NOV / DEC 2016: BY RACHEL KOVACINY

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What is it about the wrong kind of guy? The rogue, the rascal, the scoundrel. The one you know you shouldn’t trust. And you truly don’t trust him. You know better. Obviously. Everyone knows better than to trust a guy who gets paid to lie, cheat, and hide. He makes his living being untrustworthy. So you don’t trust him. At all.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t like him a little. I mean, how can you not like this guy? Sure, he’s the wrong kind of guy. You know that, but you can still like him. He’s funny, in his own dry, sarcastic way. And he’s kind of nice sometimes, too. Sure, it’s only sometimes, but you like him for those moments. He might make money cheating the establishment, but, come to think of it, you’ve never been a big fan of the establishment either. Who doesn’t like a guy who’s willing to stick it to The Man now and then? If he makes a buck or two at the same time, well, everybody’s gotta eat.

So you don’t trust him, but you like him. And you’re cool with that level of appreciation. Because you’ve also noticed he’s nice scenery. I mean, for the wrong kind of guy. He’s got this swagger, and he leeeeeeeeeeeeans against door frames and walls, and he slouches, and come to think of it, he’s got a nice voice too. You’re pretty sure you saw him smile once or twice, I mean genuinely smile because he was happy, not because he was being cynical. It was a good smile.

And you know, sometimes he’s not such a scoundrel, either. He does good things too, after all. Helps people who needs helping, shows up when someone needs rescuing, even puts his own life on the line for a pal now and then. A lot to admire, really.

In fact, you’re starting to think maybe he’s not the wrong kind of guy after all. Sure, you thought he was pretty bad when you met him, but he’s changed. You can trust him now. You don’t feel silly for liking him. He’s actually a fairly nice man, and you’re not just saying that so he’ll help you out with some problem or other. No doubt about it, he’s changed.

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Or maybe you have.

Maybe you’ve learned to see past a person’s outsides. Maybe you’ve discovered that a guy who wants the world to believe he’s the wrong kind of guy is only trying to convince them to see him the way he sees himself. Maybe you’ve realized you’re not all that different, always trying to live up or down to what other people think of you. You might even envy him a little, his willingness to do stuff you can’t or won’t. The fact that he’s probably earned that swagger.

And then you start to wonder if that means you’re a rogue too. I mean, let’s face it — you’ve got it bad for a guy who’s no good. Not only that, but you admire him now, too. You identify with him, in a way. You feel like you understand him. Your perspectives and ideas must be shifting… or is it him that’s changing? Do people change? you wonder. Or is the change in how we view them?

Either way, you tell the world he’s not such a bad guy after all. In fact, he just might be the right guy. The right guy for the job, the right guy for the right time, the right guy for you. Especially for you. And just like he spent all that time and energy convincing people he’s not a nice man, now you’re going to spend yours convincing them he is.

I know. Because that’s what happened when I was fifteen and first met Han Solo. By the time I’d finished watching the original trilogy, my whole world had flipped like the Millennium Falcon doing a barrel roll, and it’s never been quite the same smooth, level, easy-to-navigate place since. But you know what? He was right: I like him because he’s a scoundrel. And while I would never advocate getting friendly with the wrong kind of guy in real life, fictionally speaking, I’ve learned a lot from them. Like that people who change and grow are a whole lot more interesting than the ones who never reach, never try to be more than they used to be. That’s been Han’s biggest lesson for me, I guess: that a lot of life doesn’t come down to whether you do or do not — what matters is that you try.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rachel Kovaciny’s story “The Man on the Buckskin Horse” appears in the Five Magic Spindles anthology now available in paperback and Kindle editions. Learn more about her at her author website, rachelkovaciny.com