“I’d love to guys, but can it wait until the morning? I have to get some sleep. I’m going to the rock festival at Lake Mariposa tomorrow, “ answered Rick with a yawn.
“Who are you going with?” asked Rick’s mom.
“Lloyd and Misty from across the street offered to take me.”
“Well, I’m glad you’re getting to know our new neighbors, Rick, “ added his dad approvingly. “Your mom and I have been a little amiss in reaching out to them so far.”
After he said goodnight to his parents Rick went to his room and fell into a pleasantly exhausting sleep.
Rick got up at about ten-thirty the following morning. He awoke, got himself a coffee and decided he’d smoke a Cameo menthol cigarette this morning. As Rick hadn’t been smoking very long he sometimes found that regular cigarettes gave him a sore throat in the mornings. Menthol cigarettes seemed to sooth his throat. He looked out the living room window and could see that the weather was bright and sunny. His mother was already busy in the kitchen making breakfast. She was a tall middle aged woman who was still very attractive. This morning she didn’t look it though. She was still in her house coat and slippers and her hair was a mess. “ Are you ready for some pancakes Rick?” she asked.
“Sure Mom, but I’ll just have two,” answered Rick. Rick was trying to lose a bit of weight. He was probably between ten and twenty pounds overweight.
In spite of all the exercise Rick got playing goal in hockey he had a stocky build and if he wasn’t careful he could easily become fat. Rick was determined to watch what he ate this summer. For exercise he planned to ride his ten speed bike to Assiniboine Park every day and to work out with his
free weights in the basement.
Rick sat down at the kitchen table and his mother put two pancakes on his plate. “Well, tell us about your evening Rick?”
His father had just joined them at the table. His mother poured his dad a cup of steaming hot black coffee. His dad immediately lit up a Sportsman cigarette.
“So did you meet a girl?” Rick’s father asked. His dad had a way of getting straight to the point.
“Yeah, how did you know Dad?” asked Rick with a surprised look on his face.
“I was young once too, Rick,” his father answered.
“How did you meet her?,” asked her mother.
“I was just coming out of the record store and there she was. She asked me if she could bum a smoke.”
“You work fast, Rick,” said his father grinning as his wife placed four pancakes on his dish. Rick’s dad also struggled with his weight but at this point in his life he had almost given up the battle. He had resigned himself to the fact that he would always be a big guy.
“Thanks, Dad,” Rick said smiling.
“I’m not sure that your father meant that as a compliment Rick. It sounds like you took up with a totally strange woman. Is she one of those hippies?” asked his mother with a tone of concern in her voice.
“Well, she looks like one. She’s a very nice girl though,” Rick replied taking a sip of his coffee.
“Did you have sex with her?” asked his dad as he cut up a large pancake on his plate.
“You don’t beat around the bush, do you Dad?” Rick laughed. Rick and his father had a very good relationship even during his teenage years.
“No, we didn’t have sex, Dad. We went to see a band at River Heights Community Center,” answered Rick finishing off his second pancake.
“Are you seeing her again today, Rick?” asked his mom.
“Yes, I’m going to meet Arwen at Memorial Park at noon. Lloyd and Misty will be picking us up there and will be taking us to the rock festival at Lake Mariposa,” answered Rick putting one of his cameo cigarettes in his mouth.
“Well, it sounds like you have another fun day ahead of you. If anything develops Rick make sure you use protection,” Rick’s dad advised. Rick’s father could still recall his teenage years very vividly.
“Of course, Dad. I’ll put my jock strap on before I leave,” said Rick lighting up his smoke with a lighter that had a picture of Marilyn Monroe on it. Rick’s dad burst out laughing when he heard Rick’s answer.
At around 11:30 A.M., Rick started his walk to Memorial Park. He always took the route over the Norwood Bridge and down Mayfair until he arrived downtown. Rick was almost bouncing along as he thought of Arwen and the great memories he had of last night. Maybe this summer would be “the big one” thought Rick. Most of his other summers had been pretty boring if his parents didn’t take them on vacation. If there wasn’t a summer road trip with his family to look forward to Rick would often spend his summer afternoons playing touch football with his friends. He was starting to dislike playing football as last summer Rick had developed a condition where he perspired profusely. Several of his peers mocked him for this and Rick felt humiliated. This summer he had taken to wearing black tank tops and this helped to keep the excessive perspiration problem hidden. Rick knew that if he gave up drinking
coffee this would probably help but Rick was like his father. He felt that the coffee and cigarettes helped to wake hm up and give him energy throughout the day.
When Rick arrived at Memorial Park he placed one hand across his forehead to block out the sun . From just a general overview of the Park, Rick could not see Arwen. He then decided to walk past each group of hippies at the park. Rick asked a couple of people if they knew a chick named Arwen but nobody did.
Rick heard some one yelling his name from Memorial Boulevard. He turned around to see Arwen standing by a row of parked motorcycles. She was standing next to a tall, wiry man that appeared to be considerably older than her.
Arwen waved Rick over. “Hi Rick. I’d like you to meet my old man, Skip.”
Skip extended his hand and Rick noticed streaks of gray in the biker’s hair.
“It’s good to meet you, man. Arwen told me you took good care of her yesterday. I checked with a few of our friends and they told me I could probably find Arwen here,” said Skip with a friendly smile.
“Yeah, Skip’s going to give me a ride back to Van. A couple of months ago I auditioned for an all girl band in Van. Skip told me that their lead singer quit the band last week and they are interested in giving me another audition,” Arwen explained.
Rick got all flushed and felt like he might faint for a moment but was able to steady himself against a nearby green lamp post. ‘When are you leaving?” he managed to blurt out.
“In a few minutes Rick. I just wanted to let you know what was happening,” Arwen answered. “What’s the matter, man? Are you all right?”
“Yeah, I”ll be okay. I’m just a bit surprised I guess,” Rick answered.
“Well I just wanted to tell you Rick, that I had a great time hanging out with
you yesterday,” said Arwen with a look of concern on her face. She leaned over and gave Rick a big hug and a kiss on the cheek before riding off with Skip.
Rick watched them leave for about thirty seconds before making an exit from the park. He crossed Memorial Boulevard and found the closest back lane. He went to the back of an old building, leaned against the wall and began to weep.
After a couple of minutes of heavy sobbing a troubling thought raced through Rick’s mind. He had to get back to the park. Lloyd and Misty would be looking for him. Rick ran from behind the building and made it back to Memorial Park in under a minute. Just as he calmed down and got his bearings, Rick recognized Lloyd’s bright yellow van turning onto Memorial Boulevard.
Lloyd pulled the van up to the curb and parked on Memorial Boulevard. Rick waved and yelled out, ”It’s Rick. I’m over here.”
Misty stuck her head out of the window of the van, “Where’s your girlfriend?” Isn’t she here yet?”
“Well, she was here, but you just missed her by a few minutes,” Rick managed to say calmly.
“Where is she now?” asked Misty.
“Headed back to Vancouver with her old man. I think she’s planning to join a rock band there,” Rick said in answer to Misty’s question.
“That’s a real bummer, man. I feel bad for you Rick,” said Lloyd in a comforting tone of voice. Lloyd, like all males, had experienced the pain of being rejected by a woman. It feels like a hard punch to the gut that makes it hard to breathe.
“Well, hop in the van buddy. We’re going to try to take away some of that bad vibe. You may be hurting now but you won’t be lacking for female company,” said Lloyd.
‘You can ride in the back with my sister, Sasha,” Misty offered.
“Hi Sasha,” Rick said softly without really looking at her.