Fiction by SLIM RANDLES
To The Desert Independent
June 8, 2017
It was the kind of picnic he’d remember for quite a while, he knew. It didn’t take place at the village park, where folks would normally go, but down along Lewis Creek. There weren’t any tables there, or fire rings, or restrooms. It was just a grassy patch down along the creek.
But when the Delgado family invited him to the picnic, he accepted and bought some soda pop for the kids. Jaime Delgado spread the blanket out and his wife, Maria, opened the basket.
The kids were called back from tossing rocks in the creek. It was almost like having a family of his own. He hadn’t had one for years now, and, at 35, he missed having someone in his life. But he just didn’t know what to say to people.
He wanted to, but every time he tried to join the conversation, he locked up. This made it very difficult to get to know people, of course, but he kept trying. He went to counseling once. But only once. She was a nice lady, but she kept asking personal questions, and he decided he didn’t really want to answer them.
It had cost him $75, but at least he could cross that off his list. It wasn’t for him. But what really was for him?
Ever since he was in high school, he had had nightmares about having to stand up and talk to the class. And he never had. The teachers didn’t understand and gave him low grades accordingly, but at least at the home they didn’t bother him about it.
“Enjoying yourself?” Maria asked him. He smiled and nodded.
“Have another sandwich. There’s plenty.”
He looked at her and said “Thank you.”
Why was that so hard?
“New in town, right?” Jaime asked. He nodded.
“Well, you’ll make friends soon enough. It’s nice having you here. What’s your name?”
He swallowed, then said, “Richard.”
“Here’s to Richard,” said Maria, raising her bottle of soda.
Yes. It was the kind of picnic he’d remember for a long time.
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"Home Country" columnist Slim Randles won three regional book awards for the two books he wrote in 2014. "Max Evans and a Few Friends, the 90th Birthday Book" took honors for best non-fiction book, and "Saddle Up: A Cowboy Guide to Writing" won for best how-to book and best cover design at the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards in Albuquerque. Randles lives in Albuquerque and has a dozen books currently in print.