“Sad Eyes”

I noticed the blistering sun had faded the Milky Way wrapper on the dash of the Gran Torino station wagon as we hurriedly raced down Route 9 about to enter Wildwood. Michael had that devilish grin on his face as he produced a ladybug from his pocket and threw it upon my sister’s neck, cackling loudly. My sister didn’t dare scream as we were so close to the Boardwalk none of us wanted to lose out on the ten bucks we hoped to get for amusement rides and funnel cake. My parents found a bench facing the Atlantic Ocean that was relatively quiet and gave each of us two five dollar bills. In a flash, we jetted to Hunt’s Pier and I could hear Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff” blaring loudly from the Music Express ride. My brother and sister split towards the bumper cars and I was all alone, in line for the Music Express as Billy Joel started up. Two girls decked in disco finery with Gloria Vanderbilt jeans and hair feathered in a Charlie’s Angel’s look glanced over at me, all of my skinny 14 year old frame, and laughed loudly as they ran off towards the Ladies’ Room. Music Express was a bit disappointing as I ended up with a Lynyrd Skynyrd song, which did not impress me. Peripherally, I felt the stare of a kid about my age, some guy presumably on his own like me. I met his awkward gaze and thought he smiled back, then suddenly he was off. I pursued instinctively, hoping to meet a friend to spend some time with. Past the ticket booth and carnival games, he left the pier and boardwalk and onto the moonlit beach. I was only about 10 feet behind him, when he suddenly turned and stared right at me. I looked away in shame, but then pursued him anyway under the boardwalk. I found him directly under the line for Kohr’s Brothers custard, smoking a cigarette. He offered me one and I smoked my first cigarette ever, not breathing it in as the thought repelled me. Through the noxious fumes and loud screeching of a crying baby above, we talked briefly about The Bee Gees and The Phillies. Soon he was gone, but his memory lingered for weeks.