Jim noticed the sunlight peering through his window when there was a knock on the door. He didn’t even realize that he had fallen asleep. It seemed like he was just sitting there and suddenly it was morning. Could he have been up all-night thinking? No, he must have fallen asleep since he wasn’t even tired.
He got up and opened the door. Amanda was standing there. It was time for the truth. It was time to face up to what he did. “Amanda,” Jim said quickly, “I’m glad you’re here. We have to . . .”
“I can’t right now,” she cut him off. “Linda and I are going into town to get some breakfast.”
“But I . . .”
“Sorry,” she said, “I have to go now. I’ll see you later.” She kissed him on the cheek and ran off.
Jim sighed. “Right,” he said as he closed the door. The clock by the bed flashed 8:45 A.M., and Jim thought about just staying in his room. He had to stay away from Stacy. It was then that he felt that feeling inside of him again. A feeling forgotten yet familiar. “The hell with this,” he said as he got dressed.
He found Stacy, sitting by herself. He walked over to her. “Sorry I’m late.”
“It’s okay,” she said, smiling. “I’m just glad you showed up.”
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” he said as he took his seat. Amanda had left his mind and Stacy had filled it. “Shall we order?”
A shot split into the air and hit its target. A small hole formed to the left of the bullseye. “Nice shot,” Jim said impressed. “For a girl that is.”
Stacy laughed. “Better watch your mouth, Mister, or you’ll be my next target and I don’t have to tell you where I’m going to aim.”
Jim’s face grew tense as he put his hand in front of his family jewel. “Yes, Ma’am,” Jim said politely.
She put the gun down and hooked her arm around his. “You may have won that one Mr. Marksman, but what do you say to me beating you in miniature golf?” she asked with a diabolical grin on her face.
“Well,” Jim said as if he was thinking it over. “I would have to say that you’re going to eat those words.”
“We’ll see about that,” she said, nodding. “Last one there smells like your socks.” She took off running.
“Why you little,” Jim said as he ran after her. When he caught up to her, he tried to grab onto her shoulder. She stopped and he just missed her. The unexpected result was Jim flying into the air and down a hill. After a couple of tumbles, he finally came to a stop. He sat up, shaking his head. “That hurt,” he said to himself.
Stacy knelt by his side. “Are you okay?” she asked, concerned.
“It’s okay,” he said, dusting himself off, “I landed on my head.”
“Poor baby,” she said as she kissed him on the head. “Feel better?”
“Actually I will feel a lot better if you’d kiss the part that really got hurt.”
She gave him a suspicious look. “And where would that be?” He pointed to his lips. She smiled and met his wishes. In return, he brought her down on top of him, kissing her warmly.
When their lips drew apart, they just investigated each’s eyes, lovingly. Neither one of them said a word, for there was no need. She leaned down and put her head on his chest. Tracing an outline of some unknown picture, she said, “I can lay here in your arms all day.”
“Wouldn’t bother me any.”
“You’re very comfortable.”
“So are you.”
She sat up and looked at him. “Are you trying to chicken out of our game?”
“Who me?” Jim asked, trying to look innocent, though it wasn’t working well. “I wouldn’t do anything like that would I?”
“Yeah right,” Stacy sarcastically said, as she got to her feet. “Let’s go.”
The game went as Stacy predicted. Jim was able to sink one ball and that was pure luck. Jim tried to pull it off as pure skill, but Stacy shot that theory right down as she watched him lose the rest of the game.
“I wasn’t feeling up to it,” Jim said trying to explain his defeat.
“Sure,” Stacy said taunting him.
“No, really,” he said trying to convince her. “I rock at this game.”
“Don’t tell me you play a lot of miniature golf in Brooklyn.”
“Good point,” he said, nodding. “Now if you give me a pool table, then I’ll show you a real game.”
“Good, let’s find us a pool table . . .” Jim stopped in mid-sentence. His eyes grew wide in what seemed like fear. He saw someone coming that he did not wish for either. He knew he was in real trouble now.
“What?” Stacy asked, looking in the direction as Jim. When she saw what he was looking at, her smile faded. “Oh no.”
A group of kids, water guns in hand, were coming their way. “There’s one of them,” one screamed and they charged right at them.
“Come on,” Jim screamed as he grabbed Stacy by her hand and started to run. They ran as if they were running for their lives. Knowing there was no place to go, Jim decided to take a chance on the rowboat. “Get in,” Jim screamed as he untied the boat. He quickly got into the boat, and they rowed as fast as their bodies aloud.
The kid with the largest gun jumped onto the dock and went down on one knee. He aimed his gun directly at the rowboat. Jim saw him and swore. “Come on,” he whispered to himself. He watched apprehensively as the kid made sure he had a sure shot.
The kid pulled the trigger and a long spray of water headed for the boat. Just when Jim thought he was done for the stream went down and hit the water, a mere inch away from the boat. They just reached out of range.
“Yes!” Jim screamed out in victory. He stood up and raised his fist toward the kids. “Better luck next time, boys.” He started to laugh.
“Sit down,” Stacy said, urgently, “before you tip us over.” Jim did as she asked and laid down. She took a spot next to him.
“For a second there,” Jim said after a sigh of relief, “I thought we were done for.”
Stacy started to crack up. “That’s another thing I always loved about you,” she said in between chuckles, “you’re extremely weird.”
“A good kind of weird or a weird weird?” Jim asked, looking up at her.
Stacy looked at him gravely. “Weird weird,” she said soberly.
“Well,” Jim said plainly, “that’s good to know.”
