Written by: TVM (firstname.lastname@example.org)
"Hey is Dakota coming out soon?" I asked Lisa (Wilcox) as she exited the locker room with her friend Patty Peterson.
"The trainer is still looking at her knee from that fall she took in the last inning," Lisa said.
"Dakota's OK though I've seen a lot worse," Patty chimed in. "Coach should be out in a minute."
"Can I go in and see?" I asked.
"Sorry Coach Rowe doesn't allow any non-players in the locker room," Lisa said.
"Thanks anyway," I said as Patty and Lisa walked off now arm and arm. Leaving me with a helpless feeling and worried that Dakota was alone in the locker room and laying there with no one to comfort her. Of course that turned out to be a blond moment when I realized that Bre hadn't come out yet and that was the girl that Dakota was now sooo in love with. "It's not my problem anymore so I'm going home."
"You finally ready Shakespeare?" Courtney asked as I came around the corner to find her coming to find me after getting me a soda. "Dakota's OK?"
"I don't know," I said as I walked past her and tried to convince myself that I didn't care anymore.
"OK, I'm getting really tired of you acting this way," Courtney said firmly. I stopped and looked back at her as she caught up. "You've been acting weird all day. Is this about the phone call this morning?"
"What phone call?" I asked drawing a blank at that moment.
"The one from my Dad this morning," she said. "I been meaning to talk to you about it."
"Go on," I said as a knot formed in my stomach.
"My dad might have to pull me out of school," Courtney blurted out as I looked at her in shock.
"Are you kidding just to get me out of my funk?" I asked.
"I wish I was," Courtney said. "He's done this before."
"Why? What did you do? Is it your grades?" I asked in a panic.
"Mindy calm down," Courtney said with a kiss. "Nothing is set in stone and no it's not my grades. It's my Dad's business."
"You're leaving me?" I asked in shock, pushing her away when she tried to hug me. "You're fucking leaving me?"
"No I'm not," Courtney said. "I said maybe."
"I broke up with a great girl for you," I said as I again pushed her away. "I broke her heart for you. I destroyed the most important relationship in my life and now you're leaving me?"
"I wouldn't leave you I love you," Courtney said. "But if he decides to pull me out I have to go."
"Why don't you go now," I said as she looked at me as if she wanted to cry. "Why don't you go to hell."
"I LOVE YOU, MINDY SUILLIVAN," Courtney screamed after me as I ran off with tears rolling down my cheeks. I ran back around the side of the building and through the big double doors that I'd been waiting by earlier when Patty and Lisa had come out. I quickly stopped when I realized where I was. I turned to leave when I heard a familiar voice coming from behind a door to the right of me. The one with the glass slots in it so you can see what's going on without getting caught. So, my natural curiosity taking over, I started to eaves drop.
"What do you think she wants to talk to me about?" Dakota asked from the other side. I'd know that voice anywhere.
"I have no idea," Bre said. "How's your knee?"
"Hurting so bad I'm gonna black out," Dakota said. "Will you kiss me before I do?"
"Be serious," Bre said as Dakota giggled. Coach Rowe coming out of her office.
"Bre you should head on back to the dorm," Coach Rowe said firmly. "I've gotta talk to Dakota and you're already past curfew."
"I can wait outside and just walk back with her," Bre said.
"I'll make sure she gets back to her dorm," Coach Rowe said. "Now go."
"OK OK," Bre said reluctantly. "Call me?"
"I will," Dakota said as I dipped back into the darkness that the corner provided and watched (a pissed off) Bre leave.
"What did you need Coach?"
"Dakota this is not easy and I didn't wanna do it in front of your friend," Coach said. "But I have no choice."
"What are you talking about?" Dakota asked.
"I just talked to your parents and found out that they didn't know you were playing softball again," Coach Rowe said as my bottom lip dropped in shock. "You forged their signatures?"
"Yes Ma'am," Dakota said in a defeated voice that was barely audible. "I just wanted to play again."
"You're off the team effective immediately," Coach announced in a blunt/heartless manner. "Clean out your locker and get out of my clubhouse."
"What a bitch," I said as Dakota gave her one last hurt look and limped off towards me and slammed the door open as she left. Coach Rowe simply walked off back into her office as I followed after Dakota and was now not sure what to do. I knew she had sensed my presence and stopped.
"Is someone there?" Dakota asked after we reached the walk way outside. "Bre?"
"It's not Bre," I said softly as Dakota looked back and then turned and gave me a confused look. "How are you?"
"What are you doing here?" she asked as I joined her. "I thought you left with Courtney."
