One tiny, little lie (or perhaps a couple) leads to a trip full of twists and turns thru cornfields and small towns on a beautiful Fall day.

“Sometimes the truth can be

so boring…”

Chapter 17

“Nope…I always pay my own way,” I said briskly…and I pushed the money back at Hank.  I knew I didn’t sound too friendly…because then…

He turned to me and looked really puzzled at my sudden change in tone…

It was as if he was trying to guess what I was thinking.  Well…good luck with that…

Then…getting no reaction from me other than a humorless smile…he just shrugged his shoulders, took my money and added it to the pile for Nan.

“Everyone ready to go?” Hank said…looking across the table at Bob and Franny…who were again deep in conversation.

We all got up and headed for the door.  Hank held back a little and walked over to the owner.  After a couple of minutes, he joined us outside.

“Cinnamon,” he said with a pleased look.  “Good to know.”

And then we were all on our way home…

There was a decidedly different feeling between Hank and me now.  Well.  It wasn’t my fault.  I wasn’t the one with the “little wifey and nine kids” waiting at home.

The ride back was not nearly as exciting as the ride to the restaurant.  I was really disappointed and kid of sad that Hank wasn’t single…and available.

He was super cute and fun…and he seemed to have a good sense of humor which I especially like in guys…

And…he could have stayed mad at me for my stupid move on the motorcycle…but he hadn’t.

And…even though we hadn’t had much chance to talk…I felt a small connection…at least when he wasn’t yelling at me or when I wasn’t lying to him…

Then I remembered that little “happy feeling” I had felt when he grabbed my hand as we first walked into the restaurant.  Now…surprisingly…tears stung at my eyes.

Oh damn.  I blinked my eyes and focused.  Maybe I would meet some great guy at The Friendly tonight.

According to Franny, half the single men in Minneapolis showed up there on Saturday afternoon…we’ll see…

I blinked again and looked at my watch…it was only 5:12…the night was still young and full of possibilities.

I sighed…

“Sometimes the truth can be

so boring…”

Chapter 18

As we neared The Friendly, I realized I didn’t want to be done with ‘married Hank’…not just yet.

When we got to the corner where this hopeless misadventure had all started, Hank pulled the bike up close to the curb.

He shut it down, got off and again quickly picked me up and put me on the street.  This time his hands lingered lightly on my waist.

“You know, Cooper…” he began…

I didn’t say a word.  I didn’t even look at him.

I just pulled away and walked over to the sidewalk…ignoring him completely.

When I got there, I looked back at him.  He hadn’t started up his bike yet…but was just watching me walk away.

“Hey!” I hollered back to him.  “Don’t forget to put your ring back on…your wife might get a little suspicious if you’re not wearing it when you get home.”

And then…I turned around and quickly walked right across the street into The Friendly Inn.

I was absolutely and completely unaware of where the hell Franny was but…as it turned out, she was right on my heels.

She and Bob had parted ways, quickly exchanging phone numbers before he took off.

Franny and I stopped for a couple of seconds in the entryway of The Friendly to let our eyes adjust to the inky darkness of the bar.

“Cooper…” said Franny. “That was beyond cool! What a put down. I looked at Hank’s face right after you yelled at him and he was completely stunned.”

“I guess he thought he had you fooled.”

“Oh, look,” she pointed. “That booth is empty. Hurry before someone else takes it.”

Franny gave me a little shove from behind and I all but fell into the first booth. She didn’t want to sit on the side that faced the door…she wanted me to sit there…she took the side looking into the bar.

“Now. When Roger comes in, just kick me a little under the table…but don’t say anything.”

“And don’t be overly obvious, okay? I know that sometimes you think you’re so funny…” I interrupted her…

“Should we have a code word…like ‘Rumpelstiltskin‘” I joked. But Franny was dead serious.

“Cooper! I am dead serious. That’s why I’m sitting here on this side…if I see him coming in the door, I’ll get all crazy acting. You know me…So just do what I asked…please.”

