A Charmed Life
Chapter 4: No-Brainer
Copyright© 2016 by The Outsider
16 March 1985 - Lexington and Enfield, Massachusetts
Pauline and Jeff asked the Garden staff about local restaurants and received a recommendation for an Italian restaurant in Lexington. The young couple spent two hours lingering over their meal, talking. Those hours were added to the talking they’d done during the travel time in the car. Jeff did all of the things he’d learned were expected of a gentleman, such as holding doors and chairs; Jeff also offered to pay for the meal, and offered Pauline gas money, both of which she declined.
Jeff’s parents and sister were not up when the high schoolers returned, despite the fact that this was his first date; both Pauline and Jeff knew that his mother and his sister would grill him the next day. He and Pauline sat in the kitchen for another half hour, just talking. Jeff walked Pauline out to her car, held the driver’s door for her, and received another kiss.
“I had a wonderful time, Jeff,” she said after the kiss was finished, still holding him close.
“Would you like to do something next weekend?” he asked her once his synapses started firing again.
“I’d like that,” she answered before kissing him once again. “Unfortunately, we’re going away for a quick vacation now that the state tournament is over. We won’t be back until the afternoon of the twenty-fourth.”
“Figures,” Jeff muttered.
Pauline climbed into her car to head home. Jeff watched as she backed out of his driveway and drove away. He stood in his driveway in the cool night air. He reviewed the incredible night in his mind. Jeff finally shook his head in disbelief and headed inside.
Jeff walked into Thompkins nine days later. He still had a spring in his step from his night with Pauline the previous Saturday; he caught sight of Pauline at her locker and made his way over.
Pauline smiled, then turned and saw that it was Jeff. “Hi.” She pulled him in for another long, steamy kiss, not worrying about who saw them. “I missed you.”
“I missed you, too. I wanted to say again that I had a great time last Saturday,” he said as they stepped back from each other.
“I did as well,” she replied, still smiling. “I’m looking forward to what this weekend may bring.”
“Do you have something specific you’d like to do?”
“I wouldn’t mind just going to a pizza place, so long as we can talk like we did Saturday; I really enjoyed that. I...” She stopped speaking and her eyes widened as Jeff felt a presence behind him. Jeff brought his arm up to shield his head. He felt a fist strike his forearm. Turning and shielding Pauline with his body, Jeff saw Bryan Cosgrove, the boy he’d had the cafeteria confrontation with last year. Cosgrove, stunned that he had missed, tried smacking Jeff in the head again but was again blocked.
“What’s your problem, Cosgrove?” Jeff asked angrily.
“You are, geek. You shouldn’t be talking to girls. You should be locked in the computer room, or something.” Cosgrove labeled Jeff a geek early in their freshman year during study hall. Jeff had been studying instead of messing around like Cosgrove.
“Well, I was being polite and thanking Pauline for our date last weekend, crapeaud.”
“What did you call me, geek?” Cosgrove asked, stepping closer.
“Crapeaud,” Jeff responded, standing his ground. “It’s French for toad, you jerk. I could have called you something else but crapeaud is easy to say and there’s a lady present; it also has the benefit of having crap in it. Now, if you don’t mind, I’d like to get back to discussing this coming weekend with Pauline before first period starts.” Jeff turned his back to Cosgrove, dismissing and enraging him at the same time. Jeff felt Cosgrove’s hand on his shoulder pulling to spin him around. Jeff turned and raised his left arm to block the punch he knew Cosgrove would throw. Sure enough, Cosgrove’s fist was almost in his face. Jeff blocked the punch with ease, and shoved him away. Cosgrove stumbled backwards, then landed on his ass.
Cosgrove was stunned for a moment before he picked himself up off the floor with anger visible on his face. Jeff stood his ground. He ducked back away from a punch and redirected it so that Cosgrove spun away. Jeff slid sideways, to keep himself between Cosgrove and Pauline. “Pauline, get a teacher!” Jeff yelled.
