Not Just A Girl
A Richie & Roxanne Novel
by Reynold Akison
Part One – Arrival
1. New in Town
Roxanne faced the three boys in the parking lot in front of the convenience store. The boys blocked her way. Harsh florescent light poured through the store’s tall windows, creating rings of dirty yellow light around the boys’ heads. She couldn’t see their eyes, only the flash of their white teeth when they spoke.
Tall and slender, Roxanne’s raven black hair framed her oval face.
“We know you’re not from around here,” said the boy in the middle. He stood half a head shorter than Roxanne. His blond shaggy hair fell down around the collar of his dark shirt. He sucked on his cigarette and blew bluish-gray smoke into the darkness.
“Hey, Danny, why don’t we check her ID?” said the tall boy on the left with the shaved head and the hungry eyes.
“Please let me pass,” Roxanne said, taking a step towards them. “I have business inside.”
“I got business inside,” mocked the short boy missing one front tooth. “Where’s your boyfriend, or are you working tonight?”
The three boys snickered.
“Maybe she’s a runaway,” said the tallest boy.
“Let’s take her for a ride in the convertible.”
“Shut up, Billy,” said Danny, the boy in the middle.
Roxanne could see Danny’s dark calculating eyes sizing her up. She returned his stare and stood her ground. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other.
“Is this the City of Rockwood?” Roxanne asked.
“Where else would it be?” said Billy.
“Is that a Bible you’re carrying?”
Roxanne held the white, book-shaped object tighter.
“You’re at the city limits,” Danny said. “The town’s over there.” He nodded to his left. “We can drive you into town.”
Billy laughed out loud, and the bald-headed boy shoved him.
Roxanne knew about boys like these, but never thought she would meet them so soon.
“Thank you, but I’ll find my own way.”
“Must be that time of the month,” Billy said.
“Shut up!” The bald-headed boy shoved Billy again.
“Up yours, Rob,” the short boy said and shoved back.
Roxanne took a couple of quick steps to the right, but Danny moved to block her way. He flicked his cigarette into the shadows and leaned in towards her.
“Let’s go for a drive,” he whispered. “I’ve got a fifth of vodka in the car.”
Just then two cars entered the parking lot behind them. The first car stopped in the empty parking space beside Roxanne and the three boys. A blonde woman dressed in a dark blue jacket and skirt stepped out of the car. She glanced at Roxanne, shook her head and walked towards the store.
A tall thin boy got out of the second car. He stood for a moment, and then walked towards them.
“What’s going on Danny?” he asked.
“Mind your own business, Firma,” Danny said.
“She’s a friend of ours,” said Rob.
This new boy stood as tall as Roxanne. He had short, light brown hair. He smiled at her and tiny lines formed around his blue eyes.
“Are these guys giving you trouble?” he asked.
“They’ve asked me to go for a ride in their car,” Roxanne said. Danny grinned and shook his head. Rob and Billy snorted and laughed. “But I must go inside and find information about places to stay in Rockwood,” she added.
The blonde woman walked out of the store carrying a brown paper bag. Roxanne and the four boys moved out of her way. She unlocked her car door and hesitated. She turned and took a good look at them.
“Richie?” she said. “Richie Firma, is that you?” Before he could answer, she continued. “What are you boys doing hanging around out here on a school night? You should be home studying.”
The blonde woman shifted her bag from one arm to the other and placed it inside on the car seat.
“What would your parents say if they knew you were wasting time like this? Have you been drinking? Is that what you’re doing out here? I should take your names and call your parents.”
Before any of the boys could reply, the blonde woman took Roxanne by the wrist. “Come along, young lady,” she said. “I’ll drive you home.”
It seemed pointless to say no, so Roxanne smiled and nodded and let the blonde woman lead her away from the four boys to the other side of the car.
“The door’s unlocked,” the blonde woman said.
As Roxanne opened the car door, the tallest boy, Richie Firma, turn away from the others and walked towards the store entrance. Danny and the other two boys stood watching. Roxanne slipped into the front seat. The slick fabric felt cool against the backs of her bare legs. Inside the car the sweet smell of flowers mingled with the smell of smoke.
The blonde woman pulled a strap across her shoulders and snapped one end into a steel buckle. “Better buckle up, honey,” she said. “It’s the law.”
Roxanne found the metal buckle of the safety belt and strapped herself into the seat. As the car rolled slowly backwards away from the store, Roxanne glanced over at the three boys. She couldn’t see their faces anymore, only the red glow of their cigarettes.
She still didn’t have a place to stay, and now she was being driven away from the place where she might have found that information.
“My name’s Althea Barnes,” the blonde woman said, as she steered the car into the street and left the store behind.