red haired boy
February 7, 2001 02:39 PM

I was terrified of the road between their houses. A gothic novel of highway. Dark and curvy, like stepping from the beach into Sleepy Hollow. So often, I drove that road in the late night (or early morning, depending on perspective). This highway was lined with simple, two foot tall white crosses. To remind kids of the dangers of the road. Of the dead kids represented by all those crosses. Dead kid. Speed bump. Dead kid. Dead kid. It probably just added to the fun of driving down a "haunted" street for the kids who should have been sobered. And terrified me.

But drive that road I did. We did. Nearly every night that summer. There, and the homemade ice cream shop. They sell cakes from that shop in my grocery store, now. Then, my grocery store was the Giant up the street from my parents' house.

The redhaired boy was with me the first time I saw "The Hudsucker Proxy", which has held its spot on my top ten ever since. He wasn't afraid to laugh, his huge dorky laugh that everyone knew. Knew so well we could spot him in audiences from backstage. It was that sort of a laugh.

He was a mystery to me, the way he gave up art and belonging to that cadre of teen intellectualism. To be cool. In that strange normal way. Even more surprisingly, to succeed. At being a lifeguard and yearning for girls on sports teams.

But we still walked along the boardwalk together when the air started to cool. Sometimes we ditched each other and other times we stayed up all night. Most times I remember being with one or the other. Or with everyone. But there's the night everyone else was otherwise occupied and we sat up amongst the collected tiny bunnies watching television and playing chess. A game I continue to suck at to this day. I remember that night.

Later. They worked together. And went to school together. Their paths cross and diverge again and again. I lose them both, periodically refinding them. It feels good now. To know they're together again.

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