“What do you care what other people think?” – Arline Feynman.

Jacqui looked at her reflection in the train window in the approaching night. She was still stunned, and even more excited at whom she saw. She was finally all grown up, for forty plus years, since Jimmy Carter, for Chrissakes. Women have done damn near everything and here she was, proud of a bloody haircut. She liked the sides, high and tight, and the top, with that pompadour, held in place by that pomade. She smelled it faintly. It contrasted with the smell of her leather jacket, the one she longed for since she saw Brando in The Wild One. One day, she would get the bike, but the train would do for now.

Jacqui liked her look in the chambray work shirt. She felt her nipples press against the ribbed knit of the wife-beater A-shirt she wore underneath it. She felt FREE, as only a widowed retired civil servant with three grown children could feel, after decades of station wagons, then minivans, soccer matches, dance recitals, swim meets, graduations and weddings could feel. It was freedom, like it felt when the care-taking for dying parents and then a dying husband was over.

How she came to know the man waiting for her in the bed and breakfast country inn right by the railroad depot was equally enigmatic. The Magic of Coincidence. How powerful she felt when he freely offered his strength to her. But that would be his story.

Now she settled back, reminiscing when her earlier bad-ass self would have a box of Marlboro Reds in the pocket of that shirt and she would be peeling the label off an over-priced greenie of Heineken in between taking swigs from that same green bottle. Those days of trying on characters, personae,to see how they would fit and feel, as if they were another of those god-awful pantsuits, had long gone.. Those days, those memories peeled away, like that bloody label. And that is where that man waiting for her entered her story.

Memory is one thing. Right Now is another. She was living a dream that was all too real, too vital, too precious to ignore. Her sorority sisters at Tight Ass U wouldn’t get it, so she photoshopped some pictures of herself in sensible clothes to keep them from wanting to know more. Those were all on the Facebook Page, her entry in The Pulitzer Prize For Fiction And yes, she was named after that Jacqueline. Did she have to tell you she was a Scorpio baby of 1960?

But this Right Now is what gripped her, like the shrink to fit 501’s gripped her ass and pressed the dildo she was packing against her thigh. She looked at the shine on her boots, the gleam of her belt buckle. She felt the muscles in her core made prominent from the swimming and the weights. She felt the power in her thighs from the cycling. Her body was the garment of her spirit. Her clothes, her butch wannabe affectation , were like cream cheese frosting on a carrot cake. Nice, but totally unnecessary.

“Ashland! Ashland is the next station stop.”

was the call from the conductor. She pulled her back pack from the overhead rack, donned her Mets ball cap, and climbed off the train.

To be continued.