Jill Kearney appeared at Kevin Badger's side one Sunday morning, as if by magic, as he stood next to the water fountain in the long hallway that connected the Sunday school building and chaple of Faith Lutheran church, in Monotoning, PA.  She looked up at Kevin and smiled.  When Jill stood next to him like that, the top of her head barely reached his shoulder.  Jill was eighteen that summer two years younger than Kevin.

     "So," she said, batting her long, dark lashes at him.  "Did you come to hear me sing, this morning?"

     "Why, sure," Kevin said, although that was not the real reason he'd gone to church that morning.  He hadn't even known she would be singing a solo that morning, until he'd noticed the tiny notation in the church bulletin, before the start of the service.  "You were wonderful, as usual."

     It was true, too.  Jill had a beautiful voice.  She sang just as well or even better than anyone on the radio or MTV.  People were always coming up to her after services and telling her what a wonderful voice she had and that she should seriously consider singing professionally, someday.  She sometimes made a little extra money singing at weddings.

     "Why, thank you, sir," she cooed in a soft, sweet, caressing voice.  Then she said, pouting just a little, "I don't feel like going home, yet.  Why don't we go for a ride in your car?"

     He looked at her long, flowing mane of hair, which was sometimes a brilliant shade of flaming crimson, and at other times, a soft carroty orange, shot through with dozens of finely spun threads of silver and gold, depending on which way her head was turned when the sun struck it.  He hungrily drank in her big, round breasts and slender waist, and flat, narrow hips, which no normal, healthy, aggressive-type, young male in his right mind should be able to resist; and he grinned.

     "Sure, why not?" he said.  "I don't feel much like going home yet, myself."

     As they started toward the pair of red, steel doors at the end of the hall, Kevin glanced over his shoulder and  saw Mary Ellen Moultrie standing there, less than a foot away from them.  The look of pain, shock, and bewilderment in Mary Ellen's big, brown eyes momentarily startled and confused Kevin, and made him want to cringe.  He suddenly felt a strange mixture of embarrassment and guilt at being caught alone with Jill Kearney like this.  Mary Ellen almost looked as if she was about to cry, which made Kevin feel even worse.  Mary Ellen was the same age as Kevin; they'd graduated from Lazarus High together.  She was a good looking woman with long, wavy, brown hair and Kevin had known for some time that she was interested in him.  Hey, he was sorry, he hated to hurt other people's feelings, but what could he do?  Jill had gotten to hims first.  Like the man had once said, he (or she) who hesitates is lost.  Besides, Mary Ellen was the minister's daughter and everyone knew they were no fun.  Kevin managed to flash Mary Ellen a crooked grin and turned back, smiling, to Jill.

     Kevin and Jill fled like a pair of happy fugitives out the back door to the parking lot, to Kevin's old, white, rusted-and-dented Mustang, no matter how much time and money he put into trying to fix it.  They drove high up into the rolling green hills which surrounded the small town of Monotoning.

     "Stop!" Jill cried suddenly.

     Kevin slammed on the brakes, violently rocking the old car back and forth.  He sat there, with his foot on the brake, the car's ancient engine idling unsteadily, while Jill stared out the dirt-spackled windshield, on her side of the car.  There was nothing important that Kevin could see, just bare, brown fields stretching far into the distance on either side, and a tall stand of gaunt trees.

     "Right here was where he asked me to marry him," she said, in a small, far-away voice; she sounded bitter.  There was no need for Kevin to ask who he was.  He knew very well that she had gone with a guy named Larry Stanton all during high school.

     "We were going to get married the day after we graduated from high school," she went on, as if she was talking to herself.  "Then, all of a sudden, he decided he had to go to the community college up in Squiresville, first, and learn how to be a surveyor.  I know why he doesn't want to marry me anymore.  He's found someone new.  I know who she is, too.  Her name's Ellen Dunbar and she comes from a very wealthy family.  Her folks are loaded.  He'd rather have money than me.  Well, I'm going to give him back his engagement the very next time I see him...You can go now," she said, after awhile.

     Kevin remained silent, but inside, he was overwhelmed.  He was ecstatic; he was overjoyed.  He couldn't believe his good fortune.  Jill Kearney was just about the most beautiful woman he'd ever known in his life and now, it looked like she was getting ready to dump her fiance for good.

     Badger, he told himself, there just might be hope for you, yet

The End

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