The headlights and moon dimly lit the creek road as she drove. It was quiet, a place like church where you sometimes found a silence that had a shape. June slowed the car to a stop and unrolled the window. She listened. Then she felt something as much as she heard it, a slow, dim rumble that came through the earth. Thunder? An earthquake? She sat a moment longer. Then, with a growing apprehension, she rolled up the window and went on.
When she turned onto the T of their own road, she was in a traffic jam. It was still a half a mile to the bar, but the road was all parked up and there were trucks backing up to find a place and lights in her rearview mirror. The noise was louder now. She could hear it with the windows up. She pulled at her coat sleeve and looked at her watch. Six o’clock. Two hours until the contest started and it was bedlam already and, with Charlie working on the sound system, Reed would be tending bar by himself. She felt panicked. She drove down the road looking for a place to park. Then she took a chance and went straight on, hoping there was wiggle space left in the driveway to get the car up to the garage, but when she found a spot big enough for her Pinto between two pickups, she squeezed it in. She quick-checked her lipstick in the mirror and pushed her bangs back to the side and thought that for a moderately cute small person with three kids but a good, tight body, she looked OK.
She got out of the car and started up the road, her sneakers crunching on the snow, and she walked fast, not stopping to talk to anybody. Hardly anyone was a stranger, which surprised her, but she felt scared anyway. The road was already full of beer cans. Men were laughing and shouting at each other, walking and flipping snowballs, and she could hear the pounding bass from the sound system in the bar and some kind of screaming on top that got louder with every step she took. She was the only woman around and, in a sea of orange jackets, she knew she was the only idiot in a deer’s brown coat.