Oh Jimmy Mack when are you comin' back.
The song kept going through her mind, even when she was trying to get to sleep. Night after night, he was not there and the old rock song from the sixties would not budge. She knew the lyrics by heart, of course, and had the Martha and the Vandellas recording to listen to. Jimmy was her obsession. He was everything she'd always looked for in a boyfriend, or almost. That was because she didn't care about the other things he did when they weren't together. She knew about those, but she didn't care. She wasn't jealous and she was hopeful he'd calm down when he was older. She hoped she could exert some positive influence on him.
Oh Jimmy Mack when are you comin' back.
My arms are missing you,
My lips feel the same way too.
Yes, she definitely missed him. He was out of town, apparently something to do with a cousin or an uncle who lived thirty miles away, on Route 31. He hadn't wanted to tell her much about the matter, but she was not about to get suspicious. Maybe he was lying, maybe not. She didn't need to know.
I tried so hard to be true, like I promised to do.
But this boy keeps comin' around,
tryin' to wear my resistance down.
She wondered if he was jealous. He'd never said or done anything that made her think he didn't want her to be around other guys. However, he did have this way about him that led her to think he could be (jealous) and that it might be a way to get him back, keep him closer to home. They were ways, of course.
Jimmy, Jimmy, Oh Jimmy Mack, you better hurry back.
He calls me on the phone about three times a day.
She wished she could tell him that, test the waters, so to speak. Let him know there was a piranha ready to strike. She might end up under the spell of some other boy. Well, Jimmy wasn't a boy in her eyes. Not with his dark jaw and black, short-sleeved shirt that he rolled up still further to show off his muscles and to show off the cigs he had bought to smoke (illegally). Her eyes were always drawn to his arms. His eyes, not so much, because they were expressionless. His hair, well, it was the style, after all, and in that sense he reminded her of Elvis Presley.
She was pretty sure Jimmy had tattoos in places yet to be seen by her. It would only be a matter of time before she found out, she thought. She knew his way of thinking. He'd dropped out of school last year when he turned seventeen, but she was three years younger and was hopeful their love would last. Still, the phone calls from his friends... She was afraid of what might happen if he found out...
They might even get into a fight. Over her. But she loved Jimmy so much. With his black, slicked-back hair and ducktail, his sideburms, other facial and chest hair, he hardly needed to wear black levis, black t-shirts, and low black leather boots with scrubbed heels. Who wouldn't enjoy the attention? That had nothing to do with how much in love she and Jimmy were, or at least she was.
Now my heart's just listening to, what he has to say
But this loneliness I have within,
Keeps reaching out to be his friend
Jimmy didn't seem to get lonely, but she was always missing him. It wasn't easy to turn away what the other fellow was offering. And not just one, but two or three. Of his friends. It was getting so hard to turn a cold shoulder to them. To his friends, as they said. Jimmy seemed to have forgotten about her and he was only a few towns over. He was the one with the motorcycle. She didn't even have a driving permit yet. If she could drive, though...
Jimmy, Jimmy, Oh Jimmy Mack, you better hurry back.
Need your loving, need your loving.
I wanna say I'm not getting any stronger,
I can't hold out very much longer
Trying hard, to be true...
Is she talking to Jimmy or to herself? Why not just go and hook up with somebody?
Right, teenagers didn't do that back then. Easy to forget. So long ago.
But, Jimmy he talks just as sweet as you.
Actually, it was they in her case, she thought as she sang. They were sweet-talking her, not just one. Still, it was a great song and such a coincidence that it came out right when she was going steady with a boy, a real stud her friends used to call him and she'd blush, because her guy had exactly the same name as the title. Rather amazing, when she thought about it. Except when she thought about it, the lyrics weren't in the girl's favor. She's alone and waiting anxiously for her - her! - Jimmy's return. She didn't want people to think she was in the same situation as the song girl. Her Jimmy would come back.
The song was a young woman's desire, not simply for another person but also to find self-expression, taken not in the cheap dimestore definition but rather in terms of making up her mind, being thoughtful, mindful, something like that.
[Narrator's Note: The last paragraph was not written by the girl in the song, Jimmy Mack's girlfriend. She wasn't that type of thinker. I am the Narrator and I wrote it. Of course it was meant to encourage Jimmy Mack's girlfriend to be more than just a girlfriend to the center of a very small universe. I'm sure you understand what I mean. Girlfriend wasn't the type to think for herself, or want to.]
[Further Narrator's Note: I suspect that by now all you readers are sufficiently bored with hearing about teenage lovers. After all, everybody's dealt with it, more or less. First love and nonsense like that. Anyway, with that suspicion about boredom occupying my thoughts, I have decided to call it quits, stop writing about them. Whether they end up living happily ever after is irrelevant. May all of us live happily ever after.]
I thought you my readers might like to know that I have an update on the Jimmy Mack and his girlfriend saga. You know? The one nobody could stay awake to read when I was hot on the story before? Well, things apparently got strange. Girlfriend (let's just call her Nancy) fell more and more in love and Jimmy the Man felt trapped. People say he left because Nancy had told him something he didn't like. He had left at high speed, somehow never getting pulled over by a state trooper. Maybe the troopers were afraid of his biking skills?
