by Pearl-o

I. Chicago Transit Authority

Endless day of school, with the click click click of the big black clock you watch out of the corner of your eye.

"Stanley Kowalski!" the teacher shouts. "Pay attention!"

And you jump in your seat and you try to straighten up and fly right but your gaze drifts back after a minute. Click click click and then *brrrrinng!*, day's over, and you're free, out of your seat before it's even done.

You practically run the whole way home -- the guys try to stop you, see if you want to hang out, play ball or something, but you brush them off.

You drop off your backpack at your house, and Mom's there, so she makes you kiss her cheek and she gives you a cookie, but you're out of the house before you can get caught there for good. One block, three, five, six, and you're at a stop just a couple seconds before the bus pulls in.

It's crowded -- lots of old guys all talking to each other, and ladies with their arms full of shopping bags. You sit in one of the empty seats by the window. The girls across the aisle are only a year or two older than you, and they look over at you and then giggle to each other behind their hands, but you don't care.

You adjust your glasses and stare out the window at the city, but your pulse is racing and your foot is drumming against the floor.

Your stop's coming up, so you pull the cord and the light goes on and the driver stops and lets you off. Another block, three, six, eight and there's the park.

Green and sweet -- it's a nice afternoon, the place is full of people, but there's only one for you, and there she is. Sitting on that bench, cool and perfect and she looks up at you when you get close.

"Hi, Ray."

"Hi, Stella," you say, and when she smiles you think it's the best thing that's ever happened to you and you sit next to her and wonder what you can do to make her do it again.


II. 1967 Pontiac Gran Turismo Omologato

"For God's sake, it's just a car," Stella says finally, cutting you off in the middle of your sentence, and you have to stop and look at her in horror over the roof of the car.

You point at her and she rolls her eyes.

"Um, Stella, you know I love you, so I am going to pretend I did not just hear that, okay?"

Stella sighs and puts one hand on her hip -- you're not sure how she can be bored of the GTO, but you've never really understood Stella. You make a decision and cross around the car to stand by her, next to the passenger door. You put your arm around her and she leans in against you.

"Just ... look at her," you say, and you wait a second to give her a chance.

"Okay," Stella says after a bit.

"Okay." You nod, and think about it a little more. "Okay. This car, this car is not just a car. This car is, is us. Think about it. You and me going out dancing. You and me driving around. You and me getting jobs and moving out." You pull her a little closer. "You and me and the backseat," you whisper into her ear, and she swats at you with a laugh, but then she lets you kiss her and push her against the door.

You got the girl, you got the wheels -- your life, you think, is right on track.


III. 1971 Buick Riviera

New name, new life, new car, new everything. No more Stanley Raymond Kowalski.

Bye-bye. Won't be needing him around anymore.

It's a nice car -- the real guy, he took good care of it. It's number three, you remember as you sit down in the driver's seat. Explosions for number one and number two.

You have the key in your hand, but you're not ready to put it in, not yet. You take a deep breath and then another and then you rest your head against the steering wheel for a minute.

"Okay," you say, lifting up your head. "We're good to go." You put the key in the ignition and start the car, and you're ready to head to the station.

Hello, Ray Vecchio.


IV. 1967 Pontiac Gran Turismo Omologato

"So what you're saying is, Arnold would have turned himself in anyway, just out of his guilty conscience."

"I believe so, yes," Fraser says, opening the door to let you out first. Dief runs ahead of both of you, straight to the car.

"That's just stupid, Fraser," you say, and Fraser shakes his head and puts his hat back on. "He was a bad guy! He nearly blew our heads off when we brought him in."

"Well, yes, Ray, but I think he does have a strong moral sense inside him, and it would have come to light eventually."

You snort and say, "Eventually, yeah, after he'd tried knocking off a couple more people."

"Now, I think--" Fraser starts, but you roll your eyes and tune him out.

You dig into your pockets for the keys as you get closer to the GTO -- Dief's waiting outside already. You start to unlock the door, but then you stop.

"Hey, Fraser. Catch," you say, and you toss the keys over -- nice catch, easy as pie. Fraser's good at that, moving in synch with you. "You drive."

"All right," Fraser says, and you switch over to get into the passenger seat.

"Chinese tonight?" he asks.

"Sounds good," you say, and you lean your head back against the seat and wait to see how bad Fraser's driving's going to suck this time.


V. Dogsled

"Are you sure about this?" Fraser says, and he's nervous but he's excited at the same, you're pretty sure. And that's good, because that's how you're feeling, too. "It's not too late to cancel."

But it is, you know this, and you're sure. "Yeah, I'm sure. I want that adventure. Find that reaching out hand." You make a gesture with your own hand and Fraser smiles at you and you smile back.

"All right," Fraser says, and you settle down on the sled and stare out into the mountains. The sun's rising, new day, new stuff all around, and you're ready and willing.

Off you go.


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