Poets Corner

This is our Poets Corner page for people who like to write about Chico!

As you may well know, we have some folks who love to write poems about Chico.  Well, one of our dear Chicoholics wrote a very cool story based on the characters of Sha  Na Na and the character of Chico is the main player in this one.  Shift Kitty has a web site, www.shiftkitty.com, where she plans on posting more of her writings.  She very graciously allowed us to put her cool story on the website.  Please go and check her site out and let her know what you think of her story.  Bear in mind that this is purely fictional.  We’re pretty sure Chico didn’t go ripping off cars.  Ha ha ha!!!!

Sha Na Na:  The Cat In The PT Cruiser

The night was clear and the moon was yellow. A dark green 1954 Chrysler New

Yorker convertible was parked in a secluded spot, all but rendered invisible by the
shadows. In the back seat a young couple wrestled with each other in throes of passion.
When the young man’s hand slipped up and under some garments a little too quickly, the

girl pushed away with an indignant snort.

Who do you think you are?” Ginger said with indignantly. “I’m not that kind of girl!”
“That’s not what Johnny says,” Chico replied with a wide smile.

“Johnny’s a liar.”

“It’s not what Donny says either.”

“Hmph! Like he knows anything about it.”

“Bowser?”

“He can barely spell his own name.”

“Okay, what about Denny?”

“Now him you can trust!”

The two quickly returned to their make-out session.

The dilapidated building known locally as “Greaser’s Hall” had, at one time, been

a legitimate recreation center with card tables, bookshelves, a pool table, a dart board,
and any other number of activities that might provide safe and legal pastimes for young

men from the inner city. After racking up a few building code violations, however, the
hall was shut down. It had been empty for some years before the cultural sub-type known
as “greasers” forced their way in and took it over. It still continued to serve its original
purpose, however, and rather than fight the occupation, a local patrolman pulled some
deals to allow the local greasers to continue using the building (at their own risk, of
course) as long as no illegal activities occurred. It had become a de facto settlement
house.
Officer Fussy had tried in vain to organize some kind of team sport to occupy “his

boys”, but so far their favorite group activities seemed to be annoying an old lady who
lived two floors up at the end of a dead-end street and flirting, however unsuccessfully,

with Lorraine down at the diner.

This morning, and all of the previous night, Greaser Hall had served as a flophouse for one of the boys, a slick young dude who went by the name of Jocko. Officer

Fussy had politely ignored this little infraction of the building’s lack of legal status as a

residence while Jocko slept off a bad night on the couch in the common room. As Jocko

slowly awoke and sat up to face the day, the door opened letting in streams of offensive

daylight. Jocko groaned and fell back down.

“Shut the door!” came the muffled yell from a face buried in sofa cushions.
“Come on,” said Fussy. “Whatever happened last night, you gotta get out of here

before opening.”

“Too late, youse already opened.”
“I meant officially.”
“You’re an officer, ain’t youse?”
“Yes.”
“Then it’s official.”
Fussy sat down on the sofa as Jocko resigned himself to the morning and sat up.
“Are you okay?” Fussy asked with genuine concern.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine. I just spent all night avoiding someone. I couldn’t get

home, so here I am.”

“Was it a fight?”
“What fight? Nah, I was out with this girl, see, and we were up in the back row at

the movie totally ignoring the film, y’know?”

“Ah, yes.”
“So after the show we start to head for my apartment. We’re on the front stoop of

the building and she’s all over me while I try to get the door open. Then someone from
her family comes up and takes offense to our relationship and tries to break us up.”

“Wow. Who was it? Her mother? Her father? Her brother?”
“Her husband.”
Fussy sighed and allowed Jocko enough time to get himself cleaned up and

presentable (although he always seemed to take too much time on his DA) before chasing

him outside.

Down at the diner, Lorraine was making some last minute changes to the

breakfast special advertisement that displayed an all-you-can-eat breakfast for $1.99. As
she put the sign back in the window, the door swung open and a group of five greasers

came in.

“We’re here for the all you can eat breakfast!” Donny said as the group occupied

a sizeable table.

“That special is for everyone except you guys,” Lorraine said, snapping her

bubble gum.

“What are you talkin’ about?” Lennie protested. “We saw the sign earlier!”
Lorraine said nothing. She saucily walked over to the window and took the sign

out, showing it to the guys. Beneath the “All You Can Eat $1.99” was penciled in the

phrase “except you guys”.

“Looks like its full price, guys,” Screamin’ Scott lamented. “Everybody pitch in.

How much do we got?”

The table clattered with the contents of their pockets. Denny added it all up and

called out to Lorraine.

“Hey, Lorraine! What do you have for $2.39 and a ball of pocket lint?”
“For the two thirty-nine you guys can share a plate of scrambled eggs and a cup of

coffee. For the lint, try telling Dirty Dan to use the laundry-mat once in awhile.”

Before Dirty Dan could reply, Chico entered the diner and grabbed a chair from

another table, wedging it in between Lennie and Dan.

“Where were you last night?” Dan asked. “I was looking for you.”
“On Friday night you shouldn’t be lookin’ for a guy. You should be lookin’ for a

girl,” Chico replied. “Anyway you wouldn’t have found me. Mrs. Whitman loaned me

her car, so I took Ginger out.”

“Wait a minute,” Scott said. “Mrs. Whitman loaned you her car?”
“Yeah.”
“She hates your guts,” Denny added incredulously. “Why on earth would she loan

you her car?”

“I don’t know, but she left it right out in front of her house for me.”
“In front of her house?” Lennie raised an eyebrow. “Were the keys in it?”
“No,” Chico answered. “I guess she forgot, so I had to hotwire it. She also forgot

to unlock it, too, so I had to jimmy the door open. At least she remembered to leave some
money in the glove compartment. She’s such a nice old lady. So I was nice enough to get
it back to her house before she woke up, you know, in case she needed it first thing in the

morning.”

“Chico,” Scott rubbed his temples. “You were driving a stolen car! That’s called

grand theft auto!”

“Well, sure it was a New Yorker, but I wouldn’t call it ‘grand’. ‘Swell’, maybe, or

even ‘nice’, but not ‘grand’. It still smelled like an old lady.”

Denny sighed “You can always count on Chico to pick a girl up in a classy stolen

car.”

“Hey, prove she didn’t want me to take it! Innocent until proven guilty, y’know.”
“I saw your birth certificate,” said Scott. “’Guilty’ is your middle name.”
“I thought it was ‘Alouicious’,” Danny mumbled as he picked more lint from his

well-worn clothes.

“Hey, can you steal me a car?” Lennie asked. “I want to take my girl out on a date

tonight. What can you get me?”

“I’ve seen your girl,” Chico smirked. “I don’t think I can line up a tow truck.”
“She’s not fat, she’s fluffy!”
“If she’s fluffy, then the Brooklyn Bridge is a cat-walk,” Dan chuckled.
“Anyway,” Chico continued, “I can’t get youse a car tonight on account of I gotta

get me a car.”

“Just ‘borrow’ Mrs. Whitman’s again,” Scott said as he flicked some stray lint

back at Dan.

“I can’t. She never loans it to me twice in a row. Tonight it’ll be in her garage. I

have to wait until she leaves it on the street for me again before I know I can borrow it.”

“What kind of car are you going to borrow?” Denny asked as he tried to get

Lorraine’s attention to place an order.

“There’s something new in town. It looks pretty cool, kind of like one of those old

Chryslers, but with some modern flair going on.”

“Oh, I’ve seen one of those,” Denny recalled. “It’s called a Cruiser or something.”
“It’s called a PT Cruiser,” Donny corrected. “Mopar produced, 148.2 cubic inch

displacement, definitely not the biggest engine on the block, 150 horsepower stock, with
a few mods you can get around 205, available in four-door hardtop or 2-door flip-top,
MPGs range from the low 20s to the low 30s depending on various factors such as speed,
traffic congestion, and miscellaneous environmental effects such as head wind and
grades, belt-driven dual overhead cams, 16 valves, sequential multi-port fuel injection,
162 foot pounds of torque at 4000RPM, wheelbase 103 inches, weight distribution 59/41,

with manual transmission curb weight…”

Donny paused as he noticed everyone staring at him.
“…the chicks dig it.”
As everyone voiced their agreement with the one phrase they understood,

Lorraine came sauntering back up.

“Winston says you guys gotta get out of here.”
“What? Why? I was just about order!” Denny replied in protest.
“The rats are threatening to complain to the health department.”
In another part of town two young men peered over the edge of a rooftop four

stories high. One of them, a veritable bean-pole with slicked black hair and clad all in
black, scanned the pedestrians below with the eyes of a hawk (and a nose to match). His

friend, possessing the face and voice of an angel, looked like the farthest thing you would

think of to be hanging out with the tall, lanky one. Yet there they were, both scanning the

crowd.

“The trick,” said Bowser, the lanky one, “is to pick an opening with a lot of

people around it. Youse get a better area of effect. There’s one now.”

Johnny nodded and handed Bowser a water balloon. Bowser tossed the projectile,

but his aim was off and, far from hitting the sidewalk and giving innocent pedestrians a
morning shower, it went long and smacked right onto the windshield of a passing police

car. The car slid to a halt and its red lights came on immediately.

“When you write the rulebook for this game, remember to put in there ‘watch for

cops’!” Johnny admonished Bowser as the two ran for the far side of the building and a
fire escape. They hit it like rats leaving a sinking ship. At the bottom they dropped onto a
vacant lot to the rear of the building and took off running all out. They had lost the cop,

but as they slowed down their pace they became aware of pack of stray dogs that had

picked up their trail. They broke into a different kind of run this time.

