Any fears he had about Sue forgetting him were erased as she ran up and hugged him. He thought about trying to kiss her, but if he had to think, it wasn't the right moment.
"Oh, my . . . you are taller!"
"Thanks. It's less than an inch, though . . . Damn, you're still taller than me. More than before."
"I grew too. I did not have to work for it . . . you feel so strong now."
"I imagine I'm in fair shape." Probably the best in my life. She didn't seem to get his little joke, but she beamed anyway.
"What have you been up to? I wrote you a couple of times . . ."
"I am sorry." Her smile utterly vanished. "It has not been a good summer for me."
"How's Chi—how is Sarah?"
"She is in school . . . finally in school, again. It is so silly to have school out for so long. Everyone forget—forgets—what they learn."
"Maybe so . . . but I wish I had had this summer. No more after this one. We're official grownups in nine months . . . what's wrong?"
"A very long story, Jimmy-chan. I am not sure I should tell."
"What could you tell me now that would surprise me? You killed someone?"
She didn't answer with words . . . but her eyes made it clear.
Jimmy wouldn't have made it through the rest of that day at school if Sue—Usagi—hadn't pretty much led him everywhere. How could he think about anything else? He'd just about convinced himself that what he'd seen that night must have been a dream. But it wasn't . . . he was in love with a girl who should be a cartoon . . . except she wasn't. She had a daughter who was somehow much older than she should be—and could turn into an angel and fly. And now his sweet love had killed someone . . . who? Why? What he had no question about was that it had happened, because, for better or worse, he was sure she could never really lie to him.
"You're pretty late tonight," said Jimmy's stepfather.
"I was with Sue."
"And Sarah. I took them too the movies. And then I went to their place for awhile."
His sister Nancy was still up. "Do they still live in that creepy foster home?"
"Yeah . . . you've been there?"
"Once . . . like I said, creepy."
"Well, we stayed outside mostly, or in their room."
"Right," said his sister.
He let her think what she thought. He let them all think that—his mom had come down, and most of his steps and halves. "I'm really tired . . . would you mind if I just went to bed?"
He was tired enough, but it took him a long time to get to sleep.
The Boot Camp as summer school option might not be around any more in our world, but it was an option when I was in high school. The Marines also offered an 18-month enlistment for awhile, which made it more attractive than the draft for some guys (draftees did two years of active service. However, there was a considerable downside to this option: 18 months was long enough to do basic training, advanced infantry training, and a year in Vietnam. Moreover, while something like nine out of ten Army guys are "in the rear with the gear," a much larger portion of the Marines are actually out front with rifles (the Navy handles a lot of their rear-area stuff.)
Lots of guys join the Marines to prove something. My nephew had the urge, but was smart enough to join the Army instead, even though he became a Ranger. It's easier to make rank in the Army; it's not uncommon in the Marines to be a corporal with ten years in.