Synosis: Mick Townsend is trouble and everyone knows it, but Kristen can't seem to get him off her mind. (Your average bad-boy/good-girl story, set in Pennsylvania during the industrial downturn of the 1980's)
A.N.- I've been working on this story in one form or another for just about as long as I've been writing, about since third grade. So this isn't the first time I've started it and it most probably won't be the last, but it's my current favorite. Special thanks to Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, and Rick Springfield, their music became the soundtrack to this story.
Born To Run
Mick Townsend's rust-red Chevy coasted down the rain-slicked road. Bleary-eyed he gripped the steering wheel with both hands, bouncing his knee and humming along to the stereo to keep himself awake. These all-nighters were going to kill him one of these days…all he could think about was getting home and the bed waiting there for him. It was 8:30 on a Saturday morning and he felt like the only man alive. He entered the deserted city limits, an absurd feeling of guilt creeping over him as the rumbling of his truck echoed down the empty street.
"Alright all you early risers, stick with me this Saturday morning," the radio DJ's over-eager voice broke through his speakers, "right now it's Stevie Nicks on 94.5 WKBK radio The Front!" The powerfully dramatic guitar drew you into the song, followed seconds later by Stevie Nicks' distinctive, equally powerful vocals, capturing you. He leaned down, taking his eyes off the road just for a moment to turn up the volume.
He looked back up, stepping out into the street a few feet ahead of him was the prettiest girl he'd ever seen, her silky golden hair curling in the rain—"shit!" shouted Mick slamming on his breaks. The old pick-up skidded, nearly bald tires struggling for traction on the wet pavement before it lurched at last to a halt, inches from the girl. Her grey-green eyes narrowed on his ice blue ones as their eye met; she seemed entirely unruffled by her scrape with death, merely annoyed that her day had been interrupted by some idiot who obviously had no business behind the wheel of a car.
She started to go but Mick hastily rolled the window down, shouting over the pounding rain, "Hey! Yo princess!"
Her pretty head swung around sharply and her eyes narrowed again, but she came over to the car. "What?" She demanded, arching a perfect eyebrow, hands on the narrow waist of her pale blue dress, which was immaculate, even when sopping wet.
"Watch where you're walking."
"Excuse me?" her voice was more than annoyed now, it was very close to anger, "why don't you learn to drive!" She started to turn away again.
"Hey, hey, come on, I was kidding."
She rolled her eyes, "As enjoyable as this is, I'd really like to get out of the rain now…"
"You want a ride?"
She smirked, "with you?"
"Oh I don't know, maybe because I don't have a death wish?"
He chuckled, "oh come on, it's better than getting all wet."
"I'm already wet."
"More wet then, you're gonna catch Pneumonia."
"I don't think so…"
"Oh come on," he slid over and opened the passenger door for her, "it's the least I can do."
She tilted her head, considering him for a moment, but the thunder that boomed out suddenly made up her mind for her and she climbed in. Mick glanced at her as she shut the door; her wet dress clung to her skin, making the powder-blue material nearly transparent. She swept her glossy hair over one shoulder to ring some of the water out of it, exposing her long, graceful neck and its creamy smooth skin. He looked away sharply, "where to?"
Kristin smoothed her hair back out, "the Library," she glanced at him, in his tight chinos and leather jacket, "you do know where that is, right?"
Rather than insulted he seemed amused, "yeah, I know where the Library is," he smirked, pulling away from the curb, "I've even been inside."
Kristin blushed when she realized he knew what she'd been thinking, "sorry, I mean you don't look—I mean you don't seem like—," she faltered, "like the type."
He shrugged; watching her in the rearview mirror, her cheeks were flushed and her hands were a knot in her lap…he made her nervous.
She bit her lip, "so, do you like to read?"
Mick reached into his breast pocket, pulling out a crumpled pack of cigarettes and a lighter. He removed a cigarette from the package with his teeth and lit it, taking a deep drag, "A child said, What is the grass? Fetching it to me with full hands; How could I answer the child?...I do not know what it is any more than he..."
Kristin blinked, surprised, "Walt Whitman."
