Hi folks ... there’s a slight chill in the air. It’s still sunny out but not as warm. The kids go back to school in less than two weeks. Summer is ending. I heard my favorite end of summer song the other day and it started me on this. This one is all one piece. Thanks for all of the e-mails and messages from those of you who got the answer to my blog question. And to the guy who thought the lyrics were from a Beethoven piece ... uhhhm ... Any way. Thanks to Barney-R for editing it. And Thanks to AK for letting me end this one the way I wanted to. SS06
Nobody on the road. Nobody on the beach. I feel it in the air. The summer’s out of reach. Empty lake, empty streets, the sun goes down alone. I’m driving by your house. Don’t know, you’re not home.
Every time I pass that house I think back on what might have been. This time of year, with the heat of summer gone and with it the tourists and summer residents is especially sad for me.
My name is Kathleen Finnegan. I’m a thirty-eight-year-old part-time waitress, part-time McDonald’s employee and part-time Jane of all trades. I live in the beautiful town of Ogden Michigan.
Ogden is a very small town on the shores of Golden Lake. I guess the thing that makes Ogden special is the fact that it’s not only right on the lake, but that it’s only a forty-minute easy cruise to the center of the Detroit Metropolitan Areas.
During the fall, the woods on the back side of Ogden display a show of natural wonder that is hard to beat anywhere in the world. Lots of nature lovers come to Ogden just to watch the beauty of the leaves as they change colors to prepare for winter. There are colors of leaves here in Ogden that are found nowhere else in the world, let alone the rest of Michigan.
Besides the normal reds and oranges and yellows, there are deep purples on the Blackmore trees and a pure white color that always reminds me of Christmas.
During the fall, we get infusions of tourists, but not as many as in summer. They’re also a different type of tourist. Most of the fall visitors are academics, naturists, botanists or couples looking for a quiet romantic getaway.
They temporarily increase our population, and fill the cash registers of local businesses without interrupting the normal flow or impacting the town very much. For the most part, these people are quiet and respectful, unlike the people who’ve just left.
Ogden is as I’ve mentioned, a relatively small town. From late fall to early summer the population is about eight hundred people. During the summer, the population nearly quadruples to over three thousand.
Most of these people come here for the lake, the beaches, the parties and the pure summer atmosphere. Most of them are looking for a healthy and safe place for their families to relax and spend the summer. Ogden in the early 2000’s is like California in the eighties.
Most of our summer population falls into several categories. There are owners, renters, vacationers, and workers. Each group has its own personality. And most of the groups split into subgroupings as well.
The owners fall into several smaller groupings. Some of them are just regular people who live here all year round. Some of them live in town and work normal jobs. They’re just plain normal people who happen to live in Ogden. Others who live here year-round are very wealthy. They live in multimillion dollar homes on the beach and usually have boats and all that crap. There are also even wealthier people who own the same types of homes and only spend summers in Ogden.
At the end of the summer they go back to New York, Chicago or wherever else they live and forget about Ogden until the next year. Most of them hire locals to act as property managers to take care of their houses until they return. Unlike California, we have bad ass winters in Ogden. This is still Michigan.
So, if no one looked out for their property, a winter freeze could do all sorts of expensive damage and cost tens of thousands of dollars to repair or replace. Property managers are worth the money.
Renters are just that. They rent a house for the summer or part of it. The richer they are, the better the house they can afford.
Vacationers just come here to spend some carefree time in the summer. Some of them rent for a short period of time, but most stay in one of the hotels.
Workers, are usually but not always, college students who work here for the summer or part of it. Besides making money, they get to enjoy the area and party with everyone else during their off hours.
The one thing that they all have in common is that when the summer leaves, they all go with it.
From a very early age, I was fascinated with thoughts of the rich people who came to visit during the summers.
I marveled at their expensive clothes, their expensive cars and their huge boats. They seemed to be just like the glamorous people on all the tv shows I watched. I dreamed of being one of THEM instead of one of US. And my most heart-felt dream was to one day ... go with them when they left at the end of the summer.
