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.
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