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1. The face of a lover
2. Shake other people up
3. Strings of the human heart


I ran into Clayton the other day at the carwash down on 34th St. He was there getting the dust removed from his latest treasure, a shiny new pearl-colored Lexus, while I chugged onto the lot in the 1998 Ford that was my share of the “fair distribution of community property” after I divorced the bastard.

I was hoping he’d pretend not to notice me so I could pretend not to notice him, but he always was contrary, even if it meant being nice to me at least momentarily.

“Jessica!” he yelled, as heads turned to stare at us. “How they hangin’?” Real class there.

There were a few good things I’d seen in Clayton Rumpaugh back in the day or I wouldn’t have married him in the first place, but I couldn’t really remember them now. I have to say that at first glance, Clayton was pretty attractive. He had a smile that looked sincere and a way of tilting his head just a teeny bit so that a person would think he was really concentrating on her. He had the face of a lover, but as I found out all too soon, the soul of a louse. We stayed together three years and a little bit and that was about three years longer than was wise.

Since the divorce, I hadn’t really seen Clayton much, which was fine with me. I heard he was seeing some broad from a rich family in Walker County. I figured Walker County was a good place for him if it kept him out of my hair.

When I saw him with his fancy car I have to admit I took a quick peek around to see if Miss Rich Bitch was with him. You can’t always keep curiosity under control. As far as I could tell, though, he was on his own, strutting up and down and trying to impress people, same as he did when we were together. He never tried to show me off, though. I was too ordinary for him, with not nearly enough glitz to shake other people up and earn their envy.

I checked the position of my little Ford in the detail line—right behind his car—and figured I had at least fifteen more minutes to wait. When Clayton walked over and stood next to me to watch windows getting scrubbed and to hear the hiss of an air hose blowing off the last bits of moisture, I resigned myself to a few minutes of his not-very-welcome company.

“How’s Miss What’s-her-name?” I asked, just for the hell of it. Not that I cared.