The Dark Light of Day
Author:Frazier, T. M.

“Nuh uh. You have to tell me why you’re looking at me like that.” He turned into the broken shell parking lot of Bubba’s and put the truck in park.


“It’s nothing,” I said. Owen made another face, and I found myself muffling a laugh.


“Tell me, Abby!” He locked the truck from the automatic lock button on his door. “I’m not letting you out if you don’t tell me right now what you were thinking.”


“Fine,” I said, giving in. “Unlock the doors first, and then I’ll tell you.”


He looked at me thoughtfully for a moment. “Ok, there.” He clicked the button. “Now, tell me.”


Before the words were out of his mouth, I jumped out the door and ran from the truck. When I was almost to the entrance, I looked back and saw Owen’s bright, open smile. He put the truck in reverse, shook his head and laughed as he backed out onto the road and drove away into the night.


Maybe I did have a friend after all.














BUBBA’S WAS ALWAYS BUSY, but during the months when the tourists were occupying all the motel rooms and vacation rentals on the island, it was a total madhouse. It mostly happened during the winter, when the snowbirds migrated south, or during a few weeks in summer when families took vacations together.


I knew nothing about either of those.


Vacations or families.


I grabbed a spot at the end of the bar and ordered a burger and fries. I took my time eating, observing all the colorful characters that came out for the night—locals and tourists alike. An older woman with curly maroon hair sat on the lap of a man wearing sweatpants, her use of blue eye shadow was epic, reaching all the way to her eyebrows. A crowd of college kids turned the pool table into a beer pong station. The small dance floor was packed with people who were either rhythmically-challenged or three sheets to the wind. Either way, they all looked like they were having a good time. For a just a moment, I found myself warring with feelings of jealousy. Until I saw a couple of kids my age making out in the corner booth.


The jealousy faded as quickly as it came.


When I finished eating, I ordered another Coke to extend my stay. I was exhausted and certain that I smelled as if my entire body had been beer-battered, deep-fried, and rolled in an ashtray. Still, I stayed until the last person shuffled out of the bar.


“Everything okay, Abby?” Bubba asked. “I was so sorry to hear about Georgie, she was a great woman.” Bubba was older, in his late-sixties with salt and pepper hair. He and Nan would always chat whenever she brought me in for Sunday brunch. I’d once asked her if she’d ever thought about going out on a date with him, but she’d always shrugged it off, as if the idea was as ludicrous as wings on a dog. I always suspected there could’ve been something more between them than just Sunday morning chats.


“Oh, yeah, I’m fine,” I lied. “Just not tired yet. Figured I’d hang out late.”


Bubba nodded and took out his keys to lock up after me. “Yeah, busy nights like this used to get me all wound up. I wouldn’t be able to get to bed until the sun came up.” He yawned again. “Obviously, those days are behind me.”


“Hey, Bubba, any chance I can trouble you for a job?” I cringed inwardly at having to ask. I knew I wasn’t exactly qualified. For anything. I could easily have told him my sob story about being alone and having no money in an attempt to persuade him, but I didn’t want his pity. More than that, I couldn’t allow myself to sob at my own sob story, so I definitely didn’t want others to.


Bubba looked me over. “How old are you now, Abby?”


“Almost eighteen.” It was sort of a lie, and sort of the truth. Depending on your definition of ‘almost.’


“You ever serve before?”


I shook my head. “No, but I think I’d be really good at it. Nan always talked ‘bout how she used to run her café back in the day, and I always listened to how she would handle the customers. I can do it. I promise.” I didn’t know if that was a lie, too. I had no idea if I could be a good server or not. Now was not the time for honesty.


“Abby, I can’t risk my liquor license by putting you behind the bar. And I can’t let you be a server, ‘cause we’re in the height of season and slammed with people and I got no time to train anyone new. But I tell you what, you come back and see me when you’re eighteen, and we are less busy, and I promise I’ll try and find something for you.”


“Yeah, no problem,” I said, trying to keep a positive tone.


Bubba ushered me to the front door. “Georgie did right by you, darlin’. She was a good woman. Come see me if you need anything. God’s people need to stick together.” I didn’t know if he was talking about me or just Nan when he said ‘God’s people’. And hadn’t I just asked him for help? I nodded and smiled.


I left the bar feeling defeated.