Lola and I continued to see each other on a regular basis. I guess she was my girlfriend now. We only had that one opportunity to have sex, but it was glorious, and that changes you.
I looked back on my short life. In just two years I had gone from high school loser to a guy that was doing better in school. I had emerged in one piece from my horrid puberty, joined a band, learned how to play guitar and write songs. I was having another great summer and was reeling in the euphoria of it all.
I had started jamming with a kid I met and at least that was a start. I’d deal with the new high school in the Fall because there was nothing I could do about it. I was seventeen years old now. In New Jersey I could get my driver’s license before the end of the year.
Lola had to go back to Newark and back to middle school so it was bittersweet, but she assured me she’d visit. Her mom liked to get away from the city even in the winter. (Who wouldn’t want to get away from Newark as much as possible?) She said she’d come down with her mom on the occasional weekend to visit with her aunt, so we could be together.
I was playing my favorite pinball machine, ‘Flash’ at Botto’s when my middle sister, April and a friend of hers entered the arcade. They played some songs on the jukebox and played Ms. Pac Man and sipped sodas.
Other than my sister, April and her friend Brenda, we were the only ones in the place. It was nearly Labor day and the summer was basically over so nobody was around. There would be one last surge of tourists for the three-day weekend, but the summer of 1979 was on its ass, as my dad would say.
Her friend goes outside to the phone booth to make a call. (Google it, millennials!) April approaches to watch me play.
“You love that machine.”
“I do.” I say, not taking my eye off the ball and slapping the buttons on the side to drive the flippers to keep that ball scoring. I never look away for anyone. Unless Farrah Fawcett walked into Botto’s then I might make an exception and let the ball drop.
“I see you’ve been spending time with Lola lately.”
“Oh, who? Oh Yea. Lola. I see her here sometimes. She seems nice.” (I like keeping my life as private as possible, unlike now where every meal people have is posted on social media. Fools!)
“I’ve seen you in here with her a lot.”
Eye on the game. Scoring. “I come here a lot. People come here. It’s everybody’s hangout.”
“I saw you on the beach with her.”
“Umm… I’ve seen her at the beach.”
“No, I mean like together on the beach.”
“Yea… I might have hung out with her once at the beach. No big deal. I hang with a lot of people at the beach.
“I saw you in the water with her.”
I just keep playing but I’m starting to get annoyed. “So? The water’s warm this time of year.
“But you guys were doing more than just swimming and body surfing. I saw other things.”
Now I’m starting to struggle with my game due to the interrogation from my obvious ‘future prosecuting attorney’, fourteen year old sister, April.
“And the stuff you were doing on the blanket together. I saw you.”
“What’s the big deal?” I smirk.
“What are you some kind of cradle robber, Chaz?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Dude. She’s MY AGE!”
Lola’s FOURTEEN YEARS OLD!”
The ball just falls past my flippers. “WHAT?”
“Yea. She’s fourteen.”
“I’m not going to say anything, but just be careful. I’m just looking out for you.”
My heart is pounding and I’m having an anxiety attack, but I’m keeping it inside.
“Well she went home so…no problem. I probably won’t hear from her again.”
April looked at me with a suspicious eye.
She smirks, and her friend Brenda returns. “Let’s go across the street and play mini golf.”
I’m standing there alone in the arcade. My mind is reeling. What the fuck? Fourteen? What have I done? I thought Lola was on the right side of sixteen with that slamming body. I never asked, just assumed, and she never said anything.
Have I just punched a teenage girl’s V card and committed statutory rape on a girl I love?
What am I going to do?
That’s what I’m going to do.
Nobody knows anything except me and Lola. It’s between us. April just saw us making out on the beach.
I calm myself by just breathing. I don’t want to throw up in Botto’s.
I reach in my pocket and pull out a quarter. I thrust the coin into the open slot of the machine…. and have a memory.
I start playing again.
And I like it.
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