About a week later, I was relaxing on our porch when Charlotte came walking by. When she saw me, she waved and diverted to our sidewalk. She followed it to me and timidly sat down beside me on the swing. She was the picture of a demure young lady as she asked, "Are you still mad at me?"

"Charlotte, I'm not as mad as I am disappointed. I expected better from you. I hope I never have another date like that!"

"Speaking of another date, Roy, I talked to Jim about that. I told him I wanted to have another date with you at the drive-in, but it would be very different. This time there would be no Frank. It would be just you, me, and Jim. Also, this time you would be the first one with me in the backseat. He could go get the refreshments and I would keep you occupied while he was gone. You would be the last one with me too. While he drove home, you and I would have an encore in the backseat. He reluctantly agreed to my terms."

"Why would you want to be with me? I'm not in Jim's league. Needless to say, I'm not in your league either. All I can think of is that you consider me to be your charity case."

She assured me that I was wrong about that. She said it was as she told me before. She liked having "firsts," and I would be her first virgin. That ship had sailed, thanks to her mom, but I would never tell her that. In fact, I didn't intend to tell any human being about me and my teacher, Violet.

The following Friday evening, I found myself knocking once again on the door of Charlotte's house. Violet answered the door. She gave me a big hug while whispering, "I'm proud of you, lover. I think you can make a difference in my daughter's life. I'm glad you didn't hold a grudge. From what I've heard, I believe this will be a very different date than the disastrous one that you had to endure last time."

Charlotte came floating down the stairs. She hugged me. Her dad shook my hand and engaged me in some sports-related conversation. I hope the guilt I felt while we talked was not apparent to him. I evidently passed muster with him; at least he tolerated me. Charlotte and I left with full parental approval for our second date.

That night was different in about every way. As promised, it was just the three of us. Jim made the first trip to the concession stand. The minute he left; Charlotte was in the backseat with me. She was giving me the full-court press and I wasn't defending at all. When we got down to business, I remembered the things I'd learned from Violet. Within a few minutes, I took command.

During all the different types of sex I had watched in the backseat on our previous drive-in "date," I hadn't heard any sign of an orgasm by Charlotte. Unlike her mother, she had extremely quiet orgasms. Either that, or both Jim and Frank were just there to satisfy themselves and gave no thought to her needs. Before Jim got back, I had the answer to that mystery. I was able to bring Charlotte to three orgasms. She was loud! So loud that I'm sure they heard her in the cars next to us. Hell, I'll bet Jim could hear her at the concession stand!

After her third time, she caught her breath enough to speak to me. "Roy, you bastard, you lied to me. Virgin my ass! I'm not inexperienced, to say the least, but I've never enjoyed sex this much. Not ever! You know exactly what to do, and how to do it. Roy, I never in my wildest dreams thought that you would be the one to press all of my buttons and rock my world. In fact, I thought I would have to endure some major inept bungling from you. Don't you dare tell me that I took your virginity!"

I couldn't give Violet the credit. Not now; not ever. I said, "Charlotte, I swear to you that you are the first girl that I've had sex with." Technically, it was a true statement. I'd had sex with a very extraordinary "woman," but not with another "girl." That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

As she promised, Charlotte stayed with me in the backseat on the way home. She'd been with Jim through two movies with no vocal evidence of an orgasm. That changed majorly on the trip home. I lost count of her orgasms. Her last one was just before Jim dropped us at the corner. As we left the car, Jim was upset. He grabbed Charlotte's arm and shrieked, "Why aren't you like that with me?"

Charlotte looked him in the eye while saying, "You should be asking yourself that question!"

Then she grabbed my arm and draped it around her shoulder. We walked together looking every bit like a loving couple. She said, "Roy, you're not only the best I've ever had, you're the only one that ever made it what I always thought it should be. You didn't bang me, you made love to me. It was a feeling that was better than an orgasm. I felt loved for the first time in my life. Please tell me that we can do this again soon."

