A path not taken

She was 17, I was a mature for 18 and a half year old teenager. I met her through a friend, and she was wild. I liked the wild ones back then. Hell, when you are an 18 year old and you meet a wild carefree gal, your first instinct is to go for it, at least mine was.

I never met up with her at her home. She would always meet me in the Food Center parking lot, a popular cruising spot here in town. My friends and I would gather to talk cars and girls, and eventually she would come over and get in the car. Something inside told me to take it easy, to watch out, but another side of me said jump, and I did.

I was always greeted with a long romantic kiss. Man those lips! She knew that I had a fondness for redheads. Redheads always seemed to lead me down the garden path.

We dated for two months and I have to say, I was beginning to fall and fall hard. During the day I thought of her, and couldn’t wait to get home, jump in my car, and head for town to meet with my Diane.

She gave me her number today, and asked if I could call her from time to time. “Never call after nine, my mom is very old and very sick. She goes to bed at nine and I don’t like to wake her.” she said. I honored her request, at least I did for awhile.

I always loved seeing her stroll to the car. She wore SKIN tight blue jeans, the ones with little flowers sewn on the back pockets. Her hair was a deep red, and long with curls. She had the perfect amount of freckles to highlight her perfect cheekbones. And she smelled nice. Not sure the perfume she wore, but it was perfect. Just right.

Things seemed to be going just right when things started going wrong. One evening she asked if I could bring her home early, as she wasn’t feeling so well. I obliged. This continued for the next few weeks, she wanted to go home early every night. Diane seemed tired all the time, definitely not the same person I had met earlier. I asked if she was sick, she denied that she was not herself, almost to the point of getting angry and telling me to mind my own business.

Why now? I asked myself. Hell, things were going so well that I almost thought that we would soon begin making love. We used to kiss a lot, and maybe a bit of fondling, but we never got to second base, at least not yet. She wanted to take things slow, and I was beginning to fall for her, so I went along with her wishes.

One Friday she called to say that she wasn’t feeling well enough to go out. I was heartbroken. Later that night I drove through town, mostly to clear my head. I glance over in the parking lot and my whole world came crashing down.

Sitting in the front seat of a Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am was my red headed Diane. She had her arms around some thug with tattooed arms. Back in the eighties, only sailors, soldiers and criminals had tattoos. I wanted to go over and haul her out, and talk to her. Maybe this guy forced her to get in his car. When you are young, hearts seem to break easily, but this wasn’t easy, this wasn’t fair. Maybe it isn’t her. Maybe she has a sister or a cousin or maybe this is some other hot red head with long curls and freckles in all the right places. It can’t be Diane.

I headed for home. When I got home, mom and dad asked if I was okay; I looked like a ghost to them I guess. I ran for the phone to call my Diane. Maybe this isn’t her, I prayed.

Her mom answered the phone. She said that Diane was out. I asked her if her daughter was feeling okay, and she replied that although she may have been acting strange, there was a good reason for it. She went on to say that her daughter, although beautiful, was a chronic liar. She even went on to say that the reason why I was not permitted to call after nine was because I would wake the baby.

My mouth went dry. “A baby? Whose baby?” I thought,then I asked. “That asshole of an ex boyfriend, that’s who” she replied. “He is back in town, has been for awhile, probably since you knew my daughter, him with his big fancy car and his attitude.”

I asked why she hadn’t been feeling well, and was floored at her mother’s response. “Diane isn’t the girl you think she is. You seem like such a nice boy. I wish my Diane could see how lucky she would be to have a life with you, but you don’t deserve that life.” she said.

“My Diane is pregnant with her second child” She said. A razor could not have cut as deep as her words. “I know you aren’t the father, it’s him again. Every time he gets out, she tries to make him jealous with nice boys like you. Run for your life, that’s my advice to you. I know I am her mother, and I love my daughter with all my heart, but she is bad. She always was.Go before that ex-con asshole takes out his jealousy on you.” She said.

I couldn’t believe it. I thought she liked me. This couldn’t be true, Her story was too real, too honest. I had to find out for myself, so I played dumb.

The next night, I was parked in the lot with my friends. Just like clockwork, those two backside patches strolled down the street again, directly to my car. Despite what her mother said, I still wanted her to slide next to me, hold me, and kiss me with those soft lips, and she did. At that moment it didn’t matter what I was told, it didn’t even matter what I saw the night before, I wanted her now, more than ever. But then reality struck.

I confronted her about last night. “A friend of mine said that they seen you downtown, in a Trans-Am!” I said.

“Then your friend is a liar. I was home with my mom, taking care of her. She is old you know!” she lied.

“Why didn’t you tell me you were pregnant? Who is the father? Why didn’t you tell me about your baby? About your boyfriend who had just got out of jail? Why did you lie? I thought you liked me.” I know there was a cry in my voice, but I held my ground.

“That bitch, she ruins everything. Tell me who told you I was downtown last night, or I will get out of this car, walk away, and never talk to you again!” she yelled, her words cutting like knives in my heart. “It was my mom, wasn’t it?”

“It wasn’t your mom, it was someone I trust and I should have listened to a long time ago. They seen you in the arms of some thug, and you didn’t look like you cared too much about getting caught. You looked real comfortable” I told her.

“I am getting out of the car. I am walking away. You will never know what it feels like to make love to me, for me to love you. You don’t know what you are missing, you never will!!” she said, and she did what she said. For once she told the truth. I watched as the beautiful but dangerous redhead exited my car and headed down the street. I watched as her tight blue jeans with the flowers on the back pocket strutted away, and I never seen her for a long long time.

A few weeks ago I seen her. Oh the years were not kind to this woman. At 48, she looked an old 60 or more. She must have started smoking, as her once beautiful lips were drawn tight, with wrinkles that didn’t belong there. She was as thin as a rake, virtually unrecognizable from the girl she was back then, except for her hair. It was as red and curly and long as it was when her tresses fell upon her gentle shoulders. She sat in an old pickup truck, next to a maniac of a man. Still the same tattoos on his arm, which was revealed by the cut off jean jacket he wore. He swore at her, called her a whore when he caught her glancing over at me, and she responded by kissing him.

My friend who was in the car with me knew her. He said that she lived next to a friend of his in Ontario. He said that she was a terrible woman, and he couldn’t figure why I caught her glance, and why I would even notice her. He said that she was an abused woman, beaten every day by her jealous husband, the guy in the truck. He went on to say that this guy was gone most of the time, mostly in jail or even prison. He said that when the guy was gone, this skinny redheaded woman was visited by many men, but only at night. He said that she raised six children who have all turned to drugs and to crime, and that they repeatedly robbed their neighbors, including his friend who lived next door. Wow, thank heavens I saw the light and I went downtown for that drive, and thankfully I spoke to her mom and found out the truth before it was too late.

I turned away from her glance, which was now more like a stare. I shoved the car in drive and drove away, thanking my lucky stars I got out while I could. I never looked back! Sometimes, when you take a certain path, it is best not to look back.


2 thoughts on “A path not taken

  1. Definitely dodged a bullet (though, Diane’s story is a sad one). I am very thankful I did not end up with the first guy I really thought I was in love with!

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