Class of '79
I was standing behind the cutting counter at a fabric store, trying my best to look as though I deserved the job I had just been hired to perform. Being the general manager of a store devoted entirely to “womanly works” was definitely not my dream job. But hey! It would pay the bills. I scrunched down on my haunches to straighten the shelves beneath the countertop when I heard footsteps approaching. Quickly straightening my hair, I stood to greet the would-be customer.
“Oh, my God! How have you been?” asked the woman.
I stared blankly at her, trying to figure out if she was someone I actually knew, or just one of the area’s crazies escaped from the institution down the road. She was short, plain, sort of chubby and about thirty. The age was right if it was someone I knew from childhood. Otherwise, there was nothing even vaguely familiar about her. I waited for her to say more, but she just stood there staring expectantly. Finally, I swallowed my embarrassment and said, “I have a feeling I’m supposed to know you.”
“It’s me. Pam Blankenship,” she said excitedly.
Who the hell is Pam Blankenship? I had no idea who the woman might be,or under what circumstances I may have known her. I felt my face begin to contort into some very weird expressions as I tried to keep my thoughts from showing.
“I married Charlie Bomgardner,” she explained.
Well that explained everything! Who the hell was Charlie Bomgardner? I continued to look blankly for a moment, and then decided it might just be kinder to pretend I knew whom she was talking about. Nobody wants to think they’re not memorable enough to be remembered. I forced my lips into some semblance of a smile, and nodded my head vaguely, all the while digging furiously through my cluttered mind for a mental image of Charlie.
“You don’t remember him, either? Well, before me, he dated Barb Watson.” Her eyes were glowing, anticipating my ecstatic response.
Barb Watson, Barb Watson. Nope. Nothing. I was beginning to think maybe I was afflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease and just didn’t remember it.
“Maybe this will ring a bell. Barb Watson went on to marry Jack Bellamy. Of course, she didn’t have much choice in the matter.” She leaned over the counter conspiratorially and winked. In a whispered voice she reminded me of Barb’s not so secret pregnancy our senior year of high school.
I couldn’t think of anything to say. So, I nodded my head, and raised my eyebrows knowingly.
“I wasn’t surprised at the outcome of that marriage. Anyone who expected anything more was living in a dream world,” she confided smugly.
I had no idea who she was talking about, but I found myself hoping she would go on with the story. “Ain’t it the truth?” I said, by way of encouragement.
“When Jack found out the baby really belonged to Roy Donmoyer, he blew a gasket!” She was practically jumping from her excitement.
I shook my head in disbelief. “Wasn’t that something?” I asked.
She sighed. “Well at least Barb did the right thing after the divorce. She and Roy are still together.”
I rested my elbows on the counter. “What about Jack?” I was becoming too absorbed in the story to let it end in a divorce.
“Still doing time,” she shrugged her shoulders
“No way!” I exclaimed in dismay.
“You didn’t actually think he’d get out early for good behavior, did you? This is Jack we’re talking about!” The woman I knew only as Pam stared at me in surprise.
“I guess you’re right,” I replied vaguely.
“Of course I’m right. Besides, putting a contract on someone is no laughing matter.” Pam was unyielding. She continued, “Who would have guessed Jeff was doing Marie?” she giggled.
I was beginning to feel light headed. I couldn’t put faces with any of the names. I reached across the counter to gather the items she laid there. I began to ring them into the cash register. “Jeff and Marie,” I shook my head and clucked my tongue, hoping she would be prompted to tell me more.
Pam reached into her wallet to extract the money required to pay for her purchases. “I’m sure if Jack had known, he wouldn’t have tried to hire Jeff to do the hit. Marie was definitely his downfall.”
I couldn’t take it anymore. I needed clarification. “Just who is this Marie?” I demanded to know. I waited for an answer while Pam put away her change and lifted her package from the counter. “How does she fit into all this?” I insisted on knowing.
Pam gave me a queer look before replying. “You know…Marie!”
“I don’t know any one named Marie,” I told her in puzzlement.
Pam backed away from the counter, mouth hanging open. “But aren’t you Wanda Campbell from Jackson High, class of ’79?”
I shook my head in bewilderment. “George Washington, ’78,” I stated.
Her face flamed red. “Oh, my God! I’m so sorry!” She turned to flee.
“No, wait! Wait!” I exclaimed, running from behind the counter. I raced to the door and pushed it open in time to see her jumping into her car. “Who’s Marie?” I screamed as she spun out of the parking lot.
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