5: Changing Twenties

I got up around 10, early, and couldn’t get back to sleep. The invitation was still on my desk and I left it as I got dressed. What’s the use? Let her get married without me. I took John’s roll of bills and headed for the bank.

I ended up at the bank near my old place, a couple of blocks down Main Street from the University, A purple Gitane was locked to the meter in front of it. Campy derailleur. Nice bike. I locked mine to the same meter and walked in.

Christine waved at me from the line. I got behind her. God she was pretty. At first glance, she looked 16, but then you saw she was older. Taller than I’d first thought, small face, narrow nose, thin lips. Tight jean shorts, I couldn’t help but notice.

“How are you?” she asked.

“I’ve decided to be responsible.”

“So you’re here to deposit your money so you can’t spend it all on cheap thrills?”

“I’m afraid I’m here to take it out so I can.”

She laughed. We moved up one place in line. Her hair was loose on her shoulders, streaked a dozen shades by the sun. She looked like the sun.

“Do you live near here? I haven’t seen you around before.”

“I just moved in, actually. I transferred to the University for the fall.”

“I just graduated. I live on Forest.”

“I live on Eagle. By that bar.”

“Mulligan’s,” I say. “It’s a good bar. Their regulars sometimes hit us when it closes. Once the bartenders there know who you are, they’ll take care of you. We have a reciprocal agreement.”

She smiled and looked at the roll of bills in my hand. “Are you really taking all your money out to spend?”

I shrugged, shook my head no. “You know, we’re only four blocks apart. That makes us neighbors. You ought to come over some night for a beer or something.”

She stepped to the window and handed a check to the teller. “That would be nice. I don’t know anybody but my housemates yet.” She touched her tongue to her tooth. The teller handed the money to Christine and she stepped aside to count it.

I handed the roll to the teller. “Fifties and hundreds, please.” She shot me a quick look, then started counting. I was ready with a story about a crafts show, but she didn’t ask. She had to get a couple of bills from the teller next to her. Different bank next time, I think.

I expected Christine to be gone, but she was there waiting for me. We walked outside into the sudden bright sun.

“How about you? What did you major in?”

I told her ceramics and she laughed. “I have a friend who wants to do that. The University is supposed to have a good department.”

“Henry makes it. Henry Nisi. He’s a fantastic teacher. What’s your friend’s name? I probably know her.”

Chris shook her head. “You wouldn’t know them. They just transferred here, too.”

“Are you working tonight?”

She nodded. “How about you?”

“Where else would I be?”

“Spending your loot.”

I shrugged again. She went over to the Gitane and unlocked it.

“Nice bike. I saw it when I came in. Campy.” She looked at me quizzically. “Campagnolo. Best derailleurs out there.”

“It’s a loaner. My housemate is letting me use it for the summer.”

“Feel like taking a ride? We could go out to the pottery shop at the new campus.”

“I can’t. I’ll see you tonight, though.”

“Sure thing.” I wrapped the chain around my seatpost and locked it. I made sure the bills were OK in my front pocket and got on my bike. She was already gone.

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