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  • Writer's picturekiersten672003

Excerpt from The Playlist Diaries- Part 1

Updated: Aug 4, 2022

Emotional Rescue”

Indiana- August 1981

Sometimes a decision is just a decision.

And sometimes a decision changes your life.

What happened that night at Amaro’s back-to-school party falls into that second category. Which is probably why I remember it so clearly, even now. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Because, as everyone knows, a single decision never stands alone. Something always comes first. Each of our choices tied to the one before, like the squares of one of those never-ending scarves magicians pull out of their sleeves. And the choice that came right before my Decision That Changed Everything was so simple it was laughable: I decided to go down in the basement to get a beer.

My best friend, Stacie, warned me not to go.

“Be careful. Jimmy’s probably down there waiting for you,” she said as I left her upstairs flirting with a guy on the basketball team.

“I’ll keep an eye out,” I assured her. It wasn’t like me to ignore her suggestion, since she usually knew better than me about everything. But I needed the sweet escape of the beer so badly the risk seemed worth it.

Before we’d left Stacie’s house tonight, I’d told her what Jimmy had said in band class earlier that week. About how he’d claimed I was a lot hotter this year and that every time I bent over to set up my drum the sight of my ass gave him a raging boner. Which wasn’t all that extraordinary, considering Jimmy claimed to have a raging boner about one thing or another at least five times a day. (I think the last one was from Miss McMurray, our chemistry teacher, lighting a Bunsen burner. So that kind of gives you an idea of just how sensitive Jimmy’s dick was.)

The real reason I had to look out for Jimmy was because he’d told me yesterday he wanted to find me tonight and “get with me”, whatever that caveman sentence meant. I assumed he was just teasing since there was no way the most popular boy in school could like me, a mere sophomore with “microscopic titties” (the way he’d described them last year), odd colored hair, and a penchant for telling crude jokes. I was sure my underclassman invisibility would be enough to keep me safe as I fought through the press of kids downstairs, making my way toward my target: the keg floating in a pig trough smack dab in the middle of Amaro’s rec room.

I was only a few steps from victory when I felt a hand close around my wrist. Suddenly I was pulled roughly through the crowd. I struggled to stay on my feet as I bashed against a maze of sweaty bodies gyrating to the blasting music, unable to see where I was going or who was dragging me there.

Elbows and knees and damp skin slammed into me until my mystery guide and I burst through the throng into blessed fresh air with an almost audible pop. I stumbled a few feet forward before I finally figured out where I was: In a dark hallway with Jimmy Huskerson grinning drunkenly down at me.

“I’ve been looking everywhere for you!” Jimmy slurred, pressing me up against the wood panelling with the length of his hard body. “I reallllly need to talk to you, Red,” he said, using the nickname the boys had given me when I’d started high school last year. A nickname that wasn’t very accurate because my hair was actually strawberry blonde, not red. A detail that had sent the guys into hysterics the first time I’d corrected them. A mistake I hadn’t made since.

“Well, it looks like you found me, Jimmy,” I said with fake cheer. I had to kind of grunt each word since the weight of his body prevented my lungs from fully inflating. “Right in front of you. Completely here on my own volition.” I was pretty sure he was too drunk to understand my sarcasm, or what the word volition meant.

My heart hammered wildly as I tried to wrestle out of his vice-like grip. But Jimmy was pretty much a Stretch Armstrong doll come to life, so fighting him was useless. I tried to relax and act like I was cool with whatever the hell was happening to me, even though I’d never even held hands with a boy before, much less felt such a, um… rigid part of their anatomy pushing into my crotch. My friend, Scott, always teased me about how inexperienced I was with boys. He claimed it was because I was saving myself for my long-time love, John Travolta. It always pissed me off when he said that. Probably because it was so true.

Gazing up at Jimmy, I couldn’t help but notice how handsome he was. Green eyes, blonde hair, the star of the basketball team. I should’ve been thrilled to be kidnapped by him. But I also noticed how many bruises peppered his arm. They were from the fist fights he bragged about incessantly. Fights he claimed he always won without even breaking a sweat. Jimmy may have been hot, but he was also one of the biggest bullies in our school. I didn’t want to find myself on the receiving end of his wrath.

