Afternoon sun casts long shadows. A random leaf drifts to the already covered deck.
Back in college, my housemate Micki had a tall boyfriend and a VW bug. Her boyfriend’s best friend had rich parents and a hunting lodge on a lake in the Adirondacks. One Friday evening, Micki and her beau grabbed me and said “We’re going to the lake. Come on.”
I didn’t have any plans, so we climbed into the bug and headed north. No one had any money. I don’t mean we didn’t have a lot of money. We didn’t have any money. I didn’t own a wallet or a driver’s license. Or an official ID. You didn’t need it in those days. Hard to believe, but it was normal to walk around with no money or ID. No cell phones (what’s a cell phone?). I suppose some women carried makeup and stuff, but not me.
Odd girl out, I sat in the back behind the very tall driver folded like a pretzel. Along the way, we got hungry but lacking money, we didn’t eat. It was a long drive from Long Island to the top of the Adirondacks. The car got hungry too and unlike people, it couldn’t wait. So we saved fuel by coasting down mountains, restarting the engine to go uphill.
We got to the house on the lake just after dawn. It was beautiful, mist rising on the lake. We were exhausted. So was the bug having made the journey on fumes. No rest for the weary. The sun was up. We had to be sociable.
It was some house. Huge, more like a hotel. I wondered what their regular house looked like. Wooden steps led down to a dock and boat. I met Micki’s boyfriend’s friend. We sort of hung out. He made a half-hearted attempt to neck with me, but my disinterest was obvious and he gave up.
After sex was taken off our dance card, he walked me to the lake for a swim. I had borrowed someone’s bathing suit. He dove off the dock. When he surfaced, I called to him. “How is it?”
“Not bad,” he said. So I dove in too and my heart almost stopped. That water was as close to ice as I’ve ever experienced. I thought I was going to die, and porpoise-like leapt back onto the dock, a feat I’ve never matched since.
“What do you mean by ‘not bad'” I squawked.
“It can be a lot colder,” he assured me. We sat for a while on the dock. There were a lot of round holes in the wood.
“What are those holes?”
“Bullet holes,” he said.
“I shoot the spiders,” he said. “With the rifle.” I hadn’t noticed it, but there it was. Probably for target shooting. But … shoot at spiders? That’s when the biggest spider I’ve ever seen ambled onto the dock. It was the size of my hand … maybe bigger. Black. Furry.
He grabbed the rifle and shot it.
That did it for me. I found Micki, told her to saddle up. We were going home. The two of us begged and borrowed gasoline money and leaving her boyfriend at the lake, headed home. We hadn’t slept in days. I didn’t drive, but Micki was okay as long as I kept poking her to keep her awake.
It was most spontaneous life would ever be for me. Living with Micki was full of surprises. She was a terrible roomie. Never had the rent, ate all my food, borrowed my stuff, never returned anything. And she was the most fun of anyone with whom I ever shared space.