Stuck in a Rut, Part Two

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This is the continuation of a short story that itself is a continuation and expansion of a song I wrote.

It was four in the morning. Josie Swenson found herself fixated with a full moon casting an eerie glow through the open window in a rundown home near campus. The front faced the soccer stadium where, as best Josie understood, her Patriots had once played football. She didn’t feel bad, only restless. Gently she extricated herself from Tripp Fallaw’s arms and crept into the spare den. She found her purse, which held her cigarettes, and the lighter was on the coffee table, next to a glass ashtray that had probably been lifted from a restaurant. The ashtray contained several ground-out Camel Lights but also a little less than half a joint. She lit it and considered the fact that she had smoked about as much cannabis in the past twenty-four hours as the rest of her life leading up to it.

It still wasn’t a lot.

Josie slipped into her tennis shoes, baby blue with pink laces, and hit the roach a couple times. Then she leaned back on the shabby couch, savoring the high, and looked around the darkened room. There was a Bob Marley poster. Obviously. A couple golf trophies sitting atop stereo speakers that were, in turn, sitting atop red, plastic milk boxes, undoubtedly stolen, too. Leaning against the corner was a street sign that read “Fallaw Street.” Ah, and two orange traffic cones. Tripp probably sold weed, but he stole lots of things. He was just a little criminal, though, and Josie kind of liked that. For her, this was a walk on the wild side.

But I’m still a good person!

The good person wanted a cigarette, and the moonlight drew her like dragonflies to a fishpond. The hours being wee, she knew she could probably smoke pot on the back porch, which was screened in, but one never knew and she was afraid, though a bit irrationally. She already felt pleasant, so she put on her hoodie and walked, a little wobbly, in the dark, following a beacon of moonlight, with her lighter and cigarettes, out on the porch. There was a rocking chair, which felt wonderful when she sat down and let it drift to and fro as it was wont to do. She lit a cigarette, inhaled deeply, and then watched it leave her lungs, not angrily, but as it wished, in its time, mingling with the bluish lunar glow. She faced a little creek, its course mainly blocked by bushes growing along its banks, and beyond were a line of nicer homes, the ones occupied mostly by professors, coaches, and moneychangers of the college. Josie felt wonderful, relaxed by the weed, the cigarette, and the lingering sensation of physical love. This was going to put her back to sleep comfortably, but she didn’t expect it to come so soon. She figured she’d just saunter back to bed, and while she considered it and thought of crawling back under the covers, and when the boy, and that’s really no more or no less than what Tripp Fallaw was, roused, she would kiss him, and their tongues would intertwine, and no telling what might happen, and … she never made it.

While she continued to rock gently, Josie dreamed of her new man, striding purposely down a fairway, fans pressing against ropes on either side as Tripp Fallaw worked his way inexorably toward glorious victory. She was wearing a sun dress, tagging along tastefully nearby, and occasionally exchanging knowing glances with her man. No one knew the vital role she had played in nudging Tripp toward the fulfillment of his destiny. He had been a rascal, a hustler, bowing to the gospel of something for nothing, and then she had come along to smooth his rough edges and make him, solely by the force of her irresistible charm, the man he was meant to be. She awakened with the sun coming up, rays jutting sideways through the trees, and she thought of Tripp in the lingering context of the dreams. She shivered. It was cold. She got up and went back inside but not to the boy’s waiting arms. She found some coffee in the kitchen cabinet and put a pot on. She lit another cigarette and tried to remember what day it was.

Friday. She had a class at eleven. She had to drive home in the afternoon. She had to get her shit together.

To be continued …

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