A strange sign

After I got Phil’s message, I poked around Classmates.com, and noticed a new name on my high school class list – Clint. I broke out in a cold sweat.  I wasn’t a fanatic about keeping my name off the internet, but I was careful.  Because of Clint.

Today we’d probably call him a bully.  Sexual harasser.  Stalker.  But in the 1970’s we didn’t know.  Boys picked on girls all the time and got away with it.  Clint was that pest in high school.  You know the type.  The creepy guy who would wait for me to spin the combination and open my locker, and then slam the door, making me late for class.  The jerk in my homeroom who’d say things first thing in the morning like, “Where’d you get that ugly shirt?”  or “Wow, you’re looking fat today!”  He’d tell greaser boys that I said I liked them.  And tell the handsome jock I was pining for that I’d said he was a doofus.  As we got older, he started punching me in the arm, and pinching my ass or my boobs.  Ouch!  Ugh.  

One night at a dance after another boy dumped me, Clint was oddly nice to me, telling me I looked pretty and asking me to dance.  During a slow dance, he whispered that he was hot for me, would do anything to “get in my pants.”  Um, really dude?  NO!  So he started calling me a slut and telling boys I had done all sorts of physical things with him.  Things that “nice girls” didn’t do.  Other boys believed him and asked me out, thinking I was easy.  They disappeared pretty quickly when they found out I was a virgin and determined to stay that way, though I had to endure a lot of dancing too close or wrestling matches in the back of cars.  They’d say, “…but Clint said you were easy!”  Ugh.  
I was very sad in the days after high school graduation, knowing I’d go away to college and never see my friends again.  But there were a few kids I was relieved never to see again and Clint was at the top of the list.  I left town and got on with my life, forgetting about the small town high school bullshit.  
Five years later, I went to a varsity basketball game over Thanksgiving with my little sister.  Clint’s little sister was there, talking about coming to Boston for college.  My sister told her I lived there.  I asked where Clint was these days, and she said California.  I smiled, happy that he was about as far away from me as possible.  
A week later I got a 12 page letter from Clint.  He professed undying love for me, then rambled on about the vicious, violent sexual things he’d do to me.  “Just say the word and I will leave my wife and come out there and fuck your brains out.”  I was terrified.  I threw up.  I warned my parents and little sister never to say anything about me to Clint’s family again, then put the letter in my strong box under the bed, telling the room mates to give it to the police if anything happened to me.  And started looking over my shoulder, wondering when he would appear to attack me.  
The terror dimmed over the years, but it was always in the back of my mind, making me wary of anything that would connect me with him on any level.  And cementing my desire not to associate with anyone from my high school.  My best friend talked me into going to our 10th reunion.  I went to see her and made her promise she would not let me out of her sight.  I took my husband to the 20th reunion with the same promise. Luckily, Clint didn’t appear at either event!  I had a lovely evening with a group of pleasant adults who bore little resemblance to the odd assortment of characters who populated my high school days.  
With the advent of the internet in the 90’s, I thought of him again.  I wasn’t a privacy fiend, but I was careful.  Luckily there was never any sign of him.  That was pretty typical of my classmates… very few of them signed up for Classmates.com and they didn’t appear in Google searches or even on Facebook when it appeared.  Luddites.  Yay!  
But suddenly here was his name on Classmates.com.  And he had left his name on my profile months earlier, which I hadn’t noticed.  I began to panic, thinking about yanking my name off there and covering my tracks elsewhere.  Damn.  It gave me all sorts of second thoughts about talking to Phil.  
I decided to click on Clint’s profile, see where he was now.  There was a short note: 
“This is Clint’s wife of many years, Carolyn.  He passed away. We shared a wonderful life in California.”
I felt completely evil thinking it, but the first thought that popped into my head was, “HOORAY!  HE”S DEAD!”  I know, that’s not cool.  But I was so relieved.  I felt this huge weight being lifted off my shoulders!  I had not even realized how heavy it was.  I tried in vain to find an obituary online, but decided to believe it anyway.
And then suddenly it dawned on me that I discovered this strange and wonderful news because Phil had written to me.  A very good thing had come from him being in touch.  Maybe this was why it happened now?  I wondered if I could tell him in a way that wouldn’t involve me being gleeful over the death of another human being.  Would it freak him out that I connected the events in my mind?  Instead of being wary, I was suddenly excited to find out what other happy news he’d bring my way. 

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