I was back from Vietnam and discharged from the army. I was young and in college. A light snow was falling. It was night and I could see that farther down the avenue the commercial district was all lit up. I was glad I had decided to stay in Pittsburgh to go to school. I wasn’t so happy about joining the fraternity I had joined.
Well this time I wasn’t going to take any more guff from Tom. It didn’t matter that he had been drunk earlier. It didn’t matter that he was my fraternity brother. When he was sober he was too big to mess with, but he was probably still drunk and getting drunker and I could take him. I was well into the commercial district when someone spoke to me. The person was past me and I stopped and turned to see who it was and it was Joyce Lynn Summerton.
She said, “And where are you on your way to in such a huff?”
“To kick some butt!” I didn’t like the anger in my voice. I didn’t like that Joyce could hear the anger, too.
Joyce Lynn Summerton was in my Monday, Wednesday and Friday ten o’clock. I looked at her hair, eyes and mouth. Her complexion had a slight glow from the chill in the air. There was something in her shoulder bag. I shifted my books and notebook to my other hand.
More calmly I said, “You don’t make it to any of our parties anymore.”
“Not like I use to,” she said. “Some of the fraternity brothers get too rowdy for me.”
We stood in silence for a moment. Her gloved right hand came up and squeezed her coat together at her throat even though her muffler must have kept out the chilly air. She smiled at me and then looked away.
“I’m headed back to the dorms to sit in front of the boob tube,” she said. “On a Friday night. Do you believe it? I just made a run for some popcorn to pop.”
I nodded and smiled.
“Well,” she said, “have to slide.”
She turned back to me.
I said, “Do you think I could come up and watch some TV with you?”
“In my room?”
“I’ll go whenever you want me to.”
“Frank, I don’t know.”
“Are you seeing someone?”
“A boyfriend?” She laughed. “No, I don’t have a boyfriend.”
There was a display window near us. Several mannequins in swim suits were posing on a sunny beach. Joyce was looking at the display window. She put her gloved hands in the pockets of her coat and then looked at me and said, “I’ll have to sign you in.”
We started walking for the dorms.
“So,” she said, “how’ve you been?”