Wheeling Park Ch. 06byAmeaner©
I said my goodbyes to Bob and Sasha after the big breakfast they fed me and left their trailer, stepping out into the already warm morning at about ten o'clock. Today was supposed to be the first day of the predicted heat wave and it wasn't hard to see, by the already high morning temperature, that the predictions had been right on the money.
Elmo and I got a lot of work done the day before in preparation for this, including repairing the underground water feed to the club, emergency generator maintenance, batting a hornets' nest out of someone's tree and running like hell, and emptying all the garbage barrels. A lot of the time, we were downing water like it was water, smoking joints and having the occasional beer to keep us going in the heat.
Neither one of us brought up Trixie. In fact, I invited him to the RV for lunch just to avoid her, surprised to find Mom's note telling me she'd gone out when we got there.
Towards the end of our chores, he asked me if I was going to the club that night. I was sitting on my bike, its kickstand down, he reclining on his ATV during a joint break in the shade of some trees.
"Maybe.", I said, shrugging my shoulders with no plans to go whatsoever.
"Maybe? Why wouldn't ya?"
"I'll probably be pretty tired. I'm not as big as you and I'm not used to this kind of work."
"Coulda fooled me. You won't really be too tired?" he asked, obviously having a hard time believing this.
"I was up early."
"Everybody'll be there, probably your folks too."
"It's okay, there'll be other nights." I said, taking another glut of the delicious, cold water we brought around with us.
He only stared at me.
"Why don't you want to go?"
" ... I told you, Elmo, I'm too ti-"
I looked away. I didn't like lying to the guy.
"Can't we just drop it?"
"What else are you going to do?"
"The whole evening, from dusk till dawn?"
"It's not unheard of."
"You are so full of shit, what's the deal, man?"
"Well, tell me!"
"Fine! I have a problem with people, okay!?"
"I just do. I can't go to places like that and just hang around."
"I don't know, I just can't!"
"Well, how did you get through school like that?"
"Not very easily, but I did because I had to. I don't have to be surrounded by a bunch of people I don't know and won't fit in with at the club."
"Won't fit in with?"
"You can't fit in with people when you're not comfortable with them. I don't like crowds, I don't like strangers, and I really don't like a crowd of strangers. I just don't do well with that stuff."
He paused, puffing the joint in thought before passing it over and speaking.
"I noticed you were a bit quiet around people. Just figured you were being polite, like you always are."
"Well, now you know. Please don't tell anyone, it's embarrassing."
"But people will ask why you're not there."
"You could just tell them you don't know. If it helps, I won't tell you where I'll be, so it won't be a lie."
He laughed at this.
"Shit, man, how often have you had to maneuver yourself outta stuff like this?"
"More times than you can imagine. Actually, I have no idea where I'm gonna go. They'll probably be partying at the RV again tonight and I don't want to have to squirm my way out of it there."
"Fuck, man.", he said, taking the joint back and shaking his head again. "I had no idea. Is it really that big a problem?"
"It's a phobia. Like people who are afraid of heights, or snakes."
"So, what are you gonna do tonight?"
"Like I said, I haven't figured it out yet."
About an hour later, when we were done for the day, he gave me a hand signal from up ahead on his ATV for me to follow him. We ended up at an old, but well maintained trailer with a well kept lot in the front row. He introduced me to Bob and Sasha, a couple in their late forties, early fifties, I guessed. Bob looked like a mini grizzly bear and was confined to a wheelchair. Sasha was a friendly, somewhat pretty lady, thin with a leather bikini top, cowboy hat and tattoos.
Elmo explained to them both about my problem while I almost died of embarrassment, (I thought I asked him to please not tell anybody!) but then asked them if I could have their couch and a place at their table in exchange for some household chores that may need to be done. They gratefully accepted, reminding him that they didn't frequent the club and didn't have any plans to go that evening.
"Elmo,...", I said as he was leaving, "Thanks, I mean it."
Instead of answering, the giant walked by me, wondering aloud, "Now, whatever happened to that Jarid kid? Musta got lost along the way here,..."
Bob and Sasha were a lot more interested in showing me how 'they' used thermite to bring down the World Trade Center and how FEMA were setting up massive concentration camps all over the world in preparation for the 'New World Order'. Great people, I loved them.
