A SECOND CHANCE
“Bye Stephen, I love you! I will see you next week.” “Okay Babe, be careful driving back.” I roll back over in bed, knowing it would be some time before I could get some sleep. The all night shift at work lasted over sixteen hours, and my mind was still racing. Winding down would take some time. Taking a picture from the nightstand, I study it, and begin to think of my choices in life.
I guess everyone, especially later in life, questions the choices they have made at least to some extent. I do not regret the choices I have made. I either learned something or benefited from almost each and every choice in some way. However, that does not mean I wouldn’t like another chance to make better choices, in some situations and circumstances.
Phyllis, my wife has just left and is on her way back to college. She commutes on weekends, so we can spend time together, and during the week she lives in the apartment we rented for her last year of college. Early in our marriage, she had a strong desire to obtain a college degree. I swore to myself everything possible would be done to help her realize her dream. She was seventeen when we married.
Sometimes I find myself wishing my education had been completed. After having attended college for two years, a full time salaried position in the produce business making good money was offered, and I accepted the job. The work was hard, but I enjoyed it, especially dealing with the farmers. Now I manage a produce shed on a ranch, and after a long night, is when I am likely to contemplate how life might have turned out for Phyllis and myself, had I finished college.
My grade point average during my junior year of high school was high enough to place me seventeenth among a class of over 570 students. I enjoyed school, but as it turned out, I also enjoyed having money. Paying your own way through college does not allow for that.
However, after experiencing a taste of life in the working world, there is no doubt in my mind, if I had it to do over, I would complete my education. Your only true security in life is your health, your education, and your work experience. Having two out of three isn’t bad, but having all three opens a lot more doors.
One thing about having a college degree, once you have it, nothing in this world can take it from you. Not even the Tax Man. It is yours forever. How many things can you say that about? That is what I wanted for Phyllis.
During the summer prior to my senior year in high school, my Father made a comment I allowed to change, the course of my life. While my Dad was shaving one morning he told me, Stephen, you might have a lot of book sense, but you haven’t got a lick of common sense. This comment infuriated me so much. I vowed to show him. So, I got a job working that summer, which continued over into and through my last year in high school, on a part-time basis. I had gotten a taste of having my own money, and I liked it!
You know, the odd thing is, my Father’s words were etched into my memory forever, and he probably has no recollection of what was said. I will never know if he does or not. For one, It doesn’t matter now, and two, I have no intention of bringing it up with him.
As a result of working while in school, my grade point average dropped, landing me at number seventy-six in my class by the time graduation day arrived. At that time, I did not realize the effect this would have on my education prospects or job opportunities in the future. Due to my Father’s urging, I did go to college, at least for a while, but in the end working and having money won out.
There have been a lot of good things come along for me in life. I would marry Phyllis all over again. I have always wanted to protect her and take care of her. I also realize I have been given a fair chance at life. Many never get the opportunity to experience the things I have. My sister, Alisa was one of those people. Alisa was killed at the age of eighteen, two weeks away from her wedding date. She was to marry a good young man, who truly loved her. I am grateful that she was in love, even if it was for such a short time.
Alisa was so excited about things in her life. It was a pure joy to see her so happy. Alisa and I had formed a strong bond as siblings. I would side with her, even if she had been wrong, when it came to disputes she had with my other two sisters. I did it just to even things out. I did not like the two of them ganging up on her.
I have never been so in pain and hurting, as the night Phyllis and I received word Alisa had died. I refused to believe it. I guess it didn’t really sink in until I viewed her lying in that casket. I remember thinking, the true Alisa had to be somewhere. That this was just her body. That nothing could take away her being. I came to believe she was with me, and in heaven. The only plausible explanation for God to have taken her was at the age of eighteen she was already
perfect for heaven. Maybe she is someone’s guardian angel. She was certainly an angel in life!
Right before Alisa passed away, I felt she was going to die, and there was nothing that could be done to prevent it. Phyllis and I were driving back from a restaurant, when I began to cry uncontrollably. Pulling the car over my wife asked what was wrong. I told her, Alisa was going to die soon, and there is nothing that could be done about it. Phyllis was silent, because she knew I had been right before.
The following day, I went to visit Alisa at Mom’s house. She fixed us sandwiches and we had lunch together. She spoke of all her wedding plans, and her feelings for Jeff. It was bitter sweet, as I hung on to every word she said. As always she was so concerned about my welfare. We did not part until she had to go. That was the last time I saw her alive.
So, when I get to thinking of I should have this or I should have that, I just remember Alisa never got a chance at should of. My parents lost their child. I lost a sister. Phyllis lost her best friend. Jeff lost his wife to be. I certainly should not be thinking about losing a chance at a college education.
In addition to Alisa losing her life two of her friends lost their lives that evening as well. Witnesses said a car speeding the wrong way on the interstate highway, side swiped several cars and a bus before hitting the car Alisa and her friends were riding in. They were hit head on at about eighty miles an hour. The driver of the other car was drunk. He lived, while the passenger in his car died. A total of four lives were ended in a matter of seconds that night.
