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Peggy was trying to decide between her pink poodle skirt and the black and white checkered, when her mother called from the bottom of the stairs.
“Peg,” she shouted, “You have a phone call.”
“Coming, Mom.” She tossed the skirts on her bed. “Checkers,” she thought as she scampered down the steps.
“Slow down,” her father muttered from behind the sports section of the Daily Gazette.
“Sure, Pop,” she said, not slowing down.
“You going to watch Perry Como with me tonight?” he asked.
“Got a date, Pop.”
“She’s going to the passion pit with Johnny,” Sally said in an annoying sing song voice.
Peggy gave her little sister a dirty look and went into the front hall to pick up the phone.
“Keep it short honey,” her mother called from the kitchen, “Supper is almost ready.”
Peggy picked up the phone. “Hello?”
“Hey Peg, it’s Bobby.”
Peggy drew in her breath, and a long moment passed before she said, “Are you home? I didn’t think you coming back.”
“Oh, well, I had a change of plans.”
“And you didn’t call me for, like, a month?”
“Well, I was sort of mixed up about where we left things.”
“Really? I thought it was pretty simple. You were leaving for college, I was staying here and working at Woolworth’s.”
“Aw, geez, Peg. Look, I was hoping if you weren’t doing anything tonight…”
“I have a date.”
“Supper’s on the table,” she heard her father shout.
“Coming, Pop. Bobby, I’ve got to go.”
“I’ll call you.”
“It’s a free country,” she said, and hung up. She went into the kitchen and sat at the table with the rest of her family.
She poured herself a glass of milk and dished a spoonful of tuna noodle casserole on to her plate. As she took her first bite, she heard her mother clear her throat. She looked up to see both her parents scowling at her.
“You’re going out with that Sawicki kid?” her father grumbled.
“Yeah, we’ve been going out.”
Her mother shook her head. “It’s just, that, well, we don’t think-“
“He’s a hood,” her father snapped.
Peggy sighed. “He’s not a hood.”
“I think he’s a dreamboat,” Sally said, “I think he looks like Tony Curtis.”
“You shut your tater trap,” her father said. He wagged his finger at Peggy. “You’re an adult now, so I can’t tell you not to see him, but by god, that greaseball ain’t coming in this house. I’d feel like I have to count the silverware when he left.”
“How would you know how much silverware we have?” Sally mumbled.
“I told you to shut it.”
His wife patted his hand. “Honey, don’t get riled.”
“Has he even got a job?”
“Yes,” Peggy said, “He works at the Texaco station.”
“Pump jockey, there’s a career.”
“He’s a mechanic.”
“Peggy,” her mother said in a tone that she probably thought was soothing, “We are just worried. We don’t want you to get into any more boy trouble.”
Peggy angrily chewed a bite of casserole, then, trying to sound calm, said, “I can take care of myself.”
Her father muttered something under his breath, and the conversation withered away.
When everyone had finished eating, Peggy’s mother forced a smile on her face and said, “Who wants dessert? We’ve got Jello!”
Peggy declined the offer, and excused herself from the table. She went back up to her bedroom to prepare for her date. She matched a mint green sleeveless blouse with the checkered skirt. With a pair of ankle socks and her saddle shoes, she thought she had a cute look.
She touched up her fingernails and make up, then brushed her hair and tied it in a ponytail.
Checking the clock, she saw that she still had a little time before Johnny was due to pick her up. She sat and looked at her reflection in her vanity mirror.
Bobby’s call had really unsettled her. Why did he have to come back to town and confuse things? She had spent months getting over him. Or she thought she had. Now she wasn’t so sure.
A beeping car horn pulled her out of her thoughts. She dashed down the stairs.
“A man knocks on the door, he doesn’t sit in the car and blow the horn,” her father griped.
“You said he couldn’t come to the house,” she reminded him.
“You should take a sweater, honey,” her mother said.
“Mom, it’s eighty degrees outside.”
“You’ll get chilly once it’s dark.’
“Not with Johnny, she won’t,” Sally snickered.
“I’ll be fine, Mom,” Peggy said.?
“If you come home late, come home quiet,” her father hollered as she headed out the door.
Johnny was at the curb, leaning on the hood of his red and white DeSoto. He looked good in his blue jeans and tight white t-shirt. There was something in the way he rolled his pack of Lucky Strikes in his shirt sleeve that she found sexy.
One of the Lucky’s was hanging from his lips as she skipped across the lawn.
“Hey, good lookin”, whatcha got cookin’?” he said as he flicked the cigarette butt at the storm drain next to the driveway. It went straight in.
