Ain't Touched That Sugar Yet

An excerpt from a novel in progress

(c) Brady Russell  <bradyd@bellatlantic.net>

That day in Pittsburg, Kansas the adults acted like greedy kids at JC Penney's 25% off sale, trying on damn near everything. Pittsburg supped that day. It feasted. Its people slurped at a bowl full of ho-hum clothing at low prices, but wasn't that just like Pittsburg? A mediocre place at a good price, that's the town. Where elsewhere many can maintain their look at bargain prices, there, they just look for bargains.

That's how Nadia Mills and Gray Clowbros saw their city. Hundreds of entertainment and adventure starved people packed into a place where they could gorge themselves on a once in a lifetime sale! These people normally left them breathing great whomping snores, the sort that wake you up just long enough to enjoy falling right back to sleep again, but even those two came out for the sales day. They had a mission. They always had a mission.

Nadia and Gray hadn't come to amble. They'd come to groove. They showed up on sales day dripping with cool. Gray didn't have knockout looks but he had a dashing quality anyway. Broad shoulders. Agile hips. A face that looked business when it didn't look confused, black hair, green eyes. Arms that meant business when they had anything to do and clothes that reflected an occasional compulsion to learn to tie a bow tie. Nadia had the beauty of full-body savvy. She could turn her looks on, off and was learning to bend them whatever way, whenever. She stood a little taller for her age and had extra flesh she knew how to wear. Her eyes and her lips didn't seem to communicate. Where her brown eyes seemed forever on the verge of finding the cure for cancer, her lips appeared ever on the verge of personal and brash laughter. Her deeply red, brown curls bounced in a perpetual commotion.

He wore cotton and denim. She wore red loose but probably a little too short for townie convention. They both wore sunglasses because the future absolutely blazed.

Though the customers hadn't come set to swing, they were in the swing of buying buying buying. Gullibility had brought them and the commotion bred grumpiness in some but giddiness in far more others. Nadia knew they'd be giddy. Gray knew they'd be giddy. They'd come for that giddiness.

The two glided to ready-to-wear and sidled up to a fit looking couple, one saying, "Is that The Beach Boys?" while the conspirators looked up at the speakers and sidled in toward the strangers. In fact, The Beach Boys were not playing over the speakers just then, whoever was. The musak could only just be heard, not well enough that the beat or the rhythm of whatever actually played could interfere with the conga line (!) Gray and Nadia had a mind to whip together.

To that end Nadia said, "Let's conga!" to the husband, a man she didn't know, and turned her back on him because she knew he'd take her hips up on their offer even though his wife watched. She was welcome to join, too. When Gray's eyes motioned for her to do so, she didn't hesitate. She didn't hesitate. The married couple had been caught in a gale of mighty, mighty sense-of-I-am-da-bomb. Before long, slews of people conga'd out of ready-to-wear, past the jewelry department, through athletic apparel and on their way to the children's clothes. The kids dug that conga line. They couldn't get enough of it.

Pittsburgians didn't come to J.C. Penney's to be caught up in a rapture of unplanned celebration, but they were. They might have thought they'd have a drink that night, they might have thought about calling family, writing a postcard or of whether to take someone to bed or just go to bed that night, but they had not considered dancing. Yet here they were, a hundred, maybe two hundred people, getting funky as scores looked on. Everyone heard different music from somewhere and it sounded so good. Though their clothes had been stitched from rolls of woven boredom, for those few moments it shimmered on their watery bodies; squeeze painted flowers and plastic, press-on bejewelings appeared to be fashion's magnum opus.


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