One More Ride: Chapter 4: Heat

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3

Warm air gushed from the vents with the power of one of those annoying hand dryers they put in truckstop bathrooms. Norville had ridden in several Jeeps before; rattly angular things full of crevices for wind to blow through, designed by men who either did not know or did not like each other. The ones that had had heat were the ones in the sun. But with the heat coursing out of Velma’s Jeep’s vents, she could have brought home a pizza or a bucket of chicken without them getting cold. He could really go for some chicken right now. He leaned over the vents letting them shoot the warm air up his sleeves and across his back. His eyelids drooped. He wondered if some weird part of the body secreted some kind of happy hormone when you had greasy noodles, or good coffee, or the rush of hot air across your cold, soaked back.

“Freddy told me what happened.”

Carp, thought Norville. He tried to think quickly, what excuse could be come up with for having been such a jerk to their longtime friend?

“I told him he had it coming.”

“What?”

“He came to me looking for sympathy and I told him he had it coming, you telling him off like that. He was a selfish jerk who didn’t have a problem bumming food from you and yet him still expecting you to treat him like he was a huge celebrity. Then I told him if he was looking for someone to blame for all his problems he could go home and look in the mirror.”

Norville was incredulous.

“You really said all that?”

Velma was silent for a moment.

“No…I didn’t. That was what I wanted to say, but I just couldn’t. After he told me I just stood there silently, wanting to, but I didn’t have the heart.”

Norville gave a weak wan smile as Velma continued.

“It didn’t matter…while I was standing there not saying anything I guess he read me well enough to know what I was thinking.”

“Was he mad?”

“I thought he’d explode. But he just kind of…shrunk, like a balloon that’s gone wrinkly. Then he left.”

Norville just sat there, not sure what to think. He was elated to find that Vel wasn’t mad or worse–disappointed. He felt vindicated that she backed him up–or was at least willing to. But surprisingly, he mostly felt sorry for Freddy. Vel was always the one everyone turned to when they didn’t feel like they had a friend on the entire planet–because she never gave up one you. Yeah, Fred had turned into a big, alcoholic, womanizing jerk that took advantage of his friends, but….

Velma put her hand on Norville’s.

“Why don’t we get something to eat?”

Chapter 5

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