We were downing burgers and beers at Arizona Joe’s, a newly-opened restaurant in Chiang Mai when I spotted the map. Couldn’t miss it, really, as it straddled a back wall...
…I’d known Sasha since kindergarten. We were eighteen-year old virgins – had the world at our feet - and she oozed appeal. I was hooked. Played it cool, though.
‘It’s too darn cold in Chicago,’ I said. ‘I’m going get me a motor, and head for LA. Wanna come for the ride?’
She gave me a grin. Had a gap in her front tooth. Sexy. ‘Oh, Baby,’ she said, ‘when we going?’
That was it.
Kids games, but as I kissed her goodnight with a promise to see her the next day, I’d made my decision. ‘Be ready when I call,’ I said, and she could see my eyes weren’t joking.
She nodded, not the one to spurn an adventure. ‘I’ll be waiting,’ she said.
By mid-morning I’d ‘borrowed’ a second-hand Chevy from my uncle’s car lot, packed her bag in the trunk and headed west out on Route 66. Early evening we hit Springfield, Illinois, stopped at a gas station and bought a map while we gulped down two cokes and a bag of fries.
‘Close to 300 miles,’ I said, fingering the map. ‘You tired?’
She smiled, ran her fingers up my arm. ‘Find a motel,’ she said. It was a knowing look.
We became lovers that night, and by next morning we were adults.
L.A. was over 2,000 miles away. Two weeks on the road, and it just wasn’t the right time.
We made a pact.
After graduation, we’d do the whole trip – St Louis, Tulsa, Amarillo, Albuquerque, Flagstaff, and on to L.A. where we’d lounge on the beach for a while, dump the hire-car and fly back to the Windy City.
Sasha called home, fessed up, said she’d visited a friend and would be back soon, and I did the same.
Two kids later, Route 66 was swallowed up by highways and we never made the trip.
When we retired, I took her to Thailand instead…
… ‘See that,’ I said, pointing to the wall. ‘Goddamn route 66.’
Sasha grinned. Still had the toothy gap between her dentures. She reached for my wheelchair. ‘Let’s go take a look, Baby’ she said. ‘I’ll push you along the route.’
‘That would be nice,’ I said.