Patrick got to the dance fashionably late. It was one of the rare times that he didn't have a date, the object of his most recent attentions had smiled and told him that she already had a date.
Jennifer was the most popular girl in their freshman class at State. Patrick had dated her in high school, just a few times.
Like always, she was either with one jock type or another most of the time, even getting her attention for a few minutes wasn't easy. If she wasn't surrounded by a half dozen of the other upper crust girls in class, then she was cornered by some over sized football player.
Part of everyone's interest in her was the constant happy smile on her face, the other part was that she was blessed with a kind of beauty that went way past normal.
Jennifer was magazine quality and she made sure of it. Every hair on her head was perfection, every piece of clothing she ever wore was intended to demonstrate that she was something special.
Yet it was not a flaunt, everything appeared natural. Jennifer was somehow always the center of attention, some people just are.
The other wonderful thing about her was that she treated everyone she met equally, unlike some of the other self proclaimed "special" girls that acted like their poop didn't smell.
Jennifer did date, but it was always with the athletes, the popular ones.
So Patrick, not being from one of the "better" families and unlikely to be confused with being an athlete, was slightly surprised when he asked her to go to a concert with him and she said "Sure, love to!"
Patrick was hopelessly and totally head over heels in love with her by the end of that first date, she was all that he could think of.
Jennifer at 5'9" was tall as women go, with long flowing hair that had every color possible in it.
Her body shape was easy to ascertain because the clothing she wore was intended to make it clear that she was well built, yet she always looked well dressed, never slutty in the slightest.
Some of the other girls let skin show, Jennifer not only didn't do that but had no need to. Patrick did see her up at the lake in a bathing suit a few times. She wore a one piece white suit, the only one piece outfit on the entire beach. It looked like someone had made it to fit her, she was easily the best looking female there.
Jennifer was also the star on the high school woman's basketball team, some of the other girls were taller but Jennifer was faster and far more athletic.
On the third date he had with her in high school, he had leaned in for a kiss, not completely sure of himself. The surprise was that she not only allowed that but joined in eagerly.
Patrick was far too fearful of trying for any petting though, but he did have plans on finding out if she just might allow that, given some time.
There were a few rumors going around about her putting out for a few guys, mostly from the blowhard athletes. Patrick didn't believe any of that, though.
Jennifer was just too sweet.
Then came the crushing blow, she already had a date for the big dance. She didn't mention who it was with and Patrick didn't ask.
He spotted her the instant he walked in. She was dancing out in the middle of the room, the center of attention, like always.
She was dancing with Terry, one of the football jocks.
Of course. Patrick hated Terry, he delighted in picking on people. He was around 240 pounds, hell, he looked like he had muscles behind his ears. In the gym he used his weight and size to bang people around, Patrick being one of them. At 5'9" and 155, Patrick more or less bounced when Terry put a shoulder into him.
Then in the locker rooms it was a wet towel on the ass when he went by, no end to crap like that. Patrick knew damn good and well that a part of the problem was his going out with Jennifer.
It was like Terry thought that she was the football team's property or something. Most of the rest of the class had acted like that was the way it was, so Patrick had almost been floored when he mustered his courage and asked her to the Stones concert.
As luck would have it, the concert was completely sold out, but he had two tickets that he had snagged. His Mom worked for the sales company which helped, and got those for his birthday.
That turned out to be a bit of an advantage. Jennifer's odd look when he approached had turned into a huge smile when he asked her, showing her the tickets.
Up to that point the only thing he had ever done was nod to her in the halls and say hello. She would smile and nod back but that was it.
That concert had been fun, Jennifer was bouncing up and down on her feet the entire time, screaming, her face flushed. A few of the other women did the shirt pulled up thing as Jagger ran around the stage, Jennifer didn't though.
Terry had nailed him at least three times with the wet towel in the locker rooms once he found out. Patrick knew Terry was pissed off but he didn't give a shit. He even popped Terry right back, got him good too, making it out the door before Terry could do anything about it.