“I don’t have to be faster than the dogs,” Johnny yelled to Bowser. “I just have to
be faster than you!”
With that Johnny suddenly put on an incredible burst of speed. Bowser could feel
his lungs starting to protest, and before Johnny could get too far ahead, Bowser slid to a
stop in the dirt and dropped to all fours, facing the dogs. A low, threatening growl
emanated from somewhere deep within and the dogs came to a halt. Tails suddenly
dropped between legs and with a series of whines and yelps, the pack turned and ran.
Bowser stood up triumphantly as Johnny stopped and came back.
“What was that all about?” Johnny asked.
Bowser put on an inhumanly wide smile.
“I’m bi-ling-yoo-al,” he said.
Jocko was wandering around almost aimlessly. He couldn’t go to his regular
haunts for fear that his potential assailant would know the places that greasers hung out.
Instead, he wandered to a part of town he never spent much time in, the financial district.
He looked sorely out of place with his DA and black leather jacket. More than one patrol
car slowed down and eyed him suspiciously as he wove his way through the Italian
designer suit crowd. He distracted himself by looking at the tall, gleaming spires that
made up the banks, investment houses, and corporate headquarters of so many multinational companies. Part of him secretly longed to be one of the power-players, the
movers and shakers of the world of high finance. Then he could cruise around in a stretch
Cadillac limousine, wining and dining people from a social class so high there was no
word for it. The other half of him dreaded the idea of having to wear business suits all
day and having to cut his hair into something respectable.
As Jocko stared skyward at the towers of glass and steel, he collided violently
with someone. He staggered through an apology, helping up a man who looked dressed
for success. The man hissed out some mild oaths and tried to pull away from Jocko even
as the greaser was handing the man back his hat. Jocko looked at the man and his face
turned into a wry grin.
“Santini?!?” He gasped in shock. “What are you doin’ in a monkey suit?”
“Ixnay,” Santini hissed and looked around nervously. “You don’t know me, got
it? You don’t know me!”
“What are you talkin’ about, I don’t know you?”
A small crowd had started to gather as Santini hastily pulled himself together and
clapped the hat back atop his head. He stiffened himself straight up and looked sternly at
Jocko as if he was a father admonishing a child.
“Young man, you need to look where you’re going. Run along now.”
Jocko did his best to stifle his laughter. He bowed mockingly.
“Oh, absolutely, sir. Absolutely. Please accept my humblest apologies!”
As Jocko made his exit he heard someone tell Santini, or whatever name he was
using at the moment, to check his wallet. He could barely contain a chuckle. Santini
wouldn’t have any more in his wallet than any other greaser, and if there was money in it,
it would be someone else’s wallet!
By late morning, nine of ten greasers had congregated on their favorite dead end
street, relaxing on the stoop of a corner boarding house and throwing rocks at a garbage
can just across the way near Pierre’s Market. The banging of the rocks was only a small
part of the noise they were generating as they talked about cars, girls, and anything else
that happened to cross their minds and get lost in the wilderness there.
“We need money,” Johnny said as he nailed the garbage can with a resounding
crash. “What can we do that doesn’t involve getting jobs?”
“We could rob a bank,” Chico offered.
Scott rolled his eyes. “The last time we tried that, you gave the teller the wrong
slip of paper. You were supposed to hand her the hold up note.”
“What did he give her?” Dan asked.
“His phone number.”
“Hey, she was cute!” Chico defended himself as Bowser whapped him in the back
of the head. “You can’t just go around scaring cute girls.”
“You don’t think the ski mask might have frightened her just a little?”
“She didn’t look scared to me,” Donny interjected.
“Nothing looked like anything to you,” Scott retorted. “You had your ski mask on
backwards.”
“Don’t blame me! The stupid thing didn’t come with directions!”
“Anyway,” Denny shrugged, “Bowser scares cute girls all the time.”
“What are youse talkin’ about? When I meets a girl for the foist time, I always
gives her my best smile.” Bowser put on his widest smile, adding fluttering eyelids.
“What you call a smile, the rest of the world calls ‘baring your teeth’.”
“Maybe we could land us some gigs,” Lennie offered. “We’ve got instruments
and we know how to play ‘em… sort of.”
“Yeah, but who’d sing?” Dan asked to nobody in particular.
“I think Johnny’s got our best voice,” Lennie suggested. “Come on. Let’s hear it.”
As the guys voiced their encouragement, Johnny stood up and took a deep breath,
ready and willing to give it a try. Before he could get out his first note, however, a
window across the way and a couple of floors up flew open. An older woman appeared
with her hair still in curlers.
“Hey!” she called out. “I can take the rocks, the garbage cans and the mindless
chatter, but I draw the line at murder.”
“Who murdered who?” Johnny asked.
“You’ve murdered whatever song you were about to sing.”
“I haven’t even sung one note.”
“And for the sake of the performing arts, let’s keep it that way!”
The whole conversation was suddenly interrupted by a black PT Cruiser that
slowly rolled by. Its nose sported not the usual flames but a pattern of electric blue
lightning bolts. The chrome trim shone with an unearthly glow, and dark tinted windows
prevented anybody from seeing who was driving. Even Donny lowered his ever-present
sunglasses to get a better look.
“Holy guacamole,” Dirty Dan remarked as the car disappeared casually down the
street. “Did you guys see that?”
Denny let out a low whistle. Chico wandered off of the stoop and stared down the
street towards where the car had vanished. His hand slipped into the pocket of his black
leather vest and pulled out a yoyo which he began mindlessly flipping.
“I know that look, buddy,” Denny put a hand on his shoulder. “Forget it. That car
is so far out of your league…”
“I said I was gonna do it,” Chico’s face broke into a mischievous smile.
“Don’t even try,” Jocko chuckled. “If the likes of youse got anywhere near that
car, even Officer Fussy would have to arrest youse.”
Chico turned towards Jocko. “I’ve been busted before.”
“Not by that kind of money,” Santini’s voice took them all by surprise as he
approached, clad in his normal street wear. “Trust me. If you’re going to try for the big
leagues, you’re going to need a lot more than an innocent smile and a cheap alibi.”
“Hey-hey, Tony!” Jocko leaped off of the stoop. “So what was the story with you
and the suit this morning? I almost didn’t recognize youse on account of youse lookin’
so…human.”
“When hunting the wild debutante, it pays to use camouflage. Look like you’ve
got money and they’ll beat a path to your door.”
“What are you gonna do when they find out youse ain’t got no money?” Johnny
asked.
“Johnny, kid,” Santini placed his hand on the younger man’s shoulder. “You have
so much to learn about women. When they start getting close enough to see your bank
account, you break it off.”
“So how’s the path to your door been lookin’ then?”
Santini released Johnny and plopped down dejectedly on the stoop.
“Dirt road, thanks to this guy,” he jerked his thumb at Jocko.
“Ah, I probably saved youse a world of headache. Those high-income dames are
also pretty high-maintenance.”
“You think I couldn’t handle that?”
“In a word? No.”
“So what’s the plan, then?” Johnny sighed. “Do we try to become musical
prodigies or what?”
“What? Are we forming an orchestra now or something?” Santini asked as he
tried his hand at throwing a rock at the garbage can.
“Lennie thinks we can form a band,” Johnny answered.
“With ten guys who can’t even form a coherent thought?” the old lady at the
window shouted out. “Why don’t you try forming a clean-up brigade and pick up those
rocks?” The window was then shut. There would be no further discussion with her. With
dejected sighs, the guys began picking up the stray rocks and tossing them over a cyclone
fence that separated a vacant lot from the street.
Everyone except for Chico, that is. The job was mostly done when they first
noticed he was missing.
He was fast at slipping roller skates on, and even faster at rolling them down the
sidewalk. He had caught up with the PT Cruiser four blocks down. The car was stopped
for a red light and Chico slowed his pace down about half a block away. He had taken so
many chances slaloming around traffic and leaving at least one fender-bender in his wake
that he wasn’t about to blow it now. He rolled to a stop at a newsstand and pretended to
scan magazine titles. After a few moments the Cruiser’s light went green and Chico took
off down the sidewalk after it. After a few more blocks, the PT made a left turn. Rather
than follow it, Chico doubled back and shadowed it by one block. Pedestrians dove out of
the way as he rolled past, some dropping whatever was in their arms, but he didn’t notice.
His mind was locked onto finding out where that car parked at night.
At long last the car pulled into a residential parking garage. An automatic gate
opened and then closed. Chico rolled to a gentle stop and watched as the PT disappeared
into the darkness, making a right turn at the bottom of a ramp. He rolled backwards a
short distance and took note of the address. He then spun nimbly around and took his
yoyo back out of his pocket and casually began throwing loops as he rolled back to his
familiar hunting ground.
As Chico arrived at the dead end street, he found the place all but deserted. Only
the lady in the window looked down as he rolled in and calmly started a repetitive figure
8 pattern. She watched him briefly, both admiring the graceful ease with which he was
skating and thinking about the fact that he was one of those leather jacketed ne’er-dowells that caused so much trouble in the city. Still, she had to admit that, for the most
part, their “crimes” were mostly minor, not at all like some of what she had heard from
rougher parts of the city. Sure, they had attempted some serious things, and the young
man on the roller skates had a reputation for stealing anything that wasn’t tied down, but
chronic incompetence, or comic incompetence as she liked to think, kept most of their
schemes from amounting to much. Most of their police records had the word “attempted”
listed in the formal charges.
Of all of them, only Chico had achieved any success in his activities, and that was
due to his unusual skill at hotwiring cars. Even at that, he was relatively harmless. No car
he had stolen wound up with much beyond a few extra miles. They never went to the
chop-shops and never wound up at the bottom of a cliff like in that James Dean movie.
He seemed to just use them for impressing girls on dates.
“Hey, Chico, is it?” she called out.
“Yeah?” Chico rolled to a stop and looked up.
“Why don’t you get a job and buy your own car?”
“I can’t afford the gas.”
“If you had a job, you could afford gas.”
“No I couldn’t. I’d be blowing it all on dates.”
“A date once or twice a week won’t take up all your money.”
“No, but if I had a car of my own I’d be on a date every night, and that would eat
up all my cash.”
“You don’t have to go out every night.”
“Are you kidding me? With a car, why would I stay home?”
The lady in the window sighed.
“Well, if you’re looking for your friends, they went to the rec hall.”
“What are they doing there?”
“What do you think? They’re probably making a wreck of it.”
With that, Chico kicked his wheels and took off. He didn’t hear the lady’s parting
shot: “And that would be an improvement!”
“Do I even want to know where you guys got all this stuff?” Fussy asked as
guitars, drums, microphones and amplifiers were carried into the Hall. Standing in the
doorway in full uniform, he wondered if he wasn’t being complicit in some crime or
another.
“Relax,” said Jocko as he and Lennie moved a large amplifier in. “It’s all
legitimate.”
“I’d like to see some receipts,” Fussy demanded.
“And I’d like to see Marilyn Monroe come through the door and ask me for a
date, but I don’t think that’s gonna happen,” Lennie replied as he set his end of the large
amp down.
“Hey,” Johnny called out as he carried in two guitar cases. “We need a room we
can lock this stuff up in at night.”
“This whole building is locked up at night,” Fussy responded.
“Chico says it ain’t locked up good enough.”
“We need a Chico-proof room,” Bowser added as he lugged in an armful of mic
stands.
“A solid block of cement wouldn’t be Chico-proof,” groaned Denny as he
dragged in a large and very heavy case shaped like an upright bass. “If he can’t get into it,
he’ll just swipe it lock, stock, and barrel.”
“Well, how’s he going to steal a building?” Fussy asked defiantly.
“We’re here, ain’t we?” replied Jocko. “How do you think we got in here in the
first place?”
“And now we practically own it,” Johnny remarked.
“All right, all right. I think we have an empty office in here you can use. But you
gotta tell me where you’ve been keeping this stuff all this time.”
At that moment Screamin’ Scott walked in carrying a few boxes of wires and
cables. His face wore an expression of calmness and relief. He paused a moment to shake
Fussy’s hand warmly and thank him for letting them use the Hall for practice. He looked
genuinely happy to be lugging boxes into the Hall. Jocko looked back at Fussy with a
smirk and nodded towards Scott.
“His living room.”
As Fussy left to find the guys a room to use, the sound of roller skates
approached. The hefty clack of a couple of jumps later and Chico had navigated the short
stairs to the door and skated in.
“Look who’s here just in time to avoid the work,” grumbled Bowser.
“You guys didn’t come and get me. I would have helped,” Chico defended
himself.
“Then take off those skates, ball-bearing brain, and start lugging this gear into that
room back there.”
Bowser loomed threateningly over Chico as he removed the skates from his
sneakers. If he had any concern for Bowser’s glare, he didn’t show it.
Later, after all of the gear was safely stowed in a back room, the guys were
participating in the one legitimate sport they were good at, which was shooting pool.
Though the rules of Greasers’ Hall expressly forbade gambling (as per Officer Fussy’s
Guide to Acceptable Behavior), after each game, everybody paid everybody back for
some suddenly remembered loan. As Lennie leaned over for a shot, Johnny nudged Chico
with his elbow and nodded his head towards the door to the pool room. They both slipped
out unnoticed.
“Are you really gonna do it?” Johnny asked.
“Sure, why not?” Chico shrugged.
“I hear they’re nearly impossible to steal,” Johnny looked around nervously.
“Electronics and all kinds of stuff under the dash, y’know. And you heard what Santini
said. That’s bigger money than we normally deal with. A ‘54 Chrysler here, a ‘52 Chevy
there, that’s no big deal. You could probably even get away with borrowing a ’59 Ford.
But a PT Cruiser? I don’t care what year it was made, that’s gonna get noticed!”
“Really?” Chico smiled eagerly. “You think so?”
“I meant noticed in a bad way. Listen, forget the car for a bit. We’re gonna try to
see if we can organize ourselves into a band. You know, like we always get together at
Screamin’s house and bother the neighbors, only we’re gonna practice at the hall and
maybe throw a party or somethin’.”
“Is that why we were moving everything? I thought he was getting evicted.”
“Nah, listen. Head here tonight. We’re gonna set up all the gear and see what we
can figure out. And don’t come in a car or we’ll know you stole it. Okay?”
Chico nodded with an ‘aw shucks’ grin. “Okay…”
As night fell and neon signs flickered to life, the boys were inside Greasers’ Hall
shoving furniture aside and clearing a large space. Screamin’ Scott rolled a piano to one
side of the space and set about checking the tuning. Donny and Denny were positioning
amplifiers and microphones. Jocko wrangled his drum kit into an arrangement that best
suited him and gave a few kicks to the bass drum. Chico leaned back towards him,
supporting his upright bass.
“Give me a ‘G’,” Chico said. Jocko obliged with a hit to the tom-tom. Chico
nodded and twisted a tuning key.
“Do we even have a name?” Dirty Dan asked as he warmed up with a few scales.
“Details, details!” Bowser waved his hand in the air. “We need a song before we
can get a name.”
The suggestions came in from all directions. “Rock Around the Clock”, “Hound
Dog”, “The Twist”, “Stagger Lee”, “Rama Lama Ding Dong”, “The Hokey Pokey”…
They all stopped and looked at Chico who just grinned and shrugged. “What? I
always liked the Hokey Pokey.”
