When Jackie called back we figured out that we wouldn't be able to get together until the weekend. I was off all day Saturday and she only had to work until noon. Sometime during the week I arranged to borrow my parents' Oldsmobile Delta 88. I didn't own my own car yet and usually I borrowed Dad's go-to-work beater to go anywhere. The Olds was one plush ride-- a living room on wheels powered by a 455 cubic inch V8. More importantly the radio on it was incredible-- well, at least by early 1970's standards. The fact that the 88 could double as a rolling whorehouse wasn't lost on Dad. As he gave me the keys Saturday afternoon he said, "Be careful William," and held his eyes on mine for longer than normal. "Don't worry Dad I won't do any drag racing. The 88's too heavy for that anyway"
"Racing was not my concern," he said.
When I pulled into Jackie's driveway around 4 PM there was her old Rambler, Beth's Mustang convertible, and another car in the drive I didn't recognize. It turned out that it belonged to a guy who was dating Beth. They were going to grill out for dinner and of course wanted us to join them. I begged off for us as Jackie, of course, wasn't ready yet. Beth, her companion, and I sat behind the house at the picnic table. They were having beer, I had a Vernor's ginger ale. Finally, after what seemed like an hour, Beth said, "There's my baby girl."
I turned to see Jackie coming out the back door. She was wearing a lavender tank top, silver jewelry, a black miniskirt, and instead of her usual sandals or flip-flops, a pair of heels that looked like they were made out of a light colored wood with a band of black leather over the instep. I had never seen Jackie when she didn't look good to me but she had never looked quite this good. As we walked towards the car I said, "Jackie, you look great."
"Why thank you Mr. Wilson," she said. She was in a great mood.
"Damn, Wil. I didn't know you were a car thief! Where did you get the yacht?" she said as we came around the front of the house.
"Hell girl, I been stealin' cars since before you wuz born... picked up this little number up in Dee-troit city this mornin'. I think you'll like its smoooooth ride," I said. She looked so damn good I opened the door of the 88 for her. By the time I got in on the driver's side she had slid across the wide bench seat. Jackie grabbed my right arm. I turned and she gave me a big, wet kiss. I might have given her a wet kiss back. We were looking right into each other's eyes when she said, "We're gonna have a lot of fun tonight aren't we Wil."
All I could say back to her was, "Oh yeah. A lot of fun."
We headed down some back country roads and Jackie said, "Wil, we haven't been gone ten minutes and I already don't know where the heck we are. Are you lost?"
"Nope," I said. I was working my way to the south and west across farm land. Eventually we pulled up at this little roadhouse cafe and I brought the Delta 88 to a halt in a cloud of dust. "Is this where we're going to eat?" she said with a funny look on her face. It didn't look like much from the outside but the parking lot was nearly full at 6PM on a Saturday. "Yep. Don't judge the food by the decor," I said and raced around to get her door. Once inside the woman who owned the place with her husband greeted us warmly, "William!" she said, "You've gotten so tall!" She turned to look at Jackie who had an incredulous look on her face. "And who is this beautiful young woman, William?" she said with her dark eyes flashing from Jackie back to me like I had been caught being a naughty boy.
"Mrs. Gonzalez, this is my good friend Jackie Sampson. Jackie, Mr. and Mrs. Gonzalez own this wonderful restaurant," I said. Both women said their hellos and then Mrs. G said as if in some pain, "William, I must call her Jacqueline though. Jackie is like a boy name and she is so beautiful. Not a boy! I never like that they call Mrs. Kennedy 'Jackie', she was Jacqueline, so beautiful, like your dear friend."
"Mrs. Gonzalez, you can call me Jacqueline. Nobody has for years and it sounds so good the way you say it," Jackie said as the two of them reached out and grasped each other's hands like dear old friends.
Mrs. G sat us in a booth and before she left to seat another couple she looked at Jackie and said, pointing at me, "This one," shaking her head with disapproval, " I've known since he was in the high chair crushing all the crackers." Then turning to me, "William. You are so grown up now. Such a beautiful young woman your friend." She left shaking her head slowly.
"I hope you like real Mexican food," I said.
"I'm not sure I've ever had any real Mexican food," Jackie said, "I don't even know what to order, Wil."
When Mrs. G came back I ordered for us both but asked that she not bring anything too spicy. She gave me a wink and left us to talk about how I came to be such a big celebrity in a little roadhouse in the middle of nowhere. I told her about my parents finding this place by chance when my sister and I were little. How my Dad had been stationed in San Antonio for part of the second world war and learned to love authentic Mexican food. About how for years we thought the G's were Mexican, but that they're actually Venezuelan. How they only opened a Mexican restaurant because nobody in America knew anything about Venezuelan food. I told her about how much the G's loved America and how my folks had helped them get their citizenship. It was something different to talk about over dinner anyway. By the end of the meal Jackie seemed to look at me differently than she had before.
She seemed to really enjoy her meal. We said our good-byes to Mr. & Mrs. G and started down the road in the big-ass Oldsmobile. Once on the road Jackie was sitting right up against me as we cruised along on a two lane country road. It was still light out since we were in the middle of summer. She held my right biceps with both hands and kissed my cheek. Then she said, "You know I'm crazy about you, don't you?"
I laughed and said, "You're just crazy period, Jacqueline."
"She was so sweet, Wil. There's just so much... love... there. I'm having a lot of fun," Jackie said.
I pulled my right arm away and put it over her shoulders pulling her close as I steered the massive V8 down the road with my left hand. "The night has just begun, Jacqueline. Things have just begun" I said.
I turned the kick ass stereo up loud as soon as I heard the beginning of Santana's "Evil Ways".