"I'll get you, you little bastard!" Terry let loose with a rewarding howl, rubbing his over muscled ass.
A few days later Patrick asked Jennifer out for a Pizza, damned if she didn't smile and say, "Sure!"
Then there was the picnic, that was the best date because it was warm and nice out, and they were all by themselves. She wore that same white one piece bathing suit that day, it really didn't show anything at all yet looked like she was showing everything.
He was having a bit of a time keeping himself under control, several times Patrick noticed her sly smile, as she was well aware of the effect she was having on him.
Jennifer told him about her plans to go to college, her dreams of becoming a model for awhile, but she wanted a backup degree in business.
Patrick told her about his plans to work designing and developing electronics. That evening, when he dropped her off he leaned down for the kiss. She kissed him right back, too.
He was in heaven, the best looking and most popular girl in the entire school actually seemed to like him!
Now there she was, out on the dance floor with Terry. Terry, the over sized loud mouthed jerk whose only real claim to fame was his ability to carry a football and run over people.
Not a thing he could do about that, so Patrick mixed a little, he had dated several of the other girls in class. None of those had ever really led to anything, though.
He finally ended up dancing with Karen, a short and cute young woman he barely knew from class. Karen wore glasses, and she felt soft, her body had some obvious extra padding on it.
He couldn't really concentrate, and kept glancing Jennifer's way to see what she was doing. The only reason he asked Karen to dance was to get closer to Jennifer and keep an eye on things.
Karen and Jennifer did hang out together sometimes, odd in a way, a bit like a Rose and a Dandelion. Karen was one of those straight A students, an advantage to be friends with.
She had a nice smile but she was only 5 feet tall, plus the heavy dark framed glasses she wore were were so thick it made her eyes look monstrous. She seemed to own just three dresses, he had seen the one she had on no less than two dozen times.
Patrick did notice that she felt like a feather in his arms, she was very easy to dance with. Even being a bit on the heavy side, she felt like she was floating.
"Hung up on that one, huh?" Karen finally said, grinning up at him.
"What?..I...Sorry." He told her, looking down. Her face was tilted up to him, like she was trying to see him through those thick glasses.
He felt himself blush furiously, was he making it that obvious?
"It's OK. Everybody likes Jennifer, she is nice."
Patrick didn't say anything more, he led Karen back to her seat, thanked her and then wandered off to where some of the other guys were standing around.
Patrick never did get another date with Jennifer in high school, he asked her a few times but the answer was always the same. She had a date already, so she would smile and then tell him "Maybe another time."
By the time he went off to the community Junior College he had given up. Jennifer of course went on to the State College like nearly all of the other kids from families with money did.
Patrick had no other choice, he wasn't big enough or athletic enough to have any chance at a sports scholarship, and while his Mom and Dad both worked hard, their combined income was nowhere close to enough to pay his way. They doted on him, and did send along a dab of cash each and every month, Patrick knew that was hard on them and was grateful.
Normally his parents were so busy trying to make ends meet that they had little time to invest in Patrick, he had picked up on doing household chores like laundry and normal cleaning at an early age. That early work ethic meant he was different than many of the other young men around, he was never in trouble, never raised any hell at all.
His Mother did notice the change in his manner, though, so she took the time one evening to sit him down for a talk. She just listened quietly as he told her about liking Jennifer and how he wasn't really getting anywhere with her. Then life wasn't fair, so many of the other boys were larger and more athletic, it was like he always found himself on the outside of everything, looking in.
"You just do the best you can and try, life has a way of working things out the way they are supposed to be if you do." She said.
"You know, your Dad didn't interest me at all when we first met, he was smaller and was not any good at sports or anything like that. But he just would not give up. It took me a long time to realize that he was such a good man, then one day I knew I just wanted to be with him all the time."
Then she just hugged him, that was all she really had to say.
That didn't help much.
Patrick took a job on the night shift at the local Texaco, his life became work until midnight, sleep until 6 AM, get up and study some and then go to class. Weekends he slept in to catch up.
