Letting Life Lead
“She get ditched you think?”
“Boozed up likely.”
“Nah, she was walking alright till that pot hole.”
“Could be some lout slipped her a mickey. ”
The voices made Mag’s head pound and a warm hand slapped her cheek gently until she opened her eyes.
“There she is.” A woman clad in a tight, black mini dress and pin-straight, short black hair smiled. “Up you go. Walk it off.”
Mags arms were lifted over the shoulders of the woman and her companion, a skinny man clad in black who stank of cigarettes and grass — not the kind growing on the Albert’s lawn. She was coaxed to walk and couldn’t unstick her tongue until the blood found her feet. Her white boots clopped on the pavement.
“Where’m I.” Mags thought she must have swallowed a bottle of sand.
“Long way from anywhere,” the man said.
The muted sky brightened in the early morning. “Westmont?”
“You’re on the wrong side of Waynsboro, honey. Lucky we found you. Joey and me. Couple of punks were slinking around here looking for easy pickin’s.”
Mags groaned and stopped short of wiping her palms on the white mini skirt. She stood on her own power and hobbled to a brick building wall to lean on. “Nadine’ll be worried. I need to get back to the Albert’s. My purse!”
“If you had one its long gone.” The man whistled then lit two cigarettes and offered one to Mags. When she shook her head the woman nabbed it and sucked a long drag. The smoke curled around them.
The fog was still thick in her head and she had to swallow back the bite of bile. She held her stomach and took long sobering breaths. What had happened at that party? Her feet ached and her big toes felt blistered and raw. Had she walked?
“There’s a late bus that runs three blocks from here.” Joey said shifting his weight from one foot to the other in time as if to a tune only he could hear.
“That cockroach driver is handsy.” The woman lifted her skirt, though it didn’t have far to go, to reveal a garter holding a small knife and change purse. She glanced at Mags and winked. “A gal can’t be too careful.”
Mags blinked back frustrated tears as the woman pressed a couple of dimes in her hands.
“There’s a pay phone just there. Call your friend.”
“Or the fuzz,” Joey offered.
“Can’t trust them either. Not around here anyway. They’re not Westmont.” The woman stroked Mag’s shoulder. “You alright?”
Mags nodded, though she clenched her fists to keep a bubbling scream at bay. They were being nice and it wouldn’t be polite to… “I’m fine.”
“You take care now. We’re going to the Rise ‘n Shine. It’s a diner just around there a way. You can ask for Aggie, that’s me.”
Mags nodded and watched them walk away arm-in-arm. The only dot of color were the red soles of Aggie’s black go-go boots.
“Be cool.” Mags told herself while smoothing the wrinkles from her top and tucking hair behind her ears. Do you think Lao Russel would let a little blackout put her off her game? No. She’d be cool, take charge, and do something outlandish just to show the world that she was on top of it.
The phone receiver shook in her hand, but she choked it until her knuckles where white and it stilled. What could she tell Nadine? What if…
No. She couldn’t think about that. Move forward one step in front of the other. Stolen kisses. Hoity-toity parties. Red soles. Those were the waves to ride on.
Mags ignored the throb in her feet and the mud in her head. “Hello, operator?”
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