, September 2023

1989, another summer in desolate suburbia, another steamy night in the hamlets, the villages, the towns, the census-designated places, all silent save the click of traffic lights changing from green to yellow to red, nobody on Merrick Road, nobody at Tobay Beach, time’s a-wastin’ and there ain’t no gettin’ it back, no end in sight, not even Montauk, and still your finger’s gonna pick your nose—

Under the yellow streetlights, two male, middle class, and white sixteen-year-olds, Carl and Eric, after a generous helping of blackberry brandy from Eric’s parents’ liquor cabinet, navigated the Greater Massapequas on their high-end 12-speeds, Carl with his Centurion Accordo Tour de France Limited Edition, Eric with his Peugeot PZ10, as if these would impress chicks the way a Corvette would. They were desperate to get laid before summer’s end, but, night after dreadful night, the girls would all disappear when the mall closed at 9:00, at which point the only signs of life were the dive bars over near the Massapequa Park train station—the biker bar, the cop bar, and the druggie bar where Candy Darling used to perform in the back room while Irwin Garden recited poems about shopping carts and Jackie Duluoz was passed out on the floor in a pool of his own vanity—

Late in the evening, heading back in the general direction of majestic Biltmore Shores, Carl slammed on his handbrakes, prompting Eric to do the same, the thin racing tires yelping—

“What the fuck?” Eric snarled.

At the end of an alley leading to a small lot behind the Sunrise Instrumental music store, in the glow of the Exxon sign next door that brought this fair hamlet its only white light, leaning against a dumpster, was an acoustic Mariachi bass with a hole in its big body—

“I’m gonna go Pete Townshend on this thing,” Eric said, managing to lift the heavy guitarrón Mexicano above his head, but, in the humidity, his sweaty palms lost their grip and he dropped the instrument on his foot—

Carl gave it a go and managed to strike the potholed asphalt, but it was much more difficult than Townshend made it look in the old film clips, and it wasn’t worth the effort in this heat with a giant acoustic instrument. They got back on their bikes and resumed their meander upon the main thoroughfares, where there would be the greatest chance of encountering chicks out looking for a good time, but knowing the night would likely end in disappointment, just like every other night had.

As they were approaching the St. Rose of Lima Catholic church on Merrick Road, Carl slammed on his brakes again and said, “Whoa,” bringing his aluminum stallion to a skidding stop that surprisingly didn’t pop a tire, but nearly caused Eric to crash into him—

“Asshole!” Eric barked.

“Over there,” Carl said.

About fifty yards ahead, on the curb of the little driveway in front of the main cathedral entrance where the limos and hearses dropped off the brides and bodies, were seated two chicks around their own age, smoking cigarettes—

“Do you know them?” Carl asked.


“Me neither. We have to get closer.”

“They’re smoking.”

“Who the fuck cares if they’re smoking? What is it with you and the smoking?”

“It’s bad for you.”

“It means they’re loose. They probably put out.”

“I don’t know.”

“What don’t you know? We’ve been riding around this one-horse town all summer looking for chicks, and we finally find some and you don’t fucking know?”

Eric said nothing.

“I’m going over,” Carl finally said, not waiting to see if Eric would follow, pedaling slowly across the blacktop with its mess of intersecting parking lines, hopscotch boxes, basketball courts, and baseball diamonds used by the church’s elementary school. As he got closer he still didn’t recognize the girls, one tall and kind of cute, dark hair, big perm, really long bare legs emerging from tight cutoff jeans, and the other short and slightly overweight, dirty blond, zits, loose hot pink tank top and baggy striped Richard Simmons shorts, and she looked mean—

“Nice wheels,” the tall one said.

“What’s with your friend over there?” the other asked.

“I don’t know,” Carl said.

“Is he afraid of girls?”


“Or maybe he likes guys?”

“Uh, I don’t think so—”

“Then why won’t he come over?”

Carl waved at Eric. After a long pause, Eric finally started pedaling his Peugeot slowly towards them—

“I’m Cara,” the tall one said. “And this bundle of joy is Erin.”

“I’m Carl. The speedster over there is Eric.”

“Yeah, I’ve seen him at school,” Erin said.

“You know him?”

“No. Just seen him.”

“She likes him,” Cara giggled.

Eric stopped his bike, but ten feet behind Carl—

“Hi Eric,” Erin called to him, then took a deep drag and exhaled out of the side of her mouth.

“Hey,” Eric mumbled, looking off towards the Bible supply store in the strip mall next door.

Erin and Cara looked at each other and laughed.

“So, I meant to ask,” Erin said, “are you two cruising all over town on those sweet road racing bikes looking to get laid?”

