High School Honey
by Bill Bowler
|Table of Contents|
|Chapter 17: Hesitation|
On Monday afternoon, after her last class, Honey saw Flea in the corridor at school. He tried to duck out of sight.
“Hey, Flea, where you going?”
“How are you?”
“Me? I’m fine.”
“What are you doing?”
“Nothing. Just hanging.”
She took him by the arm. “Want to walk me home?”
Flea pulled his arm free. “I don’t know. I’m kind of busy.”
“What do you mean?”
“I have stuff to do. You know.”
Silence ensued. It began to get awkward. Flea was staring down at the floor, but glanced up at Honey. She looked worried. “Oh, all right. Sure. Let’s go.”
They left the school building together and stepped out into a beautiful spring day. The sun was bright, the afternoon was warm but not hot, the air was clear.
“That was awful when Mr. Loom walked in on us.” Honey shook her head.
“Yeah,” Flea chuckled.
“He hit Floater with a belt?”
“That’s terrible. It’s not right. There are other ways. Know what I mean?”
Flea was looking around, checking out other chicks. He noticed an extremely well-built sophomore crossing the street in tight plaid shorts and a sheer, clinging cashmere sweater with apparently nothing on underneath. She was really stacked.
“Know what I mean?”
“Did you hear what I said?”
When Flea and Honey reached her place, they stood for a moment by the front stoop.
“What to come in?”
“I don’t know. I, ah...”
“Oh, come on.”
“I have stuff to do.”
“What’s the rush? Why don’t you come in for a little while?”
“All right, all right. But just for a minute.”
Honey took Flea by the arm and led him through the door.
Flea sat at the kitchen table and Honey poured him a glass of Coke. Mrs. Miller came into the kitchen. She had been watching soap operas on TV.
“Mom, this is Flea.”
“Hello, Flea. Nice to meet you,” said Mrs. Miller in a soft, slurred voice. It seemed an effort for her to speak. Mrs. Miller opened the refrigerator, put fresh ice cubes in her glass, refilled her martini, and returned to the TV room just as the commercials were ending and her show was coming back on.
Honey ran her hand through Flea’s hair.
“Hey, don’t mess it up, eh?” Flea took out a comb to fix it. He gulped down the coke and stood up. “I’ve got to get going.”
“You want to come over Friday night, after I get off work?”
“Well, I don’t know...” His expression was impassive.
“Come on, I’m done at ten. My mother won’t be home. Please.”
“Well, I don’t know. Maybe. We’ll see...”
What could he say? How did he know what he wanted to do on Friday night? Friday night was long-term planning at this point. And why was she trying to pin him down? What was her problem? Why couldn’t she just take it easy? He, for one, was keeping his options open, and he’d recommend she do the same.
After Flea left, Honey wandered into the TV room and joined her mother. The news was on. There was footage of jungle combat, of crackling gunfire and explosions, and bloody soldiers firing machine guns. The announcer was giving the body count from the day’s fighting. Then a commercial for foot deodorant came on.
Mrs. Miller yawned and sipped her drink. “That was a nice looking boy you brought home. Nice eyes.”
“I’m in love with him, mom.”
“Don’t be absurd.”
“I should have known you wouldn’t understand!”
“But Honey, I do understand. That boy...”
“My goodness, what a name!”
“His real name is John. Everyone calls him Flea.”
“Well, Flea is very handsome. Reminds me of your father, in a way. But love? Don’t you think that might be a bit hasty? What’s he like?”
“He’s very sensitive and thoughtful. Considerate. Very gentle and tender. And intelligent.”
“How long have you known him?”
“I’ve known who he was since freshman year. But I only really got to know him Saturday night.”
“What happened Saturday night?”
“I thought you stayed at Shirley’s Saturday night?”
“I did. Never mind, mom. You wouldn’t understand.”
Her mother didn’t understand anything! The news ended and a game show with guest celebrities came on. Mrs. Miller watched her daughter leave the room, and an alarming thought approached the threshold of consciousness, but it turned back as she settled into the chair and picked up her drink again.
Copyright © 2010 by Bill Bowler