Kowalski stashed the No. 6 wrench in his tool box, reached out with a grimy hand for the cash payment for the night call, accepting without acknowledging the thanks of the grateful owner of a no longer leaking sink. He drove his pick-up faster than was safe but – the hell with it – he was bushed.
"Night calls. Even doctors don't make em any more", he thought, dropping his tool box on the floor and himself into bed alongside his already sleeping wife. Her movement and mumbled "Is that you, Harry?" and his reply "Who else?" was the only conversation before he put out the light. He could have used a cup of coffee, but raising Mary would be more trouble than the coffee – if he got it. He wasn't in the mood to face a "Get it yourself, tonight, hun, will ya – I'm beat." She beat. From watching TV while he chased leaking faucets all over town.
Kowalski caught the sight of Mary's hair curlers like a bunch of No. 4 pipe before his eyes closed. In the instant separating wakefulness and sleep, he thought "Cripes, I wonder if 'she' will come again?"
'She' was not Mary Kowalski, nor some other woman – in the usual sense. 'She' was the 'dream girl', as Kowalski had taken to calling her, because she had been showing up in his dreams the last couple of weeks.
He knew she was a knock-out, although he couldn't form her image when he tried to on waking.
That night, too, she appeared, and when she did Kowalski realized that he had missed her. And once again after telling him how much he meant to her – the usual build-up which he enjoyed – they had sex. He could never remember on waking exactly what they did, but it was great.
"I need you," she whispered the usual parting words when they had finished. "I want you with me always."
"Who the hell are you?" he asked for the first time.
"You will see soon, my love."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Kowalski didn't like games.
"I will bring you to me," she murmured in a voice which rippled like a reed pipe. "Soon."
Kowalski's wife noticed that her husband awoke lately with a contented look on his face, and a contented look was as rare for Harry as a kind word. She also knew that the last couple of weeks he had avoided sleeping with her, pleading overtiredness. "Who you been thinking about?" she asked, her voice a mixture of teasing, worry, and anger.
"My dream girl," he answered. Best to keep em guessing.
Kowalski stopped taking night calls. He was too anxious to get to sleep. The dream girl was growing on him. He almost had to pull his wife from the TV to get her to go to bed. He couldn't sleep, let alone have dreams, with the Late Movie on. He noticed his wife had entered bed without her curlers and reeking of perfume, plus wearing shortie undies and a frilly top, a change in wardrobe ever since he answered her question by mentioning the dream girl. It's an improvement, but it won't help, Mary, he thought. "The dream girl has you beat every way."
This time when she appeared, something was different. Kowalski was frightened. He didn't like to admit it to himself. And he wasn't sure why. "Hey, what gives?" he asked her.
"I told you I would bring you to me," her voice said soothingly.
"Watcha mean? Where the hell am I?"
"Don't shout, darling. I have summoned you to where I live, to my – you call it – planet."
"Come on – you're kidding," he said, suddenly realizing that she wasn't. "Jesus, what'll Mary say?"
A slight annoyance crept into the dream girl's voice. "You need not worry about her. I have arranged for her to fall in love with the milkman."
"The milkman!" exploded Kowalski. "We don't have a milkman."
"You do now." Her voice was reassuring. "According to your films in our archives that is the easiest way. But why talk of her? You have been brought here to me."
"How'd you pull that off?" he asked. This thing was getting scary.
"We are more advanced than are your people – in some things, but not the important ones."
Kowalski noticed that he held his tool box in one hand. Plumbers must be in short supply in this place, he thought. Still, if all the broads were like I remember her, it might not be a bad switch. And the cost of living in New York was getting way out of line. A six-pack had risen – Wait a minute, pal, make sure what you're getting into first. He gave the place the once-over. He was in a room bare except for a piped structure vaguely resembling a combination sewing dummy and massed trombones.
"Where are you, dream girl, anyhow?" he asked, looking around for her.
"Standing in front of you, dear."
It took him a few moments to realize that the voice came from the pipes in front of him. He felt faint.
"Is that . . . you?" he whispered.
"Yes, darling. Relax. You have always enjoyed me before."
She means in the dream, he thought. He felt like crying. Mary wasn't so much anymore but she had this monkey-bars beat by a mile.
The pipes seemed to read his mind. "You didn't seem to think so in the dream," she said in a hurt tone.
"Yeah, but I never –"
"Oh yes you did, only you couldn't see me. You pictured me as your imagination wanted me to be." Her tone brightened. "Once we start you will be pleased again."
"You mean I …" Kowalksi felt himself grow more flaccid than he had ever been in his life.
She read his thoughts. "No, no. not that way. I'll show you." The pipes moved toward him, clanking along the floor like a supermarket shopping cart. Kowalski was sure he was going to faint. He wanted to faint.
I'll be damned if I'll let that thing near my pants, he panicked, looking around for a place to run to. The room seemed shut up tighter than a boiler with No.2 seams. Her laughter made him stop. The sound was like that of the higher reaches of a church organ, which reminded him of his boyhood days as a choirboy.
"Harry, darling, use your No.4 wrench," she pleaded.
Kowalski looked blank, till one of the pipe arms touched a joint further down, a quite ingenious joint, Kowalski thought – never saw one like that before. He was itching to see how the thing worked. He quickly had the No.4 around it and gave a quarter turn to the right. Oddly, he felt a sudden stab of pain in his groin.
"Gently," she pleaded. He gave a one-eighth turn. She sighed, a reverberation through one of her pipes that sounded like a particularly troublesome sink pipe he had once repaired near Yankee Stadium. But his body was undergoing its own reverberation, like that in the dream.
"What the …" he said. How'd you . . .?"
"As in the dream. I know your body like you know mine. I want to please you, darling Harry, as you please me."
"But how?" he gasped. "You're not touching me." Thank Heavens, he thought, a cold pipe would turn me off, not on.
"Silly, I use waves – you fleshy things react to them. We use them for repairs on our planet to things like your cows."
Kowalski wasn't sure if he should be insulted or not, but he was too happy physically to worry about intellectual things. He relaxed. "Anything you say, baby. That was the best screw I ever had.
"Me, too," she murmured, a piped arm touching gently the No.4 wrench.
The stories, poetry and humor of Larry Lefkowitz have appeared in many publications in the United States, Israel, and Britain. Among the publications: Thema, A Cappella Zoo, Third Wednesday Magazine, Yellow Medicine Review, Silver Boomer Book, The Vocabula Review, Runes, The Literary Review, Midstream, Crimespree; many e-zines; anthologies. Lefkowitz is currently hoping to find a publisher for his novel manuscript "Lieberman" The plot of the novel concerns the assistant to a literary critic who suffers from the dominance of the critic. After the latter's death, the assistant believes he has been freed, finally, from the critic's influence. However, when the critic's widow asks him to complete an unfinished novel written by her late husband, the assistant finds himself still under the influence of the critic, as well as his wife. Humorous and very literary.Chapters from "Lieberman" have been published in a number of publications.