I wanted to see all the magical places they lived in when they weren’t here.
The only person who knew about it was my best friend, boyfriend and lifetime confidante, Mark Strictly.
Mark had grown into a very special boy. He was smart, hard-working, good looking and really nice. He could have been the man of my dreams, if he was from somewhere else ... or even if he was from here ... if he was rich.
But he wasn’t so I needed someone else.
The only problem was that Mark didn’t know that. Not that he was dumb ... he was just too trusting. Mark always told the truth, so he kind of expected everyone else to, as well.
Mark was two years younger than I was, but we grew up within spitting distance of each other’s houses so we were thrown together.
Neither of us lived on or even close to the beach. Those houses cost too much fuckin’ money even when we were kids, but I always loved looking at them and dreamed that someday ... if I was stuck here forever ... I’d live in one of them.
Mark of course saw it completely different. He loved Ogden. He loved the beaches, the woods, the town and the people.
“If all your rich people come here to have fun, they must be sick of wherever they live,” he always told me. “Kath, a place is just a place. What matters is the people you’re with and the things you do. That’s what makes a place special.”
He was always saying shit like that. It never fazed me. As romantic and thoughtful as it seemed, I knew that Mark’s special place was between my legs.
His dreams and mine were different. Where I dreamed of going off to bigger places with rich people, Mark wanted to stay right here in dumb old Ogden, start his own business, marry me and have kids of our own.
I always agreed with him that it was what we would probably do, but at the same time I busted my ass every summer trying to meet the person who would get me the fuck out of this Podunk town.
As a matter of fact, we both busted out asses all summer. Mark worked at every job he could. He made and saved as much money as he could. He was saving for college and to have enough money to take me places and buy me things.
Neither of our sets of parents could afford to send us to college. In Mark’s case that was a God damned shame. He was as smart as a whip and would have benefitted greatly from the chance to go to a great school. He had the grades to go to U of M, or Michigan State or anywhere he wanted to go l but he had nowhere close to the money for even one semester. Let alone four years. And no one ever thought about giving any kind of hardship scholarships to poor white kids, so he was just out of luck. His plans all revolved around going to Lansing Community College and even that was gonna be tough.
In my case, it was a relief for my parents. In my case, there was no problem. As I’ve mentioned, I was two years older than Mark, but we graduated the same year. I could barely even spell college, and had no desire to see the inside of one.
To be truthful, I wasn’t dumb, I was just disinterested. I knew that my future did not lie within the walls of academia, it was out there ... somewhere ... away from Ogden.
So, every year. Starting from the time that I was seventeen I patrolled the town, looking for someone, anyone who wanted to spend time with me and might take me away from Ogden.
I had plenty of time because as I’ve mentioned, Mark worked his ass off during the summers. All he had time to do was work, eat and sleep.
It’s hard as hell to believe that I haven’t seen Mark in almost twenty years ... well seventeen if you’re a fanatic about details, but not a day goes by that I don’t think about him.
Maybe it’s the fact that every God damned day, both going and coming, I have to drive down this same tired stretch of road and pass his old house.
His parents moved out and into a senior community a few years ago. Even though the house isn’t on the beach, a slick realtor described it as having, “beach access,” and some sucker paid a lot more than that place was worth.
But I still think about him every time I drive by the place. Maybe it’s because I didn’t realize exactly how special he was until he was gone. Maybe it’s because when I take a serious look at my life and how it turned out, marrying Mark and having a bunch of babies with him really wouldn’t have been so bad.
It was supposed to happen. Mark’s little dream was my fall back plan. The problem was that when I fell back ... Mark was gone.
But I can see you. Your brown skin shiny in the sun. You’ve got your hair slicked back and those SUN GLASSES on.
To this day that is still my favorite memory of Mark. It’s from that last fucking summer when I ruined my life.
One of Mark’s summer jobs was as a life guard on one of the public beaches. As I looked at him that day, he looked so good. His skin was as brown as a berry from all the time he spent in the sun, both lifeguarding AND landscaping and who knows what else the fuck he did to make money.
He isn’t black, shit my daughter’s boyfriend is black and he isn’t as dark as Mark got when he tanned.
Oh shit! I hate thinking about the old days. I almost lost track of what I’m doing here. I’m supposed to be tracking down my wayward daughter. My greatest fear is that she’ll turn out to be like me.
At only seventeen, she can’t seem to keep her ass in the house in the summer.
Shit ... I almost passed it. It being the entrance to the beach that she hangs out on. In some ways, my daughter is too much like me. She hangs on the same stretch of beach that I used to haunt. Maybe it’s because I used to take her there when she was a baby.
I look around and don’t see her. I see a couple of cars ... nice ones. Probably some of the last of this year’s boys of summer are hanging on for one or two more days before going back to wherever they really belong.
As I get closer to the cars I hear voices. One voice in particular, demands my attention.
“Ohhhh ... Shit Billy! Stick it in there. Unh huh baby! Just like that. Oh yeah, I got this. I told you it would be good!”
I start running as fast as I can, knowing I’m too late. I’ve suspected for years that my daughter and her own boyfriend slash best friend were having sex.
I’m not a racist. I don’t care who Karen ends up with as long as he treats her with respect and loves her. And Billy is as nice a kid as God has ever made. Shit Billy reminds me a lot of Mark. He’s a little different. He doesn’t have Mark’s drive to succeed. But really none of the kids do these days. And I sure as hell didn’t have it even in those days.
And Billy clearly loves my daughter. You can see it in his eyes. That kid would die for Karen. He follows her around like a puppy. Sometimes I think it’s cute. But right now, I just want to pull them apart before Karen ends up like me.
Karen won’t end up like me. Billy won’t leave her pregnant and alone. Maybe I should let them finish. And then give them a strong talking to on the way home.
I peak over the last dune to see ... Okay ... Yeah. My sex life is so pathetic that I’m watching my daughter fuck her boyfriend to get myself a... ?
Shock registers deeply in my brain. There are two grown men who are at least in their thirties watching...
Are they gonna join in?
No, the fuck they’re not! My worst nightmare flashes through my mind as my tired, pasty white, cellulite covered thighs churn up the sand.
“Karen!” I scream at the top of my lungs.
As I charge into the scene ready to do battle, it suddenly hits me. They all look at me as I run up to them, sweating, screaming and suddenly feeling confused.
I look at her and Billy and they’re both fully clothed. The two older guys, who are still a lot younger than I am, look at me and smile. I can instantly see that my daughter is in no danger. I might have to protect Billy, though.
“Mom, what are you doing?” asks Karen.
“You’re ... you’re not having ... sex... ?” I mumble. She just stares at me. She is clearly both embarrassed and pissed. She turns away from me and returns to what she was doing.
“Are we in trouble Ms. Finnegan?” asks Billy. I look at him again and wonder why my daughter is such an idiot. At times like this I do see some of me in that girl.
Like me, she has no idea what she has. She’d better stop taking this boy for granted or she IS gonna end up like me. Maybe she won’t be left with a baby, but she may just lose him.
“Billy ... the oil filter is still stuck,” she snarls. “Stop worrying about my mom and get down here. I need another set of hands.”
There is no hesitation. Billy, smiles at me, puts his laptop down and drops to the ground beside my daughter and rolls under the car. I can hear the two gay men behind me whispering as two sets of legs squirm beside and over each other.
“Unh ... unh ... unh!” my daughter squeals. I swear to God it sounds like she’s getting...
“Alright ... I’m done, babe. The rest is up to you,” she says. Billy scrambles from under the car grabs his laptop and pulls out a square box that he mounts to a port on the engine.
“Start the engine please,” he asks, as Karen, her hands covered in oil finally climbs back from under the car. The look she gives me tells me that I’m the one in trouble.