Mother told me Alisa had not planned to go to the rodeo that night. However, at her friends’ urging, against her better judgment, she relented. Alisa and I shared the same ability. I guess sometimes, some things are meant to be.
Rolling over on my side to get more comfortable, I tell myself, it’s time to get some sleep, but my mind keeps racing. Finally, my mind comes back to the present, with thoughts of all the things needing to be done later this evening at work.
Bandit jumps on the bed and lays her head on my arm. My co-workers get a kick out of how my dog walks me to work, and then she is back at quitting time to walk me home. Sometimes the cat even comes with her. One time, while in the office, my co-worker Cindy said, would you look at those two? I can’t believe how that cat and dog will lie next to each other and wait for you to get off work. Looking out the office window, I would have to admit, it was a sight!
Chowder is the only cat that ever listened to me. Can you imagine a cat that actually does what you ask? It probably had to do with nursing him back to health. Chowder showed up on my back porch one day with a badly swollen front leg. Upon inspection, I located two fang marks. He had been snake bitten. I doused him with hydrogen peroxide, kept his leg in clean bandages, and fed him well. He has thanked me ever since by being an obedient cat!
If I just let my thoughts keep rambling on, sleep will never come. So, lights out, and let’s give it a try. I am wound down enough to close my eyes and try to sleep now anyway. Bandit is already out for the count, and so is Chowder. My eyelids are heavier, thoughts are dulling, and breathing has become deeper. Thank God, I may be able to finally get some sleep.
“Stephen, wake up! Come on! Wake up! The bell rang! We need to get to our next class!” I looked up to see Barbara, a sweet, kind of country girl I had always wanted to ask out
on a date, but was afraid her boyfriend Larry might kick my rear end when he found out. He was the quarterback on our football team, and quite a bit bigger than I. “Well, hurry up, get your books and let’s go Steve!”
I sat there in a daze trying to get a bearing on things. I know I had just gone to bed in my mobile home on the ranch I worked at, but now I find myself back in high school. Barbara says, “I swear!” Then grabs me by the arm, and pulls me to my feet saying, “What is wrong with
you?” Not knowing what else to do, I pick up my books and follow her out of the classroom. “Barbara, where are we going?” She then stopped, and looked me in the eye and said, “The same place we go every school day this time! Steve, you must have really been asleep! Lord, just follow me!”
I followed her down the hallway, as instructed, and right into the room she ducked into. “Stephen, get the heck out of here! Wait for me outside! This is the girl’s restroom for Pete sakes!” Then she shoved me right back out the door. I just stood there, wondering what was going on, and wondering about where that expression for Pete sakes ever came from. “Hi Steve.” I turned around to see Donna. She and I had spent two of the most fun filled weeks of my life, attending all of the pre-graduation events together leading up to graduation night. Now, here we are again. Can you believe it? “Steve, would you be willing to take me to our graduation? I have waited the entire year for you to ask me out, and you never have.” This is de ja vu for sure. She stood there waiting for an answer. Then I blurted out, “Yeah, that would be great!” One kiss on the cheek, and Donna was gone. Donna was one of those girls that looked smart and pretty all at the same time. As I watched her walk down the hall, I was thinking to myself, she has no earthly ideal what a good time the two of us are going to have!
Barbara came back out and said, “Okay Steve, come on let’s go!” So, I followed her to our next class. I was pleasantly surprised when we got there. It was English IV, with Mrs. Olson. She was quite a misunderstood teacher by most students, but I liked her. “Mr. Jordan, are you going
to stand there like an ignoramus, or have a seat like the rest of the class?” Ignoramus, that was her favorite word. I don’t think I ever got the dubious honor to be addressed so by her in school, prior to now. “Well, Mr. Jordan, what is it going to be?” I replied, “Uh, I will have a seat Mrs. Olson.” I took my seat and class began.
“Well students, I hope you all completed your homework assignments. Mr. Jordan, being that you took it upon yourself to hold up our class today, you may give us the answer to the first question on the assignment.” Uh-Oh, what assignment? Now, I am really in trouble. “Mr. Jordan, did you bother to do your homework?” Mrs. Olson came closer and closer. I was stumped and unable to give an answer to her questions. All eyes were trained on me. Then Mrs. Olson was standing right by me. She took my English book from my hands and opened it to the appropriate chapter. All of a sudden her disgruntled look turned to a smile as she pulled out a paper. “Very good, Mr. Jordan. I can see you did do the assignment, and very well I might add. This is an excellent response to the first question.” All I could think was, thank God!”
