NOTE: Ghost Town-ing is a series of stories that follow Pat and Sherry (Fast Break) as they explore some of the places Jesse and Jennifer (the Sweetwater Saga) visited. Although these stories are connected, each episode stands by itself and you do not have to wait for the entire series to be completed. Nor is it necessary for you to read the Sweetwater Saga series and Fast Break to understand these stories but it is highly recommended.
This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of the author.
PART NINE – INTERLUDE TWO
by Mickey Minner
"Damn, it's hot," Pat pulled two cold bottles of beer out of the cooler next to the pool. She handed one to a grateful Sherry before laying back to immerse as much of her body as possible under the surface of the water.
"Yes it is." Sherry lifted the bottle to her lips to take a long drink. "Good thing you remembered you had this," she motioned to the pool.
The women were stretched out in the belly of a large inflatable children's river raft in the shape of a turtle. The turtle was laying on its back, its smiling head raised at one end of the raft and its tail raised at the other. Along each side of the raft, painted to look like a turtle shell, a pair of feet waved happily in the air. The raft had been pulled from its resting spot on a shelf in the garage and inflated then placed on the grass in a shady spot under the maple tree before being filled with water.
"Not exactly the way it was intended to be used," Pat grinned. "But it works."
"Somehow I never took you for the inflatable turtle type. I learn something new about you every day."
"Ah, my love," Pat rotated just enough to kiss Sherry on her bare shoulder yet remain submerged. "There is so much about me you have yet to uncover," she wiggled her eyebrows seductively.
"That," Sherry giggled, "will have to wait for a cooler day. Too bad this thing isn't a little bigger." She bent her legs in order to pull her feet into the pool and under the surface of the water.
The women were taller than the turtle was long and they had to choose between having their shoulders or their feet covered by water.
"It's a turtle, not a giraffe."
"Do they make those?" Sherry asked hopefully.
"Not that I know of." Pat finished off her beer and dropped the bottle onto the grass outside the pool. "I don't think giraffes float."
"Probably not." Sherry squirmed about to find a position that would allow as much of her body as possible to be covered by the cool water. By doing so, she caused some of the precious water to slosh out onto the grass. "Damn." Sitting up, she reached for the hose lying on the grass next to the pool. Grasping the nozzle, she settled back into her submerged position then pressed the handle allowing water to fill the pool to the very top of the turtle's shell.
"Aren't you going to put that back?" Pat asked when Sherry continued to hold the nozzle.
"Nope, I'm not moving again until the temperature drops a good twenty degrees.
"Okay." Pat grinned, leaning back against the head of the turtle.
The sound of the doorbell echoing through the house woke Pat. For a moment she was unsure as to where she was and how she got there.
The doorbell rang again causing Sherry to stir from her dreams. "What's wrong?"
"I think we fell asleep," Pat yawned. "The doorbell is ringing."
"Let it," Sherry rolled onto her side, draping an arm over Pat's waist. "Whoever it is will go away."
"You sure you don't want to know who it is?" Pat asked even though she was more than willing to remain exactly where she was and leave whoever was at the door standing there unrecognized.
"It's probably just a salesman."
"On a Sunday?"
"Pat," Sherry raised her head to look at her lover. "In a week, the returning players report. Then we have try-out camp and then the season. Today is one of our last days to spend time together just being ourselves."
Pat bit her lip as Sherry glared at her. "Um, honey." She was trying desperately to keep from laughing at her lover's look of indignation. "I'm not sure," her lips began to twitch. "Does that mean you want me to answer the door or you don't?"
"You are such a shit head," Sherry smirked. "You move and I'll kill you." She lay back down, resting her head on Pat's shoulder.
"Okay," Pat relaxed back into the water, her head propped up on the turtle's neck. "Just wanted to be sure." She grinned, closing her eyes.
"See I told you they were home." Pete pushed open the gate in the fence that surrounded the yard.
"Remind me to buy a lock for that gate," Pat told Sherry, not opening her eyes.
"Maybe they don't want company." Keith nervously followed his wife through the opening into the yard.
"I'm not company."
"No, more like the unwanted visitor from hell," Pat muttered. She could feel Sherry's body shaking as she laughed silently.