One of the two guys watching started the car and got out to watch. Billy’s fingers flashed over his keyboard, adjusting a level here and tweaking a setting there. I had no idea what he was doing but somehow, he was able to rev the car’s engine from his computer.
“Holy Fuck, that sounds good,” gushed one of the gay guys. He squeezed the other guy’s hand.
“Happy Birthday, baby,” said the other guy. “Was it worth staying in this little hick town another day for?”
“Whoa yeah!” said the first guy. They looked at Billy. “What’s she up to?”
“386 horsepower and ... almost that in torque,” said Billy.
“I’ll kick in another fifty bucks if you can get it to four hundred,” whined one of the guys.
“Okay,” said Billy. “But you’re gonna have to run premium gas, your fuel economy will be terrible and she’s gonna run a bit hot. I wouldn’t do it...”
“Yeah ... whatever,” said the guy. “Gimme four hundred.”
Billy adjusted a few more settings, dropped one dial to its lowest level and revved the engine again. The car was noticeably louder and almost seemed to shake as it revved.
“With this set-up, you need to be careful,” he said. “If you overwork it, you’ll need a new engine. And I’m not sure your tranny is meant for this kind of power.”
“Unh huh...” said the guy. “Here ya go kid. A hundred and fifty for the tune and fifty for your girlfriend’s oil change. Nice doing business with ya. Maybe I’ll see ya next summer.”
The two jumped into their car with the engine purring. They drove slowly off the beach and as soon as they got on the road there was the sound of tortured tires spinning and an almost beast-like roar from the exhaust system.
Without a word Billy smiled and handed all the money to Karen. She stuffed it in her bra and began picking up her tools. The way she wiped each wrench reminded me of something from long ago.
Billy picked up her tool bag and handed her his laptop.
“I can’t believe you got that piece of shit up to four hundred horsepower,” Karen gushed.
“Yeah, but it’s not gonna last more than a couple of weeks the way he was driving it,” said Billy, shyly. “Besides, you could have done it.”
“Maybe Baby,” she smiled. “But I’d have had to swap out the engine and tranny and we have neither the experience or the equipment for that. Billy, I keep telling you Honey, you need to be more confident. You have to believe in yourself the way I believe in you.”
“That’s what you two have been doing?” I asked.
“Yes ma’am,” said Billy. “All summer!”
“Shit you two must have made a lot of...” I gushed.
“We have almost enough for Karen’s first year at...” a glance from my daughter and he immediately stopped talking in mid-sentence.
Suddenly I was worried. I saw a flash of myself in my daughter. Maybe she wasn’t doing what I’d done, but shit, I clearly didn’t know as much about my daughter as I’d thought.
What scared me was the flash of my own ruthlessness and the drive to get what I wanted no matter what in Karen’s eyes.
I looked again at Billy and saw a deer caught in the headlights. I’d been mistaken. I’d thought of Karen and Billy as being like me and Mark at their age. But there seemed to be a huge difference.
From looking at her my daughter might just be as ruthless as I was, but Billy was clearly not Mark. Mark had a backbone. When the shit hit the fan, Mark had been strong enough to walk away from me and never look back.
Billy seemed almost happy to just hand over the money to my daughter. He hadn’t even blinked. He just gave her all the money. I could see that kind of devotion working against him. I could see him shattered if things came to a place where my daughter had to make a choice between what she wanted and him.
Those situations can and DO come up. We’re forced to make choices that determine the rest of our lives. I know, I once had to make that kind of choice. And I made the wrong one.
“Uhm ... come on you two, I’ll drive you home,” I said. Billy smiled, clearly happy not to have to walk nearly a mile to my house and then two blocks more to his. But even as he smiled at me, his eyes went to Karen to see if she approved.
Karen rolled her eyes and although I had no idea what that meant Billy did.
“Thank you, Ma’am,” he said. “These wrenches weigh a ton. I got her one of those multi-size adjustable wrenches for Christmas but...”
