1 Earlier Time with Amy

Randy Moore drove his motorcycle to a friend’s modest house north of San Bernardino, California. Brake Wilson was still in the hospital from an accident, and he was there checking on the goldfish. He wondered about a large man who owned a tiny goldfish named Mackerel. Brake told him to watch out for Raggedy Ann, the golden tabby cat, that roamed his garage and always tried to get in his house.
According to Brake, one day the outdoor cat heard him mention the fish’s name. A vision of chunks of fish bait appeared in the feline’s greedy eyes or so thought his friend. Randy was told to throw out some pieces of pork skin that Brake purchased at the Mexican market. The whole pig skin was in the garage. He told him the skin should keep the cat a distance from the house if Randy threw it real far into the grass. The mice would run to eat the skin, and the outdoor cat would have a field day with the mice. Randy had to admit that there was strange logic working in Brake’s brain. His friend was a little unusual which was all right with Randy. He knew that he could trust Brake with any piece of information or secret. The guy was super loyal. He was the best type of friend to have in this business.
He was surprised to see another motorcycle parked in front of the home. Randy knew who the bike owner was, and displeasure crossed his face. He didn’t want to visit with his single cousin today. He was tired of the man’s bullshit and lies. Per Brake, his cousin was beginning to get into bad stuff like marijuana and cocaine. Rumors also floated around about car thefts in the area. Rival gang turf fights were also riveting news that surrounded his cousin and the group of males he controlled. Randy wouldn’t call them the honorable name of men. He wondered what would be the next illegal and disastrous business his cousin would try.
“Thugs and thieves. Which force was worst? Every single one of them.” He knew all their grimy, groady faces and their motorcycle colors.
Leaving the parked motorcycles, he peeked into the garage and sure enough there was the huge, ugly pig in a large dry cleaner bag with brazen pink lettering, “Rose’s Tattoo and Dry-cleaning, High Quality Service”. He knew the location of the business, and it wasn’t in the best part of town. He would have to let Brake know where another drycleaner store existed. Randy opened the bag and smelled the skin. He shook his head as a swarm of flies tried to get inside.
“I don’t think I’m going to eat barbeque pork sandwiches for some time. Besides, shouldn’t this thing be in a huge cooler?”
He broke off a piece of skin and the huge body swung, scraping bacon oil on his arm. He tied the bag shut and left the garage. Randy was glad that he was leaving the area to visit his chef friend, Juan, in Mexico. His friend was teaching a three-month cooking class and invited Randy, who wanted to start his own small restaurant business. Juan wanted to join Randy in his new venture by providing some capital and his prized recipes. The two men would develop easy menu items for the startup. Randy was excited and ready to leave as soon as he fed the darn fish and threw the skin out for the Raggedy Ann cat’s entertainment.
While staring at the second motorcycle, he heard a step on the patio tile and turned. It was Amy in her long hair, gray leather biker jacket, and burgundy pantsuit with black zippers. It wasn’t her outfit that drew his attention, but the black pistol pointed directly at him.
Randy immediately raised his hands in the air dropping the pork belly on the spotted lawn. He wondered what he had done to piss her off or had she found out about his leaving? He believed that his exit would upset her. That was why he hadn’t told her. Someone tipped her off. This was exactly the reason why she had the deadly look in her eyes.
“I can explain,” said Randy.
She shook her head. “No, you can’t.”
“Amy, please put the gun away before you hurt someone.”
“I want to hurt someone. Don’t move!” She raised the pistol higher.
Now, he was alarmed. “Do you want me to get down on my knees and say that I’m sorry? I will if you promise not to shoot.”
“No, I’m debating whether I can hit the bee on your arm except it kept moving toward your shirt pocket and back to the same spot. Besides, you smell like old bacon. Ick!”
Randy looked at his arm and quickly flicked the bee off. He didn’t trust her shot. Right now, the bee was a safer enemy, but it needed to be gone.
“You’re a spoil sport.” Amy moved the gun lower but didn’t put it away. She pouted her lips.
Women, who gave him that look stopped him cold in his tracks. He hated pouted lips which were always close to the next phase called crying-jag. Then he thought about the gun. He remembered that emotions tightened a person’s grip. Randy had an ugly thought and was unsure where exactly the barrel was aimed. He chose to wait her out, not wanting to appear under any type of duress. He told himself to stay calm. It was a better way to handle the current emotionally-charged and very sticky situation.
Lately, Amy was like a package wrapped full of dynamite. Everyone knew Skid Peters married her quickly one day in a heat of drunken passion and then divorced her even faster. Evidently, she had loved the diver dude and wasn’t ready to end their relationship. Her emotions were on a roller coaster, burning the last high track into a thousand pieces as she traveled down. Fire cracker sparks hit the ground from the racing blast of rubbed metal. The metal, dirt, and rocks popped up more than six feet in the air before turning to ash. The ash-covered roller coaster was also looking like a safer place than Brake’s yard.
Randy knew Amy could blow his head off or make love to him. He hoped that it was the latter. His own relationship with a woman had backfired. She left him for another guy, so he had been there. He briefly wondered what his old girlfriend, Sandra, was doing. He told himself to not go down the lane of those memories. Randy thought guys were better at walking away or maybe it was a show of indifference. Men didn’t want anyone to know about their failure and played brave warrior. Women, on the other hand, didn’t care what people thought, unless it was something about fashion. A woman would create a hen party over lost love just to have other women, who had also been there, help console her.