"Nice pool, Coach." Pete stood beside the turtle looking down at the women. "Something left over from your depraved childhood?"
Pat opened one eyelid, the eye rolling upward to look at her friend.
"Is there something you wanted or do you just like to trespass through locked gates?
"Ha," Pete laughed. "You know there's no lock on that gate. Not very smart, Coach, by the way. Any loony-toon could get in and do who knows what."
"Apparently," Pat scowled. "Still didn't answer my question."
"Oh, don't be so testy. We are here because Keith is going to build you a deck and he needs to make some measurements. And since we were coming over, we stopped at the store and picked up four very tasty-looking steaks that I thought we could grill on that unused bar-b-q of yours while he does that. So get your prune-y butts out of that silly pool and greet us properly."
"You brought steaks?" Sherry sat up, suddenly very hungry. "That sounds good. But we don't have much to go with them. We were supposed to go to the market today but...."
"Not a problem." Keith lifted up the bags he carried so the women could see them. "Salad fixin's, watermelon and beer."
"We even brought charcoal since I wasn't sure you had any," Pete said smugly.
"I do." Pat scowled. She was happy to see her friends and even happier that they had brought dinner but she would have been perfectly content to remain in the pool with Sherry until dark.
"Well then get out of there and help Keith get a fire going while Coach Two and I take care of things in the house.
"Come on, honey." Sherry stood. "I'm starving."
"And wrinkled." Pete picked up a towel off the grass and handing it to Sherry. "How long have you guys been in that turtle?"
"Thanks." Sherry took the towel as she stepped out of the pool. "Most of the day. I was tired of being hot and Pat remembered she had this in the garage." She dried off her legs and arms before wrapping the towel around her waist. "Let me take those." She walked up to Keith holding her arms out for the bags he carried. "There's beer in the cooler." She turned to walk into the house with Pete.
"Great idea," Keith said to Pat as she reluctantly emerged from the water. "We've just been sitting around sweating and complaining."
"Feel free to take a dip," Pat offered, reaching for the remaining towel. "It's surprising how good it feels. So you decided to do the deck?"
"Yeah. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to feel a hammer in my hands and get back to pounding nails."
"That's great." Pat tossed the towel over the turtle's smiling head. She opened the cooler and removed two bottles of beer. "But remember," she handed a bottle to Keith. "We're not in a hurry, so fit us in whenever you can. I don't want you to think you have to take time away from your job to do this."
"Thanks." Keith accepted the beer. "Don't worry. I'll have to squeeze it in when I can but it should be done by the end of the month. I just need to know how big you want it so I can order the wood."
"You better ask Sherry about that," Pat laughed. "The way she's coming up with ideas for how to use a deck and what she wants on it, it'll probably take up most of the yard. Just, whatever you do, leave this patch of grass alone. I'm beginning to take a great liking to it."
"I bet you are," Keith smirked.
"Hey, get your prune-y butt in her and put on some decent clothes before my husband's eyes pop completely out of his head." Pete was standing at the sliding door glaring at her coach.
Not wanting to wear bathing suits, Pat and Sherry had worn a pair of Cougar uniform shorts and sports bra into the pool.
"Make yourself at home. I'll be back in a minute."
"I'll work on getting the fire started." Keith chuckled as Pat headed for the house and his wife.
"More salad, Coach?" Pete passed the bowl across the table. "You might as well finish what's left since you've eaten most of it already."
"You'd do well to eat more yourself." Pat offered the bowl to Sherry who shook her head. "Keith?"
"It's all yours." Keith reached for his beer bottle.
"Okay, you don't know what you're missing." Pat emptied the bowl onto her plate.
"Sure I do. I eat enough of that rabbit food during the season." The Cougars had a dietary plan for every player that was strictly adhered to during the pre-season and regular season. "I refuse to eat it during the months you can't tell me what to do." She stuck her tongue out at her coach.
"Careful." Sherry laughed. "You have to report in a week. If you don't want her getting even for your smart mouth, you better stop now."
Pat smirked at her player over a forkful of lettuce.
"Hmm, let's see." Keith winked at Pat. "Multiple wind sprints, half court drills, laps around the arena. And that's just what she could do before practice actually starts."
Pat smiled evilly.
