AN: This chapter was written, for the most part, almost 3 years ago. I don't know that I'll be updating anything else anytime soon. Enjoy.


That Morning

I am supposed to meet Kim this morning for late breakfast. Although I'm more in the mood for lunch. 'Bueno Nacho at nine' she said. It's ten after, I'm late.

I see her sitting in a booth. Our booth. A good one, located next to a window and near the counter.

She is so reliable, so predictable. I calm myself. Everything is going to be all right. I slide into the seat across from her. "Morning, KP. Sorry I'm late."

She doesn't return my pleasant greeting. "You totally skipped school yesterday. Didn't you?"

"Yes I did." I notice Tara Mathews and her brother - stepbrother actually - Andy are in a booth across the lobby from us. Tara is just about perfect looking -- long blonde hair, sparkling blue eyes, a tight yet very flexible body. She also has an enthusiastic zest for life. A willingness to try just about anything once.

"I had things to do." I catch a glimpse down Tara's blouse as she's leaning over to pick up a dropped napkin. Very nice. Looking back at Kim, I add, "I was busy."

"Doing?" She asks, her voice has a strange suspicious tone in it.

Bonnie. "I… was…busy." Purposefully drawn out. A subtle warning for her not to ask again.

She gives me another of her 'looks'. But smiles, stands up. "Let's order."

We walk together to the counter. Kim orders first. "A Vegetarian Skillet Scrambler and a Diet Coke."

"You should really get a Diet Pepsi instead Kim. It's much better."

"Really?" Kim asks. "What do you mean?"

"It's lighter, crisper… fizzier. Better."

"Fine. I'll have a Diet Pepsi."

I order. "Two Nacos, a Tacadia, and a Diet Pepsi."

The girl behind the counter informs me. "Sorry, we're still on breakfast."

I ignore her and restate my order. "I want 2 Nacos, a Tacadia, and a Diet Pepsi."

"I'll get the manager."

"Is there a problem?" It's Ned, the assistant manager.

"The Ron wants to order… 2 Nacos, a Tacadia, and a Diet Pepsi."

"I'll handle this Stacy." He dismisses her. Finally, someone that grasps the concept of - the customer is always right. He reviews our order. "Let's see, you've got a veggie Skillet Scrambler, 2 Nacos, a Tacadia, and 2 Diet Pepsis." I nod affirmatively. "No problem. Go ahead and have a seat." He points his hand toward our booth. "I'll bring it out to you as soon as it's ready."

The Ron wants you to see how 'Everybody Else' lives as much as you can. Learn how good you have it and to appreciate what you don't have to deal with, and just how well off you really are. Fuck sitting around whining and neurotically analyzing yourself all the time, and get used to the fact that more often than not, people are petty and trained to look for flaws, not redeeming features, and that mentality has obviously influenced you and hence your own distorted views of yourself.

"…it's pronounced Ar-ma-nee, Kim, not Ar-man-ee," I pause, taking a drink, "and secondly --"

"Excuse me. Here you go…" Ned arrives with our food. "Veggie Skillet Scrambler for Kim. 2 Nacos and a Tacadia for you, Ron. Enjoy." My order has been Grande sized, compliments of the house. Two full bottles of Diablo sauce, red and green, are also on the tray.

"Thank you." Kim says.

"If there's anything else you need…refills on your drinks…anything. Just let me know." Ned is obviously hoping for a tip of some sort; though accepting tips is expressly forbidden, by rule, in the Bueno Nacho Employee Handbook.

"We will…Thank you." I wave him off, picking up the bottle of red Diablo sauce while beginning to unwrap one of my Nacos. "Now Kim, as I was saying…"

The Ron can't really blame you - you and The Ron both were brought up in a society devoid of real community, where faith and real friendships count for nothing and social and material status is everything, no matter how it was earned. It's no surprise that you turned on the path that you did - a lot of people are even worse than you, although you're bad enough as it is. You probably have no comprehension of what The Ron is saying, and you're probably going to laugh, but The Ron is telling you anyway, in the hope that a part of you will get it on some level.

She's cute as a button. A pink cotton sundress, small embroidered flowers on the bodice. White tennis shoes, with pink stars on the sides. Ashley Mathews -- Tara's little sister. Skipping down the sidewalk, heading home.

Young …blonde

Innocent …blonde

Alone…

Never be alone.

I have my driver slow the limo as we approach her. Opening my window, I lean forward in my seat and call out to her. "Ashley." I repeat. "Ashley."

She stops, turns, smiles. A schoolgirl smile. "Hi, Ron."

I return her smile with one of my own. "I was just on my way…" Pausing, I clear my throat. "Do you want a ride home?"

"Mommy says I'm not supposed to." She shrugs, looking up to me.

"I won't tell her if you don't." I motion for her to come closer. Just a little… closer. "It'll be our little secret."

"I'm not supposed to." She takes a half step back.

I open the door, just a crack, and, in the friendliest voice I can muster, tell her. "We can get ice cream."

"Ice cream?" A warm glow of expectation and happiness lights up her face.
young

"All you want." I smile, nodding, slowly opening the door.

"Promise?" There is an undeniable eagerness in her voice… a twinkle in her blue eyes.
innocent

I hold the door open. "Promise."

"Okay."

alone


AN: The two extra paragraphs, which I'm certain, had you thinking, or even saying, WTF? were put in for no real reason; although looking at it now they may actually serve a purpose.