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I saw the writing on the wall soon after my association with Carol began. Life with Carol was never going to be dull or routine. Although I was not guilty of the whole married man thing (as far as I knew anyway), in the eyes of many I was just as guilty as Carol because I knew what was going on. That type of thinking seemed to escape my way of viewing things and I decided early into my Vernon experience that I’d have some fun with my guilt by association. Peggy McDade (Psycho Bitch #1) sent her minions out to do some feather ruffling one day. Carol and I had stopped at the local generic hamburger joint to grab some lunch. While Carol was inside using the restroom, Janice Arrant (Psycho Bitch #2), a fiery spitfire about 8 inches shorter than me approached me 
while I was sitting in Carol’s car finishing my lunch.  When she announced that she needed to talk to me, I looked up at her and smiled sweetly. I told her that I don’t like being disturbed while I was doing 3 things. For future reference so she would know my list of do’s and don’ts, I was courteous enough to list them for her. I believe in arming a person with facts so they can make an informed decision. I explained my "don’t disturb me" sign is up while I’m sleeping, eating and fucking" and I let her know if she had something to say to me she was going to have to wait until I was done eating and then we’d talk. She left in a huff! You could almost see the steam coming out her ears as she walked away. Score ONE for the Yankee. Later, I got mixed reviews on what many thought was a foolhardy action on my part, but I can say I didn’t get my head blown off for my little power play that day. Risky? Maybe! But it was definitely satisfying, too. By the time Carol returned to the car, harmony was restored and the potential volatile situation was diffused for the moment…

One of my most memorable moments with Carol was when she introduced me to The Cat’s Eye one evening. The Cat’s Eye was a typical small town honky-tonk. It was the only place adults could go locally for entertainment, but in doing so, one stepped into the arena of barroom fights and many other rowdy, redneck activities. What I didn’t know when we entered the bar, Carol had an agenda.  Carol always had an agenda!  She scanned the bar and then quickly introduced me to a pleasant laid-back Southern hippie with long curly blonde  hair and a gorgeous smile, then announced she had to go meet someone, but would be back before closing. She assured me that I was in good hands and asked Rickey Brooks if he minded "babysitting" me. He made some cute remark about how hanging out with a Yankee might ruin his reputation, but he agreed to make an exception this one time. Carol mysteriously disappeared after enlisting Rickey's help for the evening, but didn’t return as promised.  Was that part of some master plan to hook me up with Rickey? I never asked and at this point I can only speculate. I'm sure if I asked Carol today that she'd give the same sly smile she was famous for back in the day.

Rickey and I hunted for Carol after closing. We found her car, but naturally it was locked and she was nowhere to be found. I left a note on her windshield telling her to pick me up at Lucas Pond where Rickey lived, but I didn’t expect to see her until the next day. During the course of the evening, Ricky and I had discussed a wide array of topics which even included revealing our favorite breakfast food and he seemed pleasantly surprised that this long-legged 18-year-old Yankee hottie had a brain. He confessed that he had a preconceived notion about me before he met me and that he had been wrong. I was equally surprised by his confession. Rarely, do men reveal things like that especially when they’re hoping to get laid. You see, I had a preconceived notion also…I thought getting into my pants was his motive for being nice to me and was even more convinced of that when we arrived at his cabin on the pond.

Kindred spirits inhibited all the cabins on the pond. The only late night/early morning sounds on the pond were the low melodic hums that came from the music within each cabin coupled with the sounds of nature from outside. The pairing made for an interesting effect. Rickey’s cabin was silent…dark, mysterious, yet inviting all the same. I tried to imagine what lurked within and was immediately amused by his "conversation pieces" hanging on his bedroom wall. Before me was a collection of women’s panties arranged into a huge collage. He noted my amusement as he asked me to select what music I wanted to hear. It wasn’t long after I had arrived, when the cavalry showed up to "rescue" me. Carol seemed surprised that Rickey and I were totally engrossed discussing music when she arrived and not in the throes of passion. Eventually, the four of us fell asleep. Carol and Chip took Rickey's bed and Rickey and I slept on the floor with Goats Head Soup playing in the background. As the song Angie came on the stereo, Rickey held me close and whispered in my ear, "we need to try this again minus the company." I couldn't help but notice how good his hair smelled and made a mental note to ask him later what brand of shampoo he used as I fell asleep with a smile on my face. That was just one of many nights I spent in the peaceful solitude on the Lucas Pond, but only after telling Rickey my panties would never be on his wall. 

