aka Cool Dawn
aka Choose Your Own Advantage
It's fucking cold outside. As if they're taking so long. I'm waiting at this Shell on Pembina, and a half hour of clock has timed by since I last got a message from these fuckers. "B thrrr zune", was BJ's text. His girlfriend Tammy had his car and she was picking him up from a card game. Sharing vehicles: an ultimate commitment. "Too rich for my blood.", I think to myself. "..whatever that's supposed to mean.", I banter back in my head.
I was in a serious relationship over a decade ago, engaged to my high school sweetheart. A storybook classic of expectations and failure. BJ's been with his girlfriend for years now, so yeah, it seems their next logical step was to go halfers on a car. Not a house or an apartment. Not a dog or a magazine subscription. Opting instead for a luxury 4-door sedan. There's nothing that secretes more romance than sharing large monthly payments as an expression of love.
I should really be the one to talk. I'm the one car-less, stranded at this fucking gas station on the south side of the city for fuck's sake. These are the times when your modus operandi go flying out the window.
It's almost 3am. The steady stream of cars whizzing by on the street, the tick and buzz of the ice machine, the wind rustling the loose trash scattered around the adjacent strip-mall parking lot, all orchestrating the soundtrack of the night.
"This fucking wiiiind.", I mouth to myself as I flip up the collar on my blazer. It doesn't help any. Summer is a memory and autumn said goodbye. I take a deep breathcycle and focus my mind on my heart, urging it to pump warmer blood through my torso and limbs. My ears aren't freezing off, but they're colder than my cheeks. I spark up another cigarette, leaning my back on the glass window of the convenience store. A garbage depository and a shelved cabinet that holds coolants, engine oils, windsheild washer fluids, are on either side of me. The flourescent light inside is reflecting off of the many colours on the magazine selection rack, bouncing through the front window, over my shoulders, free, into the night. Outside, the bright Shell sign, illuminated yellow with red trim, broadcasts the current gas pricing, perched atop the structure that was made for just that purpose. An unmonumental monument casting a scattered spotlight onto the set of my life's play, starring me. "Toniiight, toniiight.." I kind of sing out loud, lips dangling cigarette. There. You got a musical.
I flick the ash off the tip of my smoke and steadily bring it back to my mouth. I am no longer shivering as a maroon stationwagon, mildly rusty, pulls up to the farthest gas terminal. An attendant dressed in blue-grey coveralls strolls out of the convenience store, over to the waiting car. The sound of power window hums slowly open and the attendant proceeds to take the fuel order from a middle-aged woman seated in the driver's seat. A beep and a clickclick later, the gas terminal comes to life with a wurring sound that can only mean flowing gasoline.
Thereafter, my ears perk up at the sound of a distant hoot and holler; rowdy, breaking the silence and moving the plot.
"Can you turn it down?", I yell. My voice fights the volume as it pushes its way into the empty area between the driver's right ear and shotgun's left. My ass is comfortable, regaining its senses, and my legs are closed together at the knees while my feet are shoulders width apart. If I was in this position on a bench and you were facing me, my legs would make the shape of a capital A. Actually, no. More like shift+6 on a keyboard.
I was surprised that the two beside me kept their window seats. The one behind the driver even got out of the car first and held the door open. I went in, without argument, and she followed, closing the door beside her.
Backtrack to when I was climbing in. My ears and nose must've been red, my jaw clenched, eyes frozen. I tried to be slick but it's hard to be nonchalant when all Winnipeg winters ever do is make you extrachalant. We made eye contact and she didn't smile, but she looked pleasant. It was an expression one would make when watching a bird drink. I nodded at her, exhaling through gritted teeth, releasing a cloud stream of winter breath from my face. It was a perfect diversion to whatever thoughts were floating around in her mind, giving me a second to survey her back. I am David CopperBlain.
