Closing a Summer
The Lester Family left, as Karl had told me they would be doing. There were things to do in the cities, and they were things that could only be done in the cities. I never asked what they were, I didn't really believe it to be any of my business. We were already in August, and Dad had gotten called to go out of town, again. And this time, it was not just for a week but for two, and that meant we would have to go to the cities, as well. School was going to be starting again, soon. At the time, it was starting before Labor Day, and that meant we would have to prepare for autumn, and closing up in October. We wanted to stay for a couple more weeks, but it just wasn't possible.
We would still have weekends for the next month, but as the temperature grew cooler, we would have to drain the pipes, get kerosene for the space heater, and haul up the boat. We wouldn't be leaving for a few days, yet. We would have to leave Sunday about 2 P.M. or so. After all, we would have to wash things, get groceries, and all that sort of stuff which we hated to do. I would have to go shopping for school supplies. I needed clothes and shoes, as well, having added 7 inches to my height during the summer. I was now as tall as I would ever be, but I didn't know it then. I had grown 14 inches in the last 3 years. I was still young, and was sure I'd hit 6' 6". But my feet had grown, too, and I was getting very clumsy. If I wasn't tripping over my feet, I was dropping things. I just didn't seem to have the coordination I used to have!
I gathered my clothes, my guitar, and the address book. I would call Karl and Diane while we were stuck in hell, waiting for school to start. And that was one thing we agreed upon: School was hell. We all hated it, even though we did have favorite subjects. Karl loved History. Diane's favorite subject was Math, although I'd have sworn it was boys. My own favorite was Science. I learned Karl played Trombone. I played Saxophone. Diane was a singer, and was in her school choir. That was one thing that we all had in common: we shared a love for music. And that love of music bound us together very effectively. We wouldn't drift apart as long as we all loved music. I asked Diane if she'd be interested in singing in a band, if there was a singer's position available. She said she'd love to do that. I would ask Wayne if he'd accept a girl band member for a singer. But I wouldn't be able to do that until we got home, and that wouldn't be for a few days yet.
I turned my telescope up the hill to where Steve lived. Large truck in the driveway, and things were being loaded. I looked some more, and spotted a "For Sale" sign. And it was already sold. Although I had a problem with Steve, recently, I would go up and talk to him. After all, if they were moving, it would be proper to say Goodbye. I wasn't sure how he'd react after the battle I had with his buddy Ralph. Looking around the area, I did not see Ralph's car. So, I'd go up there soon. But I would check before I left, just to be sure Ralph hadn’t shown up.
I tried to play a little golf, but I simply didn’t have the desire for it. I didn’t want to read, either. There was nobody swimming, and fishing just didn’t strike my fancy, either. I was bored. It would have been different if Karl and Diane had been around. I could always count on a good golf competition, or Diane would make the day interesting in some way or another.
After about an hour and a half, I scanned the hill with my telescope. Ralph’s car was nowhere to be seen. I began my short trek up to Steve’s place. I would have to find some stuff out, and I would need to say goodbye. Steve had been a part of my life for a good number of summers.
I reached his place, and knocked at the door. As Steve came to the door and he saw who it was, his eyes narrowed. I could see he was still steaming over the situation at the swamp. I hadn’t touched him, though. I had wanted to tell him to get his hands off of Diane. The other guy had intervened, and I had defended myself against his attack. Steve really didn’t have the slightest idea what was going on. “What do you want?” he snapped.
This was going to be a tough situation, but I would try. “Steve, I didn’t come to apologize to you. I came to explain, and to say goodbye. Why didn’t you tell me you were moving?”
“I didn’t know myself until just a week ago. Dad got transferred out of state, and the company put the house up for sale. See, it’s not really our house, but it belongs to his employer. Now, you said you were going to explain something. Keep it brief, and be gone.”
“Steve, I know you want to know what happened that day at the swamp. Here’s the story, and it will be brief. I asked you to hang around Diane for a week, and find out what she thought of me. You did not report back, and at the end you kept seeing her. It wasn’t so much that as the fact that you seemed to be becoming romantically involved with her. Do you realize how old she is?”
“Yes. She’s 16,” was his reply.
“No, she’s not. You know how old I am. Karl is younger than I am, and she’s younger than he is. You are 18, and she is 13. Do you see why I was concerned?”
He went white. “13? Only 13? Wait a minute. You’re not pulling my leg, are you?”
“No, Steve. I am not. As God is my witness, you can ask Karl if you’d like. But those times you were kissing her…That made my blood boil!”
“Huh?” Steve asked. “What the hell are you talking about?”
“Steve, I saw it. Three times, I saw it. Are you saying you didn’t? I didn’t have a camera available, or I’d show you what I saw.”
Steve sat down hard on the front step. “I don’t remember doing anything of the sort, Mike. You would think I’d remember something like that, wouldn’t you?” Steve’s shock at my statement made me realize what had happened. Diane had done it again. And this time, she had her victim forget, or maybe he had been hypnotized at the time, and didn’t know it!
“Steve,” I said, “Did Diane tell you what she’s studying? Magic and hypnosis. Did she show you a coin she twirled in front of you? Or did she speak in a monotone?”
Steve shook his head in disbelief. “I’ve been had, Mike. This is unbelievable. She did it to me. You called it. Monotone voice. She put her head on my shoulder, and spoke softly. I thought she was 16, and I trusted her.” He shook his head again, and repeated his first thought. “I’ve been had.”
I spoke quietly. “Steve, she did the same to me. But she didn’t have me kiss her. She’s confused the hell out of me, and I still don’t know what to do.” At this, I turned to leave.
“Mike, thanks for everything. And thanks for letting me know. You’ve been a good friend over the years.”
I turned back to him. “So, you aren’t angry with me?”
“Not any more. And don’t worry about Ralph. He doesn’t live around these parts. You’ll probably never see him again. If you do, just lay low for a while. He’ll leave. He’s just a bully, nothing more.”
I nodded. “Steve, you’ve got my address. Say you’ll keep in touch, mon ami.” Steve spoke French, and he knew that translated was “my friend.”
“I will, Mike. You can bet your dentures on that!”
I recognized Steve’s ploy as one last attempt to get our verbal sparring match started. “Dentures? Says you, Cat lover!”
As he turned to go in, I said “Steve?” He turned back to face me. “In a way, I envy you, and yet pity you.”
He looked puzzled, but thoughtful. “What do you mean?”
“I envy you because you got the chance to kiss Diane. But I pity you, because you apparently didn’t mean enough to her to allow to remember those kisses.”
Steve looked at me, a gleam of friendship in his eye. “In a way, I could say the same. I pity you, and yet I envy you. I pity you because you are a puppy on a leash and do not know it yet. And yet, I envy you. Diane will be here next summer, and the summers after. So will you. And you have all the time in the world…” He trailed off for a moment. “You have all the time in the world…to win her heart.”
As I started down the hill, I realized that I would probably never see Steve again. And as for keeping in touch, I truly doubted that he would. Summer vacation was nearly over. And we only had a few weekends left at the cabin for the year. It was time to think of closing down, gathering all our items, and heading home for a winter.