Welcome to Great Falls – A Serial Novel – Part 9

October 24, 2014, Friday

Brandon and Elaine got out of Gone Girl and both were unsatisfied. It probably wasn’t the best movie to see early in a relationship.

“Well, now, I’m not sure about you anymore,” Brandon said.

“Yeah, well, don’t go cheating on me with the girl from ‘Blurred Lines’.”

“I’m going home to make dinner,” Brandon said. “Would you like to join me?”

“What do you have?”

“I’m not sure. Didn’t know if I was cooking for just myself.”

***

Saan watched his teammates drinking around the bonfire, but he just wanted to leave. They were celebrating a big win, but he took little pleasure in it. He loved playing and being on the field, but the adrenaline was coming down. He thought about sidling up to one of the cheerleaders, but it wasn’t like him to make the first move, and he knew at least one of his parents would be home and awake. That was always the case when they weren’t out of town. He finished his beer and threw the red cup into the fire. He watched the plastic cut melt and thought about his father smoking a cigarette with a glass of scotch in hand. He wondered what the scene looked like from a distance. It seemed ridiculous after a few seconds. It wasn’t even midnight.

He was in his car when Jenny McCoy banged on his window. Her red hair glowed.

“I need a ride,” she said.

“Okay,” he said. Their families had been friends for years.

“Take me out to the lake, Homecoming King.”

He cringed and remembered being blinded by the spotlight during the dance.

Saan drove a to the north side of the lake and was surprised when there weren’t any cars on the road to the gated entrance.

“You smell like bad whiskey in the morning,” she said. He had been sneaking pulls from a flask of Jack all night.

Saan stopped walking.

“It’s nice out. Let’s go for a walk to the tower,” Jenny said.

“Nah, I’m going home.”

“Just hang out with me for a bit.”

“No. You don’t want anything to do with me.”

She stared at him but he kept his gaze at the locked gate.

“Don’t tell people about the whiskey,” he said.

She walked back toward him but he got in the driver’s seat.

“I’m sorry, I’m fucked up,” he said when she got in the car.

She hesitantly put her hand on his shoulder.

“Please don’t do that,” he said.

After a few minutes, he turned and apologized. “Look, you can crash in one of the guest rooms. I can’t drive all the way back into town. We can call your parents. It’ll be okay.”

“Are you serious?”

“I’m not fun to hang out with. Now you know. And you can tell all your friends.”

“I don’t get it,” Jenny said. “I just want to hang out with you.”

He thought for a while. “We can go out a ways from my house and start a fire.”

“Start a fire?”

He laughed. “No, literally start a fire. I know we just came from a bonfire, but it’s the starting part I like best.”

Saan drove to the edge of the property, and they walked to a clearing with a makeshift fire pit. He sent his parents a text message letting them know what he was doing and looked at Jenny nervously before asking her to find kindling. He found a branch and pushed the remnants of a previous fire to the side next to the stones.

“Is this what you do?” she asked.

He pretended not to hear her as he built a cone of small twigs over tinder.

When the fire started, they just stood there and looked and took turns putting larger branches into the flames.

“You do this a lot?” she asked.

“No, never.” It was true; his mother and father always started the fire while the children watched.

“So, why tonight?

“It’s you, I guess.” He pulled a bottle of whiskey out of his jacket and took a swig. “I’m sure you’ve heard all the stories about me.”

“I heard you’re a whore.”

He said nothing but took another drink and held the bottle out to her.

“Why the fuck are you here with me then?” he asked when she took a pull.

She nearly choked. “I thought you were different.”

“What does that mean?”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry. We’ve known each other a long time. Damn near grew up with each other, and all you know is I’m a whore?”

She took another draw off the bottle. “I don’t believe it. I see you in class and I worry about you.”

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