My journey in writing began in earnest on a December evening in 2003. Betty and I had stopped for supper at Applebee’s after some Christmas shopping. As I looked at the various pieces of memorabilia and stuff on their wall I saw an old football helmet. It had look used and even had a few battle scars. I began to wonder what story it had to tell. At that point, imagination took over and I began to create a story around that football helmet. What followed in the next few months were a series of stories prompted by some article on Applebee’s walls. Each story portrayed one of the nine fruit of the Spirit. The stories originally had a wrapper story explaining where the writing prompt came from, Applebee’s became Finnegan’s Inn. While I’ve removed the wrapper story that introduced the writing prompt I have not re-edited the stories. In other words, they’re a bit rough. Without further ado, the story on self-control is titled Patricia’s Date.
Edited for Lambchow – 2015
“Patricia, Eddie’s here,” her mom called up the steps.
“Be down in a minute,” Patricia called back. Patricia Clarkson lived on the south side of town near the river in a cute cape cod with a white picket fence. She had turned seventeen the previous April and was looking forward to her Senior year when school resumed in the fall. But tonight her mind was on a long-planned double date with Eddie and some of Eddie’s friends from Madison.
“So where are you going tonight Eddie?” Patricia’s father asked. Patricia’s mother had invited Eddie to sit down in the living room until Patricia was ready.
“We’re gonna pick up some friends of mine in Madison, Harry and Margie, and go to the Starlight,” Eddie replied.
“Really, I haven’t been to the Starlight in years. What’s playing tonight?” Patricia’s father asked.
“Two John Wayne Pictures: The Wake of the Red Witch and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” Eddie replied.
“John Harrison saw them last week at the Rialto. Do you know John? No? Oh well, he said that they were very good,” Patricia’s father said. Both men rose has Patricia entered the room.
“Daddy, what are you doing, giving Eddie the third degree?” she playfully asked.
“No just asking about your plans,” he answered.
“Are you ready to go Patty?” Eddie asked. Only two people could call her Patty, her father and Eddie.
“Let me grab my purse and sweater,” which she did on the way out.
“You kids have fun tonight,” Patricia’s father called after them.
“Remember your curfew,” Mother chimed in.
Eddie opened the passenger door for Patricia to his rebuilt Ford Coupe. Eddie got in the driver’s side, fired up the engine, and roared away. Somewhere between Elm and Robinson, Patricia scooted across the bench seat to sit next to him. They had been going steady now for just over a year. He wore her class ring on a chain around his neck; she wore his on her finger with a liberal amount of yarn applied to make it fit. The drive to Madison only took about twenty minutes. They talked about a few things but mostly held hands and listened to the radio. Patricia worked the gear shift when it was required; it was an arrangement they had worked out last summer. The Drifters were playing on the radio when they pulled into Margie’s drive. Harry was already there.
Eddied introduced his friends to Patty, and they decided who was going to drive. Since Harry had borrowed his dad’s four-door Buick for the occasion, they decided that it would be more comfortable than the Ford Deuce, even though it wasn’t as stylish. Harry and Margie sat in front with Eddie and Patty in the back. “We’ve got time to grab a burger, Uncle Woody’s ok?” Harry asked. Everyone agreed.
After burgers and cherry cokes at Uncle Woody’s, they drove to the Starlight Drive-In. The sun was just beginning to touch the horizon when they pulled into the Drive-in theater. After some discussion on the general direction they should head, front, middle, or back, they settled on somewhere between the middle and the back. Harry chose a row and went about two thirds down it before he picked a slot to pull the Buick into. The car went down a slight incline which provided a better view of the screen. Harry lowered the window, attached the speaker, and adjusted the volume. Elvis was singing about his blue suede shoes.
The sun sank below the horizon, and the commercials started to play on the big screen: coming attractions, visit our concession stand, and drive-in etiquette. It would be about fifteen minutes before the start of the first film. “Margie, I need to powder my nose. Would you like to come along?” Patty asked. “Ok, sure,” Margie replied. The girls got out of the car and head towards the building in the middle of the lot which was the projection booth, concession stand, and bathrooms.
“Why do girls always do that?” Harry asked.
“Do what?” Eddied replied.
