Thursday, August 19, 2010

Oak Cliff Confidential: Chapter 19

  Desperate to change the current flow of the conversation, Sharon grasped at straws. “So. How is the pig Brian doing these days?”

  Theresa smiled grimly. “Oh, he’s dead. Slipped out of his pen one day and got hit by the mail truck. Totaled that sucker, though. Sure did.”

  Sharon, horrified at yet another inadvertent misstep, realized that today was probably just not her day and scrambled once again. “I’m so sorry to hear that. I’m sure you miss him terribly.”

  Theresa gazed off into the distance, as if fondly remembering younger days of happy squealing and mud frolics. “I’m okay, now. It’s been a few years. But I sometimes have a rough spot when I’m trying to buy stamps at the post office. Especially since it smells like Brian’s pen in there. And the noises people make when they have to wait a long time.”

  Theresa turned back to Sharon. “But enough of me. I done babbled about how I snuck off to Odessa and finally figured out why takin’ showers in the high school gym always made me want to run more laps for some reason. And my pig’s dead. That’s about it. How about you? What you been up to?”

  Sharon sighed (42). “Well, I wouldn’t even know where to start. I traveled some. Almost got married a few times. Never did.”

  Theresa seized on this. “Never? Really? That’s some interesting news.”

  Sharon hesitated, then glanced at her other companions. “Would you three mind… I don’t know… going for a walk or something so Theresa and I can talk?”

  Hexom, April and Alejandro looked back at Sharon as if they had no intention of stepping foot off the porch. This was too fascinating, potential budding romance and all. And it was fun listening to Theresa’s accent change from country to street in the same sentence.

  Theresa waved her hand. “I don’t mind them, they can listen. When you’re finally honest with yourself, and learn to love yourself, well, it don’t matter what people say or what people hear. You spend your life worryin’ ‘bout what other people think, then what’s the point?”

  April spoke up. “Did you steal that from Whitney Houston?”

  Theresa smiled. “Maybe, but I don’t see how. They don’t play much Whitney out there in Odessa. Mostly songs about beer and trucks and dirt. If you wanna hear somethin’ else, you gotta drive to Midland. And then get on an airplane.” She took a small sip of lemonade. “Now, Sharon, you had something to tell me?”

  Sharon fidgeted with a loose thread that didn’t exist on her blouse, then took a deep breath. “Well, I suppose I should be fair and say that I don’t shop in the same part of the supermarket as you.”

  Theresa chuckled. “Well, that’s a real purty way to say you ain’t a dyke. You sure are sweet.”

  “Trust me,” muttered Hexom. “She’s normally not that sweet. She must be tired.”

  Sharon turned and dumped the rest of her lemonade in Hexom’s lap.

  Theresa let loose with an exuberant guffaw and slapped her knee, thus fulfilling some of her stereotype quota for the day. “You crack me up, girl.”

  “She doesn’t crack me up,” barked Hexom, knocking over his own glass as he squirmed about and did prissy things that really didn’t help. Alejandro took off his shirt, more out of instinct than a true desire to help, although it certainly improved the atmosphere, and handed the wad to Hexom. Makeshift sponging ensued.

  Sharon turned back to Theresa. “So, anyway, I just wanted to clear the air. Before, you know, things got uncomfortable. Or anybody served tequila.”

  Theresa nodded. “I understand. And I knew you didn’t like the girls, all this time. But I did have me a crush on you. My first one, really. You were just the cutest thing. I loved watching you sit in the bleachers, especially when it was hot, and you’d get these little damp spots right at your temples, where the hair is really soft. Little wispy hairs.”

  Sharon actually blushed and looked down. “You certainly have a way with words.”

  Theresa laughed. “Well, as my girlfriend would say, I’ve got a tongue that can get places most people can’t reach.” Then she laughed again.

  Sharon reddened a bit more. Alejandro grinned, relishing this rare opportunity to see her squirm. He started to say something witty, then realized he really didn’t want to interrupt and break the mood.

  April had no such qualms. “You have a girlfriend?”

  Theresa nodded. “Sure do. Quite a good one. In fact, if you wanna sit a bit, she’ll be here any minute. She’s working the street just around the corner.”

  April could not let that go by. “So she’s a hooker? Well, they say a lot of hookers are lesbians. I read that somewhere.”

  “Well,” said Theresa, finishing off her lemonade, “can’t really speak to what hookers like to nibble on when they ain’t workin’, but my girl’s in construction. Street repair on this job.”

  April’s naughty leer disappeared as she thought back through the afternoon’s festivities. “Um, this girl. She kinda butch?”

  Theresa feigned surprise. “You’re asking this about a lesbian? Whoever heard of such a thing?”

  April decided that perhaps she shouldn’t surface her growing concern unless further evidence was introduced into the porch court. She was safe for now. But that quickly changed.

  “Speak of the devil,” said Theresa, rising to her feet and giving a quick wave to someone who had just walked around the corner. “Here she comes now.”

  April swiveled to take a peek, quietly groaned, and then turned back to Theresa. “Um, I should probably tell you before she gets here. I hit on your girlfriend.”

  Theresa paused in her welcoming activity, intrigued by the conversational turn. “Really? Did she hit back?”

  April gulped. “No. I don’t think so. I was busy being surprised that she was not a man.”

  Theresa laughed. “Wouldn’t surprise me if she did. She’s the biggest flirt on the planet. It’s the heat. And riding a jackhammer all day. Does something to you.” Theresa tromped down the stairs and met her partner halfway up the sidewalk. There was a brief conversation, with said partner’s furtive glances indicating that she had not expected a review panel on the front porch. Then Theresa grabbed her hand and they returned.

  “Well, then,” said Theresa. “Folks, I’d like you to meet my baby, Raz.” Then Theresa began pointing. “Honey, this is Alejandro, April, Hexom and Sharon.”

  Raz’s eyes widened as she heard Sharon’s name. She nodded her head at the others (“Nice to meet you.”) but then walked over to Sharon, digging in a pocket of her dusty jeans. “This is gonna seem weird, and I kind of thought the man was lying, because, you know, it’s Oak Cliff, and there are whack jobs everywhere. But he told me my wife knew someone named Sharon, and that if I met you, I was to give you this.”

  Sharon took all of this in, slightly distracted by the startling white-blondness of Raz’s close-cropped hair as it danced in the fading sunlight, wondering if it was natural or bottle. But then she concentrated on the item placed in her hand.

  It was a very small chunk of concrete, palm-sized, probably jack-hammered and lightly coated in a white powder. Confused, she turned it over, and discovered that the back had been wiped clean, and someone had used a marker to write a single digit, the number “1”.

  Sharon looked up at Raz. “The man who gave you this. Could you find him again? Do you remember what he looks like?”

  Raz nodded her head. “Don’t know about finding him, but he looks just like your friend over here.” Raz turned to one of the other three. “I’m sorry, I’m really bad with names. Hector, is it?”

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  1. mmm hmmm I hear you, "You spend your life worryin’ ‘bout what other people think, then what’s the point?”

  2. Exactly. Own your path. Don't let others carve it for you. Sayin.