This story is a continuation of "Guinevere's." Although the story can be read on its own, the reader should read the other first, in order to see why the main characters are doing what they are and why they are in the circumstances they are in. The characters are the same and character descriptions are not repeated.
The sky looked like somebody had taken a white pebble board, masked it off, put some ultramarine blue in a thin wash, then dropped some Payne's grey into it. The close foreground of the sky was a dark and angry mixture of blue and grey; almost black, fading into a soft grey at the tops of the trees in the distant. The hunter green trees bled into the sky, creating an image of incoming rain in the distance.
About a third of the way up from the bottom of the painting, silver over red greyhound bus seemed to arise out of the stained cedar deck that surrounded it on three sides. The buss and deck were surrounded with a sea of monstrous Madam Wu Hostas on three sides, and a row of five foot tall Cannas along the back of the bus.
Stationed just in front of the cedar deck was a 1985 Yamaha FZ750 with mat black finish that looked more like suede. "Who the fuck lives there?" Mike wondered. The black fazer was there for a number of reasons. In one sense, it was like the old grandmother that puts a black Stetson on the back ledge of her '96 Honda Civic; hoping that thieves will not mess with a car owned by some mean asshole. On the other hand it was like someone with a drug house surrounded with pit bulls chained to dog houses around it. What had been put there to discourage intruders became something of intrigue to Stephanie.
Pamphlets to the tourists stated that the Cabot Trail was a scenic asphalt road around the island that could be driven in about eight hours. Going around the highway on a dry early morning Stephanie had done it in two; with the foot-pegs leaving trails of sparks and never much getting out of third gear, she had mastered this salvaged titled monster without her mother even knowing it had been ridden.
In the old days, good guys wore white hats; the villains wore black. In this modern story, the demon can be heard coming over a hill in a guards-red 930 slope nose Porsche Targa. The six Weber carburetors ultimately channel the used gas into six exhaust manifolds that narrow into two "megaphones" with several baffles; no mufflers. It's not loud, but the sound out of the exhaust sounds like a Harley Davidson twin engine with timing that has been set to 7° of advance that usually sets off almost all of the security alarms in an underground parking structure.
Knowing this, Mike turns off the engine as he comes over the hill and coasts a couple hundred yards before coming to a stop next to some trees at the edge of the Continental Bus property.
The back door opened. A tall rangy figure emerged.
Stephanie was leaving home at six in the evening, anxious about this evening's run. From tomorrow on, they would be two-a-days and she would have to be much more determined to wake up when the alarm went off. She would be in a new school this fall. Anxious to make new friends and al little nervous also about being a freshman, She wanted to get started off right. She had been notified about summer conditioning for Cross Country practice. The school coaches knew nothing about her previous experience. For all they knew, she was just another fourteen-year old freshman trying out for cross country for the first time like any other young girl her age.
Stephanie was a tall, lanky girl who didn't look like she could stand. She reminded people, driving by and watching her jog, of a young foal just trying to stand. Her legs were long for her age. The rest of her body would undoubtedly catch up later. Although they were long, the experienced coaches could see the well defined leg muscles had lots of potential. Nobody knew that she had used a fictitious name at the KU Relays and had run a distant second to Ali Cash, who had come within a couple of seconds of a national record in the 1600m and 800m high school division. She had faked a name so as not to use her high school eligibility.
Steph had her backpack with her regular running gear, towel and a change of clothes. She was heading to practice, which was several miles away. She had taken the back way through the forest. She wore lumberjack boots which were laced to the top, just below the knees. The boots had heavy canvass "pockets" with lead weights around her ankles to strengthen her legs. Her shorts were Levis cut practically to the crotch with small slits up the side. Her pockets had been cut and shortened so they would not stick down below the hem of the shorts.
Her red and blue checkered lumberjack shirt fit like a glove and was tucked into her shorts. Her sleeves were rolled up above her elbows. Her medium sized melon breasts hardly moved when she ran, but her long-stemmed pink nipples pushed out against the oxford fabric and left little to the imagination about how big her breasts or nipples were. If her mother knew she was not wearing a bra, there might have been an ugly scene when she left the house. Stephanie was young enough to be somewhat oblivious to the provocative image she presented, and her mother was undecided on just how much attention she should raise to her daughter's dress. If she wasn't aware of the sexuality she was presenting, should her mother make it an issue? Jenny was undecided for now.
Stephanie was wearing a Kansas City Chiefs baseball cap. Her ear buds and music from her MP3 Player kept her oblivious to any events around her.
Mike had parked just beyond her house on numerous occasions. He knew by now what her route would be down to the highway. He gave her a head start of about twenty minutes. He turned around and headed down to the highway. He saw her emerge from the trees and head down the Cabot Trail to town.
When Stephanie had left, there had been just a few drops of rain; hardly enough to tell whether it was rain, or dew shaken loose from the leaves in the forest. By the time she was halfway to the highway, the rain had become a fine mist; not enough to drench her, but enough to make her blouse almost transparent.
Mike pulled up alongside her. He slowed down and rolled down his window. "Can I give you a ride down to the High School?" He asked. Stephanie pulled her ear phones down around her neck. She wouldn't ordinarily have taken a ride, but couldn't tell if the rain was going to stop or get worse. She hadn't really heard him, but she knew the drill. Everybody offered her a ride. She recognized Mike as her Mom's employer. She was ordered to stay away from strangers, but decided he was someone familiar to the family. Not wanting to offend him, she nodded and turned for the door. She slid uneasily into the red slant nose 911 Targa.
As Mike roared off, the acceleration was so quick she could hardly raise her arms to clasp the five-point seat belt. The back of her head pressed into the headrest. She had never been in a car like this, and the other high school girls would be impressed to see her get out of this sports car.
When they arrived, her blouse had dried enough that her nipples were no longer showing through wet fabric. Mike stopped under the entrance canopy. The other girls were seated in a big circle in the grass. They gawked at the rookie runner getting out of this $100,000 sports car. Was she from a rich family? In any event, she had their attention.
"I can pick you up after practice and take you over to see your mother at work. When she's done, you can ride home with her." Stephanie waved goodbye and nodded. She didn't know much about her mother's work; what did she do and where did she work? Jenny had been secretive about details of her work. In fact, Jenny had been very secretive about everything.
When Stephanie was done with cross country practice, she had showered and changed clothes. She had changed from the track outfit she had been issued back into what she was wearing when she got out of Mike's car. She sent a text message to the number he had given her, so she sat down in the grass with the other girls until she heard the faint whine of the Porsche as it went through the gears. The girls all smiled when it came around the corner. "Lucky rat bastard!" several of them thought as they waved goodbye to her.
Stephanie was pleased with her day. They were just supposed to loosen up and run four miles. Loosening up is never a casual experience. It is supposed to be, but the girls are all in undeclared cliques. The girls, who were the best cross country runners last year, ran in front. If anybody tried to stay with them, they increased the tempo until the herd thinned out.
The underclassmen soon learned you run with your own group, or it would be a dead run if you tried to stay with somebody outside of your group. Stephanie knew, but chose to ignore the school tradition.
She ran with the head group; the girls left from the cross country varsity team that had not graduated. Stephanie acted like she was struggling to keep up, and ran at the tail end. The girls were determined to show her who was boss; and gradually increased the tempo, until it was an all-out, full-fledged race. The girls' race is only a couple thousand meters, and their practice was easily twice what they ran in a race.
.... There is more of this story ...