Savage Flashback

Sunset. Sitting in a high desert diner with my parents. Our blue Ford with the fins visible from our booth, gleam of warm neon coming on. Dad gives me a coin, helps me feed it into the jukebox controller at the table, shows me how to punch the buttons. I do so with difficulty. Magically, “Leavin’ on Jet Plane” by Peter, Paul, and Mary comes on, the room swimming in sweet melancholy. I don’t understand the song, but I feel its sadness. Then I look across the room and see a serviceman in uniform. He’s frozen, a tightness in his jaw, his fork and knife poised above his steak. He doesn’t move the entire time the song plays, then, when it’s over, he wipes his mouth and walks outside. The door slowly closes on its own. I look back to our table. My mom’s gazing out the window, her hand on her chin. My dad’s looking to the side, at the floor. No one’s eating.

I don’t know what’s going on. As it was, I’d punched the wrong buttons. I wanted to hear “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honeybunch)” by the Four Tops.

About Steve Patterson

Steve Patterson has written over 50 plays, with works staged in Portland, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Austin, Tampa, and other U.S. cities as well as in Canada and New Zealand. His works include: Waiting on Sean Flynn, Next of Kin, Farmhouse, Malaria, Shelter, Altered States of America, The Continuing Adventures of Mr. Grandamnus, Bluer Than Midnight, Bombardment, Dead of Winter, and Delusion of Darkness. In 2006, his bittersweet Lost Wavelengths was a mainstage selection at Portland Center Stage's JAW/West festival, and, in 2008, won the Oregon Book Award (he also was an OBA finalist in 1992 and 2002). In 1997, he won the inaugural Portland Civic Theatre Guild Fellowship for his play Turquoise and Obsidian. View all posts by Steve Patterson

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