Here's the next installment of the story. Those of you Ghostletters fans will remember that Tony Reardon currently plays the part of Lana Dean's uncle, his older sister Claire being Lana's mother. Remember, we're looking at the Tony of about thirty years ago, before they renamed all of Chicago's train lines, before the Internet and when people could smoke just about anywhere. I'll be interested in your thoughts, not only whether or not you like it, but also what you like or don't like. I am adjusting things as I go along...this is really nothing more than a first draft.
The subway station at Chicago and State was deserted. There wasn't even anyone to take my fare. I walked down the stairs to the platform and looked down the tracks to the south, to see if there was a train coming. I lit a cigarette and walked back and forth on the platform, trying to relax and trying to figure out what had just happened. Did I now have a girlfriend? Why was she interested in me? Was she just lonely, or was there something more? If there was something more, why hadn't there been more tonight? I hadn't done much dating. The girl I took to the senior prom had been the daughter of a friend of my mother's who I'd known for a number of years, and I had asked her because I had no one else to ask. What had happened today was totally foreign to me. I wasn't used to girls throwing themselves at me. I really wasn't used to having older women throw themselves at me. Of course, maybe she wasn't throwing herself at me. Maybe I was making this out to be more than it was. That was even more confusing than the thought that Rosalie had thrown herself at me.
I dropped my cigarette on the platform and stepped on it, and looked down the tracks. Still no sign of the train. I could hear roaring and rumbling, but couldn't tell where it was coming from. I watched the mice running around among the tracks and rails, grabbing pieces of popcorn from a bucket that had apparently come from the theater at Water Tower Place. It was oddly relaxing, and I had to struggle to stay awake. Soon, the train appeared, and was headed in my direction.
I boarded the train and showed my pass to the conductor. The car was practically deserted, except for a couple sitting in the seat next to the conductor's. I took the seat just behind the door and relaxed. Before I knew it, the train was pulling into the station at Granville; I had napped all the way north, and had awakened at the station just before mine.
I got off the train at Loyola and took the back exit which let me out of the station on the correct side of Sheridan Road. I considered going down to Huey's for a beer, but decided against it. It was almost ten, and I'd have to be up early the next morning. I turned toward Mertz Hall and, several minutes later, was sliding my key in the door to my room.
Eddie, my roommate, was already asleep, lying on his bed beside a skin mag, his Tensor lamp providing all the light he needed. I shook my head and got undressed and put on a pair of gym shorts and a t-shirt, then went out into the common area for a cigarette, since Eddie didn't let me smoke in the room.
Will, one of the freshmen on the floor, was sitting out there, trying to write a paper. "Hey, Tony, what's happenin'? Got an extra cigarette?" The joke was that Will's favorite brand was OP's--Other People's. I smiled and shook one out for him. "Got a light?"
"What, you want me to smoke it for you, too?" I joked. I lit my cigarette then lit his. "So, what's been going on here?"
"Not much. Eddie's got a new girlfriend..."
"Yeah, I saw her lying on the bed beside him." My roommate had the largest collection of porno in the whole dorm. Not that it was any of my business, except that it seemed to take up an incredible amount of his time, and he tended to leave it out all over the place.
Will thought for a minute, and grinned. "Oh, so you're giving them a little privacy?"
"You got that right," I said. I sat down on the couch and put my feet up on the coffee table.
"So, how was the big date?" Will asked.
"It went really well," I said.
"So, what'd you do?"
"Nothing. Had a couple of beers, had a pizza, then she had to get ready for work and she sent me home."
"Yeah. Really attractive, and really nice, too. She's a little older than me..."
"Ooh, an older woman!"
"It wasn't like that, Will," I protested.
"Yeah, I know. Otherwise you'd still be there," he said, suppressing a smile.
I put out my cigarette and leaned back on the couch, and fell asleep.
I woke up to the sound of my suitemates running around, getting ready for the day. Eddie emerged from our room. "Hey, Reardon, what the hell are you sleeping out there for? I was startin' to wonder if that woman had eaten you alive." He snickered.
"No, I got in pretty early last night, before you sent Miss October home." I walked past him into the room.
"Fuck you, Reardon. Hey, check her out," he said, opening the magazine to the gatefold.
"Yeah, Eddie, I saw her last night, OK? Look, I'm running late."
After a quick shower and breakfast in the cafeteria across the concourse from the dorm, I was back on the L platform waiting for the train. I really hadn't given much thought to the night before; right now, I was more concerned about getting my Marketing paper written than anything. When the train arrived, there wasn't a seat available, and I knew that I'd probably have to stand all the way down to Chicago Avenue. Knowing that I wouldn't be able to study, I held onto one of the poles in the car and mused about my situation in general, particularly as it applied to my most recent developments.
Remembering what Will had said about the "older woman", I started to imagine all kinds of scenarios with Rosalie. Was she, in fact, a Mrs. Robinson sort, looking to seduce me, the much younger man? Betty at work had said that she thought that Rosalie was old enough to be my mother, but, remembering her from the night before, I didn't think that was possible. In fact, she kind of sounded like she might be a lot younger than anyone thought, from the things she had been saying. OK, maybe she was in her thirties, but in her younger thirties, probably no more than about 31 or 32. Still, I was only 19 going on 20, and that would be eleven or twelve years difference in our ages. But, she was still going to school, and just from the sound of it, she wasn't that much further along than I was. So, even if she was older than I was, we were like classmates. It didn't sound right that she would still have three years to go to complete her degree, but then, I knew a lot of people, particularly Vietnam veterans, who were working at a pace of one to two classes a semester. She said that she had another three years, and suddenly, that sounded plausible.
I started thinking about what my mother would say if I brought Rosalie home. Mom was always pretty tough on me, keeping close tabs on me and my brother Francis ever since my older sister Claire decided that she was a lesbian and ran off with a woman. It was as though she couldn't trust us to have lives of our own after that. It was part of the reason that I had insisted on living at the dorm while I was going to college, even though we lived within ten miles of the campus and there were people commuting from much further out. I was tired of living my life under her microscope; at least half of the tactics she used to keep tabs on my brother and me were violations of the Geneva Convention. "Under my roof, under my rules," she always said, and I decided after my freshman year that those terms were unreasonable. She reluctantly agreed to letting me live on campus only after I had threatened to drop out of school and join the Navy. What would her reaction be to me coming home with her?
I'm getting ahead of myself, I thought. I've known her for a couple of hours at the most. We had a pizza together and a few drinks, she shared something about her life, I shared something about mine, we hit it off pretty well, she kissed me goodbye, and that was that.
The train partially cleared out at Belmont, where the Howard line joined with the Ravenswood line, and I was able to get a seat. I pulled out my Accounting book and studied it, and didn't think about the previous night again until I had gotten to school, had a cup of coffee, and was sitting in the classroom of my 10 o'clock class, which had a clear view of the Hancock Building.