That Kinda Boy
Alfred F. Jones was the kind of boy that fathers warned their daughters about. The kind that made mothers giggle behind their hands as they made jokes to their husbands. He was handsome and he knew it; he was talented and he knew it. It was a perfect combination, and people found it irresistible.
Arthur hadn’t been in the United States very long but it was obvious after twenty minutes that he was completely out of his element here. Country music spilled loudly over the tinny overhead speakers of the large lot outside the arena; everyone but Arthur and the children seemed to have a beer in their hand, gossiping loudly about the next competition that was coming up after they leveled out the arena sand. Elizaveta, who had been in the U.S. for a few months longer than he had been, twittered excitedly next to him, her fingers picking at the denim of her jeans and pushing the ridiculous cowboy hat further down onto her head. “Isn’t this great?” she asked over the booming noise of a song about a woman being turned on by tractors.
“Mm.” He didn’t really have a response. They sat on the topmost row of a set of metal bleachers, the July sun beating down on him uncomfortably – he was already burning, he could feel it. He just wanted to go home and lay in a tub of ice. “Why a rodeo, of all places to bring me?”
Elizaveta tilted her head slightly. “See that boy there?” she asked, discreetly pointing to a young man (too rugged to be a boy, Arthur noted) with sunny blond hair and a winning smile, perched upon a twitching horse on the opposite side of the arena, chatting with a few women in jeans and pressed shirts. “His name’s Alfred Jones – he’s in my Economics class. He invited me here and said, ‘bring that British kid with you’. I’m assuming he meant you.”
“Lovely,” he grumbled. “Where did you get that stupid hat?”
“It’s not stupid!” she protested as Arthur flicked the brim. They weren’t particularly close, and found that more often than not they ended up bickering, but they found solace in each other – the only two abroad students in the middle of absolutely nowhere USA. Arthur had thought it would be a good idea to stay away from the cities – but he hadn’t imagined he’d be put in a dirt field with no end in sight to continue his architecture studies. With Elizaveta around, he didn’t feel so different; so out-casted.
There was a loud snort behind them and both Arthur and Elizaveta jumped at the very horse-like noise. “Liza, ya made it! Did’ja find everythin’ alright?”
“Oh Alfred! Hello! And yes, your directions were really helpful, thank you.” She smiled sweetly, and Arthur made a face at her. “Oh, and this dour boy is Arthur. Say hello Arthur, don’t be such a douche.”
Arthur glared. “Who taught you that word?” He sighed and extended a hand to the saddle-born boy, trying to ignore the intense blue eyes and the perfectly sun kissed skin as their hands clasped together. “A pleasure to meet you.”
“Pleasure’s all mine, Arthur,” Alfred said with a broad smile.
Elizaveta looked between the two of them and said, “I need to use the restroom. I’ll be right back, okay?”
“Sure thing, the ladies is right over yonder – by the concessions.” Alfred tipped his hat at Elizaveta as she clambered down the rickety bleachers, pausing to pat Alfred’s horse on the nose before jogging off towards the restrooms. “Are you gunna watch the rough stock competition?”
Arthur blinked in surprise – was the American talking to him? “I – well… I’m not quite sure as to what that is, honestly.” He rubbed at the sweat that began to accumulate on his forehead, embarrassed.
Alfred just smiled at him, his grin so cock-sure and beautiful in a way that was assuredly carefree and American (or at least Arthur thought so). “It’s like the bull ridin’ and stuff? I’m sure you’ve gotta seen it on T.V. or heard somethin’ about it over in England or wherever.”
“England, yes I’m from England.” Arthur pursed his lips, hoping to keep even more stupidity from flowing between them. “You ride the bulls then?” he asked anyway.
“Nah, I think it’s overrated. I do the bareback bronc ridin’. Them horses are trained from birth ta knock ya off in a second flat. ‘Lot more challenging if ya ask me.”
Arthur only grimaced. “You sound a bit biased if you ask me.” He wiped at his face with the sleeve of his t-shirt, beginning to feel absolutely miserable in this disgusting heat. “But I suppose I’ll take your word for it, since I know next to nothing of the sport.”
Alfred laughed and with a quick motion he took of his hat and pushed it onto Arthur’s head, tipping the brim down so it covered the Englishman’s green eyes. “You look hot. Go ‘head and wear my hat, and after I win the bareback bronc rounds, you can come an’ give it to me.” His smile turned a bit devious. “And maybe ya can even give me a reward.”
“Re-reward?” But Alfred was gone before Arthur could finish stuttering, his face red as his fingers caught the drawstring of the hat, pulling it further down over his ears. “Dear Lord…”
And when Elizaveta came back, she pointed and laughed at him, declaring him sunburned beyond recognition and Arthur only wished that were the case; because Alfred Jones was that kind of boy – the cocky, self-assured, handsome face that had everyone cawing and swooning over him.
Arthur couldn’t wait to see what kind of reward Alfred would ask for.