"I saw you fall in the outfield in the last inning and wanted to make sure you were OK," I said. "And then I accidentally heard what Coach Rowe did to you."
"Yeah she kicked me off the team for being dumb enough to think that I could play softball again," Dakota said. "And you were worried?"
"Yes!" I said. "Why do you think I'm still here?"
"I think that's a question that you need to answer yourself," Dakota said. "Considering the last time we were alone together you basically, almost admitted..."
"Courtney said she was leaving school and I ran off crying and accidentally ended up in there and heard what you and Coach were talking about," I babbled. Desperately not wanting Dakota to mention the whole "do you still love me" moment that occurred earlier in the day. "I get myself into the craziest messes. You know me."
"She really is leaving isn't she?" Dakota asked. "You've been crying."
"No I haven't," I said and tried to walk off and found Dakota limping as she tried to follow me.
"Mindy, OWWWWWW, Mindy please stop," Dakota begged as I stopped and saw her sit down on the bench and hold her knee as she just about cried in pain. I ran my fingers through my hair in mass confusion as I looked at the girl I once loved and now considered openly if I still did love her. "Please help me?"
"Of course I will," I said as I came back and sat down by her. "You sure you're OK?"
"It's just sore and all," she said softly. "Courtney made you cry?"
"I don't wanna talk about it," I said.
"You don't wanna talk about anything anymore," Dakota said. "Now either tell me what the fuck is up or stop acting weird."
"OK then I'll stop acting weird," I said as Dakota laughed.
"You've always been weird," Dakota giggled as I gave her a dirty look. "Is she really leaving? Courtney?"
"Said she might be," I replied. "I guess it serves me right for cheating on you. I don't deserve to be loved."
"Yes you do," Dakota said. "And OWWWWWWW..."
"Come on I'll help you back to the dorm," I said as Dakota smiled and rose to meet me and slowly but surely we did make our way back to the dorm.
"10 and 0 baby," Cindy celebrated as we came down the hall of the dorm. Cindy and the softball team just having won their 10th consecutive game and moving into first place in their division. A masterful pitching performance by Lisa (Wilcox) and the stabbing stop of a line drive by Hana Peterson in the last half inning to preserve the victory made for a thrilling win.
Lisa and Patty were still celebrating as they disappeared into their dorm down the hall and left Hana looking frustrated and pissed off. A look that did not fall on deaf ears (or eyes) as Laney quickly invited her new friend to hang out with us for a while before bed. Little did Laney know that she was in for a major surprise courtesy of Cally. A girl she really barely knew.
"These are the coolest computers ever," Laney cooed as she held the box to what was to be her MacBook Air in her hands a few minutes after we had gotten settled back in the Mintz suite.
"I'll say," Hana said as she looked on from beside Laney. "It's a pretty blue."
"What color would you want if you had one?" I asked Laney as we stood at the counter.
"I like this one." Laney said. "Can I borrow it some so I don't have to go to the library?"
"No," I said as she gave me a surprised look. "But you can keep that one."
"Yeah I'm so sure," Laney said as I motioned for her to follow me and as she did I led her and Hana into mine and Cindy's room and showed her that two others now lay on the bed. "Those are yours and Cindy's?"
"And Max and Dakota already have theirs in your room," I said. "Cally said you could have this one."
"Tell her yet?" Cindy asked as she appeared at the door to our bedroom, just having gotten out of the shower.
"Have you lost your mind?" Laney asked as she looked directly at me. "No one just gives away a 2000 dollar computer."
"Her dad bought them for Cally and her friends and she ended up with an extra," I said. "I asked if you could have it and she said yes."
"I think you're already the best friend I've ever had," Laney said as I grinned and gladly hugged her after she had set down her new laptop.
"Are you sure they're not dating?" Hana asked Cindy.
"Yes I am sure," Cindy said as she tried to pull me away from Laney, which started a giggling tug-of-war as Laney refused to let go and with me as the bait. Cindy worked her way around so she could poke at Laney's tickle spots but that ended with all three of us crashing to the bed. Then suddenly both Cindy and Laney turned on me and starting tag teaming me as I squealed in laughter and tried my best to get away.
"You guys are a lot of fun," Hana squealed over the laughing and prompted a pause in the action as she grinned innocently. Little did she know that she had just made a major mistake. Cindy and Laney grinned at each other and agreed with their eyes who the next target would be: Hana. She started backing away as the two of them jumped off the bed and chased her out of the room. I laid their laughing as I watched them catch her around the couch and proceed to tickle the piss out of her.
