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My Girl Wears Red Lipstick

There has always been something odd about Chuck Larington. For instance, while most folks took their time to bend down to tie their shoelaces, Chuck Larington already had the blueprints for a contraption that could automate the entire process. But of course, he never did get far with the thought. For when one idea was sprung, another took its place immediately after and the previous thought evaporated into a half-remembered notion. Perhaps he was thinking about how he could make crossing streets more efficient. Perhaps he was thinking about how useless street lamps were in comparison to his citywide lighting system. He could’ve just been studying the landscape, but whatever it was, it didn’t change the fact that the taxi traveling from SoHo to Queens at a constant speed of 60mph on a Tuesday afternoon in Chinatown ran over him in cold blood. Well, assumed cold blood anyway, the Chaldean-American driver and the frantic business assistant on his first day of the job denied all accusations.

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He’d always been fond of the various ethnic societies in the city, but never Chinatown.

“Too many Goddamn squinty eyed chinks in one place...” he heard them say.
And they were right. Now, what was a genius like Chuck Larington doing in the outskirts of Chinatown anyway? The southern district housed nothing more than a handful of crumbling apartment buildings that housed cheap Asian prostitutes and dilapidated family-owned restaurants. As a matter of fact, there was a certain glaze that a Chinese restaurant on the corner of 5th and 7th used for their spicy General Tsao’s chicken and as reluctant as he was; he was drawn to Chang’s Dynasty Kitchen every Tuesday afternoon for their “Special Duluxe Combo”. He didn’t even mind that they spelled deluxe wrong. Now, the fact that they employed Japanese immigrants was beyond the issue, he could never distinguish the difference between his arigatos and xie xies anyway. It was on a Tuesday, very much like this one that Mr. Larington walked in Chang’s for the first time and met the girl. The girl.

She sat there next to her shadow in an empty booth with an unlit cigarette hanging loosely out the corner of her mouth and a half-full, half-empty glass of scotch in her hand. He stood there for a moment, puzzled, wondering if Chinese restaurants served alcohol this early in the day. Absent-mindedly toying with the idea of a conveyor belt that served drinks, he casually slid into his usual booth facing the oversized traditional Chinese fan.
“Boy, yous in my seat” she hissed.

“There’s room enough for the two of us.” But it wasn’t his voice. It was something else that had been growing inside of him like an anxiety attack just waiting to happen. She gave him a queer glance of vague interest.

“Whas you’re name boy” she asked

“Robert. Robert Poole” he lied. Sometimes people just lie for no reason other than wanting to lie. This was one of those cases.

“Don’t lie to me Chucky, just don’t do it” she said.
In a moment of hazed disbelief, he shook his head and questioned the fact that this girl, whom he had never before met in his entire life, knew his whole life story.

“Do I know you?” He asked cautiously.
Giggling softly, she snatched up her nearly empty cigarette pack and started to go on her way.

“No, not really” she almost whispered. “My name is Rachel Adams”.
Then she was gone, in through the door, out through the door. He could not help but notice the bewildered glances looking towards him as if he were a madman instead of a genius. After constructing an inverted soy sauce stand in his head, Chuck Larington decided it was time to leave.

He could’ve gone home. He should’ve gone home. The only problem was that there was no home to go to. A string of failed job interviews led to the eviction of patron no.243 on the 4th floor of the American Gardens apartment building. Sure he could work, what man cannot harvest the fruits of his labor? But his very unique mental condition that granted him the divine gift of invention also impaired his ability to communicate. Three months prior to the eviction, Chuck Larington could’ve been described as quiet, mild mannered, and only slightly bizarre. But a few weeks on the streets can do wonders to a man, especially one as strange as Chuck Larington.

Walking through the ruins of Chinatown, Chuck only had two things in mind. One, how many layers of damp cardboard he would need to suspend his back in a comfortable position, and two, the girl. He didn’t even know her name. Just that she had blood red lipstick. And brown hair. And blue eyes. And a nose. But that was typical of most broads living in New York City. There was nothing typical about her lips, colored in the deepest shade of red almost as if they were rose petals. Ignoring the fact that he hated roses, he could not forget these lips that he wanted to taste so badly. He could not forget it the entire week he stayed away from Chang’s with the hopes of meeting her again and tasting her lips and the “Special Duluxe Combo” the following Tuesday after.

