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Chapter 5: Girls Night Out

Chapter 5: Girls Night Out

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Usually, Mae and Kristel meet at Denny’s on a Saturday morning for breakfast where they cuss and discuss the world and all its antics. This weekend, though, they decided to wait until Saturday night, that a movie would be nice, then go claim their favorite table after. They agreed that they needed a girls’ night out, and settled on the late showing of “The Wedding Ringer” at the Owensboro Cinema, then supper at the Denny’s just down from the theater on Frederica Street.

“I’m here, girl!” Kristel knocked on the door then let herself in. “Let’s go see Kevin Hart and Josh Gad dance the tango.”

Kristel gave Trenton a kiss on the cheak, “Hey bubba! I’ve missed you! “

Trenton loved when Mae and Kristel hung out, he knew a marathon of Pawn Stars was in clear sight. Also, Kristel was like a sister to Trenton. They had played in orchestra at Owensboro Middle School until they were Seniors at Owensboro High school.

Mae kissed Trent goodbye. “I’ll be home before dawn,” she laughed.

“I’ll be sure to warn the rest of the world,” Trent quipped back.

“Hey. We’re mostly harmless,” Mae kissed him again on the cheek then she and Kristel climbed down the steps.

“I’ll drive. I can drop you off here on the way home,” Kristel waved Mae to her car.

“Sounds good.”

At the cinema, they purchased their tickets and a couple of Cokes and a tub of popcorn to share. They had to dodge families and kids on their way to their theater.

Kristel watched on decidedly hyperactive rug rat brushed past her leg. The bump jiggled her arm, and spilled some popcorn on the carpet. “That kid needs his meds.” She and Mae shared a laugh. “I don’t understand why they show kids’ movies this late at night. This should be the time for us big kids.”

“Maybe we could go in to see Strange Magic with them, and bump their arms when they take a drink, and not even say we’re sorry.”

“Oh hell, no.” Kristel pointed to a family going into a theater. “They’re taking those little kids to see “American Sniper.” No wonder we’ve got a bunch of juvenile delinquents running around acting like fools. They get trained from an early age.”

“Those parents’ll pay for it later, what do you want to bet?” Mae nodded. She pointed to their doors. “Let’s go see granny catch on fire.”

Mae and Kristel left the Hall of Sticky Carpets and entered the Stadium of Sticky Floors. Mae and Kristel walked up the stairs to the very top. Mae always loved watching the people’s reaction to the movie as was were watching it -probably more than the movie itself.

Half way through the movie they saw something tiny scurry into the people’s aisle in front of them. There seemed to be three of whatever it was.

“Kristel…did you jus see-“

“Yep.”

The next thing you know people were screaming and running from the movie theatre! “Mice! There’s an infestation! They’re everywhere!” Kristel and Mae looked at each other and kick up their feet up.

Mae belts out a large laugh, “Well, at least we cleared the movie theatre of all those bratty kids!”

***

It was midnight when they pulled up to Denny’s. The parking lot was about half full, and they parked around the side from the front door.

“The trailer is always better than the movie.” Mae said, and opened the door to the brightly lit foyer.

“I know that’s right! I laughed here and there at the one liners and some of the gags, but they could have just made a silent movie, and I probably would have laughed just as much.” Kristel shook her head. “But Kevin Hart can shake it. Even Josh Gad managed to look a little sexy when they were dancing.”

“It was okay, though.” Mae turned to the hostess. “Two. And can we get a half-and-half tabletop? The one that’s half booth and half table?”

“Sure,” the hostess smiled and grabbed a couple of menus. “Right this way.” She led them to their table. It sat near a corner of the dining room where they had a clear view of everything and everyone.

“Thanks,” Mae said and crawled into the booth seat against the wall.

Kristel sat across from her. “All I’m saying is I’d still buy a ticket to see a sexy many in a tuxedo grind it on the dance floor.”

“So let’s go to a male strip club, already!”

Kristel looked as if she might consider it. “We’ll do that next week,” she laughed.

The friends looked over their menus, and their waitress suddenly appeared and placed glasses of iced water in front of them. “Hi, I’m Jennifer, and I’ll be taking care of you tonight. Would you like anything to drink?”

“Sweet tea with three lemons,” said Mae.

“Me too,” said Kristel. “Mae, we’ve been coming here every Saturday now for five years. For five years you ask for three lemons with your tea. Why not one? Why not four?

Mae laughs, “I got it down to a science. Three is too many…and one and two is not enough!” She fake crosses her eye at Kristel and they both bust out laughing.

“Are you ready to order?” Jennifer, who looked young enough to still be in school, pulled out her order pad and pen. “The special is, um, just a minute. I’ll go look at the board again.”

“That’s okay. We’re ready,” Mae said. “I’ll have the Bourbon Bacon Burger. She’s in the mood for some ultimate meat.”

“Oh, I know you did not just say that,” Kristel laughed.

The waitress stood there with a blank face, oblivious to the double meaning humor.

Mae and Kristel looked at the her, waiting for any kind of response.

