Getting out to Six Flags Over Mid-America means a 20-minute road trip for your humble servant, often at the hands of my parents because I don't have my own ride yet. Often I bum a ride with Michael, even if it means I have to go in an hour earlier because of differences in our start times.
Stephanie is in dire straights on one night in July 1992. She doesn't have a ride home after her shift ends at 7, and if she doesn't get home by 8:30, her mother will make her quit the job. The two of them have been fighting because Steph has gone out a little often -- and a little too late -- with her Six Flags friends.
I originally don't want to do it, because she lives out in Arnold, adding at least another half-hour to my journey home, and I've never been out there in the first place. My borrowed family car is running low on gas. But when I heard about the "or else" part from a foreperson, I step up to help.
She has to stop at Taco Bell for munchies. I have to stop at Texaco for gas. But I get her back home by 8:30, right on the mark. I make the trip from I-44 to 141 to 55 to Robertson Road and back without a hitch. I just hope she doesn't think of me as a total git in the car. I'm not good at small talk, especially around girls. Mike tells me he's taken her home several times.
The next day, rumors are going all through the backroom about the night trip and your humble servant making a move or this or that. Then another rumor goes around that Steph's mother is making her quit -- not because I didn't get her home on time, but because she came home an hour past her curfew on another night, skunk drunk.
However, Steph hasn't really quit, the rumor goes on. She's continuing to go to work, just telling Mom she's "out."
One morning, the phone rings at 7am, and my mother answers. It's a collect call from Stephanie. Mom says she doesn't know anybody by that name, at which time the girl overrides the operator on the line and asks for Michael. He takes the call.
Stephanie wants Mike to give her a ride to Six Flags, which he either can't or won't give her. When she hears this, she chokes up, but Mike holds firm. He's getting tired of running her around on her run-around. And she isn't helping with the gas money, either.