After an eventful flight on the plane, it was so great to see JC's smiling face as she waited for me there in the airport. I could actually see her bouncing slightly on the balls of her feet in anxious anticipation. As soon as I was in reach, she threw her arms around me and hugged me tightly. "Hi friend," she said enthusiastically.
"Hey JC, it is so good to see you."
She grabbed my hand and squeezed, then started to pull me along. "You're wearing shorts and a short sleeved shirt. Didn't you know it gets cold up here? Come on, we've got a lot of celebrating to do, and it's time to get this party started. You have any bags to pick up?"
I lifted my backpack. "Just my carry on. I like to travel light."
She laughed. "That's because you're a driving fool! Damn, it's good to see you."
"You too, I've really missed you." We walked outside the Syracuse airport and headed to her car. We got in and made a beeline for the highway. "You said we have celebrating to do, what is the occassion?"
"There's been a death in the family."
"Oh no, not Jonz."
"What? No! Why would you say that? Jonz is fine, he's a hearty dog. If he had died, I'd really be messed up. No, it was just my sister."
"Well, my step-sister, so, you know..."
"And her death is a cause for celebration?"
"In my family, we don't mourn or walk around with long faces. We celebrate the life they lived. So, drink up." JC handed me a silver flask, and I took a sip. She grabbed it from me and said, "No, no, don't sip it, slurp it." She took a long pull off the flask, then handed it to me. I took a healthy drink from it, and then handed it back to her. "Uh-oh, keep it down, keep it down."
"We got a cop right on our tail. 'Course I've had a lot worse riding on my tail, if you know what I mean."
I had to chuckle. "You really are something."
"I am, aren't I? Come on, Mr. Policeman, are you going to stop me or what?" We waited as he followed us for a few minutes, and then he turned off. "OK, he's gone. Fire it up!" JC took another drink and passed me the flask. "This car is kind of small, are you comfortable over there?"
"Don't worry, I'm comfortable in all positions."
"Really? Oh, really? I'll make a note of that, good to know."
"What? No, what I meant was--"
"I think I know exactly what you meant, you pervert."
We rode along talking and laughing and catching up. JC warned me that it was a long drive to the farm, and that we might make some stops along the way. Thirty minutes later, we made the first stop, which was at a Snowmobile trail. There was no snow, but a long trail going up a steep hill. She parked and got out of the car.
"What are we doing?" I asked.
"Going for a hike, you up for it?"
"Well, I, I--"
"Aye, aye, Captain! That's the spirit. Let's motivate!"
I found myself huffing and puffing as we climbed the hill that seemed to
never end. We'd turn a corner, and there was always more hill to ascend. JC did all the talking, as I needed my breath just to breathe.
"Lots of weird, backwoods folks up here. In my little hamlet, I've got rednecks and inbreds as neighbors. I try to keep to myself, but I'm harassed all the time."
"Harassed? How? By who?"
"For example, I got a phone message the other day. The woman didn't identify herself, but she said 'Hey you skanky whore, you better stop messin' around with other people's boyfriends, go back to Florida you ugly bitch!' Can you believe that, Bill?"
"And you have no idea who it was?"
"No, but if I met her I'd have to say 'Whose boyfriends? Can you narrow it down some? Start with the State, then move down to counties.' I mean come on, give me something to work with, be more specific." She cackled with laughter, and I joined in with her. "Isn't this fun?"
My lungs heaved for air. "Oh yeah, I'm having a blast."
"You should be. This will be a memorable time for both of us, it's going down in the anuses of history."
I shook my head. "You kill me."
"You won't be the first. Many men have died via the mighty passion of JC. Now, on to other matters. What can I fix you for dinner? Are you on a special diet?"
"Chicken is probably best."
"OK, chicken. What's your favorite part of the chicken."
"I'd have to say breasts."
"Why am I not surprised? And do you like nipples on those breasts?"
