I knew Israelia because she and I came from the same little hometown in Florida, a “podunk” place out in the middle of the state, where a truly beautiful and graceful girl like she was really means something to the whole community because they only come around maybe once in a generation. It seems to me, now that I’ve traveled so many places, up the eastern seaboard to New York, and all the way out west to California, that that time in America is gone when a young man might kill someone over a girl like that—when she means so much in his life because he’s never seen anyone else like her, and he doesn’t have much hope of going anywhere else or finding another. What I mean is I grew up with all my romantic ideas formed with her in my mind. When we (the class of ’90) did anything, like drove into town or built a bonfire by the lake and drank, I only had eyes for where she was the whole time. All my plans for my future life were embodied in her, and to have them embodied in a person, well maybe that’s uncommon today, too. Of course back when she and I first met, I couldn’t get near her—I just didn’t know how. Neither did anyone else, for that matter. Every other boy had their own plans, and God knows what they tried.

From when high school began, Israelia was always social and she always came out with us, but she always stayed somehow separate too, never really going in for us boys or our crazy stuff, or the ignorant stuff or the guns. So I would see her out on the weekend or in school and have a few words with her now and then, hoping to heaven I would say something to appeal to her but never knowing if she really knew any more than my name. She always looked like she was on fire, absolutely shiny and burning—she’d sit atop the hood of a car in a sundress and stick one long shapely leg out at a time, her attitude leisurely as a cat’s and her toes pointed like a dancer’s and her skin glistening with tanning oil and light. I’d see that and practically forget what I was doing, I couldn’t even talk. The whole world seemed to put the squeeze on me. I figured she must’ve known it was enough to drive us boys crazy, but she never let on, not even playfully, and so eventually I wondered if it even occurred to her the effect she was having. Again, it was like she was somehow separate—it seemed like her mind was always elsewhere, and her body just did whatever it pleased. By sophomore year all the boys knew if any one of us could ever get a hold of her practically all the rest would hate that boy’s guts instantaneously, but we were entranced and those with our hearts set on her didn’t give a damn about our guts.

[Continued in Confrontation 116]

 
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