Chapter 12:
 
 
AFTER EFFECTS
 
 
 
     For the past mile, Harold drifted into a subconscious state. Unaware, the Chevy’s tires had ridden on the lane dividers for the length of that imperceptibility. Harold’s head rested on the vibrating steering wheel and his hands slumped loosely on his lap. Drivers of vehicles in the oncoming lane honked their horns, flicked their bright beam headlights repeatedly on and off, stuck their heads out and shouted obscenities or simply skidded to a dead heat in the weeds. The brown, white and rusted chrome ’57 Bel Air was starting to move further into the northbound lane when an 18-wheeled cattle rig whipped by, forcing Harold’s car back into its correct portion of the roadway. He awoke to the fresh lingering stench of stale cow patties, and started to search his pants for any deviations. When he failed to find anything amiss, he lapsed back into daydreams about his past love affair…
 
 
(Wooooooooo-wee-oooo-weeeee-oooooooh)
Put your head on my shoulder
Hold me in your arms, baby
Squeeze me oh so tight
Show me that you love me too
(Ooooooooh-oooo-oooooh-wee-ooooooooh)
 
Put your lips next to mine, dear
Won’t you kiss me once, baby
Just a kiss goodnight, maybe
You and I will fall in love
(You and I will fall in love…)
 
People say that love’s a game
A game you just can’t win
If there’s a way
I’ll find it someday
And then this fool will rush in[1]
(Bah-bah-bah-bah…bah-bah-bah-badt)
 
 
     “Oh, Lord no,” Harold groaned as the old Paul Anka love anthem erupted from the car radio, “not THAT song, for Pete’s sake.-
 
(Why on earth would he care about a crummy song being dedicated to some unknown guy’s malodorous Japanese wine?)
 
(What?!? It’s ‘sake’, in order to benefit or cause…not ‘sake’, which is a Japanese rice wine, turd bird.)
 
                      -Anything, but THAT damn song. THAT song was playing on THAT NIGHT!” He tried to think of something else, but this particular memory was like a runaway locomotive with a broken brake switch: once it got going, there was no stopping it.
 
