Once upon a time there was a girl and a boy. They were, one would guess, approximately 19 years old each.
The rain storm was finishing up. The smell of water and wet trees filled the air. Tentative beams of hazy sunlight shined here and there. It was late Sunday, and no one was in the industrial part of town. Warehouses of masonry, store fronts selling sandwiches where no doubt workers took lunch in droves during the week; now empty. Industrial parks are not designed to be beautiful, but beauty can happen accidentally. Large and small hulking structures balancing each other out, lanky, reaching tubes and troughs stories high, the math of supporting scaffolding, flat unused fields, wet red bricks, busy machinery stopped in mid sentence, still, silent.
And man, these two were horny. If there was one thing they knew for certain, more certainly than any of the stupid grown ups in their lives, they were without a doubt, in LOVE. They also lived with their parents. This car was their one get away, their one ticket to being alone.
The air was clean from the rain, aromatic and salty like the ocean side.
“Open your vent window” she said.
“The quarter glass?”
“My granddad calls it the quarter glass”. She laughed. Air whipped through the car tossing her hair in celebration of youth. The car glided down a long city street. Somewhere around here there had to be a convenience store and condoms. And a seedy hotel.
Everything everything everything was closed. They were the only two people on earth driving around on streets that made a slick swoosh noise against the tires from all the rain water. There was nothing that could be done, unless that one sign up ahead was lit up for a reason. They kept driving, hope in their hearts.
“Let’s get coconut oil, a whole bunch of shoe strings, batteries, three rolls of tape, a bottle of tequila and a big box of condoms”, he laughed. She shrieked,”Nooo”, then added, “And salad tongs”.
“Ew”, he said, and then, “Let THEM figure it out” in imitation of his favorite comedian George Carlin. They walked across a lonely parking lot that was festooned with little puddles and potholes. In 1967 it was clean, flat, new. It hadn’t been repaved since, until now, in 1989, it was broken here and there with green shoots of grass, potholes, loose gravel… As an after thought, while looking distractedly at the sky, she said, “I don’t think they’ll have trouble figuring it out”.
They sat in the car, more forlorn than embarrassed. “How does a convenience store not have any condoms!?” she demanded openly.
“If you are able to direct your customers to the nearest hotel, you should also have condoms in stock.” he pronounced authoritatively. “I mean, I’m not businessman or nothing…”
“And two cashiers working on a night like this? In case there’s an emergency mopping situation, or…” she wondered sardonically.
They drove around. They drove past the hotel, in and out of the streets that branches from the main street. The small town had become a town of just one open convenience store. Full night materialized. They couldn’t wait any longer.
To older eyes, it’s a cube shaped room, a perfunctory door with a no nonsense lock and one raggedy a/c unit in the window, linens crawling with who knows what… To the young, it’s drawn that way, rough, new, dubious, odd, romantic; the strangeness of the world.
We don’t get this many channels at home. My parents say we don’t need an HBO box. Rolling around. The impossible moment. Feeling each other. Knowing. Playing. Ok, one more shot. This tequila smells like polish remover. Light some candles. This is the worst movie ever made. What’s it called? “TerrorVision”. It’s better than, “Beetlejuice”. What!? Holding. Total trusting. Falling. Love.
He held the phone to his ear even though it always caused pain to the cartilage. He hated talking on the phone.
“I love you.”
“I love you, too. Why are you crying?”
“I don’t know… (don’t you know? she thought to herself)”.
He listened to the hum of central air coming from the registers.
“I better go”, she said.
“Ok, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
He looked at her stomach. It seemed like an obvious thing to do; like something in a bad movie. He didn’t turn his head, just his eyes to see her abdomen. This made it all the more obvious. She glared at him.
“I’m probably not pregnant”, she finally said.
They drove, but on the other side of town from the industrial park. Occasional Amish buggies. The smell of hay and cow paddies. They were calm, pleasant, gentle with each other. They were in a dead panic and they both knew it.
Five months later the panic had turned to low energy. His eyes drooped with fatigue as he glanced at her middle. So flat. Maybe they were safe.
“We need to know” she said. They looked at each other, then walked together to the car and drove into town.
The doctor’s office smelled clean and cool. It was reassuring in that you felt very sure it was not going to be anything other than chemistry, medicine, clean, procedures. Not a romantic destination. This is where it gets handed to you; the truth.
“You’re sterile”, the doctor said, looking at him.
Both Thriftmart clerks looked up. These kids looked like they just robbed the easiest bank in the world to break into, or were about to. A pint of tequila, a box of chocolate ice cream, a pair of furry handcuffs, and a pair of salad tongs landed on the counter without ceremony. To one side was a counter top rotating display rack stocked from top to bottom with Trojan Brand condoms of so many varieties that some of the had to be a joke. The tall skinny clerk subliminally glanced to the condom stand, to him, saw the smirk, subliminally nodded and proceeded to check out the items.
Outside, strange gray orange clouds gathered. One heroic bolt of lightening arched across the sky.
“Open the quarter windows”, she said.