Collision

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Two months passed. The summer of 1940 was coming to a close.

Every Saturday night, after the kitchen at Lockhart's was scrubbed down, and the last of the patrons poured into the night at least about an hour before, Calvin, instead of crossing the street and heading to his apartmen, took a walk down the pier.

It was a warm thick August night. There were still people tussling around further down on the pier, and a few lights were still glimmering from the buildings out onto the water. Times had taken a turn for the better. Things were no longer dismal like they had been when he'd left Brookhurst. The hurricane had brought in a whole new wave of builders and landowners, promising to make their miniature resort town to a summer haven for the wealthy. Calvin wasn't quite sure what to make of the change. He really hadn't spent much time dwelling on it. Most of his time was spent thinking about what an idiot he had been with Teddi. He was caught between wanting to be with her and wanting to forget her.

Just before he reached the livelier half of the pier, Calvin took a seat on a wooden bench and stared out at the water. He would sometimes find a spot like this and spend an entire uninterrupted night staring and thinking until the sun rose up from behind the sea. He reveled in the constancy and comfort it brought him because he had no other source for it.

Tonight, however, his solitude was interrupted after a short while by a very familiar yet very unwelcome male voice. "Hello, Calvin," he said.

Calvin made no move to stand as he stared up at the man who had gone from childhood friend to adolescent enemy to virtual stranger in the span of just a few years. "Ben."

"I heard you were back in town."

"I've been back a while now. Surprised I haven't seen you."

"Obligations." He sat down beside Calvin.

"Right," Calvin said in a low voice. He wanted to hit him. There was no good reason for it, but every fiber of his being screamed at him to do so. He realized how ridiculous he was being and reminded himself that he was not a sixteen-year-old boy anymore. So, he turned to him and asked, "So, how have you been?"He could be friendly if he tried.

"I've been good," Ben replied cheekily. "You might have heard. I'm seeing Teddi now."

Calvin held back a huff and smiled, raising his eyebrows very high on his forehead. "Congratulations," he said, now grinning. It was the only way he was going to keep himself from plunging his fist into his smug face.

Ben laughed heartily. "Why are you congratulating me?"

The smile fell immediately from Calvin's lips. "If you don't know, then I'm certainly not going to tell you."

Ben chuckled again. "You didn't think this was any kind of contest did you? She grew up, Calvin. That's all. She grew up like I told you she would."

"I guess you did too, didn't you?"

"Teddi has an ugly past, things to overcome. Unlike you, I can wash away those stain."

"You're sick."

"I'm right. What could like you ever do for her?"

"Love her."

Ben laughed. "You're a piece of nothing. You can love her all you want, but she'll never be yours." He turned and walked down the pier.

Calvin marveled that he hadn't thrown the sour-faced Nazi into the ocean. But he was oddly calm. Ben was wrong. He wasn't nothing, and neither was Teddi. Ben had no idea what he had in her. But Calvin wasn't sure Teddi need him any more. It wasn't about Ben. It was about the two of them. Were right for each other? He still didn't know. But one thing he did know was that he had to make something of himself now. He had no choice.

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