I still wanted to tell her that I'd learned it all from her mom, but I just nodded my head.

This time I proudly delivered her to the front door of her house. We enjoyed our last kiss of the night right there under the porch light. It was far from a peck; it was complete with tonsil tickling and correlated touching. Her last words to me were, "Next time, I want you in a real bed. How about next Friday, right here in my room?"

I told her I was up for it if she could convince her parents to allow it. She told me to leave it to her. Needless to say, I was on cloud-nine as I walked home.

Charlotte and I became great fans of the Friday Night Movies on channel five. We were watching together in her room almost every Friday evening. Her parents usually went out on those nights. They didn't object to our arrangement. If anything, Violet was openly supportive.

As strange as it seems, when we were together, the world was shut out and all that existed was the two of us. I looked deep into her eyes, and I saw traces of Violet. She reached into my heart and harvested a sublime love that had been planted there by Violet. I'm the only one that realized just how much the bliss that we shared was due to an afternoon that I spent with her mom.

When we shared our last kiss on those Friday nights, we left our glowing cocoon and reentered the harsh world. In that real world, Charlotte was still seeing other people. In fact, she had a date nearly every Saturday. I understood why. She needed to preserve her status as a member of the popular crowd, while reserving every Friday for me. She assured me that I was the only one that she let take her bareback. All the others were properly sheathed. Toward the end of the school year, she began inviting me to games, concerts, and dances. She began to fold me into her non-Friday world. Things were changing and I allowed myself to dream about what might be for us. It all ended when her dad was transferred to Kansas City. We cried after our last time together. We pledged to stay in touch, and we did for a while. Like most long-distance relationships, it was destined to die on the vine. What might have been would never be.

Darla:

Back to the one-to-ten looks scale. After my experience with Charlotte, (remember, she was still dating "popular" guys in spite of our Friday evening "dates,"), I adopted a different modus operandi. I sought out the fives and sixes. At most, a seven. I looked for the girls that were not the center of attention. I looked for the wallflowers. I sought out the ones that were hanging back.

First, I was much more likely to score with them. But second, and of more importance, they were less likely to break my heart.

My strategy did not call for sex immediately. I always took several dates to get to know a girl before I made a move on her. There have been more times that my strategy didn't bear fruit than when it did, and I'm fine with that.

It was the summer after Charlotte's departure and high school graduation that I met Darla. She was working the counter at an electrical supply house. I was working as a "gofer" for AAA Heating Cooling, a small locally-owned HVAC company. You understand "gofer," right? "Go for this," and "go for that." I made some good money and learned some helpful tricks pertaining to my chosen field.

When I first saw Darla, I knew there was something unique about her. Since I had to pick up parts daily, I was able to talk to her nearly every day. I always started by asking her how she was doing and she always answered, "I'm peachy-keen, how about you?" When I had my parts and headed for the door, she waved while saying, "Later Gator." I couldn't help but notice that she never said those things to any customer but me. I felt special.

You probably know by now that I'm basically a shy guy. That's part of what led to my "low profile" strategy. Unlike my normal interaction with girls, I found Darla to be very easy to converse with and get to know. She helped me find just the right part more times than I can count. She was good at her job.

Many times, when she wasn't busy, she would have her head in a textbook. I found out that she had just enrolled in the local junior college. She would be majoring in accounting. I told her that I would be starting school in the fall too. I would be attending the Fremont Trade Academy. She said, "Let me guess; I'll bet you'll be taking their HVAC path." I smiled and nodded my head.

So, we were both starting school in the fall. We already had something in common. That helped me work up enough courage to ask her out for lunch. Many dates followed. We fell in love and we fell hard.

We were even planning our future life together. My goal was to open my own HVAC service company as soon as possible. She wanted to be a part of that, so she changed to the Office Management track at JC. When I opened my HVAC company, she would be the office manager. We would be a husband and wife team. Yes, we had big plans!

