It All Goes Up In Smoke
Ethan toyed with the ring box in the pocket of his cargo shorts. It took him seventy-four minutes to find the engagement ring lodged between two floorboards behind the door but he needed it. After he threw the ring box against the wall yesterday and cursed Leslee’s name she cornered him in the hallway after dinner as he came out the restroom. “You’re right, I’m wrong. Try again,” was all she said but he knew what she wanted and he was going to give it to her.
Since Ethan pulled his six-four, one hundred and eighty-three-pound frame out the bed this morning he’d been in the backyard trying to master the perfect combination of mesquite and oak. Twenty minutes later, he doused the pit with too much lighter fluid almost costing him an eyebrow; he placed rack upon rack of ribs massaged deeply with his father’s secret rub in the pit. A rub that would make you chew off your own damn finger as Denver told him. Ethan didn’t want anyone to lose a finger. All he wanted was for one girl to let him slid a ring on her finger at the end of the night. That’s when he was going to try again; under the big Texas sky as the stars lit up he was going to ask her to marry him.
Kanye West’s Good Life blasted from his back pocket drowning out the sizzling meat as it hit the rack and the chirping of the sparrow hidden in one of the oak trees. He pulled the phone out his pocket, read the screen, “How’s Dominica Republica.” He sung.
“I wouldn’t know.” The voice on the other side of the phone spoke loudly.
Ethan frowned. “Ollie, why the hell are you shouting and what it all that noise in the background.” He closed the pit.
“Engine trouble!” Ollie sighed heavily. “We’re stuck at the fucking airport!”
“So, what are ya’ll going to do now? Catch another flight.”
“They said there’s no more flights out to Dominica until Wednesday. Wednesday! Fucking Spring Break will be practically over.”
“Stop looking at her like that!” A woman’s voice sounded through the phone. “She’s just the ticket attendant.”
“I can look at her how the hell I want too, Emma!” Ollie shot back.
“Fuck-you! Jackass!” Emma responded.
“That’s the last time you’re going to fucking hit me, dammit!” Ollie shouted. Ethan pulled his ear away from the phone. “I’m warning you!”
Ethan put the phone back up to his ear. “So, it’s safe to say the shit has hit the fan at the airport, uh.” Ollie just groaned out his frustration. “If you want to get away, you can come up here, chill. Get Emma out your ear.”
“I would but Chris and Kendall are with us too.”
“Bring ‘em.” Ethan took a swig of his ginger beer, saving the alcoholic beverages for when he finished barbecuing. He took barbecuing seriously; it was an art getting the perfectly crunchy crust of a brisket and pink, moist meat.
“You sure. Denver won’t mind.” Ollie’s voice squeaked. Ethan couldn’t pinpoint the reason Denver and Ollie couldn’t get along. Maybe it was the fact they were polar opposites of each other. Ollie liked hip-hop, Denver liked alternative. Ollie was an outdoorsman, Denver couldn’t stand bugs or sweating. Or maybe it was because Ollie had sex with Emma after Denver broke up with her.
“Denver.” Ethan looked towards the patio door in the cabin. He couldn’t tell what they were doing. They were huddled around something or someone. Eric probably slipped trying to do the Running Man again. “It’ll be cool. So, get your shit and bring your ass!” Ethan could see the goofy smile on Ollie’s face.
“Aight! See you in a few.” Ollie hung up.
Ethan slid his phone back in his pocket grabbing the handle of the pit’s lid. A scream plundered out from the house.
Ethan’s head swiveled towards the cabin, “Leslee!” His hand dropped from the handle.
Red and brown was all he saw. His arms shot up shielding his face. He couldn’t see them; the people he called family. He couldn’t see Leslee, the woman he wanted to bear his family. They disappeared behind a haze of dark gray. A wave of fiery heat blew over Ethan, hurdling him back. He glided in the air like a t-shirt blown up by a gust of wind. The pool water broke his body’s fall. The pool’s concrete rim interrupted the fall of his head.
“Leslee.” He murmured as his blood inched over the white stone concrete. Darkness was all he was left with as his eyes scrolled shut.