“What’s your name?”
She tapped her name tag.
Oh. Duh. “Aden, huh? Isn’t that a boy’s name?”
“Do I look like a boy?”
“Uh, no,” I answered, not able to stop myself from smiling. “You do not look like a boy.” Not with those tits.
My plan was working. I was still coming in almost every night (not every night, ‘cause how is she gonna miss me if I’m always there, right?) since first seeing her. I mostly came in by myself, but sometimes I’d bring Ethan along if he begged hard enough. Besides, you don’t want a chick thinking you’re a friendless loser who has nothing better to do than hang out in gas stations all night, right?
Tonight, though, I insisted on flying solo. I walked in, said hi, then grabbed a pack of gum and walked up to the counter. I had two goals: Find out her name – mission accomplished – and if she had a boyfriend. Even though she’d already rung me up and given me my change, I wasn’t leaving yet.
“You’re not from around here, are you?” I wondered why I was even asking that. Everyone could tell she wasn’t from around here. Holden’s not a total loser town. I mean, we’ve got some pretty rich families and tons of tourists who come up here for the lakes and forests, stuff like that. Not everyone has to buy their clothes from Walmart, is my point. There was just something different about her, though. It was hard to figure out. It wasn’t her clothes, since she was always wearing that uniform. Maybe it was that she looked more put together than the other girls around here. And her attitude, maybe…whatever it was, you just looked at her and automatically knew she came from somewhere else. Somewhere better.
“No.” Without looking at me, she grabbed a stack of newspapers and some scissors from underneath the counter. Cutting off the titles of the papers, she stacked the strips into a neat pile.
“So, like, where are you from?”
“Where’d I last move here from? Iowa.”
“Iowa? Holy shit. What were you doing there?”
“Working at a camp.”
“That’s cool. Why’d you move here?”
“It’s a long story.”
“Well, I mean,” I said, looking around at the empty store and then back at her. “I got all night, so…”
“Maybe another time.” She kind of glared at me, as if daring me to ask her another question. But like I said, I wasn’t stopping until I got what I came for, and besides, I wasn’t gonna just walk out of there like some little pussy.
“Cool.” I looked around the store. “So did you know that all my friends think you’re totally hot?” As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I wanted to punch myself in the face. Dude, why can’t you just be cool?
“Yeah, ‘specially my buddy Cory. I think you’ve probably seen him in here before. Tall guy, blond hair, drives a gray Chevy truck with a big Fox symbol on the back windshield?” She didn’t say anything, just picked up another stack of papers and dropped them on the counter between us. “Yeah, he’s my roommate. He works at Callihan’s Pizza, too. He really digs you.”
“But you know, I mean, you’re like, really hot. So it’s a pretty safe bet that everyone in town digs the Holiday Chick.”
“The Holiday Chick?”
“Yeah, that’s what everyone calls you.”
She put her scissors down and fixed me with another one of her locked-in stares. She was really good at those, I was starting to see. They were the type that were kind of scary – like she could see every thought you’d ever had. Which made me nervous. This chick wasn’t dumb, you could tell that right off the bat.
“Yeah, anytime someone starts telling us that they saw this hot new girl working at Holiday, all of us are like ‘That’s the Holiday Chick!’ You’re like, famous.”
She picked up her scissors and started cutting again. “Famous for working at Holiday. Awesome.”
“Yeah,” I said, suddenly nervous. It was obviously not awesome. I imagined her picking up those scissors and slamming them right into my eye or something. Thinking this was a good time to switch the subject, I took a big breath in and went for it. “So, uh, could I get your number or something?”
She didn’t even look up. “No.”
Shit. “No, I mean, I’m not trying to ask you out or anything,” I quickly explained. “I got a girlfriend.” I wasn’t lying. I was going out with this girl, Ana, that I’d been with for about two years, on and off. She was away at college, though, so I hardly ever saw her, and when I did, all she ever did was bitch at me. “But I mean, we have a ton of parties and stuff, and it’d be cool if you came out.”
She kept cutting.
“So,” I continued, holding my breath a little. “Do you have a boyfriend?”
She sighed loudly. “No. And if you’re just going to stand here all night, you might as well help me.” Grabbing a stack of newspapers and another pair of scissors, she dumped them on the counter in front of me. “Here,” she said. “Start cutting.”
So I stood there with her, cutting up newspapers for almost an hour. She said that the station had to cut off the titles of the newspapers that didn’t sell so they could get a refund for them. You learn something new every day, I told her. I think I saw her smile a little at that, but I couldn’t tell for sure.
So I just told her stuff about me. I know how to talk to girls. That’s another thing I definitely have going for me. “You get me in the right situation with the right girl and I can charm ‘em,” I explained to Cory once at a party, when he wondered out loud how I always had girls coming up to me. “It’s all about the listening, dude, or at least pretending you’re doing it. They like to be asked questions about themselves and stuff.” Except obviously this one, I thought, glancing at her. So when that happened – when they didn’t feel like talking – I knew just to entertain ‘em. Tell them funny stories, try to make yourself sound like a sweet, fun guy, and they’ll take it all in. Girls eat that shit up.
“Yeah, my van’s cool shit,” I told her, as I wrangled the scissors around the top of the paper. “Some lame peeps call it the Chester Molester van, ‘cause it’s one of those big white vans you always see in kidnapping movies and stuff, but then they ride in it and see how sweet it is and they shut the fuck up about it after that. I bought it two years ago and put all my extra cash towards fixing it up. New sound system – the bass fuckin’ BOOMS, yo! New seats,” I leaned in and raised my eyebrows at her, “that fold all the way down in the back…”
She rolled her eyes.
“And then I pimped it out with a Nine Inch Nails sticker because they fuckin’ rock, hung some fuzzy dice on the rearview mirror, and installed a nailed-down cooler in the back, ‘cause, you know…gotta keep the brews cold. Now it’s fuckin’ awesome.”
She finished cutting up the last paper. Leave her wanting more, Derek, I told myself. “Speaking of, I should probably get going.”
I stood there for a minute longer, waiting for her to say something. “Come back again soon!” or “I had a really great time talking to you,” or “God, you’re fucking cool, I think we should totally do it in the back of your van right now.” But nope. She just stood there, putting shit away and not saying a word.
“So, ah…later, I guess,” I finally said, and walked out. That’s how you do it, I decided I would tell Ethan, later. You wear ‘em down, get them to the point where they kind of start to like being around you, and then you leave ‘em wanting more.
I’m gonna get this girl. I already decided, after falling into bed later that night and realizing that I was still thinking about her, that I don’t care how long it takes or what I have to do. I’m gonna get her.