Chapter 25 – No Booze, No Bras, No Problem

Tuesday, July 8, 1969 – 12:20am.

"Nice tan," Peggy greets her, eyeing Lacy's bare, sun-browned legs poking out from under the Stones tee. "And I like that shade of polish on your toes."

"Frosted Peach," Lacy says, looking down at her pastel toenails. "It's one I never tried before."

"Frosted, huh? Where'd you find that?"

"Down at the Rexall where Josie works, they just got a buncha new flavors in."

Peggy arches a brow at her. "Flavors?"

Lacy glares. "You know what I meant, so hush. What kind you been lookin' for?"

"I'm not sure. Maybe a nice pale lavender."

"Seriously, Peg? That's just purple without the attitude."

Peggy grins. "Maybe so, but you got enough attitude for both of us. And you an' Josie together are so bad-ass it's scary."

"We try," Lacy says, returning Peg's grin. "I should call her an' invite her butt over."

"I already did. She's on her way."

Lacy's delight is obvious as she wraps Peggy in an impulsive hug, then pulls back in surprise.

"Nothin' but skin under that shirt, huh, sis? Who you tryin' to impress, me or Joce?"

"Not you," Peggy shoots back, "and not Josie, either. The only tits I see in this room that she cares about ain't the ones I got."

Lacy feels herself blush, but doesn't dispute the truth of her sister's comment. Instead she changes the subject.

"Yeah, whatever. Does Joce at least know this jam session you invited her to is alcohol-free?"

"She does now," Josie says as she saunters into Peggy's room, her feet bare and wearing a cropped white tee and black-and-maroon gym shorts that were too small on her even in 8th grade.

She gives Peg an affectionate hug, then pulls Lacy into a tight, hard embrace that leaves both girls almost wishing they were alone.

"I missed you today," Josie whispers, her fingers tangled in Lacy's already-tousled hair.

"Y'all need to get a room," Peggy tells them, and Lacy and Josie reluctantly move apart.

Someday we will, Josie thinks, even as Lacy's green eyes lock on hers and something unspoken but fierce passes between them.

Peggy, again struck by the strength of their bond, feels a sharp stab of envy.

"I wish I had what you guys have," she blurts out, and Josie arches a brow at her.

"You did, once. You an' Lace had it." Her eyes narrow. "Then you fucked it up."

Lacy starts to protest, but Josie presses a gentle finger against her friend's parted lips to shush her.

"Shh. I'm only sayin' what you won't, 'cause I want you an' Peg back the way you were. An' that ain't happening 'til she forgives Stuart for goin' to Canada." She looks from Lacy to Peg. "I want my honorary big sister back."

"I have forgiven him," Peg says, her eyes suddenly blurred. "Hell, most of that crap I was always spoutin' came from Brody's hateful mouth before it came out of mine."

Lacy glares at her. "Brody? What was he bent outta shape about? His ass didn't get drafted."

"He was pissed 'cause Brandon's did, like why should his buddy have to go fight while Stuart was off in Alberta screwing all the Canuck girls."

"What a dickhead," Josie declares, sharing another look with Lacy, and in that moment Peg decides she wouldn't want to be in Brody Aiken's scuffed boots when those two track him down.

"What made you change your mind about Stuart?" Lacy asks, placing a hand on her sister's arm.

"You did, I reckon. Seeing the way you always have his back, how you fight for him when he ain't around to fight for himself." She touches her nose. "Even against me."

"You had that comin'," Lacy says, softening her words with a small smile. "But I love you anyway."

"So do I," Josie adds, and the three girls fall into each other's arms.


And so it is that sometime later, after a late-night pee run, Evelyn finds herself passing Peg's room on the way back to her own. She hears Three Bling Mice playing on the phonograph, and three lusty girl voices – one for each mouse - singing along, but their version stops her in her barefoot tracks:

Three dumb shits, three dumb shits

See how they run, see how they run

They all ran after the principal's wife, she cut off their balls with a carving knife, now they all live a celibate life, three dumb shits.

Evelyn taps on the door and opens it.

"I like your words better, but who are the three dumb shits?"

They all answer at once, one target per girl:

"Dewey!"

"Brandon!"

"Brody!"

"How 'bout all of the above?" Evelyn asks, looking around for – and not seeing – Peg's usual bottle of Schnapps. "No Spearmint tonight?"

"We ran out the other night," Peg says with a shrug. "Got no extra cash 'til Friday."

"Well," Evelyn appears to think it over, "I suppose I could scrounge up something from the liquor cabinet."

Three faces brighten, but she holds up a hand.

"On two conditions."

Lacy gives her mother a wary look. "Like what, Ma?"

"Y'all let me join you, and I get to add a fourth name to your song."

Then, leaving Peg's door ajar, she heads for the living room and Bob's stash of booze she's barely touched the whole time he's been gone.

In her mind she is already formulating a verse, just for him.