The Spot
Steve Gutierrez

There in our city, not too far from our houses and the park and the whole conglomeration of city hall and library and post office, sat a squat building with drab gray walls and dark windows at the very top. Headquarters for an electronics firm, it employed many people and saw them go home at night. They drove down the long ramp to the street below in a slow line with their fog lamps on, escaping the parking lot with quick turns and jets of speed. Then it was empty and quiet up there. All the kids knew that because we trekked up the same long ramp either alone (how brave of us! We bragged about it later and made up stories of kidnappers in capes coming after us) or in raucous groups to check out the view and mess around on the asphalt. We ran around playing tag and riding bikes when we were younger and then changed our game when we were older.
We went up there to make out with girls in the spot. The spot was a tightly wedged corner by a buzzing electrical storage shed that overlooked the city, a metal structure vibrating your back when you stood against it. The parking lot stretched out in all directions; it was wide, black pavement marked with yellow lines.
And I held my first ass there, cupping that handful of delicious flesh, and almost got a hickey I pulled away from scared and laughed nervously about. I dug my face in the collar of my heartthrob's pea coat as I grabbed another handful of ass and told her, "Not now."
We kissed for hours.
The moon was up.
Across the street the library glowed behind a bank of trees. People came out the front doors. Groups of two or three kids tripped along the pathway and got lost in the shrubbery that formed a kind of dome. Then they emerged at the other end, goofing off and yelling.
It was a bright, crisp, winter night.
Below me my neighborhood spread out. Small houses with porch lights on and an occasional car backing out of a driveway and heading up the street and stopping at a stop sign made up the scene. The Sheriff's Department helicopter thumped away in its nightly survey. It shone its spotlight in the parking lot of the bank, a good many blocks away, and then buzzed over the freeway, which I could barely see, busy with cars. Streaks of red and white whisked behind my neighborhood.
Rosewood Park, it was called, and I liked it, I loved it.
The traffic from the industrial highway, Washington Boulevard, thrummed in my ears, and soothed. Dark factories lay beyond it. A few smokestacks pumped away in the distance, garishly lit up and sending clouds of smoke into the air, all blue and coiled.
The bank rose into the sky, a stolid wall of windows blazing in offices where work went on, a good, tall building anchoring our neighborhood. At one end of the tract SANYO BANK shone in huge green neon and at the other end HEYER ELECTRONICS glimmered on a sign above me.
We kissed all night until she had to go home.
"I have to go home now."
Her name was Julia and I was in love with her as much as I've been in love with anybody in my life, it occurs to me now. And after we broke off, parted lips that were wet and moist with saliva, I walked her home to the corner at the far end of the block.
"Bye." She gave me a quick peck on my cheek and hurried home with her arms crossed under her breasts.
I watched her go away and then went to the park, fast, where the field lights were still on above the green turf. I found my friends at the end we hung out at, clustered like morons, and jumped into a quick game of basketball before the park closed, feeling excited. I was frantic and fresh.
"What's wrong with you, Steve?"
"Nothing, man. I feel great."
We ended the game and sat on the bench a long time in the night, defying the hour. We stayed talking in the dark. I couldn't tell them what was on my mind but I could explain, rapidly, what was wrong with the world. There wasn't enough light; curfew came too soon.
They agreed and nodded their heads. We picked up our stuff and headed out of there, across the wide asphalt, and hooked on to a cement spur. We kept on solemnly, bouncing a basketball against the sidewalk. Great echoes reverberated off the handball courts. We wondered how long they would last for us, trooping past them. We started a game of sorts, counting the seconds.
"One. . . Two. . ." It was that way, silly and serious.
Following the path with the basketball our guide, we curved our way home under the moon, the gorgeous moon hanging above us, and made small bets, reconsidered.
"No, no. . ."
"Where were you at tonight, dude?"
"You wish you knew, ha? I was at the library first. . ."
"Shut up, they're dying."
We argued the last stretch, straining to hear. We couldn't catch it anymore, the faint echoes sounding in the night, the loud hollow booms diminishing to a muffled vibrato, an airy remnant.