Hue of Color

Part 05: Look to the Future

December 1965

Ivan, Lily's boyfriend, asked me one day in December, "What base have you gotten to, man?"

I was confused. It was December. There were three feet of snow covering the ground. There's no way we could have played baseball. So I asked him, "Base?"

"Y'know, how far did you get? Didja score yet?"


"Of course you didn't…" Ivan muttered, shaking his perfectly gelled head of hair. "Y'know, gone all the way? But you haven't, I can tell."

I finally understood what he meant and got a little offensive. "What do you mean that you 'can tell'? How do you know I haven't?"

"You're too naïve, man. You're still a cherry, admit it." Ivan punched me in the shoulder lightly.

"Ok, I admit it," I said sheepishly. "But it doesn't mean that I haven't gone anywhere."

"Oh yeah? What exactly have you done?"

I thought for a moment. "Well, we kiss. A lot. And she let me feel her up over her shirt."

"Ever seen her with her top off?"


"On purpose."


"Knew it."

Ivan shook his head. "Man, I will laugh so hard if you graduate a cherry."

I blushed. "So what should I do?"

"What else? Nail your fucking girlfriend, stud."

I coulda hit him for that. I woulda hit anyone who talked about Audrey like that. But he had a point.

Audrey would never go for it. And I'd never push her. I'd never do that to her, and even if I thought I might, I wouldn't have the guts to go through with it.

Maybe I'd better bring it up. Bringing up the subject couldn't hurt. Could it?

I'm with Audrey and I'm sweating like a pig, I'm so nervous. If she agrees, then I'm getting laid. If she says no, I don't know what she'll do. I hope she won't hold it against me.

I'm kissing her and she's kissing me. She's smiling and I'm smiling and I feel so happy. She looks happy too. Her tongue's in my mouth, mine in hers. It feels so natural, the two of us together.

My arms are around her and I slowly slide my hand up the back of her shirt. She pulls away.

"Matt, what are you doing?"

"Nothing. I'm sorry, Audrey."

She shot me a look, but let me kiss her again. I tried again, slipping my hand up the back up her shirt. This time, when she pulled away, she looked angry.

"Matt, what is wrong with you?"

I sighed. What was wrong with me? I was acting like a complete jerk. "I'm sorry, Audrey. I don't know what's gotten into me. It's just, Ivan said something and it's kind of been bugging me."

Audrey frowned. "This didn't have anything to do with sex, did it?"

I blushed and didn't answer.

"Lily said Ivan's been bugging her about it, too. Was he making fun of you because you and I actually haven't had sex?"

I didn't answer again. Imagine that, I'm 6'7" and I'm the biggest pussy to walk to planet.

"Matt, you don't even have to ask. The answer's no. I'm just not ready. And I think you should take me home now." She wouldn't look at me. I just sighed and drove her home. God was I a pussy.

I couldn't get to sleep that night. I just lied in my bed staring at the ceiling the whole time.

Did Audrey hate me now? God, she probably did. I had the sweetest, prettiest, nicest girlfriend anyone could ever have and I completely screwed it up. As always, I was the screw-up.

I could always remember that when I was little, I would always screw-up while Adrian and Scott were the perfect sons. Adrian was smart and never got into trouble, Scott was the cool and collected kid who should have gotten into trouble but just never got busted.

Then there was me. Scrawny little Matt Kohl, who wasn't athletic, couldn't tell a lie and always got caught when he was in trouble. I hated it.

But Audrey had made me feel good about myself and now she might be gone. Damn it, I always have to go and mess up.

I woke up with a crick in my neck and the horrible memories of the night before. Audrey was mad at me. My neck killed. My life sucked.

Despite the two feet of snow on the ground, school was not cancelled because most of the students were close enough to walk to school. I noticed the Audrey was not in class. Lily shot me a look and I knew that Audrey had talked to her.

After class, I caught up with her. "Lily, do you know where Audrey is?"

Lily turned her head, refusing to look me in the eye. "If you're so worried, why don't you ask her yourself?"

I let her go and she flounced off to Ivan. I sighed. I didn't care about school. I gave up and left. I had to see Audrey.

Was she sick? Audrey hardly ever gets sick. It couldn't be because of last night. Audrey isn't the kind of girl who'd skip school because of something like that. I hadn't a clue what was wrong.

Her house was an old, slightly ramshackle house. It was a typical home for our podunk town, except for the condition. I knew something was wrong as soon as I got there. Her dad was home. He's never home. He either works on weekdays or goes to the bar on weekends.

But he was home today.

Then I heard the yelling. It was her dad screaming. He was just screaming at the top of his lungs. I couldn't distinguish one word from the other, but I knew it was directed at Audrey, since both of her brothers had been drafted and were in Vietnam.

I knew the door was unlocked so I ran in. Audrey's dad was standing above her; Audrey crouched in a corner, crying her eyes out. Her tears were mixed with the blood running down her face.

Her dad didn't notice me there. He must have been drunk.

"Leave her alone!" I yelled. Her dad turned around.

"You stupid bastard!" He yelled back. "What the fuck are you doing in my house?"

I didn't answer. I just hit him. I hit him as hard as I could and he fell hard. I knocked him out cold.

I was breathing so heavily. I was so stunned about what I'd done that I'd almost forgotten about Audrey.

She was shivering in the corner, her face covered in blood from her nose and a cut on her forehead. I helped her up and hugged her gently.

"Audrey, are you alright?"

Audrey wouldn't speak she just nodded. I led her into her kitchen and wet a rag to clean her face. I fixed a band-aid on her forehead and held her hand while she finished crying.

Finally, she spoke. "Matt," She whispered. "Matt, Jack's dead."

I dropped the bloody rag on the floor. I thought I'd misheard her. "Jack? You mean, your brother Jack?"

She nodded. "Yeah. He was the point man for his squad and a booby trap got him."

"Oh, Audrey." I couldn't think of anything else to do but hug her. She hugged me back. "Audrey, I'm so sorry. I'm sorry about everything."

"I understand, Matt," She whispered. "Just promise that you'll never go to war."

I just hugged her tighter. There was no way I could make that promise. I don't have enough money to go to college and I sure wasn't smart enough to get a scholarship. I'd probably get drafted as soon as I got out of school.

"Matt?" She asked again. "Won't you promise?"

"I – I can't, Audrey."

"What do you mean?"

"Audrey, as soon as we're out of school, I'm probably going to get drafted. And I'm probably going to get sent to Vietnam. I just can't promise. You know I don't have enough money to go to college or to go to Canada."

Audrey pulled away. "I have money saved for college! You could take it. You need it more than I can. Once the war's over, then I can go to college. I don't need it now."

"Audrey, you're going to get a great scholarship to Harvard or Yale or some great school. You're real smart. You should go to college. You're much smarter than I am."



"Matt, you might die."

"I know."

A fresh wave of tears flooded Audrey's eyes and ran down her cheeks. I wiped them away with my thumb and kissed her gently. She just hugged me and sobbed. I couldn't help but shed a tear as I thought of what was to come.

Little did I know that it was going to be much worse than I expected.