"I'll get that since I'm the only one here," I giggled after I heard the phone ring. "Hello?"
"BreAnn how are you?"
"Mom?" I asked in confusion as I hadn't heard from her on the phone in weeks maybe a couple of months. "Is this really Rachel Kelton of Billings, Montana?"
"Yes you little smart ass it is," Mom said as I laughed.
"What do you want? I'm about ready to crawl into bed with my buff handsome boyfriend," I said and laughed harder when Mom gasped.
"And who is this boyfriend you have in your room at an all girl school?" Mom asked in a gotcha moment.
"The math teacher," I said as she groaned. "Old enough to be my Dad but he's a great lover."
"What does he think of this pretty Dakota girl that your school's softball site says you're dating," Mom asked in the ultimate gotcha moment. I remained quiet for a long moment and as much as gave away that it was true. "BreAnn?"
"We're not exactly dating Mom," I said. "We're... kind of moving sideways for the last few weeks."
"And how do you move sideways in a relationship?"
"It's just that we've been focusing so much on softball that we haven't had much of a chance to do anything together" I said. "And no I'm not gay before you ask."
"It took me a while to come to terms with the fact that you were dating a girl," Mom said. "But it's not like I'm shocked."
"We do have limited options here," I said. "Is that why you sent me here?"
"Yes BreAnn I sent you to a girls school so I could turn you into a lesbian," Mom said.
"Mom you know you can't turn someone into that," I said. "You're born that way."
"Instead of discussing social issues how about we talk about your favorite topic instead?" Mom asked.
"Group sex with strangers?" I asked as Mom laughed.
"You coming home potty mouth," Mom said as I was (for once) silenced. "For good."
"Have you started drinking?" I finally asked.
"No I have not," Mom said. "I am though in a much better position to deal with you and your numerous emotions."
"Oh great timing Mom," I said. "I'm finally starting to like being here and you come around to the thought I should come home."
"This has nothing to do with your relationship with this Dakota girl if that's what your thinking," Mom said. "She seems sweet and she's very pretty."
"I wasn't thinking that at all," I said. "But it is interesting that you jumped to that point."
"I'm not arguing with you about this," Mom said. "I am sincerely offering you your wish."
"Well school is over in a month," I said. "Maybe when I come home for the summer we can discuss it."
"Mom call me Bre everyone here does," I said.
"Your birth name is BreAnn and I will call you that as long as I please," Mom said.
"You do that Rachel Ann," I said and hanging up the phone in protest. I used my Mom's hated middle name as a tool to piss her off. "Why the hell would I want to come home and live with you again?"
"You wouldn't," I answered myself and began to laugh at my own goofiness.
"Two flap stacks with links and taters and big moo," I shouted through the window to Harold as he single-handily manned the grill like a pro. And yes that is the very Harold we'd met just a couple of days earlier and had Darlene hire him practically on the spot. He was as good as advertised too, a cracker jack on the grill and a great floor manager that keeps us from constantly crashing into each other. It's hard to explain unless you've actually worked in such a cramped place that is Fast Eddie's Eats.
The place on this night was just winding down from a really bumping dinner hour in which we had to actually turn people away. Myself, Megan and Holly all three worked our booties off in an effort to meet the demands of a hungry brew. And Harold was (literally) frying eggs with one hand and hamburgers with the other while keeping an eye on tomorrow's stew and the meatloaf in the oven. He was truly the general of the kitchen.
"Flap stacks, links, taters is up," Harold bellowed as Megan swiftly picked it up and delivered it to the customer at the counter. "Is that it?"
"That's it for now," I said as he grinned and went to check on the stew.
"WOW!" Megan said as she crashed down at the far end of the counter by the coffeemaker as I stood taking a small break. "That was a lot of fun."
"You're getting the hang of this waitress thing," I said as she grinned. "Gonna run me out of a job if you keep it up."
"Not a chance Rae Rae," Megan said. "If they fire you I go too."
"I'm so sure Megs," I said as she grinned. The door bell chimed as what I hoped wasn't another customer turned out to be the one person I did wanna see, Maxie. "TAY!"
"What?" she asked as I practically ran to meet her. "Oh hey."
"I missed you," I said following it with a kiss. "That's what."
"I'm sorry it's been like two days but the workload is picking up at school and you said I had to keep up," Maxie said as I kissed her again.
"I know all about it," I said as I gladly slipped into her arms. "Just glad you love me enough to come see me."
"I do like you," Maxie said as I gave her a dirty look as she laughed. "I love you."
