Are you ready for it? We are in a long story cycle again. Links to the rest of the story follow in order of story progression.
Outside the Dairy Queen
How do you end the relationship? That was the question on Eddie’s mind while he sat outside the Dairy Queen, throwing stones at pigeons. It wasn’t like they were suited for each other, at least that’s what his mom told him. Mom, so judgmental, she had the kind of girl in mind for Eddie and only that girl would do. She called him ungrateful when he wouldn’t even talk to Emily, her friend Katrina’s daughter.
Emily had potential she said. She could be the perfect bride, she would make great grandchildren. “Don’t you want your mother to be happy?” she said. Guilt, he knew it well. Mom had a knack for laying it on thick.
“I want to find her myself, mom!” He shouted the words then continued, “Stay out of my love life. You can be such a shrew. I don’t want to date a girl like my mother!” He couldn’t take it back. The words by themselves weren’t really that bad. But the look on her face. Her baby had yelled at her and didn’t love her. Those weren’t his words but he saw it in her eyes.
And so now he sat, outside the Dairy Queen. Eddie didn’t want to go home, not yet. He wasn’t ready to face her. She wouldn’t yell, not his mother. She wouldn’t scream. She would do something far worse. She would ignore him.
“Watch where your whipping those stones!” Barry said. A stone had skipped up and pinged the side of his car. A custom restored Chevy Impala. Bench seats, you could seat 10 (5 in front and 5 in back), cherry red paint outside. He built it for racing but you wouldn’t know it to look at it. He hid the 454 engine under a standard hood.
Eddie stood up and made for the door inside the DQ. Barry jumped out of his car through the window along with his buddy Mike. He never went anywhere without Mike. Neanderthals the both of them, jocks that cared more about cars and sports than anything that mattered.
Mike loomed over Eddie from the side as Barry poked him in the chest with his index finger. “You better hope that you didn’t scratch my car, ya pissant,” Barry said. “Check it out Mike. Whatcha see?”
Mike brushed the side of the car, just under the driver side window. “Oh oh oh, look at that right there.” He traced his finger over the metal. “That’s a pretty big scratch. You want me to do something about him?” He shoved Eddie into the wall as he rejoined the two.
“Look, I’m sorry man,” Eddie said. “I didn’t see you driving through when I tossed the rock.”
“You didn’t see us,” Barry said. He pushed Eddie into the wall. “How the fuck didn’t you see us? Look at it over there. My car is pretty big isn’t it? Bigger than a damn rock isn’t it? What you fuckin blind?”
Eddie clenched his jaw, but held his hands in check. He couldn’t beat Barry, not like this. Mike would jump in as soon as he brought his hands up. “Like I said, I’m sorry.”
Barry drew his right arm back, he pressed Eddie to the wall with his left hand. “So easy, It would be so damn easy just to beat the hell out of you.”
The blast of a car horn startled them both. Barry released the pressure on Eddie’s chest and he slipped aside, away from Mike. “Don’t you boys have anything better to do than block traffic at the sweet shop?” Mrs. Green called out from her station wagon.
“Sorry Mam,” Barry said. He glared at Eddie then walked over to his car. Mike smacked Eddie on the back of the head then jumped into the passenger side. “Another time, Speddie.” The Impala’s tires squealed and smoked as it ripped out of the parking lot.
She pulled into a space then touched up her makeup before she got out of the car. Mrs. Green had been friends with Eddie’s mom for years. Eddie’s mom nudged him toward Mrs. Green’s daughter, Mira on numerous occasions. He couldn’t do it. Not that she was unattractive, he had dreams about her sometimes. The dreams added to his guilt. He had known her too long, Mira was closer to a sister than a conquest. Besides, her pigtails and thick rimmed glasses weren’t really Eddie’s style.
Mrs. Green stepped out of her car. The wind caught her long blond hair, pushed it into her face and behind her. The move, smooth and effortless, she brushed her hair back, a windswept look that suited the soft angles of her face. “Were those boys bothering you?” she asked.
Her voice, soft, lyrical, sent a quiver through him he would never admit. A touch of red filled his cheeks as he turned his gaze away. “I’m ok,” he said, “they were just being stupid.”
She stood near him, deep into his personal bubble. “Boys can be jerks.” Her voice whispered across his spine, an electrical charge that amped up the warmth in his cheeks.
“I … gotta go,” Eddie said. He looked into her eyes, burned by the fire in them, then looked away again. “I’ll tell my mom you said hi.”
As he turned to step away from her she caught his arm at the wrist. With her touch a cold chill rushed through his body. The touch light, but firm, lingered for a second longer than he felt comfortable with. “Mira has asked about you,” she said. “Can I tell her you said hello?”
“Sure.” He pulled away and slipped past her. He didn’t look back as he rounded the side of the building. When he was sure he was out of sight he stopped and took several deep breaths. Eddie fought for air like a swimmer breaking the surface from a deep dive.
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