Saturday, June 21, 2008

Like Wet On Water

I went for a long, easy ride this morning, just letting Trickster meander wherever she wanted, picking up a couple of neighbor dogs along the way, getting lost in thoughts about nothing at all.

When we came up out of the woods over by that big beaver dam on Salt Creek, Trickster's ears flicked forward and she cut left, toward that old road everybody used to use for a bypass before it got too rutty. As we picked our way along the grass shoulder, I caught sight of the white top of a pickup truck just over the next rise. Juno, one of the neighbor dogs who'd been following us, took off trotting and got over the hill first. By the time I got up where I could see good, the woman beside the truck was sitting there having a real involved conversation with Juno. That struck me as awfully cute.

Riding up, I could see what the holdup was. I called out, "Hey, there," in my friendliest voice.

She just nodded once.

I took my hat off and pushed my bangs back. "Looks like you're stuck."

She stood and turned a little pirouette, picking her feet up all lively. "Nope, ain't any more stuck than a six-inch shovel in two inches of dry dirt." Then she looked down at her front tire. "Now, my truck's about as stuck as a full-grown hummingbird in a baby bullfrog's throat, if that's what you're talkin' about."

"Um, yeah, I meant your truck. Anyway, my name's Margo Moon. Happy to be of any help you might need."

Isn't it funny how sometimes a real irrelevant thought creeps in? All of a sudden it hit me that I've never really been intimate with a blonde before.

She looked back the road for a second, then turned her head and looked forward, kinda squinting her blue eyes in a way that reminded me of something or somebody I couldn't quite put my finger on. Then she offered her hand. "Destiny Jane Cavanaugh. Pleased to meet you."

I think I shook her hand too hard. And a little too fast. "Mighty pleased to meet you, Destiny Jane."

There's power in the ability to just stand there not saying anything and looking like you don't mind how long it takes for the next sentence to come out. I think Destiny Jane coulda been happy to wait all day, so I had to give in. I said, "Do you happen to have a spare tire?"

She smiled so bright, I knew the answer was going to be yes. She said, "Did Evel Knievel know how to pop a wheelie? Question is, do I have a jack."

Dang. I said, "Okay, do you have a jack?"

"About like a butterfly has a suitcase."

I took a deep, cleansing breath. "So, no?"

"You're a mighty perceptive little thing, Margo."

Who the heck was she calling little? We were the same height. Exactly. I said, "Well, I guess the only thing to do here is get you back to Happy Hands Ranch and see about fetching a jack that won't slip in all this mud. You hungry?"

There went that smile again. "Is cornbread for soppin'?"

Trickster stood nice and still while we got on, and somehow, without me even telling her, she knew it was time to go directly home.

When we got there, Starr Ann was out by the front gate, and I could see Jodie's horse, Amelia, in the paddock with Oatmeal. I waved big at Starr Ann from pretty far across the field, and seeing I had somebody with me, she waited for us to ride up.

I said, "Destiny Jane Cavanaugh, this is my best friend Starr Ann."

"Hi, Starr Ann."

Well, that kinda disappointed me, the way Destiny Jane greeted Starr Ann so normal.

We slid off Trickster and I explained the situation to Starr Ann. She told Destiny Jane, "Unless you're in a hurry, probably be best to wait until that mud hardens up before trying to jack your truck up. You're welcome to stay here for the night, and I bet things dry out by tomorrow."

Dusting off the seat of her pants, Destiny Jane said, "I'm no more hurried than a jackrabbit in two acres of carrots on a sunny day in July."

I thought the games were about to begin, but Starr Ann just said, "Perfect! Now let's go see what Jodie's cooking for breakfast."

Breakfast was real good. Jodie makes better hashbrowns than just about anybody in the world. Sitting around the table full of empty plates afterward, Jodie asked Destiny Jane how she happened to be driving along that old road anyway.

Destiny Jane rocked onto the back two legs of her chair and said, "Might as well ask how it happens that userid DestinyJane88green was already taken on Yahoo."

I could hardly believe Jodie nodded in complete agreement, and said, "Know what you mean."

A little while after we got the kitchen put back together, Jodie and Starr Ann announced they were heading out for a ten o'clock meeting downtown with Jodie's publisher. Starr Ann said, "Hate to rush off from such nice company, Destiny Jane, but we're already about as late as a pregnancy clause in a contract full of loopholes."

Destiny Jane said she knew how that was.

Destiny Jane and I were sitting in the porch swing watching Jodie and Starr Ann fade in the distance across the fields. She said, "So, are you spoken for, little Margo?"

"About as spoken for as a slice of fruitcake on a platter full of sugar cookies. And I'm as tall as you are."

Destiny Jane smiled real big and scootched over to my side of the swing some. "Well, just so happens I prefer fruitcake. And I bet ya'll make it with bourbon here in Kentucky, for that nice bite I like so much."

Right then, I started thinking that road prolly won't be dry by tomorrow. Might even take several days to get safe enough to jack up that truck.