Then it hit me! God! Could it be that God has granted me a do over in my life, or is this just a dream? All of my senses are keen to this new development. People have touched me. I can hear their voices. They can hear me. We are conversing and actually making sense. Dreams don’t do that! I could smell Barbara’s perfume. Mrs. Olson did make me feel like an ignoramus for a
As I recognized kids in the classroom, I went to school with I took a little stroll down memory lane, with each of them. Man, there was Keith right in the same old chair he used to sit in. Keith had kind of an innocent boyish look about him, but he was far from it. One night when he stayed over at the house, he woke up in the middle of the night and blurted out, “How far, How far can you piss?” I was awake due to the raging storm going on in the middle of the night, which by the way killed all chances of the two of us going on our planned fishing trip in the morning. He just lay back down, and kept on sleeping. Next morning when I told him of it, he refused to believe he had done that. Instead, he thought I was making it all up. I guess I wouldn’t have owned up to it either.
And there was sweet Jean. Now she had stolen my heart once, and I had a very tough time getting it back from her! Thinking back, I don’t know if she was really that sweet, or if that was just something I had convinced myself to believe..
Behind Jean sat Teri. For a girl that wore glasses, she was quite appealing. Her lightly tanned skin was so silky smooth and healthy looking. The more skin showing, the better she looked. On her nothing did her more justice than a bathing suit! She was dating a college guy when I first met her. She once told me the only way she would go to the prom with me is if I could get her best friend Pam, a date too! Well that never happened. Like a fool, I told myself, if she doesn’t go with me, I, won’t go at all. That was definitely a mistake! The truth is, at that stage in my life, I just don’t think I was ready for her, and I think she probably thought I just wasn’t ready for her either.
Lord, have mercy! My high school guidance counselor’s daughter is here! I can’t remember her name, but I sure do remember her. She was one spider that knew how to spin a web and catch any fly she wanted. She cocooned me up one afternoon at the school talent show. While singing her solo on stage, she zeroed in on me with the words of that song, paired with all of that eye contact, and topped it off at the finish by tossing her sombrero out to me in the second row of the audience. Next thing I know she and I, were having dinner out at the Plaza watching a live performance of Barefoot In The Park. It wasn’t easy getting untangled from that redhead’s web!
Now, Barbara was a different story. Given half the chance, I would have jumped in her web. During our freshman year, she wrote me a poem for my birthday, about how the Cowboys were going to win the Super Bowl. The poem was actually quite crafty. It was written on orange paper, and had pretty little illustrations everywhere. I saved it, and still have it to this day, or whatever day this is.
The bell rang marking the end of the period. Fortunately, Mrs. Olson had let me be throughout the remainder of her English class. Everybody scooted out, except for myself. You see. I knew the impact Mrs. Olson had on my life. Therefore, this was my opportunity to show my appreciation. I walked up to her desk and said, “Mrs. Olson.” She looked up and said, “Yes Ignoramus?” No, not really, I just had to throw that in there. “Yes, Mr. Jordan?” “Mrs. Olson, Thank you for all of your instruction this year. I know that all I have learned from you will play an important role in the course of my life. I just want to make certain you know how much I appreciate your efforts to provide me with the tools I will need to succeed in life.” She looked back down at the papers on her desk and said, “Well thank you Stephen.” Then I left, but I know she got it. You know how I know? She called me Stephen.
It turns out school was over for the day. The big question now is where do I go from here? Is it time to report to the track coach for a workout, or is it time to go home? Hey, there is David. He was on the track team, a sprinter like myself, but quite a bit faster than I was. “David, wait up.” “Yeah Steve, what’s up?” “Where are you headed David?” “Me, I am going home man. How about you?” I replied, “Me too! See ya later.” “Same to ya.” Then he was gone. So, that does it! Since David is going home, that rules out having to report for a workout with the track team. I am done here for today, so I will walk home, and check out what’s going on there.
Walking by the gym on my way home, I recalled an incident that had happened there. My fondest memory of David had to do with, a pep rally in our junior year. The rally was over and I was waiting to exit the gym, when I noticed the doors were being slammed hard into some of the white guys, and even a few of the white girls, as they tried to walk through, one after the other. As my turn came, and I proceeded to walk through the door, I used my body to butt both doors back open, as both doors were slammed into me. One of the black guys was propelled back onto his rear end, while the other stepped in front of me and said, you shouldn’t have done that to my brother. I replied, your brother shouldn’t have been slamming doors into people. Then I stepped around him, only to be greeted by another six or so black guys. I was so nervous I really wasn’t sure how many there were.
One of them told me, we are going to have to teach you not to mess with the brothers like that again. In that instant I had already resolved myself to accept that I was going to get my rear end kicked anyway, so I replied, so do what you feel like you have got to do, and cut the bull. Just then, a voice from behind me said, Steve, is everything all right? It was David, a black man. Then another black man, Alfonxo, stepped up next to me as well, and said, yeah Steve, is everything all right? I refer to them as men here, because on that particular day they impressed me as men, in spite of the fact the three of us were teenagers, just seventeen years of age.
