Trying not to let the exasperation in her voice show, Gabrielle glanced over at her cousin.
“Thanks again for picking me up at the airport,” she said.
“You’re welcome” replied Wes cheerfully.
“So, how much farther?” she asked.
Wes looked sideways at his cousin. “It wasn’t that long ago that you’ve been out here. You know I live ninety minutes from the airport. What time does it say on that fancy watch of yours?” he teased.
Gabrielle rolled her eyes. “We’ve been bouncing along in this old truck of yours for an hour now.”
Always one to jump at the opportunity to goad his cousin, Wes replied “So, tell me again about that car rental snafu.”
Gabrielle rolled her eyes. “I swear I’d have been better off if I just drove here rather than fly. Stupid rental car people.”
“Would’ve taken you four days to get here,” mused Wes.
“Yeah? Well, at least I’d have air conditioning” said Gabrielle, wiping her brow.
“And cruise control. And plush leather seats. And GPS. And shocks,” threw in Wes. His mock tirade ended when Gabrielle punched him in the arm.
“Hello?? Driving here,” said Wes, rubbing his shoulder.
“More driving; less mocking” replied Gabrielle good naturedly. Resting her head against the seat, Gabrielle took deep breaths and willed herself to unwind. The rental people had been so disorganized, losing her reservation and leaving her practically stranded at the airport. Fortunately Wes had been in the house when she called him, frantic, with no way to get to his home. He never carried the cell phone she bought him last Christmas. ‘Probably still in the box,’ she thought to herself with a grin. She would never be able to modernize her cousin. Wes glanced over and saw the smile on Gabrielle’s face.
“What are you smiling about?” he asked.
“I’ll never tell,” Gabrielle replied slyly.
Wes smiled back. “Glad to see you’re in a better mood. Hungry?”
“I’m starving! Are we going to stop somewhere?” asked Gabrielle excitedly.
“No place between here and home.”
“Then why did you ask?”
“I don’t know,” laughed Wes. “But I think I have some snacks in the glove box.”
Gabrielle reached over and began sifting through the glove box, moving around papers, one work glove and a flashlight before finding food. Glancing over a Wes she asked “a fortune cookie?”
“Hey! That’s where I left that!”
Gabrielle turned it over in her hands as if studying it. “And exactly how old is this?” she asked.
“Does it matter? It’s still in plastic. Those things are good for years.”
Gabrielle shuddered and put it back in the glove box. “I’ll save it for you,” she said.
Wes laughed. Smiling over at him, they teased and made small talk the rest of the ride home.
By the time they finally started down the long driveway to Wes’ farm, the sun was already making its way down. Hot and exhausted, Gabrielle had one foot out the door before Wes had the ignition off. Chuckling at his cousin, he watched her jump out of the truck.
“Careful! You’ll break a heel,” he warned.
“Bite me” Gabrielle retorted as she reached into the bed of the truck for her bags. Whistling to himself, Wes grabbed two of her bags and lead the way to the front door. As they set all Gabrielle’s bags down, Wes counted them and asked “so, how long are you staying again?”
“A week, why?”
“I’m gonna hate myself for asking this, but why do you need so many bags?”
“Ummmm…because I’ll be here for a week,” explained Gabrielle slowly.
“Riiiight. So, when you were packing, you remembered I lived on a farm…in the country?”
Gabrielle eyed Wes. “And where are you going with this?” she asked.
Wes shrugged his shoulders. “I just don’t see why you need so many clothes. You know, you can wear the same thing two days in a row out here.”
Gabrielle looked at him, horrified. Wes doubled over in laughter.
With an exasperated sigh, Gabrielle spun around and headed out of the room. They lived to one-up each other, and Wes got her on that one.
“I’m dying of thirst, where’s your water?” she asked as she walked into the kitchen.
“Kitchen sink,” Wes replied. He came into the kitchen a few minutes later to find Gabrielle standing at the fridge, looking intently inside.
“Whatcha looking for?” he asked.
“Water, I said I was thirsty,” she replied.
“Yeah, and I said to get it at the kitchen sink.”
Gabrielle whipped her head around. “You were serious about that?” she asked incredulously.
Wes rolled his eyes. “Yes, Gabby. I live in the unpolluted country – we don’t need bottled water here.”
“Pfffft! Whatever,” said Gabrielle as she grabbed a glass. Then, not being able to resist herself, she stood in front of the faucet and asked “now, how does this thing work?”
Wes didn’t miss the sly grin on his cousin’s face. “Figure it out,” he laughed as he grabbed a beer for himself.
Walking back outside with their drinks, they settled on the porch swing.
“So, tell me about this new cow you bought,” said Gabrielle.
“She’s a calf,” corrected Wes.
“Same thing,” shrugged Gabrielle.
“Is not!” said Wes. “That’s like saying a…a…a hat is the same thing as a cap.” He was reaching, and he knew it.
Gabrielle laughed. “It is not! That’s totally different.”
“ANYway, she should be in the holding pen” said Wes as he got up and walked to the edge of the porch. Looking to the left and noticing the holding pen was open, he turned quickly back to Gabrielle.
“Oh, crap! She’s gone.” Quickly Wes ran to the edge of the house to grab a rope. Gabrielle stood and walked over to the other side of the porch while she waited for him to come back. When he did, she asked “is the calf brown, with two white splotches?”
“Yes! Did you see her?” he asked earnestly.
“Yeah, she’s around the corner, masticating trefoils.”
“What??” asked Wes.
Gabrielle laughed. “She’s eating clover, dumbass.”
Looking at his cousin like she was out of her mind, Wes walked around to the side of the porch. “Okay, Smarty Pants,” he said. “Are you going to help me catch her now?”
“Sure,” replied Gabrielle. “Just let me go and put my boots on.”
“You actually brought boots?” asked Wes in disbelief.
“Well, Duh! One of those bags I brought is for my shoes,” replied Gabrielle as she headed back into the house.
Wes shook his head and smiled to himself as he watched his cousin run into the house. ‘Maybe I’ll countrify her yet,’ he thought to himself.
(c) Dahlia Ramone: June/2008