“Run off to the bathroom like that saying ‘powder my nose’ instead of what they’re really doing. And always going off in a group?” Harry asked.
“One of the mysteries of life I suppose,” Eddied replied.
Harry reached over and opened the glove compartment; among the various papers was a brown bottle. “Hey look, Pop left his booze,” Harry said as he pulled out the bottle and examined the full whiskey bottle; Eddie couldn’t make out the label. Harry opened the bottle, sniffed it and took a swig. ‘Want some?” He asked.
“Put that away before the girls see it,” Eddie demanded.
“Oh come on, I know you better than that. Since when have you been afraid of a little whiskey? Has moving to that little town made you religious or something?” Harry asked.
“Patty’s not that kind of girl. I really like her. Now put that away,” Eddie said.
“Alright, alright.” Harry took one more swig and was about to put the bottle back. “I’ve got a better idea. Let’s go buy some sodas and mix some of the whiskey in them. That way Miss Patty won’t get all offended. Do you want one?” Harry asked.
“No, but I’ll come with you to get something for Patty and me,” Eddie replied.
“Suit yourself,” Harry said. Harry and Eddie walked towards the concession stand. About halfway there they ran into the girls coming back from the restrooms.
“We’re making a coke run. Do you want anything else?” Harry asked.
“Popcorn would be nice,” Margie suggested. The girls continued back towards the Buick while Eddie and Harry made it to the concession stand. After their purchases, Harry spiked two of the cokes with a liberal portion of the whiskey. “Sure you don’t want some?” Harry asked.
“I’m sure. Let’s get back. The show’s about to start,” Eddie said. The boys made it back to the Buick a few minutes later. Harry and Margie were in the front seat and Eddie and Patty in the rear seat. When Margie took a sip of her coke, she gave a Harry a questioning look which Harry answered with a small nod and slipped her a look of the bottle. Margie the turned the questioning look slightly towards the rear seat, as if to ask if Patty and Eddie also had spiked cokes. The answer was a small shake of Harry’s head. Margie shrugged her shoulders and took a larger sip.
The couples watched the first feature, talking occasionally during the slow parts, but mostly just taking in the adventures of the John Wayne. In the end, John Wayne died in a diving accident but somehow still ended up riding a ghostly ship into the sunset with his girl. Thus ended the ‘Wake of the Red Witch’. There was about a 15-minute intermission before the next film started. Both couples decided to visit the concession stand and the facilities before the next feature. Patty noticed that Harry and Margie were both a little unsteady on their feet. As Eddie and Patty outpaced the other couple, Patty asked, “What’s up with Harry and Margie?”
“What do you mean,” Eddie asked.
“They seem different since we got here, I don’t know, acting kinda strange,” Patty said. They continued to walk hand in hand toward the concession stand. Margie tripped over something and began to laugh. Harry and Margie caught up with Eddie and Patty at the concession stand.
Patty and Margie went off to the girl’s room.
“Harry, will you guys take it easy? Patty is beginning to suspect something” Eddie pleaded.
“Oh lay off, we’re not causing you any trouble,” Harry said as he entered the restroom. Inside the ladies’ room, a different conversation was taking place. “Margie, are you ok?” Patty asked.
I’m fine, never betty, better,” Margie replied in a sing-song fashion with a little giggle.
“No your not, now tell me what’s going on,” Patty said.
“Just a little whiskey honey, makes you feel good. Ever try it?” Margie asked.
“No, and I don’t want to start. Is Harry in on this too?” Patty asked.
“Yep, I’m not sure where he got it, but he got it,” she started giggling again.
“Is Eddie?” Patty asked a little worried.
“Not this time,” she answered.
“What’s that mean?” Patty demanded.
“Before Eddie moved he would join us all the time,” she replied.
“Oh,” Patty said quietly.
Margie started to leave the restroom. “You coming honey?” she asked.
“I’ll be out In a minute, just want to fix my makeup,” Patty said. Margie went out, met up with the boys, and took another whiskey coke from Harry.
“Lord, I’m in a mess. Give me the wisdom to handle it properly. Amen,” Patty prayed before she left the restroom and joined the rest.
“They’re drinking whiskey,” Patty whispered to Eddie as they got a little ahead again.
“I know, I told Harry to cut it out. Did Margie tell you?” Eddie asked Patty.
