This entry is part 1 of 17 in the series Doing Laundry

        “Can I return this?” Eli asked slightly disheveled despite his khaki slacks, maroon v-neck sweater, and dark suede leather jacket. His hair was parted neatly to the side, and his eyes shone a sincere brown.
        “Sure. Do you have a receipt?” The store clerk said passively. Eli thought him to be about 17, and, judging by the two-day stubble on the kid’s face, moderately disinterested in the world around him.
        “Yeah, it’s just in my jacket here…” Eli unbuttoned his pockets, and searched hurriedly. After not finding anything useful, he stared blankly at the clerk.
        “I’m sorry. I must’ve left it in my car.”
        “Hmm. Well, do you have the card you purchased it with?”
        “Yeah! Hey, thanks so much.” Eli slid a credit card from his wallet, and passed it to the clerk who swiped the card before handing it back.  
        “Alright. You’re all set!”
        “Thanks so much,” Eli smiled warmly before leaving the customer service line. He headed back to the parking lot. His phone vibrated right as he was reaching for the door handle.
        “Hey Sadie…..uh huh….yeah……..I’m free……dinner? Sure. Uh…you care where?…How about that Mediterranean place?….Yeah…we did eat there last week….Pasta and Pinot? Fancy….no, no…not too fancy….just fancy…..okay….see you in…uh…30.”
Eli hung up, started the engine, and headed for the Italian restaurant just outside the inner loop of downtown Houston.
        Sadie Sommers had high cheekbones, a soft complexion, and warm brown eyes. Her slender figure leaned up against a light post just outside the entrance. She held her clutch between crossed arms, and gave Eli a mixed look of relief and annoyance as he approached.
        “Hey you look…,” he started.
        “You said 30 minutes,” Sadie said impatiently.
        “There was an accident on the beltway,” he tried to recover.
        “You could have called.”
        “No. Should have called,” he offered her his arm. “Shall we?”
        Sadie exhaled, nodded her head from side to side before forgiving him.
        “Okay,” she said softly. Quick fuse, smoldering temper, but easygoing enough. Eli loved her. He ordered a linguine pasta with Italian sausage in a garlic Asiago sauce and a glass of Shiraz. She had the signature bow-tie pasta with shallots, bell peppers, and squash topped with blackened chicken and fire-roasted tomatoes. The waiter had paired it with the house Zinfandel.
        Desert?” Eli asked motioning to the cardboard cutout of a triple layered chocolate mousse cake on the table.
[Sorry guys, this is what happens when you’re hungry and you try to write a restaurant scene.]
        “I’m good with my wine. You can, if you have the room for it. I might sneak a bite.”
Eli called the waiter and ordered the cake before turning to Sadie.
        “Hey, there’s something I need to tell you.”
        “There wasn’t an accident on the Beltway, was there?”
        Eli smiled before laughing a bit.
        “No, well, okay, there wasn’t, but that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about.”
        Sadie giggled. “Okay,” she said.
        “Sadie, I’m kind of a wanted man.”
        “Hmm, I can’t say I blame them,” she said with a mischievous smile. “all those other girls you must be talking about.”
        “Ha. Ha. You’re a riot. No. I mean it. I’m wanted. Like six states wanted, and right now, I want you to know. I love you Sadie, and this is…”
        “Stop it! You stop it right now! We are perfect. This. This is perfect. And you didn’t tell me!? Gosh, I knew you were hiding something, Eli. You’re always hiding something! But I didn’t think this. So what are they after you for?”
        “Look, everyone commits crimes, every hour, of every day.”
        “That justifies nothing! Nothing!” Sadie crossed her arms, and angled her body away from him.
        “I’m just aware of what laws I’m breaking. If there’s a red light, and no one’s coming, and I go, and no one sees it…”
        “You still broke the law!”
        “Exactly. But no one is going to do anything about it because at that point the law is just an imaginary line telling me what I should have done. I hate “should” Sadie.”
        “Oh I know Eli. I know. Things like you ‘should’ tell your girlfriend of six months whether or not there’s an accident so she doesn’t get crazy ideas in her head. Or…or, things like you ‘should’ probably also try to make a clean living for yourself so when you, I don’t know, get married or something you can make it work!”
        “Married!? Woah…we’ll talk about that later. Look…I just break laws thoughtfully. I don’t want to hurt anyone so I don’t believe in armed robbery. I have no desire to make anyone afraid so I never wear a mask. I have no use for getting caught, so I operate in broad daylight.”
        “Wait, what? First you tell me you’re a criminal, and now you’re a dumb criminal? Broad daylight?”
        “Well sure, no one looks for a criminal in broad daylight.”
        “You’re a stupid thief! I don’t know if I can be with a stupid thief. I want to be with a stupid thief, but maybe that makes me stupid too. Tell me, what are your thoughts on this?”
        “I like to think of myself as a low-impact criminal.”
        “Oh seriously!? Low impact? Compared to who?”
        “Everyone else, just think about it.”
        “Eli, I love you, but this…I have to go. I’ll call you later.”

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