The actual dressing and preening took place in Dewey’s house, witnessed by Doc and Steve. Dewey told them that morning over coffee and horoscopes that the stars were right. Today would be the day. This very day, before lunch had settled upon the land, verily, he would approach Emily Stickles and introduce himself.
Doc and Steve circled downwind there in the living room, sniffing, but failing to catch a hint of Dewey’s profession as the king of used hay, the sultan of assimilated sustenance, the pharaoh of fertilizer. Two showers had done their best. Our boy was ready.
“Now Dewey,” Steve said, “with your truck…”
“Washed it twice.”
Heads nodded in approval. Then Doc and Steve watched as Dewey tied the new tie on. The blue one.
“You have a tie clip or tie tack or something?” Doc asked. Dewey shook his head. Doc took his off and handed it to him. “Use this.”
“But Doc, it’s from a university, and I’m in the fertilizer business…”
“And your point is?”
“Oh … okay.”
Steve took the little bottle of Old Spice and pulled the little plug on it. “Hands up, Dewey.”
Dewey raised his arms and Steve got each armpit with the bottle.
“Cowboy way,” he explained.
Dewey was ready. He picked up the bouquet of flowers and paused at the door. “Hope I don’t blow this.”
“Dewey, just remember two things: tell her who you are and what you do, and be yourself.”
He nodded solemnly and walked out to the pickup with the fancy magnetic sign on the door and drove away.
He was sitting there, 20 minutes later, watching the front door of the county building. Waiting for Emily. Emily of his dreams, Emily of the cheekbones, Emily who kept an eye on the goings-on in the county.
And there she was, dressed in a business outfit, and she was walking toward him. Dewey knew. Now or never. He grabbed the flowers and stepped out. She smiled back at him as he approached. Name and occupation, Dewey. Name and occupation.
“Miss Stickles,” he said, thrusting the flowers forward. “My name is Dewey Decker and I’m in cow manure.”
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