The alarm clock is buzz, buzz, buzzing, waking Bonni up at 5 a.m. She’s got a big day ahead of her. Today’s the day she has to pick up her boyfriend and lover, Klide, from the boy’s home. It’s also the day that she’ll leave this hole in the wall town she’s called home for the last 15 years of her young life.
She’s young, but not stupid, she knows a dead-end town when she sees one. No one comes out of Hildebran, North Carolina and becomes someone famous. It’s a town full of nobodies, doing nobody things. All a person will become-here is a two-pack a day smoker, an alcoholic, and abuser of their family while working at a nowhere job in a factory or a mill.
That describes her dad to a tee. His life got so miserable that his wife, Bonni’s mom, left him to pursue a better life. Why she didn’t take Bonni with her is a question Bonni would love for her to answer, but she doesn’t know where she is. Her mom just up and left one day, leaving a note saying, “I’m tired of you, this town, and this life. Take care!” Her dad seemed not to care. He still had a female to take care of him... Bonni. Well... that ends today.
She hopped out of bed and went to the bathroom to get ready. She did everything as quietly as possible so not to awaken her monster from his slumber. Her dad will get up in an hour wanting his breakfast and packed lunch, but Bonni won’t be there for him this day. She cooked his last egg and bologna sandwich yesterday. He’d have to fend for himself this morning.
After brushing her teeth, she washed her face and hair. She used the strawberry shampoo that Klide loves so much. She loved it when he’d pulled her close and buried his face and her hair, taking a long whiff. He’d wrap his arms around her and she could feel him relax as the tension left his body. She missed him so much.
Six months ago, he got caught stealing two packs of Ramen noodles and package of hot dogs from the local supermarket. The manager was a prick and called the cops on him. Then, his dad refused to bond him out, saying Klide was always stealing and skipping school, so the judge gave Klide six months at Black Mountains Boys Home. Six freaking months for trying to feed himself. Where’s the justice in that?
Klide’s dad is a major alcoholic, just like Bonni’s. His dad, too, worked at a local factory and hated his life. So, he’d beat Klide every time he got drunk and felt Klide, “deserved it” for some made-up reason. Klide got really tough from the beatings and he acted like it didn’t bother him, but he knew, deep down, he wanted to kill his dad. He didn’t though, because of Bonni. He knew if he did that, he’d never see Bonni again. Klide was a smart boy, although a very shy one.
Bonni met Klide in junior high. One day a Husky red-haired boy, named Junior, called himself “flirting” with Bonni by pinching her on the butt. Bonni turned on him and ordered him to stop. That just made Junior more brazen so he kept pinching her, getting his friends to laugh at his antics. That’s when out of nowhere, Klide stepped between her and Junior. Klide put his hand on Junior’s chest, telling him to leave her alone. Junior got mad and pushed Klide. Klide punched him in the nose, busting it, making him bleed. Junior got enraged and tried to charge at Klide, only to get kicked in the stomach for his troubles. As Junior knelt on the floor, gasping for breath, Klide leaned down and told Junior if he ever saw him bullying anyone else, he’d break his arms so he couldn’t wipe his own butt anymore.
Bonni thought that was the craziest, boldest thing she’d ever seen anyone do before. But seeing Klide standing there as her protector... Bonni was smitten.
Every day after school, Bonni awaited Klide’s exit so they could walk home together. For the past two years they were an item and in love. Everyone knew it and left the love birds alone. Even Junior.