"Well don't bogart the whole thing," Emma said, reaching for the cigarette.
“I think you only say 'bogarting' for joints,” Connie replied. “And besides, I’m not bogarting anything. You’re just so damn slow that I want to make sure I get a few drags in case we get caught.”
Connie took one more puff for good measure before handing the cigarette to Emma.
It was a pleasant evening, the heat of the day just beginning to subside. The perfect time to sneak out of the house. Again. They’d done it so many times that they were expedient in their movements and always had a plan of exactly where to go… although it also meant they were being monitored more carefully than usual.
No matter, it was worth it to sit outside to share a cigarette and shoot the shit. Even if it did mean they had to wedge their asses on this uncomfortable rock in their latest meeting spot: the back of the abandoned supermarket parking lot down the street from their houses. The rock offered a good hiding spot from the road and some solitude, and it was far enough from their houses that no one could smell the smoke drifting. The perfect spot for dreaming of their future getaway. But not perfect for their skinny behinds.
There were not a lot of places to hide out. Their dead-end town was not exactly a metropolis you could get lost in. Also not easy to get out of, they’d discovered. What with family being here forever. Why did everyone insist on staying in this place? But here they were.
“So how did you get this cigarette anyway?” Connie asked. “I thought everyone was hiding theirs now that we’ve been caught and ratted out too many times.”
Emma took a drag, slowly as usual, and replied, “Found it under the baseboard heater. Pure shit luck. Someone dropped it, I guess. Their loss, our gain.”
Nice. Now that is some good luck.
They’d tried to buy them, but of course everyone around here knows Connie and Emma so no one will sell them any. Stupid small towns. And they can’t drive, so forget about going somewhere where they’d be anonymous. Sometimes it feels like they will be here forever, and who knows. They probably will. But girls've gotta have dreams.
Emma handed the cigarette back to Connie and said, “Did anyone see you climb out? We are in deep shit if we get caught again.”
“Who cares,” said Connie. “It’s not like we are prisoners in our own houses. What are they gonna do, put us in cages?”
“I know,” replied Emma. “I’m just so sick of the lectures and threats. Sometimes I just want to leave here and never come back.”
“I hear ya, sister. I hear ya. That’s why we dream about our getaway.”
Connie contemplates as she smokes. She gets it - why everyone worries so much - she really does. They’ve always been the girls who were a little too wild, a little hard to handle. Always up to something, always on the lookout for… well, trouble.
The tobacco smoke mixes with the last of the day’s heat coming off the pavement of the parking lot as they sit quietly and consider their situation. Connie has always been the more rebellious of the two; the most likely to get in trouble. But now she has a deep-down, gnawing worry that maybe they really are pushing their luck. I mean, Emma’s family is strict. They pay attention to her whereabouts and activities, and who knows… maybe there is such a thing as too much mischief. The thought of it gives her anxiety; they have been best friends forever. She couldn’t bear it if she couldn’t see Emma every day. She never voices her concerns, but they fester in her mind. Maybe they really should get out of here so that they’re not being watched anymore. Sigh.
Emma breaks the silence with a laugh:
“This kinda reminds me of that night we snuck cigarettes and vodka under the bleachers and got caught by Sister Marie-Claire. What a sneaky bastard she was. Never heard her coming.”
Connie tips her head and laughs, remembering the scene… both of them being dragged by their ears to say some extra Hail Marys. Catholic school apparently hadn’t done the job of shaping them up, but it sure did provide some memories.
“So what’s our next adventure gonna be,” Connie asks. “Where are we going? Let’s plan our imaginary road trip.”
“Hmmmm,” Emma replies. “Someplace where they can’t find us. Mexico? I really want to lay on a beach, drink all day, pick up some hot guys, and.…”
Suddenly, the noise they had dreaded hearing cut through the air.
“MA! CONNIE! Are you out here? Maaaa? Connnnnieeee? MOM!!!”
“Oh no. Put out the cigarette, Connie! Put it out! Oh Christ, did we bring any air freshener?”
“Air freshener?! What are you planning to do with that, spray it in your damn mouth?? Pipe down, old woman. It’s too late, we are busted… AGAIN.”
Sure enough, just then Emma’s daughter, Lisa, stepped into the little clearing in full view of their rock hideout.
“Well so much for this hideout,” Connie thought to herself. “Time to find a new one.”
But right now, there’s a bigger problem to deal with… namely, Lisa.
Lisa is a force to be reckoned with. Emma raised her to be strong, but good Lord. Lisa is a brick shithouse. They’re not escaping this situation, that’s for sure.
“Ma! Connie! Are you two SMOKING? How many times do we have to talk about this? Ma, you’ve had two heart attacks, you’ve got high cholesterol, high blood pressure… what the hell are you thinking? And Connie, I can’t believe you’re enabling this. In fact, I can’t believe you’re smoking either. Don’t you have high blood pressure, too? C’mon, let’s get both of you back home. Eighty years old and sneaking out all the time... neither one of you has any goddamn sense.”
Connie steps on the cigarette butt and gives Emma a wink. She considers arguing with Lisa, but it’s not worth it.
Lisa turns around and assumes the posture of leading the way back to their houses. She mutters resentfully under her breath that keeping track of these stubborn old people is more exhausting than watching the frickin' kids.
Connie and Emma were together through 12 years of Catholic school, went to Woodstock, marched on Washington, were maids of honor at each other’s weddings, helped each other through births and deaths, and have been neighbors and best friends for 75 years. They’ve made it through worse than Lisa’s scolding.
“We need a new meeting spot,” Emma says under her breath. “Probably for the best, my ass is killing me. That rock was pointy.”
Connie thinks for a moment and then replies:
“Meet me tomorrow night, same time, other end of the parking lot. And bring a beach towel. I’ve got a few nips of tequila.”