“Hey ya’ll!” A skinny, blond woman waves cheerfully to the small party gathered at the covered picnic tables. She makes her way across the grass from the parking lot. The folks in the group look up in unison but do not reply. They look back at one another and murmur amongst themselves. “I didn’t think I’d ever find ya’ll!” she hollers to them as she approaches. She’s walking determinedly, her flip-flops flapping, her jaw yapping. She pushes her sunglasses to the top of her frizzy, bleach blond head in a well-practiced move so they can get a better look at her, as if they have forgotten who she is.
They are silent, immobile, and ashen.
One brave soul breaks away from the group and moves to block her. He is the patriarch of this small family, if that’s what they are. He alone will protect them if he has to. He holds his hands up, signaling her to stop where she is.
“You can’t be here, Rhonda,” he states boldly.
Her jaw drops, almost comically. She stops walking and clutches a bony hand to her freckled chest. “What?” she gasps. “Why not?” She shifts the bag over her shoulder to a more comfortable position. The strap of her hot pink tank top falls casually off her shoulder.
“One hundred yards, Rhonda,” he says pointedly.
“But it’s her birthday!” she squeals. “You won’t keep me away!”
“One hundred yards,” he reiterates. She stomps her foot like a child and stands her ground. Another member of the group, a young woman with nothing but a camera approaches them. She holds the camera up, a poor shield, but a powerful weapon.
“What the hell are you doing, Amanda?” the blonde demands to know. Receiving no answer, she tries to swipe the camera away, but the man steps in her path. She huffs and retreats a few feet. She adjusts herself as she thinks of her next move and then reaches into her bag. When she pulls something out, every person in the group gasps and sinks to the ground to avoid the imaginary spray of bullets.
“Aw, COME ON!” the woman howls, exaggerating her dismay. “Do you really think I’d bring a gun to a birthday party?” She throws a small wrapped package on the grass at the man’s feet. “THERE!” she screams. “I hope she likes it, ‘cause I spent all my money gettin’ it for her!”
She turns and stomps away, but she does not leave the parking lot. She props herself up on the hood of her dented Cadillac and smokes a cigarette. As she watches them, they pack up their party and grumble. When they approach the parking lot, she hops off the hood and backs away, giving them their space. They try to ignore her, but she throws a lit cigarette toward them as they climb into their van. The woman named Amanda starts to say something, but the man pulls her by the elbow into the van. They drive away slowly, leaving the blonde alone with her fury.
She never goes back for the package in the grass.