Home > A Walk To Remember(10)

A Walk To Remember(10)
Nicholas Sparks

So things weren’t too terrible at first and really no worse than I had expected. It wasn’t until Lew and Angela showed up that everything really went sour.

They showed up a few minutes after we arrived. He was wearing that stupid T-shirt, Camels in his sleeve, and a glop of hair gel on his head. Angela hung all over him right from the beginning of the dance, and it didn’t take a genius to realize she’d had a few drinks before she got there. Her dress was really flashy—her mother worked in a salon and was up on all the latest fashions—and I noticed she’d picked up that ladylike habit called chewing gum. She really worked that gum, chewing it almost like a cow working her cud.

Well, good old Lew spiked the punch bowl, and a few more people started getting tipsy. By the time the teachers found out, most of the punch was already gone and people were getting that glassy look in their eyes. When I saw Angela gobble up her second glass of punch, I knew I should keep my eye on her. Even though she’d dumped me, I didn’t want anything bad to happen to her. She was the first girl I’d ever French-kissed, and even though our teeth clanked together so hard the first time we tried it that I saw stars and had to take aspirin when I got home, I still had feelings for her.

So there I was, sitting with Jamie, barely listening as she described the wonders of Bible school, watching Angela out of the corner of my eye, when Lew spotted me looking at her. In one frenzied motion he grabbed Angela around the waist and dragged her over to the table, giving me one of those looks, the one that “means business.” You know the one I’m talking about.

“Are you staring at my girl?” he asked, already tensing up.

“No.”

“Yeah, he was,” Angela said, kind of slurring out the words. “He was staring right at me. This is my old boyfriend, the one I told you about.”

His eyes turned into little slits, just like Hegbert’s were prone to do. I guess I have this effect on lots of people.

“So you’re the one,” he said, sneering.

Now, I’m not much of a fighter. The only real fight I was ever in was in third grade, and I pretty much lost that one when I started to cry even before the guy punched me. Usually I didn’t have much trouble staying away from things like this because of my passive nature, and besides, no one ever messed with me when Eric was around. But Eric was off with Margaret somewhere, probably behind the bleachers.

“I wasn’t staring,” I said finally, “and I don’t know what she told you, but I doubt if it was true.”

His eyes narrowed. “Are you calling Angela a liar?” he sneered.

Oops.

I think he would have hit me right there, but Jamie suddenly worked her way into the situation.

“Don’t I know you?” she said cheerfully, looking right at him. Sometimes Jamie seemed oblivious of situations that were happening right in front of her. “Wait—yes, I do. You work in the garage downtown. Your father’s name is Joe, and your grandma lives out on Foster Road, by the railroad crossing.”

A look of confusion crossed Lew’s face, as though he were trying to put together a puzzle with too many pieces.

“How do you know all that? What he’d do, tell you about me, too?”

“No,” Jamie said, “don’t be silly.” She laughed to herself. Only Jamie could find humor at a time like this. “I saw your picture in your grandma’s house. I was walking by, and she needed some help bringing in the groceries. Your picture was on the mantel.”

Lew was looking at Jamie as though she had cornstalks growing out of her ears.

Meanwhile Jamie was fanning herself with her hand. “Well, we were just sitting down to take a breather from all that dancing. It sure gets hot out there. Would you like to join us? We’ve got a couple of chairs. I’d love to hear how your grandma is doing.”

She sounded so happy about it that Lew didn’t know what to do. Unlike those of us who were used to this sort of thing, he’d never come across someone like Jamie before. He stood there for a moment or two, trying to decide if he should hit the guy with the girl who’d helped his grandma. If it sounds confusing to you, imagine what it was doing to Lew’s petroleum-damaged brain.

He finally skulked off without responding, taking Angela with him. Angela had probably forgotten how the whole thing started anyway, owing to the amount she’d had to drink. Jamie and I watched him go, and when he was a safe distance away, I exhaled. I hadn’t even realized I’d been holding my breath.

“Thanks,” I said mumbled sheepishly, realizing that Jamie—Jamie!—was the one who’d saved me from grave bodily harm.

Jamie looked at me strangely. “For what?” she asked, and when I didn’t exactly spell it out for her, she went right back into her story about Bible school, as if nothing had happened at all. But this time I found myself actually listening to her, at least with one of my ears. It was the least I could do.

It turns out that it wasn’t the last we saw of either Lew or Angela that evening. The two glasses of punch had really done Angela in, and she threw up all over the ladies’ rest room. Lew, being the classy guy he was, left when he heard her retching, sort of slinking out the way he came in, and that was the last I saw of him. Jamie, as fate would have it, was the one who found Angela in the bathroom, and it was obvious that Angela wasn’t doing too well. The only option was to clean her up and take her home before the teachers found out about it. Getting drunk was a big deal back then, and she’d be looking at suspension, maybe even expulsion, if she got caught.

Jamie, bless her heart, didn’t want that to happen any more than I did, though I would have thought otherwise if you’d asked me beforehand, owing to the fact that Angela was a minor and in violation of the law. She’d also broken another one of Hegbert’s rules for proper behavior. Hegbert frowned on law-breaking and drinking, and though it didn’t get him going like fornication, we all knew he was deadly serious, and we assumed Jamie felt the same way. And maybe she did, but her helper instinct must have taken over. She probably took one look at Angela and thought “wounded critter” or something like that and took immediate charge of the situation. I went off and located Eric behind the bleachers, and he agreed to stand guard at the bathroom door while Jamie and I went in to tidy it up. Angela had done a marvelous job, I tell you. The puke was everywhere except the toilet. The walls, the floor, the sinks—even on the ceiling, though don’t ask me how she did that. So there I was, perched on all fours, cleaning up puke at the homecoming dance in my best blue suit, which was exactly what I had wanted to avoid in the first place. And Jamie, my date, was on all fours, too, doing exactly the same thing.

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