Summer Vacation Ch. 16byD.C. Roi©
When they arrived at the park, Bobby immediately headed for the swings and the other kids. Tommy and Tina sat on a park bench and watched him.
"He's got so much energy," Tommy said, "I don't know how you keep up with him."
"I don't, sometimes," Tina said. "It's good he's in pre-school. Usually he's tired enough when he comes home from school that he takes a nap without much fuss. And he's always been good about going to bed at night."
"Mom says I never wanted to go to bed when I was a kid," Tommy said. He really liked this. Spending time with Tina was more fun than anything that had happened to him this summer. She was treating him like an adult.
"You never answered my question," Tina said.
"What question?" Tommy asked.
"How old are you?" she said, smiling.
"I'm...ah...nineteen next week," the young man admitted. He felt as if he were saying he was going to be twelve. The last thing he wanted was to be reminded of the difference in their ages.
"So you'll be able to vote this year," Tina said.
"Huh?" Tommy said, then he realized what she'd said. "Yeah, I guess so. Kinda weird, isn't it? I can vote, but I can't drink legally."
Tina frowned. "Is that important to you?" she asked. "Drinking, I mean?"
Tommy shook his head. "Nah, not really. I guess it's more that I'd like to be able to drink if I want to," he said. "Actually, I don't much care for the taste of liquor. I don't like beer much, either. Except when it's real hot. Sometimes, when we're doing the yard in the summer, my dad and I have a beer. I've had maybe a six-pack in my whole life."
"I hope you never change your mind about drinking," Tina said and hugged herself. "I had no idea how much Ron drank until after we were married. Then it was too late."
"Yeah, but you got out of the marriage," Tommy said.
Tina nodded. "For a while, I wasn't sure I was going to," she said. "It was really scary." She shuddered. "And sometimes, the way Ron acts, I'm not sure I'll ever be free of him."
"What about your folks?" Tommy asked. "Didn't they try to help?"
"My parents are dead," she told him. "They were killed in a car crash when I was your age." She snorted. "A drunk driver hit them head-on. He wound up with a broken arm."
"I'm...I'm sorry," Tommy said. "I didn't know..."
Tina gave him a sad smile. "No way you could have known," she said softly. "It's ironic I wound up married to a drunk, isn't it? Ron's had at least six accidents and been arrested for drunk driving twice that I know of. He's a mess." She turned and looked at Tommy. "What did you do to him last night?"
"Ah, well, I've...I've been studying karate and kung fu and I used a couple of moves on him," Tommy admitted.
Tina's eyes widened. "You know karate?" she said. "Really?"
Tommy nodded. "You're the only person who knows," he told her, "except my parents and some of the people in North Hampden who come to the dojo."
"How come you don't want people to know?" She looked puzzled. "Don't you compete in tournaments and stuff like that?"
Tommy shook his head. "I could, I guess," he replied, "but Master Kwan - he's my sensei, my coach - says competition isn't what karate is about. He says it's something you have inside you, something you become. He doesn't believe in competition."
Tina smiled at him. "I never met a karate expert before," she said. "Do you have a black belt or whatever it is?"
Tommy shook his head again. "Master Kwan doesn't believe in that stuff, either" he told her. "He's a lot like the guy in that movie. You know, the Okinawan guy who teaches that kid how to do karete by waxing cars and stuff. Master Kwan's from Okinawa, too."
Tina nodded. "The more I learn about you, the more amazed I am," she said. "You are not what you seem to be, are you?"
"I don't know," Tommy said. He found this line of discussion uncomfortable. He wasn't used to talking about himself. "I never thought about that much. I kinda think I'm just an ordinary kid."
Tina shook her head and smiled. "No you're not. You're not ordinary at all," she said, embarrassing him even more. "You are the most understanding, thoughtful, wonderful man I ever met. I've never known anyone quite like you. You'll make some lucky girl a wonderful husband, and from the way you are with Bobby, I think you'll be a wonderful father, too."
Tommy felt like hiding. He'd never gotten this many compliments before, especially not from an attractive woman. "Aw..." he said and felt his cheeks getting hot.
Tina laughed. "OK, I'll cut it out," she giggled. "You know, you're cute when you blush." She got off the table and grabbed his hand. "Come on, I want to go on the swings."
