Mr. and Mrs. Pulaski loved the summer because the days are longer allowing them to sit on the deck and drink ginger beer and play board games. Mr. Pulaski won most of the time because Mrs. Pulaski let him. She didn’t always yell “UNO!” when she should have yelled “UNO!” She was not averse to throwing the game.
She did it because you loved to watch him smile. He smiled when he won. He seemed to know she was letting him win which made him smile even more.
He never thought he bested her. He thought they bested each other and that seemed to be what summer was for.
Summer for Louise and Roger meant seeing a lot of the country in their midsize Silver Moon camper hitched to the back of Roger’s old Ford truck. They always packed a box of books and – after securing the Eileen Pulaski as a house sitter – they’d take off on the open road.
Mostly there was no plan. They crisscrossed the country like a mad tailor on a runaway sewing machine.
Mr. Kennedy loved summer because he could do all the things he enjoyed.
He could go to the casino and play poker. He was possibly the worst poker player on the planet. He was a competitive man, but he was a terrible player.
Bad gambling was not the worst thing Mr. Kennedy did.
The worst thing is he mostly did everything alone – not because the family wasn’t around, but because he didn’t want to be around them. Mr. Kennedy spent most of his time alone.
Sometimes in the morning Hercules the Greater’s mother would bring him to Grounds for Appeal the trendy little coffee shop run by a lovely woman named Wendy who may or may not have been married to a famous football player when she was a young girl. Many of the kids hung out there and strummed their guitars because Wendy let them. She didn’t allow rap music or Toby Keith, but she was always there with a good hot cuppa Joe.
Without the extra baseball practices – Hercules the Greater suddenly found himself with more free time he was used to. This led him into all types of mischief like hanging out in coffee shops playing all manner of folk music with his guitar and his new high school age friends.
He was captivated by caffeine – not nicotine and he was more into Cat Stevens than Catfish Hunter.
She used the money she saved from babysitting and from answering phones at Curley’s Pizza Parlor to pay the only two college admission fees she was interested in. She was applying to University of Southern California and the University of Chicago.
She never even gave any other schools a second thought.
She wanted to dedicate her life to the study of biology – in particular the relationship between people and the world they were leaving to their children.
She knew she would have to narrow your focus, but she had the year to do it. She would figure out the details once she knew which of the schools had chosen her.
The park district pool opened up right around the same time library went to summer hours. No one really noticed except Eileen Pulaski. Eileen was living a secret life.
Most days she was the bright, popular girl who was loved by everyone in town.
She had just finished her junior year at General John A. Logan High School and she was set to win all of the tiaras in her senior year.
The other side of Eileen was a girl who sat quietly in the library devouring the science books and taking practice tests so that she could score higher on her college entrance exams than anyone else in her class.