“Oh. Here comes Stanley.”

“Hi, Stanley!  It’s really crowded in here this afternoon.”

And that’s when my heart started beating so hard I thought I would pass out.  A life of crime was definitely not in my future.

“Hey, Franny!  Haven’t seen you in here for a few weeks.  Find another place to hang out and steal a guy’s money while you break his heart?”

“Yeah, I guess it has been a while.  Oh, Stanley, this is my best friend…”  She smiled and  turned to look at me…

And…that’s when Franny’s mouth stayed open…but no words were coming out…

She had completely forgotten the name on my fake driver’s license…tick, tock, tick, tock…

Oh My God!!!  I was so screwed!!!

“Sometimes the truth can be

so boring…”

Chapter 19…The Final Chapter…

“…SHELLEY!!!”

Franny shouted the name out so loud, two guys sitting at the bar near us turned around. 

Franny composed herself and in a normal, sane voice…continued…

“Shelley…meet Stanley…the nicest bartender in the city of Minneapolis…and the lousiest bumper pool player.  I’ve made a fortune off of him!

I finally found the courage to actually look up at Stanley and I tried very hard to appear casual and…you know…over 21.

“Hey.  Nice to meet you, Stanley.”

“Same…uh, it’s Shelley…right?” He said laughing.

“Yup.” I said confidently as I noticed him getting ready to take our order.  Maybe he wouldn’t even ask to see my ID…could I get that lucky?

Franny ordered first.

“I’ll have a small tap beer and a small cheese pizza.”

Stanley looked over at me.  I wanted to say, “I’ll have a Coke…” but I really did want a beer…so…in for a penny in for a pound…

“You know…I’ll have the same…and an order of onion rings, please.”  I am so very polite.

“Okay, ladies, I will place your order and get your beers for you.”  He ripped off the order slip and turned to walk away…but then…but then…

He turned back to us…

“Oh hey…we’ve got a new owner as of last month and he’s pretty careful about underage drinking here, so he’ll be over to check ID’s in a couple of seconds.  I’ll be back soon with your drinks.”  And then he left.

“Dammit!  I thought you were good to go.” said Franny.

“That’s it, I’m leaving.  I can’t do this, Franny.  I’m a nervous wreck.  I just want to go home…I’ll call a cab.  No problem.”  I made a motion to get up.

“Cooper, don’t worry!  You’ll be fine.  Your ID looks almost just like you…and you really do look twenty-three…especially in this light.”

“Just be cool…”  Franny reached across the table and patted my hand.

“Hey…do you want to hear something funny?  Bob asked me on the way back here if you had a ‘drinking problem’ since you made such a big deal out of ordering a Coke at the restaurant.”

“Oh, yeah?” I said…half listening to her as I was digging in my purse for my wallet…and… my fake driver’s license.

“So, what did you say?” I said.

“Oh, I just told him the truth…that you weren’t twenty-one.”

My head flew up and I reached across the table to put my hand over Franny’s mouth.

“Franny!!  Quiet!!”  I whispered loudly and looked around but Franny just ignored me, batted my hand down and kept talking…

“Oh, stop…no one heard me.” she said giggling.  “I wonder what time Roger and his friends will show up…”

Nothing ever bothered Franny…she was always so happy and positive.  It’s what I loved about her.  It’s why she was my best friend.

I relaxed a little…glanced down at my ‘fake license’…I guess it did look kind of like me.  And then I looked up to agree with Franny…

But her mouth had fallen open and her eyes had widened in horror as she gasped…

“OH MY GOD!!  I’ll be damned!!”

I didn’t think twice.  Whatever was going to happen next was not going to happen to me…I was completely done with this day.

I grabbed my purse, slid across the leather seat of the booth and started for the door.  But just as I reached for the handle, a hand grabbed my arm.

“Excuse me, young lady.  Are you even old enough to be in here?  Let’s see some ID.”  The voice was loud and angry.

