Famous in a Small Town(11)

A slow smile spread across Dash’s face. “Brit, does it take place on a farm?”

“It sure does, Dashiell,” Brit said. “Inexplicably.”

“Does it involve … footwear?”

“Oh yes.”





Terrance stood up. “I’m leaving.”

“Clogs,” Dash said sagely.

“Not clogs, dear friend.”

“This is the last time you’ll ever see me,” Terrance said, and started away.

“Terrance wrote a country song when we were in middle school,” I told August.

“‘The Girl with the Brown Boots,’” Brit said with relish, and Terrance doubled back instantly.

“It was ‘The Girl with the Blue Boots’ and you know it. Her eyes were brown, her boots were blue, that’s the first damn line of the song, Brit.”

“‘The girl with the blue booooooooots,’” Brit half yelled, half sang.

“I was ahead of my time!” Terrance said loudly, and then to August, at a lower decibel: “Man, I was ahead of my time, okay? A few years later, everybody starts doing the whole retro-throwback thing, and I was right there on the cusp of it. Just without the proper respect—”

“It’s great because there are so many rhymes for the word ‘boots,’” Brit said.

“—that a true visionary deserves—”

“Shoots,” I said, just as Flora said, “Roots.”

Dash: “Toots.”

Brit: “Flutes.”

“Cahoots?” August offered.

“Nah, that’s too good,” Dash said.

With that, Terrance turned and really left. I was worried that he was actually mad, until he returned with the acoustic guitar that Jason Sosa had earlier. A quick glance around the backyard revealed that Jason and Alexa were now making out fervently by the shed.

Terrance planted himself on top of the picnic table, the guitar over one knee. “Fine. Let’s do this,” and he began to strum, and to sing—poorly, but with conviction—“‘Her eyes were brown, her boots were blue—’”

“Wait wait wait!” August held up a hand. “Can we guess the next line?”

Brit snorted. “You say that like you think the lyrics to ‘The Girl with the Blue Boots’ aren’t indelibly burned into our brains for all eternity.”

“You all know this song?”

“We’re literally going to meet Jesus with the words to this song still in our heads,” Dash said.

“That being said,” Brit added, “I’ll pay you a thousand dollars if you get it right.”

Brit had probably seventeen dollars to her name. She went through money like it was water. But it was also a pretty safe bet.

August thought for a long moment, and then: “‘She had blond hair … and blue shoes’ ? ”

Terrance looked offended. “That doesn’t even scan. And why would I mention the shoes twice in a row?”

“Like the real lyric is so much better,” I said.

“Hey!” he squawked.

“Okay, what is it?” August asked.

Terrance began again: “‘Her eyes were brown, her boots were blue. The cat meowed, the cow said moo—’”

“Wait, what?” August said. “What?”

“He had to set the scene,” Brit explained. “You see, the animal sounds establish the fact that we’re on a farm—”

“I was a visionary!” Terrance bellowed. “UNDERMINED IN MY PRIME!”

“Oh man.” August put a hand over his mouth, but the crinkles at the corners of his eyes gave away his smile.

“You have to hear the whole thing. The lyrics don’t make sense out of context,” Terrance insisted.

“Be careful, though,” I said, leaning toward August a little. “If you listen to the song all the way through, you die in seven days.”

“It’s true,” Dash said. “We’re all dead right now.”

August grinned full-out now.

The song didn’t get better from there. The bridge—the height of “rhymes with boots”—was especially something.

Terrance finished with a flourish and looked at August, eyebrows raised expectantly. “What do you think?”

August looked conflicted—half like he was seriously considering it, half like he wanted to burst out laughing. Finally he spoke: “I mean. It’s so bad it’s almost good again.”

Terrance paused. “I’ll take it!” And then yelled, “ONE MORE TIME!”

We let out a cheer.


A couple of hours later, we were attempting to cajole Brit into Dash’s car.

We had sung, we had danced, and she had drunk. I was familiar with the stages of Brit drunkenness—there was the saying-things-she-wouldn’t-normally-say stage, the hands-on-both-my-shoulders stage, the grinding-up-on-Aiden-Morales stage, arms in the air, liquid sloshing over the rim of her cup.

It had taken some doing to get her away, and now she had one arm slung around my neck, the other around August’s, still clutching an empty plastic cup in one hand as we made our way through the house, toward the front door. Dash was bringing his car around.

Emma Mills's Books