When we got to the rink, the line was already long with kids and their parents waiting to go in. Just last year, my mom had insisted on standing in line with me until I got inside and coming in before the session was over to watch me skate the last few songs. It was so incredibly embarrassing! One week, when my mom was out of town visiting my Aunt Shirley, my dad had driven Diana and me to the rink. He barely slowed down for us to get out and he was forty minutes late picking us up after the session was over. We had stood outside with the DJ, Kent “the rat” Rattenburg, who kept saying over and over how much we’d grown up and how cute we’d turned out and gross stuff like that. I mean, he was at least twenty-three years old…how desperate would a guy have to be to hit on thirteen year olds?
Of course my parents had a big row over that one, but the good thing to come out of it was that while my mom still waited in the parking lot and watched me until I got inside, she at least stayed in the car before and after the session from that time on.
The first time Charlotte had driven us my mom made her swear that Charlotte would follow the same procedure my mom did and Charlotte nodded her head and told her that of course, she would never leave two little girls standing there alone. And of course, she left the second we were out of the car and didn’t come back for us until the doors were open and all the kids were outside looking for their rides. Charlotte would roar into the parking lot, stereo going full blast with The Who or Meatloaf or 38 Special. We were the envy of all the kids our age whose parents still brought them.
Tonight was no different. As we pulled up, singing along to You Took the Words Right out of My Mouth every head in the line turned to watch us get out of the Pinto. As I grabbed my skates, Charlotte said, “Here you might need a touch up,” and handed me the tube of lip gloss I’d used earlier. With a flip of her jet black hair, she revved the Pinto and peeled out of the parking lot.
Diana was already working the line, trying to find us a place to “cut” in closer to the door. “Hey chicks,” called Tim “Worthless” Worthington. “Skate the last number with me and you can go in first!” Tim must have camped out at the rink all day because he was always first in line.
“Or, I could have my eyes gorged out,” said Diana, motioning her finger towards her open mouth like she was gagging. “Come on…the back of the line it is.”
About that time the doors opened and the line slowly began to move forward. We had just about reached the door when black over green 1965 Mustang pulled into the lot. I could hear Chained Lightening playing on the stereo and since I loved 38 Special, I hung back to see who it was. They parked on the far side of the lot and as they stepped out, Diana said, “Oh my God…that’s Shelly Brown’s brother…you know…Ricky! Can you see who’s with him?”
Well obviously Diana had x-ray vision, because I couldn’t tell Ricky from the man in the moon at that distance. All I could see of the other guy was a shock of blond hair that he tossed out of his face about ten times from the car to the door.
“Hello Ladies…going in, are we?” asked Ricky as he approached us. He dropped the cigarette he was smoking and stepped on it with the toe of his shoe. He reached past Diana and opened the door, bowing low and waving us in with his other hand. I grabbed Diana, who seemed to be in a daze, and pushed her in ahead of me. I still hadn’t gotten a look at Ricky’s friend, but Diana looked like she was going to start drooling, so I had to move fast. I shoved a ten dollar bill at the lady at the counter, indicated that we had our own skates and grabbed my five dollars in change when she held it out.
Now, there were three sides to a skating rink, as far as where you could sit. The area next to the skate rental was for all the little kids with their parents. It’s well lit and had bright colors on the benches and there were a couple of posters of Benji and some cartoons on the wall.
The area down the right side of the rink was for kids too old for their parents to stay but too young to be out on their own. Usually one or two parents were lurking around, just in case anyone had any problems. There were posters of Star Wars and some comic book heroes. In the corner were two pinball machines that would tilt if you looked at them sideways.
The area to the left started with the concession stand and then got dark quickly. This was for the older kids and the walls were lined with black light posters of dragons and demons and posters of rock bands. Diana and I had only just graduated to this side of the rink…in fact most of the kids we went to school with, including old “Worthless” himself, were still on the other side. But tonight, as I rushed her past the concession stand, I noticed several guys looking at us. Not the usual “what are these kids doing on our side” but more of a “check out the new girls” look.
I found an open spot to sit and pushed Diana down on the carpet covered bench. By now, all of the lockers would have been taken, but since we didn’t bring purses, we just shoved our shoes under the bench. At least three songs had played because the first “moonlight dance” number came on just as we finished up. The song was Lady by Styx and as we stood up and moved to the rail, the DJ dimmed the lights and turned on the disco ball in the center. The dragon behind us glowed and I noticed for the first time that you could see Diana’s bra through her shirt with the black light on.
