All God’s Animals

“Hey, man, it’s easy to get some ass in this city.”

Lester Dunbar hated this kind of talk. He punched the radio button with undue force. It’s this city, he thought, it’s like Sodom and Gomorrah and the people are like animals. He was sure someday God would put his holy fire to this hub of sin and burn it to the ground. Silence filled his car and he realized he did not really have that far to go. He was stuck in traffic on the 405. His next appointment was in Sherman Oaks, which was the next exit. He decided to forgo the radio gibberish and relax for a few minutes of silence while his car crawled towards the off ramp. He had never gotten used to this city. The job was good and that’s what kept him here. If it weren’t for the job, he would’ve turned around and gone back to Texas just like that. It wasn’t a desk job, mind you. He couldn’t stand that. It was a job that paid a decent wage, gave him independence, and kept him on the move. A job like that was a tall order in any small town USA, especially in Aberdeen, Texas. So, even though he didn’t like what he saw in this city, he braced himself, called upon the Lord for strength of spirit and for purity of thought, and went on.

He worked as an insurance adjuster. He went to homes which had recently met with some sort of calamity, and estimated how much it would take to return them to their original condition – in other words, undo God’s wrath which had really been intended to fall upon their occupants. If someone asked him what he did for living he’d say: “I put dollar signs on the acts of God.” He knew that the fires, floods, sinkholes and other disasters inflicted upon his clients did not occur without due cause. They were God’s punishments meted out for his clients’ sins and he, Lester, translated them into the language of money, which was the only language people understood these days.

Normally he did not take late appointments, but in the summer he sometimes made exceptions because the days were longer and the evenings a little cooler. It was exactly 7:00PM when he parked his car on Stansbury Street in front of a large luscious lawn. The street was wide and lined on both sides with enormous, old jacarandas, which joined limbs above the asphalt creating a cool green canopy. “Lotsa dough in these houses,” Lester said out loud. He followed the stone path to the front porch of a house adorned with four stone pillars.

“Lester Dunbar with Allstate,” he answered to the inquiry from within the house. The door opened and Lester looked down at his paper pad to verify the name of the person who filed the claim.

“Mrs. Steedham?” he asked.

“Ms. Steedham” she corrected him promptly.

In this affluent, upscale neighborhood, in a stately home such as this one, he had expected a middle-aged matron rather than a young upstart like Ms. Steedham. She can’t be more that thirty, Lester thought, looking at the rhythmically twitching little ass he was following up the staircase. Ms. Steedham was barefoot and wearing a pair of very tight, elastic black pants cut low at the hip, and a cropped blue top which revealed a perfectly tanned midriff.

“It’s the corner bedroom,” she was saying, “It came down in the night. Right through the roof. No wind, no nothing.”

“The report says a broken tree limb caused the damage,” Lester said turning over the page.

“That’s true,” she responded turning around, “but this limb itself was the size of the small tree. You’ve seen the trees in this neighborhood.” She was standing two steps above him and looking upwards he could see the curve of Ms Steedham’s breasts, whose tips disappeared under the blue fabric. She’s one of those beautiful mean animals, thought Lester. Beware of the temptress! Yet, he followed her into the bedroom where the corner window and portion of the roof and wall were crushed by a green, leafy monster. The room was a mess. Smaller branches and twigs were scattered on the bed and on the floor. Pieces of glass, wood, plaster, and green and yellow leaves were everywhere.

“And to think that Amber could have been sleeping here when it happened makes my skin crawl. Thank God, we fell asleep in my bed after the movie.” Lester squatted in front of the window to examine whether the shattered frame was made of painted metal or plastic. He noticed that the window was recently replaced – a new plastic frame was slipped into the old metal. He was about to question Ms. Steedham how long ago this had happened, when he felt her hand delicately caressing his shoulder then sliding down feeling his bicep.

“You work out with weights?” she asked pressing on the muscle.

Lester swallowed hard. Her fingers were very cold; even through his shirt her touch gave him shivers. He shrunk and froze squatting on the balls of his feet. He called upon God to aid him. Good Lord, he thought, help your servant, who teeters at the edge of the pit of sin!

The Good Lord must have been preoccupied at the moment with something more important than Lester’s predicament, because He allowed Ms. Steedham to put her hands on Lester’s shoulders and turn him around like a top. There more trials awaited him. In this new position he was facing Ms. Steedham’s belly button. He had never before had an opportunity to examine someone’s belly button up close, and this particular one was, indeed, very interesting. It was pierced with a small gold hoop to which a tiny diamond was affixed. Lester’s throat was dry. He was afraid to breathe lest she might guess from the stirring of his breath the tumultuous state of his nerves. He also felt Ms. Steedham’s eyes burning a hole in the top of his head. As a matter of fact, his left hand had instinctively gone up to check if his hair was already on fire. There, quite unexpectedly, it encountered Ms. Stedham’s right breast bobbing freely in the air just an inch above his mane.

Like Lott who disobeyed the Lord, Lott who sinned and was punished, Lester was smitten by the God Almighty’s hand. He was struck by the electric current flowing from Ms. Stedham’s right boob, through his entire body all the way to the ground. Ms. Steedham’s right boob, which came to rest upon the tops of his fingers, and felt quite comfortable there, using his hand as support. And she was not about to upset this fragile equilibrium. Lester’s body from the tips of his fingers down to his very loins was in the process of hardening into marble when the phone rang somewhere in the house. A moment later a beautiful black girl appeared in the door. She had on a man’s shirt and a pair of cut off shorts, which revealed more than they covered. She handed a tiny gold colored cell phone to Ms. Steedham. “It’s Aaron,” she said.

Ms. Steedham assumed a somewhat more dignified position removing her breast from Lester’s petrified fingers. “Are we still on for tonight, dear?” she said to the phone, again showing Lester her attractive behind. The black girl poised in the doorway, looked at him squatting with his left hand raised above his head. Neither his person nor his peculiar position was interesting enough to hold her attention. She shrugged her shoulders and left the room.

From the moment Ms. Steedham had removed the source of electricity from his fingers Lester began to defrost. Keeping his eyes down, he quietly stole out of the room, then down the stairs, towards the door, away from these ungodly animals and from this cursed house.

‘Wait, wait…Mister…What’s-your-name…the estimate! I need the estimate!” Ms. Steedham’s desperate voice died behind the front door. Rushing he tried to fish his car keys out of his pants but found that some parts of him were still petrified and were hampering his search. He was half way down the stone path when he looked up to ascertain where he was going. In the blue light of dusk an enormous stag crowned with a magnificent set of antlers was standing in the middle of the street next to his car. It was a regal specimen with big, wet, dark brown eyes. It turned its head slowly and looked at Lester. Such heart wrenching sadness! Such melancholy! Lester had never imagined that animals were capable of so much emotion. But then, this stag was one of God’s animals, too. Suddenly the stag lost interest in Lester. It turned away and trotted up the street towards the hills. Lester stood motionless, listening to its hoofs clicking upon the pavement.

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