Here is Part 2 of “Once Miss Last Chance,” a free romantic short story. Hope you enjoy this short romance…
Ketchum stood with jaw torqued, chest out, arms flexed in his tight roper shirt, Wrangler jeans dip-starched, cowboy boots shining. He’d come to take me to the parade. He had folding chairs in the back of his truck, not just hay bales. The only thing he had neglected to do was ask me to go with him before the moment he arrived.
“Does that mean I’m not you’re girlfriend?”
He tightened his fists. “I can’t believe you’d give me up,” he said, “So you can go out in public pretending to be Charlene.”
I may only be Miss Last Chance Gulch by default, I thought, but I’m plenty good enough to fill out the costume and ride in the parade. Ketchum had pulled his taking me for granted stunt for the last time.
“Believe me,” I said, “I don’t want to be Charlene.”
Mindy and I watch the goat-tying and she says, “This is so stupid, Mom. How come women don’t do steer wrestling?”
“I think they should, Honey. Your dad and I have been lobbying for it. Rules can change, you know.”
The Fourth of July parade was at two. I climbed up on the flat bed of the decorated Jannsen Van & Storage truck. Red, white and blue crepe paper flowers and streamers flowed from the roof and the rails. I took my place near the back window behind the cab, by the replica of the Liberty Bell mounted to the wooden truck bed. Bill Jannsen, the owner’s twenty-one-year-old son, gave me a wink. I hung on, fingertips clutching the thin lip of the truck’s rain gutter while the float moved forward. When we slowed, I pulled the clapper on that bell, smiled and did a parade wave just as though I were a bona fide beauty queen.
The little kids on the street waved at me like crazy. That may have been because Bill was tossing them Tootsie Pops from the truck window. Two high school boys from the farm and ranch supply store yelled something about me not being Charlene. I saw Ketchum’s truck parked about half way down the parade route. He was sitting in the truck bed alone on a hay bale. Two little boys in scout uniforms were sitting in Ketchum’s chairs on the sidewalk.
To be continued…