I thought I saw you, again. This time you were standing alone at a bus stop as I passed, warm and dry in my car. The rain was coming down in sheets, and you had no umbrella. Perhaps it was the absence of protection that made me think it was you.
Dennis Nash was the most popular guy in high school, and Connie Nash was probably the least popular girl. Had it not been for the fact that their last names were the same, Dennis likely would have never noticed her. When he did, however, his attraction for her hit him like a trio of linebackers in a game of football.
Despite, Dennis’s good looks, his charm, together with the sense of humour that usually made the females drop like flies at his feet, Connie flatly refused to even speak to him. The first time he approached her he was bewildered that, after the initial shock of his proximity to her, she had spun on her heel and sprinted away, a flurry of papers from her notebook released and scattered in her wake. Slowly, though, tenderly, like approaching a nerve-wracked cat, he broke through her defenses. Once he managed to convince her that talking to her wasn’t fodder for jokes between him and his friends, Connie began to like him back.
They passed notes back and forth in class and more than once were detained afterwards for laughing. They were inseparable in the hours after school. Dennis had never been happier or more content than he was when he was with Connie.
Two months into their relationship, after much discussion, they decided that it was time to take it to the next step. Dennis’s virginity was a vague memory and Connie was ready to give him hers, along with her heart. He promised to make the experience as romantic as an eighteen year old had the resources for, and so it was with flowers in hand and something the size of a golf ball seemingly wedged in the space between his rib cage that he knocked on her front door.
That night Dennis knew that he’d brought his beautiful Connie completely out of her shell at last. She blossomed as a woman and she was still flushed with the denouement of their passion when she disappeared inside the front door of her home, clutching her flowers tightly in her hand.
Dennis was surprised when she didn’t show up for school the next day. Connie had been in the clouds when he had seen her last, but on this day the cloud that surrounded Dennis’s mood became heavier and heavier. The golf ball had returned to his chest when, for the second time in as many days he knocked on her front door.
As she had, the night before, Connie’s mother opened the door. This time there was blood dripping from the woman’s nose and a deep blue bruise expanded one cheek to twice the size of the other.
“She said you were going to protect her!” the mother screamed at Dennis.
“You were supposed to protect her!!!”
The police were called, statements were taken, but Connie was never seen again. Rumours ranged from the theory that her father had killed her and buried her somewhere before taking off, to the speculation that he had taken her with him. Dennis tried to talk to Connie’s mother, but nothing came from her but the accusations that shot through Dennis’s guilt like so many nails from a gun. Eventually he had to give up asking.
But he never stopped seeing her, everywhere he went.