Peggy kissed him, and he opened the passenger door şirinevler türbanlı escort for her. She got in and slid to the center of the seat. Johnny came around and got behind the wheel. He started the engine, then draped his arm over her shoulders as he pulled away from the curb. Connie Francis was on the radio, singing Lipstick On Your Collar.
Route 37 was crowded with cruising cars, as it usually was on summer Saturday night. It seemed like music was coming from the open windows of every car; Paul Anka and Elvis, Bobby Darin and Sam Cooke, the Drifters and the Coasters and the Platters. Peggy wondered how many balmy evenings she had spent with her friends, endlessly making the loop from Veteran’s Park to Hamburger Haven. It seemed sort of juvenile now, but there wasn’t much else to do. When they passed the Dairy Queen, she remembered all the nights she had gone there last summer with Bobby. If she had said yes when he called, they might be sitting at one of the picnic tables together right now. She felt a twinge of guilt at the thought, and leaned closer against Johnny.
Traffic was backed up turning into Hamburger Haven. While they inched forward, Johnny put his hand on Peggy’s knee. She looked at him and rolled her eyes, but did not object. He slid his hand up the inside of her thigh, pushing the hem of her skirt with it. She grabbed his wrist just a few inches short of his goal.
“What’s the hurry, mister?” she asked him.
“I can’t help it if you’re irresistible, baby.”
“Just drive for now, Romeo.” She gestured with her head, “You’re holding up traffic.”
Johnny looked up and saw that the way was clear. He turned into the parking lot and found a space. A car hop skated over and they ordered milkshakes, chocolate for Johnny, strawberry for Peggy. Just as their order arrived, the back door opened and Bill Wilson and Millie Johnson squeezed into the back seat.
“You guys going to the drive in?” Bill asked.
“Natch,” Johnny said, “Like, where else would we go?”
“There’s always the lake.”
Johnny leered at Peggy. “You want to skip the movies and just go make out at the late?”
Peggy snickered. “If I’m going to make out with you, I want to at least get popcorn.”
Millie dug in her purse and pulled out a pint bottle. “You guys want a little kick in your shakes?”
Johnny peered over the seat. “Whatcha got?”
“Johnny Walker Red.”
“Is that the good stuff?”
“I guess so.”
“I think Black is the good stuff,” Peggy said.
“It’s all good stuff,” Johnny shrugged. He held out his glass, and Millie poured a shot of whiskey into it.
“How about you, Peggy-O?” she asked.
“Sure, why not?” Millie spiked Peggy’s shake.
Peggy stirred the whiskey into her shake, then took a long sip from her straw.
“That hits the spot, doesn’t it?” Bill asked with a grin.
Peggy nodded. The whiskey went down smooth, and the buzz came quickly.
“Say, did you guys hear about Carol Burke?” Millie asked, “Word is, she’s knocked up.”
“No kidding,” Johnny said, “Ain’t she going with Eddie Carter?”
“Well, he always went out with girls who were easy,” Bill said.
Peggy almost choked on her milkshake. Millie punched Bill on her arm.
“Oh,” he said, sheepishly, “Sorry, Peg, I forgot that you and him…”
Peggy shrugged and gave him a dismissive wave. “It’s okay.”
Millie pulled on Bill’s sleeve. “We ought to get going,” she said.
“Yeah, right, okay,” he nodded, “Maybe we’ll see you guys later.”
Johnny watched as they climbed out of his back seat. He took his pack of Lucky’s from his sleeve, tapped one out and pushed in the dashboard cigarette lighter.
“You want me to go kick his ass?” he asked Peggy.
The lighter popped and Johnny touched it to his cigarette.
“Why would you do that?”
“Cause he was talking trash about you.”
Peggy patted him on the knee and shook her head. “He didn’t mean anything by it.”
“Okay.” Johnny shrugged and whistled for the car hop. When she had taken away their glasses, he backed out and turned on to the road, stepping on the gas hard enough to burn a little rubber. A short distance ahead, a towering shape, outlined in purple neon, rose in the gathering darkness. Across the top, bright orange and yellow letters proclaimed Star Lite Drive-In.
Peggy read the marquee as they pulled into the entrance line.
From Neptune It Came
“Why is it called ‘From Neptune It Came’ and not ‘It Came From Neptune?'” she asked Johnny.
“It’s more dramatic like, I guess.”
“Something tells me it won’t be all that dramatic.”
“Maybe they should have called it, like, It Came from Uranus,” Johnny said, guffawing at his own joke.
