We came in together, the men looked up, the one with red hair, in particular. He asked, What y'all want with us?
I glanced at Precious, who cocked an eyebrow. She does the other one, I thought, and we're in the soup.
We took a seat at the counter, near the door. No one came to wait on us. Red said it again. I looked at Precious, her eyes on fire with the sun sliding under the door. I said to Red, I'm gay, hombre, can't you tell?
Why else would I be looking at a handsome dude like you? and muttered to Precious: Cracker. She smiled with both eyes and quickly I led her out to the car. I saw Red get up and start toward the door, but the window turned into a door. He and his buddies were coming through the door as I was shifting the Healey into third and then fourth when the tachometer said I should. We flew down that two-lane Alabama highway like passenger pigeons not only out of season but far from home now they were extinct.
Why'd you say that to him? she asked.
Seem'd like the best answer to his question.
That elicited one of her trademark chuckles that never failed to remind me of her half century of Southern speech . . . brogue . . . the word I learned from my kinfolk. Also long ago . . .
But you don't fight . . .
No . . . the hands, honey, I can't afford to bust my hands up.
She didn't know me well, but that was good enough, she didn't go on to ask what she must have wondered: Look at this big guy with his Cherokee eyes, why wouldn't the Irish and the Welsh and the Scots in him throw down? And I knew she'd never care now that we were out of there and happy, even with the top up and the rain beginning to pour down, fogging the windows so much I had to pull off on a muddy road, find a place to park out of sight, reach over and pull her to me, and every reader, North, South, East, and West, knows what happened next. It's nobody's business, Billie was singing on the radio . . . It's nobody's business if I do . . .
(17 August 2014)
copyright 2014 by Floyce Alexander