Judgment and French Fries – by: Jake

I have to say I was pretty surprised when Odette pulled up in my truck, headlights blinding me as she parked practically on my feet. I had been sitting there on the curb outside of the ER for about an hour-and-a-half, randomly wandering in and asking the nurses to use the reception phone to listen to my cell go straight to voice-mail. Now I was just about to go back in there and call my friends over in New Smyrna to come and pick my ass up, or the cops so I could get my truck back, when Odette comes tearing round the corner like a crazy person. She hops out all flushed with a purpose and helps me get up off the curb and into the passenger side. She says, breathlessly, so rushed and rehearsed that I wonder if it is a lie, “Rissa’s at my house. She’s hanging out with Luna so I said I would come and get you.”

“Did you bring my phone?”

She shook her head, “Rissa’s got it still.”

“I told her to stay in the parking lot.”

“Well, I hate to break it to you, but she has a mind of her own, even if she only is seventeen.”

We pulled out of there and I didn’t even know where we were going. I was pretty worn out and starving. “Lets get some Micky D’s and a six-pack and take it down to the beach” I said.

“I thought you hate McDonalds, and all fast food” she said.

“I do, but today all good judgment is out the window. Eating hormone-filled beef and chemical french-fries will pale in comparison to my decisions of this morning. In fact any decisions I make now will seem brilliant.

I looked over at her as she drove a little too fast. Bits of her hair were whipping around her face with the wind from her slightly-open window. She looked back at me and smiled like we were both outlaws. There was no way we were supposed to be together right now. She looked good driving my truck with the lights from the road and street lamps randomly glowing on her face. I said, “Weren’t you just trying to get rid of me just last night?”

“You are pretty hard to get rid of,” she laughed. For some reason this was funny to me too. But now, even though it was so easy to laugh with her, things were different between us. I suppose I had actually listened to her when she told me things were over. We went through the drive-through and super-sized everything. Soon the truck was filled with the smell of french-fries and we slurped on Cokes while the ice swirled and crashed against the cardboard cups. Then we pulled up to the liquer store and she ran in and came out with some PBR’s, “Noooo!!” I said as she hopped back in. “I drink that shit at parties because they are the cheapest kegs. Why didn’t you get good stuff?”

She looked surprised, “I love these!”

“Oh you’re out of your ever-lovin mind, woman. Get some taste please.”

“You don’t need to be drinking anything strong since you shouldn’t be mixing alchahol with pain pills. So stop complaining.”

I nodded. She was right.

We headed out down the road to the beach and the air changed to salty. I looked out of the window with awe at the short palm trees that grew leaning away from the wind, their knarled branches folding over each other like pale arms in a huddle towards the land. I could hear the crash of the ocean and soon Odette pulled up to a fence overlooking the sand and surf and we cracked the windows, a couple of beers and kept the truck running with the heat on. I showed her how to let the seat back and couldn’t help but remember the last time I put that seat back for her in my truck. We were on some sort of convoluted camping trip I had schemed. I thought I shouldn’t think about that now though as I was not going to be trying anything on her tonight so I had to keep my mind away from shit like that. Anyway, I knew she didn’t’ want that. I wasn’t sure I did anymore either. There’s a limit to how many times a guy can handle being dumped.

So we dug our hands into our paper bags of salty, hot food. I turned on the radio and we listened to the DJ’s rave about the next song coming up. Then one of them says, ‘And if you call right now you can win tickets to see tonight’s show…’ then he yells out the name of Chris’s band and I spit out my beer all over my truck.

“Oh crap,” Odette said, throwing napkins at me. “I’m going to miss that.”

“Didn’t he set this whole show up as a surprise for you, this huge gesture to show you how much he loves you in the form of letting you witness his onstage, supreme-awesomeness?”

She scowled. “Don’t make fun. It kills me that I can’t be there. But I’m not going where I’m not wanted. Fuck him for listening to you and not me last night.”

“But I was the one telling the truth!” I said, cracking open a second PBR and handing it to her.

“That I’m obsessed with your dick?”

“OK, maybe that was a little overstated.”

“You are a horrible drunk” she said. In fact, not more than two of these,” she held up her can.

“Yes ma’am.”

“That was such an awful thing to say. You trashed my marriage with those words, you do realize that don’t you?”

“I”m sorry, Odette.” I said. And I was. I felt awful. I took it too far and now here we were. She was miserable, but happy to be sitting next to me. And I was miserable, but happy to be sitting next to her. We sat quietly and drank our beers and listened to the country music station she had switched it over to. Taylor Swift started singing about never getting back together and Odette was disgusted that it was being played on country radio. “What is this world coming to?”

“Where are we going after this?” I said, finishing up my cheeseburger, then my beer.

“You can’t drive back tonight.” She said. You can crash at Luna’s I guess toinght then drive back in the morning.

“I know we cleared the air last night, Odette and that I’m not allowed to come near you ever again and I’m cool with that now. But I don’t know if I can sleep in your house tonight with you that close by, in that bed that I was just in, how many hours ago? Not that many. I’m not fucking superman.”

“Rissa will be there.”

“Making the arrangement even stranger.”

She looked over at me and said, “Do you have a thing with her? Have you guys like kissed or anything?”

“Yeah, yesterday before we came to the party.”

“Where did you get with her? What base?”

“What grade are we in?”

“What base?”

“Um second.”

She nodded and looked  troubled. “I’m jealous” she said and started laughing.

I shook my head and felt a bit annoyed. What was she trying to do to me? She was confusing enough already to be laying this shit on me. “I can’t stay there tonight” I said. “I’ll just sleep in my truck or something.”

“Suit yourself” she said.

She grabbed the trash and hopped out and went wandering off in the dark to find a garbage can. I watched the wind in her hair and on the way back to the truck she was hugging her arms. I wished we could be together again, then put that out of my head as quickly as it had flashed through. It was exhausting. Now I just wanted to sleep and I had a feeling that as long as Chris from hell didn’t show up, then shoot, maybe it would be OK to pass out on Luna’s couch. Exhaustion tends to trump distractions at some point…and I was at that point right now.

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