Chapter Three: Tommy
Remember where I was supposed to be? At the movies on a date. With a girl who would be very happy that I took her to the Hippodrome to see Ted Porter in his latest movie. ’Cause that’s how Saturday nights were supposed to be spent, with a girl and doing something you liked. Where was I instead? In the middle of a creepy old school filled with jack o’lanterns and rich kids dancing to Buddy Holly.
“May I help you with something?” One of the nuns scowled at me. She was probably trying to figure out who I was, the guy who wasn’t in a jacket and tie.
“I need to find Maimie,” I blurted out because I wasn’t good in situations like this. I was good at stuffing boxes with empty cans at the can company. I was good at driving. And writing stuff, too. But not with talking.
“Why do you need to find Maimie? I’m curious, because we don’t have a student named Maimie.”
Was I at the wrong school? No, this was the Villa and this was where I was supposed to go.
“You don’t have a Maimie? You gotta have a Maimie, because I’m here to take her to Mercy. Her mom’s there and my dad sent me to come get her. Maimie Burns? No? Maimie Burke?” What was the name Big Gill had said? I had been so busy figuring out how to get here that I couldn’t remember the girl’s name. And then I did. “Maimie Bauer.”
“Do you mean Mary Evangeline Bauer?”
“Yep, I mean, yes, Sister. If her last name’s Bauer, that’s who I need.”
“Does she know you?”
“Tell her that Big Gil sent me. She knows who he is.”
The nun kept looking at me.
“Please. Her mother is in the hospital. I am supposed to get Maimie and bring her there. Please. This is real important.”
“I’m inclined to believe you, but I’m going to have to make a phone call.”
Because it would have been wrong to let Mary Evangeline Bauer leave school with a boy she didn’t know. Big Gil should have thought of that. Heck, I should have thought of that. I tried to stare at the jack o’lanterns and act like I knew what I was doing. I really didn’t. About ten minutes later, Sister Superior came back with a girl who was wiping her eyes, followed by this big, dumb-looking guy.
She had little black trail of makeup tears going down one cheek, so the nun must have told her the news. I felt bad for her. She was pretty. Her hair was all curly, like girls always make their hair look for dances, and she was wearing this green dress that looked great. She was probably having a pretty nice night, and now all that would change.
“I’m Tommy. Big Gil sent me to get you.”
That was when Mr. Follow Behind put his hand on her shoulder. “I can take her to the hospital. I’ve got my car right here.”
He was letting me off the hook, and maybe I should have let him. “My dad told me to get her.” I had driven all the way up there on my father’s orders.
“That’s all right, buddy. I can drive her.”
Buddy? So, he was one of those guys. Everybody was a friend, except they really weren’t. “I’m supposed to bring her,” I said. There had to be a reason Big Gil had asked me, right?
The nun looked back and forth between us. “Mr. Nelson, that’s very kind of you to offer,” she said to the kid. “But this young man was sent here to bring Mary Evangeline home.” She looked at me. “What did you say your name was?”
“Tommy. Tommy Romero. Big Gil … my dad … sent me to get Maimie.”
“Maimie?” Follow Along was confused.
“Mary Evangeline,” Maimie said. “And I want to go now. I don’t really care who drives me. I just want to get there.”
“Let me help you with your coat,” Follow Guy said. She slid her arms in her sleeves and he wrapped the coat tightly around her. “I’ll call you,” I saw him whisper. Man, that guy was determined. Was he going to run along side my car when we were finally on the road?
I took Mary Evangeline or whatever her name was by the arm and guided her to the door. That’s when I did the perfect thing. Just before we got to the door, I turned to the nun and asked her, “May I call you with any news when we get to the hospital?”
“Please do,” she said. “We will be praying for Mary Evangeline and for her mother.”
Next chapter: We meet Maimie’s mother.