Her back was nice, speaking of. She was wearing a black winter coat ending at the waist to reveal a round and perky rear, I assume, based on her curvy hips covered in designer denim I assume, based on the cut, colour, and condition. She had wavy, blonde hair passed her shoulders, and a piercing on the left side of her bottom lip. Her right, my left. It wasn't a ring. It was a jewel or a stud in a place where an unwanted zit would normally appear. Her lips were pouty, glossy pink, like a candy. I wondered about the flavour. Her eyes were shadowed professionally with shiny multi-colours. It reminded me of the side of a fish, changing base colours from certain angles. Her eyelids fluttered lashes over round green eyes that gives you a feeling I can only describe as minty. Not a cold, spicy mint. More like a creamy mint, with a sweet after taste that sticks to the roof of your mouth and the back of your throat even after you've finished eating it.
She was taller than average, I noticed, as I made my way passed her. Her hairline was about lined up with my eyes. This would be confirmed if I kissed her on the bridge of her nose, or if she head-butted mine. I swept by her, auto-calculating a smooth entrance into the car as she leaned on the inside of the open door, our personal space Venn diagramming. I glanced at her face one last time as a show of thanks, taking in another bite of mint. I twitched my left eye at her instead of smiling, purposely suppressing a wink, purposely half-winking, and felt the heat from the dashboard flow warm over me as I entered the backseat of the car.
"What's up man, you made up your mind yet?", BJ says as he cranes his head back to shit-grin me while maintaining his driving speed and turning a knob on the dashboard. The trance music slinks off into our ears' background. I see Tammy's shoulders start to shimmy, and I can tell it's because she's giggling. "Baby you are sooooo gona crasshhh us to deathhh.." she says slurred, cupping her left hand under his chin, squeezing his cheeks together, and shaking his pucker-lipped face side to side. Eyes fixated on me, BJ starts bouncing his eyebrows at a heartbeat tempo, a look I've seen more times than a person really ever needs to. I narrow my eyes at him and flick him in the forehead with my fingers. He jerks his head backward, too late. Rubbing his forehead and with his attention back on the empty road, he returns the volume back to cranked and begins pounding on the steering wheel to the beat, letting out a loud "WoOOooOoo!" at the windshield. I notice Tammy shift and turn in her front seat. Her head slowly appears, peaking her head around her backrest, leaning over the parking hand brake. We laugh and she cooes at me, "Thannkkkss, sweeetiiiee." She either mouthed it or said it out loud, I couldn't tell. She slithers away, facing forward in her seat, and tips her head back, letting out an "OwwwOwwwAwooOOoo!!" wolf-cry. Ok, that I heard, I think to myself. The girl on my right laughs into her mitten.
I look out the left window and I can smell the blonde's hair or perfume, her smell. When I look out the right window, I can take in this other girl.
If I were to cast her in a Disney movie, I'd put her as a small Belle from Beauty and the Beast. She could also be Jane from Tarzan. She had brown hair, wavy, up, I don't know. I could see her small ear, surrounded by a lightly blushed cheek and a smooth, olive neck. Italian perhaps?, I think. She looked delicate, but the way she kept her cellphone casually balanced on her knee gave me the impression that she must be something else. One of those hidden-talent personality types. I’d say the word ‘quirk’ comes to mind, but then I’d have to _harsh_verb_ my _sensitive_body_part_ as punishment. Her wrists were on her lap. I couldn't see her hands. She had on a beige jacket, criss crossing thin brown lines, with a fur lined hood resting back against her shoulders. Her mitten on the hand closest to me sat motionless, and then it moved. I couldn't see her other hand. Her jacket arm ended at the sleeve cuff.
BJ jerks to life in his seat and shouts, "Motherf- you pieces of shits!" as I feel him careen the car to the right-side lane. The inertia of my weight presses my shoulder into Miss Brunette, and my right foot reacts digging into the carpet floor to give her a more comfortable squeeze into her locked passenger side door. My left hand instinctively flies up and hovers over the lap of Miss Blonde, cupped ready to grab her thigh. I noticeably grab the back of BJ's headrest instead, as the blonde and I watch through her window - a startled mother pulling her snow-suited toddler out of the way. I turn my body further to look through the rear window, as the two continue to cross the street, pedestrian-streetlight-indicator blinking above them.
"Did you just call that baby a piece of shit?".