I awaken from my boredom-induced coma to the click of the hammer locking open and the feel of the gun barrel on the back of my head. I freeze.
“All right, William, give me a good one-liner and I just may let you live.” Her whisper in my ear is soft and velvety. I consider taking her down, but the gun argues against it.
“A one liner? Girls are like chameleons because they change colours and eat bugs!”
“Not good enough.” There’s a deafening bang from behind my head and she jumps away. The cap gun lands in front of me.
I whirl around and it’s Patricia, or Lizard as I like to call her. She’s wearing a white dress and she's armed: not with a cap gun but a Turbo-Boost Pump Action Ultra Soaker Mark 3. A tiny drop of water dangles from the business end of the barrel. She’s just been upgraded from 10-year old tomboy to femme fatale, with an emphasis on ‘fatale’. I raise my hands.
“Now give me a one-liner, William. It’s worth five dollars to you. But it has to be a good one; one Bobby can use in his best man speech.”
I think about that. If Bobby’s going to say it, it has to be naughty. And if he’s going to pay five bucks for it, it has to be good.
“Okay, how about this. Andrea’s monthly ‘friend’ visits so often she has her own room.”
“What’s that mean?”
“I don’t know, but my brother got a laugh from his friends when he said it.”
“My asthmatic sister got an obscene phone call, but he hung up because she was better at heavy breathing than he was.”
“I dunno. Eve wore a fig leaf and Adam wore a hole in it?”
“I don’t get it.”
“You either? Okay, this one I think I get.” I hold up my fingers like I’m grasping the corners of a piece of paper. “The Emperor’s tailor wants you to wear these panties on your wedding night.”
“But there’s nothing there...”
She scrunches her eyebrows for a second or two, then starts giggling. “That’s perfect! Let’s go!”
We run from tent to tent looking for Bobby. We’d have found him faster if we’d started in the wine tent. Lizard tells him the joke; he thinks about it and laughs, then holds out a ten-dollar bill. She asks for two fives.
Once we leave the tent she hands me my share. As I’m taking it I nudge her finger on the water gun trigger and she takes a quick shot to the face. She dives on me and starts drying her face on my dress shirt. As she does I notice that her cooties have somehow vanished and her arms are warm and her back is soft and her hair smells really nice – for a girl.
I wonder if she’ll let me call her Patricia.