|Photo by Steve Hull|
The Dairy Queen was just a huge big deal when it opened in Budweiser Falls. Somewhere out there at some shining corporate headquarters—a suit-and-tie-clad executive—had looked on a map and seen our town, seen us, and deemed us worthy of a franchise. Even as we dealt with the guilt of abandoning our local drugstore’s soda fountain counter, we marveled at the wonder of soft custard cones double-dipped in gold brick chocolate.
I was seventeen, shapely, and licking a dripping cone on the late spring afternoon when he pulled his little European roadster into the gravel parking lot with a roar. It squeezed between two pickups, the only other vehicles in the lot. His fleshy pink lips protruded from behind a full black beard and formed the words car trouble. Tangly-haired, he wore John Lennon spectacles which screamed to me: Imagine! Imagine you were rich enough to have your own late model import in which to zip around the countryside. His license plates said New York.
Pride rather than attraction made me prop up Dreiser’s Sister Carrie where he’d be sure to see it. Stirring a long pour of sugar in his enormous coffee, he perched on the corner of the formica table closest to me.
“You seem like an intelligent girl.” He spoke slowly in case I wasn’t.
“Why’s that? Because I can read? Go back to New York.”
“Oh, you can read.” He laughed. “Can you tell me where the garage is? Not to park, my car’s overheating.”
“Mister, in Missouri, in the country anyways, we don’t need parking garages. We have plenty of parking without paying for it. As for the auto repair, it’s kind of hard to explain. I’ll have to draw you a map. You can read a map, can’t you?”
“Couldn’t you just...uh... show me? C’mon, take a ride.”
I said it to everyone. “I’m going to show this guy where Foley’s is. If I’m not at Glee Club tomorrow, he did it.” And everyone laughed except the stranger. I closed my book, tossed my almost finished ice cream, and got in the car with him. He’d graduated college, he said, and was traveling cross country before starting law school in the fall. He was going to get a look at the Good Ole USA from the driver's seat of a fast car, and then head back East for his real life. I was local scenery, my virginity a souvenir like the shot glasses from Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky rolling around in his glove compartment.
After we dropped off his car—smoking manifold, Foley said as soon as we drove up—he asked me if I wanted to get something to eat. “Sure,” I said. “There’s a place we can walk to, and the chicken fried steak’s pretty good.”
“What the hell’s a chicken fried steak?”
“Don’t curse,” I told him.
We settled in the booth at Sunny’s, the one nearest the jukebox and looked over the glossy menus. We made our choices and Merveene the waitress who was a regular fixture there, probably still is if the Tareytons haven’t asphyxiated her, gave me the fish-eye.
“Darcy, your folks know you’re on up here with a stranger?”
“Yes, ma’am,” I lied. “But he’s no stranger. He was over at the High for Career Day. I’m interviewing him for The Igloo.”
“Uh-huh,” she said not believing a word, shifting her weight onto her back leg, jutting her hip.
“Whatchu having?” she asked Warren. “I’m guessing you like fresh grown country meat?”
“I’ll take whatever’s easy,” he answered, not backing down. “The Blue Plate Special sounds good.”
“Now, how’d I know you were going to say that? Two Hot to Trots, to stay,” she yodeled into the kitchen pass-through window for all to hear. Everyone got a good chuckle out of that: two Hot to Trots.
Warren feigned interest in the title on the thick paperback. “It’s for school,” I lied. In English we were reading Thornton Wilder—the one where all the people fall off the bridge. They never would've taught anything with even a hint of the sex act in it. I was reading it on my own, hoping to pick up some solid vocabulary words for my upcoming SATs, or so I'd told Mr. Bradley our school librarian who'd warned me: no happy ending in this one, Darcy. I’d also read Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Colette, Henry Miller, and even some of Anaiis Nin from his stacks. He had slipped these in among the tamer classics, the dirty parts being the reward for an advanced literacy. Though to my utter disappointment, there were no dirty parts in the Dreiser; it was all euphemism, suggestion, and innuendo. Now, whenever it comes up I always say that Dreiser left out the most important passages: What happened to Carrie in those rooms with Drouet and Hurstwood?