“Girl, you need to get out more and have some fun,” Kristel turned her eyes back to the menu. “I’m going to have… the Meat Lover’s Omelet.”

Mae and Kristel burst out laughing, but the waitress gave a weak attempt at a smile, and wrote their orders down. “I’ll be right back with your drinks.” She vanished behind a partition.

“She’s about as loose as a rusty wind-up doll,” Kristel shook her head.

“Well, after waiting on us, ‘the Jennifer’ will either be wound down or loosened up good.” Mae sipped her water.

While they waited for their food, the bar crowd started to trickle in. An especially inebriated woman with disheveled blonde hair staggered up to the hostess, and when she opened her mouth to tell her how many would be joining her, the hostess turned her head and leaned away.

Kristel watched with a grin and became more amused at the drunken display. “I bet if you squeeze her, you’ll get another quart of 151.”

“I could probably run my car on her breath alone,” Mae agreed.

“There’s three more.” The woman shouted and held up her whole hand.

The hostess smiled her practiced, plastic smile and grabbed a handful of menus and led the woman to a table near Mae and Kristel.

“Did you see that? The hostess chick didn’t even bat an eye,” Kristel said. “And that smile? She’s so fake, I bet if you look on the back of her neck, it says, ‘made in China’.”

Mae laughed with water in her mouth which almost decided to fly across the table, but she made an epic save with her napkin. “Don’t say stuff like that when I’ve got water in my mouth!”

Kristel nodded her head to the door. “There they are.”

Two people, a man and a woman, walked up to the door. The man grabbed at the door handle and missed.

Mae laughed. “Oh, this is going to be good.”

The man tried again and missed. He also leaned forward when he made the try, and fell against the door.

“That’s probably the only thing keeping him up at the moment,” Kristel chuckled under her breath.

The woman, dressed in outdated leopard print spandex pants and an oversized shirt, pulled him back, and he swayed a step back. She said something to him and he waved her to the door. She successfully grabbed the door handle and pulled. It must have opened easier than she thought it would because she staggered back with the motion of the door. The man walked in and stopped at the claw game. He pulled out his wallet while the woman walked past him, mouthing some really bad scolding words. She saw her friend at the table and made her way through the dining room, holding to a chair here, and a waitress there.

Mae watched, hypnotized by the show. “I can’t even read lips, and I know what she said.”

“You know it. He’s going to be in trouble when he sobers up, I bet.”

“Not if she doesn’t remember it,” Mae replied, and they both laughed.

The Jennifer brought their drinks. “Your food will be out shortly.” The Jennifer then turned to the table where the two sloshed women sat. “Hi, I’m Jennifer, and I’ll be taking care of you tonight. Would you like something to drink?”

The blonde shouted, “Whiskey sour, no cherry,” and guffawed loudly. She slapped her friend’s arm, and her friend wobbled sideways.

The Jennifer stood with her pad and pen at the ready. She put the pen to the paper then put her head up again. “I don’t think we have that. I’ll go check. Be right back.”

The drunk women leaned in toward each other and bumped heads, loudly. They held their foreheads in pain, but continued to laugh louder.

The Jennifer returned and said, “I’m sorry, but we don’t have that on our drink list. We have, um, coffee, tea, juice, and, um…”

“Give’m coffee!” Kristel said loudly enough for The Jennifer to hear.

The Jennifer looked at Kristel, and her eyes widened a little as if she understood what was going on, nodded and started writing on her pad.

“Oh jeez, she’s writing it down!” Kristel and Mae both turned a little more to get a better view.

“I’m going to stand at the door and charge admission for this,” Mae said.

“Yeah!” Kristel said. “We’d make up for how much we spent at the movies!”

“It wasn’t that bad.”

“Nah, but this is better.”

Leopard Spandex grabbed The Jennifer’s hand, the one that was writing on the pad, and the pen made a long, dark line across the page.

“Hey,” The Jennifer pulled her hand away. “I get in trouble if the numbers on the pad don’t match up with what I turn in, and I can’t skip numbers.”

Blondie and Leopard Spandex both blurted out, “Fuck the coffee.”

“Okay, okay,” The Jennifer said, “What would you like to drink? And it needs to be something we have.”

“Strawberry Mango Pucker,” said Blondie.

“Chocolate milk,” said Leopard Spandex.

Kristel turned to Mae. “What kind of odds do you think we’ve got that someone will be puking soon?”

“Ugh, we’re about to eat, and you give me that mental image!”

“I ain’t giving you anything. Those two are giving us everything.”

“Where’s the guy?” Mae craned her neck over the diners and saw him still playing at the claw machine. “Oh dear lord, he’s still at the game. Maybe he fell asleep standing up.”

The Jennifer brought their plates. “Please enjoy your meal.”

“We’re enjoying the floor show more,” Kristel said.

The Jennifer, again, stood still as if trying to figure out what language Kristel was speaking.

“Never mind,” Kristel said. “Thank you,” she said slowly, loudly, and clearly. “We. Will. Be. Fine. It’s. All. O. Kay.”

“Oh, okay,” The Jennifer smiled happily. “Let me know if you need anything else.”