We were best friends. We were exclusive in the dating department. We liked the same things. We agreed on politics, religion, music, and almost everything else. We were compatible in nearly every way.

I think we just knew that we were destined to be husband and wife. Our world was perfect, and we were floating on a golden cloud.

I used the money that I was making at AAA Heating Cooling to buy an old Mustang. I got an exceptional deal on it from a co-worker. He had just experienced a bitter divorce and due to the cost of alimony and child support, money was in short supply. He was selling everything he could.

Darla and I got an apartment and moved in together. It was located between our two schools. We planned to get married after we both graduated. We would "work for the man" until we were able to open our own business, which we would operate as a team. We would do everything as a team. It was our destiny.

We were planning to have at least two kids, maybe three. We agreed to wait, however, for at least three years so we could do things together for a while and get in a better financial position for supporting a family. We wanted to have our children close together so they could keep each other company, play together, and stand up for each other when necessary.

Yes, we were happy; as happy as any couple could be. The only downside came when we had to attend a funeral. On paper, it was my mom's funeral; but in truth, it was for both of my parents. It was complicated and it was devastating. It was Darla's help and love that enabled me to get through it. As it turned out, there was more to come!

We had a wonderful life all planned out. We continued to float on our golden cloud, but we learned that: "Man plans, and God laughs."

I remember an old song that was written by Roma Foreman. It says it all:

The gods were angry

With me for loving you

The Gods were angry with

Me because they knew

I stood at heaven's Portal

That was too high

For any mortal

Such as I

And so they took down

The sun the skies

Were grey

And then the howling

Wind took you away

And there was nothing

I could do

For I could see

It was because

The Gods were

Angry with me

We first heard the howling wind just three months before our scheduled graduation days. Darla had been having some stomach problems and she'd lost some weight. When she started throwing up, we became suspicious that she might be pregnant. No pill is foolproof! The home tests kept showing negative, but they aren't always right. One day she was feeling worse than usual. We decided that it was time to see a doctor and get a professional opinion. Since we were both convinced that this was going to be a big day in our lives, perhaps the announcement of our first child; we both skipped classes and went to the medical center together.

The doctor performed a pregnancy test and completed a pelvic examination. We were waiting for some answers. A few minutes later, a nurse came in and said that they needed to do some blood tests and run an MRI. It was at that point that we began to worry. Our worry was justified.

Seven hours after we arrived at the medical center, we left with a diagnosis. I told Darla that we would beat the odds. The doctor could be wrong. Pancreatic cancer was bad, but together we could beat it. Darla held my hand as she sobbed, "Roy, he all but told us that it's a death sentence. I think we need to accept it and plan accordingly. We'll do all of the treatments that he mentioned, but we need to prepare for the worst.

The first part of the worst was when we had to tell her parents. They were devastated. I thought her mom was going to faint. She never stopped crying the whole time we were there. They were trying to project a positive attitude. They said the right words, but their facial expressions and crying said more than words.

I found myself sitting on her hospital bed and holding her hand after her first treatment. I had no way of knowing at the time just how many times that scene would be replayed.

The oncologist leveled with us. He said that there was an 80% chance that she would die within a year and a 93% chance that she would die within five years.

When she got to go home, I helped her parents arrange a bedroom for her downstairs in their house. We converted the formal dining room into a comfortable bedroom. It was a good arrangement since her mom worked from home and could care for her there. I relieved her mom every afternoon after classes.

These were bleak times for us. We faced it together. As her condition worsened day by day, I held her hand and we cried together.

I was amazed at the number of her classmates that came to visit her. Mostly girls, but there were a few boys too. I had met many of them at various functions, but they all knew of me. They knew the place that I occupied in Darla's life. All of them offered to help, but in reality, not much could be done.

Her teachers were sending her assignments to complete at home. At first, she was able to complete the assignments with ease. As the weeks passed, I was helping more and more. Towards the end, I was doing most of the work.

