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A loud honking and subsequent jerk of the steering wheel return Alec to the present and his car into the proper lane of traffic. The QuikTrip looms ahead and rather than waste gas, he pulls into the lot. He needs to think. Not wanting anything from inside, he finds a spot on the outer edge of the parking lot and shuts off his car. The sun sets early this time of year and dusk has passed.

Rain covers his windshield. It’s one of those early winter rains, the kind that falls steady and straight. The kind of rain that chills you to the bone. Alec sits alone—the radio silent—and the rain peppering the roof of his car adds to his melancholy. Viewed through vacant eyes, the lights from cars entering and leaving the lot are distorted by rain drops dripping down the windshield.

Soon, all the windows are fogged over, but Alec doesn’t bother with the defroster. Instead he’s content to sit and contemplate. He wonders why he ever allowed Charlie Nichols to own him or why he continues to do Charlie’s dirty work. He can’t tell Robbie or Jason; he doesn’t want to drag them into this. But it’s more than that. He’s ashamed of his weakness. He assures himself that a finished boat will allow him to leave his troubles in Aubreyville far behind. But until then, he has no one in whom to confide. He feels lonely in his brand new Trans Am.

A light tapping on the passenger window startles Alec. Through the glass he notices the outline of a figure standing next to the car. He lowers the window.

“Hi. Can I come in? It’s wet out here,” A young girl stands outside, with water dripping from her nose and the tips of her long, blonde hair. “Nice car.”

Caught off guard, Alec answers, “Sure. Come on in. Yeah, the car’s new. Only fifty miles on it.”

Alec recognizes the girl from school, but doesn’t know her name. He thinks she may be in the class two grades ahead of him, or it could be she already graduated. “What’s up?” Alec asks.

The clothes underneath her jacket have gotten wet. The girl appears well proportioned, with her shape clearly outlined in her clingy, wet blouse.

“Oh, I was just walking around town when it started pouring down rain. What about you?” She has an engaging smile.

“Just riding around. There’s nothing to do and I’m kind of bored.” A brief pause ensues before Alec says, “I’m Alec, what’s your name?”

“Cassie. Cassie Montgomery.” She reaches out her hand and they shake.

“Well, Cassie, you want to ride around for a while? You’ll at least stay dry.” Alec digs through his cassette collection. “What do you like to listen to? I have some hard rock, some disco, pop rock…”

“I like Pink Floyd. Really, it doesn’t matter. Anything’s cool with me.”

“I bought their new release, The Wall. Listen to this.” He starts the tape and then drives the two of them eastward out of town.

Cassie sits back and seems entranced by the music. Alec focuses on the rain soaked highway in front of him, but catches himself casting furtive glances in her direction. He finds her very attractive and his heart pounds. The warmth of the car dries her clothes and Alec inhales the intoxicating scent of sweet perfume. Cassie doesn’t acknowledge Alec’s attention.

Comfortably Numb comes on and Cassie listens intently to the lyrics. Her eyes glaze over with moisture.

“Just a little pin prick. He’s talking about heroin you know.” Alec watches for a reaction.

Cassie faces Alec, and with a sad expression in her eyes says, “Yeah, I know.”

Feeling uncomfortable, Alec changes the subject, “Man, listen to those guitars. Beautiful song, isn’t it? How can a sad song be so pretty?” He realizes he could be talking about her.

As they leave the lights of town behind them, Alec exits onto a side road and continues driving. Cassie ejects the cassette. “I’m tired of music. Can we talk?”

“Sure. That’s cool. Are you out of school?” Alec tries unsuccessfully to keep his eyes on the road.

“I’m out of school, but I didn’t finish. I dropped out my senior year.”

“Where do you live? Do you have any brothers or sisters? I’m not sure I remember seeing you in school.”

“Well, you’re a few years younger than me. What grade are you in?”

“I’m a sophomore, soon to be a senior. What about your family?”

“What do you mean, ‘Soon to be a senior’?” Cassie asks.

“Well, I have plans to leave here as soon as I graduate, and it can’t come too soon.”

Cassie seems to be avoiding the family questions, but Alec persists. “What about your family?”

Cassie sighs. “I live with my mother in a trailer park. You know the one over off Central Avenue?” Alec nods affirmation and Cassie continues, “I’ve never met my father. I have a little brother, Michael, but we’re so far apart in age, we don’t relate much. Mom works a lot, but doesn’t bring home much money. I’ve been working at William’s Metal Fabricating to help keep up with the bills. What about you?”

Alec wonders how a gorgeous girl like this can have that kind of life.

“I live out by the golf course. My dad is never home. He travels around the world for his job, but mainly stays in New York City. My mother spends most of her days at the country club or entertaining friends at parties.”

Cassie, upon hearing country club, leans in closer to Alec and listens intently. “I don’t have any brothers or sisters. I spend the majority of my time at the barn. Funny how such a large house can be empty so often.”

Cassie inquires about the barn and Alec tells her the story about his boat and his plans after school.

“Where is the barn?” she asks.

Alec describes the old logging road and she says she’s familiar with the place.

Now miles from town, Alec drives into an empty farm field and shuts off the car. For a moment they sit in silence and their warm breaths fog the windows. The rain patters soft and steady on the car’s exterior, creating a soothing and peaceful rhythm.

Alec has a hard time thinking of anything other than sex. All night he’s been casting glances at Cassie’s numerous physical attractions—her long blonde hair, smooth white skin, tight jeans accentuating long legs and a well-shaped ass—and he can’t keep his mind from wondering what her breasts are like underneath her blouse and lacy white bra.

Breaking the stillness, Cassie pushes the cassette tape back into the player, but dials the sound down so it becomes background noise. Alec leans back and closes his eyes, but his mind races.

Moments later, Cassie sits up and removes her jacket. She then takes off her blouse. Speechless, Alec stares at the alluring body being revealed to him in the light coming from the dash. It requires all his effort to control his emotions, but he maintains his composure and awaits her next move.

For more of The Boat, click here.

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