Peggy rolled her eyes. Why were the good looking ones always so dumb?
They reached the ticket booth and Johnny paid, then rolled into the drive in lot. It looked like about half the parking spaces were already şirinevler ucuz escort filled. Johnny was always picky about where to park, and Peggy hoped that he wouldn’t drive around and around looking for a perfect spot. He drove back about half way, then turned and crept along past a half dozen open spaces.
“This one looks good,” he said at last, pulling in to face the screen. “Not too far forward, not too far from the snack bar.” He took the metal speaker off its stand, rolled his window half way up, and hung the speaker on the glass. It was emitting tinny muzak, so he turned it all the way down and turned up the radio. The Flamingoes were singing I Only Have Eyes For You.
“There, you go,” Johnny said, leering at Peggy, “That’s some romantic stuff.”
“Take it easy, fella, the movie hasn’t even started yet.”
Johnny laughed. “So you want popcorn, huh?”
“Okay, well, it’s getting pretty dark, there’s probably a long line. But I’ll be back.”
“Well, I sure hope so!” She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek.
He got out, and Peggy sat forward and turned the rear view mirror, intending to check her make up. But as she adjusted it, something caught her eye. She tilted the mirror to try for a better look. It was a bright yellow Chevy, just like Bobby drove. She turned around and looked over the seat and through the back window. Sure enough, two rows behind her and one space to the right, Bobby sat in the Chevy’s drivers seat.
She leaned over to the drivers side and looked back toward the concession stand. There was no sign of Johnny. She got out and marched toward Bobby’s car. Halfway there, she saw him notice her with a startled expression on his face.
“Robert Davidson, are you following me around?” She barked.
Someone laughed from a nearby car, and Peggy heard a voice cry, “Somebody’s in for it,” but she ignored it.
Bobby blushed and looked up at her, standing next to his car with her hands balled into fists on her hips.
“What? Gosh, no, Peg, I didn’t even know you were here.”
“But by coincidence, you parked two rows behind us?”
“Who is us? I don’t even know who you came with.”
“I came with Johnny Sawicki. We parked right over there.”
“Really? You’re going out with that lunkhead?”
“He’s very nice.” She leaned in closer to him. “And he’s pretty darn handsome.”
Bobby scoffed. “You can do better, Peg.”
“Oh, you mean, like with you? Or wait, you’re confused. I forgot. And I’m just curious, but who goes to the drive in alone?”
“I didn’t come alone. I came with Carl and Butch, but they saw a couple of girls they knew and took off with them.”
Peggy glanced toward the concession stand, making sure that Johnny was not on his way back. “Enjoy the show,” she said to Bobby as she turned away.
“Remember in school, we called him Icky Sawicki?” Bobby called, sticking his head out the window.
She lifted her middle finger to him as she stomped back to Johnny’s car.
She flopped into the passenger seat and slammed the door. She wasn’t even sure why she was so angry. Really, she believed Bobby when he said that it was an innocent coincidence that he was at the drive in. But his presence in town meant she would have to face feelings she would just as soon not have to deal with. He had escaped this dreary town, she was stuck here. Why hadn’t they escaped together? And if his return meant that there was another chance that they could, would she take it?
The drivers door opened and Johnny slipped back into the car, carrying a big bag of popcorn and two cups of Pepsi. He handed one cup to Peggy and set the other on the dashboard, just as the big screen lit up.
“Cool,” he said, turning up the volume on the speaker,
“I’m just in time for the coming attractions.”
Peggy was usually interested in what was coming soon, but she was still stewing about Bobby and paying no attention to what was on the screen. Some war movie, it looked like. Robert Mitchum was wearing a helmet.
“I’m definitely coming to this one,” Johnny said while jamming a fistful of popcorn in his mouth.
Peggy grunted in reply.
“You want to come with me to see it?” he asked.
“Maybe. We’ll see.”
A second trailer began. Burt Lancaster was kissing some blonde. That got Peggy’s attention despite herself.
“This looks like more your style,” Johnny said, “Some kind of romance.”
“I think you don’t like kissing in movies.”
“I like kissing AT the movie, better than IN the movies,” he said, leaning over and kissing her cheek.
She could not resist giggling. He really was a lunkhead, but he could be sweet and silly in such an endearing way. She turned her head and kissed him on the lips. He leaned back and grinned.
“Now, see,” he said, “That was better than Burt Lancaster, wasn’t it?”
Probably not, she thought, but she kissed him again, then took a handful of popcorn.
