"Maam, excuse me..."


"Maam, I know this is going to sound peculiar, but I think we spoke by
phone this morning. I think you called me by mistake and then I Star 69'd
your call. You have such a distinct, unique voice and accent," The King
said to her in a moment that likely would determine whether she thought
he was a psychopath or whether she also was a hopeless romantic.

"Why, I believe you are right," Mary said, but looking as though she still
was unsure whether she should continue to talk to him or run and be

"Well, imagine that coincidence!" The King said laughing. "What are
those chances?"

"Pretty good to excellent if you're a psychopathic stalker who did an
internet address search of my mom's phone number from your caller ID,"
Buster interjected with a look that let The King know that the teen had
accurately sized the old man up.

"Buster!" his mother said. "Mind your manners!"

"I'm sorry," Mary said. "He is just being overly protective."

"That's alright. I understand. This is New York after all, though I've lived
here all my life and think ours is a safe neighborhood," The King looking
for a Queen said.

"You live here, too?" Mary asked.

"Right down there," he said, pointing to his building. See that balcony
across the street with the striped awning? I've been there for almost
forty years. That's me. I'm Jeff," he said.

"Nice to meet you, neighbor. I'm Susan," the one he thought was Mary

"Oh, nice to meet you, Susan...but I thought your son called you
something else this morning on the phone," The King said.

"Oh, he thought Mary, my wife, called you by mistake. He has two
moms," Susan said.

"Ah, you're part of a same sex couple?" The King asked as his heart
sunk and he tried hard to hide his sheer disappointment that he knew
had to be all over his face.

"Well, I used to be. Mary and I no longer are together." Susan said.

"I'm sorry," he said even though it were a lie.

"It was nice talking to you, but I have to go," Susan told him. "It was nice
to actually meet a neighbor. That's never happened here." And with that,
she was gone.

The King didn't know what to think. He never met a lesbian before,
especially one he lusted for as he did Susan. He killed another ten
minutes waiting for the Number 9 dinner to be ready and wishing that he
had at least one more cigarette left. When he went inside to get his
dinner, he started to pay for it.

"That will be $96.35," the lady at the counter told him. He never bothered
to check but learned the Number 9 dinner was a sampler platter for six

"Great, I'll be eating Chinese food all week," he said to the lady at the
counter who smiled at him and said, "Chinese food is good for you."

The King could barely carry the two large take out bags down the block
to his place. When he left the restaurant, he turned towards Susan's
building and noticed that pink sweater and that dark hair and the rest of
her standing on her balcony. She waved to him. He had no free arm to
wave so he yelled "goodnight" to her - or tried to only to be drown out by
passing trucks. So he put down his heavy take out bags and turned again
to wave to her.

What the heck am I doing? Getting smitten over a lesbian? he asked
himself as he waved an actual wave to her and she waved back a second
time to him. He turned around for another gaze backwards half way to his
front door, but by then she was no longer on her balcony. He didn't put
down his bags a second time to wave at Buster, who wasn't quite waving
but had what The King thought was a middle finger up on one hand
throwing him the bird and a pair of binoculars in the other hand.

"You had thirty pounds of Chinese food, enough for seven people. You
should've asked her and her growing son over for dinner," his golfing
friend said to him the next day. Maybe she is bisexual and not a lesbian,
his friend proposed.

"Oh, never thought of that possibility," The King said.

"So what are you going to do?" his friend wondered.

"Probably nothing," The King lied and said. Actually, he had Scene Two
already written in his mind.

He could stop by for Chinese take out food daily until their paths crossed
again or he could actually try something hokey and stupid. He opted for
the latter. He wrote down Susan's phone number or the one listed in
Mary McDonald's name and dialed it.

"Hello," said Buster answering the phone.

"Oh, I'm sorry, I have the wrong number," The King said.

"Is this Jeffrey our stalker neighbor stalking again?" Buster asked.

"Is this Buster? Oh, I'm so sorry. Yes, this is Jeff, but I'm not a stalker. I
Star 69'd again. I thought my mother called me," The King said.

"Your mother is actually still alive?" Buster asked.

"Well, yes, I'm only 58," The King explained.

"No, I
meant that it's amazing that you haven't killed her yet, Psycho!"
Buster said. "I bet you don't even have a mother and am making all this

"Buster, really, I'm sorry for bothering you. I meant no harm. Please
forgive my absent mindedness for using Star 69 rather than dialing my
mom's number."

"You mean you haven't received a call since my mom called you by
mistake late Monday night?" Buster asked and laughed. "Man, that's

Buster's vicious comments hurt no matter how badly The King tried to
overlook the cocky kid from hell. The King and cocky kids from hell did
not get along, as history can attest. The King said goodbye and hung up
before the teen could insult him again.

Why, why, why in God's name did I call there? Why did I do that? I
should've opted for buying Chinese take out until our paths crossed again,

he said to himself and his fourteen-year-old dog Phipps, who came over
to drool and slobber on the King.

"Phipps, would you like to take a walk?" he asked the poor old pooch
with two bad hips and arthritis. As The King tried to convince himself and
Phipps that Phipps actually would be able to walk the block without
collapsing or that he could carry the 75 pound dog at least half way if that
collapse happened, The King's phone rang. Someone was calling him
from Mary McDonald's phone.

"If it's Buster, I'm hanging up and calling the priest for an exorcism," he
told Phipps. But it was not Buster. His mom, the Southern Belle Susan,
on his line calling him.

"Jeff, I am
so embarrassed over Buster's comments to you. Please know
that he really is a nice young man under all the sarcasm. He probably
would be a lot nicer to you had he not known that I was intrigued by you
the first time I heard your voice on your machine," Susan said. The
Southern Belle threw The King for a loop or two. He was quite
speechless with a silly smile on his face.

She continued to say that she made the mistake of telling Buster what a
nice voice that man Jeffrey has when she heard the answering machine