“Yeah, she also told me that you used to drink too. Is that true?” Patty asked.
“It was true, but I haven’t had a drink since I moved, since I met up with you,” Eddie said.
“So you’re blaming me for not drinking,” she gave his hand a little squeeze.
“At first that was true,” he admitted, “but after I went to church with you a few times I talked to Pastor Zimmerman about it, guess I should have told you about it. He helped me see the end results of going down that road.”
I’m glad,” she gave his hand another squeeze. When they got back to the car, Eddie suggested that Harry and Margie take the back seat for the next film, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’. They agreed to the proposition.
About the time in the movie where Liberty trips up Rance and causes him to spill a plate full of food, Harry is laughing so hard that he accidentally opens the car door and falls out. Margie was laughing even harder and almost falls on top of him. Eddie and Patty were getting perturbed.
Eddie and Patty put their heads together so they could whisper to each other and discuss the situation. “Make out time, I’m all for that,” Harry yelled. Then he wrapped his arms around Margie and gave her a big kiss. “I think we should leave,” Eddie whispered.
“Do you have the keys” Patty whispered back.
“You sure are a good kisser Harry,” Margie said.
Eddie checked the ignition, no keys. “Hey, Harry give the keys. Patty’s getting a
little cold.” Harry fumbled for the keys which were in his pocket. “Here you go buddy,” he said handing up the keys. Eddied started the car up, returned the speaker to its holder, and rolled the window back up. Harry and Margie didn’t notice anything until the car started to roll. “Hey whatcha doin, the movie’s not over yet,” Harry asked looking up.
“We’re heading back towards home; you weren’t watching the movie anyway,” Eddie replied. Patty sat quietly praying knowing that things could get ugly very quickly. “Ok, once around the park James,” Harry said. Margie giggled and the necking began again.
Eddie pulled the car into Harry’s driveway, grabbed the keys, and went around to open Patty’s door. “Get in my car and lock the doors until I get there,” Eddie told her. Patty looked up at him worriedly and did what he said. “Come on Harry get out, your home,” Eddie said. Harry looked up from his and Margie’s embrace. He stepped out of the car while Margie fixed her hair. Harry got in the driver’s seat. “Hey where are my keys?” He hopped quickly back out of the car. “Give me my keys Eddie. Margie and I are going up to the point.”
“No way Harry, you’re not driving anywhere. You’re too sauced,” Eddie said. Harry didn’t waste any more words but took a roundhouse swing at Eddie’s nose which Eddie ducked. The force of the swing spun Harry around. As his arm went flying through the air, it caught the open car door causing Harry to lose his balance and hit his head against the side of the car. He went down like a limp noodle. Margie seeing the action from the back seat just sat there laughing.
Eddie examined Harry: no blood, just a nasty bump. Eddie signaled over the Patty to come over and get Margie into his car. There was still a light on in the house so he rang the doorbell. Harry’s father came to the door and Eddie explained the whole situation. They carried Harry in and put him in his bed; Harry’s mother examined his head again and was satisfied that there was no permanent damage. There was a little bit more excitement when Harry’s father asked where he had gotten the bottle and Harry’s mother heard the answer. They thanked Eddie. He replied by suggesting they contact Pastor Zimmerman giving them a brief outline of his story since he’d moved.
“Are you alright,” Patty asked when Eddie got in his car.
“I was going to ask you the same thing. How’s Margie?” He asked.
“She’ll be fine,” she said. They drove her home, helped her inside, and spoke with her parents.
“Young lady you’re late,” Patricia’s father said, “Do you have any explanations?”
“Sir, let me explain,” Eddie said and laid out the whole story,
“I see,” Patty’s father thought for a moment, “I’m glad that you were both so level-headed. You are forgiven. Guess I’ll give Harry and Margie’s parents a call tomorrow.” He checked his watch. “Well, make that later today, and invite them to church. Young lady, you’d better see this young gentleman to the door before you head up to bed,” Patty’s father turned and headed towards the kitchen.
“I won’t say that tonight was fun, but thanks,” Patty said.
“I still don’t know who shot Liberty Valance. Want to try again sometime?” Eddie asked.
“Sure,” she replied.
Eddie kissed her goodnight and headed towards his car.