HEAVEN IN A ’61 FORD FALL 1966

Bobbi Jo was sitting on the hood of my grandmother’s ’61 Ford. She had on her Trinity High cheerleading uniform. Shorter royal blue skirt with gold inserts, a white oxford shirt with a royal blue Block T letterman’s sweeter. White and blue saddle oxfords over white socks finished an ensemble recognized by cheerleaders everywhere in the fall of 1966.

“John Edward, do you have a date or are you meeting someone?”

“No I was just going to Brannon’s for something to eat.”

“Would you like company?”

Bobbi Jo must be between boyfriends. She tended to drift back into my life when she was in between boyfriends. I didn’t ask because I was afraid the answer would be yes. Instead I said, “Sure, why not.” She raised her hand above her head and waved. A Volkswagen Beetle fired up and sped away from the parking lot. Her father had waited making sure she had her ride. I helped her down off her perch and walked her around to the passenger side. After opening the door for her I tried, and failed, not to watch her skirt ride up as she slid in.

She sat on her side of the car. There seemed to be a gulf between us. In different times, she would have been tucked in close…maybe she would be there again…the hopes of a teenaged boy with raging hormones and so in love it hurt. I immediately regretted turning on the radio as I heard the Beach Boys lament, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we were older, if we didn’t have to wait so long….”

“You are too pensive. Maybe this wasn’t a good idea.”

“Bobbi Jo, if you will start acting like the smart-ass Bobbi Jo I know, I’ll be fine. All this sudden care is confusing me. I feel like I’m tip toeing through a minefield anyway. I haven’t seen or heard from you in two months.” The radio and the Association reminded me that “cherish is a word I use to describe all the feelings I have hiding here for you inside….”

“Here you are back in my life again. Don’t get me wrong, I like you being here but I surely don’t understand you or us.”

I pulled into Brannon’s and rolled down my window for the curb hop who asked “For here or to go?” Bobbi Jo surprised me by saying, “Get some burgers and drinks to go, won’t you?”

Once our order had been filled I asked where she wanted to go and she smiled her Bobbi Jo smile, “Do I need to draw you a map. Think you can still find the way?” She also moved over to the center and encircled my arm with hers and rested her head on my shoulder. Her left breast was burning a wonderful hole through my right bicep. From the radio, Jackie Wilson sang, “Your love is lifting me higher….”

The way was a dirt road leading to a bluff overlooking the river, through a canopy of water oaks and on to the bottom lands across from Trinity. Next to the river, the oaks filled in tightly to create an almost impregnatable tangle except at a clearing used as a turn around. This was our destination. Bobbi Jo and I had spent many weekend evenings watching “submarine races” on this spot…slowly progressing around the bases that had until now ended at third.

“I am always amazed at how quiet it is out here and how it always seems to glow with its own light. Listen to the silence. It’s as beautiful as you Bobbi Jo. Maybe you’re where the glow comes from.”

“Romantic Devil! John Edward, I need to ask a question and if I don’t do it now I may not have the fortitude to do it later. Do you want to make love to me?”

I wondered if my chest might explode. Could she hear my heart? My heart beat was pounding in my ears, surely, she could hear it pounding in my chest.

Before I could answer she went on, “I know I have treated you badly at times. Terribly I guess. Can you forgive me? I always thought when I did it for the first time it would be with you. I’m not asking for any commitments. I just want to do it with someone I trust and love…even if it is in my own way.”

I knew I was smiling, I just hoped it wasn’t a goofy smile. “Bobbi Jo…I’ve always…loved you? I don’t know if it’s true love or forever love…I kind of doubt it considering our history. But as sure as that river is wet I want to make love to you.”

“Do you mind if the food gets cold?”

Excerpt from “Heaven in a ’61 Ford” You’ll have to wait a bit to read the conclusion. Spring, 2017.

For more of Don Miller’s unique views of life, humor and Southern stories of a bygone time, try http://goo.gl/lomuQf

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