He knew several of the other students, and of course Karen. Karen lived a half mile away, she was in the same boat financially as he was, she worked for commissions down at the furniture and appliance store.
Karen regularly seemed to be around somewhere, but he never really paid much attention to her. She always wore those dumpy dresses, those thick glasses. She had heavy eyebrows and a cute round face, but the clothes she wore couldn't hide the 20 extra pounds on her. Patrick would go out and ride his bike in the evenings, most of the time she would be out there on hers. They became friends, sometimes going down to the little nearby cafe and have one of their sodas that they made, with foam piled way up high on top of the glass.
The idea of dating her never even crossed his mind, she was just a friend, someone to talk to.
One day at work he looked up and saw Ray, one of the bad asses from high school drive in for gas.
The guy drove an older Chevy that you could hear coming for about a mile. The thing was not only noisy but had flames painted on the hood and fenders. He probably thought it looked cool but to Patrick it only looked silly.
He wore his hair in a pony tail, and always had a T-shirt on, his arms covered with poor quality tattoos. The word was that if something happened around town, something came up missing, anything at all like that, then Ray wasn't too far away.
Patrick really didn't know him very well, Ray was one of those types that it wasn't a good thing to be seen hanging around with much.
It was also a bit of a surprise to even see Ray pull in for gas, since the off brand place a few blocks down the street was always a couple of cents less.
The other surprise was Karen sitting in the passenger seat.
Karen, out with Ray? Patrick didn't like that one bit, Ray had a reputation for always being in some kind of shit. Patrick looked at her, something was different, it took him a moment to realize she wasn't wearing her glasses. Her hair was shorter, too, in a page boy style with different colors in it. Up until then it was always just black, long and straight.
Still, it wasn't any of his business, he filled the tank and collected. As he was walking back with the change Karen rolled down the passenger side window and smiled at him.
"Hi Patrick!" She called out.
"Hi, Karen. What's up?"
"Oh, we are just going to a movie."
"You look different." He told her.
"My Mom got me some contacts, and she cut my hair differently. Do you like it?" She smiled at him.
"Yes, I do. You look really nice."
That was it, Patrick handed the change to Ray who glared at him. Then he saw Ray turn to her and say something, he looked angry. Karen flushed and looked down, then he started the car and did a huge burnout off the lot, sliding the car sideways out into the street.
He was so intent on displaying how much power his old Chevy had that he missed the huge 4 wheel drive pickup truck coming and nailed it dead square in the left front fender. The man in the big truck was at full speed, he had no time to reach the brakes. The older Chevy lifted up on the left side and back down, something happened and it swerved out of control to the right across the street, the engine screaming.
There was a flash, all the power around went out as it sheared off a power pole and went on for another few feet, down over the bank and into the ditch. The power pole came down in what appeared to be slow motion, crashing across the top of the old Chevy.
There were more flashes of light as the wires shorted out, Patrick didn't hesitate, he was already running.
The engine was still screaming at full throttle, one tire spinning wildly, off the ground. Patrick reached inside through the smashed window and shut off the ignition. Ray was slumped over to the right of the the steering wheel, the driver's side door and his side of the windshield caved in against his body. Patrick could barely reach through the smashed glass to the ignition switch, managing to slash the back of his right arm in the process.
He looked over at Karen, her body was crumpled on the floor boards. Jerking on the driver's side door, he found it was jammed.
"The guy pulled right in front of me!" Someone said behind him. Patrick looked back, a middle aged man stood there, his face a mask of blood.
"Karen!" Patrick yelled at her, but got no answer. Tearing on the passenger side door, it wouldn't budge. He reached out and tore the remains of the passenger side window out, slashing his hands even more in the process on the shattered glass, struggling to get inside the window to reach her.
Looking in, blood was pouring out of a gash on her neck in huge spurts, he reached into his back pocket for the rag he had stuck there, pressed it to the wound. It was all he had. She came awake, turned her head and looked at him. Her face and upper body was a mass of blood.
"Patrick, thank God." She said.
