From the Sky - Part III

I was down on my knees checking the air filter when a shadow fell across the mower. I turned, and there was the old bastard's son, Clarence or Clement or whatever his name is. The pervert, that's what Joe and I call him. He's a slimy-looking man, thirty or forty something, and a testament to his father's lecherous genetics. He owns Walnutwood's only adult bookstore, a flat and weathered one-story stucco eyesore on the edge of town. There's a big neon sign in the tinted storefront window that flashes XXX Movies/DVDs Galore. There's another sign beneath the first that says Parking in Rear (so that my town's porn addicts can park out of sight of passersby or spouses).

The pervert was in the paper last year when his business got raided during a prostitution sweep. Apparently the girls in his viewing booths offered 'extra services' to some undercover detectives. He told a reporter he was shocked to learn hookers had infested his porn palace. There wasn't enough evidence to charge him with anything, but, really, how could he not have known? If I had a donut shop and my baker was selling his own donuts out my back door, he'd be gone lickety-split. But the law is the law, and he was shrewd enough to keep his own hands clean. After the arrests there were protests in front of his store and irate citizens on local talk radio screaming that he must be shut down. It nearly put him out of business. He survived by getting rid of the viewing booths and installing computers so Walnutwood's lechers can drool over Internet porn.

So anyway, there was the pervert, standing behind me leering. My stomach turned. I've only spoken to him a few times, back before his little scandal, and the conversations weren't pleasant: "…Hey sweet-cheeks, how about telling your boys to stop riding their bikes across my Pop's yard? It gets my Pop all hot under the collar. Speaking of hot… you're steaming, sweet-cheeks. Did you really drop two kids? I bet you work out …you're firm in all the right places. Let me know if you ever need work. I got a booth with your name on it…"

He always approached me when Joe was off somewhere. He would stand about six inches too close to me, a toothpick sticking out of the corner of his sneering little mouth, sour breath washing over me, and his eyes always drifting down to where they had no business drifting. I would back away and promise to speak to my boys about their bikes. I would also tell him bluntly where he could stick his job offer. He'd run his eyes up and down my body one last time and walk away, and I would feel the urge to run in the house and shower. I never told Joe about these little discussions because my dear husband would twist the pervert's head clean off, lickety-split. I don't want my boys growing up with their father in the penitentiary.

I've been spared having to deal with Franco's son since I went deaf, but there he was hovering over me. He asked if I needed more tools. I can read lips to a degree. I'm not expert just yet, but I'm getting better by the day. But I had no desire to read the pervert's lips. I pointed to my ears and shook my head. His eyebrows tented up. "Tools," he said very slowly and probably very loudly. I pointed to my ears again, shook my head and shrugged my shoulders.

And that's when he made an especially vile reference to a specific tool and what I might do with it while I was down there on my knees. And that's when he learned how dangerous a lip-reading Italian girl can be. A moment later he was down on the ground in a fetal position, cupping his groin and writhing, done in by an uppercut to the toolbox. You just don't talk that way to a Tarentella woman. My aunts taught me that women in our family are treated with respect. And if we're not? Well, we give as good as we get. Usually a lot better.

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