They ate and watched more drunks come in.

“Saturday night at Denny’s,” said Mae.

“Only in Owensboro,” said Kristel.

“Doubt it this time,” said Mae, and she took a huge bite of her burger.

They watched The Jennifer take Blondie’s and Leopard Spandex’s order, and were surprised that they all got it right on the first try.

About the time that they finished their meal, the man at the claw machine finally entered the dining room and joined the women. Blondie high-fived him, but Leopard Spandex slapped him.

“Looks like The Claw ain’t getting any tonight!” Mae laughed.

“Not with what she said to him earlier,” Kristel commented. “He’ll be lucky if he even gets to sleep in the same house.”

The Jennifer brought the bill, and the girls rose to leave. The Jennifer also dropped the bill with Leopard Spandex and Blondie. Spandex handed the bill to The Claw who pulled out his wallet and showed her an empty money slot.

Kristel and Mae sat back down to see the rest of the show.

Leopard Spandex turned to Blondie who had a big bite of eggs and hash browns hanging from her mouth and tried to tell Spandex that no, she didn’t have enough to cover their bill.

Leopard Spandex stood up and began yelling at The Claw who shrank into his chair. He pointed to the claw machine, and began to yell back.

“I just wanted to do something nice for you and get you a nice present, and you’re an ungrateful bitch!”

“You alcoholic, stupid, limp-dick! Can’t even hold a dollar!”

The manager handled it by removing the entire group from the dining room to a vacant semi-private supper room, and calling the cops.

“Ready to go?” Mae asked Kristel.

“Oh yeah. It’s almost time for the puking to begin.” Kristel elbowed Mae, and they headed to the cashier.

They stood at the cashier’s station, waiting for someone to take their money, and Blondie rushed past them into the bathroom. The sound of retching followed.

“Told you,” Kristel said.

Mae said, “You called it!”

“I had my money on Leopard Spandex though. Drinking chocolate milk on top of booze? Not too sure about that.” Kristel handed her cash to the flustered manager behind the counter.

“How was your meal?”

Mae and Kristel looked at each other, then at the manager, and burst out laughing.

***

Mae walked into her home, and found Trenton sleeping on the couch. She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek.

He woke up and asked, “How was your girls’ night out?”

Mae grinned. “It was a great, big heaping plate of an Owensboro Saturday night. Tell you all about it in the morning.”

Mae waved to her friend pulling out of the driveway, and Kristel waved back. “Right now, I want to let you know how much I appreciate you.”

“What’s all that about?”

“Let’s just say that I’m glad your nickname isn’t ‘The Claw’.” She laughed and led Trenton to the bedroom and yawned. “Love you, baby.” They crawled into bed and cuddled.

“Love you too.” Trenton kissed Mae’s forehead and she was asleep before his lips even left her. He sighed. “See you in the morning, then.” He chuckled and turned out the light.

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MaeHem At The Mall

Chapter 4: MayHem At The Mall

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“Meet me at Towne Square for lunch. There are some great sales, and I don’t want to miss them, but I haven’t seen you in so long. We can do some shopping together. I’m bringing the kids. You bring yours.” Dana laughed.

“I’ll see if I can get Trent to get dressed.” Mae laughed back.

“Well, tell that giant teenager of yours to get going!”

“Yeah, but I don’t know that we’re in the mood for Show Me’s.”

“It’ll be quick. It’s a little early for lunch, so it won’t be crowded or anything.”

“Okay. We’ll see you there in a while.”

“Mwuah! Love ya!”

“You too!”

They hung up, and Mae shuffled into the living room. “Lunch and shopping with Dana and the girls, let’s go.”

Trent wiggled his toes high up on his recliner. “Do I have to?”

“Dana was right.”

“Dana? About what?”

“That you’re a great, big teenager.”

Trenton jumped up from his chair and chased Mae into the bedroom.. “You got that right! And you know what they say about teenage boys!” He tackled her to the bed, and they wrestled and laughed.

“Come on, it’ll be a good time. We haven’t seen Aisha and Alaya for a while, either.” Mae put on her puppy dog eyes and batted her lashes.

“Aw, don’t do that.” Trent grinned. “I can’t say no when you do that. Okay, let’s go.” He got up and changed from his comfy shorts and t-shirt into jeans and a sweat shirt that said ,’roadkill on the grill’. “There. Let’s go hug our girls.”

Traffic was light, and they rode to the mall in good time. Parking was a different story, though, and Trent circled the same four lanes several times, waiting for a good spot.

“We could’ve walked in, had lunch and shopped four stores by now,” Mae said.

“It’s my day off. I deserve to park close to the door.”

“There’s one!” Mae pointed.

Trent pressed on the accelerator a bit and hurried around to the next lane and pulled into a spot just before a teenager in a beater tried to grab it.

“Ha. Beat him,” Trent said, and put the shift in park, pulled out the keys and got out. He patted his tummy and said, “Hungry man. Let’s go.”

Mae rolled her eyes.

“Well, I can’t really say hungry teenager.”

