In the Graveyard Antemortem by Stephen Stromp Read Online (FREE)
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t happened when I was seventeen. It was the beginning of summer in 1985. That morning, I stood clutching my backpack under the service garage awning, waiting for my best friend, Tina, to pick me up for school. A red car with a black stripe down its hood suddenly pulled into the dusty gravel gas station lot. I knew all the cars in Ruthsford. And I hadn’t seen that one before. It looked too new, too expensive, for our small town. As the strange car pulled beside me, I wondered just who was behind the wheel. But when the sun struck her teased blonde hair and bright red lipstick, there was no question.
“Killer, huh?” asked Tina as she lowered the passenger-side window, grinning in delight.
“Oh my God! It’s so great!” I shouted as I climbed inside. “What kind of car is this?”
“You’re kidding, right?” she scoffed. “Lisa! It’s a freakin’ Mustang!”
“How can you afford a Mustang?”
“Well, it’s not like I paid for it myself. My parents got it for me. You know, for my birthday.”
“First of all, you are so lucky. And second of all, I am so sorry!” I cringed. “I totally forgot today was your birthday. But I’ll make it up to you. I swear.”
“No biggie. And don’t worry. You’ll never forget this birthday after the big bash I’m throwin’ this weekend.”
“Shit. I wish you would’ve told me sooner. I don’t think I can go,” I moaned. “I promised my dad I’d help him out with the shifts this weekend.”
“C’mon,” she scolded. “Don’t let this hellhole run your life.”
“Don’t call it that,” I warned as I saw my dad emerge from the garage.
He wore a pristine pair of coveralls, which would no doubt be covered in grease by the middle of the morning. He made his way toward the car, wearing that weird grin he got whenever he was around vehicles that impressed him. “I thought I heard a set of wheels pull up that sounded a bit more Christina’s speed,” he joked.
“Yup. I’m finally free of the ‘Blue Bomb,’” she happily announced, referring to her mom’s hand-me-down robin’s-egg-blue Buick LeSabre.
“Four- or six-cylinder?” he asked.
Tina shrugged. “Hell if I know.” I jabbed her with my elbow.
“May I?” he asked, gesturing to the hood. Tina fumbled for the lever before finally popping it open. “Yup. There they are. Six bangers,” he announced before gently dropping the hood back down. “Now, Christina, be sure to drive carefully. Remember, you still only have a learner’s permit. And you’re carrying precious cargo,” he said, turning to me with a wink.
“Don’t worry, Mr. Jacobs. I’ll get Lisa to school safe. But more importantly—on time!” With that, she sped out of the lot with her foot heavy on the pedal. The tires kicked up gravel, spitting the tiny rocks high into the air. And when the car grabbed the pavement, the tires squealed, creating a small cloud of smoke from the burned rubber.