Caroline & The Fieldtrip
--Richard Karinsky needed a job. The small amount of money he had was quickly drained when he moved into the rat and roach infested apartment he was lucky enough to find. What he really wanted was to be recognized as a serious artist and make a living selling his paintings. Since he hadn't been able to catch his break in the art world, that left him needing employment. He got dressed and headed for the newspaper stand near by.
"So, how's the hunt for the new colorist going?" Annie Spadaro asked her friend.
"Not so good." Caroline Duffy replied... "I can't believe how many weirdoes I have interviewed today alone!" she added.
"Well, this is New York!" Annie laughed.
"Yeah, well... I need to find someone soon. I am really getting backed up!" Caroline said with concern.
"Oh, hey... while I'm thinking about it... can I borrow your white blouse for tonight?"
"Date?" Caroline smirked.
"Yep!" Annie said proudly.
"Ok, sure... let me go find it. Can you answer the phone if it rings? And if it's about the job tell them I am interviewing today?" Caroline asked as she headed for the stairs.
"Sure." Annie replied.
Richard searched the paper for a job of interest to him, but considering his current financial situation, an interesting job was a luxury he couldn't afford. The only job listing for anything that was even close to artistic was for a colorist. "Colorist/assistant wanted for work on a nationally syndicated comic strip. If qualified please call..." he said to himself as he read the ad. He scrounged up 20¢ and headed for a payphone.
Annie helped herself to some coffee while she waited for Caroline to find the white blouse. Just then the phone rang...
"Hello?" Annie said, answering the phone.
"Hello. I am calling about the ad in the paper... 'Colorist/assistant wanted' ...is the job still available?" Richard inquired.
"Yeah, and she is interviewing today. If you can come in I'll give you the address..."
"Ok, sure. That would be great." Richard said politely.
As Annie was hanging up Caroline came downstairs, white blouse in hand.
"Was that about the ad?" she asked Annie.
"Yeah. He said he could come right in, so I gave him your address."
"Oh, great. Here you go..." Caroline said, handing the blouse to Annie.
"What's his name?" Caroline asked.
"The guy answering the ad." Caroline chuckled.
"Oh. I don't know. He didn't say."
"You didn't get a name? What is he's an ax murderer?" Caroline asked with concern.
"And you could tell by his name?"
"Well, no. But if you got a name you could tell it to the police if I turn up missing!"
"Caroline, if he IS an ax murderer, he sure wouldn't give his REAL name!" Annie said sarcastically. Caroline laughed...
"Yeah, I guess that's true."
"And I'll be right across the hall if you need me... ok?" Annie added supportively as she headed for the door.
About 30 minutes later there was a knock at the door.
"Who is it?" Caroline asked through the door.
"I am here about the job listed in the paper." Richard called out. Caroline opened the door and their eyes met. There was a strange sensation that ran through both Caroline and Richard. They both stared, not saying a word. Time seemed to stand still. Finally, Richard broke the silence...
"You..." was all he could say.
"You..." Caroline replied softly. A day 13 years ago hit them both as they stared at one another in disbelief.
--Caroline was excited about the choir competition in Southern CA. She rarely got out of Peshtigo WI, and a plane trip to Anaheim CA sounded like such a great adventure. Her choir classmates and herself worked for months having bake sales and car washes so that they could all afford to take this trip. This was a very prestigious musical competition and it was an honor to be chosen to participate. The day seemed like it would never come, but at last they were on the plane, heading for the West coast.
As the class buzzed about the upcoming competition, Richard sat quietly at the back of the room. He was new to this school so he didn't have any friends. His parents moved him around a lot and he was forever changing schools. When he enrolled in this school, there were only 2 electives left, choir and shop. Richard chose choir because in his eyes, it was better then noisy shop equipment and making ashtrays and bird houses. He had always been a bit of a loner, making friends was hard cause he was never in one school for very long, so he usually kept to himself. It was just easier that way. The only appealing thing about the upcoming competition for Richard was that while he wasn't on stage with the class singing, he could be reading.