Mae sidled up to him and they walked hand in hand into the mall. They had barely taken two steps in when they heard a voice call out to them, and two other voices squeal.

“Mae, Trent, over here!”

“Uncle Trent! Aunt Mae!”

The passersby stole glances to see who answered the call. Aisha and Alaya ran up to them and locked them in tight hugs. The glued-together group waddled to where Dana stood, smiling.

“Come here, you!”

Trent walked like a robot, arms out in front of him toward Dana.

“Not you, but okay,” she laughed and gave him a light hug. She let Trent go, and the girls swarmed him.

“I meant you!” She did a sort of stuttered, excited shuffle to Mae, and threw her arms around her.

They parted, and Dana said, “What do you think?” She did a little twirl and showed off her new outfit. Her mini skirt had a pleated section that flew up when she twirled.

“Nice. Been here long?”

The group joined together and walked into the restaurant. They were seated quickly. Aisha and Alaya were busy talking over each other, telling Trent about their week at school while Dana and Mae caught up with each other.

“I’m going with the chicken Philly,” said Trent.

The girls sat on either side of him. Aisha ordered a grilled cheese and a dinner salad, and Alaya ordered a cheeseburger.

“Y’all ready?” Their waitress smiled, beaming at the group around the table.

Mae gave a gentle kick to Trent’s shin. “Behave,” she said.

“Yup, we’re ready!”

The group ordered, and chatted while waiting for their meals.

“So then, Jamie, she said…. Dana, what are you looking at?” Mae followed Dana’s eyes to a set of broad shoulders and a trim waist sitting at the bar.

“Sorry, what?” Dana said without looking away from the eye candy on the bar stool.

“Do you know him?” Mae asked.

“No, but I don’t think I’d mind getting to know him,” Dana said and raised her eyebrows.

“You…” Mae said with a little laugh.

“Can’t blame a girl for window shopping. He’s as fine as Ghirardelli Chocolate. I, uh, have to go to the ladies room. No need to come with me, though,” Dana rose and winked at Mae. “I can take care of this on my own.”

Mae shook her head and watched Dana walk away.

As Dana passed the bar, she made eye contact with the man. He had a draft beer glass in his hand, and had just pursed his lips on the rim to take a sip when he saw her. Dana paused ever so slightly, did a little twirl and walked to the ladies’ room with her miniskirt swaying with her stride.

When she came out, the man waved her over. “Hey, good-lookin’. Can I buy you a drink or something?”

“Oh, I’ve already ordered, but thanks. I’m Dana.” She held out her hand.

“Jerome.” He took her hand in his. “You here by yourself?”

She shook her head. “We’re on a family shopping spree.” She nodded in the direction of her table.

“Ah. Well, how about you give me your number, and we’ll see about getting you here sometime by yourself. Or somewhere else. You like to dance?”

“Oh, yeah. Here.” Dana pulled out her phone.

“Jerome Elias Watson!” A harsh voice pierced through the restaurant, right into Jerome’s eardrum.

“Sasha?” He winced and pulled away. Dana turned to see a rather large, very angry woman stomping their way. Her fury shone through the dark skin of her cheeks like the glow of embers at dusk. Jerome’s face reddened, and he turned to the bar and picked up his glass. “Shit.”

“Missy, you can just keep going.” She pointed a finger in Dana’s face.

“Oh no, you don’t. You need to talk to this sorry excuse for a man, not me. He came on to me.” She turned to Jerome. “Tell her.”

“You can’t talk about my man that way!” The woman took a step closer to Dana.

Unintimidated, Dana stepped inward, too. “He’s the one picking up women right under your nose. How would I know he had an old lady?”

Jerome swung around on his barstool and stepped between the two women. In any other situation, he would have been safe, but even a six-foot-two bundle of muscles is no match for women who are riled up.

“Old lady? Go look in the mirror!” Sasha reached an arm around Jerome to slap at Dana.

Jerome swung his arm out to block Sasha, but when her hand hit his arm, he bounced back and smacked Dana’s shoulder.

By that time, Trenton was walking calmly toward them with a stern look on his face. “Hey, be careful with my sister. Let’s just be cool, okay?” he said.

Alaya yelled from the table, “Yeah, leave my mom alone!”

Mae put a hand on the table.

“She’s okay. Uncle Trent is there, and we’re going to just stay here and not make it worse, okay?” Mae saw the girls as they nodded but watched closely, ready to defend their mom, and she felt kind of proud, the way the family stuck together.

Jerome’s temper flared. “Keep out of this, kid!”

Trenton put a hand on Jerome’s arm and led him and Sasha away from Dana. “That kid, as you called her, can run you down and put you on the floor before you can say ‘outside linebacker’. Just cool this off. Okay?”

Sasha folder her arms and huffed heavily. She shot a dirty look toward Dana, but then looked up at Jerome. “Yeah, what the hell? Get your ass home, motherfucker.”

He dropped a bill on the bar and left with his head low, and his woman behind him scolding him the whole way.

Dana held her head high and sat down at the table and watched the leave with daggers in her eyes.