“Shut up!” Cara laughed, punching her friend in the arm.

“Well, that’s what she was doing,” Erin said, pointing at Cara with her head.

“Do you guys smoke?” Cara asked.

“He doesn’t,” Carl said. “I usually don’t smoke cigarettes, but I smoke pot sometimes—”

“Got any?” Erin asked.

“No, I’m all out.”

After an uncomfortable lull—

“Listen,” Erin said, “I’m getting bored and tired, so let’s cut to the chase. Cara already called you, blondie on the Accordo, so it’s me and Don Juan over there on the Peugeot—”

“Erin!” Cara said and punched her in the arm again, then turned to Carl and calmly asked, “Wanna go for a walk?”

“Sure,” he said, trying to sound cool, but his heart was pounding and the erection process had commenced. He hid his bike behind a bush next to the church building then hurried back to Cara, walking beside her into the night shadows of the treelined walk between the blacktop and the east side of the church—

“I saw you at school once,” she said.


“I thought you were cute.”


“I fantasized about you that night.”


“Is that all you say?”

“Uh, no, not really—”

“In my fantasy I kissed you.”

“You did?”

“And then I reached into your pants, and then you slid your hand inside my panties—”


“I want to kiss you now—”

“Yes, yes—”

They stopped and faced each other. She was nearly as tall as his 6’1½”, considerably taller counting her perm. They leaned forward and her soft, pink-glossed lips met his, then, into his mouth she slipped her tongue, which tasted of Marlboro Lights. After a minute or so of sloppy making out, she felt his erection through his jean shorts and said, “Let’s find somewhere private—”

“I know where,” Carl said, thinking of the small bricked-off area next to the school’s cafeteria building where they stored the empty plastic milk crates he and Eric used to steal and use for storage of their massive CD collections—

Concealed behind the brick wall they kissed again, only now she more aggressively, backing him into a stack of gray Queensboro Farms crates and guiding his hand up inside her tank top and bra. Her breasts were small and smooth and nice, and she took a deep breath when he found her nipple, which excited him further and emboldened him to bring his free hand up to her other breast. They kissed wildly for a couple of minutes until she stopped and removed his hands, and Carl thought it was over, perfectly content with second base, but then she unzipped and tugged down her shorts, revealing a pair of pink panties with a little white flower, into which she guided his writing hand. They kissed again, now slower, as his fingertips explored the terrain, which was coarser than he’d expected, having always thought it would be soft like his mother’s old fur coats he used to hump when he was younger, until they got all crusty. She moaned when he found her clitoris, then he went down a little further to the opening, but she pulled him back and told him to keep rubbing the bump, and he was unsure if this was a triple or if he’d been caught in a rundown between second and third. She reached into his boxer shorts and squeezed his erection, scratching him with her nails, pulling instead of gliding, tugging his short hairs with her sweaty, sticky palms, and it hurt like hell, but he was already close to finishing and did not stop her, rubbing her bump faster until she let out a porno moan, while she yanked furiously until he came in her hand and the juice ran down his leg—

Afterwards, she wiped her hand with his boxers, which he then used to wipe his inner thigh—

“Cigarette?” she asked, taking one out for herself.

“Sure,” Carl said.

She lit it for him with her white lighter and he inhaled, prompting a fit of coughing, which made her laugh. He coughed less with each drag and felt pleasantly lightheaded as they were walking back towards Erin and Eric, who were exactly as they’d left them, looking as if they hadn’t said a word to each other the whole time—

“Have fun?” Erin asked.

Cara responded with a middle finger.

“That good, huh? And thanks for leaving me with Don Quixote over here. Come on, let’s go, I gotta get home.”

Carl had been hoping for a good-night kiss, but all Cara gave him was a cold “Bye”, concerning him that he’d done something wrong. He wanted to say something, maybe ask for her phone number, or if she wanted to meet at the mall, see a movie and go to Friendly’s, but was unable to get any words out. Then, without a word, Eric started pedaling away—

“Dude, wait up!” he called, running to retrieve his bike from behind the bushes, eager to boast of his conquest, pedaling hard out onto Bayview Avenue, where he spotted Eric a block ahead. The Accordo was a faster, lighter, more aerodynamic cycle than the PZ10, and Eric wasn’t pedaling hard, so Carl was able to catch him quickly—

“What’s your problem?” Carl asked, but Eric did not respond or even look at him and started pedaling harder. At first Carl kept pace, but Eric kept speeding up, and soon they were going too fast and Carl was coming uncomfortably close to the sideview mirrors of parked cars, until he finally gave up the chase, slowing to watch his friend pass through a cone of yellow light and disappear into the black— ▪