I picked up my phone and called his number.  Again.

It hadn’t changed in over 30 years.

I had called it so many times I knew it by heart…and I always ended the call before entering the last number.

But not this time.  This time…I forced myself to finish..

It rang seven times.  I waited…seven times.  My heart beating just a little faster after each ring.

And after each ring…my other hand…as it had done so many times before…moved a little to disconnect.  But not this time. 

“Hello…”

It was him!

My God…he sounded so young!  I hadn’t expected that…

Suddenly the years disappeared and we were both seventeen again and he was asking me…to go to the football game…to go to a movie…to go to dinner at Freddie’s…or…or…

…to find out if I was pregnant…and then when hearing I was not…laughing nervously with me in relief.

Now…I couldn’t speak.  I didn’t know what to say.  This was a mistake.  I had made a terrible mistake.

What if he had forgotten me?

I couldn’t bear that…my heart would shatter into a million pieces…dreams vanishing in a split second.

I had waited too long.

But then…

“Riley?”  His voice was now urgent, intense….

My hand started to shake so hard, I dropped the phone. I grabbed at it with both hands.

“How did you…?”  I whispered but then stunned into silence.

“Oh, Riley…” he said…ever so softly…and I could tell he was starting to smile.

“I’ve kept track of you…I’ve waited for this call for so long…for you to…”   Then suddenly his voice broke and I could hear the tears in his eyes.

“Yeah?”  I could barely speak…my voice cracking as well.

“Are you…okay?”  That familiar deep voice was back…but sounding a little hesitant…perhaps wondering if he had the right to even ask…now…after all this time.

“I’m okay…” I sighed.  I could breathe again.  It would be all right.  Somehow I knew…it would be all right.

“God, I’ve missed you, Riley.”

“I’ve missed you…”

“It’s been almost 40 years…”

“I know…”  My words dropped into the depths of unspeakable anguish.  The pain of so many lost days and nights slashed like a razor into my heart and would not let me say more…

“Riley…?”

“Yeah?”  I struggled to answer as hot tears were streaming down my cheeks.

“I still love you…I still love you, Riley.”

“Yeah…me too.”

The End…

 

 

“Sometimes the truth can be so boring…”

Chapter 1

It was possibly the most beautiful day of my whole entire life…a life presently consisting of twenty (almost twenty-one…but not quite) years.

It was September in Minnesota and most of the leaves on the oak and elm trees had just started turning from their humdrum shades of green to the brilliant, intense colors of yellow, red and orange.

“I should still be back lying on the beach…enjoying these last few hours of summer,” murmured Cooper Malone to herself as she looked wistfully out the window of her best friend’s car.  There were far too few of these beautiful late summer days left.

But no…instead I was sitting in the front seat of Franny Sherman’s brand-new, 1966 Candy Apple Red Mustang…chain-smoking one cigarette after another…trying to get up the courage to walk into the very popular neighborhood saloon…”The Friendly Inn”…knowing full well that I was not of legal age to drink.  I took a deep breath.

“They will demand to see my ID and then…when they notice that I am underage, they will call the cops and I will end up in a tiny, little jail cell,” I complained to Franny who… as my best friend…seemed to be paying little attention to me…and my pathetic exaggerations.

“Sometimes the truth can be

so boring…”

Chapter 3

The mirror’s tiny image showed a ruffled, Clairol-assisted, bleached-blonde, pixie haircut, in desperate need of a comb, hazel-brown eyes with green eye shadow (a little smudged…but who cared).

I smiled big…noting in my teeth.  My…just a tiny bit crooked…nose showed the effect of hours of basking in the sun.

My slightly ‘bent’ nose was a result of me foolishly not wearing my catcher’s mask during warm-ups earlier this spring during a fast-pitch softball tournament that I was unfortunately unable to participate in…since I was sitting on an old, very hard, plastic chair in the ER of Minneapolis General Hospital.

Incidentally…broken noses really do produce an un-Godly amount of blood.  Anyway…

I guess I looked okay.  Good enough to be arrested at least.

