Slippery Slope

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Sitzmark - the impression left in the snow when a skier falls.

Brent had two modes of transportation, three, if he counted his full-suspension mountain bike, which he did, but only starting in late Spring. One was the snow mobile that he often borrowed from the lodge, with permission from Asher, of course. The other was a 1996 forest green Camaro, manufactured not long after he was born and bought by him at the age of eighteen with a hard-earned bundle of cash. The car, with its low body and poor gas mileage, was not suited for the weather conditions or terrain in which he lived. It had also proved to be a huge money pit, but he would never part with it. It was way too cool a car, if you could call a Camaro with snow tires on it cool. This was what he was driving as he and Kristy passed Derrick’s house for the sixth time.

“Why don’t you trade this thing in and get a truck?” Kristy asked him. It was easily the sixtieth time she had suggested this since he had purchased it.

“I won’t dignify that with an answer,” Brent replied.

“Well, we know Derrick can’t be home,” Kristy said in a huff, folding her arms across her chest, “the whole neighborhood knows your car just from the sound of it.”

Brent smiled, the sound of his car was second only to the look and feel of it. The weather had unexpectedly turned mild for the past couple of days, melting much of the snow on the street and precipitating his urge to drive. But Kristy was right. Several of Derrick’s neighbors had already turned on their front porch lights, peered out of their doors, shaken their heads, and gone back inside. In the quiet town, the distinctive rumble of the Camaro’s engine attracted attention - and a bit of derision. Brent took the latter as jealousy which made him love his green machine even more. People are just jelly, he mused.

Brent pulled over across the street from the little house and shut off the engine.

“What are we doing here, anyway, Kristy? You know if the police see us, they may think that we’re up to something.”

“The police already think we’ve done something, Brent. The difference is we need to let Derrick know that we didn’t.”

“Why is this so important to you?” Brent had a bad feeling, “You’re not still in love with him are you?”

Kristy punched Brent’s arm, “God, Brent, how could you ask me that? I’m not sure at this point that I actually ever was in love with him.” She shifted angrily in her seat and quickly folded her arms again. “Ugh - you are such an ass.” Kristy turned her face away from him and stared out the passenger window at the dark street.

The punch hadn’t hurt but Brent instinctively rubbed his bicep. “Jeez, as long as you don’t over-react or anything, Kristy. What good do you think it’s going to do to talk to him at this point? Asher told me Derrick’s pretty pissed at us.”

“And how stupid is that, Brent?” Kristy asked, “It’s us! The three of us have known each other since were were kids. How could he think that we would do anything to hurt him? Or his family?”

Brent could hear in her voice how hurt she still was. “I’m just saying it may be a little premature to talk to him. Jessica is still in the hospital and I heard that his son is having hard time. Maybe we need to wait until things have calmed down a little - until you’ve calmed down a little.”

At this, Kristy snapped her head around to face him. Her eyes glared at him but she said nothing.

“Kristy, come on. You spent two hours being interrogated by the police. You’re upset. You’re angry. Now is not the best time to talk to Derrick.”

Kristy tilted her head and studied his face. “And why aren’t you upset, Brent? You spent two hours being questioned also. How come you’re not angry? How come you’re so calm?”

Brent shook his head slowly, “I don’t know, babe. Because I haven’t done anything wrong? Because even though I think Derrick has proven how big a jerk he is, I feel for his situation? Because I’m sure his wife is completely confused about what happened because she’s been through a really traumatic event?”

Kirsty’s eyes slowly softened. She distractedly ran her fingers through her hair and returned to staring out the window.

Brent looked out across the quiet street at Derrick’s house. The windows were dark, the shades drawn. There was no car in the driveway.

“This is ridiculous, Kristy. Nobody’s home. Why don’t we call it a night?” He put his hand gently on her shoulder.

Kristy followed Brent’s gaze to the empty house and then looked back at him. He locked eyes with her briefly and then looked back out at the house as she slowly began to talk.

“I’m sorry, Brent. It’s just that so much has happened so quickly. Three weeks ago my only worry was how fast Derrick could get here so we could pick up where we left off. And now, everything’s changed. He has a wife. He has a child. And I didn’t even know. None of us knew - not even Asher. Now it seems like we’re in trouble for something we didn’t do. We helped save two lives and now we can’t do rescue. It’s like I don’t know who I am anymore. I don’t understand why all this is happening. I feel like if we talked to Derrick - if I could just talk to him - I could make him understand that we would never hurt him in spite of how he’s treated me - treated us. I feel like it would make things feel somewhat normal again. If we could just move on. And it’s not that I’m in love with him, or I feel like he even deserves to have us as friends, it’s just that I need to deal with this, Brent. And, honestly, I am not dealing with this well, Brent.”

“Damn, Kristy.” Brent couldn’t believe his eyes.

“I know, Brent. I know. You’re right.” Kristy laughed and shook her head, “I’m being so melodramatic. This is stupid. Let’s call it a night.”

Brent reached across the seat, took Kristy’s chin in his hand and turned her face forward. “It’s not that, Kristy - look!”

Kristy gasped. Smoke was starting to fill the street.

“I don’t believe it,” Brent said, amazed. “Derrick’s house - it’s on fire!”

***Thanks for reading - see you next week! y:-D

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