"I hear that too."

Eddie flipped in a couple of more discs. Travis beat a rhythm on the steering wheel until they reached Darien's.

"Here ya' go man. Take it easy."

"Thanks again for the ride. See ya' Monday."

Eddie jumped out, slammed the door and slapped the roof of the car as Travis pulled away. From here he had less than a mile to go and he raced his own curiosity and desire down unlit one ways, past burnt out tenements, over long dead railroad tracks, through a funny odor that came up suddenly. Mercifully, the last light before Andrea's building was indeed green.

He pulled up and honked the horn. She never wanted him to come to the door. He noticed how she rarely talked about her mother and was vague if she did. He made presumptions and didn't ask questions she didn't want to answer. What could he say? He understood. He didn't press it. But time ground so slow while waiting for her entrance, backlit by the porch light. And what it did to him to see her baggy clothes rhythmically press tight against one part of her body, slacken, then press tight against another as she danced down the steps. He savored these hints at her true silhouette. He moistened his lips in anticipation of her kiss. Before they spoke she would always kiss him first.

They held hands as he drove to that gravel lot. That one on the riverbank sheltered from the street by an eight-pack of abandoned grain silos. Ancient grain silos marooned in the city that grew up around them, now twelve story luxury roosts for only the largest crows. He turned off the lights and slammed the car into park.

"I hate this place," he said with a certain defeat.

This was where they had told each other their life stories and dreams. This is where they learned to share a comfortable silence. They really made out for the first time right here. Sure they first kissed at the party at Darien's they were introduced at, but the serious making out started right here. Neither had ever come here with anyone else it was theirs together. They sketched the city from here (an exercise that usually ended with Andrea persuading Travis not to throw his sketch pad in the river). She loved this place.

"Why?" She asked just because he wanted her to, though still pensively.

"Its dumb we have to come here. I wish we could just go back to my house so we. . ." Andrea kissed him on the cheek to make him stop. She had heard every version of his apology for his father and didn't want to hear them repeated. Not now. Not tonight.

"It's not dumb," she said and opened the car door.

He watched her race to the river's edge before walking after her. When he caught up she put one hand on the small of his back and turned him to look up river where a cement barge was approaching. For twenty minutes they watched it pass with massive lethargic machinery motion. No wake permitted and none was offered as it glided over unbroken glassy water. The visible half slid underneath the cityscape, and the river and clear sky sandwiched it all between two twinkling slices. She sat wondering what was at the bottom of the river, maybe it was just river all the way down. He sat thinking of his old man. The ship took no notice. They sat sad and quiet until the aft light made the bend. He figured he'd wander back for his sketch pad, but just then Andrea grabbed his hand.

They kissed. Lips and tongues pressed hard. He loved kissing her. He loved kissing her the way a seventeen-year-old boy loves kissing a seventeen-year-old girl. They made their way back to the car stopping twice to kiss along the way. They climbed into the back. Lips and tongues pressed harder yet and wandered. Only the necessary clothing was removed.

Oh my God.

Oh my God!

Does it hurt?

Don't stop.

Oh my God.

On the drive back to her apartment they held hands and smiled and didn't talk. When he stopped outside of her door they stared at each other's wide eyes. They touched each other's faces. They kissed lightly. She cracked the car door and turned back to him.

"Bye," she said softly letting loose a huge smile.

"I'll call you tomorrow."

"Okay."

She slammed the car door and dashed across the street. He sped away. That night they slept almost like children.

But before eight a.m. Travis was startled awake by his father crashing into his room. Without a word he clasped one hand around the back of Travis's neck and yanked him out of bed. Travis was half-conscious and torpid when he felt his left arm being twisted behind his back and his bare feet shuffling down the hall carpeting.

"Open that door!" Mr. Langman commanded when they reached the foyer. With his free arm Travis obeyed and was quickly pushed through the door. The shock of a billion watt sun hit him like a fist and he lifted his available forearm to shield his eyes. He still didn't know why, but he was damned well sure it was morning, his shoulder hurt, he was being pushed towards his dad's car, and he was wearing only boxer shorts.

"Open the back door!"

Again with his free arm Travis obeyed. The hand on his neck pushed his head in the door but did not let go.

"What the hell is that?!"

Travis strained to focus on the section of seat his head was aimed at. It took a moment before he realized what he saw: a small patch of Andrea's virginal blood. All at once he remembered last night and the loss of his own virginity. His eyes again unfocused as he was flooded with memories of her winces and grimaces and sighs and touches and scent and was snapped out of it by a squeezing on his neck. He backed out of the car and stood up.

"I . . . met this girl . . . at Jake's last night. Come on dad . . . you know what happens in the back seat," and he made a try at a sly smile as he looked over his shoulder at his father.

He watched his father's brows knit and gears grind. Slowly two and two came together. Travis had judged him correctly and the grip on his neck loosened and his arm was given back. Mr. Langman spun his son around and gave him a little punch in the chest.

"That's m'boy," he said nodding. He walked back to the house leaving Travis there to process it all. When he reached the front porch he shouted back, "Make sure you get that cleaned up before your mother gets up.

" After a few deep breaths Travis went to the house for some pants and a bucket of soapy water. He scrubbed absentmindedly and gently, and replayed last nights awkward ecstasy in minute detail. He wondered what it meant. He hoped she had an orgasm. He found the condom and wondered what to do with it. He decided he would call Andrea when his dad fell asleep during the baseball game.

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