When I Turned Sixteen Mother Let Uncle Kenny From Chicago Take Me For A Ride

1. Uncle Kenny let the top down on the Chrysler,
fedora protecting his tender scalp.

When I got into the car
he threw his arm over the bucket seat,
fingers grazing the back of my skimpy tube top.

2. PCH, left on Sunset, he took Deadman’s Curve
like a pro, then the slow cruise to
downtown. Like he’d been here before.

July baked my bare shoulders.
Like Uncle Kenny, I burned easily.

3. Sunset ended at Olivera Street.
My uncle chose La Golondrina Cafe.
I ordered the cheese enchiladas.
He ordered a double Margarita, extra salt.

Things I Learned At Lunch:
Dress Well.
Travel Light.
Marry Up.

My mom says you’re good for nothing, I said.

Uncle Kenny slid so close in the booth
his trousers tickled my thigh.

I once made love to Hedy Lamar,
he confessed.

He ran his tongue around the rim of the
margarita glass, licked the salt. His
blue eyes stared right past me.

When the mariachis reached
our table, Uncle Kenny pulled me from the booth,
spun me around the restaurant.

Like all big men, he was light on his feet.

4. The overpriced gold and ruby chandelier earrings
serenaded us from the store window.

5. How much damage, my mother reasoned,
can he do my girl in one afternoon?

6. When Uncle Kenny died soon after
in flagrante delicto, no one was surprised.

I heard it was his heart, my mother said,
but I know he didn’t have one.

She clipped his obituary out of the paper,
pinned it to the refrigerator with a magnet.

In my heart I knew differently.

I drove PCH north, left on Sunset,
an Uncle Kennyesque fedora
shading my eyes.

At Dead Man’s Curve
I threw my head back like I’d seen
Hedy Lamar do in the movies.

My chandelier earrings tinkled in the wind.

Alexis Rhone Fancher