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We were young and our happiness dazzled us with its strength. But there was
also a terrible betrayal that lay within me like a Merle Haggard song at a
French restaurant. [...]
I could not tell the girl about the woman of the tollway, of her milk
white BMW and her Jordache smile. There had been a fight. I had punched her
boyfriend, who fought the mechanical bulls. Everyone told him, "You ride the
bull, senor. You do not fight it." But he was lean and tough like a bad
rib-eye and he fought the bull. And then he fought me. And when we finished
there were no winners, just men doing what men must do. [...]
"Stop the car," the girl said.
There was a look of terrible sadness in her eyes. She knew about the
woman of the tollway. I knew not how. I started to speak, but she raised an
arm and spoke with a quiet and peace I will never forget.
"I do not ask for whom's the tollway belle," she said, "the tollway
belle's for thee."
The next morning our youth was a memory, and our happiness was a lie.
Life is like a bad margarita with good tequila, I thought as I poured whiskey
onto my granola and faced a new day.
-- Peter Applebome, International Imitation Hemingway Competition
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