• Fern

Way Back

A hot summer night and desperate for ice cream, she headed out to Stewart’s, upstate New York’s answer to 7-Eleven. Dodging the bunny hopping across the driveway and the deer poised to cross the black country road, she opened the windows wide, raised the volume high, sang along to the Beatles “Baby you’re a rich man…”

The steamy night, with a breeze provided only because she was driving through it, brought her back, way back, to when a midnight blue Chevy impala with long tail fins and bucket seats, steered by a teen aged boy with piercing blue eyes and kinky blonde hair, who only knew how to drive recklessly fast, careened around curves and whizzed by smelly cabbage fields, through the hamlets of Long Island. Up and down short, sandy roads they drove, over mumpy hills with no street lights, no traffic lights, and a smattering of small cabins, nestled quietly in the dark wooded lots. Dylan snarled on the radio; fireflies lit up the black woods, thick and menacing, on the north shore of Long Island.

Allen was his name and of course she thought about him this night because of the Vietnam documentary she’d been watching. His reckless driving, his tanned muscular shoulders, he’d steered his motor boat with the same abandon as his car and tried to teach her to water ski to no avail. He’d easily impressed her with his blue eyes and easy laugh. But the year after they’d broken off their teen summer romance, Allen had been drafted. He'd come back from Vietnam missing both his legs below the knees.

It didn’t take much to call back those years. The sixties were defiant in their violence and tragic events, not only nationwide and seen on TV, but grabbing lives and souls and hearts in everyone’s neighborhoods and families.

The steaminess of the evening is forgotten with the impact of the quick chill when she walks into Stewart's, brrrrr. She pays, she smiles, the woman calls her Hon and wishes her a nice evening. Shit, it’s already almost 10pm, what’s left of it, she thinks? But she says thank you, heads back outside into the muggy night, back into the car, back to the black road, back to the music blasting “Sunny, yesterday my life was filled with rain…”

She drives too fast, hearkens back to those carefree nights on Long Island. photo credit to Dave's Classic Cars

19 views0 comments

© 2021 

All images ©1998-2021 kathleen suess