"Uncle." Pete held up both hands. "Uncle, uncle, uncle. I'll be good, I promise."
"Done any more ghost town-ing?" Keith was sitting in a lawn chair pulled up next to the pool. He had removed his shoes and socks and was soaking his feet in the cool water.
After finishing their meal, Pat and Sherry suggesting returning to the back yard since it was still some time before the sun would set and the shade provided by the maple tree was a nice respite from the warm house. Pete was reclining in the pool and Pat and Sherry were lying, side-by-side, on the cool grass.
"Haven't had the time." Pat smiled when Sherry frowned. "Sherry is finding out that being an assistant coach means lots of prep work and meetings. We've had a ton of film to go over and with Marcie leaving we've had to juggle some of her responsibilities around. Unfortunately, as a player slash coach, Sherry isn't going to have enough time to do everything I need out of an assistant.
Sherry looked at Pat, a bit puzzled by her comment. She had never voiced any concerns with the dual duties before.
"We'll all be juggling to make this work." Pat smiled at her concerned lover. "And it will."
"I don't have to play..."
"Yes, you do. I need you on the court. God knows I can't depend on Pete to run the show." Pat joked in an attempt at easing Sherry's doubts.
"That's for sure." Pete cupped her hand, threatening to splash water on her coach. "Last thing, you can depend on from me is to control the team on the court."
"Be good." Keith reminded his wife.
"You're a good point guard." Sherry sat up, still worried over Pat's earlier comments.
"She's a damn good point guard." Pat also sat up, her tone serious. "But you're better and Pete would be the first one to tell you that. And, if we're going to repeat as champions this season, we need you on the court."
"Coach is right about that."
"But if it's going to cause problems on the staff..."
"It's not. That's why I've spent so much time these past few weeks working on reassigning duties. Kelley is capable of taking on more and with both you and Pete working with the new guards, I think we'll actually come out ahead of the game. It's just going to take some extra effort by all of us."
"You can count on me, Coach."
"I know that and I do count on that." Pat settled back down on the grass.
"Maybe Pete should be the coach slash player." Sherry joined her lover. "I know I never would have done what I did last season without her help."
"She is sort of an unofficial coach already." Keith placed his feet on Pete's belly, silently asking for a foot rub. "Too bad Mac doesn't acknowledge that." It had been a sore spot for him for the past couple of seasons to see how much his wife did for the Cougars and how little she was recognized by the team owner.
"Honey." Pete looked up at her husband, her fingers continuing to massage his feet. "Now isn't the time or place."
"Its okay, Keith." Pat wrapped her arm around Sherry as her lover snuggled into her side. "I agree with you. The Cougars wouldn't be the team they are without Pete. You know it. I know it. And, believe it or not, Mac knows it."
"Honey." Pete warned again.
"Alright. 'Nuff said."
Pete squeezed her husband's foot, silently thanking him for dropping the subject.
"For now." Keith got in the last word as he reached down to the cooler next to his chair. "Who wants a beer?"
"Me." All three women said at once.
"So back to the ghost town question," Pete said, handing bottles of beer to the women. "Are you done for the year?"
"Actually, we're hoping to get one more in. We'd like to get to Bannack some time this week."
"That shouldn't be a problem, should it?"
"No. I've made sure to keep Thursday and Friday clear. That way we still have the weekend to clean up any loose ends before Pete and the rest of the trouble makers report next Monday."
"Who me?" Pete smiled as innocently as she could but her quivering lips gave away her attempt to hide a devilish grin. "Besides, with Dawn going to LA, there isn't going to be much reason to ride herd on the rookies."
"You never know, we could have one even worse than Dawn." Sherry sighed. Her memories of having to endure Dawn's antagonistic behavior were less than pleasant. And she still occasionally suffered from migraine headaches, an after effect of the head injury she had suffered as a result of a dirty play by her ex-teammate.
"Think she'll last long in LA?" Pete asked.
"Depends. If she behaves and does what she's told."
"Meaning?" Sherry asked.
"I have my suspicions that Buttram and Tompkins wanted her for, shall we say, her ability to play rough." Pat named the coach and owner of the Los Angeles franchise.
"You mean play dirty." Pete said matter-of-factly as she pushed herself up from the pool. The sun was setting and the evening was cooling rapidly. "You may need to bench Sherry whenever we play LA."