 
     Harold and Anita were swinging slowly back and forth on the Güdlay’s front porch swing, finishing the junk food that they had just purchased at Bush’s Burgers and Hot Dogs Drive-In, the main high school hang-out haven. The old recently-painted slat swing creaked softly as they rocked, blending its sound with that of the radio console in the Güdlay’s living room. The porch was gently lit with some hazy moonlight, and the shadows of sycamore leaves danced across the floorboards when the breeze sent the autumn night’s cool Battle Creek, Michigan air through the trees.
     ‘Aggie’ sat open-legged, picking her teeth daintily with a tiny orange plastic toothpick, while Harold was licking and sucking voraciously on the striped straw he had thrust into her ice cold Cherry Bang slush. She wiggled the swordpick into a crevice in the armrest of the swing, then turned and watched Harold continue to suck on the sugary imitation fruit drink.
     “There’s just nothin’ like an ice cold Cherry Bang to wash down your Bush’s burger, is there?” she said, unintentionally characterized in a Betty Boop intonation.
     “Mmmmmmph…mmmmmmmph…hooooo-hawwwwww, head freeze. Really!” Harry replied as he looked up from his bowed-down head, “Mmmmmmmmph…owwie…mmmmmmmph…sssslorpsh…this is yummy stuff!”
     A nice-looking blonde woman emerged out of the front door, holding a large glass dish with her hands covered with blue and yellow baking gloves, looked at her daughter, then smiled at Harold, “Hallo, yung man. Would you lick zum ov min Svee’disht meatball cah’zerole? It’s guudt!”
     “Oh…thank you, Mrs. Güdlay, but we just had dinner.”
     “Dinn’ah? Min Gud, att maten är hemsk! Dis food ist bett’ah!”
     “Mom! You can save me some for later. I love your balls.”
     Harold sort of felt out of place, but commented anyway, “I bet your balls are tasty, Mrs. Güdlay…can you put some in a plastic container? I’ll eat it for breakfast…I guess.”
     “Dats zo nice…I vill pack zum for you.”
     Sheepishly, Harold thanked her, then wanted to delve into her history a little bit to ease some of his curiosity, “Hey, Mrs. Güdlay…where you born in another country, ummm…like Denmark?”
     She placed the meatball casserole dish on top of the porch fence, “I vas bourn in Svee’den.”
     “Oh…okay. I hear a lot of beautiful women come from Sweden,” Harold complimented with a smile and a wink at Anita, then her blushing mother.
     “I zee you have ah guudt eye, Romeo!”
     Anita perked up in the swing and turned to Harold, “They moved here to help me with my schooling…and a lot of other things!”
     “I see. Do you think we, as Americans, can help other countries with their learning?”
     ‘Aggie’s’ mother chimed in rather abruptly, “I personally beh’lieven dat U.S. Amerikanz are un’able to do zo…because, ugh…zo many people out dere in our nation don’t have dat…und, ugh…I beh’lieve dat our edukazhun like zuch az in…ugh…Soud Afrika und da’ Iraq every’vere like az us und I beh’lieve dat they should…ugh…our edukazhun ov’ah here in dah U.S. zhould helph der U.S….err…ugh…should help Soud Afrika und should helph da Iraqi Asians countries zo vee vill be able to buildt it up our future…vor us.”
     “Ourp!” Harold bleeped.
     The Swedish middle-aged tart picked up the dish and resumed her chores, “I vinished out here now…I go inside und make dinnah. You two have zum fun!”
     “We will, mom!” chimed her daughter gleefully, then looked at Harold with her piercing blue eyes, “Harry…I feel so secure when you’re around. I just love to sit here and watch you do the nice things that you do and you say such good things, too. You really don’t act like a royal phony, either.”
     “A royal phony?”
     “Yeah, like most of the boys that ask me out for a date, or ask me to sit in the back seat of their cars or help them fix their pants before they have to go to the bathroom for an adjustment. I think they all are acting like a phony.”
     “Phony?”
     “You know, a bunch of phony baloney…tee-hee-hee!”
     “Yeah…that could be some pretty rancid meat.”
     Anita clapped her hands together and let out a shrilled laugh, “You’re so funny!”
     Harold gently turned the cup around in his hands, while licking the remaining slush debris that clung to the outside rim, then sat the polymerized plastic/paper cup on the front porch floorboard. He slowly reached for her hand and caressed it reassuringly as he looked into her eyes and said, “I’d like to talk to you about something that’s been on my mind, lately. At night, since the ball game, I’ve had all of these thoughts about you running through my head and wanted to come over here and develop something real meaningful. I’m sort of reserved about these kinds of things, because I haven’t had a lot of experience when it comes to dealing with these kinds of feelings either, but…”
     “By the way, I’m going to be giving head at Michigan State!”
     Harold’s eyes popped open wide, “Giving head?!?”
     “You know, silly! Giving Head Majorette a try…sis-boom-bah and all of that other fun stuff!”
     Harold batted his eyes, swallowed, then acknowledged her intentions, “Well…goody-goody, Anita. I understand; but, I was really hoping that we could…”
     “Two, four, six, eight…are you ready to regurgitate! Unnng-heeee-heeee-heeeeeeeeee!”
     “Aye-yi-yi,” Harold moaned as he quickly buried his face into his hands, “really?”
     “What’s wrong, Harry?” she pouted.
     “Nothing…do not worry about it.”
     “You know, every time I start having a little fun by playing with myself, you put your hands around your face. I can only see your eyes between your fingers.” Anita mimicked Harold in an exaggerated manner, “Peek-ah-BOO!”
     “Look, Aggie,” he sighed, “forget about it!”
     “See…there you go, again. I know you always start getting mad when you start calling me Aggie,” she pined. “I’m sorry.”
     Harold sighed, “We’ve only really known each other for a couple of weeks. It’s okay.”
     Anita whined, “I’m sorry for what I did…whatever I did? I like looking at boys and how they react to me sometimes. Honestly…I will listen from now on. I promise that I will.” She seductively stuck her middle finger in her mouth, wrapped some crimson-colored moisture around it, then placed it on the left side of her protruding breast and made an imaginary ‘X’ across her chest, “Cross my heart!” She bent down in front of Harold, with her cleavage bulging inside of her ‘one-letter-too-small’ bra and half-unbuttoned blouse, “I just get so wadded up in myself.”
     “You can say that again, valley girl.” (Referring to the full frontal view of her bulbous breasts.)
     “Okay! I mean…I just get soooooooooo caught up in myself that I start talking a lot, not paying attention to anybody else or what they are saying and I start thinking about other people, like Eddie’s dad, who was a tea-totaling wino that burned down every bar and strip joint in Battle Creek until his little liver disappeared, and so on and so forth…”
