by Lord Malinov
Evan smiled as he waited for the red light to change. The grey interior of the rental car smelled of vinyl, plastic and carpet, the sharp twang of a brand new automobile. Evan liked the distinctive aroma of newness, even when the odometer had already clocked seven thousand miles and the smell had come from a spray can. A map lay folded on the passenger seat. Evan watched the white headlights streaming toward him in the cross traffic and the red cascade as they drove past the intersection.
“Chambers Road didn’t used to have nearly this much traffic,” he said. Evan checked his watch. The meetings at the factory had lasted too long for his taste. He felt bad, leaving Ray and Greg on their own. Evan looked up the Pike, as the road faded beneath the dark shadows of overhanging elms. He’d pointed the guys toward the hot spots, and that would have to do. The light turned green. Evan pushed the accelerator and the car leapt forward.
The Pike lead through some of the old suburbs, and Evan watched familiar houses passing by in the dark, reading the names as the small green street signs were illuminated for a moment by his headlights.
“Ash,” he said, looking quickly down the dark road for a tall white Victorian. “Jack’s,” he said, although he didn’t quite see the house he’d looked for. “Birch,” he recited. “Cary Ann’s.” Evan grinned. “Walnut. The Broger twins.” The Pike turned and slipped down a long hill. New developments filled spaces that Evan remembered as open fields with clusters of houses and young trees. “Jesus,” said Evan. “I’ll bet Whisker’s Pond is gone.”
The old road straightened and narrowed as the town lights surrendered their faint opposition of the night. Evan glided familiarly along the asphalt, between the golden glow of the center line and a dash of white. Warehouses, long featureless buildings stood shrouded in a protective blanket of light, filling a few miles on the left. “Bragg’s farm,” said Evan, shaking his head.
Evan slowed as bright red lights suddenly erupted in the empty darkness, the lever arms of warning gates descending to stop him in the middle of nowhere. Evan smiled, gripping the wheel, and leaned forward to look down the tracks. A faint white light approached rapidly from the distance, growing brighter as the ground began to rumble. “Some things never change,” said Evan, looking at his watch. “The nine-forty-three.” The big Santa Fe engines shook the car as they roared past with a burst of their whistles.
The last car of the long train flew past with a rattle and the gates lifted and dimmed, opening the road to the darkness. Evan pushed the gas pedal down and the car slowly shuddered over the twin pairs of railroad tracks. Evan picked up speed and rolled thoughtlessly along a path he had driven a thousand times before.
A tall pole held the yellowed sign high above the gravel parking lot. “Racks,” said Evan. His heart pounded a strong steady beat as his tires bit into the grey rocks. Two tall pickups sat in the east end of the lot. A half dozen cars lined the west side. Evan pulled up beside the trucks and pushed the gear lever up. He took a deep breath and smiled. “How many times have I done this?” he said. Evan reached for the key, but the car refused to let go. He jiggled and twisted the round plastic head. It wouldn’t budge. Evan turned on the dome light and searched the steering column until he found a button. The key popped out, easily. Evan shook his head and stepped out of the rental car. The door closed with a gentle click, despite the energetic shove Evan had given it.
His shoes kicked the small bits of gravel as Evan slowly approached the building. The neon sign over the door buzzed, same as ever, and the small dark windows had the same dirty sheen. Evan pulled open the chrome and glass door and stepped into his old haunt.
“Sir,” a young woman said, looking up in surprise. “I’m sorry, but the kitchen is about to close.” Evan looked around. The room was filled with tables, each covered with a white tablecloth, folded napkins and the flickering light of a candle.
“Wow,” said Evan. “A restaurant?”
“Sure,” said the hostess. “If you want something simple, I might be able to talk the cook into it.”
“No,” said Evan, looking for signs of the bar he once knew. “Could I just get a beer and sit for a while?”
“No problem,” said the hostess. “You want to sit at the bar or would you like a table?”
“Where’s the bar?” Evan asked.
“Back along that wall,” said the hostess. Evan walked around a tall potted palm and caught a glimpse of the heavy wooden bar that had once reigned in the center. Evan smiled as he saw the scratched brass fittings and faded stain at the waitress station.
“Can I sit over at that table in the corner?” asked Evan. The hostess smiled at the older man and shrugged her shoulders.
“Suit yourself. I’ll tell Deb. She’ll take your order.”
“Thanks,” Evan said and he wandered over to the back corner
of the place. Some of the old signs were still on the wall, the tin plates and even the old wagon wheel. Evan pulled out a chair and sat down.
Evan shook his head as he witnessed the changes that had overtaken his memories. “I guess I should have known it wouldn’t be the same. Hell, nothing else is. Fifteen years is a long time.”
Despite the years, regardless of how many things had changed, as Evan leaned back in the corner, he could still see the old Racks, could still place every bit of the old watering hole. More than that, he could remember sitting there, watching Sam work. Lifting his beer, his eyes glued to the sight of her backside, round and firm beneath the tie of her green apron, perfectly defined in faded blue jeans, hinted at in skirts drifting down to reveal Sam’s muscular legs.
“Oh, Samantha,” Evan said quietly. “I even hoped you might be here.”
