Junior gave me ride into town that morning so I skipped the Curtis house. I was just finishing at my locker when it was slammed shut.
“I need them.” Steve told me.
I wasn’t fazed. I reached into my bag and pulled out the notes that I was working on and handed them to him.
“Give Pony and Johnny their’s too.” I told him.
“Sure thing. You’re the best.” He said as he pulled me into a quick hug I couldn’t react to and left.
I sighed and headed off to Math. Nothing new really. A practice exam but nothin’ I couldn’t handle. Everyone else on the other hand was stressing about it, and the actual finals.
The day seemed to fly by. Not that I really noticed. Now we’d have the rest of the week to study, and next week we had the dreaded exams. I didn’t mind them much. Then again my grade point average was 100% as it is and I have a photographic memory, so. No, I wasn’t worried at all.
“Come on we’re gonna be late.” Steve called as he passed my locker.
“Keep your shirt on, I’m comin’.” I mumbled grabbing my shirt.
We walked to the DX. Pony and Johnny went straight to the Curtis place to study off the notes I made for ’em.
“Hey, Soda.” I said coming into the store and throwing my bag in the back.
“Hey.” He said, “Kat, can you be on pumps today?” He asked.
I waved a little as I made my way back outside.
A couple cars rolled up. I filled the tanks and they payed. Nothin’ really out of the ordinary. Until one corvet pulled up to the pumps.
“Can I help you, sir?” I asked.
He took off his sunglasses to reveal beautiful brown eyes. He smiled softly and said,
“Yeah, tell me how a girl as pretty as yourself is working at a place like this?”
His voice was smooth, warm, and welcoming. There was nothing in it that indicated any interest, only curiosity.
“I have a thing for cars, and my friends work here too.” I explained, “Anything else?”
He nodded, “I don’t know what but there seems to be something wrong with my car. I think it requires a beautiful ravened hair woman to take a look, what do you think?”
I couldn’t help but snicker a little.
“Pull up to that garage there,” I pointed, “I just gotta get someone out here to work on the pumps.”
He nodded. I quickly went into the store, found Soda helping some customers at the counter, and Steve staking shelves.
“One a you guys take pumps for a while,” I told them, Soda broke his attention from the girl who was there, she wasn’t too happy about it, Steve continued, “I got a customer in the back.”
Steve tossed the empty box to Soda and pushed past me to go outside. I went to the back and found him leaning on the side of the car.
“Mind if I pop the hood?” I asked coming up to the car.
“I’d be honoured.” He said smiling.
I smiled shyly back. I wasn’t usually like this, what’s wrong with me?
I popped the hood, the engine was amazing. Words can’t describe it.
I started doing the usual.
“So what goes on with it that makes you think you gotta problem?” I asked.
“It makes a funny noise, I don’t really know a lot about cars, but I know that shouldn’t happen. That it can get hard to start sometimes.” He explained.
“When was the last time you checked the oil?” I asked.
“I just got it replaced the other day.” He said, “Couldn’t be it. Could it?”
I shrugged, “Sometimes there can be a defective shipment of oil. Other times the place you got it changed just don’t got good oil to begin with. You never really know until ya’ check.”
“You seem to know a lot about these things.” He said.
“I know a lot about a lot of things.” I told him, “I just don’t look like I do.”
“Not true. You can tell just by looking at you, you have good amount of knowledge.” He said.
“My brother’s sometimes say that I know too much.” I said.
He laughed lightly, “Must make your parents proud though.” He said.
“I guess.” I mumbled and stood up straight.
“Pardon?” He asked.
“Passed away a while ago, my brothers take care a me. They’re old enough.” I said.
“I’m sorry,” He said, “I didn’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable, if that’s what I did.”
I shook my head, “Happened a while ago.” I said, “Sides, they’re in a better place. They’re with God watching over me and my brothers. I know it.”
“Christian?” He asked.
“Catholic.” I corrected, “Just don’t act it most the time. What about you any religion?”
He shook his head, “I find it fascinating, but I’ve yet to come to a religion that I think is worth it. But I respect those who have one.”
I nodded, “Ain’t gotta be so formal, I got people trash talkin’ me ’bout everything all the time. Hell, one a my friends does all the time.”
“Doesn’t sound like a very good friend to me.” He said.
I shrugged, “He’s a good buddy. He just thinks stuff like that is a waste a time.”
“Problems the oil.” I told him, “Stuff can reck your entire engine if it ain’t good enough.”
“You’ve only been under there about three minutes.” He said amazed.
“Really?” I asked, he nodded.
“I think I just beat Steve’s record.” I said out loud.
He laughed lightly again.
“I’m Keith by the way.” He said extending his hand, “Keith Hallaway.”
“Tomkat.” I said taking it, “Tomkat Johnes. My friends call me Kat.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Kat.” He said.
“Like wise, Keith.” I said, “I’ll be right back, I need to get the oil.”
“I wont go anywhere.” He said.
I went into the store room and dug around a bit. I finally found it. I got that and the bucket we empty oil into. I came back, put the bucket under the hole, unscrewed the cap and waited for the oil to finish flowing.
“Have you lived around here long, Kat?” Keith asked.
“Whole life,” I said, “Why?”
“Do you know how to get to Tulsa Law office?” He asked, “I’m applying for a secretary position there. I kind of got lost though.” He said laughing lightly.
I don’t know why but it was starting to grow on me.
“If you don’t mind me askin’ who’s secertary’d you be?” I asked putting the cap back on.
“Best lawyer in Tulsa, supposedly.” He said, “Budwiser Constantien.”
I froze, I looked up to him and smiled, “I’ll put in a good word for ya’ if ya’ want.”
