The first year she did this, I did a daily haiku. The second year, I did a daily 100-word drabble. This year, it's not the form, but the substance; I'm going to try to do a story set in each year of the Impala's existence, following the Impala through history. Since we know from In The Beginning that John didn't acquire the Impala until April 30, 1973, the first several years won't include any Winchesters, but I hope they still might be interesting and enjoyable.
I may not succeed in doing a story a day and finishing in time for the season five premiere, but I do promise to complete the cycle of 42 stories traveling through 42 years.
And here's where it begins.
The Impala Chronicles (Forty-some Years In A Life), Chapter 1
June 12, 1967: Black And White
The Impala hardtop’s showroom shine caught and reflected every bit of the long Milwaukee summer twilight, chrome gleaming like quicksilver on liquid black ink. Rosa had to admit it made an imposing statement in their driveway, but it wasn’t quite what she’d been expecting.
“I thought you had your eye on that red Bel Air station wagon?”
Clarence slid an arm around her waist and squeezed, his eyes still fondly on the brand-new car.
“The wagon was already sold. And when I saw this one, well – wait until you see the trunk, Rosa! It’s practically got a wagon’s storage space. And there’s enough room in the back seat that the kids won’t be punching each other all the time.”
“Planning a long drive?” she teased gently, and felt him stiffen. She elbowed him in the ribs, and when he looked down, startled, she smiled. “We should.”
His confusion was plain.
“I thought we’d agreed we shouldn’t chance it.”
“That was yesterday. This is today.” At his look of blatant non-comprehension, she chuckled. “You didn’t have the radio on at all today, did you? You missed the headline news. We’re legal, honey. In all fifty states. The Supreme Court said so. So that job with NASA in Huntsville? You should take it.”
He kept on looking at her as if her words didn’t make sense, his blue eyes questing for meaning in her brown ones. An open window somewhere poured the Beatles’ new release Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band into the summer warmth like a soundtrack for the day. She laced her dark fingers in his pale ones and spoke as earnestly as she could.
“All state laws banning interracial marriages are unconstitutional. That’s what the Supreme Court said. And on the NBC news tonight, David Brinkley said White House watchers expect Johnson will nominate Thurgood Marshall to the Court tomorrow. The first black Justice on the Supreme Court – wouldn’t that be something? The world is changing, Clarence. It’s changing. It’s the Summer of Love. And we’re part of it.”
He squeezed her hands and leaned against the car’s solid flank, needing the support as the ground shifted beneath his feet. The news yesterday had been race riots down in Tampa, Florida. The news the day before was a cease-fire ending the Israeli/Arab Six Day War, the one he’d thought might tip the balance into a world war, not just the “action” in Viet Nam with the U.S., China, and Russia heating up the Cold War through the proxy of other, smaller countries, playing up both sides of the domino game.
And now he and his wife were legal everywhere, not just where they happened to live. Still …
“Just because our marriage is legal doesn’t mean we wouldn’t have problems,” he warned. “Segregation is still big down south; just look at the new governor in Georgia. Alabama won’t be easy for you or the kids. It won’t be safe.”
“No place is safe,” she answered. “There were race riots in Philly last month. Heck, there could be riots here. There’s no discrimination-free zone.”
“The job’s not certain, either,” he said. “After that fire on the pad, who knows what’ll happen to the Apollo program?”
“Are you determined to talk yourself out of this?” Exasperated, she shook him. “Just last month, they announced the crew for Apollo 7; no way will it not happen. We’re going to the moon, and soon. That’s been your dream ever since Kennedy’s speech, back when you were still working on your degree; it’s been our dream. You’ll never forgive yourself if you let this chance pass you by, and sooner or later, you’d resent us for it if you gave it up now just because you married a black woman and had colored kids! I know it’ll be hard, but that’s why we have to do it. Change is up to us. And I was wrong last night when I said no, when I said we should play it safe. I was wrong.” She framed his face in her hands. “The NASA job is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We should take it. We should make history.”
The unseen radio cut from the Beatles to the Doors’ Light My Fire, and Clarence finally smiled.
“Sounds like fate agrees with you. I guess we’ll build rocket engines.” He swept her up into his arms and kissed her soundly, the heady taste of promise and danger on her lips, and fiercely hoped he was doing the right thing. When he set her back down to lean against the car, he felt the euphoria of risk still running through his veins, and grinned.
“Black really is my favorite color.”
Author Note: Couldn’t resist setting this in Milwaukee in June and including the red 1967 Chevy Bel Air station wagon that my Dad bought that summer. The landmark Supreme Court case on interracial marriage was Loving v. Virginia. And Rosa was right; no place was safe. There were race riots in Milwaukee from July 30 through August 2, and the city was totally shut down from August 1-10 to get the violence under control. People forget how recent the civil rights movement really was …