I answered the phone. "Hello."
The voice on the other end said, "Who's this?"
I said, "It's Jimi, who's this?"
Then the voice said, "Don't you know who this is? I know who you are."
The voice sounded sort of sly and sneaky but I just couldn't tell. Maybe it was some fake pretending that he knew me.
The voice continued. "So what are you doing?"
I didn't like being fooled and confused at the same time. I said, "Um, where do I know you from?"
The unidentified voice said, "Oh, around."
I said. "Are you sure you mean me?"
He answered. "Yeah, I know who you are."
An image came into my mind. "Wait a minute, are you that kid with the two dogs?"
When he laughed, and said no. That gave him away. I never heard anyone laugh like that before except him. It was the kid I met on the North End on the boardwalk. I met him and went to his house and we.......
"Oh, I know who you are. You're Ricky. How did you find my phone number?"
He instantly became familiar. Ricky answered my question. "It wasn't hard. How many Littlewoods live in Oakhurst? Your Mom or someone answered a few times so I kept trying until you answered."
I was really glad that he called me. When I left his house, I was sure that he written me off as a useless little scrub.
I asked him: "So why'd you call me?"
On the other end there was a pause and then he said, "Oh, I don't know, just bored I guess. I was looking around for you and I was wondering why you didn't show up again. I thought you were a cool little dude."
Well he knew just what to say to make me feel good all over. I didn't think anyone liked me and then, I meet this older kid and he says all these nice things about me. Unfortunately, his complements got me all tongue tied, making me sound so stupid on the phone.
He asked again: "So how come you didn't come back?"
I stumbled on my words, "I, I don't know."
He continued, "Why don't you come over and we could hang out?
I said, "I don't know?"
He wasn't satisfied with my answer. "Oh, I know, you think I'm an asshole and you didn't have the balls to tell me to my face, right?"
I hadn't given him any reason for him to think that. "No, no way, I thought you the coolest. I just figured that you thought I was a wimp. Honest, Ricky!"
"Would I be calling you if I thought you were a wimp, which you are anyway. I called you because I liked you."
He laughed again. "Oh, I know, you got all scared of me because I got all physical with you. That doesn't mean that I'm gay, ya know."
I know it sounds stupid but I had pushed that incident to the back of my mind until he brought it up. "I didn't think that you were gay, it was just a surprise, I mean, it didn't bother me or anything."
Just talking to him and talking about what we did began to fill me with the strange impulsive excitement that I had felt when I was there. He was holding me and was all over me and I was sure something intense was going to happen and maybe I wanted it to.
The tone of his voice was serious. "So, are you sayin that because of that, you don't want to come over and hang with me?"
He put me on the defensive. "No, Ricky, I want to come over. Honest."
He said, "Oh, ok, so if I let you come over, I have to be all polite and not do anything dirty like you're a girl, which you look like anyway, well just forget it!"
I was still on the defensive. "Ricky, I don't care, honest. If you let me come over, you can do anything you want and it's not going to bother me, I promise."
He was still testy. "Well, considering it's my room, I will, thank you very much! Shit, I'm all nice to you and make you my best bud and then you act all snotty like you're a little bitch. I got other friends, ya know."
All I could say was "I'm sorry", but for what, I didn't know.
"Hey Jimi, I just get pissed off for no reason sometimes. Listen, I really want you to come over. You and me could have a good time just playing around."
I said, "When can I come over?"
Ricky answered "How about now."
[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. If the email address pastes with %40 in the middle, replace that with an @ sign.]