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Odd how realization dawns. Jefferson had known the kid since birth, but it was not until he sat between Rex and a pretty but plump blonde girl who identified herself as Jenn that Jeff saw the amazing power Rex had over women.
“Not going to school right now, taking a vacation. Looking for a job. Was working as a driver at the cemetery until I had a car accident crossing one of the roads. Lost my license, so now I don’t drive.”
It was a typically inane soliloquy, the kind of self-indulgent history you expect from a vapid 23-year-old male. All Jenn asked was, “How are you?” His reply was anything but succinct.
Yet Jenn sat in rapt attention listening to these mundane meanderings. Eavesdropping only enhanced Jefferson’s sense of boredom. He could not put up with it for long. He drained his beer, stood to say goodbye to Lucas and Marie, mutual friends who had introduced Jenn, and said, “Which explains why I’m driving us home. C’mon, Rex. Gotta go.”
The young man at last stopped talking, grabbed his coat off the rack and began pulling it over his shoulders with a flourish that reminded Jefferson of a Cavalier Poet setting off to war bidding his sweetheart adieu. Jenn said, “So nice to have met you,” and at that instant Jeff knew, knew from the depths of his soul, here was a world class lady killer.
At first Jefferson thought Jenn meant him, so he lifted his hand only to find her reaching right past to take Rex’s as it shot out his worn jacket sleeve. “I do hope we meet again,” she said with a unique resonance in her voice that fell somewhere between a beckon and a tremble.
It was obvious to Jeff she was head over heels in lust. It was also clear to him that Rex had absolutely no idea. It was as if Rex inhabited a parallel universe separated from their own by a thin, impermeable barrier through which the subtle signs were blocked. Rex was blank to her imploring gaze, her suggestive position on the bar stool, the way she held her shoulders, how her outstretched arm and fingers were indicator signals leading to a flashing yield sign. It was clear the lad was blind to all this as he took her palm in his and bobbed it up and down two, three times before withdrawing it saying, “Me too.”
Jefferson could not decide if he was more amazed that he saw this ability in Rex or that his cousin’s son had no idea he could direct, decree or demand all women, any woman, do his bidding at any time under almost any circumstances. Like Jenn, they would become starry eyed in his presence, enthralled by the otherwise unassuming physique of a pale skinned manchild with a stubble of a beard on his chin not worth buying razors to remove.
What convinced Jeff of this was Jenn. She held Rex’s fingertips in her own and squeezed with the lingering clasp of her thumb above. This spoke a language Jefferson had all but forgotten. It was a touch that fulfilled her unspoken words, a touch that said she was Rex’s to take if he wanted, any time he wanted, any place he wanted, all he had to do was ask and she would lie down for him, kneel in front of him, lift her skirt and slide her panties aside to allow him to enter her whether in the alley out back, in a men’s room stall or standing on the other side of his mother’s bedroom wall. It did not matter where, when or how — so long as he took her. She wanted that desperately.
Her eyes did not see Jefferson because he was invisible to her. They looked beyond him the way you look past an old dog lying half asleep on a hearth rug and snap your fingers saying to the frisky puppy leaping around in front of the fire, “C’mere boy. Here you go. Come here.”
Where Jefferson was electrified by these coded signals, Rex was just the opposite. He was completely and utterly apathetic to the many signs including the subtle odor her body began giving off which went straight to Jefferson’s brain causing him to be suddenly flooded with memories, deluged by the way things were once, but were no more, at least not for him.
Jeff assessed Rex’s inability to recognize the effect he had on the girl and decided this failure was due to the boy’s incredible self-absorption, his peanut sized humility which was made smaller, was dwarfed by an elephantine ego. In short, Rex was a typical post teenage male who did not have benefit of the insight true manhood eventually brings.
Jeff saw this dispassionately and was dumbfounded for he knew the innate ability for what it was. He had once possessed this incredible gift and used it with abandon until it dissipated over time with maturity. It was the province of a special youth, perhaps it ran in the family, but Jefferson knew it faded as does the flower. When he saw it in Rex he knew the boy had maybe a decade before the talent was reduced to commonality, which is what happened to Jefferson as he hit his late 30’s. Now he was older and fixed in his profession, had taken detours along the way and not thought about the lost gift in years because it would only have made him angry.