Out of the Blue
After I finished my Saturday routes, I drove by O’Murphy’s house. That’s how I learned how the slightest act could cause the greatest consequence.
She called an hour later, out of the blue. “Cutie? This is Murph.”
“I. Uhh.” That used up just about every word I could think of.
“Did you ride by on your motorcycle?”
“How would you know that?” And why are you calling me? And why now?
“It didn’t sound like Richie’s Indian. It sounded like yours. And then I heard Tommy’s Yamaha. But nobody stopped.”
Scooter followed me? “O’Murphy, would you . . . ” I almost asked if she wanted to ride with me on Sunday morning’s routes. I formed this image of her arms wrapped around my chest, of me pointing out Jupiter and Venus and our shared constellation, Libra. “No.”
“No, you didn’t ride by?”
“Cutie, do you like me? I mean, really, really like me?”
“Like you?” Scooter Andersen will beat me a lot worse than that doggie. “You don’t mean, like a friend? I–I’ve never really liked anybody before. I don’t know what it feels like.”
“Well then, okay.” Her voice wasn’t hurt, it sounded–what–vacant? “Bye!”
You are such a coward. She called. All you had to do was say something.
I delivered my Monday morning route and crawled back into bed. Who do you want to avoid more, O’Murphy or the Andersens?
Mother woke me two hours later. “Aren’t you going to school?”
“Mother, I don’t feel good.”
She touched my forehead. “It’s not hot.”
She knows I’m faking, but she’s letting me stay home.
On Tuesday, I skipped first hour to avoid O’Murphy, then ditched third hour so I wouldn’t run into her or Pickle. I went to every class on Wednesday, but neither was there.
On Thursday, Murph walked into Mrs. Macintosh’s class with Scooter. His blood-red hair looked like a fox had died on his head. He caught me looking and returned a stare full of menace.
On Friday evening, I resolved to find my courage. Mrs. Larsson answered the phone.
Speak. “Mrs. Larsson, my name is Curtis. Is O’Murphy there?”
“Yes, Cutie, she’s outside with Marybeth. She’ll be with you in a minute.”
Feces. I was so scared, my mouth had gone dry.
“Hi, Cutie,” O’Murphy came on the phone, no trace of Sunday in her voice.
While I fumbled with what to say, she schmoozed for two minutes straight. “So, Cutie. You called me, and I’ve been a Chatty Cathy.”
This must be what girl talk sounds like. Scared I’d hang up, I blurted. “There’s a new movie. Tomorrow night. Dr. Zhivago.”
“Oh, I’ve heard it’s sooo romantic. Are you gonna take me?”
OhmysweetbabyJesus! She actually asked me? “Sure. If you want.”
“On your motorcycle?” she verified.
“Okay. Gotta trot. I have another guest. Seven o’clock show?”