Mrs. Secrest

Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead. But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change.

—CHARLES DICKENS


They met behind a rodeo grounds when she walked by his car, a rusted-out Firebird, and whistled. She’d seen him wrestle steers. “That’s something,” she said. “You’re quick for being so big.” He was from Miles City; she’d heard it over the loudspeaker. The day was hot, the sun like a bright yellow plate in the sky. He had the seat back, both doors wide open, his boots up on the dash, a clean felt Stetson, bone colored, covering his face. He’d done well that day.

“Some men are quick,” he said without lifting his hat. His breathing was low like he might sleep.

“Take your hat off,” Tori said, and he did, turning it in his hand, placing it upside down on the passenger seat, looking up through the open door to where she stood in the sun. Refined, he thought, and out of place.

“City?” he said.

“Yes,” she said.

She loved his look, a trace of sweat from the eyes back, skin drawn at the temples, face smooth in the hollow of his cheeks, hard on the line of his jaw. Eyes like a child’s, blue and pale and serene.

“Country?” Tori asked.

“Not really,” he said. “Have a seat.”

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