Looking for Mr. Goodbar from Jules, the Truth Finder
and tomorrow we might not be together... I'm no prophet and I don't know nature's ways... so I'll try and see into your eyes right now... and stay right here 'cause these are the good old days....
I sat in the car for a minute holding the photo and the memories came flooding back. It made me smile to remember Sam teaching me to drive. I still use two feet to drive my automatic Ford. Old habits die hard, I guess. Nellie was sitting in her seat smiling at me like she knew everything.
Sam would take me out to Old Voth Road by the Pine Island Bayou for my lessons. We’d be giggling the whole time. At least, when he was doing the driving. He was a really good driver like he was good at everything, He loved cars and loved driving them. It was fun to watch him handle the VW even though he’d been pissed off at me for buying it. It was summertime and boy, it was a hot and wet Beaumont one. That old VW wasn’t air conditioned, but I was used to the heat from growing up there in the Golden Triangle. And, with Sam, I didn’t care about things like heat. I was always so happy to be with him.
He’d always take the same route, 105 to the waterway where we’d turn right on RFD Road. There, just like clockwork, he’d pull the VW over to the side of the road and stop. He’d give me a kiss there. Every time. I looked forward to it like a puppy sitting for a biscuit. He knew my mouth and he always knew what I wanted. I would have done anything for him and he knew it.
He’d hand me the key and tell me to get busy learning. He’d always say the same thing, that cars don’t drive themselves. It was hard manipulating around the stick shift and clutch on a standard, but once you learn, it’s the only way to drive. Even these days, I feel like I’m only half-driving with an automatic transmission. Cruise control is like a joke to me. I’d gear up and start heading toward the Old Voth Road turnoff. He’d always put his hand on my leg to let me know when to accelerate or shift. I liked that. He was a good teacher and very patient with me. Nobody had ever taken the time to teach me to drive or anything like that in my life. Sam was a good teacher.
I tried hard to be a good pupil. Not only so I could drive myself around town, but even more, I wanted Sam to be proud of me. Once we crossed over Pine Island Bayou, I’d take a hard left on Old Voth Road. That’s where we’d drive up and down while I learned how to operate a standard transmission and other things. I’d secretly look at the houses and pretend Sam and I lived in one of them. My favorite was the one with the pecan trees. That grove lined the drive all the way back to a Cape Cod home set way back on the parcel of land. It looked like some kind of a dream there. I’d always slow down when we passed by and Sam would smile. I knew he knew what I was thinking, although I’d never have dreamed of saying anything out loud. It was a picture perfect house with a shingled roof. Two windowed gables were featured and a full length porch with six columns. He would move his hand up my leg to signal me to keep driving and also as an excuse to feel my leg. It was hard to keep my mind on the road, even Old Voth Road where you never saw any other cars.
At first, I’d be a little nervous and I’d jump as I shifted gears. But, soon enough, I started to get the hang of it. Like I said, Sam was a very good teacher. He taught me how to double clutch. With those old stick shift transmissions, you’d release the clutch while the transmission was still in neutral. Releasing the clutch pedal links the engine and clutch together, but the transmission output shaft rotates faster as it connects to the wheels. He would explain all that to me and rub on my leg when I got it right. He made driving a very sensuous undertaking.
When we wound up at the old dead end, that’s where we’d pull over and get down to some serious hijinks. Sam would pull me close and tell me what a good driver I was turning out to be. “I’m going to have to give you a little reward. You did very good in class today.” He’d pull me right over the stick shift and onto his lap. I can remember his strong hands moving up and down my back like they were meant to be there, guiding my body onto his. You wouldn’t think a person could navigate a very well in a tiny VW compartment, but it’s amazing what somebody can accomplish when he puts his mind to it. All I wanted to do was please him. I would feel him inside me and dream in my head about Sam and me in that gabled house down the road. I wanted to go back to Old Voth Road and be with Sam just one more time with his hands moving strong on my back. Remembering brought a well of tears up to my eyes.