I’m standing in the parking lot of the rundown shopping center by my house. I’m here for my weekly run to the kiosk where I fill my distilled water bottles. And while I’m grimacing at the water glugging into the five-gallon jug, I feel the tiniest wisp of a cool breeze tease a finger along the back of my uncovered neck. I stop grinding my teeth at the too-slow water machine to look up because maybe I can see where that breeze is coming from, right?
As if on cue, a gaggle of migrating geese make a wobbly arrow across the lean blue late afternoon sky, and I note that the Good Luck Bonne Chance Raspa Stand has got a short line tonight. The bottle of water burps to tell me it’s full. I screw on the cap, plíe, and scoop the heavy bottle up to my shoulder, so I can walk over and set it on the front passenger seat of my car.
The Good Luck Bonne Chance Raspa Stand is selling Cucumbers On a Stick tonight, covered in chili powder and lime. There’s World’s Best Corn in a Cup and Hot Fritos ‘n’ Xtra Cheese if you want them, and for a limited time only, you can get a Double Tiger’s Blood Raspa, Everybody’s Favorite Sno-Cone Treat.
The dinner rush at Good Luck Bonne Chance is short right now, so I do what I never do: Close the door to my car and walk over to get in line. The woman inside Good Luck Bonne Chance has to bend down and stick her head through the window to take my order when it’s my turn. Her gold hoops glint brightly against her dark curly hair. The scent of fresh-steamed corn on the cob and sno-cone syrup clings to her clothes like a summer perfume.
“Tell me,” I say. “What is a Double Tiger’s Blood Raspa?”
“Oh, that.” She shrugs, a little embarrassed. “It’s just a regular Tiger’s Blood Raspa with some extra syrup.”
“May I have a single Tiger’s Blood, a small, please? And another small, but could you make that one Peachy Vanilla? And I would very much like—” I pause, realizing just how hungry I am. “I would very much like a Cucumber On a Stick. With extra chili and lime. Please.”
I hand her my cash. She drops my change expertly into my cupped hand and leaves me to stand at the window and wait while she peels the cucumber and puts shaved ice into two cups. Everyone else has already finished eating and gone home, even the young grandfather who put his hand on each of his grandchildren’s heads when he ordered their treats. (“She will have… and he will have…”)
Another cool breeze makes a delicate crown of cool air around my bare head.
“Autumn is coming.” I say out loud.
The woman running Bonne Chance tonight says, “What?” She can’t hear me over the air conditioner and her ringing phone and the little radio she’s got playing just inside the counter by her tip jar. She’s putting all my things in a little white cardboard box with the old-fashioned tabbed corners.
“Thanks for making my order,” I say as she walks back to the window.
“Oh! You’re welcome,” says the woman. She puts my box on the counter, and looks around the empty parking lot.
“Looks like autumn is coming, don’t you think? Just feel that little breeze.”
PHOTO CREDIT: Bluebird Blvd.