“Should have stuck to window shopping,” Mae said, trying to inject some humor into the situation.

“I just wanted to try, not buy,” Dana said.

She and Mae laughed at the same time.

“Hey, look at it this way. You didn’t end up as ‘the other woman’. I think that Sasha would have drawn blood.”

“Yeah, but dammit. I just can’t get a break.”

The waitress arrived with their food, and they dug in.

“Uncle Trent, will you take us to Scoops & Smoothies for dessert?” Aisha asked.

“You gonna have room?” he teased.

“Let’s all go. Then we’re going to look at shoes,” Dana said, and raised a glass. “To family.”

They all raised their glasses and said, “To Family!”

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Trenton Bugs Out

Chapter 3: Trenton Bugs Out

Trent with Chewy in the basket! Yes, that's our Maybe Baby!

Trent with Chewy in the basket lookin like ET!

“If I don’t have coupons, I can’t buy anything!” Mae protested. “Please give me the scissors!”

Trenton gave Mae a tired laugh but held the scissors out of her reach. “Tell me you love me.” He grinned.

“I love you, ya dumbass, now give me the scissors.”

Trent handed them over and received a kiss for ransom. “I’m heading straight for the shower. You wouldn’t believe the day I had.”

He went into the bedroom and emptied his pockets onto his dresser. He yelled over his shoulder back at Mae. “Raul thought he’d be funny and loosened the cap on the bulk jug of red curry. Guess how many gallons of house dressing we had to make to balance out about a cup of the stuff.”

“No idea,” she yelled back.

“Well, considering that we use about a tablespoon per gallon… ” He grabbed a towel from the linen shelf, flung it over his shoulder and went into the bathroom.

“How many?” Mae snipped a coupon for buy-one-get-one-free rotini pasta (limit 12) and set it aside just in case she found a better one.

“Sixteen!” Trenton turned on the hot water and eased his tired muscles under the shower head.

Mae came in with a Pennysaver and her scissors. “Sixteen gallons of dressing?”

“Yeah,” Trent said between soapy splashes. “We won’t be able to use it all. Wouldn’t go through that much before it started going bad. Gonna donate it to a shelter or something.”

“Gonna give’m the lettuce and tomatoes to make the salad too?” Mae quipped.

“I don’t know. I’m sure it’ll work out.”

“Sixteen gallons of dressing,” Mae said with a laugh.

“Can’t hear you!” Trenton had shampoo and soap and hot water running everywhere.

“I said,” Mae yelled, “sixteen gallons of…. OH MY GOD THAT IS SUCH A WEIRD-LOOKING BUG!”

“BUG??” Trenton’s irrational fear of anything with six or more legs overcame his rational need to remain upright, and he lifted a leg to flee the tub. The problem was, his face and beard were covered in soapy water, and the floor of the tub was too.

Before Mae could explain the full situation, Trent was feet up and butt down, and in spite of a probable broken rib, Mae burst out laughing.

“I know it’s not funny, but are you okay?”

“No, I’m not okay,” Trent painfully pulled himself up and wiped the soap from his eyes. He stepped very carefully out of the tub, and looked at Mae’s strange bug.

“It’s just this weird ant,” said Mae. “Look, really.”

Trenton’s breath hitched from the pain in his side. “I just fell over a fucking ANT?”

“Oh, sweetie, I’m sorry.”

“Sorry isn’t going to make this day any better.” He stepped back in the shower. “Had to go in early because the prep guy called in sick, had to stay late because Raul had to be a prankster, now I think I -*ow!*- broke a rib over a…” He leaned out of the shower to drive his point home to Mae face to face. “Because of a freakin’ ANT!”

On the word ‘ant’, Trent’s enthusiasm got a little too much momentum going, and he lost his balance. This time, he managed to pull a disco twirl and almost did the splits before falling (again) on his side (again) and cracking a rib (if not before, then now, again).

Mae rushed to the tub and turned off the water. “Trent! Are you okay?”

He moaned out, “Not really,” before refusing to talk in exchange for focusing on trying to breathe without too much excruciating pain. He pointed to his side and mouthed, “Broke.”

“Shit,” was all Mae had to say. She stood up and looked at her naked husband laying in the tub, covered in soap and water, and holding his side. She bit her lip; she covered her mouth; she even held her nose to see if that would help, but no. She started laughing again.

“You know I’m going to have to get someone to help you out of there and get you to the urgent care, right?”

Trenton rolled his eyes and sent telepathic messages to his dear wife that she’d better stop laughing and just get him some help.

“I’ll call Steve; be right back.”

***

Trent lay in his recliner, and Mae brought him some sweet tea. “Thanks, babe.”

“I’m sorry I laughed, but it was funny.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“How are the pain pills working?” Mae put an afghan over his legs and stroked his forehead. “Is the pain better?”

Trenton nodded. “A bit. Hurts like hell to breathe though.”

“Just relax. I’ll take good care of ya.”

A knock at the door called Mae away. She opened the door and Darlene ran right in.

“I heard about poor Trent. Is he gonna be all right?” Darlene looked around. “Where is he? I wanna tell him to get well soon.”