“But I hate that thing,” interrupted Karen. “And what do you do when you need two wrenches? And what about when you need a metric wrench?”
“I ... I ... g...” stuttered Billy. His large brown eyes closed and I thought for a second that he was gonna get angry but he was really hurt.” Like a flash, Karen seemed to sense that she had fucked up. Before I could stop the car, her seat belt was off and she was scooting over to his side of the back seat.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m sure I’ll use it for something sooner or later,” but I like MY tools. You know that.”
“You didn’t even open it,” he said sadly. I saw then how easily my daughter could hurt him. And in the pit of my stomach, I suddenly realized how badly I’d hurt Mark all those years ago.
I was just floored. I had no idea that my daughter liked tools or even that she had any. She was always turning up with some new thing and when I usually asked her about them, the answer was always the same. “Billy got it for his birthday and he didn’t like it that much,” she’d say.
It suddenly struck me that what that actually meant. I’d be willing to bet my ass that it meant Billy got it for his birthday and I wanted it.
But what was Billy getting out of it? I was pretty sure I knew the answer to that question as well.
I felt a sudden rush of heat. It had been a long time since anything had been between my legs and ... shit! I hope they were using protection.
“Karen when we get home, we need to have a talk,” I said.
“I’m still pissed about what you thought I was doing,” she said angrily.
“I’m still your mother and...” I began.
“And nobody will let me forget it!” she hissed.
Before the words were out of her mouth Billy had switched positions and was now hugging my daughter. He stroked her hair like she was a frustrated child. His touch seemed to calm Karen down.
I was floored.
“They don’t matter,” he said in a soothing voice. “Remember what my dad said. We have to just do US. We just have to be the best US there is. We just follow the plan and we end up where we want to be.”
I looked at my daughter’s face in the rear-view mirror and realized that I didn’t know her at all. I’d been so busy, keeping a roof over our heads and food in our bellies that, I’d simply paid no attention to the changes in her.
Karen was prettier than I’d ever been. She wasn’t as curvy as I am and her boobs weren’t as big as mine, but God she was pretty.
She was also apparently not as driven as I’d been at her age. Karen projected an aura of toughness that she clearly didn’t have.
Or maybe I’d missed it all along. Maybe my mistake was in viewing my daughter with myself as the lens. Clearly, she and Billy took turns being strong. They protected each other very fiercely. Maybe I had misjudged their relationship.
I took the next corner which put us on downtown Main street instead of going to Billy’s. I stopped in front of Dominos which was one of two franchises inside of Ogden.
“Be right back,” I said. When I returned to the car two pairs of eyes regarded me.
“Billy, I’ll take you home after we eat?” I said.
“Yes ma’am,” he smiled. “That’ll be fine.”
He reached up to take the box and hold it while I drove. I noticed that he had to disengage his hand from my daughter’s to do so.
They had clearly been holding hands for strength and ready to argue with me about whatever they thought I was going to say. I needed to tread very carefully.
I had no idea what I was about to say. Mostly I wanted to ask. They were both seventeen years old. They’d be eighteen before the school year was over. Exactly what could I say or do to them?
And the real deal was that they hadn’t done anything wrong. I didn’t really know what they had done or hadn’t. But judging from my daughter’s reaction, I had hit a nerve.
So, after we ate, which was a revelation to me, they each took two slices of pizza. Karen took some of the pepperoni from her pizza and put it on Billy’s. Then she removed all of his mushrooms and put them on hers and slid the plate back to him.
It wasn’t that they did it, that was surprising ... it was how efficiently they did it. It was like watching an old married couple. They each knew what the other liked and how to arrange things so that both were happy. It was scary. That level of intimacy took years to happen.
“Karen are you on the pill?” I blurted it out before my brain caught up with my mouth.
They both answered at the same time.
“That’s none of your business,” spat Karen.
