****Author’s Note** I will be releasing a new chapter every Wednesday and Thursday. Please let me know what you think in the comments section of the blog!
Chapter Two: Maegan Hagan’s Most Wanted
Mae met Huck on a Thursday. She remembered because Thursdays always seemed to not quite fit in with the rest of her week. Mondays were easy to understand; they consisted of coffee and data entry at work . Tuesdays and Wednesdays were business as usual. Fridays were the light at the end of her workweek tunnel, but Thursdays? Thursdays were too close to Friday and too far from Monday. This particular Thursday, she came home from working all day at the bank and pulled into the driveway, noticing a strange man mowing Steve and Ruth’s yard next door.
Ruth came out of her trailer, drying her hands with a dish towel. “Hey, bestie! How was your day?”
The friends gave each other a quick hug. Mae shrugged and said, “It was Thursday.”
Ruth laughed, “Oh yeah, I forgot about Thursdays.”
“Who’s the guy doing your yard?” Mae nodded at the scruffy-haired, shirtless, skinny man who had to pause every four steps to pull up his sagging jeans.
Ruth rolled her eyes. “That’s Huck. He’s a friend of a friend of my brother’s cousin. They asked if he could stay with us for a while. His old lady kicked him out, and he needed a place to stay until he gets on his feet.”
“Get on his feet? How old is he?”
“Forty” Ruth laughed and said sheepishly. “I know, not a kid. But they said he was a good guy, and I couldn’t stand thinking that I could be responsible for him being homeless if we didn’t help.”
“Ruth, sometimes your heart is way too big,” Mae laughed. “Well, maybe we can have him mow for us too. I have to get in now, though. Trenton is working a little late, so I’m going to start dinner.”
“Oh hey, how about we just grub it together tonight? We’ll bring the meat and a jug of sweet tea. You’ll get to meet Huck, too.”
“That would be awesome. I’ll toss up a salad and whip up some tater salad. I think we have some PBR in the fridge. I’ll bring that too.”
The ladies performed their ritual high five followed by a hip bump and wink. “See you around seven, then?”
“Trenton, if you had a pet name for me, what would it be?” Mae rolled over in bed and snuggled up against him.
“Well, like Ruth’s friend out there tonight. Said his name is Huck. I’m guessing short for Huckleberry or something. Funny name, but anyway, what would you nickname me?”
Trenton rolled over and Mae reached up and scratched his bearded chin. “I would call you… Fluffy.”
“Fluffy?” Mae sat up and put her hands on her hips. “I’m not a dog.!”
Trenton sat up and put his arms around her and pulled her back to bed. “Nope. You’re not. But I like your fluffy, round ass.”
He gave her a light smack on her fluffiness, and she giggled, pulled the covers over their heads, and snuggled her fluffiness against her favorite bearded man.
“Did you hear about Ace National? They were robbed just a while ago.”
Mae turned to her coworker, Cheyenne. “No. Like, just today?”
“Yeah. The guy got away, too” Cheyenne said matter-of-factly. She then slammed a stack of files down in her cube. Mae had a nagging feeling in her stomach, and something told her to turn on the news. Mae always had a weird sixth sense that no one, (not even herself,) understood. “This is a camera shot of the man who robbed Ace this morning. As usual, it’s a little fuzzy, but his face is fairly clear. Take a good look and call our anonymous tip line if you have any information regarding this robbery.”
Mae looked at the news footage. She looked at the video on the screen and thought the man looked familiar, but in her position, she’d seen every facial shape hundreds of times. Suddenly it hit her-it was Huck.
Mae and Ruth sat at the fire pit, sipping sweet tea and catching up on their day. “All I can say is T.G.I.F.!”
Trenton and Steve left their man-huddle on Steve’s stoop. Trenton grabbed the spikes and horseshoes from the Rubbermaid chest behind his trailer, and Steve and Ruth stood in the places where Trenton could hammer the spikes into the ground.
“You know what’s kind of funny?” Mae asked Trenton while she swung a horseshoe to within half a foot of the spike in front of Ruth.