“Hello,” said a woman in a white shirt and black skirt, a few strands of her pale blonde hair falling down her cheek. “What can I get you? Kitchen’s closed, but I could probably wrangle something up.”
“Can I get a draught, Bud or something?” Evan looked up to see the simple joy in the woman’s blue eyes.
“Easy as pie,” said the woman. Evan watched as she walked toward the bar, drinking up the saucy sway of her full hips. He remembered watching Sam lift the board as she went behind the bar to put away the clean glasses, after closing, while Evan told her his tales of work and gossip and dreams. Sam had always listened attentively, even while she was wiping up the tables or sweeping the floor. Evan looked at the planks. How many times, he wondered, had he swept these boards, for Sam?
Glasses clinked and the woman pulled back the red handle to fill his beer. Evan couldn’t help remembering the night Sam had sat down on the bar, complaining about all the serving she did and how no one ever did anything for her. Evan had sat himself down on a bar stool, nearby, sympathetic, but hurt that Sam didn’t think he did anything for her. Sam laid back on the smooth varnished bar and Evan had been sorely tempted to touch the soft curve of her full tits held in white cotton just a few inches away. Sam had turned and caught him staring at her boobs and she laughed. Evan could still feel the blush he’d felt.
“Hmm,” Sam said, sitting up and twirling round. She draped her lean legs over the side of the bar. Evan sat mesmerized by the swatch of black panty dotted with crimson flowers nestled between her thighs. Sam put her feet on the brass rail and lifted her butt so she
could scoot the panties out from under her. Evan opened his eyes wide as she slipped them down her legs and he gazed for the first time at her pretty blonde pussy. Sam shoved the panties into his pocket.
“Kitchen’s closed,” she had said, “but maybe I can still get you something to eat.” Evan had pulled her closer and Sam lay back on the bar, her legs draped over his shoulders. He’d kissed her damp lips eagerly, tickling her clit until she came and then again.
“Here you go,” said the waitress, putting the beer on the table. “Two bucks,” she said. Evan reached into his pocket and pulled out some bills.
“Thanks,” she said, pushing the money into her pocket.
Evan watched her as she walked over to the jukebox, the same old neon contraption, or pretty much like it. A lively tune, unfamiliar to Evan, burst from the hidden speakers. “Yeah,” said Evan to himself, “bad music never changes.” The shapely waitress started lifting chairs onto the tables. He had done that, too, for Sam, while she was washing dishes. “The pool table used to be there, though,” he said aloud.
He remembered one night when the jukebox had been blaring through the closed bar. Sam had always liked to turn up the volume after Jack left. Evan wondered if Jack still owned the place. Sam had made a small fortune that night in tips and she had been bursting with excitement. Evan lifted chairs, while Sam sang the popular tune at the top of her lungs and began dancing. Evan had stopped to watch her, and Sam had jumped up on the pool table. Barefoot. Evan stood below, smiling giddily. Sam looked down at him, mischievously, and began lifting her skirt, showing off her white lace panties. Evan’s grin grew. Sam had teased him with bawdy glimpses and then in a giggle, she peeled off her t-shirt and shook her heavy tits. A cream bra strap fell from her shoulder and Sam reached back to unfasten the garment. Evan had stood, amazed, as Sam pranced topless on the pool table.
And she hadn’t stopped there. Sam twirled, bouncing her boobs, teasing her nipples, squeezing them with enthusiastic squeals. Evan remembered standing there, drop jawed as Sam pushed down her skirt and panties to dance naked, her golden pussy glittering moist between swollen lips, her bottom shaking to the beat. When the song finally ended, Sam had collapsed onto the table. Finally sitting up, flush and beaming, she spread her legs wide and had said, “So, anyone up for some pool?” Evan had been glad to oblige.
The beer was warm and slightly unpleasant as Evan drank it down. So many things, he thought, have changed. He wondered how he’d let them slip away.
“Everything all right?” asked the waitress, as her chair turning brought her near.
“Yeah,” said Evan. “I’m just crying in my beer.” The waitress smiled sympathetically and leaned against a pine beam.
“That’ll ruin a good brew,” she said. Evan lifted the almost empty mug.
“Couldn’t hurt this one,” he said with a wink. “I used to hang out here, about fifteen years ago.”
“Jack still own this place?” Evan leaned forward.
“Stevens?” she asked. “No one ever told me his first name.”
“No,” said Evan.
“Mr. Steven’s has owned it as long as I’ve been here.”
“Did you ever know a woman named Samantha? Sam?”
“Nope,” said the waitress. “Can’t say I have.”
“She used to work here.”
“I guess a lot of people have worked here since then.”
“Yeah,” said Evan. “Can I buy you a drink?” The waitress smiled.
“Not in this dump. If you hang around while I close, maybe we can go and get a drink at the Oasis or the Marquis. They’re back in town.”
“Yeah, I know.” said Evan. “Sure.”
“Great,” she said, smiling. “It’ll be about twenty minutes. Can I get you another beer?”
“Nah,” said Evan, standing up. “Give me a broom.”
“It may be a new car,” he said with a grin, “but we’re driving an old road.”