28 Day Writing Challenge #17

February 17, 2017
By , Elk Grove, CA

Summer in Linda was normally a breathtaking heat. It didn't make you sweat, it made you dry up. Then it made you dry out. Heat swelled against you like the pressure of an imaginary hand from the heavens, trying to force you to lay down. There was an Aesop fable about the weather, which wasn't really about the weather but instead used the anthropomorphic sun and wind.They made a bet that they could each get a man to take off his coat. The wind blew really hard to blow it off but the man simply clutched harder. Then the Sun cranked up the heat and the sweaty man relented. The moral: Persuasion works more than force. The rainstorm of yesterday quelled this only slightly, but it was bareable. That's why he coaxed me out to the lawn of his father's house to spill the details of my aforementioned life of crime. And perhaps what happened before that. Carson leaned on his elbows, cradling his chin in his hands. I thought it must hurt his elbows but he didn't seem in pain. His face was shaded giving it more color than the usual off white complexion that must be a curse when it is hot "Your hair is different." I say, because I want him to know I notice. I want him to know I pay attention. He's done so much for me, but my thanks don't spill out easily. It seems to run in my family. "I didn't have time to comb it." He says, doing so with his fingers. It flops against his head in strings , possibly a side effect of the sweat. "Are you really from Canada?" He starts, in what we both known is more of an interrogation than a get to know you sesh between friends.  "No." I decided not to lie anymore. "I'm from Los Angeles. I lived with my parents for a while but..." Honesty doesn't mean every last detail. He isn't annoyed. Carson continues staring into my eyes. Waiting. "I lived with my sister, in Sacramento. Then I graduated high school and went to cosmetology- you know, makeup, school. But I dropped out." "Why?" He says. Simple question. Too many answers. "It wasn't for me." He nods, which I take as a prompt to keep going. Get to the crime. "I was living by myself for a few months, I roomed with another girl who had some connection to the band." "You were still in Sacramento?" "No. Northern California now." It's weird to talk about the past in such a detached way. How many significant moments passed in those few sentences. "My roommate knew I needed money, so she told me, when she was half sober, about a job. For a celebrity." His faces scrunches up. It's not attractive. "I just had to attack him." I say, wary of the implications. "I know." He replies in a defensive tone. He keeps licking his lips because it's so dry out here. Even in the shade. "I did it. Nothing personal. And I thought, well, I had gotten away with it." "I did think you were a guy." He sheepishly points out. I laugh, not forced but genuine. "Yes, that. So, I get caught because of some anonymous tip to the police, and they arrested me when I was in the hospital. Parker was already with me because I had a flu." I didn't mention that she nagged my ear off about getting sick in the first place. It's not something I have control over. The sun tucks behind a cloud and shade suddenly falls over the whole yard. "I guess I'll be charged with assault or something. I can't afford a lawyer, obviously." "I mean," Carson starts, but I don't need any more pity so I interject. "Carson, that came out needy. You don't need to do anything more for me, OK? They'll appoint me someone, right. And I'll plead guilty." He raises his hand. Carson has an air of naïveté that's rare. "Yes, Mr.?" "You're pleading guilty? Come on, it was Neil's idea. Have you told anyone that?"  I take a deep breath. "No one will believe me."  And I have a collective list of reasons why, but we're interrupted by a bearded man climbing the fence.

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