He reached down with one hand and started rubbing my ass in big circles, like he was trying to make a genie to fly out of my back pocket and grant him three wishes. I tried not to laugh at his clumsy efforts.

“So, what do you want to talk about, anyway?” I asked, as if we were both there to discuss the weather. I tried to hide how scared I really was. Knowing Jimmy, it would probably only turn him on more.

“I want to talk about these smokin’ hot jeans you’re wearing tonight,” he said with another vigorous rub of my right ass cheek. I fought back an eye roll. Jimmy’s vocabulary had stopped expanding in sixth grade. Hot, smokin’, bangin’, bitchin’. Those were pretty much the only adjectives he knew.

“You like these?” I glanced down at the Calvin Klein jeans I was proud to say were exactly like the ones Brooke Shields wore in her risqué TV commercials. Brooke was my idol. I would do anything to look like her. “I got them at Ayres in the mall. I think they’d still have your size if you get up there quick. They would look good on you,” I teased, desperate to keep the conversation light.

Jimmy laughed at my lame joke, then glanced down the hallway at where almost every kid in our high school was screaming about how they wished they had Jessie’s girl. The crazy scene distracted him for a split second. I knew this was the part in the movies when the poor hostage fought and punched and kicked her captor in the nuts, then made her brave escape. But since I was as far from brave as a girl could get, I just stood there frozen, waiting for what Jimmy would do to me next.

He leaned back a little and cupped one of my boobs. “These are awfully nice.”

I made a face. “I thought you told me I needed to see the doctor for the bug bites on my chest. Wasn’t that how you described them last year?”

He gave me a lewd grin. “Well, you’ve obviously matured over the summer.”

I laughed really hard at that. Not only because it wasn’t true (believe me, I’d know if my boobs had grown even an eighth of an inch), but because I thought it might be a good diversion tactic, a way to shift Jimmy’s weight off me a little. But he didn’t budge. God, he was heavy.

Jimmy’s face clouded over as he noticed me struggling underneath him. I relaxed against the wall again, reminding myself to be careful. I’d seen firsthand what happened when Jimmy got pissed. I knew all too well what he and his posse of bullies did to people who got on their bad side. And with what they knew about my mom (well, with what everyone knew about my mom really), I could only imagine what I’d have to endure if they set their sights on me. I’d already lived through enough of their lesbian jokes to last a lifetime. I didn’t want to have to face that humiliation all over again.

At the entrance of the hallway, a group of girls glanced down at Jimmy and me tangled up together. They whispered furiously to each other, glared at me, then went back to whispering. I knew every one of those girls would’ve traded places with me in a heartbeat. I wanted to call out and beg one of them to switch places with me, to save me from my so-called good fortune with Jimmy. But despite them all being so close, I was too scared to open my mouth and ask for help.

Jimmy leaned in, lips hovering precariously close to mine. Please God, no. Please don’t let my first kiss be like this. I twisted my head away, and he planted little, wet kisses along my neck. It felt like a million spiders crawling all along my skin. It was all I could do not to scream. How the hell was I ever going to get away from him?

“Just relax. I promise you’ll like this,” he whispered in between kisses. The urge to punch him right on his square jaw and knock his slimy lips off my skin, swelled inside me like a gathering tsunami.

I squeezed my eyes shut tightly and prayed for a way to escape. It wasn’t the first time Jimmy had touched me like that. He’d started coming on to me in band class when school started a few weeks ago, telling me in graphic detail at the things he’d do to me if he ever got me alone. When he’d grabbed my ass the first time, I’d instinctually slapped his hand away. It had been a mistake. He’d gawked in disbelief at his reddening hand, then accused me of being a lesbian just like my mom. Which wasn’t true, despite how the kids at school loved to say it was. That’s why I had to stand there and not flinch or struggle. Why I had to let him grope me and even pretend I liked it. Because letting Jimmy touch me like that was the only way I could prove to everyone I liked boys, not girls.

He gave my boob a hard squeeze. Then did it again. And again. Does he really think girls like this?

“Awwooooga!” I honked like an antique car in time with his next squeeze. (The guy just wouldn’t quit.) He burst out laughing, exactly the way I’d hoped he would. It was how I usually defended myself against him in band class. I’d tell him and his goons crude jokes, act silly, do impressions of the teachers; anything I could think of to crack them up. It had mostly worked so far. But that had been in the safety of the school walls. And when Jimmy wasn’t as drunk as this.