A Woody Woodpecker cartoon came on, and Johnny draped his arm over her shoulders, şişli escort settling in to watch it. He guffawed loudly all the way through, and she could not help laughing along with him.
By the time the cartoon had ended, the last light of the day was gone. A garishly lettered message came on the screen, reading And Now! Time For The Show!!!. It faded and was replaced by giant white letters in a dripping font.
From Neptune It Came
The title was accompanied by a sudden blare of music from the speaker that startled Peggy enough to make her toss some of her popcorn in the air.
“See, it’s scary already,” Johnny said, laughing.
The movie began with a shot of a young couple, making out in a convertible in some shadowy lovers lane.
“That could be us,” Johnny said, squeezing Peggy’s shoulder.
Suddenly the couple were interrupted by a flash of light in the sky, followed by a loud crashing sound. After a few seconds of wondering what had happened, the couple locked lips again, but a moment later a dark shape rose in front of them, and there was nothing left of them but their screams.
Over the next few scenes, more people were attacked by the looming shape; a truck driver caught while changing a flat tire, a fat highway patrolman, an old man who inexplicably seemed to be a forty niner prospecting for gold.
“I think that guy wandered in from some other movie,” Peggy said.
“It makes up for some of the people who are probably wandering out about now,” Johnny replied.
The movie soon bogged down into a series of scenes of government and military personnel trying to discover the source of the attacks, which, somehow, was related to a missing space probe or something. Peggy was having trouble following along. Her mind kept returning to Bobby. I should have really told him off. No, I should have been nice, maybe even blown Johnny off and gone out with him. Heck, I’d probably still be watching the same dumb monster movie.
She began to feel agitated. She tried to see if she had a view of his car in the side mirror, but the reflection was as black as the Neptune monster.
“I need to visit the lady’s room, ” she told Johnny, “I’ll be right back.”
“Okay,” he said, around a mouthful of popcorn.
Walking carefully in the darkness, she approached Bobby’s car. It was still there, but she couldn’t see inside. She crossed to the passenger side and opened the door. The dome light came on, almost blinding her, but she could see that he was still alone.
Bobby shielded his eyes with his hand. “Peggy?”
She got in and shut the door. The light went off.
“You dump the dummy?” he asked.
“No, I didn’t dump the dummy…I mean, Johnny. I want to know why are you still here.”
“I’m watching the movie.”
“Really? Because the last movie you took me to was just a bunch of people staring at the camera and talking in Swedish. I can’t imagine you’re that interested in It Came From Uranus.”
“Neptune. From Neptune It Came.”
“Well, I can think of other stuff that seems to come from your anus…”
Bobby shrugged. “I paid for the movie, I’m watching it. In fact I paid for Carl and Butch as well.”
“Ha. You got dumped. Serves you right.”
Bobby threw his hands up in the air. “I didn’t dump you. Things just worked out that we had to go our separate ways.”
“You told me that you loved me, but then said you were never coming back to this nowhere town. Those were your exact words. Then you do come back and don’t even call me.”
“I called you this afternoon.”
“After being home for a month. Then you don’t take no for an answer, and you turn up here when I’m with somebody else.”
“That was just a coincidence, honest, Peg.”
“Okay, fine, but then you stuck around. What did you think? That if you waited, I’d jump out of Johnny’s car and come running to you?”
Bobby chuckled. “Well…you did.”
“I came because I want to know what’s going on with you. Why did you come back?”
“I had a summer job lined up at school, but it fell through at the last minute, so I came home to help my dad in the hardware store.”
“So, why didn’t you call me when you got back?”
He sank in his seat. “I didn’t think you’d want to see me. And besides, I’m not going to stay. I’d just end up leaving you again.”
Peggy moved closer to him. “But you’re here now, and so am I.”
“Well you’re going with Sawicki now.”
“We date, we aren’t going steady. And I know for a fact that he’s screwing around with Marsha Dixon.”
Bobby sat back up. “So, what if I ask you again to go out with me?”
“I guess there’s a way you could find out.”
He leaned closer to her. “Peggy, will you go out with me?”
She flipped her ponytail, feigning nonchalance.
He leaned in further, his face only inches from hers.
“Peggy, please go out with me.”
His lips were almost touching hers. “Peggy…” he whispered.
Her lips brushed his, then pressed against them. He put his hand on her shoulder and kissed her back. Her lips parted and his tongue slid between them. She ran her hand through his hair as he kissed her deeply. An image came to her mind, of Johnny looming up in front of the car, like he had just landed from Neptune. She pulled away, pushing Bobby to arm’s length.
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