Fiction Friday: Proud Mary and Daring Steve

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By Leslie Lindsay Fiction Friday:

Here’s this week’s revisions on my novel…getting closer and closer to being done.  We’re just a little over the half-way point here.  This is told from character, Steve’s POV.  Your comments and feedback are always welcomed. 

          “My hands pound the steering wheel to the beat of Proud Mary as the MDX cruises through the town of Waubonsee.  My left foot taps it out.  I crank the volume.  To my left, the Fairfield River. Anglers stand in the shallow body of water, their gators pulled to their bellies.  My head bops in time to the music. I smack the thigh of my jeans. 

         Rolling on the river.

         I think of nothing but the song; how it propels me to a time and place when everything felt right.

        To the time I was with Annie.  The song played on the classic rock station during our first date as I drove circles in the parking lot.   I’ll find out soon if she still looks the same as she did that night. I smack my thigh harder, shifting my thoughts to the town as I peer out the window.    

         A white steeple pierced the sky—a giant penis pointing heaven-bound.  I looked at my crotch.  No action there.  Not yet, anyway.

         We never do anything nice and easy. 

          I scan the streets of Waubonsee.  Lots of Carmargo employees live here. The good side of town.  As I wind the car down the state highway through town, I see why.  A fuckin’ Mainstreet, USA.  My Sister’s Lil Donut Shoppe–what’s a college guy’s definition of a donut?  A poor substitute for a woman. 

          Annie.  There’s no substitute for her.  Not even Beth.

         Pawsitively Cute…an upscale pet boutique.  Speaking of Beth, I’d have to talk to her about getting a puppy instead of a baby.  Milk bones I can do.  Breast pumps, I cannot. 

         I eye the other shops on the block.  The place isn’t bad.  Guys at work said Waubonsee came complete with a signature school district, a mix of professional and blue-collar…the melding of urban and suburban.  All of those assholes from the city?  Well, they move here and clean up their act.  They Have a family.  Like Annie. 

        Left a good job in the city. 

        I lose myself in the music, the song picking up speed.  A distraction from what I am really doing: going to Annie’s house.  Shit, or get off the pot. 

        The fall colors make the place kind of nice, too.  Like a storybook; the book Annie returned.  Maybe the whole damn town is just an illusion. 

       Illusion…illustration. 

       Beth.  I belt out a tune.  I don’t want to think about her.

       She made me hate fall.  Before we moved to Chicago, Beth and I lived in the Quad Cities.  A doctor diagnosed her with Seasonal Affective Disorder.  What a joke of a diagnosis.  Sit in front of a light box for twenty minutes a day, take extra vitamin D.  Get some exercise.  Be a bitch.  That was the least-restrictive treatment approach. 

         I was all gung-ho on meds.

         Then I got transferred.  A promotion, actually.  To Chicago.  Beth gave me that slanty-pissy look.  I told her I’d build her a house.  A big one.  She actually smiled.  Just a little.

        I pull at the collar of my flannel shirt, unbuttoning it a bit and shifting in the car seat.   Indian summer.  I click on the air conditioning and glance at the clock on the dash: 12:42pm.  I have a meeting at 2 o’clock.  Some BS about that focus group.  I tap my thumb on the steering wheel. 

         Workin’ for the man every night and day.

         My scalp tingles with nerves and anticipation.  My mouth grows dry.  Like a piece of sandpaper has been shoved down my windpipe.  I make a left and then a right.  I remember the way.  I’m always somewhere I don’t belong.

       For some reason, I am not as nervous as I was the last time.   

       Prairiewood Drive.  The green road sign is dizzying.  My mouth grows dry.  I slow down for the moms power walking with kids in strollers, lifting my hand in an awkward salute. 

       My instincts tell me to stop.  Turn around in the driveway of that brick 2-story and go back to work, Steve.  But I keep going and grip the steering wheel tighter.   I am here for Annie.  I grip the steering wheel tighter.

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