Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Sweet Ride

Before I ever owned a car, I was amazed and impressed with my older brother's car. Let me amend that: my older brother's truck. It was a red Toyota. It had fat tires and a camper shell. It was in the back of that truck that we hauled all manner of things, like firewood and supplies for this and that adventure. But mostly I remember riding around in the relative comfort and safety of the business end of that truck when I wanted to see how the world was going to look when I got to be my older brother's age. From where I sat, on a bean bag chair we had appropriated from my parents' basement, looking forward, over his shoulder and watching the road stretch out in front of us.
Getting a ride from my big brother was always a lot more interesting than getting one from my mom or dad. We went places in new and different ways, and every so often, I got to ride up front. Sitting shotgun in my brother's pickup had the most significant bonus over car trips with my parents: better music. It came pouring out of those speakers from the tape deck and reverberated through the little cab in ways that made me wish for a car stereo of my own someday.
Mostly I remember the drive-in. When summer came, the Holiday Drive-In opened its two screens and I waited for the invitation for my little brother and I along with a friend or two to pile in the back. Underneath the bean bags, lawn chairs, coolers, and assorted comforts from home, we lay still while my brother pulled up to the front gate. Over the idling engine, we could hear the guy selling tickets ask, "How many?"
"Two," came the reply from the driver's seat. My older brother was always clever enough to bring somebody else in the front seat with him so as to throw the rigorous drive-in security off the scent of the five or six teens and pre-teens hidden way in the back. Once the tickets were purchased, he drove us around to the far side of the lot where, as darkness fell, we unloaded across three or four spaces, making sure the speakers worked and we were still within stumbling distance from the restrooms and snack bar.
On one particular evening, we grew tired of the feature at theater number one, we decided to check out what was playing across the way. We dragged our accouterments to the fence and tossed them over into the next lot, leaving the truck for later. Much later. At the end of the double feature, we started to round up all our blankets and chairs and Styrofoam coolers, and my brother asked one of his pals to go around and drive the truck over so we could load up our gear. After a few minutes we saw the dim silhouette of the red Toyota heading toward us, lights off to deflect attention. We could hear a scraping noise, and I believe it was my younger brother who first noticed that something was trailing after the truck.
It was the speaker from the other theater, attached to the passenger door and still connected to the pole that was neatly pulled from the ground by the absent-minded friend. We stood there in the dark, wondering what fate might have in store for us if the aforementioned Holiday Drive-In Police were to stumble on this scene. We tossed our stuff in the back end, along with the speaker and the pole, and high-tailed it out of there into the early morning shadows. Magic Times.  

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