Saturday, January 28, 2017

"You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet"

There was always a push for More Gas. If you wanted to go cruisin' with Jay in the Impala, you had to pony up some cash for More Gas. Any girls who went riding around with Jay would be asked to contribute to the Gas Fund. I tossed in the lunch money I got from Mom and Dad. Jay dropped out after three days in high school, and had a job for a few weeks as a car-detailer, but after he quit that job it was a constant scramble for More Gas Money.
And there were other ways to get gas for the car....
During our aimless drives around west Boise, we started looking for gas cans. We'd grab jerry-cans off the sides of Jeeps or out of the backs of boats. If Jay found a car without a locking gas-cap on a dark side-street, he'd get out and try to siphon some gas out of it with his "Oklahoma credit card" -- a beat-up hunk of old garden hose. This was back when locking gas-caps were still pretty uncommon. I'm sure we boosted the sales of them through our efforts.
If the little needle was pointing to "E" on the gas gauge, sometimes we got more desperate. We'd cruise around looking for open garage doors, and would slow down while looking for gas cans to grab.
This may sound kind of desperate -- it actually wasn't that bad a time. The radio was always going, playing great '70s stuff like BTO's "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet," the J. Geils Band's "I Musta Got Lost," Eric Burdon's "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood/Nina's School," Mike McGear's "Leave It," Wings's "Junior's Farm," various Al Green hits, and lots more. There were almost always girls around, who wanted to go cruising with the outlaw with the long black hair and the hot car. They were always charming, even if they were hanging all over my brother.
Sometimes Jay sent me to investigate the gas-can situation a little more closely. Hey, I had to do something -- I wasn't old enough to drive.
Cruising slowly through a subdivision, we spotted a five-gallon gas can sitting right at the front of a dark, open garage. There was only one light on in the house. Seemed pretty quiet here, so Jay sent me to grab the gas can. He rolled the car slowly down the street, saying he'd circle back to pick me up.
I tiptoed up across the lawn to the side of the garage, grabbed the gas-can by the handle on top, and lifted. And I started laughing uncontrollably when I realized how heavy it was. The can was FULL. This was going to make Jay so happy. I'd done something worthwhile, for once.
Turning away from the garage, I thought I heard a low growl behind me....
Laughing out loud, heavy gas can in hand, I ran across the front yard to the street. I couldn't stop laughing. Jay was gonna be so proud of me! Maybe he'd get off my back for awhile....
I didn't know it, but behind me lights were coming on in the house.
The street was empty as I made my way across the lawn, but suddenly the Impala pulled up in front of me with a SCREECH.
Jay was leaning across the front seat and opening the passenger-side door.
"GET IN THE CAR!!!" he yelled.
Laughing, the gas can clanging and sloshing against my legs, I climbed in the car and we screeched down the street.
We all screamed and laughed as Jay tore through the subdivision, much faster than usual. A few blocks away, he turned a corner, pulled over, shut off the car and turned off the headlights.
"What's wrong?" I asked.
"Ssssh," he said. "I'm listening for the sirens."
There weren't any.
"Jesus," he said, turning to me. "You scared the SHIT out of me. Right as I pulled up in front of the house, a light came on in the garage and some BIG GUY came out.... And there was a BIG DOG in the garage...."
I started laughing hysterically. "I didn't see any of that."
"I KNOW," he said. "You were just tip-toein' across the lawn like you were walkin' in the park, everything's cool ... ya fuckin' dumbass. But you done good."
That full five-gallon gas can would fuel cruising sessions for at least the next couple of nights.
Later on, things would get a lot uglier. Jay would stop coming home -- and when he did come home, when no one else was around, he'd steal money from our folks. Then he started breaking into our friends' houses, looking for more gas money....

No comments: