It was already dark when Denise walked out of the hospital,
and out to her car. Though preoccupied in thought, fear
began to rise up in her, as she walked to the dimly lit
parking lot, remembering the many warnings she’d had
about kidnappers, rapists, and murderers, lurking in parking
lots at night. Hurriedly, she unlocked her car door, climbed
inside, and locked her door again. Breathing a sigh of relief,
she put the key in the ignition, and started her car. She
turned on her lights, and pulled out of the parking lot onto
the street. Scolding herself for her fear, she remembered
that Joanie had been raped. Perhaps, her fear wasn’t so
foolish after all! Curious about the circumstances of the
attack, Denise let her mind wander, as she automatically
turned onto the main drag. The unusually congested traffic
reminded Denise it was Saturday night. How could she have
forgotten so quickly. Then the awful feelings came flooding
back with the memory of the afternoon picnic. How had
everything gone so wrong?
Interrupting Denise’s confusion, a black sportscar, which
looked very much like Jon’s, pulled carelessly out in front of
her, at an uncontrolled intersection, causing a near panic, in
spite of the fact that the driver manipulated the car
speedily, avoiding a collision.
Red flags went up in Denise’s mind! That looked like Jon’s
car, but there was a girl in there with the driver. Could that
have been Jon?
After the way things were left this afternoon, Denise felt very
unsure of everything! The car in front of her put on the
blinker for a right turn, and without hesitation, Denise
followed suit! She had to know what was going on!
With close observation, she saw that the driver was paying
little attention to the traffic. The passenger seemed to be
moving around in the car a lot, as if playing some kind of
game with the driver.
Surely, this couldn’t be Jon! But who else drove a car like
that in this town? Instictively, Denise knew, though hoping
against hope, that it had to be Jon! But who could the
Fury began building as the pieces began falling into place.
He had been upset with her this afternoon. Then she went
to the hospital, alone, instead of spending time with Jon, as
they had planned. What did she expect? A good-looking,
popular, college guy like Jon wasn’t about to sit at home on
a Saturday night!
Driving as close to the sports car as she dared, trying not to
attract his attention, she pursued, hoping to get a glimpse
of whoever was with him. Signaling for a left turn, the car
ahead made it’s way to a convenience store, on the
highway leading out of town.
Following more slowly, Denise’s thoughts returned to
graduation night, when Roger had parked here, after
rescuing her from the lonely highway. Remembering the
feeling of rejection and desolation after Jon had left her
stranded on the highway, and then her continuous excuses
for his behavior, she began to admit to herself for the first
time that, perhaps, Jon hadn’t been so perfect after all.
She realized that although Jon’s actions had been induced
by the beer he drank, he had willingly indulged, knowing the
problems that could come from it. For some reason,
perhaps fear, yes, the fear of losing Jon, she had totally
excused his behavior Was that love? Or was it stupidity?
The passenger was getting out of the car. Oh, no! It was the
redhead from the graduation party, the one whom Denise
had overheard saying she had been with Jon! Denise was
shocked, but there was no mistaking the copper-red hair,
and petite build.
As Denise drove slowly by, she searched her mind for the
girl’s name. She had looked it up in the yearbook, but what
was it? Now she remembered, Jessie! Jessie Arnold.
Could it have been true? The things that she had overheard
in the restroom that day? Denise had never seriously
considered the possibility of Jon cheating on her before, but
after all, what had changed? They were still ‘going steady’!
She still was wearing his ring! Regardless of the afternoon
quarrel, he still had no right to be with another girl! And they
had looked quite chummy in the car, Denise decided
Well, she wasn’t going to let him off so easily this time!