Meteors by Rick Hancox

 Author’s note: the PEI slang, ‘boite’ (bite), is pronounced boyt (as opposed to the French word for box.)

 Charlottetown, PEI, winter 1962.

Johnny and the boys pulled up in front of the Rendezvous Restaurant in his 1953 Meteor, just back from stealing hubcaps off parked cars for a lark. Before getting out he revved up its huge flathead V-8, gathering a small crowd. The roaring rip and slap of the pistons was intoxicating.

“Geez boys, whatcha got under the hood?” someone asked, as Johnny headed into the restaurant to get some smokes.

Waiting inside the rumbling Meteor the boys passed around a mickey of Seagram’s 5 Star, purchased at Star Taxi further down Kent Street. They mocked each other with drunken disdain, supplementing their guffaws with the imperative, “Chew me!”

Ivan was an alternately sullen and smart-alecky sixteen year-old. Armed with his newly acquired driver’s license and father’s late model Pontiac, he’d been hanging out in front of the Rendezvous, trying to impress girls with what he thought were witty wisecracks. One of the cuter ones was becoming annoyed and told Ivan to “frig off.” At that moment Johnny emerged from the restaurant with a pack of Export A’s, looking defiant, having ‘lifted’ them when no one was looking.

“Hey Johnny, how come you’re not wearing green and yellow today?” Ivan observed, out of the blue.

“What?”

“It’s Thursday – you’re a fruit aren’t ya?”

Ivan’s humour was not appreciated, since Johnny responded, “Come here and say that, you fuckin’ hermaphradoite.”

“POUND him!” one of the boys yelled from the Meteor.

Without warning Johnny suddenly charged at Ivan, hammering away with both fists. Ivan fell to his knees cupping his face, then wisely assuming a fetal position. Johnny got in a few kicks before strutting back to his car.

Humiliated, Ivan managed to bleat out a half-hearted “Chew me!” to his adversary.

“You grew it, you chew it,” Johnny mused.

“Go blow me then!” sputtered Ivan.

“Blow ya – I hardly know ya!” With that Johnny horked sneeringly on the sidewalk, got back in his Meteor and floored it, leaving a trail of smoke and rubber which clearly impressed the growing crowd. “What speed does she go into kickdown at?” people wondered.

Meanwhile Ivan seemed to have attracted the sympathies of the girl who told him to ‘frig off,’ because she came out of the restaurant with some napkins for his pulsing nose. “I’ll get that bastard,” he bravely seethed. Judy cradled his aching head between her bullet-bra breasts. Momentarily distracted by this comfort, he began reaching for something to haul himself up, just missing her sprayed-stiff beehive. “Don’t touch my hair!” she yelled.

Just then the crowd’s attention was drawn to another automotive phenomenon: a diminutive Austin Morris Minor putted by the Rendezvous, its bearded lone occupant  looking focused as he earnestly floored it for the spectators. There was no apparent increase in speed, but the absence of shocks gave the tiny British vehicle an absurd, waltzing cadence. “Some different boys, whaah?” a voice sung out. This gave Ivan the opportunity to ask Judy if she’d like a ride in a ‘real’ car.

Soon Ivan was driving his new girlfriend down to Victoria Park in the Pontiac to ‘watch the submarine races.’ With Brenda Lee’s “All Alone am I” playing softly on the radio, he finally managed to touch Judy’s pointy tits – but had to promise not to mess her candy floss hairdo. “And be careful!” she warned, “I don’t want a run in my nylons.”  The wandering hands paused, then continued.

Johnny and the boys, hopped up on 5 Star, were soon cruising around the Rendezvous block, looking for Ivan to ‘pound’ again. Not finding their victim they hollered out “Chew me, Louie!” to anybody walking along the street. An older woman crossing Prince Street with a stolen shopping cart looked confused, as the Meteor lurched in her path, then veered away at the last second – much to the amusement of the car’s occupants. “Boite me arse!” she yowled. “Boite me LILY WHOITE!”

Back at the submarine races, Ivan was getting pretty frustrated with Judy crossing her legs and slapping his hand every time he tried to up the ante. After half an hour of pawing and necking, they grew tired, and with nothing else to do, Judy helpfully suggested talking for a while. The two sat there listening to Rick Nelson’s “It’s Up to You,” but as it turned out, neither had anything to say. Judy reapplied her pink lipstick then stared straight ahead. Ivan muttered something about ’53 Meteors versus his father’s superior Pontiac Laurentian, but Judy seemed oddly uninterested. To make a statement he put the new car in gear and tried burning rubber himself. But the Laurentian’s gutless, straight 6 engine just couldn’t cut it.

The crestfallen couple drove back to the Rendezvous, however it was late and the popular meeting spot was closed. In the night air the streets were quiet except for the rumbling sound of a distant Meteor, revving up at a stop light, then roaring away. Judy was still staring – out the passenger window now. Hesitantly, Ivan asked if he could see her again. “Boite!” she snapped – then flung the door open and started walking home. Deflated, he slowly reached over, closed the door and lit up a smoke. It glowed red in the car’s darkness. He was feeling sore from where Johnny kicked him, and winced in pain as he rolled down the window for some air. A despairing siren wailed somewhere in the distance. In the black sky above Ivan could see a meteor silently extinguish itself in the resounding void. He thought of this a while, of how much he’d like to say “chew me” to the whole black universe.  But Johnny’s maxim gradually drifted back to haunt his introspection: “You grew it, you chew it!” the voice reminded him.

 

Rick Hancox is a former Hudson resident who now lives in Ottawa. He teaches film in the Communication Arts Department at Concordia University.

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