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Trailer Trash(10)

By:Marie Sexton

Nate didn’t know where Worland was, but figured it didn’t matter. “Do you ever see him?”

“Not for a long time.”

“Do you miss him?”

Cody scowled, his eyes turning dark. Nate wasn’t surprised when his answer was more attitude than anything. “Why the fuck would I? He’s a jerk who can’t even bother to send me a goddamn birthday card. Fuck him.” When he was done, he sucked long and hard on his smoke, not meeting Nate’s eyes.

“I miss my mom.” Nate figured he sounded like a whiny kid when he said it, but he didn’t care. “I thought maybe I could go visit for Christmas, but my dad keeps putting me off, saying ‘maybe.’” He watched as Cody started dealing, tossing cards by Nate’s knee onto their makeshift seat. “Like I don’t know that means no.”

“You got a car. Why can’t you just go?”

Nate blinked at him, stunned by the idea. “I hadn’t thought of that.”

“Fuck, man. If I had my own car, I’d have ditched this shithole ages ago.”

Nate thought about that. “What about high school?”

Cody shrugged, but Nate suspected his nonchalance was just for show. “What about it?”

Nate picked up his cards and fanned them out, his mind a mile away. He knew Cody didn’t consider college of any kind an option, but giving up on high school seemed reckless, even for him. “There must be a community college in Laramie or something.” He glanced up at Cody, trying to gauge how close he was to pissing him off. Cody’s expression was still stony, but not quite angry. “Don’t you have any plans for after high school?”

“Always figured I’d end up in either the oil fields or the coal mines, like everybody else who grew up here.” He dropped a couple of cards and took some off the stack. “I’m taking two. How many do you need?”

“Is that what you want, though? To dig coal or be a roughneck?” Nate only knew the term because of his dad.

“Jesus, nobody wants to be a roughneck, but what the fuck else is there around here? You think I’m gonna take up ranching instead? Buy a couple of cows and spend my days worrying about whether there’s enough rain this year to make hay?”

“I don’t—”

“Just ’cause you got your life all planned out, don’t mean the rest of us do.”

Nate didn’t have his life all planned out. Not by a long shot. He wasn’t even sure he wanted to go to Chicago, or to college, but it was what he and his parents had planned back before the divorce. He figured he’d live in the apartment his aunt owned and scope out the schools. Maybe he’d take some accounting courses at the community college, or see about learning computers. His aunt seemed to think there’d be a lot of jobs in that field someday. “I didn’t mean—”

“It don’t matter.” Cody ran his fingers through his hair and forced a smile. It looked more like a grimace. “We playin’ poker or what?”


“Then either tell me how many goddamn cards you want, or fold.”

Nate folded, even though he’d been holding a pair of kings.

With the exception of Cody, Nate had yet to meet a single kid his age in Warren. Yes, he’d seen a couple in the neighborhood, or passed them in the grocery store, but he’d intentionally avoided the places Cody had named as the popular hangouts, not because he was shy, but because he wasn’t ready to deal with high school bullshit yet. Cody made Walter Warren High School sound like a cliquish hell. The longer Nate could avoid it, the better. When he saw other teenagers around town, they gave him curious looks, but none of them spoke to him, and he chose to return the favor.

A week before school started, his luck ran out.

“Hey, Nate,” his dad said one afternoon, just as Nate was about to leave the house. “How about we go uptown and get some lunch?”

“Why’s it ‘uptown’ here? In Austin, we went ‘downtown.’”

His dad cocked his head, his lips pursed. “I have no idea, now that you mention it. Maybe bigger cities have ‘downtown,’ but small towns go up?”

Nate shrugged. “Whatever.”

They were quiet for the few minutes it took to drive into what qualified as “uptown” in Warren. It wasn’t until his dad was parking the car that Nate realized where they were headed.

“The drug store?”

“Joe tells me it’s a great place to grab a bite.”

“Let’s go get some ham-fried rice instead.”

“We’ve had Chinese food twice in the last five days!” He was right, of course. Nate was getting tired of it too, but if he told his father the real reason he didn’t want to go inside, his dad would never understand. Nate sighed and followed his father in.