Coinage of Commitment

By: R Costelloe

A Revised Second Edition Love Story

Chapter One

Sullivan’s pulsed electric with a release only Friday night can bring. The merriment had an undulating quality, a rippling volume that drowned out the jukebox. Nestled against Drexel’s urban campus, the place also drew Penn students, who could walk over from their Ivy League enclave. The campuses didn’t quite adjoin, not in the late nineteen-sixties. The four of them, male, undergraduate sophomores, sat in a line at the bar, whooping it up with the rest, glad to be settled in the rhythm of another fall semester. This was the happy time, before the tests came in earnest.

The lounge’s bar was L-shaped and they occupied its short leg, located farthest from the entrance. From there they could track the unattached coeds, particularly abundant that night, and the socializing was so lively her arrival attracted only incidental glances. But when Wayne noticed the girl’s entrance, he swiveled from his companions to get a better view. She carried a light jacket, doubtless to shield her sleeveless arms from the evening chill, and she wore a short, plaid skirt. Tall, at about five-nine, she had long blond hair that flared thick and full around her cheeks because of a clasp at the nape of her neck. Her bearing was poised and confident, unhurried, and her half smile told how relaxed she was with the lounge’s festive mood. It got better, for she slid onto a stool on the bar’s long section, not thirty feet away. Better still, he sat in a dark portion of the room, allowing him to study her without drawing attention.

She had a lovely figure, medium build, and her limbs had muscular definition suggesting athletic vigor or training. Yes, he could see it in her hands, their somewhat wider build, the swell of veins over the tendons. But her attractive figure was eclipsed by the beauty of her face and hair. His gaze stayed on her face, intent, and he wondered at the effect this girl was having on him. The voltage he felt from her was profound, and the why of it took several moments to reach him. Though barely discernible, a wisp of sadness tinged her beauty. Yes, he could see it now in her soft eyes, the tension in the corner of her mouth as she extended a thin-lipped smile to the inquiring bartender. It was the way her beauty was shaped by something vulnerable that caressed his heartstrings. In a unique mannerism, she gave a small, rightward swirl of her head, apparently to reset her long tresses.

Henk leaned toward him, breaking the spell. “Do you recognize her?” His Dutch accent had changed little since their time in high school.

“Should I?” Wayne asked. “She doesn’t look familiar.”

“Think back to last spring. Remember the drama club production? The medley of scenes and musical numbers? We attended because I got free tickets.”

“Of course!” he exclaimed. “She was in the production. Why, she was practically star of the show. She even sang. I didn’t recognize her because she wore her hair all done-up on stage.” He paused. “So she’s one of your Penn classmates.”

“Ja, that’s right. I’m thinking she’s a junior. I’ve seen her at parties, and we have been introduced. I should remember her name, but it won’t come to me.” He paused, and they both looked back at her. Henk’s news changed how Wayne saw her. On stage she had been different from the girl he saw here. Magnetically convincing, and truly vivacious, she had projected the persona of her roles to riveting effect. And so versatile. She played a Lady Macbeth parody in one short scene, then did a musical number from Hello Dolly in the next. He remembered this girl as something special, a cut above the other players, a major talent, probably coasting through Penn on her way to Broadway or Hollywood. The thought made her even more…unapproachable. Not that it could matter worth a hill of beans, he realized, chuckling to himself.

“You seem quite taken with her,” Henk said.

Wayne smiled openly, not minding such scrutiny from Henk. They were like brothers. “You can’t very well blame me for that,” he said. “After all, she absolutely tops the scale for beauty.”

“Tops the scale? You’re joking.”

“I certainly am not. I’d never joke when it comes to a girl this stunning.”

“Then I think it’s official,” Henk said, glancing again in her direction. “You’ve definitely lost your head over this one.”

Wayne, taken aback, just stared at him, though he didn’t let his smile waver.

“We’ve traded notes on a lot of girls,” Henk continued, still beaming, “but this one does not push the scale all the way to beautiful.”

“Talk about hard to please,” Wayne said, his tone bantering. “What makes you say that?”