Chasing Lightning Free Chapter Read
Gina was waiting for Scarlett behind the high
school auditorium in her sister’s red Mustang convertible. Shiny new with white
leather seats, it was the prettiest car Scarlett had ever seen. “Well, come on.
What are you waiting for? Let’s go,” said Gina. “Get in.”
Scarlett got in and ran her hand over the
leather seats. “Jeez. I’ve never been in a convertible before. It’s beautiful.”
“Yeah, I know. I wish it were mine.”
“How come your sister’s letting you use it?”
“She doesn’t know. She’s away for the weekend
so I just borrowed it. I know where she keeps the extra keys. It’s brand new,
“Yeah. I can tell,” said Scarlett, still
admiring everything about it, including the shiny chrome on the gearshift and
“Well, where should we go?” asked Gina, driving
off down Main Street.
“Before the boys spot us in this hot, new car.”
Just about the second that pronouncement left
Gina’s lips, Scarlett spotted Skeeter and his buddies in Buford Sales’ l955
Chevy Belair turning off Allegheny
Street on to Main.
Apparently, her mother either hadn’t found him or hadn’t talked him into going
back to the house with her.
“Shit!” exclaimed Scarlett. “That’s Skeeter
Boyd in that Chevy.”
“So?” said Gina.
“I didn’t get a chance to call off our date.”
“No problem,” said Gina and she floorboarded
the Mustang, burning rubber all the way down Main Street.
Buford Sales’ souped-up Chevy took off after
them but Gina managed to ditch Buford and the boys by driving down an alley.
She pulled over and turned off the engine until the Chevy’s lights flew past.
“Looks like the pussy posse’s going in the
wrong direction,” said Gina.
They both laughed. It was sure enough true.
That posse was headed for the city dump faster than the speed of light. If they
didn’t find the girls, at least they’d have a place to dump all those hormones.
“Maybe we should go down by the river,”
suggested Scarlett. “I know Buford doesn’t like to get his car dirty.”
“Neither does my sister. But we can always wash
it afterwards. Right?”
“Right,” said Scarlett. “I’ll help you.”
Gina started up the car and drove toward the
river. It was a beautiful night. A breeze kicked up from the south blowing a
coolness across the countryside. It was the absolute perfect moment for a
convertible ride down by the river. Magic rode the road and Gina was driving.
“Turn off at the next left,” said Scarlett.
“It’ll take us down to a spot I know.”
Gina slowed down and made the turn. The road
was a little bumpy but not enough to discourage them from going to their
“Remember this song?” asked Gina.
“Yeah. I remember,” said Scarlett loudly.
Gina turned down the radio. “When it was
popular, I had a big crush on Hans Van Prittwitz. Silly name, huh?” she paused
and explained. “My dad was stationed in Germany then.”
Scarlett and Gina got quiet and listened to the
rest of the song. The grass was getting tall from its spring spurt and swayed
gently in the wind on either side of the road.
“Over there,” said Scarlett pointing. “It’s the
Gina pulled the car up behind the building and
turned off the engine. “Okay. Now what?”
“Let’s go out on the wharf,” said Scarlett,
sensing Gina’s eyes on her. “You can feel the river breeze there.”
The two new friends got out of the car and made
their way to the wharf with the help of a small flashlight that was in the
Mustang. They sat down and hung their legs over the edge. The breeze was
blowing pretty good now and picking up more coolness off the river.
“Thanks for asking me along,” said Scarlett. “I
didn’t really want to spend the evening with Skeeter.”
“I know,” said Gina, sliding out of her shoes
and sticking her toes in the water. “Have you fucked him yet?”
Gina’s abruptness stunned Scarlett. She was
suddenly uncomfortable and didn’t know what to do but look up at the moon.
“Well?” prodded Gina.
“Well,” stalled Scarlett. She wondered if she
dare tell her new friend the truth. After a few more seconds of edgy silence,
she decided she would. “Yes,” she said. “A couple of times.”
“Did you like it?”
“Not really. But a friend of mine told me that
was because he wasn’t the right one,” said Scarlett. “What about you? Have you
“In Germany. Spain. Greece,” said Gina with a twinkle
in her eye. “Just about everywhere my dad was stationed the last four years.”
“You started young,” observed an amazed
“Yeah,” mused Gina. “I guess I did.”
With that they both fell silent and felt the
night. Scarlett couldn’t believe how comfortable she was with Gina. She barely
knew her yet they were already sharing secrets.
“A friend of mine drowned in a river like this
one,” said Gina. “In Greece.”
“Yeah?” said Scarlett. “I lost a couple of my
friends that way too. Right here, Norma and June. A freak current. They never
found them. It was terrible.”
