Stuck in a Rut, Part One

This is an extension of a song I wrote.

It was a Thursday, but she didn’t have a class until eleven on Friday, and then she had to go to Lake Murray to spend the weekend with the family, and next week was Spring Break, so Josie Swenson didn’t see any reason she couldn’t have a couple beers, which, by five, had blossomed into quite the conservative estimate. She had a couple sorority sisters with her, and they were on their third pitcher of Michelob Ultra. Josie laughed along with Darcy and Felicia, but she kept stealing glances at the boy sitting at the bar. He had that fashionably shabby, frat-boy look, but she hadn’t seen him in any classes. Navy blazer, khaki pants, striped tie loosened and unkempt … his cheeks were flushed and he was sweaty. He had short, light-brown hair, almost the kind people described as sandy blond, and his blue eyes were pale and piercing, if also bloodshot. He looked accustomed to money but not presently supplied.

Josie liked all that and was feeling a little frisky.

Tripp Fallaw noticed Josie, too. Her baby blues caught his, too. He noticed the absence of any darkened roots and surmised correctly that this blonde was natural. He handed yellow cards to the men, older, thirty maybe, sitting on either side. Then he walked around the dining area, passing out two or three more. He walked out a door that led to a fenced-in, open area where a volleyball court was located. It was March, and the weather was just thinking about getting warm. The court needed a little work. Josie figured he might be going out to have a cigarette. She wanted one, too. She excused herself, walked into the bathroom, washed her hands and, instead of returning to the bar, turned left and walked outside.

He was, in fact, having a smoke. Josie realized that, while she had a pack, they were in her purse, and it was resting on the bar.

“Hi, I’m Josie.”

“Tripp.” He put the cigarette between his lips so he could shake hands.

“Can I bum a smoke?”

“Sure.” He reached into his shirt pocket. Camel Lights. Gave her a light. “I’m guessing you’re in school at the college.”

“Graduating in May.” She already had her ring and held it up. “How’d you ever guess?”

“I used to be at dear, old Neville,” he said. “I guess you could say I played out about a year ago. You want a beer?”

“Sure. Great.”

Tripp dropped his cigarette and ground it into the sand with his dockside. He went inside. She finished her cigarette and sat at a table made from some sort of wooden, industrial roll. It had a canopy, though, green and white. Heineken. He came back with a couple St. Pauli Girls. Good choice. It showed he liked her.

Josie took a sip. “It’s good,” she said. “I like these.”

“How come I don’t know you already?”

“Oh, I didn’t come here till, like, last year. I mean, junior year. I transferred from Berry College.”

“That’s in Georgia, right?”

“Yeah. Look, let’s don’t get into one of those ‘what’s your major?’ conversations. What are those yellow cards?”

Tripp reached inside his blazer and pulled a small stack out. “These? A list of prices.”

“Of what?”

“The drugs I sell.”

Josie shivered just a little. In her neck.

“I’m kidding,” he said. “You ever heard of parlay cards?”


“Really? You never heard of parlay cards. They’re for betting. They set odds on ballgames. Right now it’s mainly basketball, but there’s, you know, hockey and shit.

“Look, last year, you know, I guess it wasn’t one of my better ones.”

“Tell me about it.”

He offered another cigarette. She took it.

“Okay, I’ll try to skip the unnecessary details. I came to Neville on a partial golf scholarship. I actually pulled a three-oh first term of my freshman year, then, in the spring, that was two years ago, we traveled all over and I kind of got out of the habit of studying. Sophomore year, first term, I flunked Spanish and Western Civ. That made me ineligible in the spring, and, basically, I just stopped going to class. Uh, my dad got pissed, and then I fucked up in summer school, too, and he basically disowned me, said I’m on my own, so I just stayed up here and been making a living the best way I know how.”

“I’m sorry, Tripp,” she said and placed her hand on his. “You okay now? You making it?”

“Uh, I got five hundred dollars in my pocket right now.”


“Uh, I don’t suppose you … get high?”

“You got some?”

“Let’s go to my apartment.”

            So … would you like to see this continued? Or would you just prefer to figure out what happens for yourself?


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