The top of the gravel driveway had a concrete section where Joe turned their car around so that it was facing forward. He had been inculcated to the school of backing into a parking space for almost a decade and felt uncomfortable when he parked front end in forward. With the car oriented in the proper direction Joe answered, “Okay. Let’s see who’s up, get packed ASAP and blow.”
The only Murray who was up at a few minutes after seven on a Sunday morning was three year old Noree, though Meghan sat in the family room with eyes unenthusiastically open sipping coffee. “Hey,” she whispered from her seat. “Tom’s still asleep but there’s coffee in the kitchen.”
Joe whispered, “Morning,” plopped down next to Noree and played dolls with her.
Misty asked, “Do you want coffee?”
“No, thanks” Joe replied. “I’m going to load up the car after I say good morning to Noree.”
Meghan’s eyes lifted but her cup remained in her lap as she said, “Refill, please.”
Misty smirked, took Meghan’s cup and walked into the kitchen to fetch coffee. After a minute Joe tousled Noree’s red curls, kissed the top of her head and said, “I’m going to load the bikes. Would you let Misty know please?”
He headed into the garage assuming Meghan’s grunt was a verbal affirmation. Getting six bikes on the little Cavalier was not an easy proposition. It was a long drive and getting things just right was important to Joe. As he worked he reminisced about the first time he had borrowed his parents’ car and driven to Misty’s apartment to take her out on the town.
He’d ridden his bicycle from New Britain over to Farmington and the Talcott Forest apartment complex where Misty shared a four bedroom townhouse with three other women numerous times but this was the first time he was literally in the driver’s seat. He walked to her apartment and Anne, one of the women who shared the townhouse, greeted him at the door. Misty had looked lovely in a flowing, below the knee, earth tone print skirt and off white, cheese cloth peasant blouse with a boat shoulder scooped neckline whose top started just south of her prominent deltoid muscles.
Joe had kissed her cheek and said, “You look lovely.”
Misty had scrunched up her face to indicate displeasure and responded, “Really? That’s all you’ve got?”
Joe’s head rocked back in surprise and he stammered, “Beautiful? Alluring? A vision beyond compare?”
Misty laughed and gently punched his shoulder. “Not that, lame brain! Thank you, you look nice too. I meant the kiss, if that’s what you call it.”
Joe’s perplexed look morphed into a grin as he kissed her more thoroughly this time. “Better?”
“Better. But we may need more practice.”
“I’m game,” he responded. “But in front of the kids?”
Anne rolled her eyes and said, “Have a good night, you two!”
“Thanks, Anne. See you tomorrow,” Misty responded on their way out.
“Night,” Joe said.
She had taken his offered arm as they walked around from her rear entrance apartment to the parking lot. He had walked her over the red Oldsmobile Delta 88 which he’d borrowed from his parents for the evening, unlocked and opened the passenger door, kissed Misty as she got in and hit the unlock button from her side.
“Fancy!” she said as she slid into the passenger seat. “Beats my Granada all to pieces!”
Joe closed her door and walked around to the driver’s side. “Yep. Pretty fancy. Beats my Trek 412 too!” he answered laughing as he got in. He put his seat belt on and started the car. “Uhm, you’re going to put on your seatbelt, right?”
“Why? Aren’t you a safe driver?” she asked teasingly as she complied with his request.
“I like to think I am but you should always wear your seat belt. Have you started feeling naked without it yet?”
“Ha! I don’t think that’s ever going to happen, but I’ll wear it for you.”
“Thanks! So you’ll wear it even when I’m not around?”
“You going somewhere?” she asked with raised eyebrows and a smile.
Joe had cocked his head to the side and brought his lips together in a thin line. “Even when I’m not around?”
“I suppose! But I am never going to feel naked without my seatbelt! I need to get a new car! That Granada’s on its last legs.”
“Time to retire it!?” he asked as he thrust his arms outward as punctuation for his poor pun.
“Ohh,” groaned Misty, “you need some better material.”
They had gone to an early movie and Joe had pulled through one parking space so that his car pointed out as opposed to backing in. They’d both enjoyed “The Great Muppet Caper” and afterwards he had driven over to the Arch Street Tavern. The parking lot was small and Joe was lucky to find a space. He diligently backed the large Oldsmobile into the parking space and then walked over to open Misty’s car door but she was already out of the car.