Meeting [9]

A slight figure stepped to the edge of the lake from behind some bushes and straightened up to face me. A young woman, probably in her 20s.
As she did so, I heard a tiny crunch of leaves behind me. I took a deep breath and extended my arms straight out to the sides, remaining still. I’d been focused on the fire, assuming I would find one old man. Acting like a damned rookie.
These folks were NOT the person I’d come looking for, and quite possibly were more scared than I was.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to intrude. I hope I didn’t scare you. I am looking for somebody else.” I spoke steadily, kept my tone level, kept my arms away from my body, and didn’t move.
I’d been in a situation or two in my younger years and knew that whoever was behind me probably had a gun pointed at me. If they were in the same age group as the girl in front of me, nerves and inexperience could kill me quick.
I heard the gun click as the person behind me put it down.
He walked past me, then, turning to look over his shoulder into my eyes, then jerking his head to one side and forward, to indicate that I was welcome to advance into the camp.
“You made a helluva racket coming in.” he said. Young skinny guy. Sandy hair. Beginning to go bald at the sides of his forehead. Worn blue pocket tshirt, dungarees, sneakers.
The girl looked at me appraisingly. She was definitely young but there was something about her that told me she wasn’t the usual kind of kittenish thing one sees at that age. This person knew who she was, had been around a bit. Blue eyes, pale skin, mousey brown curly hair.
Everything about them both was very plain and straightforward.
Except for the fact that they were camping in a city park during a time of insanity, knew how to build a tiny near-smokeless fire, and knew how to deal with anybody who came their way. Most of the people I’d known who were their ages weren’t that bright. Or cagey.
I didn’t know enough, and I wasn’t going to be dumb enough to assume I did. And I wasn’t going to play any games, here.
I looked the young woman in the eye.
“I was at the supermarket yesterday. A man gave me this,” I held up the rock, put it back in my pocket, watching closely for their responses. Her eyes just barely flickered towards her companion but then returned to fix on my face.
“Then all hell broke loose.” I allowed myself a deep wavering breath.
“Today, two people with little gray… attachments… on their shoulders showed up on my doorstep, fifty miles from here. Then they tried to get in. I ran. I thought the guy might be here, he looked like he’d been living rough.”
At this, the young man snorted a little bit, and the girl looked down at the ground with a small smile at the corner of her mouth. So they knew him.
“Older guy- older than me. Black bandanna. Dirty boots.”
She looked up at him, he returned her gaze, gave a small nod. She cleared her throat.
“We call him Rocky.”
There was a short barking noise from the young man that I realized was a half-laugh, “…or Stoner…”
She began to chuckle, “Or PEBBLES.”
They both began laughing and I found myself grinning with them.
“Old Gravelpants?” I offered, during the lull.
We all laughed together for a few minutes.
Phew.

Published by goddesswest

I'm a painter and am writing something now. People keep asking me to put it together in an easier to access place, so here I am. Plan to get some of my artwork in here too, eventually.

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