Cosgrove growled, spun around, and hurled himself at Jeff again. Students crowded around. Pauline and Mr. Fenniman, an English teacher, forced their way through. Jeff focused on the two-hundred pound bully who charged at him like a bull. Jeff stepped aside at the last second, giving Cosgrove a firm shove as he passed. The shove caused Cosgrove to crunch into the row of lockers behind Jeff with a loud crash.
“You come at me again and I’ll drop you, Cosgrove!” Jeff warned.
Cosgrove yelled “YOU’RE GONNA DIE, SPAZ!” He was only able to see red at this point; He launched himself at Jeff yet again. Jeff let Cosgrove close with him before stepping inside Cosgrove’s swing.
Jeff hooked Cosgrove’s arm and used the bully’s momentum to pull him over his hip, then used Cosgrove’s body weight to drive him to the floor. Cosgrove landed flat on his back, knocking the wind out of him. He lay gasping, trying to catch his breath when Mr. Fenniman moved to stand over him. The older man hauled Cosgrove to his feet and dragged him away in the direction of the office.
The crowd was stunned. They’d thought that Jeff was an easy-going guy up until today. No one expected the confrontation; no one expected anything but Jeff getting splattered by Bryan Cosgrove once it started. But Jeff was untouched!
Jeff turned back to Pauline. She stared at him in shock, her eyes wide. Jeff sighed in resignation, his shoulders slumped, with a sorrowful look on his face; he thought he had blown the chance with her that she’d given him the previous weekend due to the violence he’d shown himself capable of. He walked over to the young woman he’d wanted to know so much better.
“I’m so sorry, Pauline,” he said to her in a soft voice only she could hear. “I won’t bother you any more.” Jeff began to turn and walk away when Pauline grabbed the front of his shirt. She pulled him back to her and planted a deep, searing kiss on his lips. She left him breathless while the crowd hooted their approval. His sorrowful look turned to shock, then to dopey by the time she released him.
“Everyone listen up!” she yelled to the crowd. “Jeff Knox is my BOYFRIEND! Anyone who has a problem with that can get bent!”
“I’ll pick you up Friday at six,” she told him, in a tone that brooked no argument. “Remember, I know where you live if you even THINK of standing me up.” Seeing his expression change from dopey to confused, Pauline explained. “I’ve gotten to know you better since hockey season began last November, Jeff; I know I have nothing to fear from you. I know that I would never be on the receiving end of anything even close to that.”
“I could also tell that you were keeping yourself between Cosgrove and me just now, protecting me.” She stepped closer so she could whisper in his ear. “To tell you the truth, that’s got me a little hot and bothered. Expect to get a little further than first base soon; maybe not all the way around the bases, but definitely past first.” She pulled him back in for another deep kiss before sashaying away. “See you at lunch!”
Brad Connolly walked over to stand by Jeff. He watched Pauline strut down the hall. Brad was a senior and someone not to be trifled with. “Dude,” Brad whispered to Jeff as they both kept their eyes on Pauline, “don’t take this the wrong way, but how did you get a total babe like Pauline Micklicz to go out with you?”
“I have no idea, Brad,” Jeff admitted, shrugging. “She asked me.”
“Fair enough,” Brad laughed. “I know we don’t really run with the same crowds, and you look like you can handle yourself, but my friends and I will have your back if Cosgrove or his fellow maggots try something.” Jeff turned to face Brad and raised an eyebrow.
“Jeff, my locker is right across from Pauline’s; I heard you thanking her for going out with you two weekends ago. She had clearly enjoyed herself and that’s before she laid those kisses on you.” Jeff blushed. “You’re a lucky S.O.B., but from what I know of you, you deserve it. No one - NO ONE - is gonna try to take that away from you by force, not while I have anything to say about it. She’s really the only one that can take it away from you at this point.”