He had a dimple in his chin. That was the first sign. He had a Dodge Challenger with over 500 horse-power. That was the second sign. He had a wife with a butt that fit snug in these jean shorts. That was the third sign. He moved in next door, at the end of August.
I was worried about middle school. No—terrified.
He had a daughter, my age, who wore these see-through dresses without a bra. I wanted to prove myself, the first day I saw her.
I graduated from reading comic books to chapter books. Then, the Hardy Boys.
My dad was working as an engineer. He wore white shirts with thin black ties.
When I asked him about women, he pretended not to know, but that couldn’t be right. He married my mother, didn’t he?
“Dad, how do I get the neighbor girl’s attention?”
“Read your book.”
Before the first day of school, there was a knock at our door. My dad answered.
It was the owner of that Dodge Challenger.
“Hey, my wife has her hands full, straddling a pole, at the Pussy Cat. Can we carpool? I can pick them up, on my way home from work.”
“What is it that you do?” My dad asked.
“I’m a stunt man.”
My dad looked at him, like he was a teenage stud that never grew up. He had pomade in his hair. He had a tattoo of mini mouse doing something obscene near his bicep.
“What’s your name?” My dad asked.
“And you have a daughter?”
“Yes. Her name is Leanne. She won’t give you any trouble. Can you take her to school?”
“Oh—all right. And, you’ll bring them home?”
“Yep. What your name?”
He waved, as if that was supposed to inspire trust. When his beast of an engine rolled over, it was like a monster waking up.
“Guys like that, don’t get very far in life,” my dad said with a smirk.
I thought about the man’s hot wife, and didn’t say anything.
His daughter was standing at the bottom of our driveway. My dad backed-out his Corolla and we all got in.
I was sitting next to her. I couldn’t believe it.
“Nice rings,” I said.
“Do you want a suck?”
“It’s a candy ring. Here—see.” She licked her hand. “Cherry. What did you think I meant?”
My dad switched on the radio. Expect a recession, just like the Great Depression, it said.
“Doom and gloom—that’s all they ever say. You can bet, a lot of hard-working people will lose their jobs, while lazy government employees keep theirs.”
“My dad says that there’s security in the stunt business, if you’re willing to break your neck,” Leanne said.
“Your dad’s an idiot.”
“He married my mom.”
“What is it, that she does again?”
“She entertains men—like yourself.”
“Why you little…”
“We’re here, dad. Got to go.”
When I got out, it was like Leanne had never been in my car. She didn’t know me.
I won a chess tournament at lunch, while I spied on her. She was sitting next to an ape.
When school let-out, I couldn’t wait to sit next to her, again.
Exhaust, from the Beast, choaked several crossing guards.
“Don’t you know, your carbon footprint is the size of Goliath?” One of the fat feminists said. She had reflectors draped across her big belly.
Charles ignored her. Probably, because he had a pair like Goliath. “Get in, honey.”
Leanne got in next to her daddy. “What’s wrong with you?” She asked.
“Oh—just a bad break,” Charles said. “Hazard of the job.”
His arm was in a sling. I could tell it was fractured in three places, where the blood betrayed where the bone had popped out of the flesh.
“Will you be able to work?” She asked in a worried voice.
“Don’t worry about your daddy. I’m driving a hot-rod under a semi-truck tomorrow. I can do that with one hand.”
Leanne cried. “I love you daddy. I don’t want you to die.” She jumped on him and hugged him.
“Ouch. Hey son, will you get me my pills back there?”
“Oxy? I don’t think you’re supposed to take that while you’re driving?”
“Don’t worry; they also say not to drink and drive.”
“Mom’s going to be pissed that you broke your arm,” Leanne said.
“That’s why I got her concert tickets.”
We were driving through a part of town I didn’t know. I saw the street sign. Vincent Boulevard.
“I just got to make a quick stop,” Charles said. “I have to talk to some Russians. Luckily, they speak English.”
All the hair on the back of my neck was squirming. It felt like I had worms in my stomach.
Charles pulled-up to a bald man in a leather jacket.
“You got the stuff?”
“I got the stuff, but why should I give it to you?”
“I’m good for it.”
“If you’re not, we’re going to take more than your life.”
He was looking at Leanne with lust. He handed something to Charles in a brown paper sack.
When I got home and got out of his car, it felt good. I waved to Charles.
“See yah, kid.”
Then I went to tell my dad.
“Vincent Boulevard is in the red-light district. That man must be a gambling addict—among other things. I don’t want you riding with him again.”
“But how am I going to get home from school?”
“You can walk!”
“That’s 7 miles!”
“I did more than that, when I was your age—and I did it in the snow.”
“She’s working late—six 12s, this week. There’s a shortage of nurses.”
When I went to bed, I couldn’t stop thinking about Leanne.
To be continued…