Stacy leaned down, using Jim as a pillow. “You know something?”
“I like to think I know a bunch of some things.”
“I think we could get a great view of the stars from here.”
“There’s only one way to find out.”
“It’s a date,” she said as she sat up and looked into his blue eyes.
“Sounds good to me,” he said, returning her stare. “I missed you.”
“I missed you too.”
“I don’t want to ever leave your side,” he said truly meaning it. In the short time they spent together he has never felt so alive and strong. Stacy was a love he knew he couldn’t live without. “I want to stay with you forever, for I can’t live without you.”
Her mood changed into sadness. She turned her head and looked into the water. “I don’t want to leave your side either, but that’s not possible.”
Jim sat up. “What do you mean?” Jim asked. “We can start again. Be like before, no, better than before.”
“Jim please,” she said, never taking her eyes off the water, “I don’t want to talk about this.” Jim went to protest, but she turned around and put her finger on his lips. “Don’t . . . we’re having a great time. Don’t ruin it.”
“Okay,” Jim said, softly, “for now. I’m going to want to talk about it later.”
“Okay,” she said, forcing her words out. “How about we get some lunch?”
“All right,” he said as they both grabbed an ore and headed back to shore.
Neither one of them said a word as they traveled back to the dock. Once they’d stepped out of the boat, Jim saw Amanda talking to Linda. “I’ve got to tell her,” Jim said, determined.
Stacy took a deep breath. “No, you shouldn’t,” she said sedately. “You’re supposed to be here with your girlfriend not me.” Jim turned to say something. “Just do me two favors: one, don’t tell her anything yet, not until everything is clear. Two, meet me on the dance floor at seven o’clock. Deal?” She put her hand out.
“Deal,” Jim reluctantly said as he shook her hand. It wasn’t a deal he wanted to keep, but he would do what she asked.
Stacy turned away and disappeared in the crowd. Jim, slowly, walked over to Amanda. She was too engulfed in her conversation with Linda to see him coming. When he touched her shoulder, she turned around generally surprised. She hesitated for a second, then conversed. “There you go, I was looking for you.” She grabbed Jim by his arm and pulled him away from Linda. “We were about to go to Linda’s room and talk some. She’s getting better, so be patient and I’ll see you soon.”
With that, she turned around and ran away with Linda into the hotel. Something is definitely going on, he thought suspiciously. He was about to follow them to get a straight answer but was tapped on his shoulder. He turned around to see Tony. “What’s up?”
“That’s what I want to know,” he said clearly angrily.
“What are you talking about?” Jim asked clearly confused.
“What am I talking about?” He screamed, feeling like his friend was playing dumb with him. “I’m talking about me . . . seeing you . . . with Stacy. When the hell did she get here?”
“Yesterday,” Jim said, simply.
“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”
“You weren’t around,” he said sharply.
Tony was able to see a fire in Jim’s eyes that hadn’t been there in a long time. He shook his head and looked at Jim. “Are you happy?”
Jim looked Tony dead in the eye. “I haven’t felt this good in four years.”
Tony sighed. “All right,” he said, not looking at his friend, “I think me, and Christine have had enough of this fresh air shit anyway. I’ll keep her away, so she doesn’t see Stacy.”
“Thanks,” Jim said, shaking Tony’s hand.
“I just hope you know what you’re doing,” he said as he walked away.
“So do I,” Jim whispered to himself as he walked into the hotel.
16 The Dance
Jim walked into the hotel’s bar. It was only six thirty, but he couldn’t stand sitting in his room a minute longer. “Can I help you?” The bartender asked when he sat down.
“Just a beer will do,” he stated, while he looked around the room. It was a nice little place. There was another room with tables and chairs. This room was filled. In the room he was in there was a dance floor, and there was only a hand full of people dancing.
Jim paid for his beer and stared at the bottles on the wall. All the stuff he never heard of or couldn’t even pronounce. I guess they use a lot of foreign stuff here, he thought. He took a small sip of his beer when he felt a tap on his shoulder.
“Is this seat taken?” Stacy asked, as she sat. “I’ll have what he’s having,” she told the bartender.
“You’re early,” he said with a smile, “I’m glad.”
“I just couldn’t take another minute in my room. I was about to go batty.”
The music stopped and the DJ came on. “This is for all you people who have found love,” he said in a deep sexy voice. “Now all you lovers come on up and dance to ‘The Dance.’” His voice was replaced by the slow rhythm of a guitar.
“My lady,” Jim said in a fake English accent, “may I have this dance?”
“Well, I’m flattered,” she responded in a fake southern accent. She held out her hand and Jim kissed it.
They made their way to the dance floor and held each other close. They danced slowly to the rhythm as Garth Brook’s saying how he felt looking back. Jim could feel her pressed up against him. He could smell her hair and feel her soft skin against his cheek. How he wished that time would freeze at this one moment. It was something he would always cherish.
Through the corner of his eye, he saw Amanda and Linda sitting by the bar. “Stacy,” Jim whispered into her ear. “Amanda is sitting over there. I can’t keep up this deceit. I must tell her.”
“No,” Stacy said quickly. “You don’t understand. You can’t tell her.”
“I can’t keep lying to her,” Jim pleaded. “She deserves to know the truth. I owe her that much.”
“Not yet, please,” she begged. “Not until you know everything. I promise you I’ll tell you everything, just not now.”
“All right,” he said plainly. “As much as I don’t want to do this, let’s sneak out of here and watch that sunset.”
“Whatever you say, baby.”
Amanda never turned from the bartender. If she had turned around, she would have seen Jim and Stacy leaving.