Dwayne and Allie walked down one of the many lanes of the fair, hand in hand, looking at the different attractions and money making gimmicks. Teddy bears the size of Allie hung on hooks above seemingly easy to win games with men shouting how Dwayne should prove his prowess for his lady.
Both were dressed appropriately for the cold. Summer had nearly arrived, but the evenings were still pretty cold. Allie’s blue and green cap came down far enough to cover her ears. It was dark and cool, but the fair-grounds seemed about ten degrees warmer with all the machines and bodies moving around. Bright flashing lights of every color lit the dark sky as the many arms and cars and trains of rides flew through the sky.
It was the last weekend of the fair, the Blue Angels supposed to have been one of the grand finishes. It was announced over the loud speakers they were unable to leave the air force base though, as time for show grew closer. The announcer at the raised stage apologized and explained the jets had had some calibration issues, and we did not want any accidents, did we? No show.
With school out there was a lack of college students, which made the locals happy that they were able to enjoy the fare a little less crowded with other locals. Friends and family seemed to be everywhere in the fare grounds. It helped that the city itself was so small people knew each other from shopping here or working there. This was especially true when everyone’s child attended the same high school.
Allie pulled Dwayne closer, intertwining their arms and pressing her face against his shoulder, “You going to win me something?” she asked smiling and looking up. He was easily five inches taller than her at six foot.
Dwayne smirked, “I have five dollars,” he said as if he were thinking deeply, “it takes seven tries to win a simple one dollar game. So, sorry, I’m two dollars short of winning you anything.”
“Hmm, you should find a fifty cent game then.” He stopped a moment and dug his half numb hand into his pants pocket pulling out his cell phone, “The parental unit,” he said looking at Allie raising his eye brows slightly. She giggled and watched him answer the call. “Hello?”
“Hey babe,” came his mother’s voice, “Get over to the zipper.”
It wasn’t long after that Dwayne stood over the bright blue garbage can hanging his head. “You’re bad people. You’re a bad mother and a bad girl friend.” he muttered lowering himself further so that he was resting on his forearms against the trash can.
Kelsey was standing by Allie watching her son be dramatic. Both wore an equal amount of amusement on their face. Kelsey peeled off a piece of her cotton candy she had bought and offered it to Allie who accepted and ate it. They didn’t take their eyes off of Dwayne. “So you’re not going to go again?” his girlfriend asked.
He did not bother answering as his stomach lurched again. He had managed so far to keep down his chili dog and elephant ear.
Allie walked up behind him rubbing his back in a soothing way, “Oh poor baby,” she said in a mocking tone, “you agreed to get on; no one to blame but yourself, really.”
Kelsey smiled at the young couple and announced, “Okay, well, I’ve had my fun with you two. I’m going to go browse.” She turned on her booted heel and was off.
Dwayne stood up right taking a deep breath. After composing himself a little more he looked to his girl-friend and said, “Speaking of that, you’re going to like what I got you for your birthday,” he said putting one arm across her shoulders looking at her as they walked. He still felt a little green, but if it had not come up yet, it would not at all. She moved closer beside him as they made for the opposite direction of his mom. When she looked at him expectantly he continued, “Well, it was going to be a long strand of rope, but after forcing me onto the Zipper, I think I’ll make it a short piece.”
“Well, I guess I’ll just have to cut what I was getting you in half too.” She looked at him appearing serious and disappointed in this sudden adaptation in their gifts to one another. “And it was so pretty on me too. Silky.” He grunted at that. After a moment she caved and pulled on his arm saying, “Come on, what did you really get me?” she asked pulling on his arm slightly.
Dwayne looked away from her and sighed, “Well,” he shrugged, “I was being serious.”
“You were not!” she said still giggling and slapping his shoulder.
“You’ll just have to convince me to get you something better.”
“You better not get me rope, else I’ll tell on you to your mom,” she said more to herself then to him still suppressing her giggles.
“As if she’d believe you.”
“She would! I would show up to do my volunteer work at Meridian, a mess, red eyes, obviously from crying, and I would tell her that her son was being a bad boy friend…rope…” she trailed off for emphasis.
He looked at her with that same serious face, “There’s still time to get you something, nice, and meaningful, but, I don’t know… I just don’t want to,” he teased.
This was excuse enough for Allie. As they walked she pulled on his arm directing him around to the side of a stand. It was in a row with several other stands placed up besides the cattle-ranch building where the horses and bulls were being showed for competition. This particular stand was selling wood planks with greetings carved into them. They all said the same thing with a different combination of words intricately carved or painted or burned into them:
God Bless This House And All Who Enter
Come As Strangers, Leave As Friends
Home Is Where The Heart Is
Allie lingered, casually, picking one up with her free hand. Her other hand was holding Dwayne’s tightly, dug deep in his coat pocket. She smiled and told the lady selling them that she was just looking around and then led Dwayne further around the stand as if searching for something behind it; more signs maybe. She then led him out of the bright lights around the corner of the ranch building where there were no stands, gimmicks, rides or people. She pushed his back up against the wall and stood on her tip-toes.
He did not have to wait for the drive home to get his kiss.