Letting Life Lead
Spring had arrived frigid and soggy. The descending path from the fair grounds to the porta-potties had turned into a mudslick floating on thick ice. Perched at a strategic vantage point, Rae stretched her sore back and rubbed the growing thigh bruise beneath her jeans. She’d gone back to the concert to fetch spiked cider and hot fried dough and returned to watch a far more entertaining show. Her sister, Sherry, and friends would call when they sobered up and were looking for their car keys.
She didn’t have to wait long. Drunken bodies swayed into view and each one in turn did a slip-slide-tumble down the slope. Arms flailed, mud clung, and curses flew. Rae recovered her breath during lulls of activity. A man with a lip piercing and too many colors in his hair stared at her smile and she saluted him. His expression changed from one of wondering what she’d been smoking to one of shock as his foot planted and took off without him. His horizontal body hovered a moment before slamming hard and twisting from back to front as he tried to prevent the inevitable.
Rae snorted, almost choking on a bit of dough. The man righted himself, limped to do his business, and reappeared a few minutes later. He sat beside Rae and picked mud from his ear.
“Hi,” he said.
“You were,” she quipped.
“The street I grew up on had this massive hill. My friends and I would park our chairs at the bottom and watch crappy little cars try to drive up after a snow storm. When they got stuck and couldn’t turn around, we’d help push them back down — for a fee.” He smirked and wiped his face on his sleeve. “Better than shoveling driveways. Except for Mr. Kinney’s place. He was a baker. Fastest shoveling we ever did.”
Rae handed him one of the beer cups balanced on a rotted log. “No money, but at least those overpriced tickets will be worth it.” She pointed. “It’s best when a group comes. Everyone thinks they can make it. Except this one Harley woman. She just plunked on her ass and scootched down.”
“Javier,” he said and put his chin on his hand. “I think I’m in love.”
“Not going to ask about my boyfriend first, Javier?”
He shrugged. “If he’s not here with you enjoying this bounty of fun, then you’ll probably let him go. He wouldn’t understand.”
“Full of yourself are you?”
“Full of shit and too much Goldschläger.”
“The hell? Don’t puke on me!”
“Why not? It’d be a win-win for both of us.”
Rae watched another unfortunate soul, took a long swig, and pushed his Javier’s face to aim the other direction. “Rae. If you can remember that I’ll consider a sober conversation with you.”
Javier vogued while singing the words to Madonna’s Rae of Light. “Word association. It works.”
Rae shushed. “High heel posse coming.”
Sheets of rain had passed through in a hot summer squall, leaving deep puddles. The sky was blue and the humidity rose to snorkel levels. The beat-down work truck’s air conditioner only spewed hot air.
“Enough Death Proof. Pull your feet in, Sherry.”
Her sister often enjoyed laying on the seat in the rear and sticking her legs out the window. Sherry complained and didn’t move until Rae began raising the windows. Sweat immediately soaked Rae’s already damp shirt.
“Bitch, what the hell? It’s hot as f–” Sherry sat up and was dropped back when Rae’s foot hit the accelerator.
Rae yanked the wheel, swerved, and hit a deep puddle that sent a Hoover dam-sized wall of water over a group of young men tromping up the sidewalk. They were dressed nice, probably headed out somewhere that required more than flannel and saggy pants. She knew some of them, most were pea-brained jerks.
A blue-haired man in a utility kilt, who’d been walking in the opposite direction, had exchanged some words, looked over his shoulder, then abruptly leapt over the wall and taken shelter behind a tree.
“You’re so mean.” Sherry leaned over to open the windows again and changed the radio station.
“They deserved it.” Rae widened her eyes and glanced out her rear view at a figure running towards them. “I think I know that guy. Javier. I told you about him.
Rae slowed down.
He caught up and hung onto the passenger window. “Marry me?”
“Get in weirdo.”
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