from Nick Suss
May 6, 2014, 11:11 a.m.
Part 2: Redemption
Jane left Brian because she fell in love with someone else. Jane and Jeff met at summer camp back when they were 10 years old. Jane’s parents made her go because they thought it would be therapeutic for her to live outside of her comfort zone. Jeff’s parents made him go because they needed him out of the house. They were in the middle of a messy divorce and they didn’t want their only child to get caught in the crosshairs of the arguments so they sent him to the only camp they could find, one that just so happened to be over 1,000 miles from home. Jeff brought everything he owned to camp. Jane brought everything except the one thing she really wanted to bring: Allison. Most kids spent their down time writing letters to their parents. Jane wrote letters to Allison. Jeff didn’t write any letters.
After one week away from home, Jane was starting to get anxious. She needed to get home. She couldn’t be away from her parents for the whole summer. She couldn’t be away from Allison for the whole summer. So she crafted a plan to escape. Jane was no stranger to devious plans. She designed a system for her and Allison to rent Rated R movies from Blockbuster even though they weren’t even old enough to rent PG-13 movies. The two girls watched movies that scared them and scarred them, but they loved the fact that they hadn’t gotten caught. Luckily for Jane, one of the movies they rented was called the Shawshank Redemption. Because of this, she knew exactly how to break out of camp. Sadly for Jane, her camp counselors had seen the Shawshank Redemption too. They were not fooled by the giant *NSYNC poster hanging from her wall, mostly because the hole was visible from the outside of the cabin and the cabin was in the middle of camp. Her parents were billed for the damage.
After getting caught trying to run away, Jane was reassigned to the cabin where “problem children” stayed. That cabin was comprised of the camp counselors, Ernie, the 12-year old who liked to put glue in people’s hair, and Jeff. Jeff didn’t do anything wrong, his parents just signed him up for camp too late and he wasn’t actually assigned a cabin. Jane naturally flocked to Jeff for one reason: Jane really liked her hair.
She started to call him Red. No one at the camp except for Jane understood exactly why. Everyone else thought it was because Jeff spilled ketchup on his pants. (In all actuality, that happened two days after Jane started calling him Red. It was a happy coincidence that there were two different reasons for a kid to have the same nickname.) And even though Jeff refused to call Jane by the nickname she had chosen for herself, Andy, the two were united by their mutual hatred of being in camp. However, by the time two months had passed, neither wanted to leave.
The irony of the whole experience lied in the fact that in socializing Jane, Jeff effectively made it unnecessary for them to ever again speak. And that’s how it seemed it would be. Neither of them ever returned to summer camp. Jane went home to be with Allison and her family and inadvertently contributed to the closing of her neighborhood Blockbuster franchise while Jeff went all the way back halfway across the country into a family that already had unraveled before he returned. The more time they spent apart, the more Jane reverted to her old ways. Unaware of how to keep in touch, the two grew apart and eventually stopped thinking about their memories of one another.
That was, until their junior years of college. Allison and Dave had been seeing each other for seven months. Jane and Brian had just met. Everything seemed normal, or at least normal by Jane’s standards. Her twitch had intensified and now she couldn’t last two hours without seeing Allison. Allison was more than okay with seeing Jane that often, they were like sisters, but Dave naturally wanted to be alone with Allison for more than just two hours at a time. The duo tried to separate. It felt peculiar to Allison but to Jane it was like splitting the atom. A bomb of sorts went off in Jane’s head. The two-day experiment of 2010 as it came to be known ended rather quickly as its name indicated. From that point on, Allison and Dave spent their alone time with Jane and Brian.
Unbeknownst to Jane, Jeff had transferred to the very same college that year. He couldn’t stand to wait another minute with his parents and their new husbands and wives and ex-husbands and ex-wives. So he decided to transfer to the last part of the country he remembered being happy. He didn’t expect to run into Jane. It happened by coincidence. Both Jeff and Dave were taking a criminal profiling class. Dave took it as an elective credit. Jeff took it because he always wanted to be a private detective. They were assigned to work on a project together. It makes sense when your names are Dave Ramsay and Jeff Rawlings that you’ll be paired together. The alphabet is selective like that. Jeff and Dave were natural acquaintances. They each were personable enough to befriend one another, but guarded enough to stay the hell out of one another’s private lives. After one class where they were particularly chummy, Dave invited Jeff out for drinks so he could meet Allison. Apparently, Dave had talked about her so much that Jeff just had to meet her.
So Jeff and Dave went straight from class to the Olde Towne Tavern. It wasn’t a very creative name for a bar, but it worked. Dave walked in first then spotted Allison and Jane from across the room. He waved and then gestured to Jeff to follow him to their usual table. Jeff trailed behind, his eyes affixed on his phone. He was relatively reluctant to meet new people. As he felt he was nearing the table, he picked his head up. He and Jane locked eyes. They both raised a single eyebrow and laughed a little bit, neither one knowing why. It was that sense of déjà vu that people can get when they are fully unaware of why they are so confused.
Do I know you?
I think so. Did you go to high school around here?
No. I’m from Chicago. I just transferred here this year. Honestly, this is only my second time on the east coast. Do we have a class together?
No fucking way.
Red? Nobody’s called me Red since… no fucking way. No fucking way.
For the first time in three years of college, Allison went home without Jane.