Twilight Road - Ellis County
Father Figures and Ford Mustangs is series of fiction on the actions and dreams of a young man, reared in rural Texas. The series is part of my upcoming book and my first piece of new prose for The Housewrighter.
Mike pushed hard on the sides of his head, attempting to hold his hair flat against the force of the wind blowing from the open convertible top. His chemically straightened mop was no match for Ellis county roads at high rates of speed. He was reluctant to grasp the top of his overgrown bangs so he didn't come off like Audrey Hepburn on a scooter in Roman Holiday. He knew he still looked completely ridiculous, but his self-conscious calculations could not be restrained, and so he continued to push, looking more and more like he was covering his ears to block the shriek of a passing ambulance. With his hands occupied, the bolo tie round his neck swished back-and-forth across his gaunt torso. While he was the second tallest guy in his class of 300, he thought his height insignificant supported by a mere 155 pounds. The discounted Guess jeans he wore were easily a 1/2 inch too short for gangly legs. The black and white printed rayon shirt made his pale skin appear pearlescent, and his dark brown eyes seemed as black and one-dimensional as a shark's. Still, a booming voice, laser -wit, and a fervent curiosity made him gregarious enough to ask questions that well-heeled kids would not have asked. He did not belong in this fast-moving foursome, but he was good company, especially when no one else was around. He would later understand the true nature of being the sidekick.
Angie, in the backseat, let her flowing raven locks whip with the gale. Mike noticed how the ends of her hair slapped aggressively at her high cheekbones, and yet she did nothing to prevent it. She was locked into the music, the speed, and sadly Mike thought, the driver. Andrew was cool without equal, handsome beyond reproach, and was the first to sport a real navy bomber jacket after the release of Top Gun. The enormous question vexing Mike on this evening, besides was this particular high-speed junket through Garret, TX going to be his last, was: who did he love more, Angie or Andrew?
Only a year prior, in his sophomore year, Mike was an honor student, addicted to basketball, board games, and vocabulary words. Cool was a manifestation of his own ideas, the path he followed was cut through the marsh of his own nightly imaginings. The wants of puberty, the need for physical release, and the camaraderie associated with the other sex was not yet a concern. The Bard, Juan, and the two Dereks had been his usual companions. Their carefully planned weekends involved premature pattern baldness beer buys, campouts, drinking truth, masturbation dares, and the kind of unity that could only be disrupted by oxygen inhalation and sunrises. He often wondered how this could change, and frequently, he just questioned why his friends could be so short-sided. Why did they need girlfriends, and what was he missing? Mother tried to reassure him that his time would come, he would love and be loved, and that all of this would be a bad dream. Accepting that was basically self-mutilation. Acknowledging that life would get better, once it got bigger, was a copout. He had no capacity for patience, nor strategy. If being cool was now the game, then the game was on, and he would simply be what he needed to be, when he needed to be it.
Kelly had money. Her Dooney and Bourke purse collection made the blue-collar girls seethe with envy. She often changed purses between classes depending on the temperature in the upcoming window-less classrooms. The small clutch worked much better with the cashmere sweater for English class, while the full-strap in bright pink was very cute with a lab apron in chemistry. She drove a red Saab convertible with a manual transmission. Her aggression with the stick followed her to the bedroom, Mike supposed. She was bitchy in an adult way, in a Mother sort of capacity. Humor, sarcasm, and prodding could sometimes bring her to offer an uncomfortable smile, but typically, she simply pushed at her hair, or tugged at her skirt, when confronted with a confusing (i.e. intelligent) remark. All of this being said, he still imagined her naked on occasions when he felt slighted, and that was often. It mattered little, as she was only want to be wooed by Andrew's class. Older, wealthier, and of preferable genetic stock, there would be no consideration of less, not without more Mad Dog, and much, much more privacy.
The 1987 Mustang GT 5.0 was the most spectacular car on the market. 3 boys drove them in Ellis county. A bright red convertible with black top owned by the most elegant guy in school, a blue and grey two-tone hardtop driven by the quiet farmer turned drug merchant, and the most wonderful of all, the black on black convertible currently carving a contrail of high-speed exhaust near the Boggy Creek bridge. $28,000.00 seemed like such a deal for 225 horses of guaranteed copulation. Andrew was very secure in himself, so long as he had his entourage. Mike was always quick to volunteer for posse duty, and on this night, there was nowhere else on earth he would have chosen to be.