Franny seemed to be speed walking as I slowly dragged along.  I caught up with her at the corner…still unable to think of a way I could wriggle out of what I was certain to be a horrible disaster.

I had considered and then discarded my possible, upcoming promotion at work as an excuse.  I was in line to be made assistant to the circulation manager at the Minneapolis Journal…the newspaper where Franny and I both worked.

She was one of the local advertising reps and I was slowly moving up in the circulation department.  (No pun intended…)

However sad this sounds…I had to face the reality that most everyone at the paper had ‘liquid’ lunches and sometimes even ‘liquid’ afternoon breaks…so no one would bat an eye if I got nailed for underage drinking.

Most…including my boss, Mr. ‘party guy’ Ross Taylor…would probably consider it just a “rite of passage” into the wild world of adulthood.  

As we waited for the light to turn green, I heard a roar of motorcycles coming up from behind.

I turned and noticed two guys on Harley-Davidsons who had also stopped at the red light.

Ever since I had seen the movie “The Wild One” with Marlon Brando, I had…for some odd reason…become a big fan of motorcycles.  Don’t ask me why…I have no idea.

Even though they were both wearing aviator sunglasses, I could see they both looked pretty sweet!  Oh, c’mon!  Aren’t all guys on motorcycles sweet?  You know…all that leather and… you know…stuff??

Being the friendly sort of person that I am, I sent a huge smile in their direction…you know…as in “Hey welcome to the corner of 34th Avenue and 51st Street.”

Don’t judge me!  I am a very sociable person by nature.  I smile at most people…and when I am out walking…I say hello to every dog I meet as well.  As in…”Hi, dog!”

The biker closest to me pushed up his sunglasses and smiled back…may I say he had really incredibly vivid blue eyes?  I will…he did.

His smile was just a tad inviting… kind of slow and lazy.  Okay.  It was slow, lazy and sexy.

He was wearing a white tee shirt that had seen better days and faded jeans.  His scuffed, black, leather boots looked older than me.  No matter…it was working.

He was really tan and his longish, blonde hair was sun-bleached almost white…just like I was trying to get mine to look.

He was, actually…if you must know…drop-dead, fucking magnificent.

He looked quickly over at his friend and then back at me.  His friend had nodded what appeared to signal some sort of agreement…

“Want to go for a ride?” he asked me.

I think I stopped breating…no really…no intake of air was present for many seconds.

“Sometimes the truth can be

so boring…”

Chapter 4

I was walking toward his bike before I even knew what I was doing…other than putting one foot in front of the other..and managing somehow not to trip and fall down.

Then he revved his bike’s engine…the sound was like a siren call.

“Sure…” I said, with not one single, intelligent thought floating around in my brain.

(And…I might add…whose voice was that coming out of my mouth? Certainly not my voice. My voice was perky and bouncy…one could even describe it as sprightly.)

This voice sounded like I had been drinking whiskey for the past twelve hours…during and after my job as a piano-bar singer in a smoke-filled nightblub while I was still recovering from laryngitis.

“What about your friend?” he asked and raised up his head in question…indicating, of course, friend Franny.

“What?” I said. (There was that strange voice again). I had a friend?

But then a sharp poke in my side quickly brought me back to reality.

“Oh, right!” I yelped. I turned to look at Franny who had left the curb and was now standing right next to me.

We whispered out a quick deal. We would both get on the bikes, go for a ride and then later I would go into The Friendly Inn with her. I would not quibble at all…not one quibble.

She knew that “Roger”…the guy she was really hoping to see tonight…wouldn’t be showing up until much later.

So, for her it was really a win-win situation…especially since the other biker…who had now also taken off his sunglasses…was also drop-dead good looking. That was a plus.

And…the deal was done.

“We can only be gone for a couple of hours,” Franny said to nobody in particular…because nobody in particular was listening.

“We’re meeting some people later at The Friendly.”

Then she walked over to “Biker # 2”.