Early July, 1974
Deanna’s summer job with Jackson, Amber the blonde hippie law-schooler from Morisé, and the boss, a college football player named Bodine who was going to be an architect when football was done were doing architectural reclamation for Morisé’s Redevelopment branch. It was dirty, dusty, hot and sweaty work. Working with the three of them was the only place Deanna had ever felt truly equal. Unlike her old head cheerleader job where she was the younger, sweet public face for a bunch of oversexed stoners, here she was a real part of the team. They sweated together, cussed together. Wore the same kind of work shirts and jeans and gloves and boots. Bodine included them all in every stage of the deconstruction and salvage of old buildings from picking and planning to pry-bars and sledgehammers. She even got badge of honor stitches in her right ring finger, complete with a run to the emergency room and a tetanus shot the day they’d all wrestled a giant mahogany bar out of an old downtown basement watering hole that had fallen victim to urban renewal.
Amanda had come to the site the next day, crossed her arms the way she did and said the bar was too big for anything but a resort hotel or a country club looking to drop in some old pub ambiance and would be in storage long before it sold or Morisé found use for it in a development. Get rid of it. But Jackson shucked and jived with her, made her laugh, said it was “too cool” to waste, and if nobody wanted it he could sell it to a guitar maker. Maybe. Or turn it into several kitchen islands, or a staircase, or badass cases for home electric pianos. Maybe. Or build his dream house around it someday. Maybe. Amanda shook her head, waved Jackson off and told Bodine to have the bar hauled to the salvage warehouse, but not until she got a picture of Deanna resting her bandaged hand on top of it. The picture would go in a frame at 1700 Oilman’s Bank Tower to add more proof to the “Women kicking ass and getting shit done” slogan
Deanna started to get in Jackson’s business for dissing Amanda with his stupid musician BS and dragging a bar into their future house, realized they weren’t married, or living together, and hadn’t even…well, you know…and decided at least that part needed to change.
Wednesday July 28, 1974
Bodine and Amber sat on old, used to be built-in under-counter filing cabinets wedged into the rubble that covered the parking lot of what was once a four-story 1919 hotel. They held partially unwrapped half-eaten sandwiches in their hands and were talking about Bodine’s fiance the nurse. Deanna crunched her way over the brick and mortar crumbles, waited until they paused for a bite of sandwich.
“‘Scuse me…But tomorrow?” Deanna squatted by Bodine. “After lunch…You said we’d be finished with the windows?” Deanna had no problem with giant, NFL bound college jocks because her brother was one. She did have trouble asking for favors.
“Well…So could I…I mean if I go, and don’t come back, like on time, or at all…”
Bodine knitted his eyebrows, leaned his head forward a little. “Huh?”
“I mean, and maybe Jackson too…If we…”
Bodine sat up, sandwich wrist on his knee. “Collings, what the —”
“Deanna, let’s take a walk.” Amber floated around behind Bodine, grabbed Deanna’s hand, led her off around the side of the building and out of earshot.
“What’s going on, Baby Morisé? A concert I don’t know about? A Thursday special matinee?”
“Um…” Deanna looked over Amber’s shoulder, studied the old masonry work.
“No. I…Well, Beverly said that if I wanted to…You know…With Jackson? ‘Cause we’ve been…We are…That I should rent a really cold hotel room and…Well, I don’t know what the rest is. But…”
“But you ‘want to’.” She smiled and made finger quotes. “You want it to be special and it almost happened somewhere that wasn’t, and you think Beverly knows all about the ‘right way’ to lose your virginity?”
“Well. Yeah. Kinda. I mean it seems like I’m sorta late, you know, and not to be rude or anything, but, well she has done it, a lot I think. And she’s engaged, so…And you, you’re all cool and California and everything and the Lady Godiva ride…”
“The Godiva ride wasn’t about sex, it was a statement. Like what you’re doing with Amanda and Jackson.” She studied Deanna’s face full of questions. “Is this your idea or his? Because at Morisé we don’t take our cues from men.”
“No…It’s me. I don’t know anything, really. I mean it. But…Well, I want to. And he seems to know…stuff.”