At that point, I looked at the brothers, and asked them, what about it? Is everything all right? My friends want to know. The brothers decided to let the incident slide, and everybody dispersed.
This experience had been a life lesson for me. Two black men had stepped up to the plate in defense of me, choosing to support me, even though it meant opposing several other blacks. I learned a lot that day, and I never forgot it. Thank you David. Thank you Al.
Afterwards, as I continued to go home, while walking through the student parking lot, an old friend of mine, another Keith, stopped me and asked, “Steve, is everything alright?” I asked, “What do you mean?” Keith then replied, “You just walked right past your car. Will it start? Do you need a lift?” I stopped in my tracks, and turned back around. There it was! My 1968 white Camaro with chrome mags and extra wide rear tires, further enhanced by rear air shocks, jacking the rear end up high, like a pair of high heels on a woman. Boy, it was pretty to look at! It had been years since I had seen this car, much less drive it. “Well Steve, can I give you a lift?” “Hey
Keith, hang on a minute. I may not have my keys.” It was so strange having everyone you have not seen in years talk to you like it was just yesterday that you had last seen each other. Reaching into my pockets, I fumbled around looking for my car keys. I figured since Mrs. Olson had found my homework there was a good chance I had my car keys too, and I did. “Thanks Keith, but I have got my keys.”
Keith looked at me a bit weird. “Are you alright Steve?” “Everything is alright Keith. How about you?” Keith was one of my classmates that past away not long after graduation, due to some type of blood disorder. Keith said, “I am fine man. It’s you that’s acting a bit weird.” “Yeah, well I will see you tomorrow.” Keith replied, “How is that?” “Why?” I asked. Keith then told me, “There is no school. Tomorrow is Saturday.” “Oh yeah, I forgot. See you Monday then Keith.”
Keith was the first friend I had made in San Antonio, back in the middle of eighth grade. We were bused five miles to Ross Junior High back then. The school was rough, but the bus we rode was even rougher. A gang of five guys rode that bus, and one day they decided to attack a girl walking down the aisle to take a seat. I sprung up and punched one of them square in the face. I had had enough! All five of them swarmed over me. I was fending them off best I could, when I noticed them backing off a bit. To my right there was Keith pounding away at them. To my left was Mike doing the same. We fought to a stalemate that day. Keith and I went on to be good friends. I think Mike got involved because he just liked a good fight. The
strangest thing is this all happened after school on the bus while we were waiting for the bus driver to show up to drive us home. When he got there no one said a word.
As I finished reminiscing about Keith as he drove off, I walked over to my car. Put the door key in and popped the lock. Then I slid into the driver’s seat behind the wheel of my favorite car ever. I should have never sold this baby. It was nice! Next, I cranked it up and let the engine purr for a minute. Putting it into reverse, I backed out of the parking space, and threw it into first gear, then second. I was cruising through the student parking lot in my badboy car of yesteryear! This was great! Next, I turned onto Marbach Road and headed home!
I turned right onto Canyon Ridge Drive and two houses down I pulled into the driveway. I had listened to Three Dog Night all the way home from school. Their hit song, Mamma Told Me Not To Come, was one of my favorites. I cut the engine off. Then I got out and shut the car door, tossed my keys into the air, caught em, and made my way into the house.
Mom was in the kitchen starting dinner. “Hi Mom.” My Mother replied, “You didn’t have to work today?” “Work?” I quickly said, “Yeah, I just came home to change.” I then went to my room. All was in order. I always liked to keep a clean room, and it looked as though my sisters hadn’t been in there snooping around. They used to always go into my room and play my records, leaving things out of place. I never could understand why Mona and Brandy wouldn’t just put things back the way they found them after they were finished. Only Alisa was considerate enough to do that. That kind of stuff bugged the Hell out of me! Let me put it this way. When I made up my bed first thing every morning, my bed sheet corners were folded and tucked in military style! Something my Father had taught me.
I opened the closet door, and picked out a pair of jeans, and a shirt to go to work in. I knew just where to go too. I cut and edged lawns for a realty company just up the road a ways. After dressing, I headed into the bathroom. At first look into the mirror, I was stunned. I was thin, like back in high school, about forty pounds lighter. What a shocker. My gut was gone! I hadn’t even noticed earlier. I took another look in the mirror for another shocker. I had pimples again. Not a face full, but enough. That I could have done without.
“Bye Mom.” Bye Steve.” Out the door I went on my way to work. Driving over there, I started to think about things, like my education and what I was going to do with my new life. I was going to have a second chance at completing college. Maybe I should quit my job, and enjoy the last two weeks of high school, and really take advantage of my summer. After all, it would be the
last free summer, I would ever have. After this summer, the rest of my life would be occupied by studies or work.
I parked my car, and picked up the old red Ford truck with no second gear or reverse gear for that matter, and went to cut and edge the lawns of the houses I was assigned to do that day. Yeah, I remember how I found out this old truck didn’t have a reverse. When I interviewed for the job, my boss asked, can you drive a standard? I lied and said, Yeah. So, he gave me some addresses of the lawns he wanted cut, and threw me the keys. I kept it in first gear until I got out of sight, and started to experiment with the other gears till I figured it out.
