In the shade of a tall locust in Pioneer Park, sharing a blanket, Deena Lee was on her feet performing a stretch and Montgomery Bolt was on his back, in plaid Bermuda shorts, reading a book. His head lay on a small cardboard box; the words FRAGILE: THIS SIDE UP, along the side of the box, seemed at the perfect angle, Deena Lee mused, to have recently slipped from one of his unusually large ears. She must mention that to him later, when her stretch, calling for concentration, was completed. But she will leave out the unusually large ear part.

You knew that the young boy-size figure on the blanket with pretty Deena Lee was Montgomery Bolt, because no other male in Snake River would wear such a flamboyant hat—it was a wide-brimmed flamenco dancer’s hat fixed at a rakish tilt—and no young boy in that part of Idaho would likely be reading Madame Bovary, and most certainly not in the language in which that novel was written. A French major, Montgomery had just finished his first year at Reed. Back home now in time for the town’s annual three-day Fourth of July hoopla, beginning two days hence, he was preparing for it, as he would say, by relaxing in the park. His left leg, bent at the knee, was holding up the other one, which had been thrown over it. The leg on top, in a slow, rhythmic up-and-down motion, was for several minutes the only thing moving on the blanket.

Deena Lee, who had been keeping herself rigid in a kind of vertical single-wing airplane position, arms straight out, eyes straight ahead, feet together, finally brought her arms slowly to her sides and puffed out her cheeks to release any tension that might still be residing in her face. “Whew!” she said, letting her cheeks go normal. She wore a black leotard and pink tights and was barefoot. To dance in an important ballet company was her dream. But she had one more year of high school to finish first, her parents had decreed—they who understood nothing—and in the meantime, therefore, she was, to use her favorite word of that summer, languishing. She was seventeen.


Continued in Confrontation 118.