She suggested a small cafe nearby. The food was good and the atmoshere
was quiet. “You might find this place a little boring,” she offered, but it’s a nice
place to wind down after a hard day. He looked around, nodding at the small
tables and cosy lighting. “If it gets too boring I can always spice things up a
little.” “Spice things up?” she asked. “Sure,’ he replied.”There’s nothing like
body slamming a waiter through a table to liven things up.” Her eyes widened in
surprise. “I’m not serious,” he said in a whisper, as he leaned forward to pick up
his glass of water. She sat back and eyed him. “Maybe we should work out a
signal...something to let me know when you’re fooling around.” “Well there’s
only one problem with that,” he said. “I’m always fooling around. “
“Oh wonderful,” she said with a laugh. “Well I shouldn’t say always. I do
sleep now and then.” “Can I ask you something?” she ventured. “Sure.” “How
do you know where the wrestling Al Snow stops ands the real Al Snow begins?”
“Are you trying to analyze me?’ he asked. “Because if you are, we could be in for
a very long night.” “No” she said with a laugh. “I’m just curious. I’m not totally
dense when it comes to wrestling. I mean I know that some things aren’t real.’
“Are you kidding?” he said. “Like what?” “Now you’re being a wise guy,” she
said. “No....really. Tell me what isn’t real.”
She couldn’t resist the twinkle in his eye. “Ok...let me see. The
Undertaker. He isn’t really a dead man.” “Of course he is,” said Al. “Why would
he lie?’ She shook her head and smiled. “OK, his brother Kane...he isn’t really
burned.” “He sure is. Under that mask?.....he’s as ugly as sin.” “I can’t talk to
you,” she said, waving at him in mock disgust. “You want to know something
that isn’t real? he said. “ The Rock. Everybody thinks he’s so good looking? It’s
all make-up. Backstage he makes Perry Saturn look like Tom Cruise.’ She threw
her head back and laughed out loud.
“Wow,” Charlie was right. You really are fun.” She took a deep breath
and looked into his eyes. “You two talked about me?” “Yeah, I thought you were
kind of....” “Go ahead,’ she said. “Sour,” he said. “Really?” “Yeah, but I was
wrong,” he added quickly. “Nice recovery,” she said. “But you never did
answer my question. What is the real Al Snow really like?” He stared down at
the table for a second. “That’s kind of hard to answer. Believe it or not a lot of
what you see out there in the ring? That really is me. I’ll admit to having a
....warped....sense of humor.’ “That’s puting it mildly,’ she said. “But I’m totally
serious about what I do.’
“I know wrestling isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. But there a re a lot of
people who really enjoy it. I feel like I owe those people something. They pay
hard earned money to see us. I like to give them their money’s worth.” “And
kids like Charlie?” she asked. “Ahh, they’re the bonus. I love seeing a kid;s eyes
light up when they meet me. Especially kids like Charlie. I always think kids
should be carefree. It breaks my heart to see a kid suffer.” She found herself
totally mesmerized by his words. He looked up to see her staring at him. “And in
case you’re wondering? That time I was totally serious.”
He kept her entertained though the rest of the meal with tales of his
wrestling exploits. She was sure some of it had to be made up. But his stories
were so engrossing, she found she really didn’t care.
When they walked back outside she looked up into the sky. “What a beautiful
night,’ she said. “Would you like to take a walk? We could sit in the park for a
bit.” She turned to look at him. “Are you being serious again?” He smiled
brightly. “You’re learning,” he teased, taking her hand. She was taken by
surprise by his gesture. Normally she would have pulled away. But there was
something about him that made her feel at ease.
They sat on the same bench she had used during her lunch break. “Oh
look,” she said, pointing through the trees. They could just see the moon coming
up. “Is that a full moon?” he asked. “I think so. That means all the crazy people
will be out,’ she joked. “Ah yes. My kind of people,” he said with a laugh.
They talked some more about his job, then he turned to face her. “Enough
about me. Tell me about you. Why psychology? And why the choice to work
with kids?” “Oh you don’t want to hear all that,” she said. “I asked, didn’t I?”
