Hazy Days and Cloudy NightsHow It All Got Started 009: Lina
Monday, June 18, 1984
Lina felt exposed and conspicuous stomping along on the shoulder of the road down the hill from the trailer park. Cars flew by.
What if one of them was her mother?
She knew that was ridiculous. The chances of her mother driving on that particular road at that particular time were next to nothing.
She still fought the urge to cringe with every car that passed.
“Get a grip, Lina,” she muttered. “Just walkin’ down the street.” She bristled. “You’re not a little girl.” She raised her voice above the whine and rumble of the traffic. “You hear that, Eric Finn, you asshole?”
After trudging through the dirt, weeds and trash for ten minutes or so, getting her shoes totally scuffed and the hem of her skirt filthy, she came to a gas station. Thankfully, she correctly remembered the phone booth there.
Even better, she discovered it actually had a working phone in it, and as a bonus, the trash on the floor wasn’t too disgusting.
Lina had all of three nickels and a dime in her tiny purse. Enough for one phone call. She bit her lip and thought about it. Who had the best chance of being home?
“Carson.” She nodded her head firmly, dropped the coins in, and dialed his number.
It rang. She let it.
Six times. The answering machine should have picked up. He must be on the line, which was fine; he’d hear the “call waiting” beep and click over.
She watched an old Chevy Nova pull in. A cool-looking chick with bobbed straight black hair got out, went into the station convenience store, came back out, pumped her gas, went back in for her change, came back out, got back in her car, and left.
That could totally be me, Lina thought. If I was old enough to drive.
She lost track of how many times the phone had rung.
She groaned and hung up. Her coins jingled into the coin return and she scooped them out. “Thanks, Carson. Not an important call at all. Feel free to ignore it.” She rolled the coins in her palm. “Hey, awesome, I’m totally talking to myself. Neat.”
She thought about who else to call. Clair was out, since Lina was supposed to be with her at the Abbeque Valley Mall. Who would be home on a Monday afternoon on the first day of summer vacation?
She dropped the coins back into the phone and dialed. The phone rang three times.
“Uh…” Lina was thrown. The voice sounded old and fragile, far from Rhonda’s brassy tone. Lina thought she was screwed, but pushed on. “Is Rhonda there?”
“I’m sorry, dear.” Definitely old lady voice. “There’s no one here by that name.”
“Oh. Okay. I guess I dialed the wrong number…”
“That’s all right, dear. You have a lovely day.”
She stared at the receiver. “You too.”
And that was it for her change. No more phone calls.
She stepped out of the phone booth and crossed her arms on her chest. This was totally fucked up.
A motorcycle growled into the gas station. She knew that sound.
Sure enough, there was Ian Pinchley, with Tammy Uchio holding on to his waist. They pulled up next to a pump. Ian shut down the bike and he and Tammy dismounted.
Lina called out as she walked over. “Hey, wow, small world.”
Tammy, who had apparently shaved her head recently, stared at Lina for a moment before recognition kicked in. Even then, Tammy’s expression didn’t change all that much.
Ian smiled and shook his head.
“Eric send you out for snacks?” He laughed.
“No, I walked out on his ass,” Lina said.
Tammy squinted at her, interest seemingly piqued. “You had a fight.”
“Yep.” She looked at Ian. “Look, I really don’t want to have to deal with him, but I’ve got to get back to the mall—”
Tammy’s eyebrows went up. “The mall.”
Lina knew the drill. Tammy was laying down her territory by being just slightly condescending. Lina ignored the older girl as much as she could, but knew the rest of her sentence would only give Tammy more to play with.
“…before my mother’s there to pick me up.”
Ian kept grinning. “Your mother.”
Lina sighed. “C’mon, Ian. Gimme a break.”
Ian handed Tammy some cash.
Tammy shook her head. Lina stared at her bare skull. It was actually a good look on her; Lina had to give her that. “You go,” Tammy said.
Ian shrugged, still smiling. His blue eyes glittered. “You go, I pump. I go, you pump.”
Tammy glanced at Lina, then glared at Ian. “Jesus.” She snatched the money out of Ian’s hand and crushed it in her small fist. She strode over to the gas station’s cashier window.
If Lina hadn’t been so stressed, she would have enjoyed that Tammy seemed to consider her a threat. That was something to tuck away for later. Right now…
“So? Can you give me a ride?”
Ian’s grin twisted a little. “There’s only room for two on the bike. I’ll have to drop Tammy off at the trailer and come back.”
Lina didn’t mind hanging out at the gas station a little while longer. “But you’ll do it?” She looked over at Tammy, who finished up with the cashier and was headed back.
Ian started pumping gas. “Just chill here for a while.” He finished up and got back on the bike. Tammy got behind him without a word. “Just hang out.”
He started the bike.
“Okay,” Lina hollered. “Thanks!”
She watched them drive away. Ian was a sarcastic asshole, but he was probably maybe hopefully all right.
Lina walked back over to the phone booth. She decided her outfit was too messed up for her to care one way or another, and leaned against the dirty glass.
Depending on boys sucked.
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