Not the California Kind- John Patrick Robbins

Bio: John Patrick Robbins is the editor in chief of the Rye Whiskey Review and also Under The Bleachers. His work has been published in Ariel Chart, Punk Noir Magazine, San Pedro River Review, San Antonio Review, Piker Press, The Blue Nib and The Black Shamrock Magazine.
His work is always unfiltered.

We sat there on the bleachers of our old high school.  Passing a pint back and forth, it was near sunset in more ways than one.

“I just don't get what you're afraid of.”  Vicki said frustrated as she stared off into the distance.  “I mean, you hate everything about this place!  You’re always saying how you want to escape. Here's finally your chance and now you get cold feet?”

“It’s just not that simple and you know it!”  Tommy blurted out.  He knew his friend was hell bent on leaving the small town that had become an overrated prison cell for too many and a death sentence for others.

Nobody left Talbot and ever returned.  It was like once they hit the outskirts of town, they fell off the end of the world never to be seen again.  And while the thought of that didn't bother Tommy, still he knew it was different in Vicki’s case.  His friend was a total train wreck much like himself.  Neither one barely had a sense of purpose let alone a sense of direction.  They were the true misfits of Talbot.

“Bobby would have made you go.  Ever since his death all you seem to give a damn about is getting wasted and staying as numb as you possibly can.”

Tommy just shot a look at let her know she had crossed the line.  But as in anything that's laced with truth, seldom did it not hurt.  Tommy hadn't been the same and neither had she.  It was just a case of one wanting to escape the past and another trying to constantly numb themselves to it.  Neither solution worked but at the time, it’s what worked best for them.

“You know there's something more than this. Hell, anything is better than simply just wasting away here waiting to die.  Just think of the stories you could pen out there. With me becoming an actress and you a famous writer, we would be unstoppable!”

“Yeah we would become something alright. The main thing is homeless.  I never was much for the beach and sleeping under piers doesn't sound all that glamorous, Vickers.”  Tommy said as he kicked back the pint of Beam.

Vicki knew it was pointless to argue with her friend, just as much as Tommy knew there was no stopping her from leaving his town.  She was sold on the illusion of fame.  Movie stars, bright lights and swanky parties. It was everything this poor little nowhere town in North Carolina was not.

Bobby had been the glue that held them together. The loner who pretended to be an outcast. The cool kid with a true soul.  Vicki loved him as deeply as Tommy loved her and just never could say.  Bobby was heading home from work when some idiot on their cell phone drifted into the other lane causing Bobby to swerve and slam into a telephone pole.  And that was the end of his closest friend.  Vicki went off the deep end and Tommy just wanted to feel nothing at all.  She was heading out to California come hell or high water.

She had grit considering she had no car and no real way of getting there.  And in a weird way, Tommy felt he owed it to her to either make her stay or at least see her there.  But he hated the idea of California. It was everything he and his words were not.  It was the land of stars and beauty.  Tommy was far from the leading man or even a character worth recalling.

It wasn't fear that bound him to this town. A writer needs only a page to work.  The location is simply a backdrop.  But from penning unread stories, even he knew this was a tragic comedy at best.

“You still planning on getting out of here first thing in the morning?”

“Yes, and if you are any kind of friend you will meet me at Huck’s first thing and we can take off from there. I got to go Tommy. Hopefully this is not goodbye.”

Tommy watched his friend that was as wild as the wind as she took off.  It would be the last time he would see Vicki. At least that's what he believed.

When her face popped up almost fifteen years later, much like Tommy, most everything had changed.  She was now married to some truck driver living in Arkansas with two kids.  It was far from the bright lights of Hollywood.  Seems she had hit the road and found there are far worse things than small towns going nowhere.

Years passed and she found her way through the maze that is life and discovered some sort of happiness along the way.  Tommy never did respond to her friend requests.  Too many years had passed and the story, much like this, had found its end.

Tommy never was the California kind, and apparently, neither was his old friend either.

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