Same time, same place, Chuck Larington walked over to his usual booth, the one with the obnoxious fan, and to his dismay, the girl wasn’t there. He slumped into his seat and browsed at the menu all the while think about how much more efficient it would be if they categorized the menu according to prices.

“Whatcha readin’ boy” a voice called from behind him.
Chuck nearly wet his pants. It was her. He turned around and met her blue eyes.

“Hullo there” he squeaked.
She walked over and sat across from him with her unlit cigarette hanging loosely out the corner of her mouth and a half-full, half-empty glass of scotch in her hand.

“Didja miss me much?”

“Only your face” he said. Only, it was the voice again, not him.

“aww ain’t that precious” she said. “you’s a sweetie chucky”.
He gulped, the bulge in his throat finally loosened.

“You look rather nice today.” He said
“Oh, I like to dress up on weekends.”
“But it’s a Tuesday”
“Well ain’t that something.”
She wasn’t making sense. But it was okay, because somehow he felt comfortable. It was as if they had been friends for many years.

After they ordered their food, the feeling of anxiety overwhelmed Chuck Larington and he desperately searched for something more interesting than his designs for a universal ventilation system instead of the two-bit fans that spun in endless counterclockwise circles, doing absolutely nothing to circulate the airflow.

“Ain’t it hot Chucky? I swear if I were manager of this s*** hole, I would immediately install somethin of a central coolin system y’know what I mean?” She interrupted.
Chuck’s thoughts instantly fled and were once again filled with the silent anxiety chewing away at his insides.

“Yeah, that’d be nice” he replied emotionless.
She smiled at him with seductive eyes and bit her lip. The rose petals bloomed to full effect. If Chuck Larington wasn’t so absorbed, perhaps he would’ve noticed the Chinese waitresses whispering worriedly in Cantonese.

As if the knot in his stomach finally came undone, Chuck could bear it no longer.

“I’m sorry, have we met before? I mean, before last Tuesday” he blurted.
The girl smirked.

“Yes. We know each other very well.”
Suddenly her tone and her overall dialect changed.

“Where have I seen you before?” he asked.

“I’m here to help you. I’m here to help your problem” she replied

He wondered what she knew about him. But more importantly, he wondered if she would be with him. He loved her; there was no mistaking that, but why? He looked at the mop and buckets in the corner and sketched out designs for an automated floor cleaner.
Then it came to him, like a light-bulb lit after many years of gathering dust in a broom cupboard.
“It comes in handy sometime, but sometimes I wish it would go away. Gone forever. I wouldn’t mind so much.” He admitted
“Well, maybe I could help you.”
“Hahah, appreciate it, but I don’t think it’s something you can just shake off.”
“Well, you never know” She said with a wink. “I’ll tell you what, I need to go run sum errands, but I’ll betcha a talk milkshake that you gon feel better next time we meet.”

Chuck Larington wondered how on earth this girl could ever hope to possibly rid him of his curse, his disease, his incurable mind. She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek,
“boy, you gon have to be patient and wait up for me” she whispered into his ear.
Her crude speech had returned as did his anxiety. As she stood up to leave, the Chinese/Japanese waiters ignored her completely and brought the check with the very same worried expression they held the entire lunch hour. Then, she was gone again, in through the door, out through the door.

Chuck sat there perplexed. Even this was too surreal for him to understand. Who was this Rachel Adams? What puzzled him even more was the fact that her “Special Duluxe Combo” was left untouched.

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What seemed to be an eternity passed and it was once again a Tuesday afternoon, the week after Chuck Larington’s lunch meeting with Rachel Adams. Or was it a week? Perhaps it was a month, maybe a year. Maybe several years. There were still things he did not and could not understand. For instance, why had they still neglected to take out the trash rotting away in the back alley that grew rank with every passing season? Why did his legs feel heavier and his back stiffer? And more importantly, why had he seen her on every street corner he had past since that meeting, almost as if her ghostly image was beckoning him over with those deep sultry eyes? Walking on that old familiar path to Chang’s he saw the girl waiting for him on the corner of 5th and 7th. A smile stretched across his face.

And with that same hopeful smile on his face, he crossed the old alleyway to taste the lips and hold his beloved in his arms at long last when suddenly the taxi traveling from SoHo to Queens at a constant speed of 60mph on a Tuesday afternoon in Chinatown ran over him in cold blood.

The police report denied the existence of a brown haired girl with blue eyes and blood red lipstick standing on the corner of 5th and 7th. In fact, there is no record whatsoever of a Rachel Adams. There never was. Never has been.





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