When the weekend arrived, the girls were helping their mother prepare dinner when someone knocked at the door.
“Jane, honey, will you get the door while I finish basting the chicken and Olivia butters the rolls?” Brielle asked sweetly.
“Sure, Mom,” Jane chirped as she set the bowl of mashed potatoes down and washed her hands.
She answered the door to find Bruce on her doorstep. Her face lit up, as did Bruce’s.
“Hey!” She greeted, happy to see him.
“Well, hello, Ms. Home School,” Bruce greeted with a smile, “Can I come in?”
“Yeah, come on,” Jane said as she let Bruce inside.
Once Bruce was inside the house, Jane introduced him.
“Mom, Olivia, this is Bruce. A real close friend of mine from Thomasville High. Bruce, this is my mom, and my sister, Olivia.”
“Nice to meet you, Bruce,” Brielle told him as Olivia smiled and waved, “Would you like some dinner?”
“Thanks, Ms. Markowitz, but I wanted to see if I could take Jane out on a date,” Bruce said before turning and gazing at Jane with a smile, “I just got a car and I wanted to take her for a ride. They just finished fixing it up yesterday.”
Jane smiled and turned to her mother.
“Can I, Mom? Can I go with Bruce?”
“I don’t see why not. It’s after five-thirty now. But I want you home at eleven. Okay?” Brielle told her.
“Definitely!” Jane agreed.
Bruce and Jane excitedly ran out of the house, hand in hand.
“Check out my wheels! What do ya think?” Bruce gushed.
Jane smiled as she gazed at the classic, shiny red, 1979 Trans Am with brand new tires and chrome hubcaps. Black racing strips ran down the center of the hood, the roof, and the back of the car. There was a spoiler on the tail with louvers on the back windshield.
“I love it,” Jane gushed.
Bruce walked over to the passenger side and opened the door for Jane. After Jane got in, he closed the door behind her, then walked around and got in. He slid down behind the wheel and put his seatbelt on before cranking the ignition. Jane followed his lead, clicking her seatbelt secure.
The motor loudly roared to life as Jane noticed that Bruce had glass packs. As he pressed down on the gas, the motor roared even louder, like a racecar. Jane smiled at Bruce. As soon as Bruce pulled out of the driveway, he bore down on the gas and took off as the motor screamed.
It was so loud that Grandma Bennett, only a few houses down, came out onto her front porch to see whose car was making so much noise. She stood on the porch and watched as the car sped by with Jane in the passenger seat, waving at her as they passed. She put her hands on her hips.
“What in the Sam Hill!” Grandma chided, watching the car speed out of sight.
Bruce took Jane to a new 80’s themed Malt Shop, called “The Black Trans Am,” that had opened a few months prior. When they walked in, they were amazed at the 80’s pop art that decorated the walls along with the framed old newspaper columns that had headlines that read, “The Iran Contra Affair,” “Chernobyl,” “Space Shuttle Challenger Explodes in Mid Air,” and “Reagan Wins Second Term.” They also saw old movie posters from theaters, such as ones for the movie, “Batman,” with the number 1989 engraved in a golden label under it. Others were, “Lethal Weapon, 1987” “Caddyshack, 1981,” and “Ghostbusters, 1984.”
There were posters of the era’s rockstars and music groups as well. A Purple Rain poster of Prince, perched on his motorcycle and others of Motley Crue, Dokken, Guns N Roses, Madonna, Depeche Mode, and Tears for Fears.
The seats at all the booths were refurbished backseats from old Trans Ams. They were black and looked polished to a perfect shine. On the other side of the dining area were vintage Atari arcade games like, Pac-Man, Asteroids, Q-bert, Berzerk, Pitfall, and Frogger. They also had Nintendo Arcade games, like Super Mario Bros., Legend of Zelda, and Mike Tyson’s Punchout.
As the song “It’s My Life,” by Talk Talk, played over the restaurant’s speakers, Bruce and Jane looked around and were amazed.
“Boy, I would give anything to have been a teenager during the 80’s! I hear my parents talk and say what a cool decade the 80’s were!” Bruce said.
“But if you had been, you’d be in your 50’s now,” Jane said.
“I’ll bet my mom would feel old as dirt coming in here. She was born in ’85. That’s almost 40 years ago,” Jane said, “I can’t imagine being that old.”
“My dad keeps warning me, ‘Son, you’re only young once. Enjoy it. Because tomorrow, you’ll be 50 and wonder where all the time went. He says it creeps up on you.”
“Yeah, Grandma B says the same thing.”
They took their seats at one of the booths and a thirty something waitress seated them and handed them their menus.
“I’ll give you a minute to look over the menu and return when you’re ready to order,” the waitress said kindly.
When the waitress returned for their orders, Bruce looked up.
“I’d like the Big Gnarly Cheeseburger and fries with a cherry 7up,” he told her.
“And I’d like a Mega Cheese Coney with a Coke,” Jane said.
The waitress jotted down their orders in her pad, then took their menus.
“Alright, we’ll have your orders out in about 20 minutes,” the waitress kindly assured.
Bruce then took Jane’s hand and gazed into her eyes.
“I heard about the knife fight. I don’t blame you for not coming back to Thomasville High, but we miss you, Jane. Me, Roxie, Andy, Brenda, and so many others. We really miss you. I just want you to know that,” he said softly.
“Yeah. I know,” Jane said, “But I’ve got to look out for me, and it isn’t safe there for me. Thomasville High is a very toxic place. It’s a very dangerous place for me.”
“I know. I don’t blame you, babe,” Bruce assured her as he reached across the table and gently brushed a stray strand of blond hair out of Jane’s face, “I’m going to talk to my father and see if he can’t transfer me to Pathways Home School too. Chicken Chandler, Breanna Lindsay and that bunch there. They’re giving me, Roxie, and rest of us a hard time. And the sheriff paid me a visit over the fight in the park. Says he’s going to be watching me like a hawk from now on.”
“I hope your father agrees to home school you, Bruce. Thomasville High blows and you don’t need to stay there.”
“Another thing that concerns me is that Breanna, Audrey, and the rest of those ditzy broads are going around trying to get information that’s none of their business-they’re asking a lot of questions about you and your mom. Word’s gotten around about your mom homeschooling you and now, they want to know where you live and where you hang out. Those dip wads just won’t let go. They’re like dogs with a bone.”
“I guess they just don’t have a life, do they?”
“Well, enough about them,” Jane said, “I wanna talk about you and your car. And what you’ve been doing with yourself for the past few days.”
Bruce leaned in closer.
“Thinking about you. That’s what I’ve been doing the past few days. Being anxious to come see you and spend time with you. And when they finished my car today, your house was the first place I drove, to” he said softly.
Jane gazed into Bruce’s eyes as she smiled and reached over to pluck a piece of lint off Bruce’s shirt collar.