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Cover by: G
Night Moves written and sung by Bob Seger available on YouTube.
To Bob Seger who, in my opinion, is the world’s greatest songwriter and singer.
In 1968, at 20, I bought my first car. It was a 1960 Impala convertible. Red and in cherry condition. I had bought her from my uncle who had to sell it when he got married. His wife had no problems with the Chevy when they were dating. But, now, she didn’t think it was a car for a married man. Unc passed her onto me for a mere $50.00 with the promise I’d take as good care of her as he had. And to be able to ‘borrow’ her on occasions. Neither condition was a problem for me.
I was a tall shy skinny kid that wore tight Levis and metal points on my shoes. It was the Chevy that helped bring me out of my shell. Well, while I was in her. I didn’t have a steady girlfriend or even knew a girl I could call a friend. My contact with girls was visual images from magazines and the movies. Otherwise, if it weren’t for my male friends who were exactly like me – losers – I’d been a real loner.
It was another Saturday night, and I was dateless. My friends wanted to cruise downtown and do the usual sophomoric bullshit. Earlier, I had decided that I’d join the Air Force and see the world. I called it quits that night with them. I felt good about both decisions. When I told my dad about the Air Force he was a happy man. Mom worried that I wouldn’t eat enough in the Air Force. Until then Dad worried that I was going nowhere. He and his brother, my uncle, had started working when they were sixteen. They looked forward to retirement in twenty years. That night I cut my loser friends free was the start of my life.
To celebrate, I put the Chevy’s top down and cruised over to the DQ. As always on a summer Saturday night, the place rocked with guys and their dates. Before, I’d avoid the DQ on the weekends, but tonight I was on my way to be in the Air Force. I pulled into a stall that had just vacated, and I felt my luck was now better.
“What will it be?” I looked over to see the car hop. She was a black haired beauty with big dark eyes. Her waitress top had two buttons unbuttoned, and I could see she wore no bra. Small pointed breasts. She looked at me and said, “If you check the menu you’ll see that I’m not on it. Now, what’ll be.” She snapped her gum and waited.
Embarrassed, I uttered, “Chocolate malt.”
She snapped her gum and demanded, “And?”
“Uh, that’s it.”
“Look sport, I’m a carhop I earn shit for money, but the free food is why I’m here. Now, in order for you to stay in this spot . . .” She stepped back and looked my Chevy over. She cooed, “In this fine ass ride you’re gonna have to order a minimum of three bucks.”
I ordered two cheeseburgers and fries and a large Coke.
“That should put some meat on your bones,” she said with a sly wink.
All I could think about while I ate was her wink. I smiled to myself and felt like I had turned a page in my life.
It was about time for the DQ to close when I finished the coke. She came back out to collect my tray. She hesitated and then leaned into the car. With a beautiful smile she uttered, “You got to be anywhere tonight, Ace?” I tried to play it cool but before I could say anything she said, “Right. I’ll be back in ten minutes, wait for me.”
I watched the car’s clock, and at ten minutes the DQ’s neon lights went off and she opened the passenger door. She slid in and handed me a chocolate malt. “It’s free.”
“Thanks,” I replied and took a sip. It tasted better than the one I had earlier.
She snatched the malt from me and took a long drag. When she handed it back to me she smirked, “Can you drink and drive?” She moved her back to the passenger door, and her short skirt revealed her bare thighs. She made no effort to cover up. I was awestruck. She snapped her fingers in my face and laughed, “Hey, sport, I asked you if . . .”
I gulped, “I don’t drink,” then it dawned on me what she meant. “Uh, yeah, no problem.” She laughed and took another drink from the malt.
“Good, let’s split from this burg.”
“Any particular place?”
“Drive, we’ll know when we get there.”
I made a left out of the DQ toward the East end of town. At the stop light, I tapped the gas gauge and said, “Gotta get gas.”
“Good, I’ve gotta take a wiz.”
