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Wings for Wheels
Redemption rumbled beneath the placid night. I cut the engine in my ’69 Chevy and gaze up the walk at Mary’s house where a light glows in her bedroom window upstairs. For a moment I consider just driving away, I bet doesn't even know I’m here, but then the curtain moves and the light goes out. Yepp, she saw me.
“Only the lonely, know the heartaches I’ve been through. Only the lonely know I cry and cry for you” Orbison croons from the radio. Roy’s singing about me again. I know what you mean man, but after tonight I won’t. After tonight I’ll have the only one I’ve ever wanted.
The screen door slams and Mary’s dress waves as she dances across the porch like a vision.
“Scooter, is that you?” She whispers “What are you doing here? Where have you been? No, don’t answer that. Please just go home.”
“No. Mary, I just can’t face another night alone” I jumped out of the car and walked up the porch steps towards her. “Don’t run back inside like you don’t know why I’m here. I know you do.”
“Yeah, I remember. You told me the next time you saw me we were leaving, getting the hell out of here. That was a year ago Scooter, A YEAR! Four seasons of waiting for you. Last June I would have jumped in that car and we’d be off to your “promised land” in a heartbeat, but not now. I have responsibilities now, and unlike you I keep my promises.” She yelled.
“Alright, I get it.” I was really treading on thin ice here. “You’re scared because we just ain’t as young as we were.”
“Damn right we’re not that young anymore! Look at me...”
“Hmmm” I gave her a head to toe once over “I guess you’re not the beauty you used to be, but you’re alright and that’s alright with me.”
“Shut up” She laughed “and don’t think that you can convince me to go with you.”
“Come on Mary, just show a little faith. You know... there’s magic in the night. Remember those spirits in the night...” I surveyed her eyes for the flicker of a memory and was pleased to find my last statement hit home.
“Of course I do” She was whispering again
A beater car pulled into the driveway. A woman in her fifties, dressed in a waitress uniform, pulled herself out. She was tired in ever sense on the word, walking so hunched you could almost see the boulders on her shoulders. As she walked through the side door, not even noticing us, a male voice boomed “Sugar, get me a cold one. It’s been a rough day of “job hunting”. Come on, chop chop.”
Mary suddenly found the chipping pain on her fingernails very interesting.
“Your dad still out of work?” I asked
“Kinda hard to find a job when you sit on your ass all day.”
“What are you planning on doing here? Hiding under the “protective” covering of your parents house and analyzing how painful your life has become. Keep on working down at that dive of Mel’s, have a few lovers until you find that “special” one. Well I have news for you baby, you can pray for that savior until your summer is over but he’s never going to rise from these streets.”
“Why not? Do you think I’m looking at him right now?”
“I know I’m no savior, and I’m not claiming be. All the redemption I can offer you from this place is under that dirty hood” I jabbed my thumb back at my Chevy “but think that if we can just get out of here there’s a chance we can make it good.”
“and how are we going to do that”
“I don’t know. All I know is that the only thing I want right now is to be sitting next to you with the windows rolled down, letting the wind blow back our hair. Doesn't that sound great? We can bust this night right open and let those two lanes take us anywhere. This could be our one last chance to make it real.”
A smile crept across her face “What was that you always said? Heaven is just down the tracks? How do you know what’s there?”
“We’ll case the place”
Now I had her laughing, that hearty laugh of hers that bubbled from a well of pain and desperation. God, I love that laugh.
“Alright, then what are we going to do there?”
“Well you see now, I’ve really learned how to make that guitar of mine talk. I figure I can play clubs at night to get us some money, at least until I get a record deal.”
“Hmm” she closed the space between us “I can just see it now, Headlining Tonight at the Stone Pony: BAD SCOOTER”
“We’ll be rockin all night and sleeping all day. It’ll happen, I know it” I bent my head down so our foreheads were touching, eyes locked in each others. “and all you have to do is take the walk from this porch to my front seat. The doors open, though the ride isn’t completely free.” I waited for any weakness in her eyes “I know I haven’t been the best at communication...”
“Yeah, yeah. But I’ve stayed committed to this dream haven’t I? and after tonight we’ll both be free from any promises we’ve made”
“Oh that sounds nice” she breathed, but the dawn was breaking and I could feel the night’s magic leaving. If she was coming, it was going to happen now.
“Mary, don’t let me be just one of the boys you send away. They stick around for a little, skeletons of themselves haunted by the memory of you. I bet you’re proud of that too, I bet you love it when they scream your name at night in the street. Yet dawn always breaks for them and they leave. Mary everyone’s leaving and you’ll be the only one left baby.”
“No, not everyone.” That fingernail paint was awfully interesting to her again.
“Everyone that’s going to be someone. I can’t make you do anything, all I can do is ask so here it goes. Mary climb in.”
As I pulled onto that interstate I took just one more look back in my review mirror.
It’s a town full of losers, I’m pulling out of here to win.