“That’d be nice, but what does your word have anything to do with law?” He asked respectfully.
“Who you’re applyin’ to happens to be one a my big brothers.” I said.
“Really?” He asked excitedly, but stopped and looked at me seriously, “You gave a false introduction. You said your name was Jones.”
I shook my head and moved the bucket, “It’s tradition in my family. Girls keep the maiden name of their mother’s, boys get the married sir name. It’s a little confusing, but it works for us. Sides, I like it.”
He nodded understand able.
I started to pour the oil in, “You go straight down the way you came ’til you come to a street called 3rd, turn left and go for three blocks. Turn right on Sutton, go straight for a mile or so until you get to a street called Miller Lane, turn down it. Name clearly stated on the building. If you can, say hi to Marry for me. She’s the front secretary.”
He nodded, “Thank you.”
“No problem.” I said cleaning my hands off with the rag.
“I’ll put in that word for you too, if ya’ want.” I said looking at him.
He was handsome. His dirty blond hair turning gold in the light. His eyes sparkling. His gentile features coming out so smoothly. Good build. Dressed real smart too.
“I’d like that Kat, thank you.” he said reaching into his pocket and pulling out a wallet.
He pulled out a few bills and reached out for my hand, he placed them in my palm and closed my fingers around them.
“There’s an extra fifty in there.” He said, “For your great service.”
“Thank you.” I said.
“And if it’s not too much at ask, “He reached back into his pocket for something, he pulled out a piece of paper, “Could I get your number? It might be nice to have dinner, we could talk about our outlooks on religion some more. It’s hard to find an intelligent conversation now a days.”
I looked at him a second.
“How old are you?” I asked
“Twenty,” He said calmly, “What about you?”
“Sixteen next month.” I said.
“I see.” He said slightly disappointed.
I smiled, “Something you should know about me, Keith.” I said taking out a pen and grabbing the paper, “Age is just a number to me. My parents were seven years apart when they got married.”
“You don’t care then?” He asked.
I shook my head, “I ain’t one of those girls. Sides, I know for a fact I’ll eat any guy my age alive if they want to date me.”
I gave him back the paper.
“I’ll be sure to use this.” He said.
I nodded, “But if it’s not me who picks up, just say that a friend of Kat’s called. If my brothers find out I had someone who’s that much older than me askin’ me out, I’m a dead girl walkin’.” We both shared a small laugh at that.
He promised to call.
I went back to work thinkin’ ’bout him. He seems like a nice enough guy. Easy to talk to. I got a little knotting feeling in my stomach.
I shrugged it off. I called Buddy after he left, let him know one of his applicants would be a very good choice. After a few more hours we locked up and went home.
Well the Curtis place anyway. Christine and Evie were there, apparently studying with Pony and Johnny.
I sat down on the couch still thinking about Keith. I pulled my hat off and pulled my hair out. I don’t know why I just felt like it.
“Kat, everything okay?” Evie asked giving me a ‘don’t hide anything I know’ look.
I nodded, “Yeah, everything’s okay.” I told her.
“What’s his name?” He and Christine asked hoping on the couch on either side of me.
All the guys were staring at us like we were crazy. I don’t have crushes, and if I do it’s on like Elvis, or one of the Beatles.
“What makes you think there’s a boy?” I asked.
“You have a dreamy look on your face.” Christine pointed out.
“You have this look on your face, Kat. And trust me I know when a girl is thinking of a guy, it’s something that comes natural to me.” Evie told me.
I sighed and smiled.
“His name’s Keith.”I said, they squealed, “He came to DX today with some car trouble. He wasn’t from around here, he was way too clean for it, even a Soc. He even admitted that he was here answering an add to be a law secretary for Buddy. While I was changin’ the oil to his car we got to talkin’. We talked about religion, what we think ’bout it, little of our outlooks. He was real nice too. Almost a perfect gentleman. He gave a good tip after I was done, and he asked me out.” They squealed again, “I gave him my number, and I guess we’ll see, huh?”
I buried my head in my hands because I knew what everyone was gonna say.
“How old is he?”
“What does he look like?”
“How does he make you feel?”
“Think it was love at first sight?”
“What kind of car was it?”
“How much was the tip?”
“Is he doing anything other than applying for secretary?”
Most of these came from Evie and Christine. I could answer all of them though.
“He’s twenty.” I started, “He’s got beautiful brown eyes, dirty blond hair, a nice build, gentile features, he’s well dressed too. My stomach got kinda knotty when we talked, and I keep thinkin’ ’bout him. I’m not sure if it was love at first sight, but I think we got a date, I just gotta wait for him to call me. It was a black 54 corvet. Tip was fifty big ones. And I’m not really sure, I was real quick with all the checkin’ and stuff so we didn’t really talk too much. Sides, if we did then he’d a missed his interview. I think I really like him though. He never said nothing bad ’bout me being into God and stuff, he apologised when he thought he hurt my feelings or brought somethin’ up that made me feel uncomfortable. I even told him I ain’t got my parents, he seemed real sympathetic, like he knew what I was talkn’ ’bout. I hope he got the job.”
“Eeeeee, I think our Kitty-Kat has finally found herself a new man after the Shepard!” Evie cheered and pulled me into a hug.
“Don’t celebrate yet, Eves.” Steve warned.
“Yeah, remember more than 90% of guys who ask her out don’t make it past the first date.” Soda said.
“I wonder how Shepard got in?” Pony wondered aloud.
“I was in a post-friend-break-up craze, I explained that already.” I told them.
“Think he’ll make it past?” Christine whispered in my ear.
“Boy I hope so.” I said smiling to her.