“I’ve always wanted to fuck a redhead,” he said, grinding his hips hard into mine. My stomach twisted hearing the sharp-edged word. Fuck. There was no way I could pretend I didn’t understand what he wanted from me now.

I struggled to distract him. “Oh, I’m sure doing it with a redhead is just like doing it with any other girl,” I said. Then I lowered my voice conspiratorially. “Except for the part where afterward, we steal your soul.”

Jimmy’s head jerked back. “What?”

I blinked at him innocently. “Your soul? Are you partial to it?”

His face clouded over in confusion.

“It’s a joke, Jimmy.”

He let out a sigh of relief, as if he’d actually believed I could steal his soul. God, what a dummy. Good looks really do cover a multitude of sins, don’t they?

“That’s what I like about you.” He pointed a finger at my face. “You’re soooo damn funny.” The whites of his eyes were bloodshot, one of them almost all the way closed, which made him look like a pirate whose patch had been lost at sea. “You seem like a girl who likes to have a good time.” He wagged his eyebrows lecherously.

“Funny because I feel more like a girl who likes to not get her ass kicked by your girlfriend.”

Had he forgotten about Tina, his notoriously unstable girlfriend? She was a card-carrying member of The Pack, a group of girls so mean they’d rack you up on a locker just for looking at one of their boyfriends. (Imagine a pack of wolves in heat, but with Farrah Fawcett haircuts and you’ve got the general idea.) And if a wrong glance earned you a mild concussion, I didn’t want to think about what they’d do to a girl whose micro-boob was now resting in one of their boyfriend’s hands.

“Don’t worry,” Jimmy said. “Tina’s not here.”

“Yeah, so what?” I tipped my head at the crowd through the doorway. “You really think all those people are going to keep your little secret?”

His face hardened, reminding me again I had to be careful. “Don’t worry about Tina. I can handle her,” he snapped. Then he wagged his eyebrows again. “In fact, maybe I could handle you both at the same time. You’d probably like that, wouldn’t you? It seems like something someone like you would get into.”

Someone like you. The insinuation was clear. Again, I fought back the impulse to knee him right in the balls.

“That’s not something I would get into, Jimmy,” I said through gritted teeth. Just then, I noticed Stacie pushing through the mass of bodies in the basement, coming right at us. She was easy to spot in the crowd because she was taller than even most of the boys in our school. She held her red plastic cup up high in one willowy arm, blonde hair curling with sweat along her round cheeks, a look of sheer loathing on her face. I knew what she was thinking. She called going to parties like this “rubbing elbows with the unwashed masses.”

Seeing I was in trouble, Stacie bounded down the hallway and straight to my side. Unlike me, she wasn’t afraid of anything.

“Tina’s here.” She stared down at Jimmy. I loved how she towered over him. And how clearly uncomfortable that made him.

Jimmy pretended to be unfazed but took his hand off my boob awfully quick. “Yeah… so what? She’s doesn’t tell me what to do.” He scanned the room nervously.

“She was looking for you,” Stacie went on. “She’s probably on her way down here right now.”

Hearing that, Jimmy stood up, releasing me from the wall. It felt so nice to take a full breath again. I glanced at Stacie and she cocked one eyebrow. For a second, I wondered if she was just making up that Tina was there, but then I saw Tina’s mousy brown head at the top of the stairs. Jimmy must have seen it too, because he took off down the hallway away from me.

But before the crowd engulfed him, he turned back to me.

“Don’t worry, Red. I’ll get rid of her. Then I’ll come back and find you.”

He disappeared, not waiting to ask what I thought of his plan, which was no big surprise. He was Jimmy Huskerson after all. Any sane girl in a fifty-mile radius would’ve been honored to have her boob honked by him.

Stacie flipped off Jimmy’s back as he walked away. I collapsed against the wall, trying not to think of what would’ve happened if Stacie hadn’t shown up.

“What am I going to do?” I was safe for now, but how was I going to hide from Jimmy for the rest of the night?

“There’s only one thing you can do,” Stacie said, pulling me toward the staircase. “You’ve got to get the hell out of here.”

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