Oh.  Fuck!!  I wrestled my arm free and without looking back I yanked open the door.

“I’m leaving!  I’m leaving!”  I yelled to the guy over my shoulder and I almost ran outside.

“Not before you give me your phone number!” he said and followed me out.

What was going on?  Was this guy some kind of psycho?

In the dancing Fall shadows of a late September afternoon…and feeling safely ‘legal’ now that I stood on a street in Minneapolis and not in some bar that required me to be something I was not, I angrily whirled around.

I found myself looking into the very intense, laughing blue eyes of the new owner of The Friendly Inn.

Or…as I had come to know him just a short time ago…’Hank’…who was now wearing a white chef’s apron that said, “Yes, I AM the cook” over his raggedy white tee shirt and jeans.

Stunned…I, of course, swore madly.

“What the hell is going on?  Who are you anyway?”  I shouted at him, not enjoying the smirk on his face one bit.

“Well,” he said and pointed to his apron…

“I’m Hank Sullivan.  And as of two and a half weeks ago…the new cook and owner of The Friendly Inn.”

He reached up to block the sun’s rays from hitting his eyes and I noticed his left hand where there was now a simple gold wedding band resting on his third finger.

“And…I guess you’re also still somebody’s “faithful” husband as well…” I said accusingly.

I knew who had the upper hand right now…and it was not Mr. Married Guy…no matter how cute he was when he grinned…and he was grinning now…from ear to ear.

“Cheating on your wife is not funny.” I said indignantly.  “How would you feel if she was biking all afternoon with a strange young man?”

I was on a roll.  When you’re right…you’re right.  And I was definitely right!

“Plus…it’s not fair to women like me who…who…trust that you’re not married if you ask them to go for a ride on their motorcycle…”

I knew I was on shaky ground here since I had sort of instigated the whole “going for a ride idea” by kind of flirting with him in the first place…but still…

“Really?  That’s the best you can do?” he laughed.  “You’re trying to drink illegally in my bar which could cost me my license, a ton of money…which I don’t have right now…and possibly destroy me.”

I looked at him questioningly…”How do you know I’m not…”

Before I could finish…he said.  “Bob called me.”

“Oh…”  Well.  He had me there.  We were both wrong.

“Okay,” I said grudgingly…looking down at the sidewalk.  “I guess we were both wrong.”

“Nope.  Just you.  You’re the only one who is wrong.  I’m completely innocent…of all wrong doing.” he said smugly.

My head popped up.  

“What!  What the fuck do you mean?” I said totally dumbfounded.

“Well,” he said.  “I’m actually not married.  I only wear the ring to keep young women from hanging around the bar area and costing me business.”

“The previous owner suggested it…he was single when he bought this place 40 years ago…and it really does work.”

“Only I keep forgetting that it’s on when I leave here.  It doesn’t take long to get a tan line when you ride a motorcycle.”

He slipped off the ring  to reveal the tell-tale white band.

“I tried to explain that to you a couple of times back at the restaurant,” Hank continued, “but then you seemed kind of angry and not that interested in me so I thought what the hell.”

“I see…” I said softly…looking down.  Feeling a little stupid…I was at a loss for words.

Hank, however, was not.

“So.  How old are you, Cooper?”

“You mean today?” I said a little flippantly…”Or in December…when I will be twenty-one?”

I looked up at him…Oh…those eyes…

He gave me a huge grin…slowly shaking his head from side to side.  Then he came over and threw his arm around my shoulders…pulling me next to him.

“C’mon back in, Cooper.  You can hang out with your friend as long as you don’t order any beer…I’ve got an in with the ‘owner.'”

As we started walking back toward the entrance to The Friendly, Hank said, “It’s Sunday tomorrow and we’re closed.  I hear it’s supposed to be another great day…”

“Want to go for a ride?” he asked.

I stopped for a moment and then said…looking up at him…

“Do I need an ID?”

The End