The two people in the yard were a strange pair of leftover remnants. Both were in rebound mode when they ran into each other. It really wasn’t any accident. She followed him to the acreage Randy had purchased for his restaurant. There was an old tool shed on the property, and he made love to her on a decrepit yellow-painted farm table. The minute they had sex, he wished he hadn’t. Their sexual activity could cause major problems. She had started dating his crazy cousin, who would kill him deader than a doorknob, if he knew about their affair. His cousin wouldn’t even blink when the gun fired, and Randy would be gone in less than a heartbeat with a hole to his head
Amy smiled and threw the gun on the outside plastic chair. She was fortunate that Brake put a straw cushion on his plastic chairs. The gun didn’t accidentally click off. She came up to him and unzipped his pants. There was only one more thing she wanted from him before he left. Randy felt obliged to give it to her. What could one more time hurt? They had always been best friends. Sex was a next step. First, he needed to make sure she was alone.
“Why do you have my cousin’s bike and, I might add, his very powerful gun? I assume that it’s loaded. He doesn’t keep guns in the house which are not loaded.”
She said flippantly. “Were you a little scared? You do look shaken. That was fun.”
Randy wanted to shake her.
“I stole them for a little while. Your cousin drove to Reno, Nevada, to do a deal with some of his new friends. His people don’t dare stop me because if they try, I will tell. They’ve decided to play ignorant and not get involved. I’ll refill the gas tank and he won’t ever know. He has no clue how many miles are on the bike. He forgets the important stuff. I must always remind him to put air in the tires or to pick up his medicine. Sometimes, he is such a child. The only numbers that he likes have dollar signs attached and lots of commas.”
“Still, you’re taking an unnecessary risk.”
“I don’t care. He doesn’t tell me what to do.”
Randy looked at her. She was close and smelled of flowers. She was important to him and worth the delicious risk. He was feeling confident and good. The vibrations of sweetness were bouncing between them. Or perhaps, it was relief she was no longer mad at him. Without thinking any further, he picked her up and grabbed the cousin’s pistol. Carrying her inside the screened porch area, he gently laid her on the beat-up wicker couch with frayed cushions. The gun was carefully placed on a table out of her reach with the safety re-engaged. Her arms came around him in an embrace, leaving no question in Randy’s mind where she was focused. He was granted amnesty. He would take it and run with the moment. It was better than holes and threads in his shirt made by bullets. He was ready to be used.
Their clothes hit the wood floor in disarray as their combined body heat and blood pressure rose, competing with the day’s temperature. Their high heat won, hands down. Both were satisfied with their private time together. The day was a quiet space in time they both needed. He was glad she followed him and vice versa. Loneliness was held at bay for a while.
The air finally cooled. Randy turned on the small radio and twirled the dial to a music station. They stayed there on the porch until sundown, laughing, and drinking the last of Brake’s beer. Finally, they hopped on their bikes and went their separate ways. The engine noises disappeared in the night.


Halfway out of Los Angeles, Randy remembered the fish. Pulling over to the side of the road, he called another friend of Brake’s named Caro. Caro knew where the key was to Brake’s home and would feed both critters. She had cans of cat food in her cupboard. Raggedy Ann would get a treat this evening. She told him the cat was a male. Brake had missed those items because the cat was gaining weight lately. She called the cat Sam. Randy hung up and couldn’t stop himself from laughing.
He and Caro had talked a long time about his friend. He got the impression that she liked Brake. Caro was also picking up Brake from the hospital tomorrow. Randy asked her to stop and get the box of donuts that he ordered for his friend and a case of bottled beer. Caro told him she made an enchilada casserole, too. She knew what type of bottled beer. She would bring her own surprise for Brake--a six-pack of peanut-butter beer. The man had large jars of peanut butter in his cupboards along with French bread and grape jelly. She thought he might want to at least try the stuff. It was better than the pepper beer she bought him last Christmas. The pepper beer was from a biker-friend who made the homemade stuff. Brake had complained the Christmas beer was a little on the hot side when he ate the pepper in the empty bottle. Randy was doubtful about the peanut-butter beer. He wouldn’t be buying any for his new restaurant unless they came up with a fresher taste nor would he have any pork bellies on his property. However, the pickled squid might work. The Mexican stuff was a little too salty, so he’d have to work on new ingredients. Thanking Caro, he felt better about leaving.
Feeling the wind and smelling the ocean spray, Randy drove on Highway 1 before stopping at a greasy burger joint. He avoided the biker bars, but kept his passport and gun handy in his saddlebag. Eating only one of the burgers, he threw the other one in the trash. Randy would learn to make excellent beef enchiladas with sweet red and green sauce. He had been practicing and had a few of his own recipes to share with Juan. Turning onto Highway 5, he would stop in San Diego for the night. He would give his gun to a friend in the morning. His friend owned a pawn shop and would hold it for safekeeping. Then Randy could cross the border.
Memories of Amy drifted across his brain when he hit the motel bed. Quickly, he put her out of his thoughts. Frankly, he didn’t have time to worry about her and her relationship with his cousin. He hoped, however, that she would come to her senses. She was a way better person than Minnow Surf. He tried to tell her those facts whenever he could. She just needed to believe them. Little did he know the disastrous trouble Amy would get into before his return from Mexico. Randy would blame Minnow and the forces that ever put them in the same family.