“So tell me exactly what you won at the awards show?” The man who lived in my second story apartment which was the least expensive of the group. I therefore expected no class at all from him or his wife and I wasn’t disappointed.
“I didn’t win anything, The guy who put the show together one most dramatic reality show. It was a toss up whether it would be life and death or a foot race across the world. Mike won it thank god. If he hadn’t won, he would be winning even now.” I said inside the Cloak and Dagger the first night I got home.
“You went all the way to California and bought that dress which you will never be able to wear again and won nothing?” he asked incredulously.
“The winning of it has no value hon. The day after you win that you are back in the same place as before,” I said.
“Soar grapes,” one of the woman said.
“You are fucking A it is,” I said laughing as hard as I dared. I was afraid to laugh any harder since Vlad convinced me to wear the red dress. I gave in only after the half bottle of Russian vodka, which did no good at all.
“Holy shit Miss Maxine how did you get that scar on the back of your shoulder.” Some asked it from across the bar.’
“Guy in Georgia gave it to me. I didn’t even know I had it tell I was in South Carolina. We was scared and runnin’ so hard. They was mighty pissed and right behind us. Damn I was young back then.”
“So tell me all about Hollywood?” One of the middle eastern man suggested.
“Sodom and Gomorrah, ain’t no doubt about that,” I said with a big wink for those nearby.
“I know you hated that,” the same man said.
“Well I did shake my head, a little.” I said. I stopped entertaining with stories of Hollywood to look around and see the crowd. “Damn, did you guys go out and call all your friends?” I asked smiling. I turned and went to the bar for another drink.
“Max the place is always full. You know that,” One of them said.
“True,” I replied from several feet away at the bar.
One of the middle aged ladies, and we use that term generically, came over to speak with me. Maxine me and Trish have something working, How about you coming along.
“Ruthy, you know you supposed to be retired. To keep the peace once you move here, and to continue being retired as long as you stay here,” I suggested.
“Maxine, honey, we know you don’t make any money on this club. We’re talking about having a old time party,” she said it with any two words sounding hip, the rest just sounded tired as well.
“I don’t think I’m interested, but I do wish you good luck. Make damn sure I get an invitation,” I said positively. With you and Trish together you should hire some security. No telling how many wives will be looking to talk to you two.”
“We plan to make them stand in line,” Ruthy said as I turned away. Somehow a party is something I felt the creator might frown upon.
I really did need something else to occupy my time. It was dead of winter and the ski resorts were in full operation. I could learn to ski. I figured I would do that right after I learned how to be fired from a cannon.
I left the Cloak alone that night close to 1AM. I didn’t mind since I was likely to be discovered and I couldn’t use drunk as an excuse. I couldn’t use hangover for an excuse not to walk, so I dressed myself and left for breakfast first thing the next morning.
About once a month I got away without breakfast at Helen’s place. I did it with the old too much to drink last night, excuse. Almost every adult could relate to it. so I hardly even got noticed except for a ‘hope you feel better hon.’ The world got a little greener and I didn’t have to see someone. who really needed that food. going without.
Point is that if I were living my life in reality, then it would be one of those morning, so I just had coffee, So when I left Helen’s, I didn’t bounce out to the parking lot. I mounted my bicycle and rode purposefully to the mall. Since it was about twenty degrees, I did get a lot of sympathetic looks. They just had no idea that it was one of my favorite times of the day.
Out of nowhere he passed me. He was young and full of energy, but he was also buttoned up in what could have been a sleeping bag with legs. I quickly picked up my pace and rolled through the gears. I pulled into the Belk Store parking lot at the mall just as he left his bike.
I took a really thoughtful look at him so that when I saw him inside I would recognize him. He had challenged me and it could not go unanswered. Then it downed on me. The two middle aged women were looking for something to do. We should hold a dead of winter bicycle race. No by God a series of races culminating in some kind of giant thing.
All that aside, there was a kid half my age who I wanted to meet. I hustled inside and found him at the coffee shop. “Looks like your daddy taught you well,” I said as I poured coffee into a plastic cup. “You look as though you like riding in the cold.”
“I prefer summer but I can function either way. I’m Bill Evers,” he said extending his hand.
“I’m Maxine stone,” I said extending my hand to him.
