Friday, July 3, 2015

Free Fiction: Block Party

Oscar and Phillip are back! It's the 4th of July weekend over here, so of course, there's a block party.


"And then we labeled all the boxes so that the next time we needed to inventory them, we wouldn't have to!" Carlson laughed at the end of his story and the rest of the group around him laughed as well.

Oscar opened his mouth to show some teeth, nodded, and backed away from the group very slowly. They didn't seem to notice as he left the group, they just closed ranks tighter together as someone else began another tale about saving receipts.

Safely away, Oscar took a deep breath to restore his equilibrium. His lemonade was low, so he bee-lined straight for the snack tables.

After filling his cup, he gave the table a hard look. There were several kinds of salads, at least four of which were pasta salads, and bowls and bowls of crunchy chips, but nothing had yet come off the grill. He could smell the tang and salt of cooking meat in the air, promising hamburgers and hot dogs and barbequed chicken, but nothing had yet made its way to the table. Oscar nabbed a piece of cheese from a plate. He'd already filled up on handfuls of baby carrots dipped into creamy blue cheese dressing and mushroom caps filled with bread crumbles. He'd avoided the guacamole. Whomever had made it had stirred baby peas into and it looked odd. He stuffed the whole piece of cheese into his mouth and chewed it, then grabbed another.

He spotted Phillip far away across the lawn, talking to another swarm of people, though Phillip was actually laughing genuinely. Oscar recognized a handful of their closer neighbor friends. Phillip was smart. He'd surrounded himself with people he already knew and liked. Oscar had dared to blaze a trail into uncharted territory. He'd foolishly wanted to meet new neighbors. The attempt drained away almost an hour of his life he'd never get back.

Phillip turned and stared straight at Oscar and a warm feeling crept up from his toes all the way to his scalp where it prickled. Then, as if Phillip had read his mind, he waved good-bye to the people near him and walked straight over.

"Not having a scintillating time?" Phillip asked. He rubbed one hand across Oscar's shoulder. "And they're trying to starve you as well. Not even a veggie burger available yet?"

"No," Oscar said.

"Some purist named Dave only wanted to use real coals, and he didn't even have them started until noon," Phillip said. "He made everyone with a gas grill wheel it home."

"Good grief," Oscar said, then added, "And the guacamole has peas in it."

"Barbaric." Phillip trailed his hand down Oscar's back. "Come on, then. We're one block from home. We'll come back a little later." Phillip's hand pressed low and then released, coming to find Oscar's hand and twining their fingers together. It left no doubt how they'd fill their time.

"Just don't tell me about labeling boxes in our attic."

"I told you not to talk to the neighbors on the west end of the street." Phillip gave a mock shudder. "They're all accountants over there."

"It all makes sense now," Oscar said.

"I know something that makes even more sense," Phillip said, and tugged. They left the block party in the dust.

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