“Well, if youse ever get to take the mike, youse can try and get the whole
audience to sing along,” Bowser grumbled.
“We gotta figure something out,” Denny said with a sigh. “If we can’t get an act
together, the alternative is unthinkable.”
“What’s the alternative?’ Lennie asked as he adjusted his reed.
“Get a job.”
Almost without thinking, Donny began humming; “Sha-na-na-na, Sha-na-na-nana…”. He raised his head a little. “That’s one we all know well enough.”
“Only ‘cause it’s been shouted as us enough,” Jocko chuckled.
After much hemming and hawing, the first tentative steps to mastering the song
were taken. It was far more difficult to get something together with an eye towards public
performance than simply jamming with friends in a living room. It was 1AM by the time
a passing patrol car flashed a spotlight into the building. A sharp rapping at the door told
the guys it was time to break it down for the night. Denny opened the door and Officer
Fussy stepped in.
“Come on guys,” Fussy said with as much authority as he could muster at 1AM.
“Time to button it up. This place is supposed to be closed by now. I’ll have to arrest you
for trespassing.”
“Aw, come on! We just figured out a song!” Johnny complained.
“We wanted to play it for you,” Lennie added.
“Then I would have to arrest you. Come on, put it away and go home.”
Amidst moans and protests, the boys began to put the gear away. One by one they
vanished into the night, leaving the place locked up. Greaser’s Hall fell into
uncharacteristic silence as shadows overran the place.
“Home” for Chico was squatting in a small flat (that he shared with a handful of
temporarily settled Irish-descent gypsies) furnished with a battered mattress thrown on
the floor. As he tried to close his eyes, images of the PT kept rolling through is mind, its
gleaming chrome calling to him like a siren’s song. He began to imagine himself behind
the wheel, cruising slowly down the street and leaving the guys on the sidewalk with their
jaws on the ground. He imagined Ginger in the passenger’s seat beside him looking at
him with those eyes… He’d cruise it down the street, watching the guys disappear in the
mirror. They’d take a midnight cruise down past the drive-in and just let the gassers drool
over the Cruiser, but they wouldn’t stop there. No, they’d continue on down some dark
road on the outskirts of town and park someplace secluded. As he parked the car, she’d
give him that wink and slide out of the car, getting back in the back seat. He’d deftly slip
out the driver’s side and open the back door on his side…
And find Ginger and Johnny making out.
Chico sat up fast and shook his head to clear the images out of his mind. He could
see the sun just beginning to peek over the rooftops. Below him the sounds of the city had
already taken on their familiar clamor. He grabbed his alarm clock to see how long he
had been asleep, but then remembered that it had stopped working the day he threw it
against the wall for daring to go off. He quickly pulled his clothes on and bailed out via
the fire escape. No sense in letting anybody else know that he could get out of bed before
noon.
As the morning crept up on the city, he worked his way to Winston’s diner,
pausing only long enough to comb his hair in the reflection of a storefront window. He
had at least enough cash on him to round up some breakfast. Whether he’d actually pay
or try to slip out before Lorraine saw him was a whole different issue, When he opened
the door and saw Santini sitting at the counter, he came up with a different plan; try to
con Santini into paying. Unfortunately, Santini had the same plan the instant he saw
Chico enter.
“Hey, Chico,” Santini called out. “Loan me a quarter.”
“A quarter? What for?”
“A cup of coffee.”
“Ah, coffee only costs a nickel.”
“Yeah, but this stuff is so weak I’ll need at least five cups just to keep my eyes
open.”
Chico tipped back an old cup that hadn’t been cleaned off of the counter yet.
“This ain’t coffee. Its hot water with a brown crayon dipped in it. Anyway, what
are you doin’ up so early?”
“Well, every morning a top of the line Buick Roadmaster comes around the
corner right there, and it’s being driven by the most delicious little blonde you can
imagine.”
“Yeah?” Chico leaned forward eagerly.
“I dumped a box of nails right where her tires always roll. Get me?”
“You’re gonna try to impress her by damaging her car?”
“No!” Santini whapped Chico on the side of the head. “I’m gonna impress her by
changing her tire. Chicks dig a guy who’s handy with tools.”
As he spoke, the sound of a Roadmaster was heard approaching. Santini smiled as
he imagined the perky little blonde being so grateful to her hero. He heard the tires slide a
little, but instead of the sound of a blowing tire, he heard a solid thump. He and Chico
looked at each other with surprised expressions and then ran outside.
Donny was sprawled in front of the toothy grill of the Buick. The blonde (and
delicious didn’t even begin to describe her) was hurrying out from behind the wheel of
the car with a look of grave concern. She helped Donny sit up slowly, being particularly
careful to keep him from hurting himself further on the nails that lay strewn about.
“Oh you poor thing!” she was almost sobbing. “Why were you in the street?”
“Saw some nails,” Donny’s bell was still ringing. “Needed them to fix
something.” He straightened his sunglasses and struggled to his feet with her help.
“Do you need a hospital?” She asked as he started to regain his senses.
“No, no, I’m fine.” As his head cleared and he saw the beautiful girl who was still
holding his arm, as well as his two friends standing at the sidewalk amidst other gawkers,
he added; “Maybe I’m just a little dizzy. A little rest and I should be fine.”
“Then you will come right home with me. I can miss a day’s work. I’ll take care
of you. The spa has other masseuses.” As she guided Donny around to the passenger door
he looked back at Chico and Santini, smiled and shrugged.
“How do ya like that?” Santini groaned.
“And a masseuse to boot,” Chico added.
With a grimace of dismay, Santini changed the subject. Plenty of other fish in the
sea, after all. “I saw that Cruiser of yours go by as I was preparing my trap. It was headed
deep into town.”
“Which way?” Chico perked up.
“South.”
Chico clapped Santini on the shoulder and took off running. Santini watched him
go with a half-smirk.
“Then west,” he continued. “Then who the heck knows?”
It took Chico the better part of the day before he finally tracked the PT down.
After a wild goose chase through parts of town he wasn’t welcome in (ever since he
“borrowed” a motorcycle belonging to the Breakers motorcycle gang), he wound up
nearly having run a complete circle. There it was, parked in his own neighborhood!
He nonchalantly walked up to it and gave it a look-over. Gleaming black paint
with electric blue lightning bolts all over the nose teased his eyes with a promise of aftermarket speed and power. The interior was the most space-age thing he had ever seen in
two-tone charcoal grey and light grey. Its rounded lines flowed smoothly around
instrument clusters, and the gear-stick teased him, poking up temptingly from between
two bucket seats. He was actually a little disappointed that the back seat wasn’t bigger.
But that’s what blankets and a soft patch of ground are for, he thought to himself.
Again his mind flooded with the image of he and Ginger on that midnight cruise. This
time he managed to keep Johnny out of it.
Almost as if in a trance, he gently lifted the door handle, just to see if it was
locked. Parking lights flashed and a couple of warning beeps sounded. Chico jumped
back, instinctively diving into an alley and behind some garbage cans.
Alarmed! He swore to himself. His mind flooded with images of Johnny and
Ginger driving off in a ’57 Bel Air convertible. He drew a heavy sigh and realized that he
knew nothing about car alarms.
He would just have to be that much faster on the get-away.
As he worked on a new plan in the safety of the shadows, he heard the car chirp a
couple of times, followed by the driver’s door opening and the car starting and leaving.
He chewed himself out for leaving his skates at home and tried to keep up on foot. It
wasn’t easy, and he lost it before fifteen minutes had passed. Dejected, he returned to his
old haunt at the dead-end street and busied himself by tossing debris through a battered
old basketball hoop. The Cruiser would have to wait another day.
As evening fell and he began to run out of things he hadn’t thrown through the
hoop, he saw Johnny walking down the sidewalk with a light spring in his step. Just to
get his attention, Chico threw a small chunk of concrete at his feet. Johnny sprung like a
cat.
“Hey! Watch it!” Johnny snapped. “I just shined these shoes!”
“All shined up, eh?” Chico walked up to Johnny with an insolent look. “You
goin’ out or somethin’?”
“Yeah,” Johnny said coolly as he adjusted his jacket collar. “Or somethin’.”
“Who’s the unlucky girl?”
“It’s none of your bee’s wax.” Johnny paused. “Or maybe it is.”
“Yeah, so…?”
“Ginger’s goin’ out for Italian tonight.”
“I don’t think she likes eye-talian,” Chico always mispronounced the word just to
irk Johnny.
“She’s gonna like this Italian.” Johnny punctuated his statement with a quick spin
on the ball of his foot.
“This eye-talian ain’t got a car,” Chico poked Johnny’s chest. “Ginger digs guys
with cars.”
“You ain’t got no car either.”
“And you ain’t got time. Band practice, remember?”
“It’s covered. She’s meeting me at the Hall and we’re going out right after
practice, so stuff that in your pipe and smoke it. Hey, maybe if you ask nicely, that lady
in the window will let you take her out.”
“Har-dee-har-har. Ain’t you a comedian.”
That settled it. The Cruiser couldn’t wait for a more opportune moment. Chico
needed to have that car or Ginger would be hanging on Johnny’s arm for the rest of the
summer and he’d be stuck picking up second-stringers. But who were the second-
stringers? Were they that bad?
First choice, Dora. Not a bad option, but as the first choice of the second-
stringers, the line would be too long. Besides, she wasn’t as soft and helpless as most
guys liked their chicks to be. She had an air about her that told a guy he’d have to work
pretty hard to keep up with her, and that she wouldn’t fall for any cheap old line. You’d
have to work for it to keep Dora’s attention.
Lisa? Too ditsy. Cute, but ditsy. Even your best lines seemed to vanish in a
vacuum, and you were never sure if that vapid stare was the result of your lines working
or just her natural state. Big time space case.
Irene? Nah. She was too stuck on Tito, the neighborhood’s “Latin lover”, who
was himself going to face some stiff competition when that Jaramillo kid got old enough
to realize that girl cooties were a lot of fun to catch.
Cookie? Lisa times ten.
Lorraine? Yeah, right! The only guy who ever got anywhere with her was Santini,
and rumor had it that was only because she was in a good mood that evening, or else had
been nipping at a Sneaky Pete..
Kitty? No way. Her boyfriend, Butch, may look like a nerd, but he had a punch
that could have sent Rocky Marciano to the mat. Chico had had the misfortune of being
on the receiving end of that guided muscle once already.
There was always the new girl, Dotty, but protocols had already been established.
If he ceded the fight to Johnny in favor of Dotty, there was no telling when he’d get
Ginger free again. The summer would be shot, that was for sure, but if Ginger decided
that Chico and Dotty made a cute couple, she would do one of two things; spend the
whole rest of the year with Johnny, or else set about putting Dotty in her place, because
everybody who had been around knew that the boys belonged to her.
As Johnny walked off, Chico chuckled to himself. Every last one of them was a
sucker for the manipulative little blonde who had strung them all along for as long as they
cared to remember. No matter how harshly she may have dumped them (and she had
dumped each of them at one point or another), they would always come trotting back
with the slightest wink of an eye.
It would be the PT Cruiser and it would be tonight. No bones about it. He didn’t
care if he was a semi-homeless Irish gypsy kid while Johnny was a nice Italian boy who
loved his mother. There was no way he was giving up without a fight.
The band gathered for their second-ever practice session, having agreed to pack it
in at midnight per Officer Fussy’s request even though they knew he wasn’t working that
night. As they set things up, Chico’s absence was quite noticeable. Figuring him to just
be running late, they worked on harmonies a cappella, hoping their wayward and slightly
eccentric bass player would show up. Alas, as the evening turned into night, they were
still without a bass player. Screamin’ Scott raised his hand.
“I can play bass,” he offered. “So far we aren’t doing anything too tricky, so it
should be a snap.”
“Then who’s going to play piano?” Denny asked.
“Believe it or not,” Dirty Dan piped up. “I know how to play piano.”
“Then who gets to play lead guitar?” asked Lennie.
“Dirty Dan can stay on lead guitar, I’ll take the piano,” Bowser said with
authority. “I happen to be a classically trained musician.”
“Classically trained musician?’ Denny laughed. “You aren’t even paper trained.”
Bowser stood up threateningly and walked very aggressively towards the piano,
shoving Screamin’ aside. He sat down on the bench and cracked his knuckles, and then
executed a flawless rendition of Chopin’s Polonaise in G minor, part-way through
adjusting it to a boogie-woogie beat just to show off. He finished with a smug expression
that left Denny eating his words.
“I do apologize,” Denny said in amazement. “What the heck are you doing
hanging around here, then? You should be at Carnegie Hall.”
“I was at Carnegie Hall once.”
“No kidding? When? What happened?”
“Three weeks ago. Then security caught me and threw me out.”
The sound of a motor rumbling up caught everybody’s attention. Donny and
Johnny went to a window and looked out.
“Oh no,” Donny sighed. “He did it.”
“That pea-brained little…” Johnny didn’t finish his thought. He saw Ginger
walking up the street just as he saw Chico step out of the PT Cruiser dressed to the nines
in his finest “going out” suit. He was out the door in a flash.
“What the… when did you,,,?” Johnny was at a loss for words. He was
astonished. He looked inside quickly. The steering column was intact, no wires were
hanging down, and there was no damage at all inside. When he looked back up, Ginger
was already flashing those eyes at Chico… and the PT Cruiser. The guys had all come
out of the Hall and were oohing and aahing over the car. Sure, they knew it was hot, but
the mere fact that their boy had done it was impressive enough.
“What about the alarm?” Johnny gasped. “And the electronics in the ignition?
How did you even start it?”
Chico said nothing. He held up his hand and opened it with a huge grin. Hanging
from his finger was the key fob with the keys still attached. Johnny felt his spirits sink.
Chico had the car, and that meant he’d have to spend the rest of the summer picking up
second-stringers. He shook his head.
“Before I surrender, I’ve gotta know how you did it.”
“Professional secret. You’ve gotta be good at what you do to get one of these.”
“Ah, come on. How’d you do it?”
“I can’t tell you. You just have to accept the fact that you lost this one.”
“So,” Ginger cuddled up to Chico, pressing her cheek against his blazer. “Are you
gonna take me for a ride or what?”
As Chico went to answer, he heard his name called out on the night air. Everyone
looked up, recognizing Officer Fussy’s voice. They expected trouble, but Fussy, dressed
in his own “going out” suit, walked up with a smile and handed Chico a slip of paper
with a number on it.
“Can you believe it?” Fussy said as he took the keys back from Chico. “Not only
is that new restaurant too expensive for my budget, but they hired this guy as a parking
valet!”
Chico pursed his lips in embarrassment as Fussy slipped in behind the wheel.
With a huge smile and starry eyes, Ginger slipped into the passenger’s seat, chewing her
gum excitedly.
“I know a better place,” she said with a wink.
As Fussy smiled and drove off with Ginger, the guys looked at Chico, who was
wishing he could turn invisible. Johnny looked like he was too full of lines and questions
to even speak. Instead he laughed and shook his head. Chico shoved his hands into his
pockets and the group returned to the Hall. At least they finally had a song to focus on:
If you’re takin’ your baby down to the club,
Listen to my warning, all right here, bub,
He’s a sweet, sweet talker and you just might lose her
To the cat who’s driving in the PT Cruiser…
—–the end—-

