Here comes my baby
Here she comes now

I was walking in front of the high school on a Saturday afternoon, on my way to play baseball with the boys. It was a regular game where we didn't have coaches or parents or anything except the love for an American sport and a willingness to take a hardball to the ribs if it meant playing tough and showing grit. It was a hot summer day and it was a long walk and I was already sweating when Jan Hardwick came around the corner of the school on her huge brown and white horse. She was 16 years old. I was 17. She was what you would call astonishing. That word was invented for her.

Maybe it was the horse, up so high off the ground. Maybe it was the white dress shirt with the rolled up sleeves. Something made me realize she was out of my league, even though I would have cut my arms off just to kiss her with eyes and lips closed one time. We’d known each other for at least a year and I was always hanging around her and her two equally-lovely gal pals. She didn’t have a steady guy at the time (unlike her two friends) and all I needed was a pair of mans’ balls to ask her out.

She and her mount slowly galloped up to where I was standing, admiring the vision, just as Peter must have admired his Savior's visage when he realized what salvation was really all about. I grabbed the reins of the horse and we looked at each other for a full minute without saying anything. She had brown eyes that most folks would probably describe as hazel. She leaned over as her rear end slid to the side of the saddle and said, "Would you do me a favor?" I asked what and she said she was afraid her parents were in a car in the parking lot, following her, and that they might find out about her nasty little habit if I didn't help her. I said, "Whatever you need; I'll do whatever I can." She arched her back and reached down the front of her tight jeans with her right hand and pulled out a half-empty pack of Parliament cigarettes. She handed them to me and said, "Keep these for me. I'll get them back Monday at school." She smiled like the angel she was as our hands touched and the transfer was made. She put her rear end back in place and turned her horse away. I looked at the pack and there were two brown pubic hairs stuck to the plastic wrapping.

I could have had her right then. The opportunity was about 15 seconds long and I let it go by. It knocked as I stood there frozen with my mind in the gutter while an angel from God closed the door and turned away. Later on she wound up marrying a silly boy who treated her badly but who wound up her husband for as long as I kept in touch. He never hurt her physically, as far as I know, but he made fun of her for not being too bright, even though he was a dimwit himself. As far as I know, she was always loyal to him and bore his children and lived the life of a schoolteacher in that same smalltown I left so many years ago.

I'm glad I waited until I was much older to settle in, but that pack of cigarettes was the most exotic item I've ever held in my hands. I can hardly take in the chills that ran through me as I stood there with a baseball glove on one hand and that warm token in the other. I think I made three critical errors at shortstop that afternoon and cost my team at least two crucial runs. I don't think my mind was really in the game.

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