A Necessary Struggle—Episode Twenty Seven

The AARP Pep Rally

Lela stood behind the bar mixing vodka with cranberry. She watched the over fifty-somethings prance around the ballroom in their evening attire. She’d been in the Garland Ballroom many times but it never looked so regal. Waiters buzzed around with hors d’oeuvre topped platters. A five-piece band played tunes her parents boomed from their car stereo and a lime green banner floated overhead that read, Annual Athletic Advocacy Banquet. Everyone under thirty-five knew that was just a fancy way of saying pep rally for alumni.

“Buzzed yet?” Samuel asked leaning against the bar. He looked dapper a navy suit and silver tie. She wasn’t going to tell him that, though. He already had an ego the size of Texas.

“I wish.” Lela gripped the neck of the glass bottle, shaking the clear liquid. “I can feel my brain cells exploding.”

“At least you’re getting paid.” Samuel reached for a glass on the tray filled with olive-topped martinis. Lela pulled the tray out of his grasp. He smiled, “ Coach made us come.”

“You wanted to be a football player. This comes with the job.” Lela pointed to the ready-made trays when the guy donning all black approached, “These two.”

“Look at him.” Samuel turned his attention to the Polo shirt and Dockers-clad man in the middle of the room. “I bet he’d do the Cupid Shuffle for a check.”

Lela laughed as she wiped down the bar, “I think we’d all do the Cupid Shuffle. No check required.”

Samuel smiled with a light nod.

“What are you two doing?” Trevor asked sitting his camera on the bar. “You’re supposed to be schmoozing.” He told Samuel. “And I see people with empty hands, Ms. Emery.” He shot her a coy smile.

Lela pulled cleaned tray in front of her. “Trey, if you don’t leave alone are you’re going to have an empty bed.”

“So, you guys are a thing now,” Samuel asked.

“Yeah.” Trevor happily answered. “She stopped being scared of Alyssa.

“Was not.” Lela flung an olive at him but he just caught it in his mouth.

“How’d she take it?” Samuel was intrigued, with football practice and classes he was out of the loop.

Lela cleared her throat. “She hasn’t been home in days and she won’t return my calls.” She rubbed tried to rub the strain that built up in her neck. “Harmony ambushed her at her chem class and found out she’s staying at Quinn’s.”

“Quinn?” Samuel’s eyebrows bunched. “Quinn who?”

“Quinn Fuller. The one that plays soccer.” Trevor answered seeing the hurt blanketing Lela’s face.

“That dude!” Samuel harked, “Is that safe?”

“Why?” Lela stopped unloading glasses from the dishwasher. “He’s not the guy that­—” She didn’t want to put Alyssa’s business out there for prying ears to hear. “He’s not her attacker.”

“I thought she didn’t see the guy’s face.” Samuel didn’t stick around the hospital for long so he just knew the basics.

“She saw him,” Lela informed him. “She just doesn’t know him.”

“Oh.” Samuel rubbed his hand over his wavy hair.

“Can we talk about something else?” Trevor spun off the stool. “Have you heard from Harmony?”

“No.” Lela and Samuel both answered.

“She should be here by now.” Samuel checked his phone for any messages he could’ve missed.

“Shit! I forgot.” Lela stopped arranging glasses on the trays. “I was supposed to tell you she’s having dinner with her Dad’s family.”

Samuel peered at her with bewilderment, “Her Dad’s family?” The corner of his mouth began to twitch.

“I mean…” Lela pulled down her rising vest. “Laurent’s family…”

“His family,” Samuel quietly spoke. He tapped on his phone rising off the stool.

“Sam, you okay?” Trevor questioned.

“I’m good,” Samuel muttered before scurrying away with his phone to his ear.

Trevor untwisted the top bourbon, “That’s going to be one angry phone call.” He poured the brown liquid into the highball glass he swiped off the tray.

“Really!” Lela proclaimed watching Trevor take a measured sip from the glass.

“What.” Trevor took another sip. “I’ll pay for it.” He pulled his wallet out his back pocket and handed it to her, “Here”.

“That’s not the point.” She pushed the wallet back towards him. “You’re not supposed to be drinking while you’re on the job.”

On the job?” He laughed at her rewarding him with a scowl. “I’m helping out a friend because he knows nothing about cinematography.”

This time she laughed, “And you do!”

Trevor sat down his glass, “I grew up around this.” He glanced at the camera. “This is my life.”

Lela slapped his shoulder, “Then why don’t you major in it?”

“In what?” He took hold of her hand looking at her like she lost her mind. “Cinematography.”

Lela peered at the confusion that cloaked him, “Yes.”

“And be like my dad.” He let her hand go twisting his mouth like he kissed ten lemons.

“No.” She shook her head. “Be better.”

Trevor stopped twirling the bourbon in the glass to face her, “You think so?”

“You’re Trevor Voss.” Lela grabbed the lapels of his black suit coat. “You can be anything you want to be.” She caressed the side of his face, the growing stubble tickling her soft skin. “Anything.”

Trevor’s smile formed underneath her hand, “The only thing I want to be right now are those pants wrapped around you.”

“Ugh!” She rolled her eyes. “You’re so cheesy. Velveeta should sue you.” She let got of his coat.

He shrugged. “Whatever.” Trevor gulped down the last of his bourbon. “What time do you get off?”

“The bar closes in—” She checked the time on her Minnie Mouse watch. “Twenty-two minutes.”

He undid his tie, “What are we eating?”

“I don’t know what you’re getting.” Lela stuffed the last glass into the dishwasher. “But I’m getting a—”

“A turkey cheddar burger.” Trevor groaned. “That shit’s nasty. You can’t go to Emerald’s and get a turkey burger. Hell, this is Texas. Beef is better.

“You’re stupid.” She laughed but once she turned away from Trevor it faded. “Will, what’s wrong with you?” She asked the heaving boy leaning against the bar.

“Call 911!” Will breathed between labored breaths.

“Why?” Lela quickly dialed the three digits into her cell.

Will regained his posture wiping sweat from his forehead, “Quinn ­­­­­­­Fuller’s trying to kill Jacob Richards in the parking lot…. with a golf club.”

“Where’d he get a golf club?

“That’s the question you have.”

“No.” Trevor held up his finger as if he was thinking. “Why the fuck are we still in here? We should be in the parking lot!” He took off running.

“Shit!” Lela chased after Trevor and Will. “They’re going to get arrested.”



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