“I can think of a few things,” he said.
“I saw the news with the security cameras at Ace. The guy reminded me of Huck a little.” She tossed a ringer, clapped her hands and put them up in the air. “Yes!”
“Lucky shot,” Ruth teased. “Not surprising. Huck looks like every other freeloader.” She chuckled and picked up the shoes.
“No, really. The more I think about it, the more I really think it was him.”
“Mae, you been drinking Mad Dog 20/20 again?” Steve elbowed Mae at the joke and laughed.
“Nooo. And don’t crack about diabetes from the sugar in my tea, either.”
Trenton stood behind their stake. “If you look at anyone long enough, they start to look familiar, hon. That’s all. It’s just a coincidence.”
“Besides,” Ruth said, “I LIVE with the guy and even I think it was someone else.”
“Just toss, will ya?” Mae played the game, but in her mind she was certain of two things-two plus two is four, AND HUCK ROBBED ACE NATIONAL BANK!
“One more round, then I’ve got to eat something,” Steve said.
Just then, a little Honda Civic pulled up, and a driver in a red shirt and a blue cap got out and carried an armful of pizzas over to them.
“Here ya go. Where do you want’em?”
They heard the trailer door slam, and Huck came out sporting a nice haircut. He joined the group and pulled out a shiny, new leather wallet attached by a long silver chain to his brand new jeans. “I got this. How much?”
“Here’s eighty. Keep the change.”
The driver grinned and thanked him then ran back to his car and took off.
“Y’all have been so nice to me, I thought I’d buy dinner tonight. Anybody hungry?” He set the pizzas on the patio table.
Mae shot a knowing look at Trenton as everyone walked over to the table and whispered, “Still think it’s just a coincidence?”
“Mae, he’s been doing odd jobs; probably got paid cash.”
“Check this out, y’all. He got the one with hot sauce!” Steve piled a paper plate with several pieces.
“Mae, if you’re so sure, why don’t you call someone?” Trenton’s words bubbled from his lips and dripped on his beard as he brushed his teeth before bed.
“Didn’t your momma ever teach you not to snitch?” Mae chuckled and said, “Besides, what if I am wrong.” She towel-dried her face and lightly stroked her night cream on – using the ring fingers because they are the weakest fingers and won’t pull at the skin as much as the others – as she’d been taught by her Mary Kay lady.
“There ya go.” Trenton spit into the sink. “By morning, the two faces will look so different, you’ll wonder why you ever had the thought in the first place.” He walked to the bedroom.
Mae followed. “I still think it’s him.”
“Love you. Good night.”
“Love you too.” Mae turned off the lamp on her nightstand and whispered, “It’s him.”
She heard Trenton laugh under his breath just before she fell asleep.
In the morning, she slapped her hand on the alarm clock to make it stop blaring. Through blurry eyes she looked at the lighted display.
“Five thirty-two?!” She realized that her alarm was not going off, but several sirens were blaring outside her window. “Trenton! Get up!”
He shot up, straight as a board. “What the heck?”
They ran to the window and squished against each other, vying for the best view.
Outside, no less than five police cars had surrounded their area in the trailer park. Armed police officers, weapons drawn, stood at key locations, vigilantly watching for any trouble.
Trenton and Mae went down the hall to the living room window, and looked at Steve and Ruth’s trailer. One officer stood at their open door while another walked out of the trailer holding Huck by the elbow. Huck walked out with his head hung low and his hands cuffed behind his back.
Mae gave Trenton a love slap on his shoulder. “Told you.”
“I shall never doubt you again.” He kissed her on the top of her head. “I don’t think we’re going back to sleep; what would you like for breakfast?”
“I know what you should eat,” Mae said with a coy, teasing voice. She leaned up and brushed her cheek against his beard and whispered in his ear. “Crow soup.” Mae took off back to the bedroom.
Trenton gave chase and caught her with enough momentum to send them flying onto the bed, laughing. “Only in Owensboro,” he said, and pulled the covers over their heads.