The Reader - Week 22
“Jennifer?” Andy tapped at the bedroom door. There was no response. He turned the knob and peeked in. Jennifer wasn’t there. Everything seemed in order: the bed was made, all of her things appeared to have been put away. The picture of the baby was on the night stand. Andy went to the closet, it was empty. He even looked under the bed. He went to every room in the house, calling her name. She could have gone out the front door, he thought. It was odd that she hadn’t said something to him, or she could have left a note. He went outside, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. He checked the garage, her car was still there.
“She probably went for a walk,” he thought. “She’s not used to living with someone, or maybe she didn’t want to disturb me.”
Andy went back to his proofreading:
Riding in Cars With Boys.
There was a subculture of what was called “cruisin’.” To join it, you had to have a car (driver’s license optional), some buddies, and a route. The route included a circuit of the old “ballrooms” that ringed the Twin Cities. Some of them were little more than glorified roadhouses, built in the pre-prohibition era, serving as speakeasy’s during the twenties, and hanging on in the sixties, when the explosion of youth culture meant that every Friday or Saturday night had a dozen or more choices for the well-wheeled teen to find some action. My buddy Dan has a 59 Plymouth station wagon that he referred to, for some unknown reason, as “Captain America.” Maybe it was the sense off freedom that it offered. And it was a way to pick up girls. One Friday night in late March found three of us guys, Dan, Larry, and me, taking off in the “bomber”, looking for action.
Going to McDonald’s was still an event then, although they weren’t so numerous as they are now, sometimes you had to make do with cheesy knock-offs like “McCarthy’s” where you get a hamburger and fries with a Coke for 35 cents, even cheaper than McD’s. McCarthy’s was out on Bass Lake Road and, after having fueled up with some salty, greasy grub, we headed out a little further, to the old Bass Lake Ballroom. We got there after nine, the local band, The Del Counts, were just finishing a rousing cover of the Four Tops “Reach Out”, they were incredibly good. We stayed for a while, but Larry had found a trio of girls who wanted to go for a ride. We went for a ride, Dan and one of the girls in the front seat, with two of the girls in the back seat with Larry and me. We parked out by Crystal Lake, a notorious make-out spot, as romantic a place as you're going to find in Robbinsdale, Minnesota. Pretty soon one of the girls and me ended up in the back of the wagon, thoughtfully furnished with a foam pad. For some reason, Dan was obsessed with Bill Cosby, he had a number of his albums memorized, and proceeded to faithfully reenact them. With this soundtrack, the two of us in the back began making out, hot and heavy. I didn't know what Larry and ‘his’ girl were doing in the back seat, but what is was, they weren’t Cosby routines.
After a while, Dan ran out of material, and one of the girls said that they had to go home. The two of us in the back re-arranged our clothes and Dan dropped them off.
As far as we were concerned, they disappeared of the face of the earth. We never saw them again.
Jennifer still hadn't returned after a couple of hours and by this time Andy was seriously concerned. He went back into the bedroom to see if there was possibly a note or any clue to her disappearance that he might have overlooked. He looked around, the bedroom seemed a little different somehow. Perhaps it was the lighting, he thought. He looked at the bed and the nightstand.
The baby picture was no longer there.