Warren Wineburg didn’t deserve my cherry, but he got it anyway.
I walked him the back way through the woods to the town’s one and only motel. He laughed when I told him for the longest time I'd thought it was called Vacancy because that’s what the neon sign always blinked. I waited outside, cowering behind the ice machine while he got the key from the office. He opened the metal door, long ago painted battleship grey, whistled for me like a hunter calling his hound, and I slipped in. Would that I’d slipped right back out!
I flipped through the Bible in the bedside table drawer while he was in the shower, on the lookout for the hottest parts in the Song of Songs—The roundings of thy thighs are like the links of a chain… Thy two breasts are like two fawns. Curious, I went into the bathroom and knelt on the closed toilet seat to watch him. His legs were not as pillars of marble set upon sockets of fine gold. His body was on the scrawny side with just a couple of bumps on his arms where the rest of the muscles were supposed to be. He was hairy, almost furry, all over, even his ass. He turned to show me his penis. It was the first man’s penis I had ever seen, though I’d seen plenty on livestock.
“I’m circumcised. Haven’t you ever seen a circumcised penis before?”
“No,” I admitted, neglecting to mention that I hadn’t seen an uncircumcised one, either.
“Put it in your mouth,” he told me. And before I’d even been kissed, I had a mouth full of what the boys called a boner. “You look pretty with my dick in your mouth. Now suck it.”
Like circumsized, the vocabulary words I picked up for the rest of our time together would never appear on my SAT test. Nothing he did really hurt me, but it didn’t feel good, either. He laughed loud and hard when he realized he was popping my cherry, the blood from my torn hymen wetting his thrusts.
“I always want to remember this night,” he said without a trace of romance. Kodak had just introduced the pocket-sized Instamatic and when he showed me his, it was another first. Flash! Me holding his hard cock between my tits. Flash! Me blowing him. Flash! Me with cum on my face. Flash! Me splayed and trussed like a Thanksgiving Day turkey. Flash! Me pretending to diddle myself with a broom he found in the closet. Flash! Flash! Flash! He used all twenty shots on the film and a pack and a half of flashcubes. But the one that hurt the most is the one where he mocked me the most. He posed me spread eagle on the bed, my hands tied behind my head with his woven canvas belt, my hair covering my face and the Budweiser Falls library’s Penguin Paperback Classic of Dreiser’s masterwork propped up on my swollen breasts. Flash!
When it was time for me to be getting home, he wouldn’t let me take a shower. Not enough towels, he said. “Let me call you a taxi, baby. I’d be a gentleman and drive you home, but…” There was no way I could have the cab pick me up at the motel, it’d be all over the county in no time. “No, I like to walk.” He urged some cash on me anyway. At the door, he cleared his throat and orated a little speech. “I had a great time. You’ve got a silken, wet pussy and a tight round ass, but your big tits are your hands down best feature. Take the money and buy a good bra, with support. Keep ‘em that way. You’ll go far in life.”
“Thank you,” I said.
Our place was just shy of three miles from the motel down a dark country road. Chafed as I was, it felt good to be loping along under the protection of the stars, both dippers directly overhead. I let the black night envelop me, the peepers trilling me home, but about half way there I realized I’d forgotten the damn book. I could never explain it being found at the motel. Oh, the shame, shame, shame of it, having to retrace my way, knock on the door and awaken him, see him leering at me cockeyed through his easy sleep, and duck under his arm on the doorpost to retrieve the book. Inside again I was momentarily frozen by the debauched setting, especially the dark stain of my very own blood bruising the sheets, the rank smell of it mixed with his semen, our sweat, the 7 and 7 he drank after I left.
Near tears I found what I was looking for on the floor at the foot of the bed face down on the nylon carpet, some pages turned in on themselves. I grabbed it and smoothed them down the best I could as I fled, stroking the bentness away. I dashed around the parking lot and down the gravel path to the road, running until my breath was spent, until I had to stop and double over, a crimp in my side, pebbles in both loafers. In the still, silent night, his voice traveled the hundred or so yards of my sprint, and when it caught up with me I heard it as clearly as if he were standing next to me, his pink wet lips inches from my ear.
“Nighty night, Sister Carrie.”