The night was clear and the moon was yellow. A dark green 1954 Chrysler New Yorker convertible was parked in a secluded spot, all but rendered invisible by the shadows. In the back seat a young couple wrestled with each other in throes of passion. When the young man’s hand slipped up and under some garments a little too quickly, the girl pushed away with an indignant snort.
“Who do you think you are?” Ginger said with indignantly. “I’m not that kind of girl!”
“That’s not what Johnny says,” Chico replied with a wide smile.
“Johnny’s a liar.”
“It’s not what Donny says either.”
“Hmph! Like he knows anything about it.”
“Bowser?”
“He can barely spell his own name.”
“Okay, what about Denny?”
“Now him you can trust!”
The two quickly returned to their make-out session.
The dilapidated building known locally as “Greaser’s Hall” had, at one time, been a legitimate recreation center with card tables, bookshelves, a pool table, a dart board, and any other number of activities that might provide safe and legal pastimes for young men from the inner city. After racking up a few building code violations, however, the hall was shut down. It had been empty for some years before the cultural sub-type known as “greasers” forced their way in and took it over. It still continued to serve its original purpose, however, and rather than fight the occupation, a local patrolman pulled some deals to allow the local greasers to continue using the building (at their own risk, of course) as long as no illegal activities occurred. It had become a de facto settlement house.
Officer Fussy had tried in vain to organize some kind of team sport to occupy “his boys”, but so far their favorite group activities seemed to be annoying an old lady who lived two floors up at the end of a dead-end street and flirting, however unsuccessfully, with Lorraine down at the diner.
This morning, and all of the previous night, Greaser Hall had served as a flophouse for one of the boys, a slick young dude who went by the name of Jocko. Officer Fussy had politely ignored this little infraction of the building’s lack of legal status as a residence while Jocko slept off a bad night on the couch in the common room. As Jocko
slowly awoke and sat up to face the day, the door opened letting in streams of offensive
daylight. Jocko groaned and fell back down.
“Shut the door!” came the muffled yell from a face buried in sofa cushions.
“Come on,” said Fussy. “Whatever happened last night, you gotta get out of here before opening.”
“Too late, youse already opened.”
“I meant officially.”
“You’re an officer, ain’t youse?”
“Yes.”
“Then it’s official.”
Fussy sat down on the sofa as Jocko resigned himself to the morning and sat up.
“Are you okay?” Fussy asked with genuine concern.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine. I just spent all night avoiding someone. I couldn’t get home, so here I am.”
“Was it a fight?”
“What fight? Nah, I was out with this girl, see, and we were up in the back row at the movie totally ignoring the film, y’know?”
“Ah, yes.”
“So after the show we start to head for my apartment. We’re on the front stoop of the building and she’s all over me while I try to get the door open. Then someone from her family comes up and takes offense to our relationship and tries to break us up.”
“Wow. Who was it? Her mother? Her father? Her brother?”
“Her husband.”
Fussy sighed and allowed Jocko enough time to get himself cleaned up and presentable (although he always seemed to take too much time on his DA) before chasing him outside.
Down at the diner, Lorraine was making some last minute changes to the breakfast special advertisement that displayed an all-you-can-eat breakfast for $1.99. As she put the sign back in the window, the door swung open and a group of five greasers came in.