We pulled into Bob’s Full Service which was on the way to wherever we were going. I stopped at the pump, and Judy hopped out. Tom, a guy I knew from high school popped around with his eyes on Judy and a smirk on his face, “Jer, fill’er up?” I nodded and got out of the Chevy. I looked the Chevy over and felt a certain pride to have such a car, and to be with Judy. Life was good.
Tom put the nozzle into the tank, and opened the hood to check the oil. I heard him say, “Nice looking skirt. Where’d you pick her up?” Now he wanted to talk, whereas in the past he didn’t give a rat’s ass about what I was up to. I pretended to not hear him. He showed me the dipstick and said, “About a quart low.”
Judy came in behind Tom and took the dipstick from him. She grabbed his rag from his back pocket and wiped the stick clean. “Let’s check that again.” Tom was a bit stunned and started to say something, but Judy replaced the dipstick. Judy drew it back out. It showed at the full line. She handed Tom his rag and said, “May want to get your rag checked for leaks.”
Tom shrugged her off and went to remove the pump handle. Judy called out, “And don’t top it off.”
Tom came back and fumed out, “$4.60.” I gave Tom a five. I opened the car door for Judy, and she slid over to the middle. When Tom returned I had my arm around Judy. She had her head on my shoulder, and her hand on my thigh. Tom gave me my change and I dropped it in the ashtray. I beamed at Tom and real cool like said, “Later, Tom, and thanks for the wonderful service.”
Judy looked at him and said, “Bye, bye Tommy,” and blew him a kiss. I squealed the tires as I pulled out of the station, and it felt great. Judy said, “What a skuzz. You always go there?”
“Not usually, most of the time I get my gas at Ed’s DX. How’d you know he was cheating me?”
“My dad’s a state inspector for weights and measures, and he taught me what to look for.”
Judy kissed my cheek and squeezed my thigh, “No problem.”
We drove until the city’s lights had vanished along with the cornfields. Judy squeezed my thigh, “There, just up ahead on your right is a road turn there.”
My headlights flashed across an asphalt gray road that ran parallel to dense woods. I turned and drove several miles until we came to another road on the left that led into the wooded area. “There,” Judy said. It wasn’t long before we came to a campground no longer used. “Here,” she giggled.
I stopped in the clearing and Judy shivered out, “Mind if we put the top up?” Once the top was up she said, “Race you to the back.” She climbed over the seat and plopped across the backseat. I sat next to her and she sat there without a word. She smelt wonderful of DQ and perfume. The only light was from a security light and the moon through the trees. The interior began to fog, and I started to crank down the window. Judy’s hand stopped me. I looked at her and kissed her. She kissed me back. We made out for several wonderful moments. I was a little scared at first, but I followed her mouth with mine.
Judy moved my hand to her breasts and said, “New menu.” We laughed. She put her head on my shoulder and said, “How old are you?”
“Twenty, and you?”
“You’re nice. Thank you.”
“You’re nice, too.”
“No, I mean you haven’t tried to maul me or cop a feel.”
“Are you a virgin?”
“Uh.” I didn’t know what to say.
Judy put her finger to my lips and said, “It’s okay, so am I.”
“Really?” I said with more surprise than I meant. “But, you’re so, so . . .”
“Well, I . . .”
“I’m that way to keep guys from asking me out. I am scared of them.”
“Wow, who’d have thought.”
“Yeah, I’m pretty good, huh?”
“Really. But, I don’t get why me?”
“Look, don’t think I some sort of space cadet, but when I saw you tonight I felt something different about you. And when you looked at me it wasn’t like you were there to try and get lucky.” Judy kissed me and added, “By the way, we both are going to get lucky tonight.”
“Really?” I marveled, again, like a broken record.
“Yes, really, and if it means anything I think you’re a great kisser. Smooth, and not trying to suck out my lungs.”
I felt my mouth and smiled.
“So, how was your day?” She said with a quick kiss.
