See Part 1 for Disclaimers.



Thanks for coming along for the ride. This is just a short interlude to a larger section. Please bear with me as it takes far less time to read a section than it does to envision it, write it and get it edited. As always, comments, suggestions, praise, criticisms or other forms of feedback are accepted and desired. I'm begging here. If you've got a thought about the story, I would really like to hear it. Just drop me a word or two at: Dreams2Fly Thanks and enjoy.


Part Eight

Lee frowned into the mirror as the towel dropped from his head to his shoulders. "Gods," he muttered, peering at black hair long enough to stand up in wild tufts. "I look like Shaggy. The kids're gonna think I'm a cartoon character! "

He leaned closer to the mirror, staring intently through the glass at his hair. With one hand, he reached up to prod at the damp clumps, knocking them this way and that as he picked through the strands. With each silver strand that he revealed, his frown slipped farther into a scowl.

"An old Shaggy."

Well, you're not exactly a kid anymore, that little voice in his mind that too often sounded like his mother reminded him.

Lee sighed and stood up. There was no use, he decided, in dwelling on it. He'd just have to visit his hair dresser first thing in the morning. With that decision made, he took a moment to give the rest of the body in the mirror the once over.

The hair on his chest and stomach, while prolific, was mostly a thin reddish-blond that failed to hide the torso length tattoo or the crisscross of scars it was designed to cover. The bright red flames of the tattoo leapt up from beneath the towel around his hips engulfing his navel and, reaching upwards still, licked the tail feathers of the straining phoenix whose wings were spread wide across his pecs and would move any time Lee flexed, as if the bird were truly flapping away from its birth pyre. Every color of the rainbow could be seen in the recreation of the ancient rebirth myth and Lee found the scowl clearing some as he considered the many layers of meaning he'd integrated into the design. It really was him: changed but the same, a continuity of mind amidst a world of physical alterations.

The tattoo worked especially well to accentuate the muscles he had acquired over the years - his one true vanity. Lee took great pride in the shape of each distinct muscle group and spent a few moments just posing the various groupings in the mirror. He might be short and he might be skinny, but he was strong and healthy, and that was far more important to him.

He shifted his gaze upwards and met the bright, almost clear blue eyes that stared back at him with the beginnings of a smirk. Around the red, neatly trimmed goatee was a lean face with just the beginnings of the lines that would someday deeply crease his face. Beneath the beard and a layer of stubble, a shallow, wide Adam’s apple occasionally bobbed into view. Really, he thought to himself, it's just the silver that gives my age away.

Come on, come on, that other part of his mind chided. You've got things to do today. Let's get a move on!

"First things first," he muttered as he reached for the can of shaving cream.

Fifteen minutes later, Lee was standing barefoot in front of a closet full of shirts, a pair of pressed dress pants hanging open over a t-shirt tucked into boxers. The shirts all faced left and were arranged by type: formal dress shirts, business dress shirts, casual shirts and polo shirts. Lee stared hard at the closet, his eyes bouncing from one shirt to another, but always returning to the dress shirts.

"What are you doing?" he suddenly asked the room.

In exasperation at his own preoccupation today, he blindly reached into the closet and pulled down the first shirt his fingers touched. He glanced down as he slid his arms into the sleeves and nodded in satisfaction at the selection Fate had given him. The bright red casual shirt went well with the dark charcoal of his trousers.

Ten minutes more, and Lee was striding down the back walk to his truck. Black socks and dress shoes, and a thin belt, more for looks than out of necessity, completed his ensemble. He looked good and he knew it; sharp, but not too dressy.

As he hoisted himself up into his truck, though, he was careful to avoid thinking about the reasons behind his choice of clothes for the day. Some things were just better left unmentioned.





~Continued in Part Nine~

©March 2005

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