“We’re here for the all you can eat breakfast!” Donny said as the group occupied a sizeable table.
“That special is for everyone except you guys,” Lorraine said, snapping her bubble gum.
“What are you talkin’ about?” Lennie protested. “We saw the sign earlier!”
Lorraine said nothing. She saucily walked over to the window and took the sign out, showing it to the guys. Beneath the “All You Can Eat $1.99” was penciled in the phrase “except you guys”.
“Looks like its full price, guys,” Screamin’ Scott lamented. “Everybody pitch in. How much do we got?”
The table clattered with the contents of their pockets. Denny added it all up and called out to Lorraine.
“Hey, Lorraine! What do you have for $2.39 and a ball of pocket lint?”
“For the two thirty-nine you guys can share a plate of scrambled eggs and a cup of coffee. For the lint, try telling Dirty Dan to use the laundry-mat once in awhile.”
Before Dirty Dan could reply, Chico entered the diner and grabbed a chair from another table, wedging it in between Lennie and Dan.
“Where were you last night?” Dan asked. “I was looking for you.”
“On Friday night you shouldn’t be lookin’ for a guy. You should be lookin’ for a girl,” Chico replied. “Anyway you wouldn’t have found me. Mrs. Whitman loaned me her car, so I took Ginger out.”
“Wait a minute,” Scott said. “Mrs. Whitman loaned you her car?”
“Yeah.”
“She hates your guts,” Denny added incredulously. “Why on earth would she loan you her car?”
“I don’t know, but she left it right out in front of her house for me.”
“In front of her house?” Lennie raised an eyebrow. “Were the keys in it?”
“No,” Chico answered. “I guess she forgot, so I had to hotwire it. She also forgot to unlock it, too, so I had to jimmy the door open. At least she remembered to leave some money in the glove compartment. She’s such a nice old lady. So I was nice enough to get it back to her house before she woke up, you know, in case she needed it first thing in the morning.”
“Chico,” Scott rubbed his temples. “You were driving a stolen car! That’s called grand theft auto!”
“Well, sure it was a New Yorker, but I wouldn’t call it ‘grand’. ‘Swell’, maybe, or even ‘nice’, but not ‘grand’. It still smelled like an old lady.”
Denny sighed “You can always count on Chico to pick a girl up in a classy stolen car.”
“Hey, prove she didn’t want me to take it! Innocent until proven guilty, y’know.”
“I saw your birth certificate,” said Scott. “’Guilty’ is your middle name.”
“I thought it was ‘Alouicious’,” Danny mumbled as he picked more lint from his well-worn clothes.
“Hey, can you steal me a car?” Lennie asked. “I want to take my girl out on a date tonight. What can you get me?”
“I’ve seen your girl,” Chico smirked. “I don’t think I can line up a tow truck.”
“She’s not fat, she’s fluffy!”
“If she’s fluffy, then the Brooklyn Bridge is a cat-walk,” Dan chuckled.
“Anyway,” Chico continued, “I can’t get youse a car tonight on account of I gotta get me a car.”
“Just ‘borrow’ Mrs. Whitman’s again,” Scott said as he flicked some stray lint back at Dan.
“I can’t. She never loans it to me twice in a row. Tonight it’ll be in her garage. I have to wait until she leaves it on the street for me again before I know I can borrow it.”
“What kind of car are you going to borrow?” Denny asked as he tried to get Lorraine’s attention to place an order.
“There’s something new in town. It looks pretty cool, kind of like one of those old Chryslers, but with some modern flair going on.”
“Oh, I’ve seen one of those,” Denny recalled. “It’s called a Cruiser or something.”
“It’s called a PT Cruiser,” Donny corrected. “Mopar produced, 148.2 cubic inch displacement, definitely not the biggest engine on the block, 150 horsepower stock, with a few mods you can get around 205, available in four-door hardtop or 2-door flip-top,
MPGs range from the low 20s to the low 30s depending on various factors such as speed, traffic congestion, and miscellaneous environmental effects such as head wind and grades, belt-driven dual overhead cams, 16 valves, sequential multi-port fuel injection, 162 foot pounds of torque at 4000RPM, wheelbase 103 inches, weight distribution 59/41, with manual transmission curb weight…”
Donny paused as he noticed everyone staring at him.
“…the chicks dig it.”
As everyone voiced their agreement with the one phrase they understood, Lorraine came sauntering back up.
“Winston says you guys gotta get out of here.”
“What? Why? I was just about order!” Denny replied in protest.
“The rats are threatening to complain to the health department.”
In another part of town two young men peered over the edge of a rooftop four stories high. One of them, a veritable bean-pole with slicked black hair and clad all in black, scanned the pedestrians below with the eyes of a hawk (and a nose to match). His friend, possessing the face and voice of an angel, looked like the farthest thing you would think of to be hanging out with the tall, lanky one. Yet there they were, both scanning the crowd.
“The trick,” said Bowser, the lanky one, “is to pick an opening with a lot of people around it. Youse get a better area of effect. There’s one now.”
Johnny nodded and handed Bowser a water balloon. Bowser tossed the projectile, but his aim was off and, far from hitting the sidewalk and giving innocent pedestrians a morning shower, it went long and smacked right onto the windshield of a passing police car. The car slid to a halt and its red lights came on immediately.
“When you write the rulebook for this game, remember to put in there ‘watch for cops’!” Johnny admonished Bowser as the two ran for the far side of the building and a fire escape. They hit it like rats leaving a sinking ship. At the bottom they dropped onto a vacant lot to the rear of the building and took off running all out. They had lost the cop, but as they slowed down their pace they became aware of pack of stray dogs that had picked up their trail. They broke into a different kind of run this time.
“I don’t have to be faster than the dogs,” Johnny yelled to Bowser. “I just have to be faster than you!”
With that Johnny suddenly put on an incredible burst of speed. Bowser could feel his lungs starting to protest, and before Johnny could get too far ahead, Bowser slid to a stop in the dirt and dropped to all fours, facing the dogs. A low, threatening growl emanated from somewhere deep within and the dogs came to a halt. Tails suddenly dropped between legs and with a series of whines and yelps, the pack turned and ran. Bowser stood up triumphantly as Johnny stopped and came back.
“What was that all about?” Johnny asked.
Bowser put on an inhumanly wide smile.
“I’m bi-ling-yoo-al,” he said.
Jocko was wandering around almost aimlessly. He couldn’t go to his regular haunts for fear that his potential assailant would know the places that greasers hung out. Instead, he wandered to a part of town he never spent much time in, the financial district.
He looked sorely out of place with his DA and black leather jacket. More than one patrol car slowed down and eyed him suspiciously as he wove his way through the Italian designer suit crowd. He distracted himself by looking at the tall, gleaming spires that made up the banks, investment houses, and corporate headquarters of so many multinational companies. Part of him secretly longed to be one of the power-players, the movers and shakers of the world of high finance. Then he could cruise around in a stretch Cadillac limousine, wining and dining people from a social class so high there was no word for it. The other half of him dreaded the idea of having to wear business suits all day and having to cut his hair into something respectable.
As Jocko stared skyward at the towers of glass and steel, he collided violently with someone. He staggered through an apology, helping up a man who looked dressed for success. The man hissed out some mild oaths and tried to pull away from Jocko even as the greaser was handing the man back his hat. Jocko looked at the man and his face turned into a wry grin.
“Santini?!?” He gasped in shock. “What are you doin’ in a monkey suit?”
“Ixnay,” Santini hissed and looked around nervously. “You don’t know me, got it? You don’t know me!”
“What are you talkin’ about, I don’t know you?”
A small crowd had started to gather as Santini hastily pulled himself together and clapped the hat back atop his head. He stiffened himself straight up and looked sternly at Jocko as if he was a father admonishing a child.
“Young man, you need to look where you’re going. Run along now.”
Jocko did his best to stifle his laughter. He bowed mockingly.
“Oh, absolutely, sir. Absolutely. Please accept my humblest apologies!”
As Jocko made his exit he heard someone tell Santini, or whatever name he was using at the moment, to check his wallet. He could barely contain a chuckle. Santini wouldn’t have any more in his wallet than any other greaser, and if there was money in it, it would be someone else’s wallet!
By late morning, nine of ten greasers had congregated on their favorite dead end street, relaxing on the stoop of a corner boarding house and throwing rocks at a garbage can just across the way near Pierre’s Market. The banging of the rocks was only a small part of the noise they were generating as they talked about cars, girls, and anything else that happened to cross their minds and get lost in the wilderness there.
“We need money,” Johnny said as he nailed the garbage can with a resounding crash. “What can we do that doesn’t involve getting jobs?”
“We could rob a bank,” Chico offered.
Scott rolled his eyes. “The last time we tried that, you gave the teller the wrong slip of paper. You were supposed to hand her the hold up note.”
“What did he give her?” Dan asked.
“His phone number.”
“Hey, she was cute!” Chico defended himself as Bowser whapped him in the back of the head. “You can’t just go around scaring cute girls.”
“You don’t think the ski mask might have frightened her just a little?”
“She didn’t look scared to me,” Donny interjected.
“Nothing looked like anything to you,” Scott retorted. “You had your ski mask on backwards.”
“Don’t blame me! The stupid thing didn’t come with directions!”
“Anyway,” Denny shrugged, “Bowser scares cute girls all the time.”
“What are youse talkin’ about? When I meets a girl for the foist time, I always gives her my best smile.” Bowser put on his widest smile, adding fluttering eyelids.
“What you call a smile, the rest of the world calls ‘baring your teeth’.”
“Maybe we could land us some gigs,” Lennie offered. “We’ve got instruments and we know how to play ‘em… sort of.”
“Yeah, but who’d sing?” Dan asked to nobody in particular.
“I think Johnny’s got our best voice,” Lennie suggested. “Come on. Let’s hear it.”
As the guys voiced their encouragement, Johnny stood up and took a deep breath, ready and willing to give it a try. Before he could get out his first note, however, a window across the way and a couple of floors up flew open. An older woman appeared with her hair still in curlers.
“Hey!” she called out. “I can take the rocks, the garbage cans and the mindless chatter, but I draw the line at murder.”
“Who murdered who?” Johnny asked.
“You’ve murdered whatever song you were about to sing.”
“I haven’t even sung one note.”
“And for the sake of the performing arts, let’s keep it that way!”
The whole conversation was suddenly interrupted by a black PT Cruiser that slowly rolled by. Its nose sported not the usual flames but a pattern of electric blue lightning bolts. The chrome trim shone with an unearthly glow, and dark tinted windows prevented anybody from seeing who was driving. Even Donny lowered his ever-present sunglasses to get a better look.
“Holy guacamole,” Dirty Dan remarked as the car disappeared casually down the street. “Did you guys see that?”
Denny let out a low whistle. Chico wandered off of the stoop and stared down the street towards where the car had vanished. His hand slipped into the pocket of his black leather vest and pulled out a yoyo which he began mindlessly flipping.
“I know that look, buddy,” Denny put a hand on his shoulder. “Forget it. That car is so far out of your league…”
“I said I was gonna do it,” Chico’s face broke into a mischievous smile.
“Don’t even try,” Jocko chuckled. “If the likes of youse got anywhere near that car, even Officer Fussy would have to arrest youse.”
Chico turned towards Jocko. “I’ve been busted before.”
“Not by that kind of money,” Santini’s voice took them all by surprise as he approached, clad in his normal street wear. “Trust me. If you’re going to try for the big leagues, you’re going to need a lot more than an innocent smile and a cheap alibi.”
“Hey-hey, Tony!” Jocko leaped off of the stoop. “So what was the story with you and the suit this morning? I almost didn’t recognize youse on account of youse lookin’ so…human.”
“When hunting the wild debutante, it pays to use camouflage. Look like you’ve got money and they’ll beat a path to your door.”
“What are you gonna do when they find out youse ain’t got no money?” Johnny asked.
“Johnny, kid,” Santini placed his hand on the younger man’s shoulder. “You have so much to learn about women. When they start getting close enough to see your bank account, you break it off.”
“So how’s the path to your door been lookin’ then?”
Santini released Johnny and plopped down dejectedly on the stoop.
“Dirt road, thanks to this guy,” he jerked his thumb at Jocko.
“Ah, I probably saved youse a world of headache. Those high-income dames are also pretty high-maintenance.”
“You think I couldn’t handle that?”
“In a word? No.”
“So what’s the plan, then?” Johnny sighed. “Do we try to become musical prodigies or what?”
“What? Are we forming an orchestra now or something?” Santini asked as he tried his hand at throwing a rock at the garbage can.
“Lennie thinks we can form a band,” Johnny answered.
“With ten guys who can’t even form a coherent thought?” the old lady at the window shouted out. “Why don’t you try forming a clean-up brigade and pick up those rocks?” The window was then shut. There would be no further discussion with her. With dejected sighs, the guys began picking up the stray rocks and tossing them over a cyclone fence that separated a vacant lot from the street.
Everyone except for Chico, that is. The job was mostly done when they first noticed he was missing.
He was fast at slipping roller skates on, and even faster at rolling them down the sidewalk. He had caught up with the PT Cruiser four blocks down. The car was stopped for a red light and Chico slowed his pace down about half a block away. He had taken so many chances slaloming around traffic and leaving at least one fender-bender in his wake that he wasn’t about to blow it now. He rolled to a stop at a newsstand and pretended to scan magazine titles. After a few moments the Cruiser’s light went green and Chico took off down the sidewalk after it. After a few more blocks, the PT made a left turn. Rather than follow it, Chico doubled back and shadowed it by one block. Pedestrians dove out of the way as he rolled past, some dropping whatever was in their arms, but he didn’t notice. His mind was locked onto finding out where that car parked at night.