Tommy followed her to the swings. She got on one and looked at him. "I need a push," she said.
Tommy moved behind her and, his hands shaking, began pushing her. When he touched her, tingles went up his arms and he got goose-bumps. This really was the most fantastic day of his life!
After a while, Bobby got tired of playing with the other kids and wandered over. "Wanna go on the slide with me, Tommy?" he asked.
"Sure, Bobby," Tommy said. He would have rather kept pushing Tina. He thought ouching her, even just to push her on the swing, was the most wonderful thing he'd ever done.
The problem with having as much fun as he was, Tommy discovered, was that it made the day go too fast. He and Bobby spent a while on the slide, with Tina watching and eventually joining in. After several rides, she said, "We ought to get home, I guess. Bobby needs a nap."
"Aw, Mommy, I'm having fun!" the little boy protested. "Tommy doesn't want to go home, do you, Tommy?"
"We have to do what your Mom says," Tommy told him. "She's the boss."
"Aw..." the little guy pouted.
"Come on, sport," Tina said as she took her son's hand. "Tommy will come over again some time and we'll do this again."
The little boy put his hand in Tommy's and looked up at him. "Will you?" he asked. "Will you come over and play with me again?"
"I sure will, if your Mom says it's OK," Tommy told him. An idea came to him. "Hey, maybe your Mom will let me take you to see the Karate Hamster movie." He looked at Tina, who smiled back at him.
"You sure you're up to that?" she asked him.
"Sure," he said. "In fact, you can come along to help me out if he gets to be too much to handle." He was amazed that he'd managed to ask her to go to the movies with him, even if the invitation had been a little oblique.
"We'll see," she said. "But I suppose there's no reason we can't do it."
Tommy felt like jumping up and down and yelling. He managed to hold his reaction down to a smile.
With Bobby between them, holding hands with both of them, they started walking back to the apartment. They stopped at an intersection to wait for the light. A low-slung sports car braked to a stop in front of them.
"Hi, Tom," a soft, warm voice said.
Startled, Tommy looked at the car. Donna was in the passenger seat and a good-looking Yuppie-type was driving. He glared at Tommy.
"Ah...hi, Donna," Tommy said and waved at her. With a roar and squeal of tires, the car shot away when the light turned green.
Tina looked at him, grinned, and said, "I take it you know her."
"Ah...yeah, she's, um, a friend of my cousin's," the young man replied.
"She's very pretty," Tina commented. The light turned and they started across the street.
"I guess so," Tommy said, "if you like that type. She's kinda old for me, though. She's in college."
"Ah, I see. She's an old college lady," Tina said as they walked along. "That must make me a senior citizen."
"No..." Tommy said quickly. He tried to think of the right thing to say. "That's not what I meant. It's just that..."
"Tommy, I was just teasing," Tina said.
"Yeah, I knew that, I guess," Tommy replied.
Bobby started acting a little sleepy about halfway home, so Tommy picked him up and carried him. The tyke was asleep on his shoulder by the time they arrived at Tina's building. She let them in and Tommy carried the youngster up to the apartment and put him in bed.
Tina was standing in the living room when he came out.
"He was really pooped," Tommy said. He knew the day was over, and that he had to leave, but he didn't want to. "I had a lot of fun today. He's a really neat kid."
Tina smiled and nodded. "Today was one of the nicest days I've had in a long time, too," she said, then moved closer and kissed him on the cheek. "Thank you."
"Ah...aw, I...um, I had a good time, today, too," he said, feeling himself get hot. "I really did." He looked around. "I, ah, I guess I better get going. My aunt's expecting me for dinner." He started for the door, opened it, then turned around. "I meant what I said, about taking you guys to see the movie."
Tina nodded. "We can talk about it at work tomorrow and decide when we're going to do it," she said.
"OK," Tommy said. He went out, closed the door behind him, and started down the steps. He was both exhilarated and depressed. He'd had the neatest day of his life, but it was over. And Tina had said she wouldn't go to the movies with him. His mood improved. Maybe the idea of him getting together with her wasn't so crazy after all. If nothing else, he had Bobby on his side.