“I’ll bet he does. I’ll have Bev book you into the Sheraton North, the new one with the view, and have them open a room for you early. Leave here for an appointment around ten thirty, one that requires Jackson to drive you.”
“That’s it? I mean what about Bev, and Amanda paying for it and Bodine —”
“Bev has the hotel and Amanda, I have Bodine. All you need to do is pack your lunch box with bubble bath and some body lotion and whatever you want him to see you in before he takes it off for you, and a perfume neither one of you will forget. When you get there make him shave and take a shower, put on one of their giant robes and wait for you while you take a bubble bath that lasts as long as you want.”
“And then?” Amber stuffed her hair back in her hardhat. “That’s when you write your own story and forget about asking me or Bev or anybody else what to do.” She put her hand on Deanna’s shoulder before she walked away. “Does Jackson know?”
Deanna shook her head.
“Good. I wouldn’t give that guy time to think about it or you’ll be in there three days.”
Northside Sheraton, July 29, 1974
Jackson leaned on his left elbow, dragged his right little finger lightly over the small scar that followed the line of Deanna’s hip V just to the left of center, inside bikini bottom territory. “What’s with the scar?”
“Hmmm?” She bumped his elbow out from under him, snuggled into his shoulder and rolled her hip up.
“The scar. What happened?”
“Hernia. I told you.”
“Did it hurt? How’d you —”
“I told you forget it, okay?”
“I was just —”
“Drop it. I mean it.” She rolled away from him onto her left shoulder and yanked the sheet up.
“I had a hernia, when I was little. Too little to know. But they fixed it. Wanna see?”
“Come on. Before anything grew in down there it looked like an elephant winking at me. Seriously. I used to stand in front of the bathroom mirror and try to get the trunk to raise up so I could make “brrrr rappp” elephant trumpet noises.”
“You are so disgusting.” She rolled up, pulled her robe on. “I thought we’d…and it would be…and you have to ruin it.” She stomped off to the big fourteenth floor window and stared out. “Godammit, Jackson.”
“Hey,” he’d pulled on his robe, untied, put his arm around her from behind. “Sorry. I didn’t —”
“Was I okay?”
“Huh? This isn’t a —”
“Was I okay?” She’d ramped up the demand in her voice.
“Yes. Yeah…Unexpected, but great. Why all —”
“Not weird, or, or gross or…” She turned inside his arm and into him.
“No. Deanna, what’s the prob here?”
She dropped her forehead onto his chest. “Did you mean it? About forever?” She looked up, eye to eye. “Love is one of the big words, Jax.”
“I never heard of anyone being labeled sesquipedalian for ‘love’. That was a fifty center, if you’re counting.”
She smacked his robe covered arm. “Honest? You had to mean it.”
“Deanna, I meant it, okay? What’s —”
“It’s all messed up, and gross, I know it is. They messed it all up.”
“They? They who? Nothing was messed up or gross. You’re…” He scrambled through the lyrics of a four hour set, plus a wedding set and then some for the right words. “Angelic. Virginal.” Both made it out without any hint of question.
“Shut up, I am not. You don’t know.”
“I’ll never know if you —”
“Just don’t ever ask me about the scar or me down there, ever. I had a hernia and it, they…Messed everything up. I know they did. So promise? Never, okay? Just forget about it. Please? Promise?”
“Promise about everything?”
“Yeah…” He’d never seen pleading in her eyes, or heard it in her voice, but he wouldn’t forget it.
“Good.” They stood in the window, flashing the world for a few. She kissed him, hard, reached down. “What was that noise the elephant made?”
Deanna hit her soft snore and jarred Jackson out of a daydream, the two of them sitting on a bench somewhere…Palm trees. He rolled his shoulder out from under her, shrugged on his robe. He started to pull the covers up, stopped. He bent, brushed his lips on her scar. It wasn’t very big, for all the huge deal she made of it. And nature, left to it’s own devices, would have it hidden a week after bikini season was over. He pulled the covers over her, shook his head. Secrets and scars. Crazy. But Deanna’s kind of crazy beat the hell out of working on Thursday afternoon. He kissed her again. She was even more beautiful when she was asleep. And quiet.