Sue Ellen was his first love. He can recall every moment they spent together, especially the first times they made love. The first time was after a football game when they were juniors in high school. In the front seat of his daddy’s car. He’s pretty sure it ranked as the most disastrous firsts ever.
He pulled his daddy’s Pontiac onto the beach and yanked up the parking break. He cranked the driver side window down an inch or two to let in some of the cool fall air, and they faced each other and said, “Okay, here we are. Let’s do it.”
He scooted out from under the steering wheel and over to the middle of the front seat. It was a big car. There was plenty of room. They put their arms around each other, and they kissed, and he reached his hand under her blouse. “Are you sure you want to do this?” she asked.
“I’m sure. Are you?”
“I think so.”
“You think so?”
“I know so.”
“Then let’s get on with it.”
They started frantically trying to undress one another. He was hurrying to get the deed done before she changed her mind. She was anxious for the same reason. Four shaking hands groping in the dark could not manage to unfasten her bra, so she tried to jerk the bra over her head. A snap got caught in her hair. “Shit! Shit!” she grumbled. “It’s caught. Help me.”
He reached in the dark and pulled her hair while trying to untangle the offending undergarment. She slapped his hand away and said, “Never mind. I’ll do it. You get out of them pants,” which he tried to do in a rush but couldn’t manage because he hadn’t bothered to take his shoes off. His shoes got caught up in his jeans, so he gave up and left his jeans and his underwear wrapped around his ankles, which made it very hard to maneuver in the cockpit of the car—the roomy, roomy front seat that seemed to be growing ever more constricted with every passing second. Elbows and knees and bunched-up clothing seemed to be everywhere but where they belonged.
It was as if they were caught up in a tumbling clothes drier. And when they finally managed to get the necessary body parts uncovered and he situated himself between her legs and entered her, he finished in no time flat.
“That’s it?” she said.
“I guess so.” He gasped, as shocked as she was by the suddenness but winded and sweat-soaked nevertheless. He pulled out and reached down to roll the rubber off. He said, “Oh shit! Christamighty!”
“It ain’t there.”
“The rubber. It musta come off.”
“Come off! Jesus Christ, how could that happen?”
“Well I don’t know.” He started groping around underneath them on the seat. “Maybe I didn’t put it on right.”
He confessed that he’d never put one on before and didn’t really know how to do it, which she said was actually “kind of sweet . . . but Jesus, where’d it go?”
“It must be still in you.”
“How do we get it out?” she asked.
“I suppose you just have to reach in there and fish it out.”
“Well yeah. I mean, it’s your . . .”
“But it’s got your stuff in there.”
After the act, they were rather disgusted by the messiness of body fluids—something they’d given only cursory thought to before.
“Don’t watch me,” she said. She reached between her legs and felt around and extracted the limp, inside-out condom, pinching it between thumb and forefinger and flipping it disgustedly at the car window. But the window on her side was rolled up, so it splat against the glass and fell in her lap. “Eee-euw! Get it off!”
He picked it up gingerly and rolled down the window and started to throw the used condom out, but suddenly stopped with his arm mid-swing, because standing outside the car with a flashlight angled upward enough to make visible the self-satisfied leer on his face was a uniformed policeman. David was caught wet handed holding the rubber, his pants down around his ankles. The cop flashed the light into the car. He aimed it at Sue Ellen’s breasts, and then down to her lap where her hands were frantically and simultaneously pulling up her panties and pushing down her hiked-up skirt. He got a good look at her before she managed to cover up, and then he blinded them both by aiming his flashlight at their faces again.
“You’re Pop Lawrence’s boy, aincha?” the cop asked.
“Well looka here, son. This ain’t no good place to be making out. They’s muggers that patrol this beach at night looking for just the likes of you kids.” His voice was deep and authoritative, and yet casual. Just as he had been lackadaisical and unashamed about copping a good look at Sue Ellen’s nakedness before she managed to cover up, his manner of speech seemed to imply that while serious about the threat of muggers along the beachfront, he was casually friendly with David who, after all, was the son of an important man in the area. David felt sure that there was no threat to them.
The cop said, “There’s been two reports just this week. There’s a group of ’em, at least two men and maybe three, depending on which report you believe. They hit on younguns that’s making out, and they don’t just rob them. They beat up the boys and then have their way with the girls. No kidding. That’s how come we patrol down here. We ain’t trying to keep y’all from fucking—excuse my French, Miss. We’re here to protect you. Onliest thing I’m trying to say is y’all need to find some other place to do your stuff. Now y’all go on and get out of here, ya hear?”
“Yes sir,” they both said. Sue Ellen had looked down at her prayer-grasped hands in her lap the whole time the policeman was talking. She could not bear to look him in the eye. The cop turned off his flashlight and walked away. David was still holding the limp condom. He shook his finger out the window and it fell to the sand.
“Let’s get out of here,” Sue Ellen said.
He cranked the engine and pulled onto the highway. She asked him to find the nearest place with a bathroom so she could wash herself out.
“I got to get it all cleaned out. How long does it take for sperm to swim upstream?”
“I don’t know.”
“If I wash out immediately, do you think it will keep me from getting pregnant?”
“Yeah, sure. I guess. Geeze, I don’t know about that kind of stuff.”
“Oh God, oh God, it better.”
Tourist traps of all the usual types were wall-to-wall along the beach drive. He pulled into the nearest open diner and they went in, and she rushed right through to the women’s restroom, leaving him to explain to the waitress that they weren’t going to order anything but she just had to go to the bathroom.
“The bathrooms are for customers only.”
He glanced around. There were no customers. “This is an emergency,” he said. “Besides, she’s already in there. If you want to go in there and pull her out, then you just be my guest. But she’s been known to scratch and bite and pull hair.”
The waitress was adamant. She said, “Then you got to order something to make it right.”
“All right. I’ll have a Coke.”
“Will that be takeout?”
“And will there be anything else?”
It’s now twenty years later. David and Sue Ellen just happen to be on the same shuttle flight with one other passenger. As the little Cessna makes a wide circle around Ship Island David says, “Remember our first time?”
“How could I forget? Doing it on the front seat of your dad’s car.”
“It was a disaster.”
“That fucking rubber, and the cop.”
Angrily the other passenger butts in. “Excuse me. You’re not the only people on this plane, and that’s not the kind of thing you ought to be talking about in public.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to . . .”
Before he can finish his apology the passenger says, “You are ill-mannered and disgusting.”
David tries apologizing again but the man keeps berating him and David responds by mocking him. “I’m ill-mannered and disgusting.”
Sue Ellen stifles her laugh.
“I’m going to report you to the authorities,” the man says, and the pilot says, “Oh shut up, Joe, and mind your own business.”
Did I mention it’s a small plane?
They continue to reminisce, talking now about the second and last time they made love. That time it was during a hurricane. The roof over their heads blew off while they were doing it. “We didn’t do it very often, but it sure was eventful when we did,” David said.
The other passenger said, “Would you please, please shut up? What if my daughter was here to hear such nasty talk?” again threatening to report him to the authorities. But when they got off the plane and a reporter met David and started asking him questions and the other passenger realized he was the famous movie star David Lawrence, he hung around waiting for an opening and then asked if he could get his autograph for his daughter.
*Clayton is a self-published novelist and feature writer. His work includes six novels and a book about art with the latest novel is due out this summer. Clayton writes a theater review column for The News Tribune and an art review column for the Weekly Volcano. He resides in Olympia with wife, Gabi. Together they founded and run Mud Flat Press (www.mudflatpress.com), a home-based company dedicated to helping other self-published authors prepare manuscripts for publication, including editing, formatting and cover design.