Roger was late. He needed a car to get to the train station but his father had taken the Ford to work and his mother had gone shopping in the station wagon.
"I've got to get there on time," he mused to himself, "she'll dump me if I don´t show up on time."
Nancy was her name, blond, green eyes and a character of sugar and fire. Roger was madly in love with her. They had met two months previously at a skating rink. It happened like this: Roger made a bad movement at a turn and skidded straight into Nancy’s left skate, almost knocking her down.
“Sorry, really, I’m not a skater,” he mumbled getting to his feet like a waddling child.
Nancy was a sweet young lady with very attractive attributes but her humor as unrelenting.
“Haven’t we met?”
“Don’t ask stupid questions and fix my skate. You’ve unfastened it!”
“It’s just that there’s something familiar about your foot…Yes, I’m sure we’ve met before. Wasn’t it at that exotic butterfly show? That’s it! You’re Sara Lee!”
Roger became exuberant as he tried to slip the girl’s foot back into the skate. Suddenly, it dawned on him. In a fraction of a second he forgot everything, even how he had failed his final math exam. Strange are the workings of the mind.
“I am not Sara Lee. Don’t get me mixed up with you harem! My name is Nancy and please let go of my foot! Other skaters are going to crash into us.”
“Don’t tell me you’re not Sara Lee! You are! I’m sure are…”
“I’m Nancy and let go of my foot!”
“Sorry…The strap seems to be broken. So you’re not Sara Lee, the butterfly expert I was supposed to meet at the train station? No kidding! Hmm. Nancy. That’s a nice name!”
“Go to Hell’s furnaces!”
And off skated Nancy, furious. Roger scrambled to the side of the skating rink and, fascinated, watched her gentle rhythmic movements. Nancy. Nature or god or destiny or good luck or his limited skating abilities or his bad memory had brought them together, he mused. Sara and her butterflies had flapped their way into memory’s dark passages. He managed to find Nancy’s phone by checking with the clerk at the skating rink and she finally agreed to meet him for coffee at her home. It was one of those sweaty days when the heat turns your head around. With the salty drops pouring off his brow, his index finger caressed the doorbell.
“I’m sorry. I haven’t finished dressing,” comes the girl’s voice from the other side of the door but…please come in.”
“I’m a bit ashamed,” said Roger in a not very convincing tone of voice.
“I have nothing to hide. Do you?”
“No, not at all…It’s just that…I think it would be best to meet in a state of equality.”
Roger entered gingerly, eager but fearful. It was as if they had both been fantasizing the same thing. They removed their clothes in silence, piece after piece, almost ritualistically, until they were completely naked. The early morning sunlight sent a thin ray that crisscrossed the black sheets. They tangled arms and legs and body parts, kissed, embraced and caressed and did the things that men and women do when they are naked together in a bed. Two hearts pounding, extremities entangled in a monumental embrace, like some piece of heroic sculpture. A stroke of lightening brings an end to the sweltering heat and outlines the curves and minute details of each of their bodies.
“Oh God! What a woman!” Roger muses as if coming out of a dream, remembering that encounter at Nancy’s home. Did it really happen? Who knows? Dreams, reality, photographs, the web, everything gets so mixed up now days, doesn’t it?
Time has passed. Now Roger is hitch-hiking smack in the heart of an affluent Los Angeles suburb, not the ideal place to get a lift. One after another the cars pass by without slowing down even for the obstinate red light blinking at the corner. Big empty cars with bored looking middle aged women zoom by. The male drivers, dressed to kill, don’t even spare a glance. No screeching brakes, no shouts, nothing but the dull whir of engines.
"God damn it!" In a burst of anger Roger picks up a rock and throws it towards the other side of the road. Then another and another. When he stoops to lift a third rock he hears a sharp screech and the sound of a car pulling to a stop.
"Hey buddie! Whatcha think your're tryin' to prove?" booms the loud deep voice of a policeman. Roger swallows hard. He seems to have lost his tongue.
"I´m talking to you. Has the cat got your tongue? Don´t you know how to address an officer of the law?"
Roger slowly advances towards the officer, trying to organize the thoughts that are racing through his head.
"I'm sorry, Sir, really, it's just I'm late and nobody wants to give me a lift."
"So you figured you'd throw rocks at the cars? Is that it?"
"Nobody would stop!"
