That guy from Earling and I never did anything more than neck–of course he tried, as all boys tried back then–but my father somehow would have found out, and there would have been hell to pay. Before, a guy who was dating someone I called a friend then, not now by any means, told her that he wanted to break up with her and date me. He was so tall, 6’7″, that at the Denison theater he had to drape his legs over the seat in front of him. Stretch, he was called. Mutt and Jeff, we were called. Never knew why that moniker stayed with us. That movie house was known then and now as the Donna Reed theatre. Denny bragged that he shook Donna Reed’s hand when she rode in a 4th of July parade. I only saw her on the Donna Reed show and in It’s a Wonderful Life.
I liked him, but I broke up with him when he tried to go too far. One night on the way to Manilla, Denny pulled over and opened some beer. He wanted me to drink some, but I refused.
We dated during my junior year and senior year. In the summer, he would come and pick me up in his ’57 Chevy. One hot, humid, sultry night, a night with little breeze, we came back to the farm before curfew and started necking right there in the lane under the yard light, the kind of necking where heads do not rise about a rolled-down window. Funny thing about memories, some images last forever. I remember hearing the shotgun before I saw my father, the click, click to put the shell in the chamber. A hot night, and through the window, hot and heavy on the seat, I heard it in that quiet night. Denny raised up and said, “I best be going.” Then I did too, and saw my father standing in front of the screen door, the shotgun in his hands. I don’t think I kissed Denny before I left the car. I remember that still, the raised head right after the sound, my seeing my father with the gun in his arms ready to be shot.