Now I ambled into lot number seven, having left my bike at their place in favour of a nice quiet walk, prepared with a good story to brush off Mom's questions and taking a minute to pet good ole Maddie before walking in.
"- seeing you like that, it really made me see- Hi, Jarid.", Jen said, looking at me suddenly as I entered, her expression making me think I'd just interrupted something.
She was standing by the counter, wearing a little pink shirt with spaghetti straps that barely covered her braless nipples and a pair of cut off hip huggers that were,... very short. I was franticly trying to shove that image into my ever filling 'To Be Pressure washed Away' compartment, when I saw Mom in a stunning two piece, black bikini. There was another image to be franticly swept into safe containment as she smiled at me curiously.
Then I noticed the woman who was sitting with her back to me. She got up and turned to face me while the other two watched, wearing a one piece, white bathing suit that her big round tits seemed to be almost bursting from. But this wasn't the big thing about her. Neither was her natural, strong faced beauty, no it was those bright green eyes that she locked on mine right away.
"Jarid,", Mom spoke up, "I'd like you to meet someone. This is our friend, Olivia. She's Ollie and Shelly's daughter. Liv, this is my son, Jarid."
Olivia, about the same age as my mother, smiled wider, very warm and sincere as she moved forward with her hand proffered. It was like staring into the bright eyes of a man eating tiger and I actually had to force myself not to step back as I stared at this beauty.
"Hello, Jarid. I've been waiting to meet you."
(enter my paranoia)
Her voice was lower than most women's, a sort of bedroom husky note that Trixie had used a few times that night during our little nap, but Olivia's was for real. More importantly, she was smart. And an operator, like me. (We can tell our own) In fact, better than me and not by just a little. I was stunned, searching for something sensible to say in reply, completely taken aback by this person while my stupid sister giggled.
I ended up taking her hand as if in a daze, nodding and mumbling, "Pleased to meet you, Ma'am."
"Oh, please don't call me ma'am?" she laughed. "Just call me Liv."
I nodded again, at a loss for words again while her firm grip held on to my hand, her eyes still locked on mine as if waiting for me to look away first. Believe me, I wanted to, but I needed some kind of lifeline to break that eye contact with her without losing face, hoping either Mom or Jen would throw me one soon. Very soon. Despite her greatly alluring draw, this woman made me nervous as hell, and not in the way other attractive women did.
"Hey, have you swum out to the sandbar yet, sugar?"
"I don't swim." I said, finally regaining a little composure and allowing myself to take in her whole face, rather than just those eyes and whatever was going on behind them.
"What are you talking about?" Jen asked with a scoff. "You know how to swim."
"But, I don't.", I said, taking my eyes from 'Liv' and grabbing that life preserver Jen threw, even though, as long as Olivia wouldn't let go of my hand, they'd end up back there sooner or later, anyway. "I mean, I can, but I don't bother. Like you most of the time."
"Well, it's a lot more fun here than in some filthy public pool. Come on with us this morning, you'll love it, bro."
Finally, she let my hand go and I glanced at her, giving her a quick smile, then back at Jen, saying, "No thanks. I actually got stuff to do pretty early and I just dropped in for a quick shower. Excuse me, please." I politely asked of Olivia, waiting for her to move so I wouldn't have to brush up against her in the narrow confines in order to get past and to the bathroom.
"What happened to you last night?" Mom asked while Olivia now fixed me with a curious look.
"I was helping someone out till pretty late and I crashed there. Just got up."
"Oh? Who was that?" Olivia asked.
"Bob and Sasha."
"Excellent people. A little paranoid, maybe, but top shelf people, for sure. So, you've been working with Elmo?"
(Shit, how did I get trapped into talking to her again?) "Yes."
"Keeping you busy?"
"Yes. Actually, I'm supposed to meet him at his place this morning to help him deal with the culvert out at the road, and that's why I actually do have to get going. On that shower, I mean."
She was looking at me like that again and, oh shit, this was going from bad to worse. I was afraid to really apply myself against her, not knowing a thing about her, and I didn't want to tip my hand to her if I hadn't already.
We locked eyes for an instant that seemed to last an eternity before she casually stood aside to allow me easy passage in my own RV, saying, "I appreciate you working so hard for us here, like you do. I imagine everyone does."
