Yeah, I said in panic. I had no idea what I agreed to, but it made her flash her white smile.
I’ll bring them tomorrow, she said.
Okay, I’ll be here, I said.
I could have been agreeing to take drugs.
Or machine guns or her dead grandma from her, for I knew.
But, the next day, she came up to me and asked me when I got off. It was time for me to leave now, I told her. I clocked out and walked with her to the parking lot; it felt good walking with her and seeing the look on the faces of the guys up front. Most of the time in a store, the meat, dairy, and produce departments are in the back; I worked in the meat department. For some reason the front end and the service departments never seem to get along. In the excitement I actually put my hand on the small of her back as she passed through the doors, I place it as close to her butt as I dared and to my surprise, she didn’t say anything. Outside the sun was blinding compared to the dimmed lights in the meat market and it was scorching too—it had to be a hundred degrees or more outside. In her car was an attractive girl that I’d never seen before, a friend from school, most likely.
Okay, here they are, she said, handing me two puppies that the girl handed her.
What—ah—thanks I appreciate it, I said.
I took the puppy home and on the way there I stopped and got a thirty pack of beer. I lived way out on the outside edge of Maplesap, where there are more cattle than people and the river cuts back down south. Out there you can drive for miles and not see a single person; they are lost in the fields, creeks, and trees. I got to my trailer on Rural Route three ninety seven. Went inside and iced my beer down and changed into shorts, a tee-shirt, and some sandals. I came out of the darkened room and the pups were playing. One was white and brown and the other was solid black, I had no idea what breed they were. I let them outside and grabbed the cooler and went out after them. I was amazed at how nice the weather was, it was hot, sure, but the sky was an impenetrable blue that not even the heat could shake. Under the oak I set the cooler down and put my lawn chair next to it and started drinking and for a couple hours, I didn’t have any problems, the only problem I could have possibly ran into was a shortage of beer. Other times I would think about being alone and how bad I hated it and how I wanted someone like Wesley to just fall into my lap—literally—but that day it didn’t bother me. It didn’t bother me that I failed out of my first semester of college. It didn’t bother me that nearly everything had fallen apart for me in that last two years, for those hours, I was shaded from all my problems under that tree. The shadows were getting longer and I was deep in beer, cans littered all around me, and I was really feeling it too, so I looked around for the pups and started getting ready to head inside.
by Gloria Wimberley