Blood-Red Lipstick

I’m waiting outside on a rusty garden bench in front of my Florida ranch when Rhonda rolls up in her stepdaddy’s jacked-up Ford.

“Wahoo,” she screams through the open window. “Let’s go!”

I stand and tug at the miniskirt I’d long outgrown. It’s just a regular Tuesday. But to Rhonda and me it’s anything but regular. Tonight’s special. A little cheek is in order.

I climb into the beast, my heels a hindrance. “What movie we gonna see?”

Rhonda cranks up Lynyrd Skynyrd. “Who the hell cares?” She gases it and leaves a plume of exhaust down my street.

Minutes later, Rhonda and I arrive at Thrifty Dollar Theatre’s empty parking lot.

“Shit.” She hops down barefoot. Heels in hand.

Rhonda’s the pack leader. I follow suit and jump down barefoot. The asphalt buries into my tender flesh.

She’s strides ahead of me. I stumble behind her as I attempt to put on my heels as I walk.

“Two tickets to Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.” She tosses some crumbled bills to the ticket seller.

“Seriously? This is how we’re celebrating your first day as a licensed driver?”

She rolls her eyes. “The movie doesn’t matter.”

I’m not sure what she means. But I go with it.

Tickets in hand, we pass the gatekeepers.

Rhonda pushes me into the women’s restroom and hands me a tube of blood-red lipstick.

I smear it on my lips. Sans any other makeup, the lipstick looks ridiculous.

“Wipe that shit off. It’s for the walls. Write anything you want. Tonight’s our night.”

“Oh.” I use some toilet tissue to remove as much of the red stain as possible. Now a red halo encircles my mouth.

Rhonda’s already adding her graffiti to the bathroom wall. Rhonda + Craig = Love 4 Ever. Rhonda & Amy BFF’s.

I didn’t expect my first night out without a parent, I’d be vandalizing a bathroom, but what the hell. I go for it. Amy + Jason = Love 4 Ever even though I know it’s not forever. I’m just following Rhonda’s lead.

We cover the uber-white walls of the bathroom with our blood-red lipstick words. Then giggle our way into the theater.

Minutes into Pee Wee doing dumb shit, a man taps Rhonda on the arm. “We’d like to ask you a few questions.”

Rhonda whispers, “Don’t say a fucking word. I’ve got this.”

We follow who I think is a manager to an office. They split us up.

One authoritative figure asks me what Rhonda and I did. He hands me a piece of paper and says the only way he won’t call the cops is if I write down everything. I do.

Then he gives me supplies to clean the bathroom walls.

As I’m cleaning, I hear screams. They aren’t Rhonda’s. A few minutes later, she arrives. Her white blouse has stains as blood-red as the lipstick. “Stop cleaning those fucking walls. This is our night.”

I drop the cleaner. Take off my heels, carry them, and follow Rhonda to the truck.

I told you, she’s the pack leader. And you don’t fuck with the leader.

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