A Ride With Johnny Slick; The Summer Of ’62

About mid-summer after the weeding and bailing the first cut, Rich rode his bike down the road that Johnny Slick lived. There were many houses on the road. They weren’t farmhouses, but houses belonging to people who worked in the city and didn’t want to live there.

Johnny Slick’s house was a white cape cod with an attached garage.

Johnny Slick saw Rich peddle his bike up the driveway from the rearview mirror of a blue ‘59 MG, but he continued cleaning the dashboard. Even when Rich stood beside the car he didn’t look up at him.

What do you want?” Elbert said.

Just stopped by to say ‘congratulations,’ Rich said.

A smile slowly unfurled on his face. “For what?” Elbert said.

The human race, it looks like you’ve evolved beyond the human race – homo automobilus.” Rich ran his hand along the smooth blue wax job and said, “This is cool, really cool.”

Park the bike beside the garage and I’ll take you for a spin around the block,” Elbert said.

Rich did what he said. While hurrying to return to the car he tripped over the downspout at the corner of the house. Embarrassed, he scrambled to reattach it.

We’ll get it when we come back,” Elbert said.

Rich slid into the car and Elbert started it up. He moved cautiously on to the road. The engine purred and rumbled as he shifted through the gears smoothly.

Rich had never been that close to the road in a moving vehicle. The slightest speed was exhilarating. It moved like a water bug skimming across a smooth surface of the water on a pond, taking corners with only a slight lean or sway.

Is this yours?” Rich said.

Yeah,” Elbert said. “I had some money saved and I got graduation money.”

It rides neat,” Rich said raising his head above the windshield to catch the breeze.

A lot of people don’t like them because you feel too much of the road, but part of life is feeling the bumps,” Elbert said as the car jarred from a bump in the road. He smiled.

It was not a long ride. It was around the block, which is about four miles in the country. They pulled into the driveway with a bounce and he turned off the car.

Thanks for the ride,” Rich said and got out of the car.

No sweat. Do you want to come up for a coke,” Elbert said pointing above the garage.

Sure,” Rich said and followed him into the garage. Rich ran over to the dislodged downspout and attached it. Elbert waited for him and they walked up a stairway that was in the rear of the garage.

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