“That old piece of junk! Man, it doesn’t even have windshield wipers! What’re you gonna do with that pile of crap, Core?!”
Corey hears his big brother’s words echoing in his ears throughout his school-day and he finally tells himself that he will quell Nate’s voice once and for all. He is going to buy that old Chevy from Mr. Bankman, fix her up, and name her “Judy.” “Pretty Judy . . .” He has been saying this in his head for the last three days. “Pretty Judy.”
Judy needs plenty of love and care: new tires, new windshield wipers, a new engine, spark plugs, front and rear-end alignment, an alternator & starter, and a bit of bodywork, and paint. Corey has been working with his dad at “Cruz & Cars,” their family mechanic shop after school and on the weekends, so he knows a thing or two about building a broken down vehicle back up to a recognizable and suitable state.
He is ready.
Midnight blue — that’s the shade he has chosen to paint Judy. He is even thinking about putting whitewall tires on her too. His mind is racing with all the things he’ll do for Judy to get her ready for their senior dance which is six months away. Phaedra, the Jamaican beauty in his Chemistry and Literary Arts classes, would love him, he thought. He plans to ask her out. Nate’s voice rings loudly in his ears again. He cannot avoid it.
“Yeah, so . . . You fix her up and then what? You think Phaedra gonna like you just cuz you’ll be pulling up in some big-body ’78 Chevy truck painted midnight blue? Man, you can’t even sit two seats away from her without sweating. And, Judy?! You’re gonna put all that hard work into that truck only to name it Judy?! Ay Dios Mio. Kiddo, you’ve got a lot to learn and I’m gon’ learn ya.”
Corey sits in Chemistry class, two seats away from Phaedra. He takes brief moments to steal a glance at her. She is a Goddess, he thinks — something that took so much time to create. Every piece and fragment of her being are well-crafted, she is art in motion. He says a silent prayer. He will ask her to the senior dance. She will say yes. She will say. She will . . .
“Hey, Phaedra. Um, gotta minute?”
“Sure, what’s up, Core?”
“So, the senior dance is coming up and . . .” Corey fidgets with his shirt collar and rubs his sweaty hands together. “I am hoping you don’t already have a date. I mean . . . Would you mind accompanying me to the dance?”
His world shakes a bit as he waits for her to respond. He wipes his brow, takes in a long, deep breath, and blinks twice to make sure he is not dreaming. She opens her mouth and an angel speaks, “Sure. Why not!”
After school, Corey races to his dad’s shop and begs him for $800.00. He was short of the $2,100.00 Mr. Bankman quoted him for the Chevy. He tells his dad about Phaedra — about how the sun sits on her eyelids and lights up the world from her view. It only takes his dad three seconds to retrieve the cash from the safe. He is proud of his youngest son — he has a plan and is carrying it out.
“Mijo, escuchame. If she turns your belly and your heart beats ten times faster when you see her. She’s gonna be your first love. Ten cuidado.”
Be careful. He will be.
He buys Judy from Mr. Bankman on a Friday, five months to the date from the senior dance and builds his world around bringing something that is dead back to life. He thinks to himself, “Dad was wrong. Phaedra is not my first love. Judy is.”