Sometimes when I pass a girl on the street, I remember what Mitchell Peters told me the first time he saw Serena. What he said told me so much more about him than about Serena, which is why I remember it, I guess. Mitch had a way of talking which made things memorable, but also left you wondering if he was serious about what he was saying. Anyway, about Serena what he said was this: “Christ, Henry, I was standing there on the beach talking to to the regulars — this was about 4:30 in the afternoon — and something made me turn around. I don’t what, ’cause I just froze. I mean something electric ran through me… there was this blonde in a blue dress which the wind was trying to pull off her, and she was with this guy who was walking about 10 feet ahead of her, telling her about his day at the office and how he was going to get to go to Las Vegas. He had no idea what he was missing, by not turning around and looking at what the wind and the blue dress were doing to her. I mean, I don’t care how many times he saw her naked, seeing this girl in that dress with those eyes and lips pouting against the wind — there’s no way a guy could ever get tired of looking at that. I mean, she was like Diana or Nike — not the princess or the shoe — like a fucking goddess like Diana who hunts alone, some kind of female force fully fleshed out right there, right in front of you, and this husband of hers is totally completely oblivious! Ignoring her in that blue dress in that summer breeze would be like going to the Sistine Chapel and not looking at the ceiling — it’s just not done! Naturally I was standing there staring, suddenly aware that my skin somehow felt more alive, when she stopped and looked at me… oh shit, Henry, I got another call I got to take. I’ll call you back in a bit.” Then he ended this monologue by hanging up. About two days later Mitch did call me back, and that’s when things started to get interesting. Meanwhile, I remember staring at the phone in my hand and thinking, poor old cuntstruck Henry… Diana the huntress and Nike the victory goddess — at our beach? Of all the people I spent time with in that period of my life, only Mitch would say things like that, and you could never quite tell when he was being semi-serious or wholly ironic. The possibility that he actually meant everything he said never crossed my mind, not until much later. But as I say, it was about two days later that I could tell something interesting was happening to Harry.
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