First Time Lucky(4)

By: Chance Carter

We turned onto the main residential street of Sitka Valley. It was a small town, though our shops and restaurants tended to thrive thanks to the influx of tourists in the summer season stopping through on their way down the coast. Wes’s father owned several businesses on this block, and he occupied a high seat in the Sitka Valley hierarchy. Personally the guy always gave me the creeps, just like his son.

“Speaking of stupidity, I totally saw that Shane Kelly kid checking you out during the prom announcement,” Sasha slipped in.

My heart thumped, and I tried to keep my features as neutral as possible. “Really?”

Sasha’s eyes were searching mine for a reaction. “Yeah. You guys a thing or something? You been sneaking around in the slums?”

Patrice sighed. “That’s not nice, Sasha.”

“What? I’m just curious. He looked like he wanted to eat her.”

Heat crept up my cheeks. “He’s a nice guy, but no, I haven’t been sneaking around. He would have to ask me out for anything like that to happen.”

Sasha exploded with laughter. “Ask you out? And you would say yes?”

“I would,” said Patrice. Her eyes took on a far off expression. “Shane is dreamy. I mean, have you seen his arms?”

“Yeah, like the rest of him they look like they’re twenty years old. The school probably held him back a few years. He’s dumb as a brick wall.”

“What is your problem?” I rounded on Sasha, officially over her snooty remarks. “He’s a good guy. And no, he wasn’t held back. We were in elementary school together.”

“No word on whether he’s dreamy?” Sasha mocked.

Patrice glared but didn’t stand up for herself. She never did. Sasha told her to jump, she asked how high. Sasha told her to stick some mascara in her purse and walk out of the store, Patrice became the world’s slyest thief.

“He’s too bad for you anyway,” Sasha said when I didn’t reply. “He’d eat you up, Miss Virgin USA.”

She laughed and Patrice, desperate to get back into favor, laughed too. I didn’t think it was funny. The problem with Sasha’s jokes about my purity was that I couldn’t fight her on them. I had never even kissed a boy, while she’d made it her mission to discover all sex had to offer as soon as possible. I didn’t think any less of her for the route she chose, so how was it fair for her to judge me for mine?

“He is pretty hot though,” Sasha continued. “I’ll give you that.”

I wasn’t sure whether she was talking to Patrice or me, so continued walking in silence.

“Poor as dirt, but hot as hell. Maybe one of these days I’ll have a ride.”

Two blocks away from the intersection, Sasha paused to adjust her skirt and pull more of her ample cleavage into view. Patrice and I hung alongside her as we always did, waiting for her to finish raking her fingers through her long brown hair and begin walking again.

“Come on,” she said after a moment. “Why are we just standing here?”

She started forward but wasn’t walking anymore—she was strutting. She strutted right past the blacked out front windows of the nightclub on the corner, Satan’s Perch, swaying her hips in an exaggerated fashion. I didn’t know why she did it. I doubted anybody was in the sleeping nightclub, and if they were they probably weren’t the kind of people we wanted to attract anyway.

Satan’s Perch was owned by none other than Preston Gromley, Wes’s dad, and I’d heard stories of all sorts of unsavory goings on in there. Granted, lots of those stories were probably sensationalized or fabricated entirely, due to the over-imaginative and over-inquisitive minds of Sitka Valley’s teenagers, but it still made my skin crawl just thinking about going inside. I didn’t intend to still be here by the time I was twenty-one anyway, so thankfully I’d never have to worry about it.

After we passed Satan’s Perch and nothing happened—as it never did—we came upon a squat building with “Keane Bikes” emblazoned above the door. The store windows were lit up, displaying the sleek new Kawasaki Ninja, which promised to deliver the best time a person could have on two wheels. Normally I’d walk right past and head home with the girls, but today I felt like getting a little space.

“I’m going to stop in and see my dad,” I announced. “I’ll see you guys later.”

“Whatever,” said Sasha.

“See ya!” said Patrice.

I disengaged from the group and headed toward the front door, but I pulled off onto the little path around the side of the building. I never came in through the front door, especially not when Dad’s top (and only) salesman Rick was working. I didn’t like small talk and Rick didn’t know what other kinds of talk to make.