So, after cutting the last lawn, I loaded up the truck and went to put it in reverse, and never found it. The problem was I was parked down hill in the driveway, or I could have pushed it out. I was stuck! It was a good thing another Mike I know came along to help me push it out. He was a street lot football buddy of mine, and as it turned out he worked there to.
Yeah, Mike o’ Mike, he was the coolest cat I knew. The walls of his room were painted black, and loaded with black light posters. He was probably the most care-free guy I had ever run across.
Well, I turned the truck back in, and I also turned in my notice. I had decided to spend the next two weeks having some fun, and also making the most of my last summer. Maybe, I was inspired by Mike. Who knows?
On the way home, I decided to drive around and just take a look at the old neighborhood. I drove by Gary’s place. He lived right next to the park and the Westwood Village
community swimming pool, where a lot of us from Jay High School spent Friday nights, because that night was reserved for teens only. It was nice to have our own forum in which to socialize. As a matter of fact, that pool is still there. Meadow Village’s pool in a neighboring community had long since been filled in with dirt. The only clue that there ever was a pool in Meadow Village was the diving board still standing bent and warped above the dirt. I never could figure out why they didn’t get rid of it. It stood out like a memoriam. Winding back around to home, I passed by Kathy’s place. I took many a walk down her street, but never got the nerve to knock on her door.
When I got home, it was just getting dark. Alisa was in the front yard with my future wife, Phyllis. Talk about feeling awkward. It was great to see Alisa alive and vibrant, but kind of strange to see my wife as a teeny bobber. It was 1974, and I was eighteen again, and Phyllis was fourteen. We hadn’t started dating, until she was sixteen. Even then I tried to retreat. I kept telling her she was too young for me. However, she thought differently.
I gave Alisa a big hug, and kissed her on the cheek. I think it kind of caught her off guard, and probably both her and Phyllis wondered where that came from. “Hi Alisa. Hi Phyllis.” They both replied, “Hello Steve.” “So, how did things go for you girls today?”
They both began to talk at the same time. I really didn’t pay attention to what was being said, as I was preoccupied with just looking at them, and thinking about the past, or more correctly the future-past. I looked at Phyllis, thinking that when you get a little older, I am going to marry you again, and give you an even better life. Both were smiling and laughing. It was just great to see Alisa again.
I went into the house. Mom was watching TV in the den. “I saved you a plate Steve. It is in the oven.” “Thanks Mom.” I headed to the kitchen to eat my dinner. As I sat at the table eating, I kept looking at my Mother, as she watched her program. She was so young looking. “So Mom, where is Dad tonight?” “Your Dad is umpiring a baseball game in Dallas this weekend. He won’t be back till sometime Sunday evening.”
Normally, that was great news, but not tonight. I kind of wanted to get a look at him too. My Dad was pretty strict and regimented. I think the whole family breathed a little easier when he was out of town. Heck, the whole neighborhood did! My friends were afraid to come over sometimes when my Dad was home. Instead they would say, why don’t you come over to my house?
The phone rang and I answered it, “Hello.” The voice on the other end said, “Steve, why did you stand me up tonight? My Mother said I shouldn’t bother to call you.” I said, “Who is this?” My question was met with, “What do you mean who is this? It’s Venisa! What other girl would be calling you about a date?” Oh Man! Venisa’s Mom was tough. Fair, but tough. “I was just kidding. In all honesty Venisa, I just plain forgot. Please forgive me. Let me make it up to you. I will take you out tomorrow night.” There was a pause and no response for a few seconds. “Okay Steve, tomorrow night then.” “Great Venisa, I will pick you up around seven.”
“Steve, there is something else I have been meaning to talk to you about. You know, John is in town on leave from the Navy.” John has been after her for as long as I can remember. “Yes, Venisa?” “Well, John has asked me to marry him.” Just then my sister Alisa and Phyllis came in to the kitchen. In the 70’s we lived in a one-phone house, so I had to take the phone into the garage, so that everyone else couldn’t hear my business. “Well, Steve?” “Venisa, what do you want me to say?” “Steve, I just want to know how you feel about this.” “Venisa, is marrying John what you really want?” “Look Steve, if you are not going to marry me, I guess I am going to tell John, I will marry him.” There was silence for a moment then I said, “Venisa, I wish the best for you and John.” Venisa then told me, “I guess that is it then?” I said, “Not quite! We still have a date tomorrow night, don’t we?” Her response was, “You mean you still want to go out?” I said, “Yeah, you are not married yet!” So, she agreed to keep the date, and that was that.
