It was dark on the side of the house where I stood below the window. My girlfriend, or I should say potential girlfriend rested her arms on the windowsill, her chin resting on her forearms. Nanci-Jean Gillette was sixteen and shapely with dark brown hair and blue eyes. I’d first set eyes on her as a few of my cohorts from boarding school in Lee, Massachusetts were fleeing from a group of ‘townies’ who took exception to our somewhat denigrating observations on skill as we watched the local high school football team at practice. A group of townies broke from the bleachers and tore at us with blood in their eyes. As my friends and I rounded a corner and headed into the center of Pittsfield I saw her. She was standing on the corner, books in hand and talking to a couple of her friends. I was so taken I almost forgot about the pack of wolves trying to run us down. I slowed up, staring at her with a big smile on my face. She returned it. I would have stopped to introduce myself but realized that would be an unfortunate choice. It would be hard to appear impressing while being stomped to death by enraged sports zealots.
I sped up and my friends and I managed to ditch our homicidal fan club. I ran into her again a few days later at Pizza By The Slice, a popular hangout. I couldn’t believe my luck that she was alone, sitting there taking miniscule nibbles from a piece of pizza. “Hello.” I said, sliding into a chair across from her at the table.
“I see you survived.” she said, poker faced.
“Well, I kinda had to if I was going to be here to see you today.” I said, thinking I was ever so suave. She got a look on her face akin to one someone would wear as they discovered they’d stepped in dog-doo, dropped her piece of pizza on a napkin and got up and walked out the door. I sighed in defeat and ate her pizza.
The third time was, as they say, the charm. She was walking down Pine street and I just happened to see her as I was walking down Second Street. I changed direction and jogged to catch up with her. “Hi.” I said. She looked at me and smiled.
“You’re persistent, huh?” she said.
“It’s something about you. I think maybe it’s because you’re beautiful.” We walked along in silence for a while.
“So, what’s your name?” she asked me. I introduced myself. “I’m Nanci-Jean,” she said. I told her that was a pretty name. In truth I wasn’t much for hyphenated names, most of the people I knew that had them were from the south and related to me. Worse, I thought they were kind of lame and talked funny. I kept this to myself. We walked along and talked about nothing in particular. I hadn’t paid much attention to where we’d gone when she stopped and said that this was where she lived. “I guess I should expect to see you again, right?” she asked.
“Wild horses couldn’t keep me away.” I promised. I would see her on and off when I was in Pittsfield, which was often because I was trying my best to accidentally run into her. After knowing her for a month or so she said that if I wanted to, I could come see her at her house. I was thrilled, envisioning sitting on a couch, my arm around her shoulders, leaning in and…
“You’ll have to be really quiet though so my dad doesn’t hear.” She told me to be at her window at 11 o’clock. Not what I had in mind, but then again, a step in the right direction.
I arrived at the appointed time and there she was, chin on her arms, waiting for me. We talked back and forth in a whisper for a while and then, out of the blue, she asked if I wanted to kiss her. I assured her I did. She leaned out the window and just before blissful contact:
“Who the hell is out here?” thundered a man’s voice. As if by magic, Nanci-Jean was gone and I was looking at a closed window with the shade drawn. A flashlight came on and a guy who was obviously Nanci-Jean’s dad yelled “Hey! You! Stop right there!”
I ran like the wind. Nancy had never mentioned her father could run seventy miles an hour. I was pretty darn fast but he had a hold of my neck in no time at all. He dragged me back to the house and stood me on the front steps. “You wait right there, buster.” he ordered. He stepped into the house and I ran like hell through a yard across the street, having to vault a four foot fence to pass.
Out of the dark I heard a snarl and then a dog bit me in the leg, tearing my pants. I kept running and flew over the fence in that back of the property, leaving behind a loudly barking dog and lights blinking on in nearby houses. In a panic I kept running. My course took me through a few more yards and in the darkness, I tripped over a lawn chair and fell on some kids little red wagon, splitting open my chin. I howled in pain and that set off dogs all over the neighborhood barking. A backdoor light turned on and I pulled myself up and started running again. I made my way a few blocks, this time sticking with sidewalks. As I passed under a streetlight, I saw that my shirt was bloody from the gouge in my chin. Along with my torn pants, I was a sight. I slowed to a walk and tried to figure out whether someone would call the cops when they saw me looking the way I did.
A horn hinked shortly and I nearly jumped out of my skin. An old Chevy pulled to the side and a head leaned out the window. “That you, Bob?” It turned out to be Tommy, a black kid whose father worked at the school as a groundskeeper. I walked over to the car and Tommy recoiled. “Man, what happened to you?” he asked, then said “wait, get in the car and tell me. Anyone sees you and there’ll be cops for sure.”
I hopped into the passenger side and told my tale of woe as Tommy gave me a lift back to the school. I handed over two bucks for gas but he told me to keep it, saying the story was worth it. “You white people is crazy.” he said, shaking his head. I thanked him for the ride and climbed out of the car. He drove off and I walked up to the dorm. So late at night, I made it to my room without running into anyone.
Three days later, my chin still bandaged, I saw Nanci-Jean at Pizza By The Slice. Hi, Bob!” she said smiling. “You’re just in time to get me a piece of pizza. ”
A fool for love, I got her one.