It seems Jimmy got almost to the west coast and had lost contact with his (former?) girlfriend, but then for some reason he started slowly retracing his route, as if the motorcycle were thinking with him, the two of them discussing the future. Somewhere along the highway, Jimmy was able to get to a phone to call her. She was still too hurt to forgive him, and let the phone drop, losing the connection while reaching for a tissue.
Jimmy was at first at a loss as to how to proceed. He had all his cash on him and could afford to choose whether to keep going or turn around. Insist or give up. He didn't like to lose, but he also didn't seem like the same Jimmy, and his friends would never recognize him if they were to happen by. They wouldn't though, because he'd had suspicions of their faithfulness to him in his absence. As a result, he calmly but firmly had broken ties with the guys.
Jimmy Mack suddenly discovered he was a man on his own. All alone. He had only just now realized that his Girlfriend could be his companion, even under conditions that could be uncomfortable. Jimmy needed her. He would make it up to her, come Hell or High Water.
She did not need him, apparently. She had said "no" on the phone and the conversation had died. He knew only that.
So he didn't know she had had second thoughts, yet had no way to contact her Jimmy. It must have been a heart-wrenching scene, watching tearful Girlfriend sobbing to get her man back. Split screen: Jimmy, desperate, pushing his big-man bike to the limit, knowing exactly its potential and going beyond it.
Parts of this story are true. I knew the song cited in the story. I don't think I liked it much, but that's irrelevant. The reason why I still remember is relevant, however, and true.
Having established that the song is a real song and that I really used to sing it and not like it much, we (I) ought to clarify if I invented the characters or if they really existed. Jimmy Mack actually existed, although nobody was ever allowed to call him anything but Jim. First and last names, both monosyllabic, like knives, quick, sharp, done. I knew Jim, from a distance, because for a while we went to the same high school. The song hadn't come out yet, so I never connected real Jim Mack with musical Jimmy Mack. Until later, which is my problem.
That would all have to happen post-... I almost said post-mortem, but that was simply trying to be funny. Bad joke, probably.
By now we have verified, through me, that I exist, the song exists, and Jim(my) Mack exists.
Not so fast. We have yet to find out what played out when Jimmy returned to town, as he ultimately decided to do. This is a denouement I hope you are interested in. We have built up the tension a bit and the lovers are rushing toward or away from each other. We hope they can work things out, don't we?
The fact is, I cannot verify that there was a Girlfriend to whom Jimmy was rapidly returning, drawn by a dreadful urge. I can verify that the song with his name only existed sometime after this specific summer, because it was in fact, June or July when things happened.
Unfortunately, I can also verify, because I read it in the paper, that as Jim or Jimmy was flying along the Macedon Road toward Girlfriend's place just two miles away, his excess blood alchohol and that of the driver of the monstrous tractor-trailor in front of him considerably over the limit.
Do not look so stunned. Back then there were no seatbelts, and certainly no drunk driving laws. During the holidays, gas station attendants would serve small cups of snow-favored, rummed eggnog to customers. It wasn't illegal. I was very little, but I saw it happen. It was no big deal then.
The story is that the tall tractor-trailer had to slow down quickly because of something on the highway, a break-down or deer, who knows now? Plus, the driver was, as they used to say, ploughed, and his judgment more than a little impaired. Jim's judgment had an alcohol impairment to match, and his view was blocked by the huge cubicle ahead of him.
Without realizing, Jim kept inching forward, determined to pass the trailer on the next curve and maybe cut his arrival time by fifteen seconds. That was when either the trailer came to a dead halt at last, or Jim's brakes simply gave out from the long trek across numerous states and back. Both theories exist and are probably less important than what happened next.
Tractor-trailer and motorcycle collided. The impact had to have come at a point on the curve that Geometry can calculate, because perfectly aligned with the geometric formation was a large oak. It had a strong branch growing in a position parallel to the ground. In this case the branch was also growing at the exact height required to cut a body in half if it had been hurled toward it at great speed.
Is Girlfriend still begging him to come back and be her love while he hangs in pieces - literally, historically, journalistically - from an old oak tree? Of course not. She has moved on. So long ago. Even first loves fade. It is just like the romantic novels portray.
Do I still remember the song and sing a few bars, even while disliking it?
Do I dislike it now because it reminds me of somebody I kind of knew who became a town legend (legend is not the word for it, maybe memory is better)? Of course. I didn't really know him, just watched from afar. I remember there were three of them, always in black, smoking a few inches off school property. Taunting the principal. It gave me chills just watching them.
Do you still think I was his Girlfriend? No, not a chance. I was taken and in love myself. I just liked to look. So I honestly didn't know about the tragic ending of the couple, Jim and Girlfriend Nancy, because I went away to college. I studied Creative Writing and hope to be a novelist some day. Not right now, because I am still learning, trying out different styles to see which suits me. We all need to find our voice, right?
Again, I want to reiterate that I knew of Jimmy Mack but did not know him except in my imagination. This does not stop me from mourning his death.
I sing it all the time, as cruel as that may sound.
Feel free to believe all or nothing of this story. Or fill in the holes, if you like. Also, ignore the lyrics, please, as they are just placeholders for the real story but they sounded nice.