“Do you live here or just passing through?” I asked.
“A little of each, I am enrolled in the community college but I don’t consider this home.”
“Too bad you would likely fit right in. I mean out here in the dead of winter on you bike.” I paused a moment then went on, “I’m going to walk a couple of laps, want to tag along?”
“I would but I have class in a few minutes. As a matter of fact I have to get going right now. Maybe we will meet another day.” He walked out in his young trim little body.
Maxine, he better be an adult for what you are thinking, the voice in my head said.
“Not for the thinking, just if I do anything about it.” I said with a schoolgirl giggle.
I finished my walk and went back to the Downtown House. While there I laid the whole bike race thing out in my head. I knew that I would have to transfer it to paper before I could do any real work on it.
So I spent the afternoon getting the broad strokes down. When I finished, I had a twenty five mile race around town. The circle of the downtown was almost three miles. An oddball figure but using some fuzzy math, I got twenty five miles in eight lapse of the town. I figured that the cold would be the biggest problem, and as my daddy said about playing ball in the rain. Maxine it rains on both sides equally.
Before I could get to work on the race a childhood friend of Maxine’s showed up. I mean this chick went back to the cave dwelling days. “Is that you Lois?” I asked when I first saw her. It took more and a second for me to get it.
“Of course it is,” she said. The big clue was that she called me first.
“So Lois what have you been doing with yourself?” I asked.
“I have been a bad girl,” she said grinning.
“That doesn’t sound good,” I replied.
“I got married right out of high school. That lasted about six months and since things I can’t seem to make them work.”
“Was that your longest happy relationship?” I asked.
“Hell honey, that wasn’t a good relationship. I was just to young and stupid to know it wasn’t.
I stepped back to take a good look at Lois. She was tall almost six feet. Not quite, but she was damn close. She had very long very straight blond hair as well. She looked kind of like those mid twentieth century folk singers. She was adorable but completely nuts she also needed help.
I took a good look at her and realized, that I had money laying around doing nothing and she would make a world class hostess in a lounge of her own. Okay only kinda of her own, but better than she had at the moment.
“Now Lois, if I call your last two employers am I doing to be hearing bad things?” I asked.
“Not too bad,” she said trying to hedge. Whatever it was she was hiding, it was bad enough for her to hide it. I knew damn well that couldn’t be good.
“Tell you what Lois I’ll see if there is anything I can do for you.” I suggested.
“Thanks Maxine, if there is I really would appreciate it,” she said.
“What do you like to do?” I asked.
“Well I like to drink and screw,” she said.
“Don’t we all honey, but can you keep it under control. If I find someway to help, I don’t want it to come back to bite me. That’s how second chances get ruined. Two or three that leave you hanging and you do decide that no good deed goes unpunished for sure.
“I got it Maxine,” she said. “You expect me to act my age.”
“Something like that, you need to start thinking about accumulating things. You might not be able to live in one of these dogs, but you can start now to make the end game a little better. If you need someone to talk to, I know a lot of guys.” I informed her.
The day had gone from boring to busy. I had to organize a bike race in the freezing cold. Then I had to find someway for Lois to survive. Even as I thought that I also thought that maybe there wouldn’t be any way to save Lois.
The bike race started with a call to the three bike shops in the area. None of them was in Aster only the preachers used bike shop. It catered mostly to kids from poor families. Of course I had no objections to that either. After I got the word that there was nothing interfering with the date I had in mind, I started in earnest.
I rode over to the office depot outside the midway wall. There I quickly laid out the signs and had them printed. Before I distributed any of the poster type signage, I stopped by the police department. I explained what I had in mind. I fully expected it to get kicked around until I went over their heads and called Jennifer. I was surprised, when that didn’t happen.
Once I had the police approval, it was just a matter of getter support from the community and the small things necessary to make a race of sorts. The community support had a lot to do with people like the Reverend Archer. If he fell in behind it others would as well.
He did of course since it was good clean fun and I was organizing it. He was however sure that I had some nefarious motive. I convinced him to loan me the camper to use as an office in the parking lot of the old A&P parking lot. At the end of that day we had the posters printed, police permission, an office and people were getting on board. We had a long way to go, but it was a start.