It was a normal summer night for Ali. At exactly seven p.m. she would clock out from the small diner that she worked at. From there she would get into her car, Sleipnir, turn on the country channel and drive the eight minutes east towards her friend’s house. When she got there, she would do the customarily check for the neighbors spying from their second floor window and then hop over the gate into the back garden. As always the back door would be open for her. Behind the door was her friend Christian Cornelius, waiting with a tray full of hot pockets. This was a summer night ritual Ali had come to love, more then should would like to admit to her friend Christian. Even more so, to his overly religious parents.
“Ali, it won’t kill you to take a minute to change out of that g-d awful eighties dress.” Said Christian. Ali looked down at her required uniform. She had always secretly liked the hot pink dress and roller blades that went with it. Not that she’d even admit that to Christian. “That mean’s I’ll get here one minute later, loser.” she said as she collapsed on their plastic covered couch. He sighed and sat down next to her.
Before he could get comfortable he had to perfectly arrange the tray and everything next to it. Christian was sort of a nutcase. What made it worse was his parents refusal to take him to therapy. Ali reached over and put her hand on his hand, so he could look away from the table items. “They are all lined up C.” She said in hopes of soothing him. He made a face but turned to her. “I suppose you’re right. You are always right.” He said to the floor. Ali lifted his chin up and turned his head to face hers. “Christian Cornelius, how many times do I need to tell you. You are the smart one. You did just get a college acceptance letter from M.I.T.”
College always made Christian nervous. He didn’t like the thought of leaving Dallas. Christian’s parent’s Deborah and Isiah hated the idea even more. The north was full of ungodly people. Their poor virtuous boy could be tainted by people far filthier then Ali Blackthorn. Not that who he became friends with was the worst of their problems. “C. You will be fine in M.I.T. I will visit you all the time ok.”
Ali watched Christian fiddle with his longhorn belt buckle. It was his favorite thing to do when he was nervous. Every year on his birthday, Ali got him a new one. This year was the longhorns. It was an attempt to help him with his parents. “You are only that close because you gave up on Yale. For something as stupid as me.”
Ali sighed and got up. The worst part of Christian was how much he couldn’t see his amazingness. It was like the boy’s beloved Jesus himself gifted him with everything someone could want in a son. If you saw Christian Cornelius you would swoon. Six foot three, foot ball player muscles on a lean build, blonde hair and blue eyes and the style to pull off rodeo attire Christian was every Dallas girls dream. The only problem was he was Gay. Not the I want to chop lumber at the same time gay. He was the I like vogue, Ru Paul and drink green juice gay. None of which was found very often out and about in the outskirts of Dallas, Texas. Worst of all was his bible loving parents. They could turn anyone away from religion.
Except their own son. Through all the locked closet nights and Christian Youth Groups, Christian stayed enthralled with Jesus Christ. Not the white Aryan colored glass Jesus that his parents idealized, but the hobo-chic Jewish guy he was supposed to look like.
“Ali, do you hear me?” Asked Christian. He was worried she didn’t hear his question about her future dorm arrangements or wether or not it was a Tyler Perry night or a Denzel Washington night. They both have been obsessed the Great Debaters since they were kids. “Sorry, C. I got lost in my head.” He sighed. “You would test ten times better then me if you could just live outside your head.” Ali nodded. “Too bad. Why don’t we go out tonight?”
Christian looked at her startled. Ali can see him running numbers in his head. “But it’s movie night.” His eyes got wide. Tonight was not a night Ali could do the same thing they always do. She had to use her one and most painful trump card. “I’ll let you dress me.” Christian’s eyes lit up. This was worth the anxiety of going out. “Head to toe?” He asked, suddenly skeptical.
She looked down at her black nails and thought about her matching Jack White tee. This better be a fun night. “Sure, C. Let’s see what you can do.” He immediately grabbed her car keys and pulled open the door. Ali got up and looked around the Cornelius house. Jesus was everywhere. She turned away from the pictures of a bleeding man to her cowboy.
“Don’t you want to change out of your rodeo attire?” He sighed. “Nothing in my house is worth another minute. Now, stop stalling Aliya Blackthorn.” She grabbed her keys from his hand and sprinted over the fence.”Alright. Alright. Time to ride the wind on Sleipnir.”
Christian opened the passenger side door. “I still can’t believe you named your car after an eight legged horse.” Ali turned on the car and took a second to appreciate the grumbles that sprang to life from her car’s exhaust pipe. “I’m gonna burn in hell anyways. Might as well enjoy the descent.” Christian did the cross over his heart. “Lord, she just doesn’t know. Spare her.”
Ali switched on her red interior light. She turned to wink at Christian. “Ready to ride my iron horse, cowboy?” He shook his head no. Ali ignored him and pulled out of his driveway, hitting the pedal hard. The whole neighborhood could hear Christian screaming, “Slow down, you pervert!” As a back challenger drove off towards the heart of Dallas. Neither of them saw Christians neighbor curtain window close.