Chapter 1: Finding a friend
The reverberation of the engine’s growl cuts through the small town silence. With Gravel crunching beneath the tires, Loki guides the motorcycle towards the mom & pop service station. A partially rusted sign with the sun bleach word GAS announcing its presence.
“Nice bike.” Says the old man sitting in the shade of the store front, hiding from the afternoon heat.
The kind of old man that loiters around small town cafes & store fronts all across the southern U.S.
A lifetime lived and 1.000 stories to tell. Many true, some a stretched & twisted play on the truth. Some black, some white; all laughing at children, a harmless smile for the ladies, & a firm handshake for the men.
Loki meets a calloused hand reaching out to him. As he shakes the old black man’s hand, he notices a guitar, worn and weathered as he by time, sitting at his side.
“What do you do all day? Just sit out here pickin’and grinin’ like some modern day Curtis Loew?” Loki inquires of the old man.
A deep hearty laugh escapes the old man’s barrel chest.
“Son, that’s a bit before your time.” The old man finally gets out.
“Lynard Skynard never gets old. Growing up in the south, The Ballad of Curtis Loew resonates with me.”
“Loki? Is that one of them goofy ass Hollywood wanna-be-Italian names?” Joe asks with a smirk.
Exploding with laughter, Loki explains, “No dude, it’s a nick name!”
With a raised brow Joe inquires, “How did you pick that one up?”
After a long sigh he answers, “That’s a long story Joe.”
Recognizing it’s best to change topics, Joe asks about the motorcycle.
“Yeah I just got it!” Boasts Loki with a voice filled with pride.
“Aheiee ha ha!”
The little girl’s playful scream cut through the conversation. Looking her way, Loki notices a small pink piglet running around the front yard. A moving van fills the parking space of the driveway, with a ‘free pets’ sign on a telephone pole. Walking off, he calls out to Joe, “Be back in a sec, please watch my bike for me.”
Jogging across the street, the little girl catches sight of Loki. Scooping the piglet into her protective arms. She snaps, “what do you want?” While giving Loki the evil eye glare.
He puts his hands in the air, “Calm down killer! I’m just curious about the pig. Your mom or dad
Taking stock of the situation, Loki starts to think about it. ‘Damn this is starting to look like a bad Dateline episode or something.’
Kneeling down, he asks the pigs name.
“Piggy Pig.” She answers in the that cute voice that only a baby girl can.
“That’s cool. My name is Loki. You are…?”
“Simone. Loki is the bad guy in the movie. Are you a bad guy?” Simone asks with her head tilted to the side. Her blonde curls teasing the piglets nose. All while curious about the man kneeling before her.
“No sweetheart I’m not. Though you should get your dad or mom.”
“Okie dokie Loki!”
“DADDY!” She yells out. Thankfully without any panic in her voice.
“What kind of name is Simone?”
Looking at Loki as if he is the biggest idiot in the world, she replies.
“My name silly. I told you!”
“It’s after a relative from Austria.” Comes the man’s voice.
Looking up, Loki sees the dad walking towards them. Standing, while at the same time reaching out to shake hands as he introduces himself.
Recognizing that the father is confused as to why some guy is in his front yard, Loki gets to the point. “Stopped to fill my bike up. While I was talking toe Joe, I seen the baby girl playing with the pig, along with the free pets sign. Thought it would be cool to have a pig.”
Ian now having an explanation, starts to visibly relax.
Thought with this, it reveals the weight of many worries on his face.
Loki nudging Ian towards conversation asks, “I take it you do not want to move?”
“You can say that.” Comes Ian’s labored response. Looking off into the distance, Ian tries to decide if he wants to unload his woes to some stranger. Loki remains silent long enough to give Ian the hint it is okay to discuss it.
“Simone, go help your mother.”
“Okay daddy.” She yells out while running into the house. Piggy pig trotting behind her to keep pace.
Taking a deep breath that seems to momentarily ease his reality. Ian rubs his forehead.
“Bank. Bad mortgage. All the interest rates added up after her mother lost her job. I could not get enough clients around here to carry the note for an extra car and the house. At first was able to keep up with the house, after we got rid of the car. Although more people moved away from here, that meant fewer clients.”
Feeling his pain Loki asks, “So what now?”
“We got to move. I’m a lawyer by the way. Figure Houston area is best bet since it has fastest growth. Got some old law school buddies down that way. They’re gonna let me work out of their offices. Split my time between them until I can get established. Got an apartment lined out.”
“That’s a good go.” Loki tells him while reaching for his wallet.
When Ian notices him pulling out money. “Hold up man! I’m not looking for a hand out.” He proclaims defensively.
“I’m not looking to give one. Here is 500$. Give me your card; I might need a lawyer someday. I figure it is good to have one on reserve.”
Looking at the crisp five one hundred dollar bills, knowing he has a family to care for. After all it is not a hand out, it’s a business agreement. Ian thinks.
“Okay Loki. It’s a deal.” Shaking hands on it, Ian puts the money in his pocket.
“Let me go get a card for you.” As he steps into the house, Loki yells out, “Don’t forget the pig!”
Back across the street, Loki sees Joe smile and nod his head.
While looking around, Loki thinks about how quickly everything has changed. His mind drifting into the past, not so far away. The Phantom feeling of the gurney straps on his wrists, still a reminder. Thoughts bubble up of needles, medical tubing, & a nurse that seem too damn eager to be doing what she was…
From a distance he faintly hears ‘Loki’.
“MR. LOKI!!!!” The high pitched scream from Simone snaps him out of it. “Are you okay Mr. Loki?” She asks with a look of concern on her face. “I called you four times! It looked like you had the shivers. Are you cold? Because I think it is hot outside.”
Laughing it off he tells her, “No sweetheart, I’m okay. Look here’s your dad.” Thankful to have something to interrupt her questions.
He reaches for the business card. “Thanks dude! Look, I got to get back on the road. Simone, are you gonna give me Piggy Pig?”
Going back to giving him a frown she asks, “What are you going to do with Piggy?”
Suppressing a smile he tells her, “I don’t know. I do love me some bacon.”
“NOOOO!” She screams with a look of horror on her face as she runs behind her father, protectively clutching the little pink piglet.
“I’m just playing!” Loki quickly adds to ease her shock. “I will treat Piggy like a good friend.”
Peeking out behind father, she studies Loki to make sure he is serious.
She reaches her hand out & tells Loki, “Pinky promise. You cannot break a pinky promise.”
Locking pinkies with her, Loki reassures her. “I pinkie promise that I will be good & nice to Piggy Pig.”
Assured now that Piggy Pig is going to be in safe hands, Simone hands Piggy over after a last kiss on his moist snot.
Tucking the piglet under his arm, Loki tells them. “It was nice meeting y’all. I got to hit the road. Bye Simone. See ya later Ian.”
“Bye Mr. Loki!” She yells, drowning her father’s words out.
As he jogs across the street, he looks down at the piglet and proclaims, “It’s you and me pig. Out on the road”.
Seeming to understand, the pig lets out a runt of agreement.
Next up: Chapter 2 – A treat before the open road.
Clinton Young #999447
3872 FM 350 South
Livingston TX, 77351