Another set of crossing gates appeared, and once again the lights were flashing. A slow Santa Fe freight creaked across the iron rails.
“Say, you still going out with Hanna?”
“Uh.” His query threw me off. I’d not thought of her since the prom, which made me a bit sad, for some reason. We never really dated. Rather we often ended up doing the same activities, like dancing and swimming. I knew her, she knew me, and when prom rolled around, which I hadn’t considered going to, she showed up and asked me to it. A bit irregular, but hell, why not? I never had the hots for her though. Still, she was a nice girl. Probably too sweet and smart to be dating a skunk like me. “No, she’s getting ready for MIT in the fall.”
“Cool.” Nate flicked the remains of his cig out the window. “Say, I saw Ricky the other day. He was kinda mad about Darleen, and when I asked why, he said I should ask you. What gives?”
Oh, I knew all right, but I wasn’t going to say anything. “Oh, uh, we just had a … a misunderstanding about Darleen. Nothing serious.”
He looked at me sidelong. “He seemed pretty pissed. I’d avoid him if I were you.”
That was good advice since Ricky looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s little brother, and I weighed about 150 pounds. “That’s the plan, and just for the record, I’m avoiding Darleen too.”
“I’d sure like to know what happened with you and Darleen.”
“Ah well, I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.”
Nate chuckled. “I’ll spare you being someone’s prison bitch.”
“My ass thanks you,” I said with a smile.
Up ahead, MickeyD’s on Main appeared. That was the halfway point for the Strip. Then you had to turn around and make it back to Henderson Street MickeyD’s. I pulled into the lot and started to make my way past the parked cars toward the drive-through area.
“Hey,” Nate said, shooting upright. “Park here. I see Tammy.” He slapped my arm incessantly.
“Cut it out.” Tammy? Tammy who? Nevertheless, I pulled into a spot.
Nate leaned out the window. He began yelling at a car with two girls in it. “Tammy. Hey. Tammy.” One of the girls turned to look at us, but it was hard to see what she looked like.
I turned off the engine. “Who the hell is Tammy?” As I said this, it occurred that I was familiar with a Tammy, but it couldn’t be the same–oh shit.
A familiar face appeared outside Nate’s window. Long, straight auburn hair framed soft brown eyes and a pair of deliciously red lips. She wore a Rolling Stones graphic tee with the tongue logo. It was tied just under her ample breasts, revealing her midriff.
Nate grinned from one ear to the other. “This is Tammy Bronson. She’s the girl I told you about.” He turned to the girl. “Tammy, this is–”
“Hi Pete,” Tammy said pursing her lips at me. “Nice to see you again.”
Nate’s eyes widened. “You know each other? What the hell?”
“Small world, apparently,” I said weakly. Because the god of chance is a mean-spirited shit, another voice emerged from my left, as did a hand on my shoulder.
“Hey Pete,” Darleen said, running her fingers down my arm.
It was a small town too.
Wearing a halter top and short shorts, she leaned forward giving me an unwanted view of her cleavage. Brushing back her black feathered hair, she snapped her gum. “Funny running into you here. The last time we saw each other, you didn’t have any pants on.”
Oh for the love of God, just shoot me.
Nate did a double take. “Did you date Tammy AND sleep with Darleen?”
“Oh there wasn’t any sleeping,” Darleen offered unhelpfully.
“Pete and I went out a few times before I met you,” Tammy said to Nate, before looking at me. “But nothing happened.”
That was true because her mom came home early and my pants had stayed on. I looked at Nate. “That’s true.”
Nate narrowed his eyes at me but then turned to Tammy. “We need to talk.”
“Okay,” she said, then gave me the stink eye. He opened the door, took her by the arm and walked over to one of the picnic tables positioned nearby.
That left me with Darleen. Hot breath stroked my ear. “I think about that night all the time,” she whispered.
“Okay, we have to talk too.”
She ran a hand down the front of my shirt. “Can I sit on your lap while we talk?”
“Uh, no.” I tried to scrape together my wits. “Here’s the thing. We can’t see each other, EVER.”
“First of all, you’re the girlfriend of one of my best friends, and secondly, you are seventeen. The first you didn’t tell me, and the second you lied about.”
“Oh, Ricky knows now, and besides I’m on the pill.”
Yeah, that’ll convince the judge not to jail me for statutory rape.
The passenger door opened, and Nate flopped into the seat. “Let’s get the hell out of here.”
So Nate was having as much fun as I was. “Darleen, I have to go.” She leaned in before I could stop her and stuck a tongue in my ear. I twisted the ignition key so hard I thought it might break, but for once the old hunk of junk started. Slamming into reverse, I goosed the accelerator and hoped to God that no one was behind me. Darleen jerked back to avoid losing her head. In seconds I had circled behind the building and shot back out onto Main Street.
All this time Nate glared out the window and was silent.
Guess I’ll have to kick the rock over. “How did it go with Tammy?”
He sighed. “She dumped me. Said we can’t date anymore because she’s going to college in the fall. I don’t get it.”
“Let me clue you in. She only dates guys that have cars. If you can’t haul her ass anywhere, she wants nothing to do with you. When I was going out with her, she was always asking for rides and wanting me to buy stuff. When I refused she made up that lame ‘I’m going to college’ excuse.”
I nodded, but I didn’t add that she let me feel her up in return for some of the rides.
“I can’t believe you slept with Darleen. You’re a perv.”
Fuck you, Nate. “I didn’t know.”
He stayed silent again until we passed the ‘square.’