The East Peoria Festival of Lights

by Zeke Jarvis

Jacob was disappointed. He was on his way to have sex with a good-looking woman in public, and he still felt bored. He finished the beer he was drinking, then tossed the can on the ground. Eva turned around and said, “You’re not going to litter, are you?”

“Sorry,” said Jacob. He picked up the can and shook it, then crunched it as flat as he could. After Eva had turned and started making her way up the hill again, he stuffed it into the backpack he was carrying. Jacob washed his hands in the snow and immediately stuck his hands in his pocket, following Eva and watching her move. Litter seemed the smaller crime to Jacob, compared to screwing in public

When they got a little higher on the hill, Eva said, “As long as we stay behind the big spaceship display, I don’t think anyone will see us.”

Jacob burped quietly and nodded. Eva pulled at a strand of hair that was hanging out of her bun. She kept walking. Jacob picked up a little pinecone and threw it at her. It hit her ass and fell to the ground. She turned around, looking at what it was. Jacob stood where he was, and she looked back at him, then smiled. “The mighty oak,” she said, “was once a nut like you.”

“This was from a pine tree,” said Jacob. Then he said, “Sorry.”

Eva blew a raspberry.  She picked up the pinecone and threw it at Jacob. It hit him on his eye. “Shit,” he said.

Eva also said, “Shit,” then “sorry.”

Jacob opened his eye and rolled it a little. Eva walked back to him and touched his cheek. It was nice to have her touching him without her thinking about touching him. He knew he shouldn’t, but he put his arms around her waist and pulled her in close. She gave him a quick kiss on the cheek and Jacob let her go. “Let’s plow on,” he said.

Eva turned around and headed back up, and Jacob looked at her ass as she went. It perked up his spirits a little. His nose was starting to run, and he started to pant, probably from the combination of beer and physical effort.  

Eva turned back to look at him, “You okay?” she asked.  

Jacob smiled, “Just getting excited,” he said.

Eva stuck her tongue out at him and then kept walking. They were getting pretty close to the displays. Jacob could see the big teddy bear they’d fucked by the first night they’d come to the Festival of Lights. The teddy bear had always been Jacob’s brother’s favorite when their family had driven through the Festival. When Jacob had been a kid, he had always liked the superhero displays, like the Batmobile. Now, they had Wall-E and some other more recent kids’ movie things. It was fine, but it made him feel a little old. “They should have an Abe Lincoln display,” he said.

Eva turned her head a little. “That’s not very Christmassy.”

Jacob nodded. “No, but it’s very Illinoisan. And I think that the Great Emancipator would want to watch us form a more perfect union.”

Eva chuckled. “You and your presidents.”

They walked on without speaking until they came to the edge of the trees. There was the teddy bear, a bunch of presents to the left and the spaceship was a few displays over. Jacob looked at Eva, but she was just staring at the lights. Finally, she looked back at him and said, “Shall we?”

Jacob held his hand out in front of him. When they got near the spaceship, she turned and got very close. She looked at his face and kissed him lightly, then kissed him harder. Jacob kissed her back and put his arms around her. They kissed for a little bit more and then started to undress, though only as much as they really needed to. Jacob took off his backpack and took out the blanket and the condom. He laid the blanket out and slid his sweatpants down to his knees. Eva left her shirt on. She laid down on the blanket first, which Jacob was glad for. He got down by her and started kissing her again. She grabbed his cock, and they did the usual from there. As they were having sex, Jacob looked up at the spaceship and noticed a few of the bulbs weren’t working. It surprised him because he thought that if one bulb burned out, they all would, but these must not have been like the lights you string up at home.  

Jacob finished in about five minutes, which Eva was probably okay with, given that they were in public. Eva reminded him to put the condom and its wrapper in a baggie so that they could throw it away at home instead of letting someone find it. Jacob wasn’t worried that they’d use his DNA to bust them for porking in public, but he did agree that it would be nasty to just leave a used condom there. Of course, it was a little nasty to put it in a bag and take it home, too. After he put the baggie in his backpack, he washed his hands in the snow again. Eva was looking up at the spaceship. “Did you notice some of the bulbs are burned out?”

