Episode 4 – Getting Acquainted

Suddenly, I wonder what she means by “keeping each other company.” I’m so used to being alone, I’m worried I might be a really boring….and what exactly does she expect from me? I’m not cool, or much of a conversationalist…or anything…but, so far, it’s fun just being together…hope I don’t wear out my welcome.

“So, what do you think?” She asks, as her eyes look me over top to bottom (it’s a little creepy). “Don’t you think we’d make a fun couple?”

I figure she’s gotta be totally crazy…and so far out of my league it’s ridiculous. “Are you being serious?” I ask.

A frown wrinkles her forehead. “Of course I’m serious…totally. I never say anything like that if I don’t mean it. I don’t goof on people.”

“Sorry, I just can’t figure out why you’re being so nice.”

She shakes her head. “Man, are you screwed up. Have you ever looked at yourself? How tall are you? Six feet? And those cheeks are the cutest I’ve ever seen.”

I can’t help laughing. “You don’t think I look like a rodent?”

She chuckles. “A rodent? You don’t look anything like a rodent!”

We stare at each other…smile. She has adorable dimpled cheeks.

“So, what should I call you?” She asks. “What’s your name again, Cornell? What kind of a name is that?”

“It’s some family name my parents dredged up…a fucking curse.”

“And your friends call you Corny? That’s like an insult.”

“Yeah. It sounds like I’m an old hick or something.”

“What’s your middle name?”

I roll my eyes. “You won’t believe it. It’s even worse!”

She laughs delightedly. “No way! What is it?”

“Augustus.”

“Augustus!? Are you shitting me?”

It even strikes me as hilarious…I hate it. We go into hysterics and I end up holding my sides and rolling onto the floor. “Is that the most fucked up name you’ve ever heard?” I ask…laughing so hard I can barely say the words.

“Were your parents trying to scar you for life?”

“Probably.” I realize I’m having a great time. Feel relaxed and grown up…happy for the first time in months. I’m with a girl, just bullshitting, like it’s the most natural thing in the world…as though we’ve known each other forever.

“Do you have a girlfriend?” Azalea asks.

I shake my head.

“Are the girls around here crazy? I can’t believe you haven’t got snapped up. You’re a doll.”

Is she serious? Figure living in an isolated slum’s made her lose touch with reality. Over her shoulder, the window’s broken and taped, and the wall’s a patchwork of chipped plaster and unpainted Sheetrock.

“So, what does your mom do?” I ask. Maybe not the most tactful question. It’s obvious she hasn’t hit the jackpot, but I’m curious. Want to be sure there are no fucked things that’ll keep us apart.

Azalea sneers at me. “What kind of question is that? You trying to figure where I fit on the social ladder?”

I’m a little stunned….obviously pushed the wrong button. “No,” I explain, “but no girl’s ever been so nice before. I’m just trying to fit the pieces together. I mean…we’ve been together all day, so I don’t think you’re on drugs or anything, but I can’t help wondering why you see me so different than everyone else.”

She smiles. “Can I call you Gus?”

I realize she loves playing with my head. “Sure, whatever you want.”

“Great. Corny’s not right for you.”

“Gus definitely works.” I like it too.

“Good. At least we agree on something.You mind if I go back to your earlier question?”

“About your mom?”

“Uh huh. She was a cashier at the Crossroads Mini-mart.”

“Oh, okay.”

“So, where does that put me in the social hierarchy?” She’s so bitingly sarcastic, I’m sort of freaked.

I shrug. “Beats the shit out of me. I was just curious…didn’t mean anything by it.”

She leans toward me. “Can I ask you a personal question?”

I’m not sure what’s coming. “Yeah…of course,” I reply.

“Does it freak you out to be with someone like me? Be honest.”

I guess she means a black person, but honestly, she’s so different from my fucked-up life back home, it doesn’t freak me at all, and that’s what I tell her. “It’s definitely a first…and I’m afraid of saying something tactless and dumb, but I really like you. I usually feel like a jerk with girls, but not with you.”

“You think you’re acting cool?”

I glare at her…feel like she’s playing with me. ‘Look,” I say, “I never feel cool, okay?”

“Chill, Gus,” she says. “I’m just fucking with you.”

“Well, don’t, okay? I’m not sure if you like being with me, or are just desperate.”

She turns serious. “I’m pretty desperate…and lonely, but I definitely like being with you. I’ve been living alone for months, and I’m going crazy. I can’t believe we got seated next to each other. It’s an amazing coincidence! I feel so lucky.”

“Thanks. I feel the same about you.”

She stands up. “Let’s share a beer? Come on. We need to loosen up.”

To be continued…Read next episode!