A shiny, red, short bed Toyota pick-up truck pulled to a stop in front of the old aluminum sided Woolworth building. The tires stayed a good twelve inches from the high curb and the engine was allowed to return to a proper idle before the engine was shut off, the brake set, and the window rolled up. Jack slid off the like- new, gray mouse fur, high back seat, and closed the driver side door with a solid ker-thunk. He brushed the wrinkles out of his blue jeans and checked his teeth for defects in the oversized square back-up mirror screwed to the door. Standing a bit taller than he ever had when leaving the old brush painted red bike behind he pushed open the slightly green tinted front doors and walked toward the back of the store. The gang had pushed a couple of tables together and had at least three conversations going at once. leftover burgers and fries sat in plastic baskets in the middle of the table. A drink glass with a straw sat in front of each of seven of Jack’s friends. An empty chair just happened to be next to where Ellen sat. Jack sat down quietly and pretended he had been there all along.
Ellen must have felt the air move or heard a squeak from his chair because she stopped talking and turned toward him in her chair. “You,” she said, just slightly startled.
“Me,” Jack returned.
“I thought you were plowing up the wheat stubble.”
“Toby had pity on me,” he said while his hand found hers and gave it a little tug. “I want to show you something.” Ellen followed his lead leaving the group behind with out explanation.
“It’s beautiful,” Ellen said with excitement for an old pick-up only a farm girl could have.
“It’s nothing fancy,” Jack said trying to hide some of his pride. “It’s in good shape. Not many miles on her, hardly any at all for a Toyota. Take a ride?” he walked her to the passenger door and pulled on the handle.
“Can I drive it?” Ellen asked just to test how much he liked her.
Jack didn’t skip a beat but reached into his pocket and handed her the keys just like it wasn’t the last thing he wanted to do. He had pictured her in the center of the bench seat leaning up against him making the automatic transmission a good idea but instead he rolled down the passenger window and hung one arm over the side of the door and tried to look like he hadn’t a concern in the world. The rear tires made a little chirp as Ellen pulled onto Main Street and headed toward the highway.
“This is nice,” Ellen said. “Take me to school Monday.”
“Sure,” Jack said thinking having a pickup wasn’t a bad thing at all. “I have to leave early. I still have some enrolling to do before class.”
“It’s a date,” Ellen took her eyes off the road and smiled at him. “I wanted to get there early too.