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Part 7C of the Tragic Beauty Anthology
One of Three Potential Part Sevens

We finally scrambled out of the wet street and both Don and I were fully prepared to verbally attack Jerry for his actions. Regardless of his size, disposition and apparent disregard for human life, we had reached our tolerance point. There was no reason for us to put up with this kind of abuse. Jerry, however, completely diverted our plan for retribution. He smiled, gave us both a slap on the back and told us we had "done good." Then he led us to his car, an old Dodge Charger. It had been painted blue, apparently with house paint, and had the word "police" painted crudely in five different places, also with some kind of semi-gloss satin house paint.

"I'm just messing with you ladies.
Don't get all cranked up on me."

Without another word, we were off to the pancake house to meet with Candy. That was enough to placate Don, who had visions of a night of carnal pleasures dancing in his head. For me, the unfolding events were beginning to paint a different picture in my head. It was a picture of a world that was nothing like I ever imagined. Growing up in a middle class suburban neighborhood, I had been shielded from the cruel fortunes of the world by my parents. In high school I had seen twists of fate impacting my classmates, but those twists were few and far between. There was the girl who got pregnant in the ninth grade and dropped out. There was Leon, who went to jail after stealing a car and robbing a liquor store. These were the exceptions to a world of perfectly manicured lawns and sunday brunches. Now I was seriously wondering what else might be out there in the world that I would one day be exposed to. Could it be possible that no matter what your intentions, life could jam a pipe between your spokes and send you for an unexpected tumble? Could it be possible that I would not simply work my way through four years of college, get a nice comfortable job, fall in love and have a perfect little family?

The pancake house now loomed on the horizon. It was nothing like the Peek and Boo bed and breakfast hut where I often went for brunch with my parents. The cars parked outside looked like broken down wrecks and there were two women standing on the corner dressed like prostitutes. They whistled at Jerry, who blew them a raunchy kiss, and then told them "not tonight, sisters."

We went inside quickly, or at least Don and I did. There two youths standing near the dumpster and one was tying a rubber hose around the other's arm. We did not want to think about what was happening, and we hoped the patrons inside would not be as gloomy as the lurkers outside. A mere twenty minutes from the oasis of our college and we were scraping the underside of the belly of the beast. I absently started clicking my heels together and muttering "no place like home" quietly under my breath.

Inside, an overweight hostess wearing way too much blue eye make-up and four layers of foundation adjusted her hair net before pulling a pencil out from behind her ear. She immediately jotted something down on the pad in her right hand and then pointed at us with her stubby little fingers, adorned with short fingernails coated with hot pink nail polish.

"Ya want yer usual table, Jerry?"

We sat and drank black coffee for the better part of a half hour. Don got brave and ordered the blueberry pancake special while Jerry got a double stack of buttermilk pancakes. I stayed with the coffee. The number of flies buzzing around the grill turned me off from food, at least for the time being. Then Candy arrived, her appearance greeted by a round of catcalls from the four truck drivers sitting at the counter. One of them turned and goosed her and blew into her ear. She slapped him playfully and told him to "watch it" and then slid into our booth alongside Don.

"I need an 'off duty' light sometimes."

Candy didn't say much more until Jerry announced that he had to "take a fucking dump." Then she took Don's hand in hers and asked if we were really friends of Jayne's. We told her that we honestly did not know Jayne very well at all, but had somehow gotten ourselves entangled in her life. Then Candy became very serious and asked if we really cared about what became of her sister and her. We answered with an emphatic "Yes!" which shocked me with its sincerity.

"Ever since our dad died and our mom went nuts
Jayne and I have had to fend for ourselves.
For the past six years, Jayne and I have only had each other.
Even after that asshole knocked her up nothing could change that."

I then came up with the suggestion to evacuate the pancake house before Jerry returned. That set a twinkle in Candy's eye and she pulled her keys out of her purse and dangled them in the air in front of us. Don smiled, and we got up from the booth quickly. I was shocked that no one else had come up with the idea to get the hell away from Jerry. What good was it going to do us to hang around with a psychotic nut who thought he was some kind of cop?

Our next problem was Candy's truck. It was an old Dodge dating back to sometime in the late sixties and once we were all aboard, it became disagreeable about starting. She looked at Don and I with sad, big blue puppy dog eyes and told us that we might need to roll start it. Normally this would not have freaked us out, but we were growing concerned with exactly how long it would take for Jerry to complete his business in the men's room.

"Once upon a time this truck was beautiful,
but I guess we all get old and fall apart."

Luckily, the parking lot of the pancake house was on an incline, and Candy knew from experience how to handle the roll start. We had to jump into the cab while the truck was moving, and almost fell head first onto the pavement, but we were soon on the road and there was no sign of Jerry anywhere.

"We can go back to my place,
but that is the first place Jerry will look for us.
Maybe I could go back to the college with you guys."

"Oh, hey, would you mind if I put my Aldo Nova tape in?"

It was a lucky turn, as we were both huge Aldo Nova fans. Once she popped that cassette into the tape player, the old truck came to life and we were really rocking. Candy offered us some Juicy Fruit gum and began motoring forward at full speed. For the truck, that meant reaching close to thirty five miles per hour. The speed would certainly help, as I had just picked up the sight of Jerry's fake police car in the rear view mirror.

"You want to make out?"

I could not believe Don had just asked Candy such an absurd question. Neither of them knew Jerry was gaining on us, unless Candy wasn't concerned. She pulled down a dirt road and parked the truck. She turned the ignition to the accessory mode and turned the Aldo Nova tape up louder. Hungrily, she leaned forward and kissed Don full on the mouth. Not just once, but over and over again until his whole head began to turn blue.

If it had not been for Jerry smashing in the driver's side window with a baseball bat, their kissing might have gone on all night.

Thus ends Part 7C of the Tragic Beauty Anthology
To Part 8C: Beauty Surrounds Me

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