He nodded still watching her in the mirror, she was shivering now. He took his hands off the wheel, steering with his knees, which frightened her, and removed his jacket, draping it over her shoulders, which frightened her more somehow. He smirked, "relax, I don't bite."
She glanced at him sharply, as if she didn't really believe him, but she snuggled down into the warm material anyway, "thanks," she said, after a minute.
"Any time," he responded, "so what do you like to read?"
She sighed as if it were the hardest decision of her life, and then after a moment replied dreamily, "There is no Frigate like a Book, To take us Lands away, Nor any Coursers like a Page of prancing Poetry –This Traverse may the poorest take without oppress of Toll –How frugal is the Chariot that bears a Human soul…"
"You would like Dickinson."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
He shrugged. Too soon, the Library loomed ahead and he pulled up to the curb, "see, that wasn't so bad."
Kristin arched a brow at him but smiled as she stepped out of the car, "thanks." She hurried for the door, pulling the sleeves of his jacket tighter—"oh!" she turned back, "your jacket!" But he'd already pulled away.
Mick pulled into the yard of his Aunt's house; it was nearly identical to every other in the neighborhood, a run-down shotgun house with faded paint chipping from its siding and a sagging porch. This one was different in having a tree in the yard with a tire swing and flower planters on the porch.
He killed the engine, resting his head for a minute on his steering wheel, considering just sleeping in the cab…he wasn't sure he had the energy to actually make it inside. After a few minutes he got out, taking his hardhat and lunch pail from the bed of the truck and heading inside.
The air inside was still and thick with sleep, quietly he set his stuff down by the door, removing his jacket and hanging it on the peg in the hall and slipping off his boots. He tiptoed in his sock-feet into the bathroom, glancing at himself in the mirror as he shut the door behind him…No wonder that girl had been scared of him, a thin coating of bluish black grit dusted his face, making him appear about ten years older. He looked like one of them, one of the full-time steel workers who elected to drudge their lives away it that damn mill.
He flipped on the shower, stripping down out of his equally dirty clothing and stepping into the stream of steaming water, allowing it to wash away the grit and with it some of the shame. He didn't want to be one of them, he rather be anything, do anything… he scrubbed until he felt sufficiently cleared of any trace of the mill and turned the water off, pulling a towel off the shelf and running it over his hair.
He wiped his hand across the fogged mirror, this time a seventeen-year-old stared back, but he wasn't any more satisfied. Skinny Irish-Italian, a real wise guy with a crooked nose and a sneer toying at the corner of his mouth; he knew what they all saw when they looked at him, trouble, nothing but trouble, and they were probably right. He tried, just for a second, to picture that girl standing beside him but the two images just didn't mesh, he must be crazy even looking at a girl like that.
The shrill whistle of a tea-kettle brought him out of his thoughts, Aunt Viv must be up. He wrapped the towel around his middle before opening the door, sucking in a breath at the cold air outside the steamy bathroom. He headed for the kitchen.
Aunt Viv was one of those women who didn't seem to age, a strong female type who knew how to take care of herself, but she could be real understanding, real motherly when she wanted to, Mick liked that about her. She was perched now on the counter beside the stove, stirring a mug of tea and blowing at the steam that swirled up from it. "Morning Mickey Mouse," she'd been calling him that since he could remember, probably before.
"You mean 'night'," he yawned, leaning against the doorframe.
"Sorry honey, been and gone," she hopped down, "I'll make you breakfast though."
"Nah, too tired to eat, thanks anyway."
She set down her mug, "Listen Pup, I've been thinking…you shouldn't be taking those open shifts--."
"Working two jobs at your age—."
"I'm not working to jobs Aunt Viv, I'm working one and then a couple shifts a week at the mill, its no big deal."
She stared at him for a moment, arms folded, "how many shifts have you worked there this week?"
He rubbed the back of his neck, looking away when she cocked a brow at him, "listen I'm real tired…"
"We'll talk about this later."
"Yeah…" He headed out onto the closed in front porch that doubled as his room, closing the door behind him before flopping down face first onto his bed. He was asleep almost before his head hit the pillow.
A.N.-Thanks for reading, I'd very much like to hear some feedback, even if you hated it, so please take a sec and post a review. I'll return the favor!