The Dare(12)

By: Rachel van Dyken


I wanted a good one. I wanted to experience what it was like, just once in my adult life.

Just once before I finally gave up.

Thirty, but I figured if no man had been interested in the real me by now, I may as well throw my entire existence into my career, rather than waiting around for someone to rescue me from my castle.

"Dick!" Grandma yelled at the top of her lungs.

Horrified, I looked up.

The barista's name was Dick.

Heat flooded my face.

"Dick! Dick! Dick!" Grandma kept repeating as I slowly stepped away from her embrace. Only her wiry arm came out and pulled me against her body like glue. "It has been an age! An entire age! How are the kids?"

"Good." Dick smiled and shrugged. He looked around forty. "I can't complain. Now what can I get you lovely ladies?"

"Two GNs, extra shot of you know what."

"Got it." Dick grabbed two grande cups and began making the drinks. Then when the other barista wasn't looking, pulled a flask out of a cupboard and put a shot in each of the drinks.

My mouth dropped open. I'd thought she'd been kidding. Joking. As in, Hey, let's get wasted. Ha ha. Not seriously wanting to drink vodka!

He topped the drinks with whip and scooted them toward us.

"What's the damage?" Grandma leaned over the register and smiled.

"You know the special's always free, Nadine. Always." He winked and grabbed her hand, kissing it gently before nodding in my direction and asking for the next person's order.

Grandma handed me my drink and took a long swig of hers.

"How is it possible that you just ordered something that doesn't even exist on the menu?"

"Oh, but it does." Grandma placed her hand on my arm. "It's just complicated. It's like a hidden menu only for me. Howie knows what I like."

"Are you talking about Howard Shultz?" She was kidding, right? Was I getting punked? Light bulb. I was on the show Off Their Rockers! It was the only explanation.

"Oh look, there they are! And just in time."

Grandma took another sip as Travis, Kacey, Jake, and Char briskly walked through the airport, all of them totally oblivious that shit was about to not only hit the fan but fill the airport to the brim, until everyone within the vicinity suffered a slow smelly agonizing death via Grandma.

"And there he is…" Grandma's voice dropped as Jace walked briskly behind them, paparazzi taking pictures of him until Travis and Jake basically rescued him. Airport security removed the remaining paparazzi.

"What did you do?" I asked.

Grandma took another sip of hot coffee. "He still don't want me."

"Who?"

"The man upstairs." She sighed. "It seems my work isn't yet done. You'd think He'd be pleased. I mean, I basically saved the world."

"How do you figure?" This I had to hear. After all, I was curing cancer, how could what she'd done be any better than that?

"I saved the world from STDs. The way that grandson of mine was going, he was going to be solely responsible for coming up with a new strain. Mark my words. The little slut." She sighed. "But I love him. I may have ruined him, but Grandma fixed all the broken, whorish little pieces, and now look at him." She pointed. "Happy as a clam."

"Right." I backed away slowly.

Grandma's hand shot out and grabbed my arm. "Now drink your coffee and follow me."

"Do I have a choice?" I asked, looking around for a quick escape that wouldn't end up with me being hit by oncoming traffic.

Grandma paused and looked directly into my eyes. "My dear, we always have a choice. The question is never if you have a choice. It's whether your options are better on your own or with my help. Choices come and go. But chances? Only once in a lifetime." She winked. "So why don't you jump?"

"I don't like heights."

"I don't like loud breathers. Doesn't mean I smother people with pillows when I'm irritated," she joked. "Sometimes, my dear, we need a little push."

"Is that what you are? A little push?"

"Hell no." Grandma snorted. "The little push is your conscience. I'm a damn atom bomb. Now are you coming or not?"

I could go home. I could choose safe. I could choose white walls and a sterile environment. What I should choose was the exact opposite of what she was offering. But she was right about one thing: I'd probably regret not taking that old wrinkled hand in mine. So even though I was pretty sure I was making the biggest mistake of my life, even counting the time I tried to dye my hair bleach-blond, I grasped her like a lifeline and prayed to the Man upstairs that I wasn't going to be sent home in a body bag.


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