Venisa and I had dated off and on through high school. I got along well with her entire family, including her Dad. He was a stamp collector like me. They were Italians, and boy her Mom could cook! Venisa and I spent many evenings alone in the family den in her home listening to music and just talking about everything. I really enjoyed being with her. The truth is had she had a little patience with me, I would have married her. I just couldn’t see that happening until I could earn a living and support both of us.
I came back into the kitchen, and hung the phone up. Alisa asked, “Who was that, your girlfriend? I told her “My X-girlfriend, she just dumped me to marry someone else. Good night girls, I am going to turn in.”
Then it dawned on me, I hadn’t seen my other two sisters yet. “So Mom, where is Brandy and Mona?” Mom replied, “Mona is out with friends, and Brandy is staying overnight at a friends.” That’s right. It is Friday night. “Good night Mom. I am going to take a shower and turn in early. See you in the morning.” “Good night Son.”
While taking a shower, I was thinking about the coast trip Les, Bruce, and I were going to take the first weekend after graduation. Les and Bruce were my best friends in high school. I had met Les through his sister Linda, and Bruce I don’t recall how we met. Our plans were to pack a tent, some food, and take our fishing gear, and just camp on the beach for a couple of days and nights. I was so looking forward to making that trip again.
It’s probably best I just keep the details of our original trip to myself. I will tell you, we had a great time riding some huge waves into shore that first day. Of course we weren’t coast savvy enough to realize what was making those big waves, until that night when our tent blew away, and we were hit with a torrent of rain!
After having my shower, lying in bed that night, I recollected all that had transpired throughout the day. I could not believe that this was real, but it was. If I had been dreaming, I would have woke up by now. I put on my favorite Herman’s Hermits eight-track tape, turned on my black light, slipped on my headphones, and lay amidst my black light posters with the light turned off. Life was good, despite being dumped by Venisa tonight, again I might add. God had heard me and someway, somehow, I had been given a second chance. I don’t know how it happened, but I was going to make the best of it.
For the remainder of the school year, I got to reunite with old friends and graduation was a blast all over again with Donna. Donna was to go to college at Princeton, so shortly after graduation we parted. Later in life she ended up marrying Andy somebody from our class, who also went to Princeton.
I spent the summer dating old girlfriends and a few new ones I hadn’t dated in high school. One new one in particular was Lydia. I was so happy to get a chance to date her. The only reason I didn’t in the first place when she first showed interest was she was a little on the plump side. Now I knew what counted. Life teaches you that as the years go by. We ended up having some great times together!
I also avoided a few girls I had previously gone out with, mostly the ones that dumped me for other guys, except for one. That was Linda, Les’s sister. There was something about her I just couldn’t resist. When we had gone out before, she had quickly lost interest, and dated other guys. Even though I knew what to expect, I still asked her out again this time. We only went out once,
but it was worth it. We both enjoyed ourselves tremendously. However, just as expected, it was bye-bye Stephen. Oh well, at least this time, it didn’t hurt so much.
There was one girl I sought out. I was curious to know what she was like at this time in her life. I had met her at a high school reunion years after high school, but really never knew her in high school. She had turned out to be a good friend to me in later life. She actually was able to convince me to be an Elvis impersonator in several parades, which as it turned out, I thoroughly enjoyed. And get this. Her name was Priscilla! Go figure. I called her, and we caught a movie a couple of times. She was sweet and a bit bashful. That is probably why we never met during school. I was quite shy as well. However, once you got her talking, she wouldn’t shut up! All in all, it was an enjoyable experience getting to see her as a teenager.
Summer ended, and college started. I had gotten a decent paying job to help pay for college, and this time my Dad agreed to kick in some help now and then. At least I didn’t have to go it alone. I was pulling good grades, maintaining a 3.5 GPA. I was happy with that.
On weekends, I would help my Mom out around the house more than I had done before, and spent more time being a part of my sisters’ lives, and in particular Alisa’s. I even indulged my Dad. I had always obeyed him and did what he asked of me, but this time I was doing it with enthusiasm, and he noticed it so much, one day while rebuilding a carburetor together he asked me, Stephen, what has gotten in to you? I simply told him the truth. I just wanted to help out the family as much as I could. He just grinned and shook his head.
I was coming up on my second year of college now, and I was worried. During my first second year of college I had contracted Mono, which had developed into Acute Hepatitis. I was bed ridden for a month, and it took me two years to totally recover. It was the sickest I had ever been in my life, but it taught me to have compassion for others, and to not be so anal about the small things in life, like having to have everything kept so neat and orderly. Fortunately, my second year came and went, without me going through all that again. Thank you God for that!
It was now 1977, and Phyllis and I began to date again. She was no longer a teeny-bobber. She was a mature for her age young woman. Her brown hair hung down to her waistline, she was slender in build, and quite well endowed on top, if you know what I mean. We took things slow this time. After about six months of dating, she was getting serious about marriage. I told her I was going to marry her, when the time was right, and nothing would ever change that. I must have been convincing too, because I could tell she whole-heartedly believed me.
