Authors: Jane Larry
Of all people, why
him? What was aggravating about this finding was that John was the only one who
had the name Louie in the grade level, which was weird. And moreover, he was
taking the same class as Lisa was, making him fit the bill. It was hard to
believe that such a classic jock jerk would have a sensitive and shy streak to
him or would even have the time to write love letters for a girl. Going back on
their encounter at the park, John was definitely a ladies man and not the
hopeless romantic the writings depict. Still, it was worth giving the theory a
shot. And so Lisa called John up using the home phone number that was
Lisa rode her bike
to Riddell’s the next day to meet up with John for snacks. Surprisingly, he was
there early and had ordered a Bacon Burger with a huge helping of fries. He
stood up and waved at Lisa when he saw her come in. And they both gave an
uncomfortable smile before they sat down. When she had settled in, the waitress
offered Lisa a menu, to which she reacted with…
“No, thanks. But
I’ll have the vanilla milkshake and peach cobbler.”
spoke out loud.
spring and you’re already packing for winter,” John teased to which Lisa
laughed. “I’m just messing with you. You look so serious! So, what did you want
to talk to me about?”
With that question,
Lisa gave him the letters she found in the compilation, stapled. John picked
them up and read through them intently, stealing glances at Lisa every now and
then, wondering what she meant to say. Failing to figure out what the deal was,
he finally asked, “…so what am I looking at here?”
answered, “Did you write them?”
It took about 30
seconds for John to distinguish whether Lisa’s question was deliberate or a
joke. And upon realizing that she was sincere, he frankly confirmed, “No.”
“I knew it!” Lisa
exclaimed. But in spite of being proud of her instincts, the question of the
letter’s author was still looming. And that proved to be more concerning than
finding out that John Mitchell was her story’s subject.
“What is this
about?” John interjected.
Right then, Lisa
decided to get her order to go and move on to finding out the answers
elsewhere. But before she could stand up, John made a grave threat.
“So you drag me
here to meet up and then leave me hanging after serving your purpose? I
don’t think so. If you don’t tell me what’s going on, I’m going to tell on
Curious about the
basis of his warning, Lisa engaged John in a stare war to get him to cough out
what he thought he could manipulate her with. John, amused by her response,
stared back and waited for her to inquire about what his plan exactly was.
Unluckily for him, Lisa was more masterful at the activity. So after a few
minutes, John gave up and said…
“Don’t think I
didn’t pick up on one of Mr. K’s compilations being in your possession. The
last time I checked, they couldn’t be borrowed. So, do you want me to tell on
you or do want to tell me what’s going on?”
Unnerved by this
revelation, Lisa got John back with her own threat.
jackass! I’m not going to let you push me around. So if you tell on me, I’ll
make you pay…but since I do owe you, I’m going to save us both the trouble. I’m
using the letters for my writing assignment. And I was hoping I could trace its
origin and find myself a good ending to my story.”
“That’s all?! And
you went through all this trouble? Couldn’t you just make up one?”
But...I wanted to know if there was something more to it.”
“…something more to
Louie and Irene? Well, from the looks of it, I don’t think so.”
“Well, that’s for
me to find out. Thanks for your time. And sorry for bothering you…” With that,
Lisa got up, fetched her meal and made her way out.
While walking down to
the bicycle parking, Lisa thought about what other means she could explore to
achieve her goal. It was obviously more limited now since she has confirmed a
few constraining details through the yearbook. And as if that wasn’t enough
aggravation, she currently had to worry about what John would do with the
information he just acquired. Was he going to hang it over her head forever?
Was he going to really tell on her? If he had the audacity to bully her then he
could pretty much do anything. But before she could let out her frustrations,
John was already behind her, ready to offer her some peace of mind.
“Hey, Lisa, wait
up! Is it really that important for you to find out?”
“What is it to
“I can help you.”
“And why would
you’d owe me another favor. And I could really use some help starting that
writing project.” Feeling that he’s lost some of the girl’s confidence, John
went on saying, “Look, I won’t tell, I promise. But it’s pretty clear that you
need my help. It’s Spring Break. How else could you gather information about
John had undeniably
presented a strong argument. And at the moment, it was clear to Lisa that the
only way she’d be able to push through was with him by her side. But before she
agreed, she had to make sure he was earnest in his intentions.”
“Why do you need my
help writing your project? Aren’t you capable of that yourself? You’re not
stupid John, you and I both know that.”
“You’re right. I
could do it if I wanted to. But I can’t right now. If you’re interested, I
could talk to you about it more tomorrow.”
agreed. And they set to meet up at the park again in the morning.
Lisa woke up a
little bit late the next day, having gone over some of the ways she could look
for “Louie” without having to rely on John. But after an exhaustive evening,
she came up with dead ends and was forced to attend their meeting at the park.
When she got there, he was already exasperated of her tardiness. And when he
met her at the foot of the hill, his forehead was crumpled up from all
“What took you so
long?!” he snapped.
“Sorry. I woke up
late. I didn’t realize this meeting had to commence on time.”
“Well, get used to
it. I don’t make people wait on me so I expect them to extend the same
courtesy,” John retorted while dragging her off to the field.
“Where are we
going?!” a puzzled and worried Lisa asked.
“Just shut up and
walk fast,” John asserted.