"What kind of an excuse is that? They have no obligation to stop..."
"I know, I know but I got impatient."
"Impatient? Really? You think I don’t get impatient with punks like you who break the law for no good reason?"
"I wasn't breaking the law, Sir." Roger had suddenly become rational. "I have a very good reason. If I don't get to the train station, I'll arrive late and Nancy will kill me!"
The eyes of the policeman expand slightly and his right hand slips instinctively towards his waist.
"Kill you? Who is this Nancy?" Roger does not answer but inside he is struggling for words. How can he explain to a policeman why it is so important to see a woman who might kill him?
"Did you say she is going to kill you?"
"Not literally, no, I didn’t mean it that way but, you know, she's very temperamental."
The officer relaxes and smirks, the way he usually does when he has to pick up teenagers.
“It looks like both of you are temperamental. OK. Get in. I´ll take you to the train station this time but the next time you mess with the law you’ll regret it.”
The officer waves Roger into the cruiser and then gets in himself and off they go speeding down the highway, lights flashing, and siren still hooting. Roger closes his eyes and hopes and prays they’ll get to the station on time. The officer drives in silence, pushing the car in an out of the traffic with a masterly touch. He knows the way by heart. The last time he raced to the train station he was hot on the tail of the First National Bank robbery. He arrived late. The robbers left no trail and were not apprehended. However, a witness asserted that the thieves were two men and a woman. Half a million dollars and assorted jewelry in the safe boxes. Sgt. Jonathan Williams felt humiliated by the escape of the robbers and had sworn to himself that he would get them sooner or later.
As the patrol car pulls into the parking lot in front of the station, the train screeches in and passengers hustle off to their destinies. Roger dashes past the ticket office, and then looks around towards a newspaper stand where Nancy is standing reading the headlines. The officer, suspicious, still follows Roger, as if he were his pet dog. He peers intensely at the girl. She’s young, sandy blond hair, a slender figure, inviting hips; dark sun glasses covering her green eyes. There is something about her that calls the officer’s attention. Policemen are like that. They register people’s faces as if their eyes were digital cameras.
“Nancy! Nancy my love! I’m here!” Roger exclaims, rushing up to the woman and embracing her.
“I was afraid I wouldn’t arrive on time. Didn’t have a car and nobody would stop to pick me up. Oh, I’m so glad to see you!”
“Keep kissing me my love,” whispers Nancy, as her body suddenly stiffens. “Quick, let’s get out of here. I can’t stand train stations.” She begins running towards the taxi stand, dragging Roger by his hand.
“What’s the hurry? We’ve waited so long. I just want to hug you, feel your heart beat. Hey, why don’t you take off your glasses? I want to see your beautiful eyes.”
She pays little heed to his request at first but then lowers the glasses just slightly when she flags the first taxi in sight.
“Where to?” asks the driver.
“Holiday Inn,” replies Nancy.
The taxi is idling, ready to begin the trip. Sgt. Williams peers into the cab.
“Haven’t I seen you somewhere?” he asks Nancy.
“That’s none of your business! Driver: to the Holiday Inn!”
“Your driver’s license please,” demands the officer, not taking his eyes off Nancy for a second. He is stalling for time.
“Look you helped me arrive on time,” Roger spurts out to the officer, “now let us go. You have no right to hold us up.”
“We’ll see about that. Your ID Miss.”
Nancy bends over and seems to fumble in her handbag but with a sudden lurch she jerks open the door and bolts in between the passengers streaming out of the station.
“Stop in the name of the law or I’ll fire!” A bullet resounds above her head. Nancy stops. Sgt. Williams approaches her and removes her sun glasses.
“Now will you show me your I.D.?”
“You don’t have the right to do this,” screeches Roger.
“Yes I do. It’s my duty. Miss Nancy Barrymore I hereby arrest you under suspicion for the robbery of the First National Bank. You may consult your own lawyer. If not we will provide a defense attorney for you at the offices of the district Justice of the Peace.”
Roger stares at Nancy in silence, unable to move, much less utter a word of protest. Could it be true that Nancy, the love of his life, is a bank robber? When he retires—if he manages to live that long—he will sit in his rocking chair and day dream about Nancy. But what Nancy? The Nancy at the ice skating rink? The Nancy he made love to passionately that hot summer morning? Or the Nancy the police identified as one of the thieves of the First National Bank?