“Uhm ... No,” said Billy trying to stay cheerful. He picked up Karen’s pizza and fed it to her. Even as I watched I realized how skillfully he had manipulated my daughter. Karen had been about to attack. So, to keep her from doing or saying something without thinking, he’d distracted her.
“Billy if you guys ever need condoms...” another stupid thing that I should never have said. I was batting a thousand.
“We don’t need them,” he said non-chalantly. “This is really good pizza.”
“Then eat it and shut up,” Karen said.
I was in shock. “Look, guys,” I said, barely containing my temper. I had read about so many teens who thought they were smarter than everyone else, until they ended up with an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy. Shit ... it was the story of my fucking life. I thought I was so God damned smart...”
“I know you guys think you have it all figured out,” I said.
“We do!” said Karen fiercely. She elbowed Billy and he nodded along with her.
“I thought I did to,” I said.
“Oh boy ... here comes the lecture,” frowned Karen.
“No lecture,” I said. “I just want to answer some of your questions Karen. The things I’ve never wanted to talk about before. So just listen to me okay and when I’m done, I’ll never bring it up again.”
“But maybe I just don’t wanna h...” she began.
“Sweetheart ... listening has never hurt anyone ... okay?” said Billy in a voice so quiet I almost missed it.
Again, I marveled at the way he handled my emotionally charged daughter. He didn’t try to dominate her in some macho show of force or supposed male superiority.
He just served as the voice of reason and let her make the decisions.
“I’d like to hear what your mom has to say,” he said. “Besides ... this is really good pizza.”
“It’s only good because it’s got half of my pepperoni on it,” she grumbled.
“That isn’t it,” he smirked. His smiled disarmed her and took away a bit of her anger. I was dying to see what he did next.
“It tastes good because you touched it,” he said. It was almost like an emotional explosion in the room. Karen’s mouth dropped open and she had to force it back into the frown, she’d been holding.
The most amazing thing was that he was telling her the truth. There was no guile in him. Billy often snuck in little digs and comments like that to tell her exactly how he felt about her.
But as many times as he did it, she was always dumb-struck by just how much he cared about her.
I was floored myself, but I still needed to get my point across.
“Okay ... tell us,” he said.
“Uhm...” I began. With both of them staring at me I suddenly didn’t know where to begin.
“This might take a while,” I said. “How about if I get a beer and you two split one.”
“Oka...” began Karen.
“We’re not old enough to drink,” said Billy.
“I’d rather have you two sip one here at home where you’re safe than sneaking around and binging,” I said.
“He doesn’t drink, mom,” said Karen. “He’s never had so much as a sip at a party.”
“Because I have to watch out for you,” he said defensively. “You know what happens at those parties of yours.”
“What happens? “I asked.
“Mom just tell us your stuff,” said Karen.
I settled back and tried to explain the facts of her life to my daughter.
“Karen, it’s not easy being a single mom in a very small, very conservative town. And that isn’t what I had in mind for my life.
Like you I had big plans for how I wanted my life to be. For one thing, I wanted to get the hell out of Ogden. I wanted to live somewhere that life had a faster pace, more opportunities and more prestige. As you can see, it didn’t happen.
Growing up, I was what you guys call hot,” I said. The looks on their faces, especially my daughter’s told me that they didn’t believe me.
“I WAS,” I continued. “Karen, my boobs were much bigger than yours are, when I was your age. And my hair was a beautiful shade of blond. It’s turning gray now, mostly because of three things. You, stress, and regret.
But back then, like I said, I was hot. I had a boyfriend, Mark, who loved me. He was obsessed with me. But he was short-sighted. He never saw anything outside of Ogden.
I loved him too, I just didn’t know how much at the time. I’m not gonna tell you my whole life story. I just want to tell you about the summer that my life went off the rails and my plans went to hell.
During the summers, Mark worked his ass off, making money for our future. He really wanted to marry me and stay here in Ogden. But as I’ve mentioned ... I wanted something else. Mark was my plan B. He was also my plan C.
