When I look back now…I think I truly fell in love with Johnny Taylor at that 8th grade Halloween Party…and never really fell out…
He agreed…but then…he always agreed with me.
Within a week, I had moved into Johnny’s apartment.
It was like we had been together forever. Everything fell so easily into place. There was a bus line that went right down Snelling Avenue to the East River Road and into the U of M campus…no one wanted to drive a car to the U. if there was some other way.
I got a job as a waitress at Pierre’s Pizza, just a short one-block walk from our apartment and my student loan had kicked in so I could quite my other job as…
Yes, I had gotten the weekend popcorn girl job! Even after only a couple of weeks I knew I was going to miss that
butter I mean…popcorn.
Johnny, who had been close to failing ALL of his classes, cleared his mind, stopped partying and began to study…and not just to please me…but to please himself…to please us.
When we weren’t being in love, making love, working or studying, we spent every minute doing whatever we could to protest the Vietnam War. We marched. We made signs. We went to meetings and protest rallies. We wrote letters.
But still…more and more young men were coming home in body bags…shown in full color on CBS news.
Every night there was footage…showing young men…somewhere in Nam…either bleeding from wounds or shooting at the enemy. It was horrible to watch. But I felt I owed it to every soldier to do so.
One night…as we were drifting off to sleep…Johnny, holding me close to him as he did every night, softly whispered.
“I don’t think I could ever kill anybody, Riley.” And then…even softer…
“I don’t want to…”