by Kenny Paul Clarkson

Kenny Paul Clarkson is the pen name of
Kenn Gividen, author of The Prayer of Hannah.

Contact Information:
Kenny Paul Clarkson
PO Box 2012
Columbus IN 47202 • 1-812-372-1663

Click on book cover to buy
Cool Water for the Thirsting Soul
(Vol 1)

This site contains a collection of fiction sketches for your enjoyment.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

• TWO [Round Hill Series]
by Kenny Paul Clarkson

Darkness falls soft on Round Hill.

A golden glow faded across the horizon as daylight surrendered its final breath. Street lamps cast amber halos on avenues lined with Tudor homes tucked behind sprawling elms. The kickety kickety chant of sprinklers could be heard in the darkness as they dusted manicured lawns with tiny droplets of water.

Storefronts along Main Street hid their wares in blackened windows. Shopkeepers had called it a day. The pizzeria was one exception. The movie theater, malt shop and Bud’s 24/7 Laundromat were the others.

It was a cowbell, Eb supposed, that clanged as he pushed open the heavy glass door. A liberal whiff of bleach and laundry detergent fills his senses. There was a kaleidoscope of somebody’s laundry churning in a dryer. His spectacles fogged. Slightly.

Two quarters slid in the soda machine. Eb chose Sunkist orange soda. He always did. One punch of the big, plastic button sent a can of pop clunking its way down the chute to Eb’s hand. Four more quarters and a tug on a chrome knob bought him a Snickers bar.

“Hey!” Eb’s attention was arrested by the familiar feminine voice coming from across the room. He turned.

She was leaning forward in her chair to peek around the counter. Her generous smile and brunette hair were unmistakable. Eb hadn’t seen her in years.

“Rachel!” He raised his Sunkist as if offering a toast.

Her raised eyebrows said, “surprise!” Her smile broadened.

“How you doin’?!” he added.

“I’m home!” she shrugged.

Eb strutted the few steps toward his old classmate. She stood, offered a friendly hug — a bit awkward for a guy with a soda in one hand and a Snickers in the other — and he eagerly conceded.

“So,” she self-consciously slapped her hands to her hips, “how’s life. Been a while, eh?”

Eb squirmed. Inside. “Yeah. Too long. Would you like a bite?”

Her eyes laughed. “No, you can have your, uh, candy bar.”

“Ready for them?” Eb pointed his soda to the front window. Across the street was a noisy brood of teenagers in a souped-up pink Cadillac convertible.

“Ready,” she answered. “School starts Monday. Back to school.”

“English teacher,” Eb observed. He rocked nervously on his heals.

“So, uh, when’d you get back in town?”

“Moved in yesterday. Just around the block; up on Elm and Third.”

Eb wadded his wrapper, took aim and shot a three pointer into the trashcan across the Laundromat.

Humming fluorescent lights and the thumping of the drier filled an uneasy quiet. The teenagers had gone.

“Well,” he interrupted the silence, “lets get together sometime. Get caught up on …”

“Okay.” Her whisper was so soft Eb could only read the word on her lips. There was a trace of gray in her hair; lines in her eyes that were so unfamiliar to the schoolgirl he had known. Somehow he found it attractive.

“So, you need a lift home?” he offered.

“No, I walked. It’s not that far. One girl. Two big heavy loads of laundry. But, hey, I can handle it alone.”

He turned to leave.

“Bye!” she offered that cutesy finger-wiggling wave that women do so well. Eb acknowledged with a jutted lower lip and thumbs up.

He clanged his way through the glass door and had gone as far the mail box by the malt shop.

“Duh!” he said aloud. One girl. Two loads of — two heavy loads of laundry. He turned to go back. He didn’t see Sheriff Henderson coming until the last moment; he instinctively stopped dead in his tracks. The policeman walked square into him.

“Offensive foul,” Eb smiled. “My feet were planted?”

The cop gave Eb a peculiar look. “Well, I know you don’t drink. You in love?”

Eb’s smile melted to a thoughtful frown. He continued to walk.

Clang. The door opened. Rachel turned her head.

“Forgot to toss my can,” he announced, lobbing his can clear across the laundry; another three pointer.

“Later,” he said, faking a play for the door. He then turned to look at Rachel.

“Say, Do you need some help? Uh, carrying one of your laundry baskets?”

Her sheepish grin, sparkling eyes and nodding head provided the answer.


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