She had never really told anyone why she had decided to go into
psychology..and she had certainly never confided in anyone about her decision
to work mainly with children. But for some strange reason she felt comfortable in
telling him. “It really isn’t all that interesting.’ “I’ll be the judge of that,” he said,
leaning back, ready to listen.
She took a deep breath and began. “When I was eight, my parents were
killed in a car crash.” He sat forward slightly. “Naturally I was devastated. I
missed them so much. I mean I had my grandparents...thank God...or I would
have been totally alone. But it took me years to realize that the worst part of the
whole ordeal was not having anyone to share my feelings with. All my friends
were just kids. And my grandparents did their best...but they were hurting too.”
She didn’t realize it, but tears were filling her eyes. “It took me years before I
ever felt....safe....again. I guess it was that more than anything that made me
realize that there are a lot of families out there who are looking for someone to
give them just a little support.”
He reached out his hand and brushed away a stray tear. “You’re quite a
woman,” he said. She quickly wiped at her eyes, embarassed by her emotional
display. “I’m sorry,” she said. “it’s been quite a while since I’ve thought about all
of that.” “It’s ok,’ he said. “I’m glad you told me.” She stood up suddenly. “It’s
getting kind of late. I have to get up early tomorrow.” “I’ll walk you to your car,’
he said, taking her hand again.
When they were standing next to her car she fumbled in her purse for her
keys. “Listen,’ he began. “I’m gonna be gone for a few days..... just a couple of TV
tapings. But when I get back, I’d like to see you again.” “I don’t know...” she
began. “Are you forgetting what a nice guy I am? he teased. “Ok,” she said.
“Why don’t you call me at work?” “I will,” he promised. She finally got her door
unlocked and turned to say good night to him. He leaned forward and kissed her
lightly. “Drive carefully,” he said. She slid behind the wheel, still speechless. As
he walked away she placed her fingertips lightly against her lips. “I shouldn’t
have let him do that,” she thought.
She had trouble falling asleep. She could still feel the warmth of his hand
and the sweet taste of his kiss. Angrily, she turned to her side and punched at the
pillow. “I swore I would never let this happen again,” she said. But no matter
how hard she tried, she couldn’t erase his image from her mind. In the morning
she awoke with a pounding headache. Dragging herself to the bathroom, she
quickly swallowed two aspirin. “It’s gonna be one of those days...I can feel it,”
By the time she got to her office, her headache was just a dull thud behind
her eyes. She opened her office door and came to an abrupt stop. There on her
desk was a ridiculously large flower arrangement. One of the nurses walked by
and peeked over her shoulder. “Who died?” Elise turned and gave her a dark
She tossed her purse on her chair and took the card that was almost
swallowed by the huge yellow blooms. She read the words to herself. “I’m not
taking any chances. There’s no way you could forget someone who sends flowers
this ugly. I’ll see you on Thursday. Al” She laughed softly, in spite of herself.
She lowered the card and shook her head. “What the heck am I going to do with
She finally decided to hunt up as many vases as she could and distribute
the flowers to the patients. It made her smile to see how much enjoyment they
brought. She headed back to her office and settled in behind her desk. She was
just about to go over her schedule for the day, when she noticed Al’s card on the
desk. Picking it up, she smiled at the memory of the night before. Then just as
suddenly, she opened her top drawer and dropped it in. “No,” she told herself.
“Don’t let him do this to you.”
Her headache was trying to make a reappearance when her phone rang.
“Elise Dillon,” she said, rubbing wearily at her eyes. “Hello Elise Dillon. It’s your
friendly neighborhood florist.” She felt her heart speed up at the sound of his
voice and she wanted to kick herself. “You really shouldn’t have done that you
know,” she told him. “I do a lot of things I shouldn’t,” he replied. She could just
see his eyes dancing. “What did you do with them?” he asked. “I split them up,”
she said. “Everybody on the floor got some.” “Why do you think I sent so
many?” he said with a laugh. “I knew you would give them away.”
Suddenly she felt awful. “I really liked them,” she explained quickly.
