“Not here,” I said, laughing a little bit.
“What about y'all?”
“My dad owns this piece of shit motel,” Jay said with that comforting Kentucky coal miner's lilt. He smirked, real cute. I liked looking at his face. Jimi Hendrix's version of “Star-Spangled Banner” started playing in my head when I looked at him. He was so gloriously American, I had to keep myself from standing and putting my hand over my heart.
“Okay, good ol' boy. You need to tell your dad to change the name of this place to the Darl Inn instead of the Darling Inn. Get it? Darl Inn? It's kinda annoying it's not called the Darl Inn. I can barely stay here. I'd wanna leave if the vending machines weren't so awesome. That one has the spicy chips I like,” I said, pointing across the pool. Bri and I had just dyed our hair soft peony-pink with my mom's help. I tucked a pale slip of it behind my ear.
“The Darl Inn,” Jay said and nodded.
“The Darl Inn,” Bri repeated.
I looked at the motel sign buzzing up by the road. It was super-pretty. The D was big, old-timey cursive and a dreamy blue color. Maybe that was the color I'd dye my hair next.
“I like it. Your hair,” Jesse said to us, pointing at his own head. It was the first thing that had come out of his mouth.
“Thanks,” I said. Bri stood up from the chair and made her way to the pool—took the steps real slow like she was in a beauty pageant. She was cracking me up so I started laughing and laughing and shaking my head.
“Hey Jesse James, why do you bring your skateboard to a pool?”
Jesse shrugged. Jimmy started talking “Why do you keep such a smart mouth all the time? Damn girl,” he said.
“How old are you losers?” Bri asked, ignoring him. She floated on her back and moved her arms, made snow angels in the water. The sun was hissing out behind the hills. The green-glowy pool lights came on with a soft click—a tender, intimate sound that made me ache for somewhere else. I wanted to drive to California in a gold Camaro with Bri. We'd stop and buy shotguns and gas station lipsticks, blast “American Woman” and “Barracuda” as we drove through the desert.
“Same age as you, probably,” Jay said, “sixteen.”
I nodded. “She'll be seventeen next month. So will I.”
Jay said they came down to the pool every Friday night but usually it was moms with their kids and old guys smoking, trying to get drunk on cheap light beer.
“We're just passing through,” I said.
“You seem like the type to pass through,” he said back to me. I liked how he said it, like we were in a movie and I was mysterious.
Bri was still floating and I stood up knowing the boys were watching every part of me. I walked around, did my prettiest dive into the deep end of the pool. I sank and held my breath for as long as I could.