Duke's personal life vignette #2 (what a ride it's been)
"Life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing"



Carmen was as pretty as Salma Hyeck

It was 1957, and San Pablo's Rancho Drive-in movie was an exciting place, because it was in California, and yours truly had hardly ever left his little hometown in Washington state.  The girl behind the goodie counter was outrageously good looking with lovely brown eyes and beautiful raven locks.

I was a confident, good looking teen, and smiled my best.

"Can I get you something?" Carmen said with a gorgeous smile.

Damn. Was this a California girl or what? I thought. "Small popcorn and a coke," I said with great charm. After all, I was a charming boy.  Big blue eyes, nice hair, the works.

Carmen (I heard someone say her name) turned to get the goodies. She obviously was beautiful top to toe. I mean really beautiful, kind of like Salma Hyeck . When she came back, she set the stuff on the counter, and I paid her.

"What's your name?" the beautiful Carmen asked me.

"Duke, I said.

"You new here?"

"Pretty much. I came down from Washington to live with my dad."

"He live in San Pablo?" she asked.

"Yep. He and my Uncle Art live together right now. Dad's gonna get his own place soon. I looked directly into Carmen's eyes. Beautiful brown eyes. "Would you like to go out with me sometime?" I blurted.

The possibility of outright rejection loomed in my mind.  You are dumb, Freeman, I thought. But the query was out, and Carmen was just looking at me.

"You‚ go out with ME?" she said with apparent confusion and amazement.. You go with ME?"

"Are you kidding? I'd consider myself very lucky to be going out with you," I told Carmen.

"You sure? I mean, you haven't noticed anything different about me?" she continued.

I was a bit nervous. Was this Carmen' s way of rejecting guys she didn't like? "Carmen you're beautiful. Any guy would love to be with you."

Carmen's eyes opened wide. "Of course! I'd love to go out with you, too!" she said.

Bam. I was overjoyed.‚ "What about Saturday, here at the drive in?‚" I said.

"Sure! I hardly ever get to see the shows, even though I work here! " She gave me her address. It wasn' t really far from my uncle's house.

I grabbed the goodies, gave her a big smile, and went back to my car, which was already inside the theater. Carmen had let two different parties wait while she talked with me!

Saturday rolled around, and I picked Carmen up at her home. She lived there with her parents, and the house was nicer than Uncle Art's. We chit-chatted as we drove to the drive-in. She was bubbly and easy to talk with. I was one happy boy as I paid for our tickets and moved my car forward.

My window was still rolled down. Then, from out of nowhere, a swarthy guy lunged forward, almost sticking his head in the car. He held a small chrome colored cylinder in front of my face, and was yelling with spittle and rage.

"Joo don' speak Spanish? Joo know what this is, focker? Do you focker? It's a focking dynamite cap and I'll set it off and blow off your pretty face, focker. Carmen' s MY girl, focker, and she don' go out with no Gringo fock like you!"

"But I didn't..." I stammered. The deadly cylinder was inches from my eyes.

"Why you goin' with this gringo focker, Carmen? You like pretty white boys? You hurting me bad! I gonna blow us all up godammit, Carmen!."

"Raul! No! No! I'll get out and go with you. I just made a mistake. He's a very nice boy! See? I'm sitting 'way over here! We didn't do nothin!"

And then the palaver continued in Spanish, which I didn't understand at the time.  I was, after all, an innocent, young Washington apple unaware of stuff like tense race relations.

"Then get the fock out of his car and I won't blow him up," said Raul. He moved his head into the light. The skinny little man had a well trimmed mustache, long curly hair combed up like an Elvis, dark skin, and black eyes that burned like little coals in his head.

With no ceremony, Carmen got out of her side of my old Chevy and shut the door behind her. She went around to Raul, put her arm around him and said, I' m sorry mijo, the white boy‚ he just seemed so nice."

Raul put his little chrome cylinder in his pocket as they walked off, each with an arm around one another. How could a dork like that land a girl like Carmen?

Carmen was a Mexican!


Spoke Spanish! That's what she had been getting at during our first meeting when she seemed surprised I'd ask her out.

Seems to me it was an Elvis movie that I watched all by myself at the drive-in. I wondered how that asshole Raul could have known Carmen and I would be driving through the gate at that exact time. Maybe someone in Carmen's family tipped him off. But I really didn't need to jump into that tar pit at this point in my life.

I never saw Carmen again---though over the years I've dealt with a few Rauls.

Click to read vignette #3