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Debbie's Story, Part Three





I can’t fight this feeling anymore, I’ve forgotten what I started fighting for
REO Speedwagon


I don’t know if you’ve ever been in love with someone but couldn’t express it openly. It would have been okay if I’d discovered this while just on my own. I would have just had an unexpressed crush that I could have kept to myself. Sitting next to her, those last three weeks during chemistry it was hard to concentrate on the class. I wanted to hold her hand all the time, and I couldn’t. Not because she wouldn’t let me, but because we didn’t want people to know. I wanted to kiss her sleek jaw and her sharp little nose. I couldn’t though, because we were both terrified of what people we knew would say.

God, how stupid is that? What would they have done anyway? Told us we were going through a phase? Told us we were going to hell? I didn’t care about hell because every moment alone with her was heaven. And yet, I was as guilty of the charade as she was for those last three weeks. We kept away from each other at school, almost avoided each other so that we wouldn’t show what was going on between us. And why? Because I was afraid of what someone would say.

And then someone said something anyway.

“What argument did you have with Karen?” Jack asked as he sat down next to me on one of the stone stools after school one day.

He was in a pissed off mood, and was looking to kick over a few stones. I didn’t know it at the time but he had been told that he should just drop out and never come back to school by a VP that no one much liked. I think it was best for him, but the way it was said to him had pissed him off. It doesn’t matter because Skiba was out on his ass at the end of the year anyway so neither of them were around the place next year.

“What do you mean?” I asked, trying not to look him in the eyes, which was easy because he was looking at the can of pop he’d bought from the vending machine.

“I mean you two are best of buddies all year and then all the sudden a week ago you start avoiding each other like the plague.” He said opening the can and taking a drink.

“That’s not true.” I said.

“Is.” He said, and I knew I’d lost. He was always so damn good at declaring the fact to be a fact like that. Is, he is good. Is. He isn’t dead. Can’t start saying things like ‘was’ or it’ll mean I’ve started letting him go. If I let go, he’ll let go.

“I see her everyday after school.” I said, desperately trying to change the subject. “It’s just some of us have to worry about getting all our final stuff done. We can’t all float by like you.”

“Uh-huh.” He looked at me over the big black Blues Brothers’ sunglasses he wore through out his entire time in high school. “So you didn’t have an argument?”

“No.” I said, shaking my head at him.

“And you’re seeing her everyday after school?”

“Yeah.” I said, and then waited for him to shrug it off and move on to his own anger which had so obsessed him throughout the earlier part of the day.

“So what, you think I’m going to judge you if you go dyke or something?” He always has had the most delicate and sensitive way of putting things. I’ve often said he should go into grief counseling. The suicide rate might go up, but he’d clear cases faster than anyone else in the world.

“I… I am…” I stammered for a while, which he let me do because he’s an evil little sadist. “How?”

“You didn’t have a fight, you see her at home all day, and yet you avoid her at school.” He didn’t shrug. He looked directly at me and smirked. “It’s either love or you’re trying to win a bet.”

“I didn’t say all day.” I complained.

“Believe me, I’m not happy about it.” He looked at me with those ridiculously lovely dark eyes of his and smiled. “I was working my way up to telling you what a fantastic rack you have and that you are the owner of an ass that won’t quit. Seems pointless now.”

“You told me all that yesterday.” I reminded him. “And can we not talk about this here?”

“No one’s around.” He shrugged. “You two going to form an all girl team or what?”

I looked around, but he was right. One of the problems with Jack is that unless it’s really important, he’s always right. When it comes to the really important questions, such as ‘will this person shoot me’, he tends to screw up completely and get shot. That’s why he’s in that bed right now, he didn’t think that fat fuck would shoot him. Why he didn’t shoot the guy first is beyond me. He normally only misjudges women.

“You’re not judging me now?” I asked him, feeling like I was being put on the spot.

“Nope.” He shook his head. “I don’t care one way or another, so long as you’re happy. I was just saying that it’s a shame because I was hoping one day to get to sleep with you when you were feeling really desperate in a last man on earth sort of way.”

“It won’t ever happen because you’re never serious.” I told him. “You never feel anything deep enough.”

“Are you calling me shallow?” He asked, mocking injury.

“No.” I said, despite the fact that I just had. “I’m saying you won’t let anyone in, so how can anyone let you in?”

“Maybe.” He shrugged. “Doesn’t matter much, shallow or not, I’ll be gone from here with the rest of you seniors and won’t ever return.”

“Does it really bug you that much?” I asked.

“He was a dick.” He told me.

“Skiba’s a dick.” I shrugged. “That’s why they’re not giving him Dakota.”

