Sunday, August 30, 2009

Strangers

Strangers make me nervous. I don’t like human beings to get within knife range of me on my best days. It’s not I’m afraid I’ll be killed by some random person or anything like that but it’s more like watching the traffic around you because sooner or later some moron is going to do something stupid while driving. Working in and around traffic totally destroys any faith a person might possibly have in humanity. Survival is predicated on assuming the worst of each and every driver coming at you. I just transferred that belief system to humans not in traffic, and so far I’m still alive.

The phrase “pissy attitude” would be spoken before the end of the evening.

Leigh is a woman I know from the Y but it isn’t like we’re good friends. I do remember telling her where I lived, and telling her my neighbors operate a horse riding business. Generally speaking, no one rides horses after dark, and my neighbors aren’t the type to do business with people who show up drunk. Leigh wasn’t sloppy drunk, but I could tell she had been drinking, and the couple with her, Billy Bob and his wife, Karen Anne, was getting more than a little tipsy. They were on their way to Tallahassee and Leigh mentioned she knew someone who lived out this way.
When they pulled up in the yard I went outside with the .38 in my hand, as I always do when someone I do not know arrives. Leigh’s friend Billy Bob didn’t much like it. He’s the type of guy who got into the habit of calling everyone “Boy” and there isn’t anything that irritates me more. Billy Bob had a plan, however, and I knew something wasn’t right, I just didn’t know what it was. Because Leigh seemed really embarrassed over the clash between myself and Billy Bob before they could get out of the truck, I invited them in.

Lucas is still in that love me love me love me love me love me phase puppies go through, and Sam is still terribly jealous, so that helped. Clearly, Billy Bob and I did not come from the same planet. He wondered aloud where my stuffed fish and Deer heads were. Why was I not watching ESPN? What in the hell was I doing listening to that weird classical music, oh wait, I’ve got my CDs in the truck I’ll go get them.
Southern Rock isn’t something I have ever liked, and I’m sure as hell not going to have someone I do not know wade into my house and play music I do not like. Billy Bob hated Bach, so I decided an end of the evening was needed, ten minutes after it began, and I told them while I really enjoyed meeting them, I thought it was time they went on their merry way. Tallahassee was where they were going, so there they ought to go. Billy Bob switched tacks and decided I needed to go with them. No, thank you, I rather not. He went through this long list of things they were going to do, and it dawned upon me he was trying almost desperately to find some way to get me to go with them. I put the dogs out of the back door, went to the front door, and held it open. Go. Now. End of conversation. Leave now, and do not come back. It was far more rude than I like to be but Billy Bob was a man on a mission, and I had no idea what that mission might be. All I knew is I wasn’t going to be part of it.
There was this weird standoff where Billy Bob was trying to get me to shake hands with him and I was telling him to get out. It’s a major insult in The South for a man to refuse to shake hands with another, and we both knew it. Leigh and Karen Anne went and got into the truck, and that more or less pulled Billy Bob out of the house. I closed the door, turned off the outside lights and cracked another beer. I really hate people sometimes.

A few minutes later Leigh knocks on the door. Billy Bob got abusive so when they got to the end of the driveway she got out. She’s got no cell service this far out, and so I let her borrow my landline to call for a ride. I’ve been drinking so I can’t take her back to Valdosta, and besides, it’s getting late. I have visions of Billy Bob coming back for her. This will not end well. Leigh tells me they were going to Tallahassee and when she mentioned she knew someone who lived out here, Billy Bob remembered his father used to take him fishing out near my neighbor’s lake when he was a kid. His idea was to make friends with me so he could go fishing out there again.
See? There is a reason I do not like people.

Leigh can’t find a ride so I let her sleep on the sofa. It occurs to me Leigh isn’t a bad looking woman, but it also occurs to me Leigh hangs out with some very unsavory people. The thought wanders in and out of my head for a while, but then it finally wanders away. It’s late. I’m tired. We’re both drunk, and she doesn’t have a way out. It’s a little too close to predatory at this point.

This morning Lucas wakes her up with puppy kisses at dawn. She’s incredibly embarrassed about the whole thing now that she’s sober, and she apologizes over and over and over again. I give her a ride home, and just before she gets out of the truck she asks me, “Do you think I’m pretty?” Leigh is a thirty something year old woman who works out every once in a while. Her hair is bleech-ed blonde, and she wears too much make-up most of the time. But here in the early morning light, with her hair pulled back, and all the make-up gone, and she’s just about to cry, yeah, Leigh is pretty. I tell her it’s okay, and that had everything been different, it would have been different. She smiles, slides out of the truck, and I’m alone again.

Take Care,
Mike

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