At long last the car pulled into a residential parking garage. An automatic gate opened and then closed. Chico rolled to a gentle stop and watched as the PT disappeared into the darkness, making a right turn at the bottom of a ramp. He rolled backwards a short distance and took note of the address. He then spun nimbly around and took his yoyo back out of his pocket and casually began throwing loops as he rolled back to his familiar hunting ground.
As Chico arrived at the dead end street, he found the place all but deserted. Only the lady in the window looked down as he rolled in and calmly started a repetitive figure 8 pattern. She watched him briefly, both admiring the graceful ease with which he was skating and thinking about the fact that he was one of those leather jacketed ne’er-dowells that caused so much trouble in the city. Still, she had to admit that, for the most
part, their “crimes” were mostly minor, not at all like some of what she had heard from rougher parts of the city. Sure, they had attempted some serious things, and the young man on the roller skates had a reputation for stealing anything that wasn’t tied down, but chronic incompetence, or comic incompetence as she liked to think, kept most of their schemes from amounting to much. Most of their police records had the word “attempted” listed in the formal charges.
Of all of them, only Chico had achieved any success in his activities, and that was due to his unusual skill at hotwiring cars. Even at that, he was relatively harmless. No car he had stolen wound up with much beyond a few extra miles. They never went to the chop-shops and never wound up at the bottom of a cliff like in that James Dean movie. He seemed to just use them for impressing girls on dates.
“Hey, Chico, is it?” she called out.
“Yeah?” Chico rolled to a stop and looked up.
“Why don’t you get a job and buy your own car?”
“I can’t afford the gas.”
“If you had a job, you could afford gas.”
“No I couldn’t. I’d be blowing it all on dates.”
“A date once or twice a week won’t take up all your money.”
“No, but if I had a car of my own I’d be on a date every night, and that would eat up all my cash.”
“You don’t have to go out every night.”
“Are you kidding me? With a car, why would I stay home?”
The lady in the window sighed.
“Well, if you’re looking for your friends, they went to the rec hall.”
“What are they doing there?”
“What do you think? They’re probably making a wreck of it.”
With that, Chico kicked his wheels and took off. He didn’t hear the lady’s parting shot: “And that would be an improvement!”
“Do I even want to know where you guys got all this stuff?” Fussy asked as guitars, drums, microphones and amplifiers were carried into the Hall. Standing in the doorway in full uniform, he wondered if he wasn’t being complicit in some crime or another.
“Relax,” said Jocko as he and Lennie moved a large amplifier in. “It’s all legitimate.”
“I’d like to see some receipts,” Fussy demanded.
“And I’d like to see Marilyn Monroe come through the door and ask me for a date, but I don’t think that’s gonna happen,” Lennie replied as he set his end of the large amp down.
“Hey,” Johnny called out as he carried in two guitar cases. “We need a room we can lock this stuff up in at night.”
“This whole building is locked up at night,” Fussy responded.
“Chico says it ain’t locked up good enough.”
“We need a Chico-proof room,” Bowser added as he lugged in an armful of mic stands.
“A solid block of cement wouldn’t be Chico-proof,” groaned Denny as he dragged in a large and very heavy case shaped like an upright bass. “If he can’t get into it, he’ll just swipe it lock, stock, and barrel.”
“Well, how’s he going to steal a building?” Fussy asked defiantly.
“We’re here, ain’t we?” replied Jocko. “How do you think we got in here in the first place?”
“And now we practically own it,” Johnny remarked.
“All right, all right. I think we have an empty office in here you can use. But you gotta tell me where you’ve been keeping this stuff all this time.”
At that moment Screamin’ Scott walked in carrying a few boxes of wires and cables. His face wore an expression of calmness and relief. He paused a moment to shake Fussy’s hand warmly and thank him for letting them use the Hall for practice. He looked genuinely happy to be lugging boxes into the Hall. Jocko looked back at Fussy with a smirk and nodded towards Scott.
“His living room.”
As Fussy left to find the guys a room to use, the sound of roller skates approached. The hefty clack of a couple of jumps later and Chico had navigated the short stairs to the door and skated in.
“Look who’s here just in time to avoid the work,” grumbled Bowser.
“You guys didn’t come and get me. I would have helped,” Chico defended himself.
“Then take off those skates, ball-bearing brain, and start lugging this gear into that room back there.”
Bowser loomed threateningly over Chico as he removed the skates from his sneakers. If he had any concern for Bowser’s glare, he didn’t show it.
Later, after all of the gear was safely stowed in a back room, the guys were participating in the one legitimate sport they were good at, which was shooting pool. Though the rules of Greasers’ Hall expressly forbade gambling (as per Officer Fussy’s Guide to Acceptable Behavior), after each game, everybody paid everybody back for some suddenly remembered loan. As Lennie leaned over for a shot, Johnny nudged Chico with his elbow and nodded his head towards the door to the pool room. They both slipped out unnoticed.
“Are you really gonna do it?” Johnny asked.
“Sure, why not?” Chico shrugged.
“I hear they’re nearly impossible to steal,” Johnny looked around nervously. “Electronics and all kinds of stuff under the dash, y’know. And you heard what Santini said. That’s bigger money than we normally deal with. A ‘54 Chrysler here, a ‘52 Chevy there, that’s no big deal. You could probably even get away with borrowing a ’59 Ford. But a PT Cruiser? I don’t care what year it was made, that’s gonna get noticed!”
“Really?” Chico smiled eagerly. “You think so?”
“I meant noticed in a bad way. Listen, forget the car for a bit. We’re gonna try to see if we can organize ourselves into a band. You know, like we always get together at Screamin’s house and bother the neighbors, only we’re gonna practice at the hall and maybe throw a party or somethin’.”
“Is that why we were moving everything? I thought he was getting evicted.”
“Nah, listen. Head here tonight. We’re gonna set up all the gear and see what we can figure out. And don’t come in a car or we’ll know you stole it. Okay?”
Chico nodded with an ‘aw shucks’ grin. “Okay…”
As night fell and neon signs flickered to life, the boys were inside Greasers’ Hall shoving furniture aside and clearing a large space. Screamin’ Scott rolled a piano to one side of the space and set about checking the tuning. Donny and Denny were positioning amplifiers and microphones. Jocko wrangled his drum kit into an arrangement that best suited him and gave a few kicks to the bass drum. Chico leaned back towards him, supporting his upright bass.
“Give me a ‘G’,” Chico said. Jocko obliged with a hit to the tom-tom. Chico nodded and twisted a tuning key.
“Do we even have a name?” Dirty Dan asked as he warmed up with a few scales.
“Details, details!” Bowser waved his hand in the air. “We need a song before we can get a name.”
The suggestions came in from all directions. “Rock Around the Clock”, “Hound Dog”, “The Twist”, “Stagger Lee”, “Rama Lama Ding Dong”, “The Hokey Pokey”…
They all stopped and looked at Chico who just grinned and shrugged. “What? I always liked the Hokey Pokey.”
“Well, if youse ever get to take the mike, youse can try and get the whole audience to sing along,” Bowser grumbled.
“We gotta figure something out,” Denny said with a sigh. “If we can’t get an act together, the alternative is unthinkable.”
“What’s the alternative?’ Lennie asked as he adjusted his reed.
“Get a job.”
Almost without thinking, Donny began humming; “Sha-na-na-na, Sha-na-na-nana…”. He raised his head a little. “That’s one we all know well enough.”
“Only ‘cause it’s been shouted as us enough,” Jocko chuckled.
After much hemming and hawing, the first tentative steps to mastering the song were taken. It was far more difficult to get something together with an eye towards public performance than simply jamming with friends in a living room. It was 1AM by the time a passing patrol car flashed a spotlight into the building. A sharp rapping at the door told the guys it was time to break it down for the night. Denny opened the door and Officer Fussy stepped in.
“Come on guys,” Fussy said with as much authority as he could muster at 1AM. “Time to button it up. This place is supposed to be closed by now. I’ll have to arrest you for trespassing.”
“Aw, come on! We just figured out a song!” Johnny complained.
“We wanted to play it for you,” Lennie added.
“Then I would have to arrest you. Come on, put it away and go home.”
Amidst moans and protests, the boys began to put the gear away. One by one they vanished into the night, leaving the place locked up. Greaser’s Hall fell into uncharacteristic silence as shadows overran the place.
“Home” for Chico was squatting in a small flat (that he shared with a handful of temporarily settled Irish-descent gypsies) furnished with a battered mattress thrown on
the floor. As he tried to close his eyes, images of the PT kept rolling through is mind, its gleaming chrome calling to him like a siren’s song. He began to imagine himself behind the wheel, cruising slowly down the street and leaving the guys on the sidewalk with their jaws on the ground. He imagined Ginger in the passenger’s seat beside him looking at him with those eyes… He’d cruise it down the street, watching the guys disappear in the mirror. They’d take a midnight cruise down past the drive-in and just let the gassers drool over the Cruiser, but they wouldn’t stop there. No, they’d continue on down some dark road on the outskirts of town and park someplace secluded. As he parked the car, she’d give him that wink and slide out of the car, getting back in the back seat. He’d deftly slip out the driver’s side and open the back door on his side…
And find Ginger and Johnny making out.
Chico sat up fast and shook his head to clear the images out of his mind. He could see the sun just beginning to peek over the rooftops. Below him the sounds of the city had already taken on their familiar clamor. He grabbed his alarm clock to see how long he had been asleep, but then remembered that it had stopped working the day he threw it against the wall for daring to go off. He quickly pulled his clothes on and bailed out via the fire escape. No sense in letting anybody else know that he could get out of bed before noon.
As the morning crept up on the city, he worked his way to Winston’s diner, pausing only long enough to comb his hair in the reflection of a storefront window. He had at least enough cash on him to round up some breakfast. Whether he’d actually pay or try to slip out before Lorraine saw him was a whole different issue, When he opened the door and saw Santini sitting at the counter, he came up with a different plan; try to con Santini into paying. Unfortunately, Santini had the same plan the instant he saw Chico enter.
“Hey, Chico,” Santini called out. “Loan me a quarter.”
“A quarter? What for?”
“A cup of coffee.”
“Ah, coffee only costs a nickel.”
“Yeah, but this stuff is so weak I’ll need at least five cups just to keep my eyes open.”
Chico tipped back an old cup that hadn’t been cleaned off of the counter yet.
“This ain’t coffee. Its hot water with a brown crayon dipped in it. Anyway, what are you doin’ up so early?”
“Well, every morning a top of the line Buick Roadmaster comes around the corner right there, and it’s being driven by the most delicious little blonde you can imagine.”
“Yeah?” Chico leaned forward eagerly.
“I dumped a box of nails right where her tires always roll. Get me?”
“You’re gonna try to impress her by damaging her car?”
“No!” Santini whapped Chico on the side of the head. “I’m gonna impress her by changing her tire. Chicks dig a guy who’s handy with tools.”
As he spoke, the sound of a Roadmaster was heard approaching. Santini smiled as he imagined the perky little blonde being so grateful to her hero. He heard the tires slide a little, but instead of the sound of a blowing tire, he heard a solid thump. He and Chico looked at each other with surprised expressions and then ran outside.
Donny was sprawled in front of the toothy grill of the Buick. The blonde (and delicious didn’t even begin to describe her) was hurrying out from behind the wheel of the car with a look of grave concern. She helped Donny sit up slowly, being particularly careful to keep him from hurting himself further on the nails that lay strewn about.
“Oh you poor thing!” she was almost sobbing. “Why were you in the street?”
“Saw some nails,” Donny’s bell was still ringing. “Needed them to fix something.” He straightened his sunglasses and struggled to his feet with her help.
“Do you need a hospital?” She asked as he started to regain his senses.
“No, no, I’m fine.” As his head cleared and he saw the beautiful girl who was still holding his arm, as well as his two friends standing at the sidewalk amidst other gawkers, he added; “Maybe I’m just a little dizzy. A little rest and I should be fine.”
“Then you will come right home with me. I can miss a day’s work. I’ll take care of you. The spa has other masseuses.” As she guided Donny around to the passenger door he looked back at Chico and Santini, smiled and shrugged.
“How do ya like that?” Santini groaned.
“And a masseuse to boot,” Chico added.
With a grimace of dismay, Santini changed the subject. Plenty of other fish in the sea, after all. “I saw that Cruiser of yours go by as I was preparing my trap. It was headed deep into town.”
“Which way?” Chico perked up.
“South.”
Chico clapped Santini on the shoulder and took off running. Santini watched him go with a half-smirk.
“Then west,” he continued. “Then who the heck knows?”
It took Chico the better part of the day before he finally tracked the PT down. After a wild goose chase through parts of town he wasn’t welcome in (ever since he “borrowed” a motorcycle belonging to the Breakers motorcycle gang), he wound up nearly having run a complete circle. There it was, parked in his own neighborhood!
He nonchalantly walked up to it and gave it a look-over. Gleaming black paint with electric blue lightning bolts all over the nose teased his eyes with a promise of aftermarket speed and power. The interior was the most space-age thing he had ever seen in two-tone charcoal grey and light grey. Its rounded lines flowed smoothly around instrument clusters, and the gear-stick teased him, poking up temptingly from between two bucket seats. He was actually a little disappointed that the back seat wasn’t bigger.

