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Business at Twenty-One - Jennifer Coss

I just turned 21. The guys and me went out drinking and the DD didn’t really stay sober, not unusual, driving drunk isn’t that unusual. Cops pulled us over and fucking Chris in the passenger seat just stops mid-sentence and flops lifeless. The cops do the full package and they shout at Chris but he doesn’t move or flinch or talk or anything…the dumb shit. EMTs show up and one of them gets in my face screaming for me to give up some secret of what he took. I tell him he only had alcohol and that he’s faking. The cops tell Chris and his limp body that he has one last chance to come clean and wake up before they load him onto the ambulance. He doesn’t budge. What a dumb ass, he thinks since he is black his only option is to be comatose. He goes off to Fist Medical and they tell me I need to find a ride home. I guess I’ll call Jackie—she owes me.

This girl I’m kind of seeing. She had me take her daughter to prom…got my rent paid that month. Laurie is 44, divorced, drives a new Cadillac, and likes my company. She’s the only one I let pay for things, the other girls I just date.

My teeth start to chatter a bit while I wait on the side of the road next to a cop car. I could probably sit in it if I asked, but I’m sure there is piss in the back. I start thinking about this one girl, April, boring as hell but British and hot. I met her on a plane coming back from Las Vegas. She told me flat out she thought I was a player after talking for five minutes. I told her maybe I was…she gave me her number anyways. She has been texting me all night to hook up, god I love it.

Finally I see the Cadillac and the window rolls down. Laurie winks and asks me if I need a ride, I’ll probably sleep with her tonight. She’s driving me to Lansing next week to see my dad. He caught a couple charges for fraud about 8 months ago and he finally got moved from county. I was so fucking pissed when he got locked up but he’s my dad, so I go. I lie to people when they ask about him and I say he travels for work. People rarely delve farther than that, I think because no one is really that interested, it’s just a conversation. When you grow up and there’s no one left to pick you up you have to find someone—anyone—with a car.

Laurie reaches over and starts to gently scratch the back of my neck with her nails. She tells me I need better friends and I tell her it’s not really her business. She pulls her hand away back to the steering wheel. I’ll probably have to pay for that but I hate her scratching my neck—like scratching a dog. Those fake nails I can’t stand, my mother had them too. I call her baby and tell her I didn’t mean to snap. She rolls her eyes but smiles a little and tells me she wants to stop for ice cream. Her daughter is at a friend’s house tonight and Jackie wants to cuddle and have movie night. It’s already 1 am and I know she’ll want sex and be asleep by 2. I tell her we should skip the ice cream and she puts her hand on my thigh. I kind of wish the hand was April’s. And I want to know why everything is so easy for everyone else.


Jennifer Coss holds a BA in Literature with a minor in History from the University of Kansas. She dedicates her time to writing, typically poetry and flash fiction. She lives in Lenexa, KS with her husband and two dogs. She has been published in the Kiosk literary and Art magazine, Ink and Voices, and Atlas Obscura. @jlcoss Instagram, you can also read finesorts blog here .

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