Cory Shields is a hospitality professional who currently resides in South Florida. During his leisure time he enjoys writing short stories based upon events and situations he has experienced during the ever eventful environment of the hospitality industry and life in South Florida.
Young and Green
Emerging under a film of clay and dust, the driver snickered as he peered through the rearview. Embracing the duo’s sophomoric bickering sitting atop the faded sweat stain fabric teal bench seat was his hail mary for sanity.
“This heat index is too much for any vehicle’s radiator to withstand. Even Sally and all her American made muscle had an issue,” said Ted.
“So much for ‘American made muscle’ and whatever other tropes you and the rest of the Young Ignoramuses preach. Also, you just personified a hunk of metal,” Jane said motioning a thumb towards the shadow gray metallic Chevrolet Silverado chain linked behind the tow truck.
“Young Republicans. We are The Young Republicans,” corrected Ted. “In your alternative universe you’d still be galloping through campus straddling a donkey while the rest of the tree hugger brigade gawk in awe over their clueless leader.”
Greta Thunberg’s expression of exasperated passion atop a wrinkled beige knit roared beneath weathered denim overalls. “Call the Green Thumbs club what you may. We actually strive for environmental sustainability while all The Young Trust Fund Babies do is ensure they have a Vineyard Vines polo for everyday of the week,” Jane said arrhythmically tapping her sun bleached Allbirds. Edging toward the driver’s seat scanning the barren landscape for any sign of escape while she clutched a six pack of an obscure brewery.
“Normal people actually wear clean clothes. That shirt looks like it's made from leftover hay horses from the equestrian club didn’t want,” rebutted Ted as perspiration trickled toward his brow aided by generously applied styling moose.
“It’s called recycled wool, genius.”
Opposite ends of the world resided just a three-foot slide down the dusty bench for each of these university club presidents. Juxtapose to Jane was Ted. Glistening jet-black hair neatly combed to the left, navy and white striped Vineyard Vines polo donning an American Flag pin neatly tucked into creased khaki dockers.
Ted’s reach across the bench for an attempted friendly shoulder pat was swiftly thwarted by a tenacious forearm. “The next hand that touches me will be as lifeless as fifty percent of our planet’s coral reefs,” yelled Jane.
“If I’m not mistaken, YOU asked me for a ride.”
“Desperate times call for desperate measures.”
“Well a deal is a deal.”
“Theres a higher probability you see me purchasing a surplus of plastic water bottles.”
“Listen, you agreed The Green Thumbs would attend our NRA seminar if I’d let you tag alone.”
“And look where we are now, two hours away in a damn tow truck riding through the desert. Should have used vegetable oil.”
“Four-hour drive to deliver some hippy dippy beer. Whatever happened to a Budweiser?”
Suddenly the trading of bantering jabs halted. With one comment, Jane’s debating spirit evaporated. As wide eyes narrowed, taut shoulders slumped. Vivacious green eyes grew murky as her nose flattened against the sizzling window seeking companionship from the fleeting cactuses. Miles of silence accompanied by only a marriage of rubber meeting asphalt and rattling of a rusted chain connecting Ted’s Silverado to the tow truck.
Blinding yellow beams softened to orange as the now western sun began its descent below distant canyons. As did Ted’s guard.
“Hey Jane, I’m sorry if I said something that upset you. Is everything alright?” asked Ted.
“That beer means much more than just a drink to my best friend and I,” replied Jane with her nose still planted against the window.
“Is that who you are visiting? I’d like to hear more about it if you feel comfortable.”
“His mom is losing her battle with cancer. This brewery was a place of comfort. We spent many nights both coping and attempting to escape reality before he moved back home to assist her,” said Jane easing off the window to wipe her nose. “My home life left much to be desired growing up. His mom always included me on their family road trip to nature parks.” Jane fidgeted with the 16oz cans, admiring the vibrant design. “Autumn leaves fluttering as if in slow motion replaced hurling glass bottles. Singing mockingbirds drowned out prior night's arguments. The natural serenity of those parks became my comfort zone.”
“Wow, I had no idea. I guess I should have anticipated a dire circumstance when the Green Thumbs President asked the Young Republicans President for a ride.”
Jane cracked a smile. “I apologize for criticizing Sally. I have a vinyl player named Rosey, she stalls every once and a while too.”
“You’ll make it there before nights end. One way or another. I promise”
Appearing in the headlights danced a roadside repair shop’s neon welcome sign as dusk settled. Instead of being thwarted, Ted’s hand landed on Jane’s shoulder with an approving smile.
“I really appreciate that, and I’ll help you fix Sally’s American muscle.”