The caped and hooded woman kept pace with the city worker ahead of her. Heart thudding, she prayed he would stay close until she reached her car. She kept her eyes glued to the letters on his vest–white letters that showed clearly in the gathering darkness.
“There’s nothing colder than a dark alley in a winter city,” she thought.
The man seemed to slow his pace. She did the same. Just a few more steps to the parking lot.
Then, without warning, he turned and ran straight toward her. Paralyzed, she saw only the glinting knife he held.
Once we had spent time together riding Terry’s motorcycle, we had our first official date. He asked me out for dinner, and I remember a few things about that evening.
He bought a suit just for that date. Of course, I didn’t know that right away, but I knew it before too much time had gone by. Terry didn’t do suits if he could avoid it, but he felt he should dress up for our first formal date. It was a light olive green suit, perfect for his coloring.
Second, it was the first time I had eaten beef stroganoff, and it’s been a favorite dish of mine ever since.
Third, without the noise of the bike, we actually had to carry on a conversation. I realized quickly that this was a bit of a strain for him. I was less shy than he, but for some reason I had trouble with the conversation that night, too. It got better, and we were much more comfortable by the time dessert came around.
After that, we did several different dates. One that I loved was going to Como Park in Minneapolis. There was a zoo, and they had lions. I don’t remember ever seeing lions up that close before, and I loved them. Huge, beautiful golden animals, they were graceful and watchful. We went several times, and that’s where I stayed the longest.
The park also had a lake. They rented canoes, and we enjoyed that several times. Once , I remember, Terry decided he wanted to follow a byway on the lake just to see where it would take us. It was quiet, peaceful, and warm but not hot. Very relaxing. As the sun began to drop lower, I suggested we might need to get back to the landing. The park closed at sundown. But my Terry has never paid much attention to rules like that. He grew up in the wilds of northern Michigan, where there weren’t any rules about how long you could stay on the water.
Then, we heard this: “ATTENTION ALL CANOES! IT’S TIME TO COME IN. THE PARK IS CLOSED. ALL CANOES MUST COME IN IMMEDIATELY!”
I’m sure the bullhorn was amped up so that the whole state of Minnesota could hear. Terry knew where we were, thank goodness. He has an excellent sense of direction. But we had paddled a significant distance from the landing, and it took us at least 15 minutes to get back.
The bullhorn yelled at us a couple more times. When we finally made it to the landing, it was clear the workers were not our best friends. Very little was said. Terry did apologize, but the guy who pulled our canoe to the landing just grunted in return.
I did have a job that summer as a cashier in a grocery store, but most of the rest of my time was spent with Terry. It was a wonderful summer, and holds some of my favorite memories.
This lovely, peaceful place, they say, used to harbor monks who were slaughtered during Cromwell’s reign. They say that those monks rise when the moon is full. They walk the paths in silence. They say that no one has seen their faces.
Those who have seen the ghosts don’t speak of it. Something in their eyes forbids questions. But, they say, once a person has seen the ghosts, he is compelled to return. They watch in silence, waiting.
One of the watchers wrote in his diary that the paths were wet with tears as the monks passed.
Terry had a Norton 750 motorcycle. He thinks it was a 1967 model. Hard to remember back that far. I’d never been on a motorcycle before, but I certainly wasn’t averse to giving it a try.
That summer, for the first time in two full years, I didn’t have a job in Owatonna, where I went to Bible college. My mom had a friend who could get me a job at the grocery store where she worked, so I came home.
The first thing I needed to do was laundry. Mom and dad were gone somewhere with my little brother, so I had the house to myself and was busy hanging my sheets on the clothesline outdoors when I heard the rumble of that motorcycle. I watched it turn into our driveway, and recognized that it was Terry even before he took off his helmet.
Don’t forget, we weren’t dating yet. We were both quite shy, and I was glad his bike gave us something to talk about. And then he asked if I’d like to take a ride.
Oh, you betcha! It was a beautiful spring day, and the laundry could wait. I locked up the house and took the helmet he handed me. He SAID he always had an extra when he rode 🙂
“What do I hold onto?” I asked.
He turned a little away from me, fiddling with something or other on the engine–which I came to learn was always part of riding his bike. He was always fiddling with it.
“Me,” he said.
Oh, Well, okay. So he climbed on, and I got on behind him, my hands on his waist.
“No, you have to hold on,” he said, and I could see the blush creeping up his neck.
So I wrapped my arms around him and held on. It was a good thing I did. The driveway was uphill. I’d have been dumped off in a hurry if I hadn’t been holding on.
And then we were off, and I loved every minute of it. He headed for the countryside, not far away, and I could tell by the comfortable way he handled his bike that he loved it, too. We couldn’t talk–too much noise. He pulled into a scenic overlook after a while, and we finally could chat. He wanted to know if riding made me nervous.
