I loved my brother Jim. He was two years older than me, and had been a pretty decent older brother for me. He was only a week away from marrying Denise, his high school sweetheart. I was happy for him, for both of them, but he was asking me for something I really didn't want to give him.
"You have to lend it to me, Rick. My old clunker won't make it all the way out to California and back. It can be our wedding present from you."
"I said no, Jim. I worked every day I could for five summers just to save up enough to buy it. I put in more than a hundred hours of work fixing it up like it is now. The paint job alone cost me nine hundred dollars. Besides, didn't I already loan you guys five hundred to help you pay for your honeymoon? When you borrowed it, you told me that my loaning that much to you would be my wedding present for you."
We had been going over the same ground now for the past two days. As the wedding date moved closer, Jim kept getting more insistent about me loaning him my car. Maybe if he'd been a more careful driver, or if he'd ever shown the slightest interest in taking good care of any of his stuff. He wasn't though, and had two traffic accidents and three or four tickets to attest to the former. Everything Jim owned got worn out or otherwise destroyed by his careless neglect. He'd blown up the engine of the first car he ever had by failing to check or change any of the fluids. It had overheated and he still kept driving it until he blew the head.
I agreed with him that his own car probably wouldn't make the trip. I suggested to him that he go out and rent something that would. I was fairly certain that either my parents or Denise's would have been willing to help out with the cost. Jim wouldn't listen. He was already upset with all the static he and Denise had been given over their decision to get married so young. They were both just nineteen years old. Denise wasn't pregnant or anything like that. They just wanted to get married, and didn't want to listen to anyone else's opinion on the matter. In many ways, Denise was just like Jim. They both had to have whatever they wanted, just as soon as they started wanting it.
Jim finally seemed to give up, shouting at me that he hoped I wouldn't bother coming to his wedding as he angrily stormed out of the kitchen. I thought that was the end of it. I knew he wouldn't stay mad at me, and figured the whole thing would blow over as soon as he found somebody else to lend him their car.
It was two days later when Denise came over, seeking me out.
"Rick, you don't realize how upset you've made Jimmy over this whole car thing. Why don't you just let us use your car? We'll take care of it. It won't be but two weeks before we come back here with it."
I liked Denise. I always had. She was nice looking, and had probably spent as much time at our house as her own during the past four years that she and Jim had been going together. She was certainly better looking than any girl I'd ever gone out with. She was nice too, not stuck up like a lot of the really pretty girls were.
"Denise, I already told you. That car is really important. It's the only thing I own that means anything at all to me. You know how Jim is? He'll either wreck the car, throw my clutch or transmission out, or else put a rod through my oil pan. He's so hard on machinery that it seems like its wrong to even let him drive anything. My 'Vette' is not the kind of car he should be allowed to drive."
"He isn't that hard on cars. He's just been having a run of bad luck, that's all. It would mean a lot to both of us if you could see your way clear to doing this for us. It would start our wedded life out in such a positive way. Can I tell Jimmy that you've reconsidered?"
"You can tell him whatever you want to, but there is no way I'm loaning out my car to him. Nothing you could say would ever change my mind, so you can just save your breath."
"Kimberly Hoskins. Is there anything she could do to get you to change your mind about this?"
Kimberly was Denise's best friend. She was eighteen years old, and had always been like my fantasy dream girl. She and Denise both knew that I was crushing hard for her, and had been for about three or four years now. It was unfair for Denise to bring her name up like this.
"I know you're just teasing, but I wouldn't loan Jim the car, not even for a date with Kimberly."
"That wasn't what I asked you. I asked if there was anything she could do to change your mind about lending us your car? Kim knows how much us having your car would mean to me and your brother. Unlike you, she's willing to make some sacrifices to help make our wedding everything it ought to be."
I didn't believe what Denise was implying. My first reaction was to tell Denise that even Kimberly couldn't say or do anything to change my mind. I almost said as much, but something held me back from doing so.
"I don't want to talk about this anymore. I've said no, and that's what I meant. I'm sorry this isn't what you'd hoped to hear, but my mind is made up already."
"She told me she'd have sex with you, if that was what it would take. You two could get together at the reception. You could use our room at the hotel if you wanted to."
My parents were getting Jim and Denise a room at the hotel where the reception was being held. They weren't leaving until the morning after the wedding.