines. She wasn't the bookworm type. If word got around that Mr. Polaski was smelly, and that it was her that outed him... well she needed her grades up or it may be no mall trips forever. That was no way to live.
"Listen, Jane.... can I call you Jane?" I asked warmly
"Umm.. sure" she said with a slight confusion ".. but I didn't tell you my name."
"Ah good, listen Jane, I can find this note for you. Is it in the main pocket, or maybe in the one of the side pockets?"
"A side pocket."
"The one with the zipper pull with a charm?"
"Yeah.. tha.. wait..."
"Ah, here's the note. I'm glad I could he-" She slapped me before I could even think of smooching
"YOU! You took my purse? WHY?!"
"YOU Can't call me that anymore"
"That isn't even my name!" she said Hotly... it was time I come clean
"Listen lady... I, I have these feelings, I see you and I want to be around you. You are sweetness and light and so different from everything I feel inside me. Sure you have cooties, but even that doesn't tip the scales. I... I'm confused, and that makes me angry.... I took your purse so that I.. I... could understand girls..."
"Oh," she said "I... I see. Did it help?"
"No" my voice began to break "I've been all through that thing and I am just more confused..."
"Yeah... like.. how... why do you have those unicorn stickers? They aren't even cool..."
"What?" She said with an edge of anger
"And that entry in your diary about Billy Watts... why would you want to hold his goofball ha"
"THAT'S IT! You read my DIARY TOO!? I am sooo outa here!"
And like that she was gone. For reasons I couldn't quite put my finger on I felt we would be seeing each other again. Maybe at recess... maybe in the lunch line when she least expects it. Oh, I will get her attention.. maybe with a cricket, or by doing something gross... but she will like me. One way or another.
Dames.. who can figure them.