But that’s what blankets and a soft patch of ground are for, he thought to himself. Again his mind flooded with the image of he and Ginger on that midnight cruise. This time he managed to keep Johnny out of it.
Almost as if in a trance, he gently lifted the door handle, just to see if it was locked. Parking lights flashed and a couple of warning beeps sounded. Chico jumped back, instinctively diving into an alley and behind some garbage cans.
Alarmed! He swore to himself. His mind flooded with images of Johnny and Ginger driving off in a ’57 Bel Air convertible. He drew a heavy sigh and realized that he knew nothing about car alarms.
He would just have to be that much faster on the get-away.
As he worked on a new plan in the safety of the shadows, he heard the car chirp a couple of times, followed by the driver’s door opening and the car starting and leaving. He chewed himself out for leaving his skates at home and tried to keep up on foot. It wasn’t easy, and he lost it before fifteen minutes had passed. Dejected, he returned to his old haunt at the dead-end street and busied himself by tossing debris through a battered old basketball hoop. The Cruiser would have to wait another day.
As evening fell and he began to run out of things he hadn’t thrown through the hoop, he saw Johnny walking down the sidewalk with a light spring in his step. Just to get his attention, Chico threw a small chunk of concrete at his feet. Johnny sprung like a cat.
“Hey! Watch it!” Johnny snapped. “I just shined these shoes!”
“All shined up, eh?” Chico walked up to Johnny with an insolent look. “You goin’ out or somethin’?”
“Yeah,” Johnny said coolly as he adjusted his jacket collar. “Or somethin’.”
“Who’s the unlucky girl?”
“It’s none of your bee’s wax.” Johnny paused. “Or maybe it is.”
“Yeah, so…?”
“Ginger’s goin’ out for Italian tonight.”
“I don’t think she likes eye-talian,” Chico always mispronounced the word just to irk Johnny.
“She’s gonna like this Italian.” Johnny punctuated his statement with a quick spin on the ball of his foot.
“This eye-talian ain’t got a car,” Chico poked Johnny’s chest. “Ginger digs guys with cars.”
“You ain’t got no car either.”
“And you ain’t got time. Band practice, remember?”
“It’s covered. She’s meeting me at the Hall and we’re going out right after practice, so stuff that in your pipe and smoke it. Hey, maybe if you ask nicely, that lady in the window will let you take her out.”
“Har-dee-har-har. Ain’t you a comedian.”
That settled it. The Cruiser couldn’t wait for a more opportune moment. Chico needed to have that car or Ginger would be hanging on Johnny’s arm for the rest of the summer and he’d be stuck picking up second-stringers. But who were the second-stringers? Were they that bad?
First choice, Dora. Not a bad option, but as the first choice of the second-stringers, the line would be too long. Besides, she wasn’t as soft and helpless as most guys liked their chicks to be. She had an air about her that told a guy he’d have to work pretty hard to keep up with her, and that she wouldn’t fall for any cheap old line. You’d have to work for it to keep Dora’s attention.
Lisa? Too ditsy. Cute, but ditsy. Even your best lines seemed to vanish in a vacuum, and you were never sure if that vapid stare was the result of your lines working or just her natural state. Big time space case.
Irene? Nah. She was too stuck on Tito, the neighborhood’s “Latin lover”, who was himself going to face some stiff competition when that Jaramillo kid got old enough to realize that girl cooties were a lot of fun to catch.
Cookie? Lisa times ten.
Lorraine? Yeah, right! The only guy who ever got anywhere with her was Santini, and rumor had it that was only because she was in a good mood that evening, or else had been nipping at a Sneaky Pete..
Kitty? No way. Her boyfriend, Butch, may look like a nerd, but he had a punch that could have sent Rocky Marciano to the mat. Chico had had the misfortune of being on the receiving end of that guided muscle once already.
There was always the new girl, Dotty, but protocols had already been established. If he ceded the fight to Johnny in favor of Dotty, there was no telling when he’d get Ginger free again. The summer would be shot, that was for sure, but if Ginger decided that Chico and Dotty made a cute couple, she would do one of two things; spend the whole rest of the year with Johnny, or else set about putting Dotty in her place, because everybody who had been around knew that the boys belonged to her.
As Johnny walked off, Chico chuckled to himself. Every last one of them was a sucker for the manipulative little blonde who had strung them all along for as long as they cared to remember. No matter how harshly she may have dumped them (and she had dumped each of them at one point or another), they would always come trotting back with the slightest wink of an eye.
It would be the PT Cruiser and it would be tonight. No bones about it. He didn’t care if he was a semi-homeless Irish gypsy kid while Johnny was a nice Italian boy who loved his mother. There was no way he was giving up without a fight.
The band gathered for their second-ever practice session, having agreed to pack it in at midnight per Officer Fussy’s request even though they knew he wasn’t working that night. As they set things up, Chico’s absence was quite noticeable. Figuring him to just be running late, they worked on harmonies a cappella, hoping their wayward and slightly eccentric bass player would show up. Alas, as the evening turned into night, they were still without a bass player. Screamin’ Scott raised his hand.
“I can play bass,” he offered. “So far we aren’t doing anything too tricky, so it should be a snap.”
“Then who’s going to play piano?” Denny asked.
“Believe it or not,” Dirty Dan piped up. “I know how to play piano.”
“Then who gets to play lead guitar?” asked Lennie.
“Dirty Dan can stay on lead guitar, I’ll take the piano,” Bowser said with authority. “I happen to be a classically trained musician.”
“Classically trained musician?’ Denny laughed. “You aren’t even paper trained.”
Bowser stood up threateningly and walked very aggressively towards the piano, shoving Screamin’ aside. He sat down on the bench and cracked his knuckles, and then executed a flawless rendition of Chopin’s Polonaise in G minor, part-way through adjusting it to a boogie-woogie beat just to show off. He finished with a smug expression that left Denny eating his words.
“I do apologize,” Denny said in amazement. “What the heck are you doing hanging around here, then? You should be at Carnegie Hall.”
“I was at Carnegie Hall once.”
“No kidding? When? What happened?”
“Three weeks ago. Then security caught me and threw me out.”
The sound of a motor rumbling up caught everybody’s attention. Donny and Johnny went to a window and looked out.
“Oh no,” Donny sighed. “He did it.”
“That pea-brained little…” Johnny didn’t finish his thought. He saw Ginger walking up the street just as he saw Chico step out of the PT Cruiser dressed to the nines in his finest “going out” suit. He was out the door in a flash.
“What the… when did you,,,?” Johnny was at a loss for words. He was astonished. He looked inside quickly. The steering column was intact, no wires were hanging down, and there was no damage at all inside. When he looked back up, Ginger was already flashing those eyes at Chico… and the PT Cruiser. The guys had all come out of the Hall and were oohing and aahing over the car. Sure, they knew it was hot, but the mere fact that their boy had done it was impressive enough.
“What about the alarm?” Johnny gasped. “And the electronics in the ignition? How did you even start it?”
Chico said nothing. He held up his hand and opened it with a huge grin. Hanging from his finger was the key fob with the keys still attached. Johnny felt his spirits sink. Chico had the car, and that meant he’d have to spend the rest of the summer picking up second-stringers. He shook his head.
“Before I surrender, I’ve gotta know how you did it.”
“Professional secret. You’ve gotta be good at what you do to get one of these.”
“Ah, come on. How’d you do it?”
“I can’t tell you. You just have to accept the fact that you lost this one.”
“So,” Ginger cuddled up to Chico, pressing her cheek against his blazer. “Are you gonna take me for a ride or what?”
As Chico went to answer, he heard his name called out on the night air. Everyone looked up, recognizing Officer Fussy’s voice. They expected trouble, but Fussy, dressed in his own “going out” suit, walked up with a smile and handed Chico a slip of paper with a number on it.
“Can you believe it?” Fussy said as he took the keys back from Chico. “Not only is that new restaurant too expensive for my budget, but they hired this guy as a parking valet!”
Chico pursed his lips in embarrassment as Fussy slipped in behind the wheel. With a huge smile and starry eyes, Ginger slipped into the passenger’s seat, chewing her gum excitedly.
“I know a better place,” she said with a wink.
As Fussy smiled and drove off with Ginger, the guys looked at Chico, who was wishing he could turn invisible. Johnny looked like he was too full of lines and questions to even speak. Instead he laughed and shook his head. Chico shoved his hands into his pockets and the group returned to the Hall. At least they finally had a song to focus on:
If you’re takin’ your baby down to the club,Listen to my warning, all right here, bub,He’s a sweet, sweet talker and you just might lose herTo the cat who’s driving in the PT Cruiser…