Mae held on to Darlene’s arm. “He’s resting. Tomorrow might be better.”

“But we just got back from our camping trip at the river, and heard the news, and I came right over. Can’t I just see him a minute?”

“What is it you really want, Darlene?”

“Well,” Darlene gave Mae a sheepish smile, “if it’s not too much trouble, I was wondering if he’d sell me a couple of his pain pills. What’d he get? Oxycodone? Tramadol? Vicodin?”

“He’s in a lot of pain and needs his meds.”

“Oh I’m sure he’ll feel better by tomorrow. Maybe he could spare one or two just for tonight. How about twenty dollars?”

“Darlene.” Mae put her hands on her hips.

“You don’t have to get uppity about it. I just came over to wish him a speedy recovery.”

“Yup.”

“Well, if he changes his mind…”

“Bye, Darlene.” Mae helped her out the door and shut it. “Ugh. Sometimes that woman…”

“Who was it?” Trenton’s painful voice came from the next room.

Mae walked in to him. “Darlene. She wants to buy your pain pills.”

“Figures. Thought she and Randy were camping.”

“Me too. She said they just got back tonight. Anyway, she said to tell you she wishes you a speedy recovery.”

“And my pills.”

They shared a laugh and the door rattled with another knock.

“If that’s her again, I won’t be responsible for my actions,” Mae said and stormed off to the front door.

Steve and Ruth stood there. Ruth held a casserole, and Steve held a stack of magazines.

“Oh, it’s you. Come on in.” Mae opened the door all the way. “He’s in there.” She pointed Steve in the right direction while she and Ruth went to the kitchen.

***

“Hey, man. You look okay to me. Wanna go toss some shoes?” Steve sat down near Trent and put the magazines in his lap.

“Very funny.”

“It was when I got you out of the tub.”

“Oh god, don’t remind me.”

“You’re sexy when you’re naked and wet.” Steve barely kept a straight face.

“If I could move, I’d break your ribs!” Trenton groaned and looked at the magazines.

“I thought you could use something to keep you occupied while you’re fixin’ up.” Steve pointed to the one on top. “That one’s from the barbershop I go to. I haven’t looked in it, but it’s got some travel stuff. Thought you might like it.”

Trenton shuffled through the stack of magazines. “Better Homes & Gardens?”

“Well, that one was from Ruth.”

They heard a knock at the door and Mae’s voice answering. From the other room they heard her say, “I guess so. Come on.”

Maggie and Rob squeezed into the room.

“Oh you poor thing,” Maggie said. “Here. I fixed up some liniment from my grandma’s recipe. It’ll help heal those ribs up in no time. Rub it on three times a day.”

Trent took the small jar and opened it. His nose didn’t get within ten inches before being assaulted by a spicy odor more pungent than a cup of red curry. He slammed the lid back on. “Thanks, Maggie.”

“We just wanted to tell you to get better soon, and if you need anything, just holler.” Rob held his hand out as if to shake with Trent, but Trent just looked at it and gave Rob a look that said, ‘really?’ Rob’s hand went awkwardly to his side. “Uh, well, I guess we’ll go and let you recuperate. Call us, okay?”

“Okay, will do,” Trent said through clenched teeth. “Damn this hurts.”

As Maggie and Rob left, Darlene went right in past them into Trent’s recovery room. “Hey, Trent, I’m so sorry to hear about your accident, and I was just wondering if…”

“Darlene Wheelock, get on back home!” Mae stormed in and pointed to the door.

“Come on, I just want to ask one little question.” She turned to Trent. “How about twenty dollars?”

Trent’s eyes widened. “What the hell?”

“The answer is no; now get on home before I call Randy to come drag you home!” Mae was in her war stance: hands on hips, feet apart, head down, and eyes full of fire.

“Thirty?”

Mae grabbed Darlene by the arm and dragged her to the door.

“Thirty-five, and that’s my final offer!” She hollered up the steps as she was being put down them.

“I’m sorry, but your account is no longer in good standing, and your transaction has been declined,” Mae said, and shut the door in Darlene’s face.

“What was she on about?” Trent asked.

“Guess.” Mae looked at the prescription bottle on the table.

Steve, Ruth, and Trent, all at once rolled their eyes and said, “Ohhh. Yeah.”

“We’d better be going too. Call me.” Ruth gave Mae a little hug and patted Trent’s arm.

“See ya, buddy. But not like I saw you this afternoon. Ever. I hope.” Steve saluted Trent, and he and Ruth went out the door.

Mae locked it and turned out the porch light.

As they got into bed, Mae turned to Trent and kissed his cheek. “Sixteen gallons, huh?”

They grinned, and Trent grunted.

“Shut up. I love you.”

“Love you too. ‘Night.”

