The Corn Field
Sprawled out in the back seat, Stevo played Mumford and Son's on his ukulele. His feet hung out the car window and his head used his backpack as a pillow. His voice was throaty, I'm sure Gale would call it sexy. Stevo didn't need to sing like that, all Cat Stevensy, full of pain and soul. He was on a ukulele in the back of my Honda Civic for Christ's sake, but I imagine he thought himself in some dark New York bar in 70's, lit by candlelight.
That's the thing about Stevo, he could conjure images of an adventurous sultry sexiness of times past. He was this rugged handsome creature with an impish smile, warm eyes, and he could do a back flip from stand still; a talent he showed off often and one that never failed to impress. I mean, fuck off.
It's never been easy being his best friend. Whenever I see a picture of us together it looks like Che posed beside a human potato. In public school he was the good looking, athletic one, but he was also the smart one and the one who could sing and dance and who could talk easily with adults and teachers. Where as I was just Greg, the round boy with a soft chin who lurked wherever Greg went.
I can't actually recall a time that I could say I really liked my best friend. I wonder if I followed him because he shone so bright, and I was like the moon, with no light of my own, just the reflected sort. But enough years and proximity did incubate a sort of love, if not a need. Would I have been invited to all those parties if Stevo weren't there to make sure I was included?
Gale sat shotgun and harmonized with Stevo. Her wild red hair was a tangle of fire. The wind from the car window stoked the flames to ripple and dance. She was a total fox and she liked me. We had been "boyfriend and girlfriend" officially on paper for four months, but that arrangement was made right before school ended for summer break. She lived in Toronto and I was from the small Ontario town of Hilltop, but we skyped most nights and now we we're back in London, Ontario, and classes at The University of Western were to resume on Monday. She looked back at Stevo and they sang to each other through their sweet smiles.
I gripped the wheel and jerked the car. Stevo dropped his uke and rolled off the seat. Gale put her seat belt on.
"Sorry, Pothole," I felt proud of myself and took the opportunity to turn on the radio to prevent any more ukulele.
"Turn that static off, Gale and I need practice?"
"We're going to start a band!" Gale joked, "We'll be called The Super Cool Team or The Fat Alberts"
They have inside jokes now? Nothing is as unfunny as an inside joke from the outside. What really concerned me though, was that Gale liked Stevo more than me. How could she not? I like Stevo more than me, and I don't even like Stevo. I know they're buds, but I didn't like how close they'd become. Stevo even stayed with her in Toronto over summer break. I didn't want to come off as the jealous type, but I made sure to skype with video every evening while he was staying with her. Those were sleepless nights.
"Lets just keep the music to a minimum, I don't want to miss our destination."
I could sense Gale and Stevo rolling their eyes. He shared a moment with my girl at my expense. That's a dangerous seed.
The plan for the afternoon was to find this grotto. Most of the land around Side Road 8 was flat cornfield, but somewhere beyond the rows the earth split open and a shady pool fed by a waterfall sat like a gem pushed into the earth. Perfect for a picnic, rock jumping and swimming.
This was all Stevo's idea of course and he had proposed it to Gale who proposed it to me. He heard about the hidden grotto from some guy he met in bar (he was always meeting new people in bars). The idea was to celebrate the dog days of summer before we set sail on Redbulls and Ritalin hoping not to drown in the ocean of textbooks and tutorials.
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WATTY 2016 WINNER of the HQ Love Award! Strange Yarns is a ball of tangled tales. Twisted, knotted, and intertwined. Like Tales of the Crypt, the Twilight Zone, and The Outer Limits. Strange Yarns is not just a collection of ghastly tales, these are...