“There were just so many of them.” “Hey, it’s all right. I’m glad you could
spread them around. I really just sent them so you wouldn’t forget me. “Not
much chance of that,” she said. “You must be busy....and I have to go work out.
Have a good day.....and for crying out loud, smile!” She sat up quickly, touching
her face. “How did you know I wasn’t?” she asked. “Were you?” he asked.
“Well...no.” He laughed wickedly. “I have powers you don’t even know about.
Makes you want to treat me with more respect, doesn’t it?”
Her head was now ready to explode. “Al I really have to go.” “I know,”
he said quietly. “You take care of yourself. I’ll talk to you soon.” She hung up
quietly, staring at the phone. “Don’t do this Al,” she thought. “You’re much too
nice a man. I really don’t want to hurt you.” She was reaching into her purse for
more aspirin, when her intercom buzzed. Her first reaction was to throw it out
the window. She pressed the button angrily. “Yes?” “Uh...Mr. Harris just called.
He wants to know if you ever plan on showing up for the staff meeting?” She
glanced quickly at her calendar. “Oh shoot me now,” she thought.” “Tell him I’ll
be right there.”
She hung up, took two more aspirin, and frantically searched for her
agenda. Ripping open her top drawer, she found it....under Al’s card. She picked
the card up once more, running her finger along the hastily written words. She
grabbed her agenda and slipped the card inside. “Somehow, I’ll have to find a
way to let you down easy,” she thought.
She was headed for the elevators after a day of pure torment. Nothing
seemed to go right. She was looking forward to going home, taking a long, hot
shower and crawling under the covers. She was just about to press the button,
when someone called her name. She turned to see Charlie standing in the
doorway to his room. “I wanted to say good-bye. I’m going home tomorrow.”
“You are?” “Yep. The doctor thinks I’m strong enough. They’re still talking
about a heart transplant. But they think it’s ok, if I wait at home.”
She walked up to him and gave him a hug. “I’m gonna miss you. But I’m
glad you’re getting out of here.” “Come here and look at this,” he said, taking
her hand and pulling her into his room. He took something from his bedside
table and showed it to her. It was a framed photograph of Al and Charlie that
someone had taken during Al’s visit. She held it up to read what Al had written.
“You’re a stronger person than I could ever hope to be. Get well....and stay well.
Al.” She smiled at the inscription. “There he goes, getting serious again.”
“What?” asked Charlie. “Oh nothing.” She put the picture back on the table and
turned to leave.
“He likes you Elise.” She turned back in surprise. “What makes you say
that?” “Oh I don’t know....the way I saw him looking at you...the flowers he
sent.” “How do you know about those?” she asked. “I heard the nurses talking.”
“So much for my private life,” she thought. “I know I should mind my own
business, but I think you two make a nice couple.” “Well, I don’t know about
that,” she said with a soft laugh. “Yeah, I know, I’m just a kid. But I know how
funny life can be. One day you think you have everything and the next day...it’s
all gone.” “Tell me about it,’ she said in a whisper.
“I like Al....and I like you. I just thought....” She rested her hand on his
arm. “You’re amazingly perceptive for a fifteen year old,’ she said. “I understand
what you’re saying about life. But I think I’d better make my own decision where
Al is concerned.” She kissed his cheek and turned to leave. “You keep in
touch..ok?” “I will,” he said, as he watched her enter the elevator. The doors slid
shut and he shook his head. “You’re gonna blow it,” he thought.
She walked into her house and dropped her keys on the table. Heading
for the bathroom, she opened the aspirin bottle once more. “I should have stock
in this stuff,” she thought. Normally she enjoyed the peace and quiet of home.
But as she got ready to take her shower she quickly switched on the radio. She
needed something to keep her from thinking. The shower went a long way
towards relaxing her. She made herself some soup and settled down in front of
the TV. “As usual....nothing is on,” she thought as she flipped through the
channels. Suddenly she stopped. “I don’t believe this,” she said out loud. There
was Al, holding an incredibly ugly mannequin head and having a completely
incoherent conversation with it. Without realizing it, she began to laugh.When
his “conversation” ended, he turned to the camera and gave the most wickd grin
she had ever seen. She felt as though her heart had stopped. It wasn’t possible,
but she felt as though he was staring right at her.