—–the end—-

Poems by Lita:

Greaser Idol

greaseridol

I can’t help the way I feel about Chico.

I have precious memories of him singing and performing on the tv show.

Chico always looked so cool with his leather jacket and slicked-back hair.

My heart glows when I think of his amazing smile.

No doubt about it, Chico was the cutest kid on the block.

No one can hold a candle to you. You’re my greaser idol.

Here’s a poem that I’ve written in loving memories of both Chico and Danny. Rest in peace and may God bless the two of you always.

Eternal Angels

We feel sad and blue because the world has never been the same without the two of you.

The tears from our eyes fall like rain, Yet the ache in our hearts will always remain.

God needed you both for a greater purpose and called you home, Where they are both eternal angels and not alone.

We know that the two of you are in a much better place, Where the two of you are entertaining in heaven smiling and playing your guitar and bass.

Our eternal angels who are both always by our side, We embrace your spirits with arms open wide.

By Shift Kitty:

Chico, where did you go?
I’ve got nothing left but the music on the stereo
Chico, where did you go?
You can’t be gone, `cause I still want to rock and roll
I remember it like it was yesterday
When that yo-yo hit me in the head
You filled the room with that big bass boom
And I felt it knockin’ me dead
I knew right away that I had to play
I had no other way to face,
`Cause there’s nothin’ sweeter than a 4-string heater,
So I’m crankin’ up the bass
Chico, where did you go?
I’ve got nothing left but the music on the stereo
Chico, where did you go?
You can’t be gone `cause I still want to rock and roll

I thought you looked best in that black leather vest,
A handful of grease in your hair,
Driving me wild with that little boy smile,
Oh, man, it got me right there.
Now my musical game wouldn’t be the same
I knew it right from the start
Lookin’ so tight with that white upright
And thumpin’ out the beat of my heart.
Chico, where did you go?
I got nothin’ left, just the music on the stereo,
Chico, where did you go?
You can’t be gone ’cause I still want to rock and roll.

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