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.