"We'll see how things go." Everyone knew Sherry seemed to be the object of most of Dawn's unfavorable attention but Pat was just as sure in her lover's ability to outwit the other player.
"Okay." Pete caught the towel Keith tossed her. "But I'll be ready to step in any time you say."
"Thanks. I'll keep that in mind."
"About Bannack?" Keith tried a second time to return the conversation back to something besides basketball.
"We're going on Thursday." Sherry inched closed to Pat, wanting to slip her leg between her lover's and kiss her senseless but a sense of propriety keep her from doing so. "We're going to take a tent and sleeping bags so we can take our time since it'll be our last opportunity to get away until the end of the season.
"Oooh, making out under the stars." Pete smirked, seemingly reading Sherry's thoughts.
"I think we did that once."
"We did that much more than once, you heathen." Pete flung the towel at her grinning husband, hitting him square in the face. "I'm going to go change. Behave yourself while I'm gone." She had borrowed a pair of shorts and t-shirt to use in the pool.
"If I must."
"Hmm, she doesn't strike me as someone who would like to snuggle under the stars." Pat watched her friend walk towards the house where her dry clothes were waiting.
"Oh, you'd be surprised at what she likes to do."
"Keith, if you say another word, I'll kill you." Pete emphasized her threat with the slamming of the sliding door.
"Do tell." Pat encouraged.
"That's not nice." Sherry playfully slapped her lover on the stomach.
"I know. Go on, we don't have much time."
"Keith, I am so not kidding." The warning was undeniable as it floated on the still evening air.
"Where is she?" Keith looked at the house, trying to spot his wife in one of the windows.
"Guest bedroom." Sherry whispered.
"You're wasting precious time, man."
"Well, there was this one time..."
"I'm dressed and on my way back."
"Damn. Maybe we better wait for a better time."
"Better time for what?" Pete had thrown the sliding door open and was literally running out of the house.
"Better time to explain what he has in mind for the deck." Sherry stifled a giggle by pressing her face against Pat's shoulder.
"Like I believe that." Pete dropped into Keith's lap.
"A better time to tell us what kind of mating rituals you like to perform under the stars." Pat gleefully declared. "So, Keith, when do you plan to bring over the lumber for the deck? Next week would be good. There'll be late practices all week and I can leave them to my assistant coaches.
"Like hell. I'm not letting the two of you out of my sight the rest of the season."
"I can wait."
"Tonight, lover boy, I'm finding a way to remove that loose tongue of yours."
"Bet that will shorten the list of things you like to do under the stars." Pat said, off-handedly.
"Probably by half." Sherry snorted, unable to contain her enjoyment of her friend's embarrassment.
"At least." Keith laughed before an elbow slammed into his stomach.
"It was nice of them to bring dinner." Sherry lay naked pressed against Pat's side, her arm bent at the elbow and her head resting on her hand. Her other arm was draped across Pat's waist, relishing the feeling of the warm and sweaty skin under her arm.
"Yes, it was. Nice that Keith is going to build the deck, too. Did the two of you work out the details?"
"I think so. He's going to make up a plan and let us see it before he starts."
"Sounds good." Pat lifted Sherry's hand off her stomach and brought it to her lips. "I love you." She smiled at her lover as she slowly kissed each finger.
Sherry didn't speak, she couldn't. The love she felt for Pat was so strong that a lump formed in her throat making it impossible for her to do so. She placed her head on Pat's shoulder.
"Are you okay?" Pat was concerned with Sherry's unusual silence.
"Yeah." She sniffled. "I can't believe what it feels like when you say that to me."
"I hope it feels good." Pat voice was soft as she placed their entwined hands over her heart.
"It does. Every time you say it, I love you even more than I did before."
"I feel the same way."
"Yes. Just knowing that you love me and have decided to spend your life with me is...."
"Is so amazing that I have a hard time believing it. Does that make sense?"
"Yeah. I feel the same."
The women lay in silence. Their naked bodies pressed together saying more than words ever could.
To be continued in the next episode of Ghost Town-ing
To view photographs of the places Pat and Sherry visit in these stories
-- go to http://www.mickeyminner.com/photographs.html --
Return to the Academy