Saturday, September 5, 2015


Vic knew he should look away, but that would mean looking straight at Rene. Not that he didn't enjoy looking at Rene with her delicate, pixie features and athletic build. He loved the sparkle in her big gray eyes and the way her short hair bounced when she moved. Looking was all he allowed himself to enjoy. Other than hugging her a couple times when they went to Progressive Field and the Indians made fantastic plays, he had no idea what she felt like, what her lips would taste like if he kissed her.

Sometimes, playing the white knight and making up for all the scummy things he did in New York became too heavy a burden. Especially when his principles collided with the hunger in his heart. This time, he had a reprieve. The thought of the shock and terror on Rene's face, the flashback to her rape he would induce if he backed her up against the car and stole a kiss, made him sick to his stomach.

"It's about time you got here," Baxter called out, as the foursome crossed the grass to the pavilion full of picnic tables. He had left work at Gold Tone Gym early that afternoon just to stake out tables for their group. Now the late afternoon sun glinted off his ebony shaved head, threw his small frame and wide shoulders into stark relief, and gilded his short goatee.

"They're right on time," Pastor Glenn called from the row of portable gas grills set up on the edge of the cement pad. Flames were just starting to shoot up from the grease of the hamburgers and brats he grilled at every picnic.

"Got to talk to you," Baxter said, lowering his voice as he met Vic and took three two-liter bottles from him.

For a moment, Baxter was no longer the absent-minded computer genius who handed out towels, assembled and de-bugged computer systems, and made the customers laugh at the gym. He was the hot, young, black Internet wizard who had been a gold mine for Vic's New York boss.

Vic nodded and tipped his head toward the gaudily-painted wood snack shack further down the slope toward the lake. The swimming crowd wouldn't begin to linger after the sun started to dip below the trees until after the Fourth of July. That gave their Bible study picnic sole ownership of the grounds around the former sandstone quarry-turned-lake. And now gave him and Baxter a chance to talk unobserved.

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