"And don't go forgetting that," I said as Harold came out of the kitchen and stopped cold when he saw Maxie.
"Harold Parker? What are you doing in Eddie's kitchen?"
"I'm working here now," Harold said, eye-balling Maxie's arms around me. "And I see that you have successfully moved on from Chloe?"
"We're both happy now," Maxie said. "She's with someone else and I got lucky and found Sarah."
"I'm the lucky one," I said as Maxie pulled me tighter in her arms.
"Why didn't Shelby tell me you were working here?" Maxie asked Harold.
"She doesn't know anything," Harold said. "I haven't had the courage to call her since my last visit."
"She doesn't blame you," Maxie said. "She still loves you."
"Is she still happy with Cindy?"
"Planning to get married," Maxie said as Harold laughed.
"I'll call her tomorrow when I have some time..."
"Go see her," Maxie said. "She'll jump into your arms I promise you. By the way where's her Mom?"
"Divorced and I left her ass back in New York City to deal with her delusions," Harold said. "I convinced the judge to give me full custody."
"So Shelby will be here all the time now?" Maxie asked.
"Appears that way," Harold said as Maxie smiled.
"Oh yeah is Mom and dad around?" Maxie asked as I rolled my eyes at her new names for Eddie and Darlene. "I need them to sign something for me."
"Eddie said he'd been in around this time with the tools," Harold commented.
"Tools?" I asked.
"Uh huh," Harold said as he pointed to the counter as Megan swayed over to join us. "I suggested we cut off the end of the counter to make it easier for you girls to get in out from behind the counter."
"That sure will make things quicker," Megan said.
"We're also gonna use this empty space right here for more seating," Harold said as he motioned to the blank space by the front door. "Might be able to fit three more booths in here."
"And who is gonna pay us extra to wait on all of these extra people?" I asked.
"Yeah who's gonna pay her extra?" Maxie mimicked as I laughed.
"I've already talked to Eddie about giving you girls a raise," Harold said.
"Good luck with that one I been asking for a year," I complained. "And no such luck."
"But business sure has picked up lately," Megan said.
"It sure has," Holly chimed in from waiting on one of the last remaining customers. "My feet hurt."
"And my ears hurt when you complain," Megan fired back. "Shut up!"
"Anyway," Harold said drawing the attention back to himself. "With those three booths we could raise the number of seats by 10 percent."
"Wouldn't it be better to add tables?" Maxie asked. "Not enough room for a booth is there?"
"Tables would solve the problem of one person taking up an entire booth while a family is waiting," Harold said. "I saw that earlier with that Mel character."
"Now don't you go starting with Mel," I said. "He's a loud mouth but harmless and he's a good customer. Did I say that?"
"HMMMMMMMM," Maxie said as she felt of my forehead to make sure I didn't have a temperature. "No temperature."
"I'm worried about you now Rae Rae," Megan said as I laughed.
"Speaking of the devil here comes Eddie now," Harold said as he headed back off for the kitchen and a somber looking Eddie came through the door with a ringing of the bell to signal his arrival.
"Hey Dad," Maxie said as Eddie half-smiled and put his arm around Maxie and simply said, "We need to talk kid."
"Did I do something?" Maxie asked as she slipped from behind me.
"No it's not something you did," Eddie said. "Walk with me outside for a minute?"
"Sure," Maxie said as she left with Eddie. Me and Megan decided to be nosey as we rushed to the window to try and eaves drop. No such luck as the glass was too thick.
"If you two steam up the class you're cleaning it off," Harold said from the kitchen as both Megan and I laughed. Another customer came in as Megan and I got back to work and barely noticed when Maxie and Eddie came back inside. Maxie took a seat at the counter and looked noticeably quieter. I was about to return to the front and ask if she was OK when Eddie pulled me into the tiny storage room in the back.
"What is it?" I asked.
"Maxie's Mom passed on," Eddie said as my stomach dropped out in shock. "Her lawyer called and said he'd forward us the papers for her estate."
"OHMIGOD Tay," I said in complete shock.
"Don't go out there and make a huge thing about this unless she does," Eddie advised. "She seemed cool to it to me. I'm guessing she didn't have a close relationship with the lady."
"She pretty much hated her," I confirmed. "OK I won't make a big deal out of it."
"Good!" Eddie said as we came out of the storage room just as Holly and Megan came back in the front door with the ringing of the bell signaling their arrival back. Where they'd been was an interesting question I'd like to have asked if it hadn't been for a more pressing question: Where in the world is Maxie Bradlidge? She was gone.