by Prairie Cat
Tabitha and Bridgette attend a bonfire and things go awry.
|The road was wide but riddled with washboards. Still, Tabitha sped down the road in hopes to make up for the time that was lost while closing down the restaurant for the night.|
Not a few hours ago, Tabitha and her best friend in the whole world were invited out to have a few beers with a few other park workers out at the campground by one of the afternoon shift waitresses.
The restaurant they worked was located on a Nebraska State park in the more wooded part of the panhandle. Still a majorly agricultural area, this area of the state had a much more entertaining landscape than the rest of the state, with the Rocky Mountains next door. A unique feature of the surrounding area is the number of butte formations.
The State Park was focused on the grounds where a military fort was built back when the nation first expanded west after the Civil War. Now-a-days the fort is long de-commissioned and the buildings are saved as a historical marker of our nation. In one of the larger buildings of the complex is where the restaurant that Tabitha and Bridgette worked was built. During the summer months between memorial weekend in May and labor day weekend in September, the restaurant is open as an attraction to the park.
The restaurant was the perfect job for a student who needed a source of income when out of school for summer break. Which was exactly what drew Tabitha to the job when Adam, her boyfriend, told her about it back in January when they started their hiring process for the season. He had applied for the wranglers position.
“Tabby, please be careful,” said Bridgette in a shaky voice, partially from the abundance of washboards on the dirt road, but partially out of her own fear and discomfort. Tabitha had just spun her car around a corner a little too fast. The traction of the small sports car’s tires was pretty obviously slipping. Thankfully, they didn’t slide into the ditch before the road straightened out and the tires found traction again. “You’re scaring the shit out of me, girl!” Bridgette exclaimed.
This only made Tabitha smile and laugh.
“Serious!” Bridgette continued.
Bridgette and Tabitha had know each other since kindergarten. They were instant friends the day the teacher assigned them seats next to each other. They remained friends throughout school. They did everything together. They played sports together. They studied together. So when it came to deciding where to apply for college, of course the girls wanted to go to the same school together. They both ended up deciding on the local school because of its cheaper price and Tabitha was particularly interested in their pre-med program. And Bridgette was interested in their art department. And furthermore, Bridgette applied at the same time Tabitha had applied for the state park job. And they were both hired within days of each other.
As long as Tabitha has known Bridgette, she had been the serious one. She never kidded well or understood when someone was just teasing her. It was something that Tabitha appreciated about Bridgette greatly, especially since Tabitha had a hard time being serious.
Tabitha pressed on the brake peddle and slowed down considerably. “Sorry!” she was still laughing. “I just wanna get there quickly.”
“Well, we aren’t gonna get there at all if we end up in the ditch! Then what do we say when they ask us what we were doing out here and how come out car ended up in the ditch, huh?” Bridgette spat, but Tabitha still could only laugh. A small smile tugged at the corners of Bridgette’s mouth as well.
They were already almost to the campground as it was. The road dipped down into the ravine with a small creek running through it. The road ran through the creek. Cement had been lain to keep the path from getting to muddy for cars to pass through.
Just beyond the creek was the campground. It sat right at the edge of the forest that riddled the ridge spanning across the horizon. Most of the forest wasn’t visible at this point, as the sun had set hours ago. This particular campground hardly ever had campers in it, as it was a considerable distance from the main compound of the park. But, that was also the exact reason they were out here.
As Tabitha pulled up to the clearing, she immediately caught sight of a distinct glow of campfire light towards the back of the campground. Aside from a camper on the other side of the campground, the clearing was empty excluding the cluster of vehicles around the campfire. Probably a little too hastily, Tabitha pulled in next to the car furthest from the campfire.
Tabitha parked the car, grabbed her purse and stepped out of the vehicle. She momentarily check her bag to make sure she had all she needed. Cellphone, cigarettes, lighter, bottle of Coke for chasing. She was good. Once the headlights on her little Neon went out, the only light in the clearing was that of the campfire ahead of them.
“Ready?” Tabitha asked in a low voice so those around the campfire wouldn’t hear.
“Let’s do it.” Bridgette replied, and they walked through the dark together.
As they came closer to the fire, Tabitha could see a good number of people around the fire. Most of which she recognized as the seasonal park employees. She quickly did a head count on their approach. There was eight people already there. Then, she caught sight of her boyfriend, sitting in a folding chair on the far side of the fire.
“Good evening,” a few voices called out.
“Good evening,” Bridgette and Tabitha replied in unison.
Tabitha made a bee line through the crowd of people to her boyfriend, who she gave a kiss to before sitting in the folding chair next to him. She set her purse on the ground next to her chair.
“How was closing?” Adam asked, directing the question first to Tabitha, then looked to Bridgette who had followed Tabitha to this side of the campfire.
“Uh!” Tabitha exclaimed. “Gruling as usual.”
“Exactly, girl,” Bridgette added. “So let’s get our drink on!” She laughed.
Adam laughed as well and raised his beer in agreement.
“Did you get the bottle?” Tabitha asked, with a sheepish smile.
“Oh yeah,” Adam nodded after he took a long swig of his beer. “It’s back seat of my truck.”
Tabitha nodded then turned to Bridgette. “Right back.” she said, as she jumped from her seat and walked back over to the cluster of vehicles. Her boy friend’s truck was instantly noticeable as it was the only lifted truck in the bunch. When she reached the truck, she swung open the passenger door-- mostly out of habit-- and climbed in to look through the back seat. Within moments, she found a distinctly red bottle of Fireball whisky.
Awesome, Tabitha thought, as she jumped down from the cab of the truck and slammed the door shut behind her. She returned to the campfire to find Bridgette had stolen her spot next to Adam and was already sipping on the bottle of Bud that she must have gotten from Adam.
“‘Scuse me, lady.” Tabitha glared down at her friend playfully.
“You were gone for, like, ever!” Bridgette exclaimed, then she smiled and took another drink of her beer.
“Really?” Tabitha laughed. She looked over at her boyfriend who smiled. “And you just let her do this?”
“I just gave her a beer.” Adam said in defense.
Tabitha cocked her head and shifted her gaze between the two, who tried to look as innocent as possible. Finally, her gaze fell on her boyfriend. “Fine,” she said, and turned around and dropped into her boyfriend’s lap with all her weight.
“Oof!” he grunted. “Geez!” Tabitha laughed. Her boyfriend was several inches taller than her and 50 pounds heavier.
“You’ll be alright.” Tabitha leered at him, as she twisted the cap off of her bottle of whisky. She took a big gulp straight from the bottle which burned all the way down. Tabitha coughed and wiped her lips. “My soda!” she rasped to her friend, and gestured to the purse still sitting on the ground next to her chair
Bridgette promptly snatched the purse and tossed it into Tabitha’s lap. Tabitha glared at her as she continued to cough and screwed the cap back on her lap. Setting the whisky on the ground, she opened the purse and removed the bottle of Coke. She opened the bottle as quick as she good and drank a good bit, although the burn from the whisky had mostly passed already.