smokin’

This time they wound up on a deserted and overgrown drive behind some trees. The kind of spot police would hide behind to catch speeders on this country road. They’re usually out at night so parking and smoking weed here during the day is ok. It was a cloudy midday, two miles from their small town, and just two hours before their shift started at BT’s. Fawn passed the joint to Dave from the drivers seat, heroically holding on to the drag she just took. At the last second her heroics failed and she spewed smoke and spit all over the place amid sharp coughs. Dave looked at her and laughed. He took a slow pull from the joint in sharp contrast to Fawn. His experience in smoking weed kept him from coughing or choking. 

“Look at this” she choked out. “Look in the glove box. I think I have some tissues in there.”

Dave found the tissues and passed them to her. Fawn started wiping down the steering wheel and the dash, then wiped her mouth.

“Ewww, all over your mouth. No more for you.”

“Hey, it’s mine! Give it!”

“In a sec”, Dave said with a grin. “Look, you got some slobber on your chin.” 

“Where?” she asked. She pulled down the visor to see herself in the mirror, checking her entire face for any residue. While she did that Dave continued puffing away, allowing the smoke to linger in his lungs then slowly letting it out through his nose.

Dave didn’t understand why he was here, in this place, smoking weed with a girl more than half his age. Sure, he had a thing for redheads, and Fawn was the reddest. Her hair was short, rich and full, floating around her thin face like a halo. With hazel eyes, a narrow nose and a pointed chin, she was quite the looker. He would have her if she wasn’t so skinny. Also if he weren’t fifty-nine to her twenty-one. Somehow they became friends to the point where she would pick him up after he parked his car in BT’s parking lot, hop into her used chevy nova, then drive off and find a different spot every day to smoke weed before the shift started. And all in the space of three weeks. 

“You good?” he asked.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m good. Pass it over.”

“Ok, but take smaller pulls this time. Stop trying to be like a vacuum little girl.”

“Yes dad” she replied. That was their relationship, kind of. She looked up to him and he looked out for her, to a point. The weed was one of those points. Also she was white and he black. Light-skinned black and tall, thick grey hair mixing in with the black, square headed with brown eyes, a wide nose and thick lips. They were complete opposites, his burly-ness to her frail-ness.

Fawn took the joint and did a couple of small pulls, spacing them out so she wouldn’t cough. She took a deep breath, held it, and let it out. “In with the good, out with the bad” she said. Fawn liked to think of herself as a witch in training. She wore a pair of small earrings shaped like pentagrams, and every here and there would speak as if she’s casting a spell. She was flighty at times, and enjoyed the way it made other people look at her.

They first met while going through training together. Their twenty-year-old boss Bobby was explaining the bun toaster, how they went in one side and it came out toasted from the other. Fawn had said, “…and magically, they’re transformed from one thing to another, oooooh” as she waved her hands up and down with her fingers splayed like she was casting a spell. Bobby didn’t know what to think, simply saying “Ooookay, moving on…”, and headed for the grill. Dave said “whatever” and moved on with him. Fawn was used to and even liked people reacting the way Bobby did. She didn’t care if reactions were negative or positive, as long as they were talking and thinking about her.  But Dave didn’t. Hello, she thought, did you notice the hair?

So she began to cling to Dave. She would find ways to work with him, whether on meal prep or drive-thru or whatever. Every time they shared a shift she was right beside him, talking away about anything and everything, even getting graphic at times, anything to get a rise. 

Dave would respond minimally. He didn’t talk much, just put his head down and worked. He was feeling a little humiliated that after a life time of pro service he was left to flipping burgers in his old age, and would have a punk-kid boss to answer to. He was perfect at every job, and it got him absolutely nothing. But he had to work, and BT’s was hiring.

Finally he had enough of her shadowing him around. He was standing in front of the grill when he turned on her and asked “Are you starved for attention?”

Fawn blinked at the sudden confrontation. She blinked a few times to clear her head, but could only muster a weak “What?”

“Look, I get it. You’re a cute redhead and everyone should pay attention to you. Sorry, but I’m much too old to play this game. So if you want attention, Bobby’s right there.”

Bobby was with the cashiers when he overheard his name. “Huh, what, someone calling me?”

“Never mind Bobby, I got it”, Dave responded.

“Uh, ok,”, he replied with a little wave. A gangly kid with a short mullet. Dave hated that look.

He turned back to Fawn and waited for a response.

“I’m sorry, I was just trying to get to know you.”

“Then get to know me. Introduce yourself. Ask me my name. And then we’ll see where it goes from there. But all of these teen horror stories aren’t doing anything for me, ok?”

“Okay” she replied.

They looked at each other for a moment, then Dave said “Well?”