“I’m sorry,” commiserated Gina and she patted
Scarlett on the back.
The big old fib had just sort of tumbled out of
Scarlett’s mouth and now she didn’t know how to tell Gina it wasn’t so. She
decided she better keep her mouth shut. If she told the truth now, it might
sound like she had been poking fun at Gina’s poor friend over there in Greece. To try
and feel better about what she said, Scarlett rationalized her behavior. After
all, June and Norma were at the bottom of the Monongahela. There was no doubt
about that. They were down there trapped between the pages of a thrift shop
book. So what if she had left out a detail or two.
“No more drowning talk. Okay?” said Gina.
“It’ll just make us sad.”
“Okay,” said Scarlett, wondering who died in
that far away river. There had been pain in Gina’s voice.
“How about a little pot?”
“A little what!” exclaimed Scarlett.
“You know, marijuana. I’ve got a joint in my
purse.” Gina took out a square, compact mirror and flicked it open. Inside was
a row of hand-rolled marijuana cigarettes.
“I don’t know,” said Scarlett. “I hear that
stuff makes you crazy. That it’s just like smoking loco weed.”
“Not true,” Gina said softly, reassuringly, and
lit one of the marijuana cigarettes with her lighter. She took a long breathy
drag on it and handed it to Scarlett.
“I don’t smoke,” said Scarlett.
“This is different. Just inhale it and hold it
as long as you can.”
Not wanting to displease her new friend,
Scarlett took the joint and drew in the smoke. She immediately started coughing.
“No. Not like that,” said Gina and took the
cigarette back from Scarlett. She inhaled on the joint and leaned over to
Scarlett who reflexively leaned back, away from her. “Well, come here. How am I
going to blow smoke down your throat if you’re way over there?”
Scarlett hesitated again and then obeyed. She
leaned forward as Gina inhaled again.
“Open your mouth,” said Gina and she moved as
close to Scarlett as one human being can come to another without kissing them
and slowly blew the smoke into her mouth. “Hold it,” she directed, “as long as
Scarlett counted to ten and then she just had
to exhale. The smoke tickled the back of her throat.
“Good,” smiled Gina approvingly. “You’ll feel
that real soon.”
It was true. In no time at all Scarlett felt
herself relax and the world around her change. The river sounds became louder
and richer, the rustle of reeds along the shore more rhythmic and musical. Even
her skin felt different. She felt every pore open as a breeze blew across her
“How do you feel?” asked Gina.
“Good, I think,” answered Scarlett.
“Well, let’s see if we can take the doubt
completely out of it.”
Gina inhaled once again and blew her breath
into Scarlett’s mouth, brushing her lips ever so slightly up against Scarlett’s
as she did. Scarlett recoiled and felt herself begin to burn inside. Unsure of
what to do, she turned away from Gina and looked up at the sky where the little
sliver of a moon grew incandescent and the stars brilliant beyond bearing.
“How about another hit?” said Gina, holding up
the joint. That twinkle was back in her eyes.
“Cool,” said Scarlett, trying to calm down and
control the fire.
Gina leaned over to Scarlett and then suddenly
pulled back. “Whoops!” she giggled. “I almost forgot what I was going there
for.” She put the joint to her red lips and drew in the smoke.
“Maybe you were going to kiss me,” said
Scarlett with a boldness that surprised them both.
Gina smiled. “Maybe I was.”
As she turned back toward Scarlett, the mood
was suddenly broken by the insistent backfiring of a l955 Chevrolet Belair.
“Shit!” exclaimed Scarlett. “They’re here. The boys found us.”
Buford’s Chevy bounced across the road and came
to stop along side Gina’s sister’s red Mustang convertible. All the guys jumped
out and admired the car and started commenting, like boys do, on such things as
horsepower and all that cam stuff. Skeeter got to Gina and Scarlett first.
“What happened to you?” Skeeter asked Scarlett.
“We had a date.”
“Didn’t Boonie tell you to meet us here?”
Scarlett replied, making up a name to buy time. “He was supposed to.”
“You know, that sort of silly looking new guy.
The one who transferred to Dillinger High the same time Gina did.”
Skeeter looked confused, trying as he was to
remember somebody who didn’t exist. Gina winked at Scarlett.
“Come on, big guy. Sit down and have a hit.
There’s one here just for you.” Gina took a brand new joint out of her compact
and handed it to Skeeter. He looked somewhere between dazed and delighted.
“I didn’t know you smoked grass, Scarlett?”
“I bet you there’s a few
other things you don’t know either,” laughed Gina as she lit Skeeter a joint.
The other boys finally came out on the wharf
and joined the party. “Hot damn!” yelled Buford. “I smell heaven.”