Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Rock and Roll Delinquents on Dope!


As Bettyjane breezed into the malt shop that afternoon, coolly confident in her saddle shoes and football sweater, she quickly spied Rob, that cute boy from the football team who had asked her for an "ice cream date" just before the final bell in Civics. She saw immediately that he was no longer wearing his crew-neck sweater and loafers, but had changed into a tight-fitting tee-shirt, black jeans with studs along the seams, and motorcycle boots -- even though, as far as Bettyjane knew, Rob had nothing to do with "choppers."

She waltzed over and flashed him her brightest smile. "Hi!" she said with a flick of her ponytail and a quick little wave of the hand.

Rob looked dimly up from the booth, where he sat alone drinking a cup of java and smoking a cigarettes. "Hi, babe," he said with a knowing wink. He indicated the seat opposite him with a vague hand gesture. "Take a load off."

"Sure, Robbie!" she giggled, and slid in. Because he was strangely silent, she felt a little awkward, so she decided to open the conversation. "So, what do you think our chances are against Tailgate High on Saturday? I just know that we're gonna win. Lucinda Banks, do you know Luncinda Banks?, she's going out with Dork Summersby, and she's on the cheerleading squad with me, and she said..."

Rob smiled. "Cool it, cutie. That's just school crap." Bettyjane winced at the profanity. "Wanna cigarette?" he offered. "Help yourself."

Bettyjane took one, making sure that it was not one of those filtered kinds that if you put the wrong end in your mouth it would be so unsophisticated. "Oh, thanks!" she chattered. "I was gonna steal some from my mom today but I was late to the busstop and my little brother Billy was being such a pest..." Her voice trailed off as she noticed that Rob seemed to be lost in thought.

Suddenly his arm flashed across the table, a silver lighter clicked, and he lit her cigarette. "Man," he said. "Everything is such a drag around here, you know?"

"Oh, I know!" said Betty, puffing away nervously and trying not to cough. "School is so boring, I sometimes wish it would burn itself right down to the ground!"

"Could happen," smiled Rob. "You never know."

Betty took another puff and suddenly found this last remark of Rob's hysterically funny. "You know, Robbie, I wouldn't care one bit, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Um."

"Cool," said Rob with a lopsided grin, absentmindedly combing his shining dark hair as he looked straight at her and exhaled.

"I'll have a vanilla malted and a turkey club and a banana split and coffee and a doughnut," Bettyjane blurted as the waitress abruptly appeared at her side.

"Right, hon," said the waitress, sizing her up with a slight sneer. Then she turned to Rob with a knowing smile. "And you, big boy?"

"Another coffee, black," snarled Rob, barely looking up.

"Did I remember to order a cheeseburger?" puzzled Bettyjane as the waitress shimmied back to the grill. "Ha ha ha ha ha."

"Heck with that," said Rob. "I got other things on my mind."

"Like what?" giggled Bettyjane, starting to feel suddenly that her skin was too small for her face.

"Like you, doll," he said, giving her the smooth once-over. "And like kicks."

Bettyjane grabbed the sugarbowl and began to scoop spoonfuls of sugar onto the table. "Sugar sure is teensy," she said. "Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha."

"You better pick that cigarette off the napkin," said Rob, cackling slightly. "It's starting to catch fire."

"Silly me!" cried Bettyjane, instantly upturning her glass of icewater and dousing the blaze. "Ha ha ha ha."

"You want another?" offered Rob.

"Sure!" she said. "I love cigarettes! They're SO good!"

Rob's lighter flicked magically. "Well, babe, you know, these aren't ordinary cigarettes. I get them from Mexico."

Bettyjane wished that her steak and fries and Coke and brownie would come soon. She was famished. "Oh, they're ever so good, Robbie! I just LOVE them. Ha ha ha. Hey. What do you mean, they're not ordinary cigarettes?"

Rob nodded his head several times as though to affirm a question that hadn't been asked. "These are reefer joint cigarettes. They're for, you know, kicks." He smiled faintly. "It's so boring around this town, you gotta get your kicks."

"Oh," said Bettyjane. "Isn't this what those Negroes smoke in the bad part of town? I don't want, " she sputtered, suddenly very frighened, "to be a mainline junkie!" She looked anxiously about the malt shop. She now began to notice that everyone was looking at her -- not really looking at her, but pretending not to so they could look when she turned her attention to something else. They might be police or G-Men or criminals or...No, they were just kids from school, she reflected with a sigh. But what, she thought suddenly, did she really know about the kids at school? Didn't the FBI put undercover dicks in schools to check for narco trafficking? Why any one of them might be...

"Here's your turkey club and your malt, miss," snapped the waitress. "The rest of your order will be along." Away she flounced again. What a B-I-T-C----

"But I ordered French toast and tacos!" complained Bettyjane, nearly crying.

"It's nothing," said Rob, sneering at the crowd in the shop. "I been reading this book. Life is like so meaningless. Just be cool, baby."

Hearing him call her "baby" sent a flush across her skin, and not just her face, either. This was how she had felt at the Chubby Checker dance last summer, when she was swinging her hips to the hep sounds of the twist. Only this was worse. She wanted to grab Rob right there and kiss him and kiss him and kiss him and...She didn't know what, but she was getting sweaty, and hoped that her antiperspirant was holding up.

"Meaningless," said Rob. "The Three Ds, that's all that matters. Drugs, dolls, dope, dames, and kicks."

Bettyjane was confused. "That's four Ds," she said. "I think. And a K. One two, three...Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha."

Rod took a few pills out of his jeans pocket and swallowed two.

Wide-eyed, Bettyjane asked, "Do you have a headache?"

"Naw," said Rob. "The red one is a buzz bomber and the blue one is a grease ball. We use them for pep on the highschool team. Use them to cram for tests, too. And they're great for bombin' around town in my wheels."

"Oh," said Bettyjane. "I thought pills were for medicine."

"Hell, no," said Rob. "But they're a cure all right. A cure for what this book called ennui-ridden bourgeois existence."

Wow. Robbie was so deep. The turkey club kept falling apart in her hands, which was very funny. Maybe she shouldn't try to smoke and eat at the same time.

"Hell!" said Robbie suddenly. "Let's get the fuck out of here!" He leaped up. "We'll go for a drive! Yeah!"

"But what about the check?" asked Bettyjane. "We haven't gotten the check yet."

"Fuck the che
ck," snarled Rob. "Fuck them all."

Yeah. Bettyjane had never felt more excited in her life. Why hadn't she ever thought of this before? Fuck them all. She leaped up, too, snickering, "These squares can go to Hell!" A second later she was afraid she had shouted it.

"You and me, baby!" laughed Rob. "Let's split!"

It was then that she notice the small pistol grip sticking out of his waistband. Oh, he was so cool she could just scream. And scream and scream and scream. Instead she said, "Ha ha ha ha ha," and tried to beat him to the door.