"You're a hoot, Bill." She slapped me on the back, then indicated it was time to turn around and head back for the car. We'd been walking for an hour. Most of the hike back was all downhill, much to my relief.
We stopped at the store on the way back to get some groceries. JC would stop and talk to complete strangers, treating them like they were all old friends. I watched and learned about how well she handled people, and thought I could adopt her good attitude in my dealings with Bill's people.
When we got to her farm, she opened the door and Jonz immediately began jumping on us. "Last one to the kitchen makes us White Russians!" We both raced for the kitchen, but she easily won. "OK, I win but I'm still going to make the White Russians. No one makes them as good as me."
"Amen, sister. No argument there." I looked down at Jonz, who was juggling my balls with his snout. "Having fun down there, Jonz?"
"Ah yes, it's Jonz the kitten killer. He was so proud of his first kill. But he wasn't so proud when he tried the same trick with a skunk last week and got sprayed. I bathed him in vinegar, but he's still got a bit of the odor."
As JC made our drinks, a strange tiny dog came to my feet and tried to jump up on me. "Who is this little fellow?"
"Oh, that's Bixby, my mutant Yorkie. He's a new arrival at the farm. Here's your drink, let's kick our shoes off and get cozy."
We drank and talked and laughed our heads off. JC said she'd be leaving the farm in a month from now, and hadn't decided which of her houses she was going to visit next. She was leaning towards her place in Las Vegas, she felt a need to gamble and get a little crazy.
She made us dinner as we continued the conversation. I watched her as she moved around the kitchen, and marveled at her boundless energy and happy demeanor. This was a woman it's so easy to love.
As we sat down to eat dinner, she put two chicken breasts on the plate in front of me. "Here, two breasts just for you, sorry I lost the nipples!" She put a basket of rolls down, and I took one out and grabbed the knife to butter it. When I pulled my knife from the soft stick of butter, a very long hair came out with the butter. "Ooooo," she said.
"Where did this come from? It couldn't be yours, your hair is short like mine. This one is really long."
JC soberly nodded her head. "You're right, that is a long one. It must have come from between my legs. I really need to shave."
"Oh, come on!"
"You like that?"
"I'm eating here!"
"Be a good boy and eat all your supper, and we'll watch a video when we're done. Have you ever heard of TRAILER PARK BOYS?"
"Heard of it? I love that show!"
"I came across it by accident. But after I watched the first episode, I said Screw it, I'm rolling a fat one and driving up to Nova Scotia to meet these guys. But it was too far from here, so I got stoned and ended up in Canada."
After dinner we cuddled up on the couch and watched the show. JC became very mellow and quiet, and I began to worry about her. This woman is not demure by any means, so I wondered if she was keeping her feelings pushed down deep inside.
When we went upstairs to go to our respective bedrooms, she took me by the hand. "This way," she said, and led me into her bedroom. We laid down together on the bed, and she began to sniffle a little bit.
"You OK?" I asked.
"Maybe I'm a little bit sad about my step-sister."
"No shame in that."
"You are a dear friend to me, and I don't want to do anything to mess that up."
"You won't. You can't."
"Yeah, but... I just don't want to be alone tonight, Bill. Would you mind staying with me, just so I have someone close?"
"Yep, I'll even leave all my clothes on."
"Damn right you will, it's going below freezing tonight, you'll need all the warmth you can get!"
I stayed with her and held her and felt a whole lot of love in my heart. Early the next morning, she drove me into Albany so I could get Miss Jenkins car and head south to Florida. JC hugged me at the Amtrak station, then started out the door. She stopped, then turned and ran back and hugged me tight a second time. I got a big lump in my throat, and watched longingly as she walked back to her car.
Miss Jenkins showed up soon after, and I got into her car and began my journey south. I was eager to get to North Carolina, where my very close friend Lisa was waiting and cooking me a dinner fit for a king.
TO BE CONTINUED