“Um, I’ve been having a day that’s so different than I’ve ever had before.” I told her how much of a loser I had considered myself until I decided to join the Air Force.
She listened to my every word. Not once did she interrupt me. When I finished she kissed me full on. In matters of seconds, we had taken each others clothes off. We fumbled around clueless but soon mother nature took over. We laughed and giggled as we tried to insert everything in the right place in different positions. When Judy straddled me and attempted to place me in her. I realized we had no protection. I stopped her and said, “I don’t have any shields.”
It gave her pause, but then she said, “Fuck the shields and fuck me.” We did, and it was over too quick for us both. Steam from our breath was now rivets of droplets down the windows. She rested herself against me, and I held her close. Our breathing had synchronized. Judy kissed my neck and said, “I’m not sure if we did it right.”
“I don’t know if we did, or we didn’t.”
“Can you do it again?”
“Possibly, don’t know.”
“What can I do to help?”
“I . . . I . . . I,” before I could come up with an answer she was off me and on her knees with her head in my lap.
“I heard one of the girls at work say she does this for her boyfriend.” With that, she proceeded. Once I was back up we went at it. We finished hours later exhausted. The inside of the Chevy wet with our respiration, and us with cold sweat. Comfortable with each other we fell asleep. I woke with a strong need to wiz, but it was difficult to move. My legs were numb from Judy’s weight, and the back of my neck throbbed from being back so long.
“Judy, got to pee,” I whispered. She murmured something and rolled off me onto the seat. I looked at her and felt something I’d never felt before about a girl. I actually cared for her and had a need to protect her. I took my buttoned down shirt from the floor and covered her. I slipped on my jeans and went out. The cold air rushed in, and Judy wrapped my shirt around her tighter. Outside of the car, the morning sun was about to replace the security light. I stood there for a moment to feel the cool air engulf me. I smiled to myself and looked to the heavens and said a quick, “Thank you.”
When I got back in Judy was in her uniform with my shirt over the top of it. “Do you mind if I wear it home? I’m cold.”
I put on my T-shirt and said, “It looks good on you, keep it.”
“Thank you.” She wrapped it around her and kissed me.
I kissed her back and added, “Something to remember tonight by.”
Judy laughed, reached under her dress and removed her panties, “Then I guess these are yours.” We laughed and kissed. Neither of us wanted to leave, and would have stayed if the park ranger hadn’t arrived. He stepped out of his truck and gave us the thumb toward the entrance.
I drove her home with the heater on full. She had me stop two blocks from her house. She said she didn’t want to wake her parents. I watched her walk to her house. Judy turned at her door and blew me a kiss. She entered and I went home. My body ached but I never felt so alive.
That night we met at the DQ and afterwards we went to the drive-in. We did a little better then. It wasn’t anything newsworthy, but it was real. We were both in our twenties, but yet we felt like teenagers. My parents couldn’t understand why I was now so changed. I blamed it on the fact that I would be going into the Air Force in six weeks.
Unc nailed it when he found Judy’s panties in the glove box. He called me out to the car and showed me the panties, “Either you’re a queer, or you’re getting laid.” He watched for my reaction. I stayed neutral not wanting to be they type that kissed and told. He laughed and shoved the panties in my shirt pocket, “I’m going with getting laid. Those panties are too small even for you.”
For my remaining time home, I’d pick Judy up from the DQ after work. We’d do it at the drive-in, or the woods over and over. Her days off we often spent in a motel outside of town. She asked me one day if was I in love with her. I couldn’t answer her. I cared for her, but I didn’t feel or even know what love was. She told me that I shouldn’t fall in love with. That she didn’t ever want to hurt me. Judy said if we were in love we’d get hurt. We carried on as two young people with our sweet summertime affair that kept us from being bored. We’d do it whenever and wherever we could find a place. We used each other, and we didn’t care.