His stride was long
and quick. And it was a challenge for Lisa to keep up. But he had quite a grip
on her arm – strong enough to keep her from falling away and gentle enough to
avoid hurting her – so she managed in spite of herself. Once they crossed the
field, they made their way to the recreational area where a bunch of old folks
were gathered up. John approached one of them and gave a warm greeting.
“Hi Grandpa! Sorry
for taking my time. This is my friend, Lisa.”
Stunned with the
turn of events, Lisa was unable to pay her respects right away and gaped back
and forth between John and his supposed grandfather.
“Don’t worry about
it kid. I don’t even see the resemblance,” the old man joked.
“So, are we set?”
“Yep. I’m on a
winning streak. I better leave before someone starts getting the better of me!”
Lisa went along
with them as they walked towards John’s car. And after he helped his
grandfather in, she pulled John aside and asked, “Where exactly are we going?”
John just kept quiet and carried on by opening the passenger seat for Lisa.
Conscious of making a scene, she compliantly sat down and participated in the
was very chatty. But he was also charming and witty so it wasn’t a pain to
follow up his quips. It didn’t seem obvious from the banter he was instigating
though that he was scheduled for admission that day at Grand Rapids Memorial.
From the looks of things, John’s grandfather seemed to have been going back and
forth to the hospital for some time now. He was telling stories of hospital
staff and patient’s he had met and kept in touch with for some time. And he
even looked comfortable with the prospect, unlike Lisa, who was ready to jump
out of the car if she found it necessary.
It had been four
years since she last set foot in that facility. And although she had successfully
reconciled with her parent’s early demise, she still hasn’t felt at peace
within that environment. As luck would have it, John only needed to deliver his
grandfather to the emergency room because his mother was already there,
attending to the paperwork. Thus, Lisa only had to hold her breath for a few
It felt strange to
her how she couldn’t even bring herself to set foot on the steps of the
hospital. Being in that setting gave her flashbacks of that Monday morning when
she was fighting for her life. It was even more absurd how she was completely
aware of what was going on even though she was unconscious. She could see her
parents being wheeled in to the morgue, her uncle consoling her devastated
aunt, and the anguish of the rest of the families that were affected. It was
like she was having an out of body experience. And as she and John walked back
to the car park, more and more memories came flooding in.
She remembered the truck
that was a few meters ahead of their car and how it appeared to have some
trouble with its attachment. It stopped a few times during traffic, which
aggravated everyone else on the freeway. But since it couldn’t park right away,
everyone had to bear with the situation. When the truck was already near the
exit, a speeding vehicle from the opposite lane crossed the island, hit the
truck’s trailer and forced it to roll onto the succeeding cars, which included
Lisa’s family. The last image imprinted on Lisa’s mind was of her mother and
father and their heroic attempt to protect her from the impact. Everything else
was a blur. And like snapshot images, she saw herself being dragged out of the
crushed car, being assessed and resuscitated by the paramedics, and being
crowded over by onlookers and victims. And then she recalled being able to fly
overhead and watch the devastation from a safe distance.
But just then, John
interrupted, saying, “Care to tell me what you’re thinking about?”
silent for a while before she finally came clean, “…I haven’t been here for so
confused of the circumstances but couldn’t muster up the confidence to ask
about it. It seemed such a serious subject. And he wasn’t ready to address any
backlash that might come up from uncovering old wounds. For the most part, he
kept quiet and left Lisa to the privacy of her own thoughts. But once they got
to the car, he conveniently changed the topic and asked where Lisa wanted to
“I don’t know. I’m
not that hungry. Maybe I should just go home,” she replied.
“Are you serious?!
You allowed yourself to get dragged around town and then leave just when you
are about to get what you came for? Get in the car.”
It was rare for
Lisa to have such a personal interaction with the likes of John. And the more
time she spent with him, the more confusing his identity became. Yes, he was
the typical jock, alpha male, tactless flirt. But little by little, he’s been
showing her a side to him that no one of his social status would dare expose.
Was it because he knew she wasn’t the type who’d tell or make a big deal of it?
Or was it just all a coincidence? I’m sure her friend Hanna would not be happy
knowing she had spent more than a day with John Mitchell. No one would. So what
was the deal? Why was she in that situation?
During the drive,
John broke the silence by admitting, “My grandfather has been battling cancer
for a year now. Three months ago, we found out it came back. He’s going to do
chemotherapy again. And I have to be there to take care of things.”
“Why? It’s not your
fault he has cancer. Anyways, that’s why I need you to help me out on the
writing assignment. You’re good. And I could use the grade.”
“So if I help you
out with this whole ‘Louie’ situation, are you okay with doing my work for me?”
I have to do everything for you?!”
John laughed. “I
was just checking your reflexes. Of course, I’m only joking. But if you do feel
like doing it, I’m not one to stop you.”
Lisa and John spent
the whole afternoon getting to know each other. And while waiting for his
contacts to come through, John told Lisa about how he had lost his father four
years ago in an accident. It was a tough time for everyone. But he felt like he
didn’t have the luxury to feel vulnerable because he had to take care of the
family from that time on. He confessed he once thought about taking the
wrong path and just succumbing to the pressure. But then, he realized how much
that would devastate everyone he cared about more. So he sucked his fear up and
gave a whole lot of effort, even going so far as sacrificing his wants.