Full Service

by Gale Acuff


At Lecroy’s Service Station my father

buys me a Coke and a Zero bar while

Furley, the mechanic’s helper, changes

the oil in our ’57 wagon.

I have no money until Father gives

some to me, a dime for the soda and

a nickel for the chocolate. They’re good

—I don’t get many sweets at home, but every

6000 miles or so I get a treat


here at the gas station. Full service. That

means if you buy gas they wash the windshield,

pop the hood, check the oil and battery

and the radiator. They’ll check the tires,

too, if you ask them. I sit on a stool

and listen to my father and the men

he calls Boys talk politics—JFK

and Cuba and those good cigars you can’t

buy anymore, and the Bomb—the Big One—

and the Commies in Russia and China

and Khrushchev and Chairman Mao. They’re

smoking Lucky Strikes—LSMFT

it says on the package—Lucky Strikes Mean

Fine Tobacco—and then tease me about

whether I have a girlfriend yet. No, sir,

I say. I’m only six years old. Plenty

of time for gals, says Mr. Lecroy. No

rush. In his office there’s a calendar


—I’ve seen it—of a pretty girl without

a shirt. It’s August. I’ll bet there’s a girl

for every month. But out here we’re all men,

squatting on stools or leaning against walls,

talking about the world, though I listen,

mostly. I have to respect my elders.

I speak only when I’m spoken to. That’s

how they bring me up at home. No back-talk.

No interrupting. No foolishness. That’s

what men do. She has black hair, that lady

in Mr. Lecroy’s office, on the wall.

She’s on the beach in just her underwear.

Her lips are red and her eyebrows are thin.

She looks friendly. She doesn’t miss her shirt,

either. The sea behind her is as blue

as blue eyes, and the blue sky is lighter

blue, like the blue of blue skin when someone’s                                  

choking or trying to breathe, the air knocked

out of them when they least expect it and

they’re surprised that breathing is so hard

until the get their breath again. Her name


is Miss Eve and she’s brought to you by those

fine folks at Service Station Supply, Inc.

I wonder if her mother knows she’s there,

topless on the beach and everyone who

goes into the office can’t miss her if

they look on the wall, next to the clock. I

wonder if she’s lonely. I sure am, not

really a man and going to be a boy

for many years. And she’s just a girl but

a real healthy one. And there’s a Bible

Stories for Children on the table in

this lobby. Also some comic books but

I read them last time I was here. I think


about God a lot. I’m still pretty young

but I’ve got a soul, same as anyone,

and I can go to Heaven, if I’m good,

and Jesus died for me and Miss Eve, too,

and my father, and all the other men.

That’s why it’s okay for a naked girl

to be on the wall, because Jesus saves

and God forgives and Father wears a tie.

Grown-ups are old enough to do bad things

—that’s fair enough. But just let Father catch

me eyeing Miss Eve and I’ll be punished

—he didn’t say so but I won’t gamble.

For someone naked she’s sure got gumption.

I like her plenty but don’t know how much.