Jacob looked and said, “Yeah,” though he didn’t know if he should admit that he’d been looking while they’d been having sex. Eva just nodded. He pulled his pants up and folded up the blanket. He and Eva would probably go to her place and do some homework, then screw again, this time longer and better. Jacob didn’t tell Eva, but he was barely passing algebra.

As they were walking back to where they’d come from, one of the cars driving by had a little kid in the back with the window rolled down, which was weird because it was kind of cold for that. But it was kind of cold to be screwing outside, too. He waved at the kid, and the kid spit out the window, though he probably hadn’t seen Jacob wave. Then, the kid started talking to whoever was in the front seat. “Ah shit,” Jacob said.

Eva turned to him, looking nervous. “What?” she asked. Jacob wiped his nose. “I think some kid saw us.”

Eva’s eyes got big. “Fuck,” she said. They started to run to the woods. As they went down the hill, Eva slid a little. She caught herself, and Jacob ran up to her. “You okay?” he asked. She turned her palm over and there were a few scrapes with just a little bit of blood. Eva and Jacob’s eyes met. It was hard to see in the dark, but Jacob thought she was kind of laughing. He looked up at the top of the hill. “Are those flashlights?” he asked. They got up and went the rest of the way down the hill. When they got to the bottom of the hill, Eva turned to him and put a hand on his chest. “You’re fucking with me, aren’t you?” she said.

Jacob tried his best to keep a straight face. “Man, if you don’t remember that part then my feelings are hurt.

Eva sighed, then said, “About the flashlights, dummy.”  

Jacob wiped his mouth and nodded, then shrugged. “There’s a shitload of lights up there; it could’ve been a flashlight.”

She nodded and put her hands around the back of his neck. Jacob looked into her eyes and, for the first time, realized that it wasn’t just that he was lucky to be with her, he was holding her back from being with someone better. In a different world, with a different guy, she’d have spent the day volunteering at a soup kitchen instead of screwing at a beloved childhood spot. Jacob leaned towards her and said, “You’re like that team of Clydesdales.”

Eva leaned back and smirked. “This better be good, you fucker.”

Jacob leaned his head to one side. “Of course. I just meant that you need to go by slow and take everything in to really get how much is going on.”

Eva shook her head. “I guess that’ll do.”

Jacob looked back up at the lights. They all kind of blended together from this distance.  He wiped his nose. “Let’s go home,” he said.

Eva said, “All right. Good thing we already screwed so we can just have a drink and go to bed.”

Jacob smiled. “Thanks for reminding me.” He reached in his backpack and pulled out the other beer. As he cracked it open, he watched Eva. She smiled, but it was hard to tell how much in the darkness. Jacob drained almost half the beer and tried not to keep looking. It had been a fun night, but it’d be a cold walk back to the car, and he wished they’d just stayed home and watched a movie. Jacob touched the small of Eva’s back. “Know what happened when I knelt on an acorn while we were screwing?” he asked.

Eva raised her eyebrows, but she looked tired. “You busted a nut?” she asked.

Jacob slid his hand down and patted her on the ass. “Guess I need some new material.”

Eva took his hand. “There’s nothing wrong with your material.”

Jacob squinted. “You mean, like, genetically?”  

Eva laughed. An actual, genuine laugh. “I don’t think that’s something we’ll find out tonight.”

Jacob looked back at the lights. There wasn’t really anything distinguishable at this point. Just a general glow coming through the trees. There was probably still a long string of cars driving up to go in, all headed in to see the same thing they’d seen last year, never knowing that people were having sex just out of their sight. It almost made Jacob feel good. But only almost.


Zeke Jarvis is an Associate Professor at Eureka College. His work has appeared in Thrice Fiction, Moon City Review, and Posit, among other places. His books include So Anyway…, In A Family Way, and Lifelong Learning.

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