One night at the drive-in she reminded me that I was going into the Air Force in a few weeks. We talked about how we could write and tell each other how we were doing. I told her I’d send her postcards and souvenirs from wherever the Air Force sent me. That night we watched the movie and held each other. I sensed something was different in her.
The night before I was to fly to Lackland Air Force Base I went by the DQ to say goodbye. I had planned for us to have one last time for us in the back seat of my Chevy. I parked in the stall and waited for Judy to come out. Betty, a car hop came up to my window and said, “You waiting for Judy?” I said I was. “Can you come inside the manager has something for you.” I was dumbfounded. Then, I thought they’re having a going away party for me. I went in with a big smile. That smile left as quick as it surfaced.
Taylor, the manager asked me to come into his office. I did, and I was more puzzled. He closed the door and said, “Judy quit today and asked me to give you this envelope.” I took the envelope and thanked him. He nodded and said, “I wish you the best in the Air Force.” We shook hands, and I returned to the Chevy. I thought about going to her house, but she had asked me to never do that. She said her parents were too strict, and it would cause her problems. I never opened that envelope until I was on the plane to Lackland. It said:
I wish I could say I am a coward and can’t face goodbyes. I wish that was it, but there’s more to it than that. I want you know that the short time we had together has been the most precious time I’ve had in my life, and always will be. Not seeing you before you left has nothing to do with you leaving for the Air Force. It has to do with me; you see I am engaged to another in the Army. When he returns, we will be married. Do I love him? Do I love you? I don’t know because I don’t know what love is. You have given me the only feeling of what I imagined love to be. But, I still don’t know if I love you. I want you to be happy in your life, and if that means I love you then, I do love you. Please do not write back or contact me. I am too messed up inside for you to care for me. I will only hurt you more.”
It’s been almost 40 years since I read her letter. I still have it. I brooded over my lost and stayed away from my hometown as much as possible. When I had leave time I’d travel around other countries. I became career Air Force and married a wonderful woman from the Philippines. Our love gave us a fantastic son 25 years ago. Now I’m here on the back porch of my office waiting for the lightning and the thunder to follow. It was last night when I woke to the sound of thunder. I remembered well how Judy and I use to wait for rainstorms so we could listen to them from the backseat of my Chevy. A massive bolt streaked across the sky followed by a clap of summer thunder.
“Dad?” My son, Jeremy, had entered.
“Don’t turn on the lights, Jer. I’m out here on the porch.”
“Yeah, just enjoying the thunder.”
“You and your thunder.”
“The Chevy’s dripping oil.”
“Yeah, that’s about right.” I had given the Chevy to Jeremy for his 21st birthday with the same conditions I had from my uncle.
“Time to get her overhauled.”
The wind kicked up, and the newspaper on my lap flew off. Jeremy snatched it before it went over the railing. He began to return it to me, but looked at it and read out loud. “Judy Pinkowski, the former Judy Baker passed away on Wednesday . . .” He handed me the paper and said, “Was she a friend of yours?”
“A long time ago.”
“She died from breast cancer.”
“No, I mean between the two of you.”
“What makes you think that?”
“Well, Dad, you not exactly hard to read. You’re out here on the porch, in the dark, watching a thunderstorm.” He picked up an empty beer bottle and looked it over. “Two beers gone, a third on its way, and Bob Seger’s greatest hits playing.”
“Someone I was in love with many years ago.”
“Unrequited love, I’ll bet.”
“You’re nosy tonight.”
“Hey, I’m a journalist major, remember. Who, what, when, where, why, and how is my game.”
“How could I forget?” I laughed.
“Dad, does she have anything to do with the DQ mementos in your office?”
“You a cop or a journalist?”
“Want to talk about it?”
“Now you’re a shrink? Actually, I’m done now. I’ve let go.”
“Okay, Dad, if you say so. But, I think we never let go of the great loves of our lives.”
“Yeah, it’s funny how you remember how the night moves.”
Please email Stephen Bentley at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to submit a story for featuring on Writer’s Showcase.
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