During my last year in college, we began to lay down plans for our future together. I would graduate with a degree, and get a job here in San Antonio. She was to graduate high school this year, and start college. So, we decided to get engaged, and set our wedding date for August 12th. I picked the date, as that was the same day we got married the first time. I figured there would be less confusion on my part through the years to come. Only this time, we were not to be married at the courthouse. I wanted to give her a church wedding, and I did. Another thing I did, was wait
for her. She was the first woman I was intimate with the first time around, as well as the second time around.
We purchased a home, moved in, and began to build a life for ourselves. During our first marriage, we never had any children. This time she wanted children, as soon as she finished college. That was fine with me.
I was making very good money at my job, and because of it, paying the mortgage and her college tuition wasn’t a strain at all. I was glad to do it! Phyllis was so smart, and so mature about life, much more mature than I was at her age. We were very happy together! The year 1978 was coming to a close, and we were on top of the world!
We spent much of our free time with our families. It was great to see her siblings and mine grow up again. They all showed such promise, just like before. However, things would be different this time. A couple of them made some poor choices the first time around. I was to make sure that did not happen this time. Phyllis and I were to look out for their best interest, and make sure their lives turned out better.
Time went by, and all was well. It was 1980, and Phyllis was in her second year of college. I wanted to plan something special for her on Valentine’s Day, coming up, so I made dinner reservations at the Grey Moss Inn, a little hide-away of a restaurant in the foothills just North of town. I planned to give her a necklace, I had made special for her. I couldn’t wait to see her face light up, when I presented it to her!
We drove out to the restaurant that evening, had a wonderful dinner, and I placed the necklace box on the table in front of her, with a perfect Valentine’s card. It was so perfect it was uncanny. She opened the card, and read it aloud, “To my one and only Valentine. If I had it to do all over again, I would still pick you to share my life with.” Tears came to her eyes and mine as well. “Thank you so much!” she whispered. Then she opened the box, finding the necklace inside. She took it out and handed it to me. I rose and placed it around her neck, kissing her on the cheek. No words were spoken just glances were exchanged.
Then she had a surprise for me as well. “Stephen, I am pregnant.” That one about knocked me out of my chair! What a surprise! I was so excited I was at a loss for words. So many things were going through my mind. I composed myself, and looked into her brown eyes, and said, “I couldn’t be happier.” We drove home that night, turned out the lights, and retired to the bedroom.
The following day, I went to work. Phyllis was in class. After work, I went grocery shopping, and picked up a few things. My Mother called, asked me to come by and see if I could fix a door. I told her I would see her around six or seven tomorrow evening. For the most part, it was an uneventful day.
The next day, I gave Phyllis a call after leaving work just to remind her I was going by Mom’s to take a look at the door. I told Phyllis not to worry about cooking dinner, and I would grab a bite on my own somewhere. I pulled into the drive and walked into the house calling, “Mom, I’m here. Which door do you need fixed?” She came out of the back room and led me to the bathroom door. One of the hinge facings was cracked.
I saw a wedding picture lying on the bathroom counter of my sister Mona with her husband, Fred. I told my Mother, “Mom, I don’t believe I remember seeing this picture before.” She told me, “No, that is the only one there is. They didn’t have copies made of it.”
“So Mom, where is Brandy and Alisa tonight?” Mom replied, “Brandy is out on a date, and Alisa decided to go to the rodeo with some friends.” I stopped dead in my tracks. I thought to myself, what is today’s date? My mind was a blank. I ran to the Den to find the newspaper.
Mother always took the newspaper. Rifling through the papers spread out on the couch, I found it. The date was February 16th, 1980, the same day my sister Alisa had died in a car accident while on the way to a rodeo. I tried not to panic. Okay, get a grip on yourself. You have got to think.
Now, there are some events that have not repeated themselves. You finished college, and you did not get Hepatitis again. Plus you did not experience a premonition this time. Oh, to Hell with it. I have got to do something. I can’t just count on blind luck. “Mom, what time did Alisa leave? You have got to tell me!” “Just a minute or two before you arrived Steve. What is wrong?” “Mom, what kind of car did they take?” She said, “A green Pontiac.” I rushed out of the house and jumped into my car and sped off. I drove down Military Drive like there was no tomorrow! Once I turned onto Hwy 90 East, I hit the accelerator taking that Camaro as fast as it could go. Speeding and weaving back and forth through the lanes and passing cars, I thought I might just have a chance of catching up to them, and getting them to pull over, before anything happened. Several people blew their horns and flipped me off as I went by. I just hoped a cop wouldn’t show up and try to stop me. Please God, no cops!
I was doing ninety miles per hour, when a police car got on my tail, throwing his lights and siren on. I tried to keep him in my rear view mirror, while I looked for a green Pontiac. Every time the cop pulled into the adjacent lane to signal me over, I would pull in front of him cutting him off. Next thing I knew, another cop joined the chase. I rounded a bend in the highway and could see a green car up ahead. I caught up to it, but it wasn’t a Pontiac. Now there were three
cop cars chasing me. I cannot let them succeed in pulling me over. I kept on going with one thing in mind, to save my sister!
