“Give us a ride!” called out Ricky.
“Get on the hood!” yelled Bradley.
So we did.
The black Mercury had a long, rounded hood. You couldn’t really sit on it, so Ricky perched on the right fender, and I sat on the left fender, legs dangling by the front tire.
Bradley drove slowly. It was all very funny.
In the next block, a car was coming the other direction, and prudently stopped. Bradley drove on, very close to the other car. Very, very close to the other car, I saw, and swung my legs up out of the way, to avoid being crushed. As I tottered there on the front of Bradley’s car, with nothing to hold, and no purchase, he passed the other car with two inches to spare. The other driver gaped at the window.
Looking back, I saw Bradley’s jaw drop.
He slowed the car to a stop. Ricky and I scrambled off.
By then, Bradley was out of the car, as was the other driver, an older man. And was that man furious! He called Bradley an idiot, asked didn’t Bradley see him stopped there? In dumb embarassment, eyes downcast, Bradley shook his head.
Ricky and I looked at each other. Bradley hadn’t even seen the other car. It was luck, nothing more, that eased us past with no collision. Had he struck the car, of course, we’d have tumbled in front of Bradley’s moving car. Ricky might have escaped, to the side. Probably I’d not.
Yet here I am. Fifty years later. Because that’s just the way it happened, that day.
When the man left off his shouting and drove away, Bradley was in turn furious with us. He yelled at us and told us to beat it.
We beat it.
I didn’t tell my mother about it. I wasn’t quite certain, but figured it a bad idea. Late at night, I suddenly wondered if Ricky told his mom, because if he did, then my mother would probably find out. Early next day at school, I asked Ricky if he’d told his mom.
“Nope,” he said.