"Just lie still, help is coming." He told her.
"He took off before I could get the seat belt on." She whimpered. Patrick glanced over at Ray, he still lay slumped against the wheel, the top of the car jammed down against him. He was breathing slowly in short gasps, but it sounded rattled, and bubbles of foam was coming from his mouth.
Patrick hung there half inside the window and held her wound closed, keeping her face turned his way so she wouldn't see Ray like that, it was all he could do. He felt her go limp, said a prayer for them to hurry.
Then far off in the distance, he heard the sirens.
Finally some men arrived, pushed him out of the way. They were busy through the window for quite a long time.
They cut open the car and got Ray and Karen out. One of the ambulance attendants looked at him as they wheeled her by. Patrick couldn't see her face, it was covered with bloody bandages.
"You saved this one's life, son." He said.
"How is Ray?"
The man just shook his head.
Patrick went back to the station, found a flashlight, digging out the medical kit. Inspecting his own cuts, he saw they were all minor. There was no power and it was already after 9 PM, so he locked up and went home.
The next day he stopped at the hospital to see how she was doing but they wouldn't let him go in.
"She is doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances." A tired looking nurse told him. He went on to work, the next day he tried again.
This time an older woman was standing at the reception desk, she was an obvious mature version of Karen. She looked over at Patrick when he asked about her.
"Are you a friend of my daughter's?" The woman asked.
"Yes, we went to school together, I was at work at the Texaco when the accident happened, I tried to help."
"Oh. I am Margeret, you are the young man who saved my little girl." She grabbed Patrick and hugged him.
That flustered him a bit, he stood there unsure of what to do.
"Can he come in and see her also, please?" The woman asked the desk nurse, she nodded, not taking her eyes off the computer screen in front of her.
Karen lay in the bed, her face and left side of her neck covered in bandages. All he could see was one eye, Karen looked at him.
"Hello, Patrick. Thank you for coming. Hi, Mom."
"How do you feel, honey?"
"Better now, they gave me a shot." Patrick noticed her voice sounded very tiny, and her words were slightly slurred. Then she reached down and pushed a button on the bed controls, bringing it up slightly to a reclining position. She let out a small moan when she did that. This caused the blankets to slip down, revealing the thin gown.
She had her right arm tucked into it but the left side was just draped over her, they couldn't get it all the way onto her since her shoulder and arm had a huge cast on it.
The cloth fell away to reveal her nakedness, Patrick glanced quickly away as her Mother reached out and tugged it back into place, tucking it over her shoulder. He barely got a glimpse of her left nipple, the bandages covered her from there upwards to the side of her neck.
Karen glanced at Patrick but didn't say anything.
"They have her gown on this way for easier access, they don't want her turned or moved much for a few days. She has some broken ribs and a broken leg." Her Mother explained to him, like she was apologizing for the momentary accidental display.
He left soon after and went to work, then began a regular ritual of stopping off to see her every single day. He walked in a few weeks later to find her with the bandages off. Her face bore angry red scars where the glass had slashed her, the one on her neck started just under her ear and continued on down out of sight, it was by far the worst one, raised and angry appearing. The cuts on her face were going to leave very bad scars.
"They told me I would have bled to death in a few minutes except for you. You will always be my hero." She smiled at him.
"I guess, I just did what I had to." Patrick felt himself flushing at her comment, he really didn't feel like any hero.
He did notice she had new glasses on, these were smaller with gold colored round wire frames. Someone had cut her hair again, instead of the just below her ears and straight look, it now was in an even shorter page boy style than the way she wore it the day of the accident.
"Your hair looks cute that way." He smiled at her.
"Thank you. They let my Mom trim it last night. I got these new glasses, they never found my contact lens but Mom says insurance will take care of that."
They had changed her cast, now she was up and walking the halls, with the aid of a cane. Each step was a struggle, she had an injury to her back also. Her hospital gown was on the correct way now, she had it carefully tied at the waist for modesty. It was obvious that she was naked under the thin gown, he was cautious to not look at her blatantly.