“Diana…” I say as I try to tell her about her shirt. But just then Ricky came skating up and grabbed Diana’s hand. “Come on,” he said, pulling her to an opening in the wall. Off they went, Ricky skating backwards and holding both of Diana’s hands. I watched them for a moment and then I became aware of someone standing beside me. It was Ricky’s friend, the one with the unruly hair.
“Hey, you wanna…” he stammered and flipped his blonde hair towards the floor.
“Sure.” And off we went. We stared off side by side, him holding my left hand and then, just as I’m thinking about turning to skate backwards, he turns around and grabs my other hand. “What’s your name,” he asked, flipping his hair.
“Katie…and you?” He doesn’t answer right away. In fact, I was beginning to wonder if he even heard me when he said softly, “It’s Damien.”
“Like…the Omen?” I asked, instantly feeling foolish. He ducked his head and I think, okay, well nice knowing you, but he came back up with the most incredibly sexy grin and says, “Yeah, they name all us bad boys Damien.”
I smile at him and started to ask what grade he’s in, but before I can, Damien said, “Can you skate backwards? Katie?” I nodded my head and immediately he turns us around so I’m now the one skating backwards. Damien lets go of my left hand, moved it to his shoulder and put his right hand around my waist. “Ever skated to a corner waltz,” he asks. He’s so close I can smell his shampoo and as I look into his dark eyes, I wonder if I could say my name again if he asked me. “No,” I said as we sway back and forth to the music. The song ended and I wondered if he’d skate the next one with me.
Always and Forever came on next and Damien says, “Good. This one is good to dance to. All we do is skate in to the middle on the long sides and make a whole turn and then on the corners we do a half turn. It’s really easy…here, I’ll show you.”
We skate to the middle and Damien says, “A whole turn” and we turn a shaky but somewhat circle and head back out towards the corner with me still skating backwards. At the corner, he says “half turn” and now he is going backwards. This was smoother and soon I was following his instructions pretty well. We repeat this several times through and were getting a pretty good rhythm going.
I was feeling as graceful as a swan until Damien tries dipping me back. This would have been a spectacular finish except for two things: One, my long hair hit the floor and immediately went under his skate and jerked my head back. And two…one of the few couples left on the floor with us were Diana and Ricky, and Ricky picked just that moment to clap Damien on the back and tell him what a great job he did. Before I know what’s happening, the four of us are in a pile, against the wall, arms and legs tangled together in a heap. The lights came up and as the whole rink burst out with laughter, I did too. I could just imagine how funny we all looked. Damien, who looked stunned and then surprised, joined me in laughing.
As we untangle, the two guys stand and help us to our feet. Diana isn’t laughing, I finally notice. She’s trying hard not to cry and as I moved closer to her, I heard her say to Ricky, “You are such a jerk…look at my hand!” It’s then I notice the way she clutched it. There’s no way that it wasn’t broken. I felt sick just looking at it. One of the rink guards had reached us by now and before he could fuss at us for the commotion, he saw Diana’s hand. “Come on,” he said putting his arm around her, “that’s going to need x-rayed.”
Now Diana is crying for real. So much for our big night! As I skated across the rink with her towards the front, I remember why Charlotte had driven us in the first place. Diana’s mom and dad were out of town, visiting her grandmother. A little fact I failed to mention when I asked to spend the night at her house. “Diana…do you know where Charlotte went?”
She shook her head no as sobs shook the rest of her. “Do you want me to call my mom?”
“I think you’d better,” said the rink guard, “This needs to be looked at a.s.a.p.”
So I left the two of them and headed to the corner by the restrooms to the phone. I picked it up and then remembered I didn’t have any change. I hung up the receiver and turned to go to the concession stand to get a dollar changed when I nearly ran into Damien. “Here,” he said, reaching into his pocket and grabbing a handful of coins.
“Thanks” I grabbed two dimes and turned back to the phone. “Hey, Ricky’s really upset…is your friend okay?” Damien asked, leaning against the wall by the phone, blonde hair falling over his eye.
“The guard thinks her hand is broken and wants her to get it x-rayed…her parents are out of town, so I need to call my mom,” I said, punching in the numbers. I turned my back to him so I could concentrate on talking to my mom. It was not going to be pleasant conversation and I didn’t want him to hear any more than possible.