“No, not once we were on the road. I loved it! “
“Would you want to go again sometime, maybe a longer ride?”
“Sure!” And we did, many times.
The second time we went, I was wearing cut-off jeans. Learned not to do that. Remember, I’m short. I didn’t have any trouble climbing on, but when we stopped to rest I bumped my bare leg on the exhaust pipe as I dismounted.
“Ouch! That’s really hot!” I said.
“No, those pipes aren’t hot.”
“Really? Then how did I get this burn on my leg?”
“Oh, no! I didn’t know those pipes were hot! We’d better get you home so we can take care of it!” He couldn’t apologize enough, felt truly awful. I promised I’d always wear long pants any time we took another ride.
When we got back, no one was home. Poor Terry was so distressed, he wanted to carry me inside. Absolutely not–I can walk! And he’s the one who fixed me up, first with very cold water to slow down the spread of the burn, then a gentle wash with soap that hurt like the dickens, and I don’t remember if he put anything on it. Maybe just the gauze bandage I wore for a few days until it started to slough off the dead skin and he felt it was safe to go without the bandage. Better to expose it to the air, he said.
How did he know what to do? He was an Army Reservist, and had training in becoming a medic. Once again, my hero—except for the time it took me to convince him that yes, the pipe was HOT!
Anyway, it gave him an excuse to check in on me every day for a while, and he seemed to manage to do that just around supper time. My mom loved it. She enjoyed feeding him, because he could stow the food away as if he’d been starving to death.
My dad just quietly observed, and said very little. But I knew his face and his eyes, and I knew he was enjoying what he had started in the first place.
We didn’t really date, officially, until I came home from college for the summer. But we were certainly aware of each other, and when I was home on a weekend, there was often an activity of some sort for the youth group that Terry had been recruited to help with as a driver. And I was clearly expected by the kids to ride shotgun. Fine with me!
I remember one Sunday morning in particular. Home for the weekend, I’d been downstairs teaching a class of little ones. By the time I gathered up my stuff, the service was under way. The auditorium was full. Well, except for one chair, which just happened to be next to Terry. There was absolutely nowhere else for me to go, so I gathered up my courage and went down the center aisle to the empty chair. He glanced at me and went deep, dark red when he realized I was going to sit there. I was probably blushing, too, but his blush was spectacular.
After the service, he didn’t have a lot to say, but he managed, “You have a really good voice.” We said our goodbyes and went our separate ways.
Several of the women, young and old, gathered around me and were making all sorts of comments and assumptions, and it embarrassed me to death. At that point, I wasn’t ready for such talk and I got out of there as quickly as I could.
I will admit, though, that I was just a bit pleased that people thought what they did. Maybe, if others were noticing, perhaps Terry was noticing, as well.
One of my favorite stories centers on the weekend my dad baptized Terry. We believe in full immersion, and he was ready and willing. I was home, but for some reason I didn’t attend his baptismal service. Maybe I wasn’t feeling good. I just don’t remember. We didn’t have a baptismal tank in our small church, so we made arrangements with another church nearby to use their baptistry in the afternoon. Terry had dinner with us, and then they left for the service,
While they were gone, I decided to make some doughnuts. I enjoyed the process, and had done it many times before. I thought it would be nice to have fresh, warm doughnuts when they all came back.
I was in the process of frying the doughnuts when they returned. I’d already done over a dozen, and they were beautiful little golden brown treats.
Then, the door burst open and let in a gust of cold winter wind, and it was perfectly timed for my hot oil to be set aflame by that wind. “Fire! Close the door! Fire in the kitchen!”
Terry came running, took in the situation at a glance, grabbed a metal lid from another pan and slammed it over my skillet, turning off the heat under the burner as he did so.
It didn’t burn long enough to do any damage. I asked him if I should throw out the oil and start fresh, but he though it would be fine to use it. While everyone enjoyed the pre-fire doughnuts, I finished up the rest. When they cooled, I put some in a bag for Terry, another bag for my roommates and me, and left a plateful for my family.
Those post-fire doughnuts were the absolute nastiest, worst-tasting things I’d ever had. It was embarrassing. The next weekend, I asked him if he’d eaten them, and he had. Every single one. I apologized all over the place and promised him a do-over, which he enjoyed more than once down through the years.
My roommates, by the way, tried to be kind. After I offered them a doughnut, I left to go get a shower. When I came back, they were both gone. I glanced into the waste basket and noticed a tissue, looking like something was under it. And there was a doughnut with one bite take out of it. I tried one for myself, and it joined the one that was already in the basket. They were kind, but we all had a good laugh over the saga of the burnt-by-fire doughnuts.