Levi’s Café stood in a city block of pines–just that one, small lighted building in the center of the grove. As Lyle went into the trees, the café windows were yellow stains that in the wind and rain seemed to darken and then flicker on. Instead of going in, he lingered under his umbrella. The motorcycle club gathered here each evening at five. But Lyle had offended one of the boys, Devon, who was tall and drove a Triumph and liked heavy wool sweaters–girls favored him–and he supposed they would not invite him to join now, despite his new clothing.
In a dim window, familiar boys and girls crowded a booth. Their faces glowed in the light of a short lamppost right outside. Raindrops on the window pocked their skin with tiny shadows, so they all looked spotted with some attractive disease. Devon and Martin took turns speaking, as if they competed for the girls’ laughter. Devon was skinny in a muscled way, in a too-small T-shirt, his black hair greased like an Italian boy’s, and Martin was chubby and white-haired and balding, hostile and brilliant, old-seeming because he was albino. When Martin spoke, the girls didn’t laugh. He kept a flask-sized bottle hidden under the table, and he sipped from it. The high school had placed Lyle with them because he had taken honors classes back in the mountains, where comprehending Riders of the Purple Sage indicated high promise.
—Ryan Blacketter, Down in the River