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Chapter One: Town and Country Mobile Home

**Author’s Note** I am going to be giving you all a glimpse of my new Ebook over the next few weeks and I would love your input and FEEDBACK! Thank ya’ll so much!**

Chapter One: Town and Country Mobile Home

Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy a double-wide at the Town and Country Mobile Home Park with a great big fire pit in the back yard. Mae and Trenton picked it out partly because they wanted to live without the stresses of the city, and partly because they just liked trailer parks – and the people who lived in them. It’s inevitable that the residents eventually develop a close sense of camaraderie after living behind paper-thin walls within twelve feet of each other. There are few secrets, lots of gossip, and the occasional block party down at the fire pit.

Since Trenton was a chef, the neighbors mostly expected him to provide some sort of exotic kebab or a new kind of corn dog. Mae was really good with logistics and made sure the tables and pot luck containers were arranged logically and kept the food line moving in the right direction. She also made sure that Rob and Maggie weren’t sitting too close to Randy and Darlene (Rob’s truck ran over Darlene’s gazing ball and he won’t replace it). Mae made sure that she and Trenton sat near Steve and Ruth, though. Ever since moving in, Mae and Ruth bonded like sisters.

One morning the trailer park sisters lounged in their lawn chairs watching the Stanton kids dig holes in Debbie Wheelock’s flower patch across the street.

“Bet you one peach cobbler that Debbie melts into a sobbing, incoherent puddle when she sees that.” Mae took a sip of her iced tea and whispered, “She’s close to that time, you know.”

“Oh yeah?” Ruth raised her chin and scrutinized the damage the boys were doing. “I’ll see your peach cobbler and raise you a breakfast casserole that she goes on a red-faced rampage. Remember what she did to Chuck last month?”

Mae choked on her tea. “Holy crap, who could forget. She stabbed his tire with a paring knife just because his wheel was turned into their trailer skirt. One little skid mark, and she totally lost it.”

“My Steve has a temper but nothing like that. I mean, we fight sometimes, but then,” she leaned closer to Mae, “the making up is awesome. The man knows how to make romance, for sure.”

They laughed and sipped their tea, and Mae sighed. “I wish Trenton would get a little more romantic. I don’t mean that he’s not, it’s just that he plays around a lot. It’s fun and everything, but sometimes I wish he’d get down and dirty seriously romantic. You know, just sweep me off my feet kind of thing.”

“Trouble in paradise?”

“Nah. Nothing like that – we’re great. Maybe I’ve just been watching too much Hallmark channel.” They laughed while across the street, the boys made mud pies and decorated them with Debbie’s violets.

***

“Mae and Trenton have hit the doldrums,” Ruth said.

Steve’s eyes appeared over his newspaper, and he raised his eyebrows. “They’re having problems?”

“Not problems, exactly, just a dry patch. They’ll be fine. Mae just feels like she’s being a little neglected and needs some special treatment.” Ruth grinned and batted her eyelashes at Steve. “You know. Like women do sometimes.”

Steve lowered his eyes and worried about his friends.

***

“…so Ruth said Mae and Trenton are having marital problems, and I’m kinda worried.” Steve grunted as he hefted a sack of cement into the mixer at work.

Chuck frowned. “Aw, not them. They’re the nicest couple I know… present company excepted.”

Steve grinned. “Yep. I know how to keep my woman happy.”

“You think maybe Trenton lost interest? Maybe even seeing someone else?”

“He wouldn’t,” said Steve.

The two men nodded, but the worry lines on their foreheads folded a little deeper.

***

Chuck’s fork was in his hand even before Debbie laid out his plate of spaghetti and meatballs. “I’m starved, thanks, Hon.” He slurped some steaming pasta. “This is great.”

Debbie glared across the table, waiting for him to eat so she could tell him to find out who ruined her violet patch and take out some trailer park justice; an eye for an eye.

“I also got some bad news about Mae and Trenton. They’re having some trouble. If it’s bad enough, they might get a divorce, even.”

“No! Are you sure?”

“Yeah. seems Mae has just gotten bored and Trenton is looking elsewhere.”

Debbie forgot about her violets. “Sweetie, I’m not really hungry. I’m going for a walk. Don’t worry about the dishes; I’ll get them when I get back.”

She took off her apron, grabbed her cigarettes and lighter and flitted out the door.

***

Maggie had just put her dinner dishes away when a loud rapping on her door startled her. She wasn’t expecting anyone, and had a good mind to remind whoever it was that good manners never go out of style.

Debbie stood outside Maggie’s door and banged on it again. The wooden plaque decorated with a filigree of vines and roses surrounding the name, “Stanton” did a jig in time with Debbie’s knocking.

“I just had to come see you. I’ve got a prayer request that just cannot wait.” Debbie stepped up and into the door, right across Maggie, and into the living room.

Maggie quickly followed. ‘Prayer request’ was a code that meant there was some juicy gossip to share ‘out of concern’ for someone. “Oh dear. Have a seat, I’ll get us some sweet tea.”

She set about, placing coasters on the coffee table and serving tall glasses of sweet tea with ice, garnished with a sprig of mint from her own window box. “Tell me all about it; what can I do?”

“Well, it looks like Mae and Trenton are going to get a divorce. I just thought you’d like to keep them in your prayers.” Debbie grabbed her glass and chugged.

