Beautiful Distraction(6)

By: J.C. Reed


Yeah, me neither.

But Mandy’s a fan.

Apparently, the fact that they’re wearing black carnival masks (and not much else) and no one knows their real identities makes them even hotter—or so Mandy says. She doesn’t just have the band’s entire repertoire, which I swear consists of all of five songs that seem to run on replay across all stations nationwide (you can’t escape them anywhere); she’s actually not even ashamed to admit she’s into them.

Talk about turning into a groupie and reliving her teens.

Imagine my dismay when my car license registration won two concert tickets in a big radio swoop. I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but out of all the great prizes (think a new iPhone and a makeover with a celebrity hairstylist), I had the misfortune to win the tickets when I’m probably the only female in the world who wouldn’t know who they were if it weren’t for Mandy’s eclectic taste in music.

The moment I won the tickets, someone must have also bashed me over the head because I was stupid enough to tell Mandy about the win and reveal that I was considering selling them on eBay. Mandy almost blew a gasket and basically dragged me into the car to head for Madison Creek.

The fight was lost before it even began.

Which is why I’m here—God knows where—with the enthusiasm of a turtle at the outlook of putting my poor ears through the torture that’s about to befall Montana.

Poor Montana, too.

Forget the band.

Fortunately, the tickets come with a ‘one-week all expenses paid hotel stay for two.’ That’s the only upside of my prize, at least in my opinion, and the main reason I agreed to keep it.

I desperately need the one-week vacation before the boring work routine engulfs me once again.

I’ve no idea where we are, only that we’re hours away from New York City, when I unplug Mandy’s iPhone in favor of some local radio station’s playlist of Sheryl Crow and David McGray songs. We’re halfway through the second song when the news comes through.

“Storm Janet is picking up speed as she makes her way across western Montana. Residents are advised to stay indoors as severe, rare storm force winds with heavy rain are expected across some parts of…” Mandy switches off the radio.

Suddenly the gray clouds gain an ominous new meaning and my throat chokes up.

“A hurricane? Are you fucking kidding me?” I yell at Mandy, who’s speeding along an unpaved country road, past green pastures and untouched nature.

“Relax. It’s just a bit of wind, Ava,” Mandy says. “Besides, we’re almost there. Relax and enjoy the scenery.”

Relax?

I cringe and bite my tongue hard so I won’t say something I may come to regret later. Mandy isn’t exactly irresponsible; she’s just easygoing, to put it mildly.

Maybe even a bit reckless, which is what I usually adore about her.

When I met her in kindergarten, we found our friendship based on opposites:

I loved to collect coins and shells; she amassed clothes for her impressive doll collection.

I collected novels; she collected the phone numbers of hot guys.

Today, I’m a journalist; she’s an environmentalist lawyer working for a non-profit organization and needs to work as a club hostess on the side to make ends meet.

I’m a worrier; she reminds me of the positive things in life.

While I have a list for everything, including the contents of my wardrobe, she would get bored halfway through writing a list and always ridicules me for being overly conscientious, which she lovingly calls obsessive-compulsive.

“You should have told me we’d be facing bad weather. We could have waited until tomorrow. We didn’t have to depart today.” I shoot her a venomous look, even though she can’t see me because her eyes are fixed on the road, one hand on the steering wheel, the other resting on her thigh.

“And risk missing a day in a free five-star hotel? Maybe.” She shrugs. “But the thing is, if I had told you just how bad the weather might be, you wouldn’t have trudged along to see Mile High. We’ve wanted this for ages.”

As in, she’s wanted this for ages and sort of insisted that I come along.

I set my jaw and let her continue her little monologue.

A heavy gust of wind rocks the car. I wiggle in my seat nervously. “Are you sure the hurricane’s not heading our way?”

“Relax,” Mandy repeats. I swear she’s turning into a walking mantra. “Hurricanes can only form over water. Montana is far too inland to be hit by one. “

“Why were storm force winds mentioned then? What is this if not a hurricane?”

Mandy casts me a short side-glance. “A little storm or hurricane won’t stop us from having the adventure of a lifetime. For all we know, it might not even hit Montana. They said so on TV. We both know the weather newscast tends to be a little overdramatic.”