Thursday, August 10, 2006

Bookfield, Betrayal - Part 2

I kept a good pace almost all of the way into town. After about twenty minutes of purposeful riding I hit a wall again on the last uphill before town. The hill loomed up in front of me and I felt defeated by it before I even started. I felt like I had nothing left. I coasted slowly to its base and got off the bike. Without changing my hold on the handle bars or stopping my slow progress, I began to walk up the hill.

The headlight of a motorcycle came up behind me. The motorcyclist came up right along side of me and my bike. He idled at the same pace I was walking. I thought, “What now?”

“You know, you’re supposed to ride that thing.” the motorcyclist said.

I answered without even looking at him, since his comment pissed me off. “If you had ridden as far as I had today without a motor, you might be walking too.”

He laughed. “I suppose you’re right. My name is Evan, nice to meet you.” He held out his right hand to me.

I looked at Evan as we passed a street light. His face said sunshine and starry nights all at once. I guess he looked like I had always pictured Hermann Hesse’s Goldmund character in Narcissus and Goldmund. He had ringlets of golden hair framing a boyish, but masculine face of I’d say about 25 years old with fair skin. He was beautiful and looked pretty cool on that bike, too. I extended my hand, and we shook hands.

“I’m Sue.”

“You look like you could use a beer, Sue. There is a bar up on the right ahead about a half mile from here. Can I buy you a beer there?”

“Sure.” I said, against my better judgment. At least it was a public place. How much trouble could I get into? Actually I was really flattered. Here I was at the end of my rope feeling lonely and used, when this great looking guy rides up and asks me out. I was willing to be home late for this diversion. My next worry was that I don’t really drink beer. I’d just order something else, I guess.

Evan sped off ahead on his motorcycle. Its red rear light became smaller and smaller until it was a tiny dot at the top of the hill, which then disappeared. The noise of the motor faded too. It seemed like it would take forever to walk that half mile over the hill. Evan was probably already there, unless he was just yanking my chain with his invitation. As I came to the top of the hill I could see the little roadside bar at the bottom. How is it that I had never noticed it before? I guess it was because I couldn’t sell there, and that’s all I was tuned into. I put my left foot on its pedal, and pushed off with my right foot to gain momentum. I swung my right leg gracefully backwards, over the seat and onto its pedal. I took no more than that to get the bike going down the hill.


Small neon signs blinked their pale pink and blue beer advertisements in the window of the small tavern. It was a simple cinder block building painted white, with a corrugated metal roof. The parking lot was gravel. I looked at the line of motorcycles parked out front. I located Evan’s bike parked on the end, and parked my bike next to Evan’s, as if it too was in the ranks of the motored. Why not? I had ridden many miles on that bike, and it my view it was worthy of inclusion into the ranks of any motored vehicles. It did look out of place though, especially with that sales case on the back. I decided to leave the telltale case outside.

I looked through the large rectangular front window of the bar. It was the kind of place that had peanut shells on the floor. Evan sat at a small round table with two beers in front of him. Damn, he had already ordered. I could never be so rude as to not drink some of that beer. He looked too good to be true sitting there just waiting for me. In that short moment I got nervous, like a fifteen year old girl on her first date. He had only seen me in the dark, what if I walked in there and could see that he changed his mind when he got a good look at me? The confidence I found to walk in that place was from all the miles I had covered and people I met.

I opened the door and walked into the bar. Men sitting on bar stools turned to see me, some with leers on their faces. Evan and I made eye contact, and as I walked to his table, the men turned back to their beers to mind their own business. Evan smiled and looked really glad to see me. I sat down behind the unclaimed beer. Evan was wearing blue jeans, a plaid button front cotton shirt, and a blue jean jacket. The first few buttons of his shirt were open and I could see curly blond chest hairs on well toned pectorals. The gold hair on his wrists shone in the light over the tanned skin beneath. His hands were clean, and the nails on his strong fingers were smooth and even.

“Thanks for asking me out for a beer.” I said. “You wouldn’t believe how much I needed one.”

“Well, you looked a bit at the end of your rope out there. I don’t figure that you usually walk that bike.”

“You’re right about that. I rode maybe forty miles today.”

“Forty miles! Shit! If you don’t mind my asking, what are you doing that for?”

“I’m selling bible related books door-to-door for the summer. I am a college student. Here, I’ll demonstrate.” I looked deeply into his eyes and mustered all of my Parchment learned innocence and sincere earnestness. “Hah there Evan. My name is Su-san Fair-vieew, and Ah’ve been callin’ on all the church folks in the neighborhood. Y’all do go to some local church, don’t ya?” I paused slightly for effect, and completed the approach with an almost plaintive, “May Ah come in?” I raised an eyebrow to punctuate the question.

“I guess I’d let you in after hearing that.” Evan said.

“Actually, I probably wouldn’t go into your house since you are a man alone in it.”