"It's okay." I said just as casually, not looking at her as I passed. "I like the work and he's been giving me good riding tips."
"Oh, that's right, too. You have a bike. We'll have to go out riding sometime, you and I."
"Sounds fun." I said non-commitally, almost at my bunk and very aware that I was now bordering on acting rude in my desperation to get the hell away from Olivia.
"Coming to the Club tonight?" Jen called. "There's a big event happening!"
"Depends on how tired I am after,... everything. Anybody need the bathroom for a while?" I asked, quickly grabbing some old clothes and my personal gear.
Nobody did and I had to force myself to calmly enter the bathroom, eerily feeling them all watching me. Or was that just my paranoia again?
I dropped my stuff on the vanity in the closet sized bathroom, leaning against it and finding my face in the mirror. I looked my own self in the eyes and heaved a big sigh, letting it out slowly while suddenly being reminded of that old film, The Body Snatchers.
"Get your shit together. She's just another person, is all." I mumbled to myself.
I took my good old time shaving, brushing my teeth, showering, getting dressed and combing my hair, hoping they'd all leave to go swimming before I got out, but that wasn't happening. I walked out, putting on a rushed and distracted attitude in my thrift store, faded blue jeans and old Guns N Roses T-shirt, firing my gear back into my bunk and heading for the door.
"Have something to eat before you leave, hon." Mom said.
"I had a big breakfast at Bob and Sasha's, I'm good." I assured her, adding on my way by, "Nice meeting you, Olivia."
"Likewise. Hope you make it tonight." she said, smiling but watching me very closely.
"Can never tell." I told her with a returned smile.
I bid them all goodbye and made my exit, walking straight for the track, giving Maddie a scratch on the head as she paced along with me for about ten feet.
I heaved another big sigh of relief, even wondering if I'd blown the whole thing with this Olivia out of proportion. This was Ollie and Shelly's own daughter, after all. Was I just affected by her looks? Women definitely made me nervous, but never like that. Plus, there was the whole feel of the situation once I cast my mind back as I walked. Jen and Mom were,... weird. Nothing I could put my finger on, apart from how they were dressed, but just the same,...
The two things I was able to settle my mind on before reaching Elmo's place was that this Olivia woman was most definitely 'Odd Thing Number Three', and that, like her father, she wasn't to be crossed.
~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
I was putting along behind Elmo at about two thirty, on our way to his place to drop the tools before getting ready for a trail ride he'd organized. The morning's events had become less important, seemingly overblown in the light of having successfully dealt with the culvert, heat or no heat, and I wasn't really thinking much of them until I saw Jen coming out of a lot, flagging us down.
"Hi, Elmo!" she said happily, dressed the way she was that morning.
"Hey, Barbie! Punch anyone out today?"
"Would you stoooooop?" she laughed.
"How can we help ya?"
"Umm, actually, I kinda wanted to talk to Jarid about something."
"Can it wait?" I asked. "Kinda busy right now."
I could tell by the look on her face that she may have let it go at that, but then Elmo spoke up.
"Go ahead, I can deal with this, man. Come up the house when you're ready to go, 'bout an hour?"
"Uh, yeah." (shit!) "Sounds good."
He took off and Jen hopped on the back of the bike with me.
"What's goin on?" I asked irritatedly, thinking of how she was dressed, despite how hard I was trying not to do that.
"That way. That last picnic table, there in the shade."
She hopped off when we got there and sat at one side of the table, me on the other and facing her after carefully setting my bike on its stand in the grass.
"Okay, what?" I asked, the feelings of this morning creeping back into my chest.
She gave me a funny look, then said, "You were kinda rude with Olivia this morning."
"I didn't mean it, I just woke up and I was kinda late."
"Yeah,... that's really no excuse. Livy is a really nice person, you know."
"You should apologize, or something the next time you see her."
"Fine, I will." I said, shrugging one shoulder.
" ... What's your problem?"
"I don't have a-"
"That won't work this time."
"I don't have a problem." I stated emphatically. "I'm a bit tired lately, is all and-"
"You're lying. Anyway, this is supposed to be a vacation, why are you always working or sleeping?"
"I'm not, I'm going on a trail ride later."
"Then, why are you always too tired to do anything else? Why are you being such a jerk lately?"
"How in hell am I being a jerk?"