Maggie raised her glass with a pinkie in the air. “I will surely pray for her! And Trenton, of course. I’m sure it’s mostly his fault anyway, make a joke of things so much.”

Debbie leaned closer. “I heard he’s seeing another woman.”

Maggie let out a huge gasp then regained her poise and slammed her mouth shut. She took a dainty sip of tea. “Oh dear. Poor Mae. I have an idea. Go get Chuck, I’ll grab Rob, and we’ll set up something special for her and Trenton. You know, a sexy, romantic evening with no interruptions.”

“That’s it! See you in a bit.”

***

The sun had just set when Trenton came home to see the fire pit behind his trailer decked out in Christmas lights. A stunning bonfire danced in the pit, and his patio table wore a full dress-dinner outfit including a checkered tablecloth, two lit candles, and a small basket in the middle holding a loaf of Bunny Bread and a bottle of Purple Cowboy wine, the “Tenacious Red” one.

He walked in the trailer and saw Mae laying on the couch. “Hey,” he shook her by the shoulder, “what did you do that to the fire pit for? Did I forget our anniversary or something?”

Mae rose and rubbed her eyes. “What are you talking about?”

Trenton went to the window and pointed outside. Mae took a look then ran outside. Trenton changed out of his chef’s tunic into a comfy, flannel shirt and followed.

“What… is this even our house?” Mae made an uncomfortable laugh.

Chuck walked up and bowed. “Will the lady and gentleman please follow me? Your table is ready.” He swept an open hand toward the patio table. He led the way and pulled out a lawn chair for Mae. The couple looked at each other and shrugged then sat down.

“Don’t worry, buddy, we got your back,” Chuck whispered to Trenton, patted him on the shoulder and walked away.

Maggie slipped in next to Mae. “Hey, Sweetie. We all love ya, and we won’t let anything come between y’all.” She picked up the wine bottle, pulled out the cork and offered it to Trenton.

He shrugged, sniffed the cork and nodded. He gave a confused glance to Mae as Maggie poured the wine, made an awkward curtsy and left.

Debbie walked up and lay a platter of spaghetti and meatballs in front of the perplexed couple. She put one of her finest Chinet dinner plates in front of Trenton and glared at him with hell fire in her eyes. She turned to Mae and with a sympathetic look, placed her plate. “I swear, Darlin’. If he don’t treat you right, you let me know. I’m here for you.”

Debbie dished up the spaghetti with a flourish as long as the pasta. “I hope y’all don’t mind; this was me and Chuck’s dinner, so I had to reheat it. It’s really good though; I used sausage in the meatballs tonight. Enjoy!”

When Debbie left, Mae and Trenton looked at each other for a moment then burst out laughing.

“What are we supposed to do now?” Chuck asked and reached for the Parmesan.

“I think we’re supposed to eat?” Mae looked around and saw Chuck, Debbie, Steve, and Maggie peeking around the corner of their trailer. “Or put on a show for our hosts?” She stood up and hollered. “Y’all get out here right now!”

The four friends timidly stepped over to the table.

“What in the Sam Hill are y’all doing to us?”

Maggie cleared her throat and cast a guilty look at Debbie who gave one to Chuck who passed it along to Steve who hung his head and glanced at his wife, Ruth.

Ruth looked at Mae with eyes full of love. “You two mean so much to us. We love you both so much, and we don’t want to lose either one of you. We, all of us, thought a romantic, candlelight dinner would help, so here we are.”

Steve said, “Yeah, Trenton, you are always there for us, and Mae, you make the neighborhood potlucks the best in the county.”

“And if you go gallavantin’ off with someone else, so help me…” Debbie shut up and winced when Chuck pinched her arm.

“What she means is, this place wouldn’t be the same without you, and just wanted to help you find that love that got you two together in the first place.”

The group nodded with sad, concerned faces.

Trenton laughed. “You thought me and Mae—”

“—were going to break up?” Mae finished. She looked at Trenton, and he at her. They burst out laughing again. “You silly, wonderful people.”

Trenton waved the group over. “Come here, ya’ll.” He lined them up and paced in front of them like a general to his troops. “I want you to know I would fight to the death for this woman.”

Behind him, Mae yelled, “Me too! For you, that is!”

He continued. “You idiots have acted very…” he paused and stroked his beard, “…sweetly.” He laughed. “You’re crazy, you know that? That’s why we love y’all too.”

Mae came up and gathered everyone together. “Group hug!”

After the hugging and a little crying, Trenton said, “Okay, who’s got the beer?”

Steve raised his hand and ran across the street.

Mae looked at the women and said, “Who’s got some tortilla chips and salsa sitting around?”

Maggie smiled and ran home.

The conversations and friendship around the fire pit that night was the best they’d had in a long time. You see, money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy beer and chips. And when you combine those with good friends and a double-wide in Owensboro, it’s all priceless.

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That’s all for now, folks! Remember, the good stuff goes in my book! I have a few more chapter’s being released to you first, exclusively. We got run in’s with a bank robber, sex, (a TON of sex,) and way more fun stuff! Tell me what you think in the comments section of my blog!

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