June 24, 2011

A '65 Mustang and Charles Manson

This is one of the pieces I've been working on at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference (SB is a great backdrop for the writing process).

Jennifer came bounding down the stairs long hair flying like a banner, small breasts jiggling beneath the low-cut, silky tank top. Her face was aglow with excitement, or maybe some dewy, tinted moisturizer.
“How do I look?” she asked, twirling, light glinting off her braces as she stood before her parents.
“You look adorable, honey,” Lora said.
Like an adorable hooker, Nick thought.
Jennifer’s eager eyes were on him. “Daddy, what do you think?”
He knew she’d probably worked on her hair for forty-five minutes, coating the bathroom with all that gel and goop, but he wanted to go over and pat it down into something calmer. Something a little more Donna Reed.
“Doesn’t she look cute, honey?” Lora prompted.
“Uh huh,” he said, but disappointment veiled Jennifer’s face and he knew he’d have to do better. He couldn’t point out that her tits were in danger of slipping out of her shirt or that her hair looked like she’d just gotten out of bed so he said, “You look very grown up,” the ultimate compliment, and was rewarded by her pleased smiled.
When the doorbell rang Nick started up out of his chair.
“Stay”, Jennifer said, putting up a hand. “I’ll get it.”
“Okay, but I want to meet him,” he said to her back. He looked at Lora who smiled and patted his knee.
“Calm down, Nick, it’s just a movie. She’ll be back in a few hours. It’ll still be light out. Her virginity will be intact.”
“It better be,” Nick said, tapping his fingers on the arm of the leather sofa, frown lines etching his brow. He picked unseen lint off the black polyester shirt that courageously attempted to camouflage his considerable stomach, and longed for the days when he could run the length of the basketball court; the days when Jennifer lay cradled against his muscular chest, sighing and tweeting like a bird.

She came back, electric with energy, her eyes bright as glass. She held the hand of a skeletal figure in low-slung jeans with tattoos painting one arm starting at his wrist and disappearing beneath the arm of his black T-shirt. Nick’s knuckles whitened. My god, he thought, it’s Charles Manson.
“Mom, Daddy, this is Brady,” Jennifer said looking adoringly at the mass murderer who smiled and put out his hand to Nick.
“Nice to meet you, sir,” he said, but Nick sat dumbly, eyes riveted to four silver studs climbing Brady’s left ear. Brady faltered, as his outstretched hand remained empty.
“Daddy…” Jennifer said. “Hell-o…”
Nick coughed. “Sorry,” he said and got to his feet. He managed a polite, if insincere, smile and gripped Brady’s hand, hard, pleased to note he had a good three inches on the boy.
Brady winced a bit but recovered nicely, turning to Lora. “Nice to meet you, Mrs. Symonds.” He smiled, flashing dimples.
“Thank you, Brady.” Lora said, clearly charmed. Nick looked at the three of them smiling beatifically at each other and thought, give me strength.
“Are you driving them to the movies or do you want me to?” he asked Lora, jingling his keys out of his pocket.
Lora laughed. “We’re not driving them, honey. I’m pretty sure those days are behind us.”
“No need,” Brady said. “I’ve got my car.”
“Your car?” Nick asked as if he’d said his Lear jet was parked out front.
“Yes, sir.”
“How old are you, son?”
“Almost seventeen, sir. I’ve had my license for six months now. I’m a very safe driver.”
Yeah, so is Evil Knievel, Nick thought while Jennifer beamed and Lora nodded.
They all walked out on the front porch and looked at the dark blue 1965 Mustang that sat in front of the house. “Is that yours? The Mustang?” It was said with reverence.
“It is, sir,” Brady said, straightening his spine.
Nick’s face softened with the album of memories paging through his mind. “I had one just like that when I was about your age,” he said. “Same color, even. I loved that car.”
“Yeah, it’s awesome,” Brady said.
“What’s under the hood?”
“V-8, 200 horses,” Brady said. “Want to take it for a spin, sir?”
“Brady,” Jennifer said, her hand tapping her leg. “The movie.”
“It’ll just take a minute.” Brady said, touching her lightly on her arm and flipping the keys to Nick.
“Mom, do something,” she said as the two men walked to the car.
“They’ll be right back,” Lora said. “It’s good. It’s a male-bonding thing. Look.” She nodded toward them as they walked to the gleaming car. Brady raised the hood and they gazed into it talking quietly.
Jennifer rolled her eyes. “Oh, great.”
Nick got in behind the wheel and Brady ran around to the passenger side.
Jennifer turned to Lora. “So what do you think of him?”
“He seems nice, honey.”
“Isn’t he cute?”
“Yes, he’s cute. He reminds me of someone.”
“I know, like a cool Justin Bieber, right?”
“No…” Lora said. The engine roared to life and she smiled. “Someone who had a ‘65 Mustang when I met him.”
“Daddy? Oh Mom, get real.”
“I know it’s hard to believe we were ever your age but your father was a fox when we met.” Jennifer chuckled at her mother’s term. “Not that he’s not cute now,” Lora added. “But back then all my girlfriends were hot for him.”
“Hard to imagine,” Jennifer said and then slid her eyes to her mother. “No offense.”
Lora laughed. “Picture him thirty pounds thinner with longish hair and those penetrating eyes,” Lora said. “He just had a way about him that drew you in.”
Jennifer cocked her head and squinted at her father.
“Actually Grandpa was a little afraid of him,” Lora said. “Thought he looked too much like Charles Manson.”
Nick put the '65 Mustang in gear, waved to them, and then peeled out, burning rubber all the way down the block.

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