July 18, 2009

Wayne Scheer

Trying to Be Good

Boyd Loggins felt like a kid the day before Christmas. He was trying to be good, but it seemed like everyone conspired to cause him grief.

Driving home from his first night at the Wagon Wheel in eighteen months, he realized how much he had missed the curvy North Georgia roads. It had been raining most of the evening and everything smelled like it had been washed clean. He kept his window rolled down and let the rain spray his bare arm.

His radio didn't work, so he beat a rhythm on his steering wheel to the swoosh tada swoosh tada of the wipers. Squinting through the streaked windshield, he focused on the winding road ahead. He drove slower than he once did, imagining someone watching what a careful driver he'd become.

All night he drank nothing but Coke. Most of his old friends avoided him as if he were wired with explosives. But he had expected that. Eighteen months in jail is a long time.

Still he managed to have a good time. He two-stepped with Tammy Ann Lucas. He had almost forgotten how good a woman smelled.

"So what's it like being locked up?" she had asked.

At least she wasn't afraid of him. He stared into her blue eyes, afraid of saying the wrong thing. After a few moments, he realized he was still staring.

"What'd you miss most?" she asked, smiling the way she did when they were sweethearts in high school, before all the trouble started happening.

That's when he kissed her. He put his hands in back of her head and planted a good one.

"I sure missed that," Boyd said. But she pulled away and ran back to her friends. They told Big Roy behind the bar and Big Roy, waving his baseball bat, asked him to leave.

He wanted to explain but decided he'd do better to just walk away, like the doctors told him. At one time, he would have popped Big Roy in his fat face and told everyone to kiss his ass, maybe dropped his drawers for good measure.

But he had to control his impulses. That's what they told him.

Besides, his meds kept him in a kind of fog and it felt way too much trouble to fight through it.

Boyd realized he had allowed his truck to wander across the double yellow line. He swerved to gain control over the vehicle on the slippery, curving road. His tires squealed as he maneuvered his truck back onto his lane.

But flashing lights and the familiar sound of a siren didn't allow Boyd time to take pride in his driving ability.

The sheriff's first words when he squeezed out of his car were, "Boyd, you sorry ass drunken sonovabitch. You're goin' back to jail where you belong."

"Merry Christmas," Boyd said, trying to smile through the fog. Reaching into his back pocket, he realized he had left his wallet back at the Wagon Wheel.


Wayne Scheer, a frequent contributor to Camroc Press Review, has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Best of the Net. His work has appeared in print and online in a variety of publications, including The Christian Science Monitor, Notre Dame Magazine, Eclectica, flashquake and others. Revealing Moments, a collection of twenty-four flash stories, is available here. Wayne lives in Atlanta with his wife.

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