When Rick's girlfriend, Cassie, calls asking to meet at their favorite hangout near her home, he wonders what could be on her mind. Probably just another of her dramatic fantasies; he's used to them by now. Surely nothing more than that…right?
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Rick's girlfriend, Cassie, has called him asking to meet at their favorite hangout near her home. As he drives through the dark, rainy streets to the burger joint across town, Rick wonders what could be on her mind. Although she refused to talk over the phone, he assumes it involves one of her usual dramatic fantasies--or the upcoming prom. But while Rick is preoccupied with an exciting development in his own young life, Cassie has news of her own.
The old Chevy rumbled to life as soon as Rick turned the key. As usual, the radio was on and tuned to his favorite station of top ten hits; the system's four custom speakers blared loudly enough to announce his presence wherever he went, a refinement made possible by the elimination of the huge amplifier that had been installed under the dash on previous models.
This particular evening, he was not happy about leaving home. His life had taken an exciting turn and he had things to do before it changed forever, yet he could not ignore Cassie's plea that he meet with her now. He wondered what all the mystery was about; she had said only that it was important and that she had to see him. He had urged her to tell him about it over the phone, hoping to perhaps avert some interminable discussion over nothing; but she refused, instead insisting that they meet where they often did, in the third booth from the south side entrance of Benjy's Butter Burgers on Douglas.
He thought about her call as he slowly, albeit somewhat noisily, backed out of the driveway, feeling the rush he always did at the car's smoothly gliding movement; it was kind of like cruising on an air cushion.
What could it be that she didn't want to tell him over the phone? He wondered if this were not just another of the dramatic fantasies she indulged in from time to time, in which she was a damsel in distress facing dire consequences without quick and dramatic action on the part of the hero in her plots, a part usually relegated to Rick in the six months she had been his steady girl. During the past two semesters, she had tried on numerous occasions to entice him into trying out for the productions staged by the school's drama department, usually comical, ham-handed farces in which the hero (him, if he got the part) would ride (usually) to the rescue of the beautiful, imperiled heroine (Cassie, of course) just before the ax fell or the pyre was lit. But melodrama was Cassie's interest, and she was really quite good at it, having played nearly identical parts in three student-written-and-produced plays over the course of the school year. He himself would have none of it, believing, as Dirty Harry put it, "a man ought to know his limitations."
He had been working at Benjy's the night he and Cassie met, his thoughts at the time occupied with the new tailpipe he would buy with his week's wages. She had come in with a friend and sat at what they now considered "their" table. He noticed her right away; somehow she seemed different from the other girls who passed in and out of the burger joint. She was pretty, although most of them were pretty. But Cassie had a smile that lit up the room. When he brought their order and she looked up at him, he knew then he wanted to see her again—a lot. When she and her friend left, he ran after them to the parking lot and asked for her phone number. He remembered how her friend giggled when Cassie wrote it on the menu he didn't know he had in his hand. She was his girl from then on.
So what would he be saving her from now? The thought that it could be anything more profound than a choice of accessories for prom night never crossed his mind; in fact, it was the one thing that would be just like her. Now he thought about that event too, just two weeks away, as he turned right on Spring and headed east. Oncoming headlights created a near blinding glare through the slightly oily film that covered his windshield in spite of several attempts to clear it with the new washer fluid he had used the last time he filled the reservoir; he made a mental note to avoid that bargain brand in the future. But right now he was anxious to get this meeting over with, and also to surprise Cassie with his own news when he saw her.