The next day Amanda came to see me at work. Somehow I knew she’d be there. She came from across Schenley Drive, while I was outside battling with an overstuffed book depository. She was wearing a dark blue skirt, and a half-open oxford shirt. Under it she had on a navy blue bikini top. Her hair was pulled back, and on Amanda’s face was a pair of glitter-covered sunglasses. She had a can of soda in one hand, and a paperback book in the other. Amanda had been sunbathing in Schenley Park, and now she was sauntering up the walkway toward where I was standing, coming for me.
“Here.” She handed me the book.
“What are you doing here?”
“This is a public library, and I’m here to return a book.” Amanda took a drink of her soda. A small amount of it rolled down her chin, and it soaked into the fabric of her shirt. “Drink?” she said, offering me the can.
I waved it off. “I just didn’t expect to see you here today.”
“You were expecting me?”
Yes. “No....I mean with the game and everything, I didn’t expect to see any of you until tonight.”
“I don’t think there’s going to be a tonight.”
Amanda laughed. “I told Calvin I wasn’t feeling well. I told him I was having girl troubles.”
“You’re pretty forward!”
“I mean...I don’t really know what I mean,” I said.
“Calvin was pissed. He started whining because he’s out two tickets now.”
“That sounds like Cal.”
“I meant what I said yesterday,” Amanda suddenly stated. “Friends are boring. But I don’t want to have to wait on Calvin to call me in order for the two of us to get together.” She motioned for my cigarette, and took a good drag on it. “Do you want the two of us to get together?”
“Do you mean date? Or, like, just hook up?”
“I’m not sure yet. But I want something.”
Amanda held on to my cigarette and made it hers.
“It’s not that simple,” I said. “You have to know it by now, but if you don’t, Calvin really likes you. And although he’s not the brightest guy in the world, I think after yesterday he might finally be on to our flirting and such.”
“Yeah. Well, at first I didn’t care what Calvin thought, but I’ve been knocking you and I around in my brain last night and all morning, and I just don’t know if I can hurt one of my oldest friends that way. Calvin has a good heart.”
“That’s a lot of thinking over one girl.”
“What can I do? My hands are tied.”
“Fine,” Amanda said.
She turned and walked away. What a sight that girl was! She was beautiful, yes, but Amanda had a mean, possessive streak in her that was both frightening and intoxicating, and completely sexual. She was like nothing that I ever saw saunter down the hallways of my high school. I could get drunk on Amanda Evarts just watching her storm away. I felt drunk, too. I felt like everything was bubbling over in me, and like I was ready to explode. I felt dangerous and most of me just didn’t care about the repercussions of anything at that moment. But still, for the sake of whatever was left of decency and loyalty in me, I let Amanda go half way down the crooked walkway, before I shouted to stop her.
“What are you doing tonight?” I blurted, setting down my book bin. My fate was sealed.
She walked back toward me. “Paper and Pen?”
I handed her a slip of paper with a poem I’d written on it, and one of my trusty blue pens. Amanda leaned against the hot metal of the book depository and wrote down her phone number. Then she asked for mine. The sound of the pen scrapping the metal added to my tension. I wanted to stop her because the whole ordeal didn’t make good sense. I felt adulterous. But I let the moment pass because I really wanted Amanda Evarts.
“Here.” She handed me back my pen, and then ripped the paper in two. Bye-bye, poem, I thought, as she handed me my sliver.
“I’m done at five,” I said. “And then I’m hoping to go see this band play tonight.”
Amanda began to stroll back down the walkway. “It’s a date.”
My house was empty when I got home. All that was waiting for me was a note from my mom telling me to fix my own dinner, and a small gray cat that I had taken in as a stray back in April, because Sarah wanted me to. The disheveled, un-neutered beast and I were like soul mates now. I called him, Champ. And Champ roared a deep meow at me whenever I came home. He lightened my load a little, and made me chuckle. He was good to have around, especially on a night like this, nights weighed down by thoughts of Amanda Evarts.
I took her number out of my pocket, and set it by the phone for good measure. Then I fixed myself a small dinner of frozen pizza. Champ ate a can of cat food on the floor next to me. Then I went to my bedroom with Amanda’s number, and blasted this jazz CD that Karl had given me. Miles Davis. Kind of Blue. But no matter what I did, my thoughts were consumed with Amanda Evarts, her sexy sarcasm and attitude, and that little bikini poking through her top. Deep in my gut, I could feel the bile rise. Finally I broke down. I called Amanda. She arrived forty-five minutes later.
“So, is this a futon?” she asked.
“It’s a piece of crap.”
“Why do you have it?”
“Well, my bed broke and....”
“That sounds interesting.”
“It’s not what you think.”
“Anyway, my bed broke and I figured since I was going to college anyway in the fall, I might as well get something easy and convertible, you know?”
“But aren’t you just going down to Pitt?”
“Well...yeah...but...Okay I’m going to tell you something. Remember my friend, Noah?”
“Yeah. The bartender. The party at the cottages.”
“Right. Well, one of Noah’s roommates is leaving there in August. Karl told me I’m on the short list to get the available room.”
“There’s a short list to get an apartment with a bunch of guys?” Amanda asked. She wrinkled her nose at the idea.
“It’s a pretty popular place,” I said, realizing the short list idea actually was kind of lame.
“So you’re planning on being out of your parent’s house by August. Are they cool with the idea?”
“No. Hence my working today. I’m trying to save up enough to get a head start. I figure I could work thirty-thirty five hours a week during school to pay my rent and stuff, and still go to class full-time.”
“And not have a life,” Amanda said.
“There’s always time for everything.”
Then she picked herself up off of the futon, and walked over to where I was sitting on an unused radiator below the window. She was dressed in a pair of brown pants and a black t-shirt, and she smelled of strawberries and heaven. She had let her hair fall back down so that it grazed her shoulders. We were a far cry from sunbathing and banter, and I couldn't keep my sunken eyes off of her. Then Amanda straddled my body and draped her arms over my shoulders. She tilted her head up and kissed me. Her lips felt warm and dry on mine. And as quickly as we'd come together was as quickly as I pulled us apart. Regret and loyalty almost choked me.
“That’s probably good for now,” I said.
“I've wanted to do that since the night at the Cage.”
She lifted herself off of me. “So have I. I mean who are we fooling? I just want to talk to Calvin and smooth this all over before we take this any further.”
Amanda walked past me and grabbed a cigarette from my pack on the desk. I gave her a light even though I wasn’t allowed to smoke in the house, and then she sat back down on the futon to smoke and study me. “And if he's not okay with this?”
“Calvin will be fine,” I said. But what did I know? He could hate me forever. “Let’s just be friends for tonight, and then we’ll see.”
“Okay,” Amanda said, sighing. She looked at her watch. “So when’s this show?”