When graduation day was at hand, I talked to the appropriate people at JC. They had told Darla's parents that she would not be able to graduate because she hadn't been able to complete the labs in some of her courses. I appealed to them saying, "She will probably be dead in less than a year. She most certainly will never use her diploma, but it would mean the world to her to graduate with her friends." They relented, and I pushed her wheelchair across the stage on graduation night. She received a standing ovation. It was her last night of enjoyment on this planet. She cried, but her tears were tears of joy instead of pain.

Next, it was my turn to graduate. Darla wanted to be there, but she was just too sick to go. I missed her face in the crowd when they handed me my diploma. I left the ceremony and went straight to her bedside. I showed her my diploma, but her eyes were unseeing.

Two days later, her pain was so intense that she had to be hospitalized. I stayed at her bedside night and day. I was holding her in my arms when she took her last breath. Just before that, she had looked at me with panic in her eyes. She knew. My god, she knew! I held her close and whispered, "I love you," over and over.

Many people were shedding tears in that room. I remember people patting my back and whispering in my ear.

I remember holding her mom and dad as we cried together. We knew our lives would never be the same. Our sunshine was gone.

When they removed her body from the room, I curled up in the bed where she had endured such terrible pain and torment. I could feel the last vestiges of warmth that her fevered body had generated. I experienced an unimaginable loss. The nurses had to force me to leave her bed and her room. Somehow, in that room, I could still feel her presence. When I had to leave, I felt only emptiness.

I was numb. I just couldn't believe that we would never kiss again, plan together again, or hold each other again.

The things that we had planned, all gone. The wedding we wanted so much, gone. The love of my life, gone. Only one thing remains and will always endure---memories. I will never forget Darla. Never!

A few days before her death, Darla had told me how much she would miss all the things we had planned together. She told me all she wanted out of life was to be my wife and face the future with me, no matter what it might bring.

"That's not going to be possible, Roy. What I want for you now is to find someone else to share what we could have had together. Don't be in a hurry. Find someone that appreciates you the way I do. If it's possible to do so, I will help you find her.

"I remember reading about the famous magician, Harry Houdini. He promised his wife, Bess, that if it were possible, he would come back to see her. They set up a rendezvous point and she showed up for ten years. He never made it back, but she swore that he continued to influence her life in many other ways. He couldn't show himself, but she felt his presence.

"If possible, I will look after you. If that's not possible, I know that you will find someone special and make the right choice. That will make me happy, wherever I may be. Just in case, let's decide on a rendezvous point. We won't do ten years. Let's say for three years at high noon on the anniversary of the day that I die."

We decided on a spot in Zilker Park. It was a special place for us. I promised to be there for at least an hour for our rendezvous.

It was many months before I even considered dating someone else. Even though she had told me to find someone to replace her, it was a hard thing for me to contemplate. She was irreplaceable.

Maxine:

After completing trade school, I started my six-month apprenticeship.

Because of my previous training, the apprentice program was just icing on the cake. It was normally a union-required three-year program, but with my previous training, it was just six months with a journeyman. The journeyman that supervised my apprenticeship soon realized that there was very little he needed to teach me. He began letting me handle service calls on my own after the first week. He was available if I had a question, but that soon became the extent of his participation.

Before I continue, please remember that as I mentioned before, I wasn't dating yet after losing Darla. I was, however, a hormone-ravished young man with limited ways to satisfy my needs. As you might recall, one of my reasons for choosing HVAC in the first place, way back when, was the possibility of getting some sex in payment for service. By the time my first chance to experience something like that came around, I was a different person, thanks to Darla.

That first chance didn't turn out as I had fantasized. The customer was a woman named Maxine Woolery. She was probably in her mid-thirties. I'm not very good at guessing ages, so don't take that as gospel. She had three young children. I would guess the boy was around three. I think the youngest girl might have been five and the oldest girl was probably seven or eight. Maxine had a coupon for a free service call.

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