What was I going to do, if I am able to catch up to them? She knows my car, so she will probably pull over once she knows it’s me but what if she doesn’t? What if I don’t have that kind of time? Think Steve, what to do! These cops are really hounding me. I don’t know if I can keep them at bay.
What is that up ahead? I can see another green car. I have got to reach it! Seconds later, I pull up to the right side of it. It is a Pontiac! I slow down and start blowing my horn, trying to get their attention. Alisa is in the backseat. I can see her! I keep blowing my horn. All three of them are looking at me. I see Alisa tapping the driver on the shoulder. She has seen me! She knows it’s me! The cops are all around us. Why doesn’t her friend slow down?
Glancing up ahead in the far distance, I see a car speeding towards us on the wrong side of the road, in the same lane my sister is in. This is it. At this rate of speed, she doesn’t stand a chance. I hit the accelerator and pull in front of the Pontiac. I speed off ahead of her to ram that Son-Of-A-Bitch. I will be damned if Alisa is going to die twice. I have had my chances at life. It is her turn to have a real chance at life! Damn It All!
“Did you see that crazy Son-Of-A-Bitch?” “He wouldn’t pull over for anything!” “I swear he intentionally rammed that car head on!” “It was as if he knew. He knew that car would be coming down the wrong side of the road.” “I have never seen anything like it!”
I could hear the voices. Funny thing is I couldn’t feel a thing. It was if I was in a void of darkness. I just want to know if Alisa is all right. Please God, before I die, let me know it was worth giving up my second chance at life. I feel as if I’m drifting. Not yet God! I am not ready just yet!
“Stephen! Stephen!” I could hear Alisa’s voice calling my name. I could hear her footsteps sounding on the pavement, coming closer as she ran calling my name. I have got to hold on till she gets here. “Stephen!” She was right by me. I could feel it! I couldn’t see her, but I could feel it! I held up my arm. She grasped my hand crying. What a beautiful sound to hear her crying. Whatever else was going on, took a backseat. I strained to hear Alisa’s voice only. Everything else was reduced to just chatter in the background.
My vision was coming into focus. I could see Alisa now. Her two friends stood there with her. The cops tried to take her from me, but I held on tight to her hand, and she screamed at them. “He is my brother!” “I am not leaving him!” I tried to speak, but my lips wouldn’t move. She came closer, and I winced, “Tell Phyllis she was the love of two lifetimes.” Alisa said, “No. No. You are going to live!” Again, I winced, “No, you are going to live. God has given both of us a second chance.” Then she faded away. I was at peace.
“Wake up Steve! Wake the Hell up!” “Are you alright man? Come on! Snap out of it!” “Stay with us Steve!” “I am going to slap him again Darrell.” “No Mike! Beating the Hell out of him ain’t helping. Just try shaking him.” “Oh Hell, Darrell! What are we going to do?”
“Lalo, go let Daddy know what’s going on and call 911. Mike and I will stay here till they get here. And make sure that gas is turned completely off!” “Man, he still ain’t breathing Darrell!” “Mike, get a pitcher of water from the kitchen, and bring it to me.” “Steve, it’s Darrell. You have got to make it man. Come on back to us.” “Here Darrell.” “Throw it in his face Mike.” “Darrell, he still ain’t moving or breathing.”
“Mike, I am going to try and breath some air into his lungs. You count one, two, three, and push his chest. One, two, three, and push his chest. Got it Mike!” “Yeah, I got it.”
An aura fills the room with light as the two brothers continued to work on Steve. Both Mike and Darrell look upwards toward it as it suspends itself above them. An image appears unto them
and says, “Fear me not, as I am my brother’s Guardian Angel. He shall not go to be with the Lord today. He shall go on to live a long full life.” Then the image disappeared, leaving Mike and Darrell awestruck. Steve draws a breath, and begins to cough.
“Darrell, he’s coming around!” “Let’s sit him up Mike.” “Thank God Mike, he’s going to make it! Can you believe it?” “Yeah, I can Darrell. Yeah, I can!” “What’s this in his hand? It’s a picture. Oh my God, Darrell, take a look at it! “Damn, it looks just like the angel that came! And Phyllis is next to her!” “Turn it over Mike. See if it says anything.” “It says, from your sister Alisa. Darrell, that was his sister we just saw!” “I believe your right Mike! I’ll be damn. I believe you are right!
“Steve, come on buddy. Keep breathing. You are going to be okay. Hell, you have got your sister looking after you man!” Praise God Mike! Praise God!” “And you have got that crazy dog and cat looking after you too! If they hadn’t raised such a ruckus at the shed, we would have never known you were in trouble. That damn cat was meowing as much as your dog was barking!” “Amen to that Mike! Amen!”
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