Regina ducked inside without checking the name on the awning. The rain was sudden; one minute there was sun, hardly a cloud in the sky, and the next, a gust of wind, and before she knew it, her wimple was being swept away in the torrent. She hated that she’d forgotten her rain coat at the convent, that she’d left her umbrella propped up against the wall right next to the door. She had been in such a hurry to leave. Her temporary vows were up, and she had been all too eager to tell Mother Joan to go fuck herself.
She stood in the dim foyer shivering as she waited for the storm to pass. Heavy rains like this only lasted a few minutes; she’d be back on the road soon, though she really had nowhere to go. After three years of dedicated service to the Lord, most of her friends—bad influences, her mom called them—had moved on. She had to read from a newspaper dispenser that her college roommate, Heather, died from a heroin overdose. Heather always did more than she could handle, and this time Regina wasn’t there to rein her in.
Regina’s habit was soaked through, and had become like a second layer of skin. She plucked at the sleeve, and it retracted back to her arm, making a moist slapping sound. She heard her mom’s voice in her head telling her to get out of those wet clothes. There was a laundromat on that same strip, a few business down. But she had no money. Not even spare change. She had to deny herself so many of life’s pleasures while living at the convent. Rehabilitating back into the world would be a hard feat.
The sound of boot heels striking the wood floor echoed behind her. She turned around, and her eyes fell on a petite blonde in a cowboy hat. The woman wore a hot pink push-up bra with the lace panties to match, and leather cowboy chaps with the fringe running down the sides of her legs.
“Howdy! I’m assuming you’re here for the all-you-can-eat-buffet?”
She opened her mouth to explain that she had only come in to avoid the rain, but she froze when she looked past the half-naked cowgirl, into the establishment, and saw the gyrating mechanical bull, a woman, brunette, in the same getup, riding it seductively, sliding back and forth as it rose and dipped, her legs squeezing the sides. Three men surrounded her, one with his hands in his pants. The second held a wad of cash while the third took singles from his stack and slipped them underneath the rider’s bra strap and inside other openings in her skimpy outfit.
“I know. That’s how they get you with that sign.” The cowgirl pointed toward the door behind Regina, then flashed her fingers in the air. “‘Free Lunch Buffet!’ They don’t mention it’s at a strip bar.”
She took Regina by the hand a pulled her further inside. There was a lit-up buffet bar in the center of the room, but no one was in line. Other than the three drooling men at the bull, there was only one other patron. In the back corner, he sported a handle bar mustache, slouched in his seat and stretched his arms across the back of the booth as a bare-chested girl who barely looked of age bent over in front of him.
“I can’t stay here,” Regina said.
“Oh, don’t be so stiff. I bet you’ll love the salad bar. But some of the guys might think you’re part of the show with that nun outfit on. I would say take it off but—”
With all her strength, Regina snatched herself away and dashed for the door.
Outside, she lifted her head to the sky and sighed as the cool rain pelted her face. “I’d rather be soaking wet,” she said, then rolled her eyes at the unintended pun.
Wrapped around a light post a few feet away was here wimple. She seized it before another gust of wind could steal it away for good, then pulled it over her head and began the arduous trek back to the convent. She wasn’t looking forward to the smug smirk on Mother Joan’s face to see her returned so quickly, but she suddenly had a disgust for anything that wasn’t God centered.
It is Short Story A Day May, and while today’s prompt from Charlotte Rains Dixon, “An Unlikely Meeting,” was trying to be whimsical, it actually sounded like the beginnings of an ill-advised, racially offensive joke… or maybe I’m just being oversensitive. Anyway, I took a little creative liberty with this one.