     “ANITA!”
     “What?” she smiled softly.
     “Can I please get a word in?”
     “Well, of course, Harry. You can say anything you like…it’s a free country and you should always feel free to be open and honest and let out your dirtiest little secrets and not be embarrassed to tell me almost anything to your little hearts’ content and…”
     “OKAY! Okay…thank you, A.G. Ugh…well…” Harold became silent for a couple of seconds as he took a long deep breath, reached out to grab her hand and fondle it more profoundly, then raised his head and gazed confidently into her sparkling eyes, “Anita?”
     “Yep.”
     “I came here to talk to you about our relationship,” he said tactfully. Trying to keep his voice level, but with a little more volume than the crepitating canorous din of insects, breezes, radios, nearby conversations, mosquito-frying blue bug lamps and other domesticated animals in the neighborhood, he gently intertwined his fingers within hers and implied, “You know, in a short while we might be hundreds of miles apart when college starts. And…well, I thought it would be appropriate to bring up how I feel right about now; and of course, my intentions, now that we’ve been going steady for a couple of weeks.”
     Anita nodded her head, then started to rub her nipple from her blouse where an itch was developing, “And?”
     Harold forged ahead, saying the words that played themselves out time after time in his head at night when he started to fantasize about their future, “I luh…I luh-luh…ummmm, rub-a-dub-dub…I love you, Anita! Whew-weee! I really do. You’re so beautiful and always perky! You know how hard this is for me to say right now, cause I can be kinda shy and I’ve always been a little scared about saying something that might scare you away. There are a zillion guys out there that’d love to be with you, but here I am now! I’m blessed…I guess. I just had to tell you this. I’ve had this bottled up inside me for an eternity and didn’t quite know when the right time or the right place to finally let this stuff out…until now, as we sit here on your front porch…in the cool moonlight. You know, now I know it’s gonna be hard being in a long-distance relationship, but I really feel committed. We can keep in touch with some letters or visit during the holidays.” Harold paused again, clasped her hand a little more firmly and with a deep passionate devotion, stated, “I love you, Anita. I always will, like Buddy Holly sang…until the day that I die.”
     “Neato, Harry! Would you like some Cheez-Wiz®? You can ‘put it on a Ritz’! There’s some fresh in the fridge.”
     “Speakin’ of fridge,” Harold sighed deeply, feeling like a squashed bug on the proverbial windshield.
     “Harry, it’s my whole life to be a ‘Head’ at whatever school that I’ll be attending.”
     “To be ahead at whatever school?!?  My God…your body is what got you there, Aggie! I bet if you went to Principal Coletti, he’d get you a scholarship to whatever college you’d like to go to…in five seconds! A quick flash and ‘POOF’…you’re there!”
     She pointed her long, glossy fingernail at her heart that was buried beneath her monumental mass of mammary glands and quipped light-heartedly, “It is a temple, meant to be worshiped and polished. That’s what daddy always said!”
     “Yeah…wax on, then whacks off!”
     Anita moved her finger down into her tanned cleavage and candidly ‘Booped’, “Ah-poop-poop-pee-doop!”
     Harold wiped his face with his dry left hand, “Look…I really wish I could understand how you feel about all of this, but…” groping desperately for the right words, any words that might salvage the conversation or his train-wrecked feelings.
     “Harry,” she intoned more seriously, “I just want to be good friends. You know…like brother and sister. I just can’t get too serious right now, not with the college cheerleading tryouts next week.”
     Harold leapt furiously up from the porch swing and yelped, “TRYOUTS?!? TRYOUTS?!? For goodness sakes, all those fuckin’ tryouts are DRIVIN’ ME INSANE!!!”
     “Now, Harold,” she deadpanned, “you didn’t come here to be fucked.”
     Harold collapsed whimpering on the porch’s handrail and leaned listlessly against a white wooden column. The noise of the surrounding genre of vermin seemed to increase within the sapiens silence. He gazed down at the little plastic toothpick that had launched itself from the hole that Anita had placed it in earlier, and fell onto a wooden-plank floorboard of the light blue painted house porch. Sugar ants had already descended upon it, extracting remnants of cherry-flavored Bang, glossy red lipstick and dried saliva pudding. He glanced back up at ‘Aggie’, who was miming some cheer routine that she had been practicing at school. Little sprays of spit would shoot out of her lips each time she silently tried to say ‘spirit’. Harold shook his head, shrugged, and implied in a manner of discomfort, “Forget it, A.G….forget all about it! We all learn from our mistakes. I thought of all those nights we could’ve parked up at Glacier Point and made a bunch of fog on the windows might’ve meant something to you…if we decided to go steady; but, I guess I was wrong.”
     “Gee Harry, that sounds like fun and…oh, hi daddy!”
     “Daddy? “ Harold exclaimed, then realized what was taking place, “Oh…dad. Ugh, hello Mister Güdlay.”
     A short, stocky, wispy-haired blonde Scandinavian-resembling man stepped from the doorway and made his way over to the back of the swing where his daughter proceeded to sit upon his arrival. He stopped behind her and placed his hands upon her shoulders. He spoke slowly, because English was his second language. He crouched down to speak into his daughter’s ear, “Anita, dere hapt been ‘bout ah’ dozen vhone calls vor you, hah’ney. All dem boys call, und dey vondert if you couldt meet dem at Drive-In to zhare ah’ big Bang vid dem all.”
     “Did they leave any of their numbers, dad?” she asked under her breath.
     “Nah! Dey nervoust or zum’ting! Dey zaid you couldt meet dem ovah dere avter you dump’ah date.”
     Anita coughed politely and looked down past her breasts into her lap, then glanced back up at Harold.
     Harold met her eyes with some tears starting to well up, then sheepishly glanced at her father, which presented a stern, proud look etched across his face, then announced, “Mein daughter…de’ plumbers help’ah!” Continuing, with his head held high, “How zhe loves to vork on dem pipes!”
 
 
 
‘My bologna has a first name, it’s O-S-C-A-R,
 My bologna has a second name, it’s M-A-Y-E-R
 Oh, I love to eat it every day
 and if you ask me why, I’ll say…
 Cause Oscar Mayer has a way with B-O-L-O-G-N-A’.[2]
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
[1] Paul Anka, “Put Your Head On My Shoulder” (Paul Anka)
[2] Lyric from: “My Bologna Has a First Name” (Daniel Bedingfield)
Song: Ch.12-1
End: Chap. 12