And wow. I haven't thought about it in ages. So I'm glad Jeff brought it up.
Those kids? Cousins the lot of them, they were good friends of ours back in the day. From left to right:
- Conrad "Chip" Chipster, Chester High School's science fiction Club president and good guy
- Howie Stratham, all-around athlete and much swooned over looker just about every girl wanted to go to prom with
- Marie Chadlowskivich - one of the loves of my youth. (But that's an entirely different story ...)
All of us - Jeff, Clark, Chip, Howie, Marie and myself - were tight. We got along swimmingly, went to the movies together, hung out at the video exchange plunking our quarters into PacMan and Space Invaders and other video machines while sipping sodas and munching on Hunt's Snack Pack puddings. (Chip was the only one who liked the butterscotch flavor ... worst flavor ever.) As a rule we generally had nothing but good times while in our little group. There was nothing necessarily remarkable about our times together ...
... until one day, smack dab in the middle of a rousing game of Asteroids, Clark spotted Jessie Flowers:
It was as if he'd been struck by a lightning bolt. He went slack-jawed at the sight of her and you could see him become visibly nervous and excited at the same time. He couldn't do anything but stare at Jessie.
"Do you see that girl?" Clark asked me as his eyes followed her across the room. I was the closest one to him but I was otherwise engaged.
"Hello! In the middle of kicking your ass on Asteroids here ..." I responded.
"Those deep, mysterious eyes ... that carefree hair ... and that almost-but-not-quite smile on her lips. I have to get to the bottom of the mystery of this girl. Don't save my spot in line at the pinball machine. I could be a while ..."
Jeff and the others watched him saunter off in her direction, his Hunt's Snack Pack left barely touched on a table nearby. (Snack Packs were never left unfinished; this was one of the main reasons we knew Clark was hopelessly struck by this girl.)
And that fateful day was the last we saw of Clark for almost two weeks. The next time Jeff and I encountered him it was as if he was straight out of the film The Time Machine. He appeared exactly as if he were Rod Taylor when he came back from his time-travelling adventure, exhausted, clothes in rags, filthy and barely able to speak or make sense.
What happened? Clark can tell it best from here ...