When it comes to writing my worst habit is not finishing what I start. Currently I've got a fantasy novel is various states of construction/deconstruction and a lengthy word text file devoted to ramblings about summer's spent in Ripley, Mississippi that I hope to turn into short stories some day. Maybe I'll break the habit with both of those projects and perhaps they'll join my other orphaned stories where I'll stumble upon them randomly like a chance encounter between two people that used to be friends but can now only fill the embarrassed silences with small talk and coughs.
Such as the case with the following short story excerpt. It's thinly disguised autobiographical in nature and the real folks in it will recognize themselves if they happen to stumble into this stewpot and read it. It takes one small moment in time and pops a hole right into the middle of it for a digression into juvenile memory that seems mean to me now yet still rings true. It's just one page that must have been part of many others, but just this part remains.
It could only have happened in some sweet deathless summer ages lost. Damien Snide, Bruno Gaff, and I got an invite to spend a weekend with Chris London at his aunt's home in Chattanooga with an ever stocked icebox (the aunt froze everything - even potato chips) and a pool table under shady mountain skies. It would be a Signal Mountain holiday!
Bruno drove us down in his Chevy Chevette full of bickering arms and legs cramped and weary of the harsh July sunshine. We fought over the radio dial at a hundred miles per hour down Mont Eagle falling rocks and rock and roll excited about the prospects of of miniature golf parks, Rock City, and record shops with maybe a beer or two tossed back if we got the chance. We were simpler then. Damien and Bruno were fresh off a year at college and spent most of the trip telling the University of Arizona bound Chris what it was like. I rode shotgun as the suspected and self purported mystic malcontent poet and college dropout more intent on finding the castle in the clouds.
The last time I had been under the knife sight of Lookout Mountain was as the guest of an embittered country singer's wife who wore cheap JC Penney gypsy gowns while her fright wig hair curled ominously atop her head with grime scrubbed coloring kit wonder. If you were to peel her skin like an onion dollar bills would fall out. She exploded in a rage from behind her orange shades when she found out she would have to buy my lunch. How was I supposed to have money? It was her husband that employed my father for slave wages to manage his farm. He couldn't even afford a decent coat last winter. I was brought along to keep her bratty grandson company. I felt like she should have been buying my lunch and paying me extra for having to babysit her mopheaded goof of a grandson. He was just 10 years old and I was 15 so I couldn't stand him even if I did feel sorry for him because the witch didn't act like she cared for him too much because he was a step grandson and not a blood relative. The less of that woman's blood in the world the better was what I thought.
My mind was wandering through that past teenage wasteland right before we got to Chattanooga when 4 blonde girls passed us in a Volkswagen Rabbit in a blur of greyblack and beauty. Bruno gave chase. He need no urging. This was an important matter after all. We quickle overtook them. We passed them and yelled with hungry bobbing heads. The girls waved with long slender arms toward us. They were giggling open mouthed and friendly. The race was on 20 miles outside of town when they accelerated by us again.
We played car tag through the traffic. It was if the other cars didn't exist anymore as we weaved one after the other after the other. As we flirted with each other I realized it was much each car's lust as it was the occupants'. We sliced through the air and it seemed to rejoice with our play. The hillsides were giving up the day's heat and dusk smoked in the leaves promising a splendid evening (a mid-summer's?). We arrived at our exit torn between the women in the Rabbit or our plans. Would it be original sin or our original destination? We blew the girls carbon monoxide kisses and waved goodbye. Bruno was amenable to keeping the game going, but Chris and Damien were insistent on it as futile. I could fall in or out of love on a whim so they ignored my entreaties to not give up the chase.
"What would we do if they had stopped," asked Damien which I thought was a perfectly silly question since there wasn't anything other than an empty gas gauge suggesting they would pull over for us. What had mattered was the chase. It was the speed and the pursuit because we all knew that if we had stopped it would never equal the worlds we were all imagining. I'd sit and fume as I'd done countless times before until the Rolling Stones "Sympathy For The Devil" came over the radio and Chris, Damien, and I drove Bruno half mad singing the "woohoo" background vocals.