“Oh, right” she said with a jump. “Hi, I’m Fawn. May I ask your name?” she said while holding out her hand. 

“I’m Dave, nice to meet you” he said, taking her hand. They gripped for a moment, and then turned back to work.

“So”, Fawn asked. “Do you come here often?”

Dave dropped his head and began to chuckle. She began chuckling too, and they finished the shift not talking except for the job. Since then they were thick as thieves, usually only talking to each other. Fawn stopped looking for attention from anyone, even at home, and Dave began to talk more. She brought out Dave’s personality, and he made Fawn a better person.

One day she says “Wanna get high?” And that turned into them meeting one to two hours before work and finding new places to smoke. Today it’s a deserted drive off the side of the road.

It was Dave’s turn with the joint. He held it for a moment, then looked at Fawn.

“Shouldn’t you be in college?” he asked.

Fawn coughed and looked at him. “Excuse me?”

Dave rubbed the back of his head. “It’s just I can’t see you hanging around an old fart like me. Didn’t your friends go to college?”

“Yes, but that’s there thing, not mine”, she said.

“Oh”. Dave felt the atmosphere cooling a bit, but he felt he needed to press on.

“I’m just saying that a young girl like you could do a lot better than just working at BT’s. You could learn something, make new friends…”

Fawn stared out the windshield, saying nothing while Dave waited. A minute passed, and Dave decided to push on.

“Wouldn’t you rather hang out with people your own age?”

“What, are you trying to get rid of me?” She was still looking through the windshield, expressionless.

“No, no, I’m just saying BT’s is not a way to get ahead. If anything it’s just a lay-over to something better. You get what I’m saying?” No response. “Well what do your friends think? Where did they wind up”

“I have no friends” she replied, completely emotionless. 

“None? That’s weird.”

“No it isn’t”, was her sharp retort. “Those other guys don’t get me.”

“What’s there to get? You’re a teen, I’m sorry, a young adult on the cusp of moving onto a new life, just like all of them.” Dave took the joint and pulled deep, allowing his lungs the time to absorb it all.

“Yeah, but I’m different” came her comeback. “I’m magic!” she said, waving her hands in the air for effect.

Dave looked straight at her. “C’mon, I’m serious. This is a podunk town we live in and there’s nothing here for you. You shouldn’t be wasting your time hanging with an old man, working at some burger joint. It’s time for you to get out there where there are more opportunities.  You should go, make new friends, learn something new.”

“You sound like an after-school special.”

“Yeah, so?” was his reply. “Tell me, why aren’t you in college? Low SAT scores? Problems at home? Lacking in cash?”

Fawn huffed, said “Maybe I just don’t want to go.” 

“Oh, well, there’s that” came Dave’s reply.

Silence filled the car. Dave passed the joint back to Fawn, who took it but didn’t smoke it.

Suddenly she erupted in a rant of teen angst. “Look, I don’t want to go to college, alright? Besides, you went to college, look what it got you!”

That stung Dave. It was bad enough he had to take that job, but for her to sum up his life in one sentence hurt. He looked at her, then looked back out the window. Fawn was looking at nothing. Her head was down but her eyes were up, focusing on nothing. She was feeling too angry and frustrated to continue with the conversation. They sat there in silence, wondering what to make of the situation. 

Finally Dave had enough. He clapped his hands together and said “Well, I guess that’s it. Shall we head back?”

“Sure” Fawn said with a huff. She started the car and pulled out into the road. Dave started looking in the glove box for the eye drops, something they never went without. As they cruised down the road Dave expertly applied the drops to his eyes. It was a silent drive, each of them lost in their own thoughts.

She parked the car in the back of the lot, next to his car. Dave reached into the back seat for their work shirts, brown polos with a red diagonal stripe. They whipped off the shirts they were wearing, Fawn exposing her black lace bra, Dave exposing his ample belly, and changed quickly. Fawn felt some embarrassment when it was her turn with the eyedrops. Dave just motioned and she assumed her position. She couldn’t do it by herself, so she let him do it. She leaned over and tilted her head back between the seats. He leaned over her face and said “Look up.” When she did he applied the drops, first one eye, then after a few blinks, the other. They straightened up, rubbed their eyes, and prepared to leave the car.

Suddenly Fawn stopped. She looked straight ahead and said, “The reason I’m not in college is because I don’t know what to study.” She felt a little humiliated admitting that, and she didn’t want any sympathy either.

“I thought you wanted to be a witch” was Dave’s response.

Fawn’s face began to contort. A grin was fighting it’s way out, and she tried to stop it. Her lips wrestled with it, contorting this way and that, but it came out anyway. 

“I’m sorry” she said, and opened the car door and got out.

“I know” Dave said to the empty seat, and followed her.

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