Thankfully, they went to a commercial. She brought her bowl into the
kitchen and leaned against the counter. “Why didn’t I just change the channel?”
she thought. “Because you didn’t want to...that’s why,” she said. “Oh God, now
I’m talking to myself.” She walked back into the living room, fully intending to
turn off the television. As luck would have it, Al’s match was up next. “Turn it
off,” she told herself. But instead, she watched the whole thing, silently cheering
him on. Later, if you had asked her who he had wrestled, she couldn’t have told
you. Her eyes followed only him.
Al pinned his opponent and raised “Head” high in the air. “Way to go.”
she said, smiling broadly. She stood up and switched off the TV. Walking to her
room, she stopped and flipped open the agenda that was lying on her table. Al’s
card was still tucked safely inside. She touched it lightly, before slowly closing
the agenda’s cover. She took one quick glance at the television before going into
her room. “Good night Al,” she said quietly.
Thet rest of the week was relatively quiet. She didn’t hear from Al and she
found herself feeling a little disappointed. She knew she was never going to let
anything come of their relationship, but she still had to admit that she truly liked
the man. Her Thursday morning schedule was loaded with meetings, so she
never even realized what day it was until she came back into her office after
There was Al, sitting behind her desk with his feet up. The second he saw
her he jumped up, spreading his arms wide. “Tell me you’re glad to see me,” he
said, flashing his dimples at her. “Al...I...” “Ahh, you don’t have to say anything.
I can see by the look on your face that you’re thrilled.”
He came around the desk and wrapped her in a huge hug. Elise still
hadn’t managed to utter a single word. He leaned down and kissed her cheek.
“So really...how are you?” “I’m fine,” she replied, slowly removing herself from
his embrace. “When did you get here?” “About ten minutes ago. They told me
you were at lunch, so I figured I would just wait.” She busied herself with the
papers on her desk, afraid that if she stopped and looked into those eyes, she
might never want to look away.
“Did you watch me on RAW?” he asked. “Actually I did,’ she said.
“And....?” “Al, why do you talk to that head?” He burst into laughter. “What?”
she asked. “I’m just surprised at how concerned you sound. It’s a gimmick you
know.” “I know that,’ she said. “But some people really think you’re crazy.’
“Then it’s working,” he said with the same grin she had seen on Monday night.
She smiled and shook her head. All the resolve she had to keep this man
at arms length was quickly fading. “Do you have any plans for tonight?” he
asked. “No...why?” “Well, I thought I might take you to dinner.” “Isn’t
Smackdown on tonight?” she asked. “Yeah, it is.” “Do you have a match?”
“Actually I do....against Rikishi.” “Ouch,” she said with a laugh. “Were you
planning on watching?” he asked. “Well I thought you might want to,” she said.
Al just shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t really care for wrestling all that much.”
The look of confusion on her face was priceless. “We have got to work on that
signal,” he said.
“Oh...teasing again, huh? Well then maybe I won’t invite you for dinner
after all.” “Oh you don’t have to cook for me,’ he said. “Who said anything about
cooking?” she said. “Hello, Dominos!” Al laughed out loud. “You have a very
sneaky sense of humor.” “So you’ll come for pizza?” she said. “Just try and stop
She walked with him to the elevator. Suddenly he stopped. “Hey, where’s
Charlie?” “He went home,” she said with a smile. “Is he better?” “Well he still
needs a transplant. But the doctors think he’ll do just as well waiting at home.”
“That’s great,’ he said. “Oh by the way..the picture you gave him..it probably
had a lot to do with making him feel so good.” “I’m glad,” he said, stepping into
the open elevator. “I’ll call you later for directions.” “Ok,” she said. Before the
doors could close he leaned forward and kissed her. “See you later,’ he said with
a wink. She smiled sadly as she turned to walk back to her office. “Yeah, see you
later...and probably for the last time.”