In the Pursuit of Charity – Unedited snippet

coffee-shop

“So, Swimmer boy, what do you and Alexis have planned for today.” JoAnne asked as she started the coffees.

“Since you’re keeping her from providing me with company during my shift, thank you very much.”

“Day at the zoo.” I replied too excitedly so I looked around the coffee shop to see if anyone else heard me.

“Seriously, Linc.” JoAnne countered loudly over the sound of the steaming milk. “The zoo?”

I stared at her. All I could think to say was what.

JoAnne talked as she poured, “You know Alexis is big, right?”

“What does that mean?” My voice traveled upward and I took a step back.

“People suck!” she replied forcefully.

She didn’t clear up my confusion with that factoid. “Okay, I’m not getting this at all.”

JoAnne poured the shots of espresso into the steamed milk. As she picked up the whipped cream, she looked at me and said, “First, Alexis spends all of her time close to home surrounded by people that accept her.” As if she had just made her point in a grand manner, the whipped cream is added with gusto.

“Accept her for what?”

I am presented with a hand in my face. “WAIT!” JoAnne steps away to ring up a customer for their cup of coffee.

Leaning against the counter, I do just that. I wait.

Returning to the coffees I’ve ordered, JoAnne adds syrup and lids. “People accept her and don’t judge her on her size. You know. Unlike your asshole friends, or do you not recall the ‘doing charity work’ comment?” She sets the cups on the counter in front of me. “Second, all of the walking may be hard for Alexis. You are Mr. Swimmer Boy and she is, well, not. How is she going to keep up at the zoo?”

“Did she talk to you about us going to the zoo?”

Rolling her eyes dramatically, JoAnne continues, “Finally, what if she gets made fun of?”

Straightening, I pick up the cups that JoAnne has placed on the counter in front of me. “Let me see if I understand your concerns. They are Alexis getting made fun of and me not aware of her level of fitness. Does that sum it up?”

“You’re completely oversimplifying the situation.” Joanne crosses her arms.

“I’m only trying to balance the scale with your over dramatic worries of a simple trip to the zoo.”

The fact my response had not yet convinced JoAnne was evident by her creased brow, tense shoulders and sad eyes. But, I wasn’t done.

I sat the coffees back on the counter and held up my first finger. “A. I will be with her the entire time, no one is going to say anything out of pocket.”

This time it was my hand in the air that stopped JoAnne from saying anything.

“B. I am not an oblivious ass. I understand we are not in the same shape. To be brutally honest, not many people are in the type of shape I’m in.”

I pumped my guns as tight as possible.

“Forget it.” A frustrated JoAnne replied.

“Ok. Ok. C. And most importantly, I want to spend the day with your friend. I chose the zoo because I happen to love zoos. We can sit at that table over in Alexis’ comfort zone for the day and I will be geeked.”

Slowly, her face relaxed, her shoulders came up to her ears, she tilted her head and a ‘cat eating the canary’ grin spread across her face.

“Now what?”

“You really like Alexis. I mean, K-I-S-S-I-N-G kind of like Alexis.”

What are we twelve? Seriously, I am not being called on this.

I picked up the cups. “JoAnne, I’ve listened, I’ve heard, and now I’m taking your friend to the zoo. You’ll see, it’ll be great.”

I’m halfway out the door and I hear JoAnne’s famous last words. “I’ll kick your ass if she gets hurt. They won’t find your body if you hurt her.”

The zoo. All I want to do is take a girl to the zoo.

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