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TWO CARS IN A CORNFIELD/ William Harrison THERE WERE EIGHT of us, and we all worked hard in our high school classes, played on the teams and kept things normal with outsiders, including our parents, so our secret stayed intact. The girls were Dana, Sylvie, Joanna and Tibby. The guys were Brad, Chase, Tim and me. They caUed me Kipper in those days, a name that came out of the baseball squad, who knows what it meant. Even my father called me that after awhile. My father also seemed concerned about who my steady girl might be. One night at supper he started again, saying, "Okay, I think Dana's your best gal, am I right?" "We're all just good friends," I explained. "You know, for all the movies and ball games. We don't want to get serious." "That's perfectly smart of you," my mother put in. "True, you don't want anything compUcated," my father admitted, drawing on his heavier baritone, the voice he sometimes used at town meetings. "Real friendship is wonderful," said my mother. "You're aU inteUigent kids. Romantic love is probably a sUly idea to you." I nodded with reUef. The roast beef that night was cooked rare, the best cut. We ate weU at our house because my father owned the big market and butcher shop in our Uttle Missouri town. He was putting on weight that year, moving toward the heart attack that took him away. "Can I use the deUvery car again this weekend?" I asked that night. "One accident or one ticket and you don't use it anymore," he reminded me, as always. I dehvered groceries for my father's store, but we went through this ritual every weekend. Most of our group had driven farm tractors or pickup trucks from the time we were thirteen years old, driving illegally, covering the whole county and beyond, and our parents gave us permission—because of our good grades, our mainstream Uves, our innocence. At school the eight of us agreed there would be no meaningful glances between us, no touching, no bragging, no confessions ifcaught, and no falling in love with just one of the partners. Looking back, wondering how it aU happened, I remember aU the guys as slender and 254 . The Missouri Review muscular. Both Dana and Joanna would become school queens although Sylvie and Tibby in their separate ways were even more stunning. Things began the night we drove over to Nevada, a nearby town. Afterward, driving back from the movie, Chase and Tibby started undressing each other in the back seat. I gripped the wheel of the old Chevy, stunned, as Dana kept peering over at them and breaking into nervous laughter. "You keep doing that," she warned them, "and I'm going to keep watching." She nudged me, jerking her head toward them and trying to get her giggling under control. "They're in a trance!" Dana squealed, and she clawed at my shirt, urging me to stop the car and to become a spectator with her. After another mile I puUed into a roadside picnic area, stopped, turned off the headUghts, and turned around. By this time Tibby had shed the rest of her clothes, and I found myself addled with the sight of her nakedness. Dana began to gently stroke my backside. Dumbstruck, empty of thought or language, I didn't know what more to do until Dana moved against me, making her own signals clear, then as I started unbuttoning her denim shirt I thought, hey, this is it, we're all virgins but this is it. This is ignition. The endowment inside her bra filled up my puny imagination. Chase made deep groaning noises. It was a moonless April evening: the hawks silent in the new leaves of the trees, the fields alive with the smells of earth and honeysuckle. "Go ahead, touch me there," Dana whispered, and the car became hot with movement and starglow. We opened the car doors that faced the nearby woods. As Dana and I started our awkward contortions, Chase and Tib reached a loud crescendo. Moments later they leaned forward, looking over the...


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