“That’s probably smart. But, really, you wouldn’t come into my house?” He winked and said the last part flirtatiously.

I left that question unanswered, but smiled to acknowledge his flirting.

“Do you go to school here at the University?” he asked.

“No. I go to school at the State University of New York at Cayuga in upstate New York. I’m majoring in Biology with a minor in Chemistry. I am going back there in a few weeks, at the end of the summer.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.” He looked genuinely saddened to hear that I was not local. “And you’ll be in your...”

“Junior year. How about you?”

“I’m taking some economics courses part time at the University. I’m thinking about going for an MBA.”

We went on making unimportant small talk, but what was really going on, as far as I was concerned, was some real chemistry between us. I was getting more and more excited just sitting across from Evan, just from being at the same table with him. I didn’t want to leave, although now it was nearing eleven o’clock. I wanted to somehow let him know that I wanted to see him again, but I didn’t want to seem too forward, or easy. I tried to keep in mind that I really didn’t know who this guy was. But, I had been so selfless in my work all summer, and had suffered much, working some 80 hours a week. Didn’t I deserve a short summer relationship? I continued to smile and make eye contact instead of saying what I felt. It wasn’t difficult to look into those soft grayish-blue eyes across the table.

He let me talk. I felt as if I had spoken to no one all summer, but I kept the conversation light. I could not hide my fatigue though, and he noticed it.

“Well, its getting late.” he said. Before I could worry that this was it, he continued. “How would you like to come to my house for dinner tomorrow night? We could do some steaks on the grill.”

What a relief, he was asking me out. He must have been experiencing the attraction too. I had felt that there was no way that it was just me. Without hesitation, I answered. “Sure. That sounds great!”

“Do you want me to pick you up?”

Now the careful and wary side of me took over. If I let him pick me up, I would have to tell him where I lived. I wasn’t in the habit of doing that. If I could ride there on my bike, I could scope the place out and come home if it didn’t look safe. My wariness had kept me safe all summer, and I wasn’t going to abandon it now. “No thanks. I’m not sure exactly what time I will get done selling tomorrow, so why don’t you just give me the directions. Is it far?”

“Not at all. You just go west on Broad Street and take the first left after you cross the Oconee River.” He completed the directions. His house was only a couple of miles from where I was living. “Approximately when do you think you could be there?”

“Maybe around eight?” I had worked late today, so being at Evan’s house by eight would not jeopardize my eighty hour week.

“Great, see you then.”

I wanted him to kiss me, but that would really be too fast. Hesitantly, I stood up from the table. I had only drunk a third of my beer. I hoped he wouldn’t notice. I walked out of the bar alone, as I had come in. When I got outside, I could see through the window that Evan was paying for our beers. I had looked to make sure that he was not coming out to follow me. To my relief, Evan bought another beer and went back to the table, where his jacket was still on his chair. My trust in him went up a notch. If he had ill will, he knew I was vulnerable out alone on a bicycle. This was obviously not his intent.

I pulled my bike out from the line of motorcycles, and walked it to the road. I mounted it, and headed for home. I was still feeling high from my encounter with Evan. The best thing about it was that I would get to see him again tomorrow night. I couldn’t wait until tomorrow, and that was certainly the first time I felt that way all summer.

I came to my street and wondered if Mary and Chris would still be up.

Mary was downstairs having milk and cookies with the Sanders when I came in. She sure did look at home with them, but then why shouldn’t she? They were very welcoming.

“Sue, please come and have some milk and fresh baked sugar cookies with us.” beckoned Mrs. Sanders.

I joined them at the table, and Mrs. Sanders went into the kitchen to get me a glass of milk, a plate and napkin. I looked at the white, hand cross-stitched table cloth. The warm wood paneled room and crocheted seat cushions on wooden chairs made me feel more comfortable than I ever felt in my own home. Mr. Sanders’ grey eyes in his soft wrinkled face under neatly brushed white hair looked at me with pride. His hard working tenant was home from the bookfield. Why couldn’t they be my parents? Mrs. Sanders came back to the table and placed my setting in front of me. “Well dear, I dare say you are glowing this evening. What happened?”

Mrs. Sanders could read me like a book, I guess. Mary looked interested too.

“I met a guy on my way home from selling today, and he asked me out for dinner tomorrow night!” Mary looked dubious, but the Sanders smiled as if they were happy for me.

“Are you going to go?” asked Mary.

“Yeah, he seems really nice. He’s a student at the University. So, I’ll be home late tomorrow night.” Mary seemed accepting of this and I took it as a good sign. I wasn’t sure how she would react and was relieved that she seemed positive. She didn’t even bring up Gregg or Chip. I wasn’t sure just exactly what she knew about my relationship with them, since I had told her nothing.

When we went upstairs, Chris was already asleep. I too, was exhausted, and fell asleep quickly.

2 comments:

David said...

Hmmmmmm.

Sue said...

The plot thickens, eh?