If I couldn’t get out of Ogden on my own, I’d wait until Mark went to college and we’d move away together. If I couldn’t convince him to leave, I’d just marry him and settle down in dumb old Ogden.
So, the summer that we graduated high school, I was working it. As you know, during the summers we get all kinds of people who come here to have fun in the sun.
My girlfriends called them the boys of summer and never took them seriously. Some of us had a pattern. I know it wasn’t a nice thing, but life in Ogden is boring. We do the same things over and over. So, when summer time came, there was nothing wrong with having a bit of variety.
If you didn’t have a boyfriend, you sort of started up a little summer fling with an out of towner. It was never meant to be serious. It was just fun for the summer.
Most of us want to experiment and experience a few people before we settle down. It’s a good way to find out what you really like and what you don’t.”
The looks on their faces made me stop talking. Billy looked fearful and Karen, as usual was pissed. She looked back and forth between Billy and me. Her face was doing kind of a yo-yo thing with her expressions. She was alternately glaring at me and trying to convince Billy that she wasn’t doing that.
For the first time, I saw Billy’s happy demeanor fade. “I told you we didn’t need to hear this,” she spat. “You know I’m not like that. We’re together all day every day. Where would I find the time?”
“Karen, you don’t have to find time,” he said. “All you have to do is tell me to get lost and...”
“Are you fucking kidding me?” she said angrily. “Do NOT start this shit again, William Martin!”
“Karen you’re the most beautiful girl in the entire state,” he said. “You could easily...”
“Besides you, who would put up with my shitty attitude?” she said.
“Everybody with eyes,” he mumbled.
“Billy most of those morons don’t know me,” she said. “They only know what they’re heard and what they think. They think that since I’m HER daughter, I’m gonna be like her. You know better. You know me. You get me. You always have. I’m a one-man woman and you’re my one man.”
There were lots of questions running through my mind, but I decided to just go on with my story.
“In my case, I can see now that what I was doing was doubly wrong, because I had Mark, who loved me. Sometimes, to get rid of my guilt, I broke up with him in the spring and got back together with him after the boys of summer had gone.
For some reason, he always took me back. And I always made him really glad that he had, if you know what I mean.
Anyway, that summer had started out pretty much the way they all did. But there was a difference. I didn’t break up with Mark for one thing. And for a second there were the Cambridges.
The Cambridge family was from Boston. They normally rented a house on the beach along the New Jersey shore. Apparently, the older son, Derrick Cambridge, had gotten into a lot of trouble the previous summer and his father didn’t want a repeat of that, so they ended up in Ogden.
They rented the Becker Mansion for the entire summer, just to give you an idea of how much money they had to have.
When I first met Derrick Cambridge, everything changed. From the first time I saw him, I was sure that HE was my ticket out of Ogden.
He was about six-foot-two and heavily muscled. He had longish blond hair that he wore combed straight back and he had expensive gold framed aviator sunglasses.
He spoke with a Boston accent like one of the Kennedys and he was throwing money around like he made it in his fucking basement.
He had a group of people around him and they were all laughing loudly and talking a lot. Derrick ALWAYS had a crowd around him.
They were sitting on the beach and were already drinking at around eleven in the morning. I think he saw me at about the same time I saw him.
I wasn’t very hard to spot. A tall blond with big boobs rarely has to wait very long for anything.
He got up and came right over to me. I could say that he was aggressive. But then so was I.
He stood there and we spoke for a couple of minutes before we went over to join his friends. There were four or five guys, none of whom I’d ever seen before. And there were two other girls, both of whom I knew from school.
The guys were all happy to see me, but the girls were pissed.
One of them Peggy Lee tried to start some shit with me.
“Hi Kathleen,” she smiled as if we were old friends. “How’s Mark?”
“We broke up,” I said.
“Does he know that?” she asked. “He’s taking that summer automotive repair class at the community college with my brother. He was just talking about you yesterday.”
“We broke up this morning,” I spat.
“You must be heart-broken,” she said.