Carol and I were always up to night we decided to liberate pumpkins from a closed road side vegetable stand. Why? Because we could! So we did! We loaded her car up completely and made our getaway towards Lucas Pond. As we got closer to the pond, we ran out of gas. Great! Here we sat in the middle of nowhere on a dirt road late at night with a car full of pumpkins and not a gas station open in probably 10 or more miles. In Vernon, the sidewalks were rolled up at sundown and stayed that way until morning. The only thing we felt safe in doing was to stay put until daylight and then walk to the nearest gas station. I guess neither one of us wanted to run into a rattlesnake in the dark. As we settled in for the night, a truck approached us and slowed down as it got closer. It finally came to a complete stop when it was parallel to Carol's car. It was Royce Anderson. He was Rickey's friend who lived in the next cottage. After he got done laughing at our antics, he told us to hop in and he'd take us to the

cottages with the intention of remedying our gas situation in the morning. Like two naughty children, we obeyed him. As Carol and Royce walked to his cabin, I stood looking at Rickey with a "girls just want to have fun" look. He put his arm around me and led me inside.

When Rickey met my brother, Brian and his family, he could hardly wait to leave so he could mimic all of us. I had to admit that his fake Maine accent was right-on and I laughed hysterically at him. He definitely could "pahk da cah" (park the car) with the best of them. We went to all the usual places couples around those parts went (like softball games and other outings) and whenever we ran into Rickey's friends he introduced me as "Gail." Gail? But my name was Karen. He explained he did that because he didn't want any of his friends to know my real name and he thought the name Gail fit me. Okay! So I played along. I was Gail. Or Gale (a very strong wind). The only place Rickey wouldn't take me was when he'd go to Panama City Beach to do some "business." He said he didn't mix business with pleasure and that his business was risky and he didn't want to risk me getting busted. I was cool with that. I hung out with Carol while he conducted "his business" and when he returned, he returned to be with me. Rickey was different from most guys I knew. He really did pay attention to detail and seemed to enjoy surprising me. Our very first conversation led to him surprising me by making me my favorite breakfast...steak and eggs. Just when I began thinking this thing with him had definite real possibilities one night he didn't come back. Then one night turned into another and another and I didn't hear anything more from him. I'm not one to chase after anyone, so I just let it go. I assumed he had found something better to do than to keep me amused.

One night about a month after I hadn't heard from him, a mutual friend frantically tracked me down to tell me that Rickey had been in a horrible car accident and that he wasn't expected to live. He had been thrown from his car and the car had rolled on top of his head.  I really didn't know what to do. Was I supposed to go to the hospital? Was I expected to go to the hospital? What if I went and some other female was there? There I sat with my new boy toy, Kenny Rowe and I was seriously conflicted.  I wanted so badly to drop everything and rush to Panama City, but I was frozen where I sat. I was afraid to face losing someone I cared about. I couldn't do that again. I knew I couldn't see Rickey torn up and barely clinging to life. Everyone present was so impressed that I knew Rickey and Royce because they had a very tight group of friends that rarely admitted new people into their inner circle, but I didn't go into any details. I just acknowledged that I knew them and when asked how I knew them, I just shook my head as if to say "not now"and looked down. My eyes were full of tears, but I just sat there and did nothing. I mean what could I do? So, instead of doing the right thing, I chose to do what was easiest for me. My actions that night are something I deeply regret. Rickey, wherever you are, I'm so sorry for not showing you that I really did care when you needed it most. I was a coward!

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