"Like I said, this is supposed to be a family vacation and you're hardly around."
"How would you know, neither are you."
"I'm spending time with Mom!"
"See? You're acting like a jerk!"
I rubbed the back of my neck, looking across the park and allowing the colourful patio lanterns to distract my eyes for some seconds before answering.
"Haven't you noticed anything,... weird here?"
"No, like what?"
"No kids, for one. We're the youngest people here and there's damned few people here in their twenties."
"The general appearance of all the people here?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean that everyone here seems to be,... like peas in a pod. And not the suburbanite pod."
"There's nothing wrong with anybody here, they're all nice people. What are you talking about?"
Lowering my voice a little, I said, "They're bikers."
" ... Wha?" she asked, looking at me like I was crazy.
"Bik-kers.", I re-explained, looking her straight in the eye. "Like the Hells Angels, or whatever club they belong to."
"Trust me, it's true."
"What the hell makes you think that!?"
"Oh, I don't know,...", I answered sarcastically. "The copies of Easy Rider in every trailer, the free running booze, pot and cigarettes, pickup trucks full of 'The Boys', the fact that I can easily imagine any of them in leather and on a Harley? Oh, and let's not forget the six Harleys in Junior's yard and the few others you'll see around, plus the tattoos, piercings and all the big tits."
She was slowly shaking her head.
"Big tits?" she asked, raising her brows.
"Bikers usually like women with big tits, look at any Easy Rider mag and-"
"You're a paranoid tard." she said, laughing now.
"I am not a-"
"You are, just listen to yourself! And who cares if they are bikers? They've been nothing but good to us, Jarid. You're hanging around one, what problem could you possibly have with these people?"
"I'm not saying they aren't friendly, I'm just saying that they're bikers and that, as bikers, they have a different,... way."
"What, a friendly way?"
"Fuck sakes, Jen, haven't you noticed an overly relaxed social scene here? Bikers have different morals than us, they're not like us and it doesn't matter how friendly they're being. I'm talking loose, alternative lifestyles here that we don't want to get sucked into!"
Now she paused before answering, giving me a strange look before saying, "I think you're just talking a lot of bullshit."
"Oh, you brainless twit, you know this is my thing, would you just listen to what I'm saying and-"
She got up, angry now and probably about the 'brainless twit' thing, but leaned over the table with her hands on its top as if she wanted me to see down her very low cut shirt, which I couldn't help but do..
"No, you listen to what I'm saying! These are very friendly people who have taken us in and have done all they could for us! Mom is happier than I've ever seen her in my life and I'm happy here, too! If you're too much of a stupid snob to enjoy yourself, then that's your problem, but don't fuck it up for the rest of us! I had a lot more to lose than you in coming here, but you don't see me ruining it, do you?"
"What did You have to lose? Hockey school? Mom paid for that with Dad's money! I actually had a job that I was going to use to get by on my own dime with, until I got dragged out here to spend the summer having to meet people like Olivia!"
"Don't you dare say anything bad about her!"
"What are you talking about, idiot? You've only known the woman, what? A day!? Believe me, you have no idea what you're dealing with-"
"Well, I happen to think that Mom's judgment is a lot sharper than yours, you stuck up fucktard!" she flung, quite angry now.
But, so was I.
"Give me a break! Mom is too spazzed out to even notice that you've been running around like a little two dollar whore ever since we got here!"
Her bottom lip quivered before both of them curled, creating that expression she gets just before she punches someone in the face but, as her brother, I was exempt from that kind of retaliation from her.
Well, that's what I thought.
By the time I got off the grass, my hand on the side of my suddenly aching jaw, she'd already run across the track and was cutting through someone's lot.
"Shit! Fuck!" I hissed.
~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
The ride would have been a lot more fun, had it not been for that argument with Jen lingering on my mind the entire time. And then, of course, my paranoia had a little party with me, telling me I was surrounded, worse, out in the woods with 'The Boys', supposedly for my protection and without any civilization in sight. Brilliant maneuvering on my part, I thought at the time, winding down a steep, narrow trail in the dust cloud of two ATVs ahead of me.
I didn't bother going back home for a helmet, or anything. I already had work boots on and, with a spare helmet borrowed from Elmo, I was ready. Simplicity rocks and that was definitely one thing I did like about Wheeling Park.