“I’m sure my new friend will help me get over it,” I smiled looking straight at Derrick.
We spent the rest of the day together with Derrick paying for everything. Occasionally, one of the other guys would spring for a round of drinks or some ice cream, but it was usually Derrick.
He also made sure not to drift very far away from me. He was also nearly always in contact with me. But I knew what he was doing. He started out with incidental touches like bumping into my shoulder. Then he’d brush some sand off of my arm. That would lead to more intentional contact, like putting his arm around me.
When I didn’t protest to that, he assumed that it was okay and made a habit of it.
By the midpoint of the afternoon, people watching us, assumed that we were a couple.
As the afternoon got later, he asked me to have a quick dinner with him and then go for a twilight run in his boat.
I knew the drill. Normally I’d have said no. You never accept the first offer. It makes the suckers think you’re too eager or just easy. But there were too many girls on that beach who’d have said not just yes, but hell yeah in a heartbeat.
I knew that Derrick liked me and I also knew that in all the years I’d been playing with the summer boys, I had never come this close to something I could make permanent. I knew that after only one day.
So, despite the voice in the back of my head I said, “okay.”
I knew that word would spread around town before too long. And I was sure that Mark would hear about it, but it was a chance I couldn’t pass up.
I was pretty sure that if things didn’t work out, I could always get Mark back.
So yep, he took me out to one of the expensive tourist traps for dinner. What he paid for dinner for the two of us that night would feed us for a month, in today’s prices.
Then we went out on a nice boat. We floated around for a while and he told me about his life and what he was looking for. He was twenty-three years old and would be graduating in January.
He would someday take over his father’s business empire. He was using this summer to relax and get ready to settle down into his adult life and get married.
It was almost as if he’d read my mind. When he leaned over and kissed me, I heard bells. Not those stupid romantic bells that I’d heard the first time Mark kissed me. But they weren’t wedding bells either. They were the sound of the bells on those old-fashioned cash registers and they were ringing loud and clear.
I returned the kiss even though I didn’t feel it. His hands stroked my back and then pulled my top up.
Derrick went gaga over my boobs. He sucked and played with them for a long time before he stood me up and pulled my shorts down. I think that by then we both knew what was going to happen and it did.
Yes, I had sex with him on the first day that we met. It was nothing special. It was also nothing terrible. I guess if I’d had to explain it to Mark I would have told him that it meant nothing. But that would have been a lie. It meant everything. It meant me getting out of Ogden. And to me THAT was everything.
For the next couple of weeks Derrick and I were together all the time. Most of the time his friends were there as well, but it felt as if only the two of us mattered.
We managed to sneak away, three or four times a day to have sex even with his friends around. And he treated me like a princess. I was on my way to the better life that I had dreamed of.
Sure, a lot of the people in Ogden had nothing good to say about me, but it was a mind over matter situation. I didn’t mind because they didn’t matter. When WE left at the end of the summer, I’d never see them again anyway. A princess can do whatever she wants.
As soon as I turn my Mustang’s front wheels into our long driveway, the gate begins to open. My timing is pretty good. I barely have to slow down at all.
The tip of the car’s low-slung splitter passes the gate just as it hits the fully open position and begins to close. By the time the gate is anywhere near my car, I’m already in the open garage.
Stepping out of the garage, I glance towards the large gazebo in the center of the yard. Seeing nothing, I look towards the pool. My facade of coolness, fades.
And then I spot her in the most unlikely of places.
She’s lying on her stomach, reading a book, almost unseen amidst the thick trailing strands of the huge fifty-year-old willow tree in our yard.
I shook my head and shrugged my shoulders. A princess can do whatever she wants.
I decided to sneak up on her and scare the shit out of her. It doesn’t work. Just as I reach the gently swaying fronds, she turns her head in my direction, sending her long black hair flying before settling into a wild array around her back and shoulders.
Even after all of these years, I simply am not capable of looking at her face and not breaking into a smile.