Chippewa had so many kids in it at that time that they were just about to open a new high school called Dakota, because they think Indian names are cute or something. We were the Big Red and had a random Indian chief in a big head dress until they swapped it in my freshman year for a brave with only one or two feathers. That was seen a progressive at the time.

“I guess.” He said. “I just don’t know what I’m going to do next year.”

“What were you doing this year?” We’d talked a few times about the fact that most his friends had already gone to college, or graduated. His class had left him behind and now he was going to have to go out without knowing that anyone else was going to be there with him. I won’t say it scared him, because Jack is physically incapable of being scared, but I think it unnerved him a little.

“Fucking around hoping something would occur to me.” He smiled at me and changed the subject back to me. “So who has been giving Karen a ride home?”

“I have.” I told him. “I mean, it’s not like we’re required to be away from each other or anything.”

“You never know.” He said and looked to where Karen was waiting for us to get done. “Tell you what, why don’t you guys come and keep me company for a while? We’ll hang out and watch a movie.”

“At your place?” I asked, knowing he would agree. He rarely suggested anywhere else, he liked the privacy of his own room.

“Yeah.” He said standing up. “I’ll meet you guys there.”

He walked towards Karen and said something to her. It was something odd because she looked at him and then watched him walk away. I know what she told me it was, which I suppose is as close as any human can get to knowing what two other people said outside her hearing.

“What does he mean by shame, you’re cute too?” She asked as she sat down next to me.

“He’s teasing me through you.” I told her, taking her hand and kissing it before I knew what I was doing. “Don’t worry about it.”

She pulled her hand away, and gave me the weird mutant look. I realized what I’d done, and fixed my response in just enough time so that I didn’t make an ass out of myself. I just waved to her to come on and we walked to the car. We went quietly, and I couldn’t help but feel like we were skulking away. I felt like people were watching us, but they weren’t. No one had seen, no one would have cared if they did. If rumors were going to start, they would have started a long time ago. Hell, they probably had. The preppy girl and her leather coated gothy looking friend, only one reason they could be together right?

Well, fuck them, fuck the rumors, fuck it all. We had two more weeks and then we were going to vanish. Everyone was too concerned with things ending to bother worrying about new developments. Another two weeks and it would all be over anyway. I wanted to grab her, sweep her off her feet, lean her over like an old screen hero would sweep an old screen heroin and give her a deep long kiss in front of everyone. That moment would have to wait until my second girlfriend, when I was in college, which has always seemed a shame. I know things would have gone differently if I’d just kissed her there and then and let the rumors explode.

Instead we got in my car and went to Jack’s house. He had a room in the basement. It was a real room, with dry wall and electricity in the walls and everything. It was the biggest room in their house and had actually been built for his sister before she left for college. It seems like everyone was going to college in those days or was away at college. College was the great escape, and all of us were either escaping or had escaped. No one ever told us what to do after that, but we knew we had to go. Jack never went. He stayed home, got a job with Bascom and moved out after a while.

He had three televisions in his room though, and a couch and a big bed and in those days it was a place of comfort. It wasn’t really a bedroom to be honest. It was more like a one room apartment down in the basement. Everything he had was second-hand, but he had a knack for getting things. He had a mini-fridge, and those three televisions all hooked up to the same VCR so you could watch from anywhere in the room and it was all hooked up to his stereo. This was back before home theaters, so having speakers that he put up into the exposed beams of the ceiling to drop sound down us was really cool. He also had parents that understood what a closed door meant to teenagers. It was a really great place to go if you needed to get away from things for a while. So long as he wasn’t out you could always call him on his private line, and come over to sit with him for a while.

It might seem odd that the three of us spent most the afternoons in those last two weeks in his room, but I think we were all hiding away. I was hiding because I’d only just discovered a strange and scary fact about myself, Karen was hiding because she was afraid someone would expose her and humiliate her again. Jack was just trying to hide from the future, which was fruitless, but maybe he saw the future he was going to have. If I’d seen his future in the summer of ’95, I would have tried to do something to derail it. Maybe he knew what was going to happen, but was powerless to stop it and was just trying to delay. I don’t know.

What I know is that Karen broke up with her boyfriend, and she and I spent everyday until the end of school in Jack’s room waiting out the tide of the year. Sometimes we sat together on the couch, sometimes on the bed, sometimes we kissed in front of Jack, sometimes we played coy and threw a blanket up so he couldn’t watch. It was fun, it was cute and it was something we could keep within our little group.

I know we never took it any further than that though, not until after the end of school. I never so much as touched her breast over her shirt until school was done, and then it all exploded in one glorious day. That day was, well it was a good day, but a confusing one too. It was the day that everything changed for us, the day that everything became what it would be.

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