Conversation (With Real, Live People)

Why I Love Cheerwine: A Story (Part Six)

Cheerwine_5[The continuing saga of Henry, and now, Bridgette, who ruminates on her misfortune.  To read the whole story to date, as revised, click here.]

She began to sweat, trickles of water running uncomfortably down her back in the 90 degree heat.  Dropping her pace a bit, she pulled off her maroon colored jacket, leaving her in a white tank top and tight, low-cut Calvin Klein jeans, her best.  She figured she'd attract some attention, dressed as she was, then reconsidered, given the kind of attention she might attract in these parts.  It was a moot point, anyway, because she was alone, alone on the road with nothing but row upon row of corn stretching as far as she could see in both directions.

Her feet hurt too.  Tossing the shoes was probably not a wise move on her part.  She considered returning to the car but seeing that it was far behind her now, she decided to press on toward town.  What was that her Mama once said? -- "Honey, you ain't got the sense God gave an orangutan, but you got the looks."  After barely graduating from high school, Bridgette enrolled in the Laurinburg School of Cosmetology, figuring that working at a salon would keep in touch with the latests fashions, and from there it would be a short move to modeling and then acting.  Because that was her goal -- acting.  Maybe "Desperate Housewives," or "Sex in the City," figuring that she'd had some training in both these already.

With that thought she began to walk faster.  The thought of sex and housewifing made her think of Vinny Torella and their brief but torrid marriage.  Torrid in more ways than one.  They broke things.  They fought.  They yelled.  They made up.  They broke things. They fought.  And that was just during the first week of the marriage.  After three months of marital discord, they were both exhausted.  Vinny moved into the trailer with his brother Pete, leaving Bridgette alone in the Spring Street apartment, the one above the Benson's garage.  After the breakup, her days alternated between work at Renovare Beauty Parlor and Spa, and hanging out with her best friend Lily, drinking Cheerwine at Franklin Drug's soda shop, a true relic that place.

"Honey, don't worry about Vinny.  He's a bum, a real jerk," said Lily.  "You can do better."  And yet her breakup with Vinny was the first crack in her plan to take on Hollywood, the first indication that she was not in complete control of her future.  And now this.  She had no job, no car, and no husband.  Bridgette stopped for moment, catching her breath.  Looking back down the blacktop, she could barely see her car now.  Turning back to face town, tears pooled in her eyes.  "Get a grip, girl," she said aloud.  Get over it.  Putting her head down, she took a deep breath and marched on toward town.

After a few more minutes of steady walking, she saw the green standard issue City Limits sign: Rose Gardens.  Beyond that, she saw a Texaco gas station, right on the edge of a short strip of shops -- many vacant, some closed this early.  A couple of greasy looking guys were milling around, one sitting on a bench in front of the open door of the station, another hosing down the lot.  Bridgette walked up to the one on the bench.  He watched her approach.  When she got closer, she saw that he was probably 40ish, with slicked back hair, a toothpick in his mouth, and greasy dungarees.  He looked up.  "Well," he said.  "Well now," he said again.  "What can I do for you?"

"I'm Bridgette, Bridgette. . . uh. . . Renovare.  And I've got a problem."