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A reunion story, p.1
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       A Reunion Story, p.1

           Christy Quinn
 
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A Reunion Story
A Reunion Story

  By Christy Morrison

  Copyright 2011 Christy Morrison

  * * * * *

  Table of Contents

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 1

  “You’re all set, Mr. Lancey,” Rhonda said, handing me a manila folder. “I’ve included directions with alternate routes in case of traffic.”

  I thumbed through the pages. Rhonda winked at me and gave me a motherly smile.

  “They’ll all be so impressed with you, I just know it. Ten years since high school, and who else will be able to say they are in charge of an entire division? Is there… anyone special that you’re looking forward to seeing at your reunion? A high school sweetheart, perhaps?”

  I chuckled noncommittally, and saw Rhonda’s smile droop. “You know me, Rhonda. I’m sure I’ll find myself a dance partner or two.”

  Rhonda raised her eyebrows. “Well, make sure you only talk to the nice girls.”

  “I doubt I’ll find anyone as nice as you,” I said, and Rhonda’s smile returned.

  I got on the elevator and pressed the button for the parking garage.

  “Oh, Mr. Lancey,” Rhonda called as the elevator doors slid shut. “Call Mr. Cannizarro on your way.”

  I nodded and the steel doors closed on the view of the office. My electric blue Corvette chirped as I walked toward it, and while I lowered the convertible top, I agreed with Rhonda: no one else will be able to lay claim to the success I’ve achieved. The job, the car and even the city were each the top in their class. I maneuvered through the city, and when I exited the Holland Tunnel and was finally on the Jersey side, I dialed Freddie Cannizarro.

  “Sammy,” Freddie shouted. “So what is it this weekend? Some bars, some clubs? Some exclusive parties?”

  “My reunion, Fred,” I reminded him.

  “Oh yeah,” Freddie said. “Going to show off a bit?”

  “That’s the plan, right?”

  “Always, son,” Freddie droned. “You driving? You sound distracted.”

  “I am.”

  “This is what you need to do: you gotta find the most popular girl from high school. I mean, the one who would never give you the time of day, right? Then you pull up in your sweet ride and lower your sunglasses and say something hot and sexy to her. You get her back to your hotel room—”

  “I’m staying at my parent’s house, I mean, my dad’s house,” I said.

  “Oh.”

  “Yeah.”

  “Well, you can still do the whole thing and then go back to her hotel room…”

  I listened to Freddie plan out my reunion weekend the entire two hour drive back to the town where I grew up. When I pulled onto my street, he was trying to decide whether I’d have a better weekend with the popular cheerleader chick, or the nerdy but seductive ‘Most Likely to Succeed’ chick.

  I slowed my car to look at the houses on my street, which I hadn’t seen in over five years. The new up-and-coming suburbs of New York City had nothing on this old neighborhood. My colleagues who moved out of the city were always showing off their brand new houses, which were packed tightly together with identical cookie-cutter frames. My street’s old age was made even more apparent by the mature trees whose tops skimmed the clouds, and the large yards that spread out from the homes in every direction. Each house sat on at least an acre of land, with a small wooded area sprawling across the property lines. Those woods were the source of many of my childhood adventures and explorations.

  A neighbor, Ann Holmes was out watering some flowers, and she peered at my car trying to distinguish the driver. When she recognized me, she waved and dropped the hose, jogging to the edge of her yard. I pulled over.

  “Hang on, Fred,” I said.

  “Sam? Oh my goodness, Sam! Look at this fancy car! Your father said you’d be in town this weekend. If you have time at some point, I’d love to have you and Keri over for coffee,” Ann said.

  “Thanks, Ann,” I said. “I’ll let you know. How is everything? How’s Tom?”

  Ann beamed. She looked as happy at the mention of her husband’s name as she had when they got married almost fifteen years ago. “He’s great. Working like a mule, you know.”

  “Well, the house looks amazing,” I said, putting the car into gear.

  Ann backed away, calling, “Just trying to keep it as ship-shape as it was when my parents lived here.” She waved as I continued down the street.

  “Who’s that, a desperate housewife?” Freddie shouted through the phone.

  “Crap, Fred, no! It’s a neighbor. I was in her wedding, kind of, when I was in high school,” I said.

  I rounded a curve and my house came into view. As soon as I saw my house, the front porch, the wooden rocking chair that looked so empty without a blanket draped across the arms, I felt a pressure come over my chest.

  “Okay, okay. Well, tell me if you run into anyone exciting, alright? And have a good weekend,” Freddie said, hanging up.

  I pulled into my driveway, and through the rearview mirror, I could already see the screen door of the house across the street opening and a figure crossing the lawn. I parked behind my dad’s old truck and could glimpse the doghouse in the backyard that my dad and I had built together for Buddy, our old beagle who died when I was fourteen. The pressure in my chest stretched, like the tightening and strumming of guitar strings. By the time I raised and latched the top, popped the trunk and got out of the car, Keri Free was already pulling my bag out of my car.

  As neighbors, we were each others first and best friends. She had always just been Keri Free, the girl at the bus stop with me, or the girl who brought me my homework when I stayed home sick from school. In high school, she did the whole marching band thing and I went out for the football team. Neither of us was part of the popular crowd in high school, and it seemed like that was something she never even tried for. She always wore her long brown hair in a thick braid — every single day — and she had these huge glasses that seemed like a barrier between her and the rest of the world.

  The last time I saw her was during winter break of our junior year of college. She’d let her hair out loose, in these thick, dark waves that clawed down her back. There were no glasses, and her body had gone from girlish gawkiness to a woman’s graceful frame. And now, six years later, she looked even better.

  “Holy cow, Sam,” Keri grunted, letting my bag drop to the driveway and hugging me. “Were they out of Maseratis at the rental place? Oh my gosh, I haven’t seen you in a million years.”

  Her hug was tight and it suddenly felt good to be home. She let go and heaved my bag onto her shoulders and started walking to the front door.

  “I, uh, own the car.”

  She laughed, like I’d made a joke and then stopped, staring at me. “You’re serious? You own a car – a Corvette – and you live in New York City? Isn’t that … cumbersome?”

  “Well…” I started, but Keri was already dropping my bag on the front porch. She left it there and started to cross the lawn back to her house.

  “Come over for dinner, if you want,” she said, opening her screen door, and then she disappeared as quickly as she’d appeared.

  I stood alone on the front porch and took a deep breath. I wasn’t sure whether I should knock or just walk right into the house. It hadn’t been quite the million years that Keri said, but I hadn’t been home since I’d graduated from college, not even for holidays. I looked around at the porch. The bricks looked older, more cracked, and the front windows looked like they needed a good
washing, but otherwise everything looked the same. I closed my eyes and imagined an alternate universe, in which my mother would be inside baking a cake, and maybe my older brother, Jim, would be over for the weekend watching baseball with my dad. My niece and nephew would be splashing and playing in the pool out back. And maybe we’d even have a new dog for that old doghouse.

  I opened my eyes and turned the knob. The door opened and the front hallway was dark. I could hear the sound of a television in the back of the house.

  “Dad?” I called into the darkness.

  “Sammy?” My father appeared in the hallway. He was wearing an old college sweatshirt and jeans and drying his hands on a rag. “Hey, Sammy. Good to see you.”

  He hugged me and took my bag. “I got your old room all set up for you.” He started up the stairs.

 
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