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Trailer Trash(2)

By:Marie Sexton

He could tell Nate didn’t know how to answer. “I suppose. Anyone our age, really.”

Cody knew his attitude was unwarranted. It wasn’t Nate’s fault his folks had money any more than it was Cody’s fault that his didn’t. He sighed. “The people you’re talking about will be at City Drug. It’s on Main Street.”

“A drug store?”

“It’s like a general store. It’s old. They still got one of those old-fashioned fountains, you know? Like from the fifties.” It was actually a pretty cool place, if you didn’t mind the preps. They made killer malts, had Ironport on tap, and sold limeades that were actually fresh squeezed. “That’s where your type will be.”

Nate grinned. His hair was blowing in his eyes again. “And what about the ones who aren’t ‘my type’?”

Cody frowned. He resisted the urge to take out his last cigarette and light it. “The cowboys’ll be at the old rock quarry, south of town. I don’t know what they do there, and I probably don’t want to. The burnouts and the trailer-park kids hang at the bowling alley. It’s only got three lanes, but there’s a Pac-Man, and Centipede, and pinball, and a foosball table.”

He could have told him that the pinball machine tilted if you breathed on it wrong, and the foosball table was missing four of its men, three from red and one from blue, but he figured Nate didn’t need to know quite that much. “Then there’s just the Mormons, I guess. They stick together. Mostly hang at each other’s houses, I think.”

“And what about you? Where do you hang?”

Cody laughed. “I guess right here, behind the ICE cooler.”

“There must be someplace else?”

Cody studied him, weighing his odds. “Maybe.”

Every school had its outcasts, and at Walter Warren High School, that role was filled by him. If he had to pick a crew, it’d be those losers at the bowling alley, but he didn’t trust them. He knew from experience they’d turn on him in a heartbeat if it suited them. So on one hand, it was kind of cool to think about having some company for a while. On the other hand, school started again in three weeks. And when that happened, it’d be over. It was a safe bet it’d only be a few days before Nate was in tight with the jocks and those preps from the Grove, looking right past Cody in the halls like they’d never met.

Still, that wouldn’t be until September, and this was August. Bright and sunny and blowing like a motherfucker. Right at that moment, he didn’t have a damn thing to lose.

“I’ll take you somewhere,” he said. “But first, let’s buy another pack of smokes.”

Nate assumed they’d leave right away, but Cody had him wait. Finally, when the last customer left the gas station, he took Nate’s money and went inside. He came back out with a pack in each hand, one of Marlboros, one of Camel Lights. He shoved the latter into his jacket pocket, and tossed the Reds Nate’s way.

He didn’t say anything. Just headed off down the sidewalk. “Where are you going?” Nate called.

Cody turned on his heel. “Thought you wanted to go somewhere?”

Ah. Cody expected him to follow. On foot. “Why don’t we drive?” He nodded toward his car, and Cody’s eyes followed the gesture to the brown Mustang parked at the end of the lot.

Cody looked at it for a minute, and Nate didn’t miss the resentment on his face. He thought about the way Cody had said, “Rich kids like you?”

“Yeah, okay,” Cody said.

Nate got in the car, and Cody came back and got in the passenger side without meeting his eyes. “Nice car.” But it was clear he only said it because he figured Nate expected it. He glanced around. “Convertible, even.”

“I had the top down the first day. It’s a lot less fun here than at home.” Having the wind in his face was one thing. Having it buffeting him from every direction was another. “My dad wants me to sell it and buy a truck.”

Cody shrugged. “Truck’ll do you a lot more good in the winter.”

True enough, probably, but the fact was, the car had somehow become the centerpiece of his battle with his dad. First, his parents had ruined his life by deciding to divorce. Then, his dad decided he needed a new start in a brand-new town. Nate had wanted to stay in Austin with his mom, but his folks decided that wasn’t how it should be, Nate’s feelings on the matter be damned. So here he was, in the middle of godforsaken Warren, Wyoming, population 2,833 (and he thought that might have been a generous estimate). He didn’t want to be here. Selling his car and buying a four-wheel-drive truck like the local yahoos drove would make him one of them.