Thursday, February 14, 2013

Eighteen--A Very Quincy Valentines Day

When February 14th rolled around during tenth grade, Quincy was prepared.  The ritual had been long established: Kids exchanged valentine notes, candy--usually little hearts stamped with sayings like "Be Mine" and "I'm Yours"--and occasionally, when a kid was feeling an extra bit of longing, a red rose or two.  Great successes and horrible failures could be witnessed on February 14th--girls squealing, boys suffering rejection stoically in front of their lockers.  Quincy waited at his desk, 15 minutes before home room was about to begin, casting a quick glance at the desk at the front of his row.

Someone tapped his shoulder.  He turned and saw no one.  Then he felt a tap on his other shoulder.  he spun in his chair and caught Piotr's hand.  "Sucker," his agent said.  "You always fall for the same trap.  In chess and in life."

Quincy had nothing to say in reply.

"What's going on?" Piotr asked.  Then his eyes went wide.  "Ohhhh.  It's that day."  Quincy crouched a bit in his chair, as if trying to distance his ears from his agent's words.  "Are you kidding, Quince?  It's not gonna work.  She's out of your league."

"This is the turn," Quincy mumbled.

"Huh?  The turn?  You've been trying how long?  First, it was seventh grade--"

"Preflop," Quincy corrected.

"Then eighth grade you tried to--"


"Quincy, she's not a poker hand."

Quincy pondered this statement.  He looked up at Piotr.  "Maybe she is," he said.

"You're nuts."

He glanced again at the desk at the front of the row.  A white box sat atop it.  He shrugged.  "I know."

Piotr followed his gaze, saw the box.  "As your agent, it is my professional advice that you get that box before she--"

But it was already too late.  She breezed by them both in a sleeveless white top and flower-patterned blue skirt, leaving behind the scent of gardenias.  At her desk, she stopped and looked down for less than a second at the box.  Then she turned and leveled an angry gaze at Quincy.

"What's this?" she said.

Quincy was in shock.  He opened his mouth, closed it, opened it again, and managed to say, "Gah."

"Is this yours?" she demanded.

Quincy could only stare.

"I said, is this from you?"  She had her bookbag wrapped in both arms across her chest.  Shifting her balance to one leg, she looked like she was about to start tapping her foot as she awaited his reply.

Finally, he shook his head.

Her eyebrows rose, her expression changing from anger to pity.  She sighed, set down her books and opened the box.

Quincy pretended not to watch.  He made it look like he was staring out the window, but he could still see her in his peripheral vision.

"Oh.  My.  God," she whispered.  He resisted turning his head.  Finally she said softly, "What are you thinking?"

He couldn't help himself; he turned to look.  She stood in front of her desk, the box open in front of her.  In her hands, she held bills.  A stack of bills.

"Are these all . . . hundreds?" she whispered.

Quincy felt that now was the time to speak.  "Yeah," he whispered back.  I bought you an island too, he thought--but for some reason, he could not say those words.

"This must be . . . ten thousand dollars."

"Yeah."  He had found a word that he could say, and he was determined to stick with it.

"And last year you gave me two thousand."


"And five hundred the year before that."


She just stared at him.  Money in her hands, she slowly approached him.  He felt himself involuntarily sinking down into his seat.  When she reached his desk, she learned toward his ear and whispered, "Quincy, I'm not a hooker."  Then she walked to the end of the aisle and glided out of the room.

Seconds after she left, Piotr poked his head through the door and then, seeing that the coast was clear, rushed over.  "How'd it go?  Bad, right?"



"Real good."

"What'd she say?"

Quincy beamed.  "She told me she's not a hooker."

Piotr resisted laughing.  "Man, that's not good."

"No, it's good.  Very good."

For once, Piotr was baffled.  "Why?"

"Because she kept the money," Quincy said matter-of-factly.  He was nodding and smiling.

Piotr raised a single eyebrow.  "Quincy, she keeps the money every year."

Doesn't matter, thought Quincy.  The hand isn't over.  This was the turn.  Next year is the river.  Next year, she gets the island.  I kidnap her.  I put her in a cage on a speedboat.  And I show her the island.    Then we fall in love.

1 comment:

  1. This story better last until a great big climax on Valentines day of 2014

    Just saying :)