By Samika Swift

The jukebox at Pizza King didn’t bump any songs past
1978 but we fed it quarters anyway & dipped breadsticks

in cheese sauce, watching for the boys. There were always
boys, right? The girls hated us. They had enough competition

as it was & though they had home court advantage, no one
knew much about us, which pushed them out-of-bounds.

We didn’t even pretend to be interested in anything except
their men. & some were, at least chronologically. Old enough

to buy us warm six-packs from the corner grocery. We drank
them sitting shotgun on each other’s laps, our chariots rusted

Camaros in various stages of restoration, smoking cowboy killers
purchased from the teenage clerk at the Marathon station –

saving the first cigarette for last: turn it upside down & return
it to the box, close the lid & smack against palms to pack down

wayward tobacco that later might blister thighs. The boys didn’t
have weed most of the time so we’d bring our own, tightly rolled,

neglected seeds popping as we inhaled. Some nights ended in VHS
movies rented from the convenience store down the street, three

or four girls sprawled on shag carpet in Mom’s boyfriend’s living
room, crowding close to the kerosene heater & some ended in locked

doors protecting us from over-stimulated impromptu dates we had
tongue-kissed & dry-humped as bold stars winked somewhere far

beyond the street lights. One evening terminated early as the boy-
friend came home before curfew, sad, befuddled. An argument

with my mother, who didn’t return until much later. We let him
fall asleep in the chair, boys sneaked quietly out the back door

along with over-flowing ashtrays & our phone numbers.
Mom brought us here to keep us out of trouble. ■



Samika Swift writes from Denton, Texas after spending thirty years growing up in numerous cities and small towns across Central Indiana. Her extended family still lives in the area, which means her heart does, too.

Cover image by Julian Carvajal (creative commons).

Belt Magazine is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. To support more independent writing and journalism made by and for the Rust Belt and greater Midwest, make a donation to Belt Magazine, or become a member starting at $5 per month.