Responsibilities of Being a Man
by J. C. G. Goelz
Table of Contents|
1, 2 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Even though the exhilaration of the big game was still fresh, I stewed all day Saturday. April had her big date with Sterling that evening, and I didn’t like it. I didn’t like that there was nothing I could do about it. I overheard April talking to Mom, and she said it was going to be a dinner and a movie, and it would be so romantic.
“Romantic” in our vicinity meant parking by the lake. It wasn’t that big, but there was a gravel parking lot where you could look at the stars reflecting in the water, as well as do some other things, if you were so inclined. It had been called “Peck-and-Paw Point” or just “Peckinpaw” even before my parents were kids.
I had explored the area as a little kid, and there were condom wrappers and beer cans littering the ground. I guess that’s what passes for romance around here. Sterling lived on the far side of the lake, but I knew my folks wouldn’t let April visit a boy’s house unless they knew the boy and his parents well, and the visit was chaperoned.
I wanted to follow them, but I didn’t have truck privileges on the weekend. I had seen Sterling’s idea of “romantic” in the stairwell behind the school. If he tried to disrespect my sister, I would want to flat out kill him. You don’t treat my women that way. You don’t treat any women that way, if you are a real man. Unfortunately, what I would view as disrespect might be different from what my sister viewed as disrespect.
* * *
I walked over to Jimmy’s house, and he was of a similar mind regarding April’s big date.
“I don’t know how much is true,” said Jimmy, “but Sterling is always bragging about how many girls he’s getting. He said he was going to have at least one new girl every week of the season, and he’s targeting the ninth through eleventh graders. Good thing the junior high is four blocks away.”
“We can’t let April... with someone like him.” I pounded the titanium rod in my hand. The threaded holes at each end provided for a hollow thump that reverberated for just a moment, not like a whap sound — a dull dead sound that would have happened if the rod was completely solid — but not the ringing, tuning-fork-like sound that comes when I connect solidly with my magnesium bat, either. There was something comforting about holding it in my hands. There was something gratifying about swinging it. Not as gratifying as swinging my bat and connecting solidly with a ball, but there was more heft to the rod, and I hadn’t really connected with anything solid yet.
“I agree,” said Jimmy. “So you think he’ll be taking her to Peckinpaw after the movie?”
“Where else do you go for ‘romance’ around here?” To be honest, I didn’t have a clue what romance means, although I suspected it was all about making someone want something. Valentine cards or chocolate, or whatever else folks want to get, and someone else wants to sell. Maybe romance was all about selling.
“I don’t really know, but it’s not like we have a French restaurant, and they can’t get in a nightclub.” Jimmy looked thoughtful, hanging his head down, and pursing his lips. “What do you think we’ll have to do?”
“I don’t know, but she’s my sister. It’s my responsibility. I’ll do whatever it takes.”
“I’m with you. You can count on me.”
I’m not really sure why Jimmy was eager to help me, whether it was his friendship with me or his feelings for April. We didn’t really have any plans to make, and only a few preparations, so we played some more Call of Duty. I killed more than Jimmy did, but I got killed more often, too.
* * *
Copyright © 2019 by J. C. G. Goelz