"Hey! Rich!" a class mate called to him.
"It's Richard." Richard replied flatly.
"Whatever. Bus is here! Lets go!" the kid called back, then ran out the door. Richard just rolled his eyes and headed for the door.
It didn't take long to get to the competition for Richard and his class cause it was held at a local school. The place was filled with school buses and high schoolers running about. After everyone was seated in the auditorium, the schedule of events was explained to all the classes. Richard just continued reading his book, the voice of the director just a slight annoyance to him. After the director was done, the choirs competing first went to go practice while the rest of the choirs were free to mull about. Richard just sat there. He had no interest in mulling about, he just wanted to read, so he stayed where he was.
"Aren't you gonna get up?" one of his class mates asked.
"No." he said flatly, never looking away from his book.
"Don't even bother with him. Just ignore him. He's not worth it. He's weird." another class mate said, then both class mates walked away. Richard just rolled his eyes and continued reading. Caroline saw what happened and watched Richard for a moment. Something about him was fascinating to her, but she didn't know why.
"You comin' Caroline?" a friend asked her.
"You go ahead, I'll catch up." Caroline said as she continued to stare at Richard.
"Ok..." the friend said, then walked away. Caroline watched him for a few minutes, then finally got the courage to approach him.
"Watcha' reading?" Caroline asked softly.
"A book." Richard answered sarcastically as he continued to read.
"Well, yeah... what's it called?" Caroline shot back.
"It's a book on abstract art." Richard replied with exasperation.
"Oh. Homework?" she asked softly.
"No." he answered back shortly.
"Well, I can see I'm bothering you..." Caroline paused, waiting for him to disagree... he didn't... "Ok, so I guess I'll leave you to your book then..." she added timidly.
"Thank you." Richard said indifferently.
"I just saw you sitting here by yourself, and I heard what the other kids said and I just thought you might want to talk..." she suggested shyly. Richard finally looked up. Their eyes met and he immediately saw something in her eyes. Something genuine and sincere. Caroline saw his bitter exterior dissolve and she smiled sweetly at him. "Hi. I'm Caroline. Mind if I sit down?" she asked him cheerfully.
"Um... yeah. Ok." Richard said as he regained his senses.
"And you are?..." Caroline asked with a slight chuckle.
"Oh! Sorry. I'm Richard." he said, taken aback.
"Hi Richard. Where are you from? I'm from Peshtigo WI."
"Well, right now I live here... in Southern CA, but that may change tomorrow, or next week. My parents change our home state like they change their underwear." he quipped.
"Wow!" Caroline chuckled... "That must be hard on you." she added seriously.
"Yeah. I guess."
"Isn't it hard to make friends that way?"
"Yeah, well, I just don't make any. It's easier that way."
"Wow. I'm sorry." she said sincerely. She reached her hand out and touched his compassionately. Instinctively he pulled it away.
"Sorry." Caroline whispered.
"It's ok..." Richard replied shyly. They both sat in awkward silence for a moment. Finally Caroline broke the silence...
"You want to go walk around a bit?" she asked timidly.
"Sure. Ok." Richard replied softly.
As they walked around they talked more about themselves and their likes and dislikes.
"What do you want to do? You know, when you graduate..." Caroline asked
"Well, I want to be a painter." he answered simply.
"A painter? Like painting houses?"
"No..." Richard chuckled... "a painter... you know, an artist." he added seriously.
"It's ok. What about you?" Richard asked.
"Well, I'm not sure, but I have always thought it would be great to be a cartoonist." Caroline replied.
"Like as in comic books?"
"Yeah, well, and newspapers. I really enjoy drawing."
"Why don't you do serious art then?" Richard asked.
"Well, I take it seriously..." Caroline responded, a bit hurt by what he had implied.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to offend you. It's just, cartoons seem so... childish."
"Well, maybe, but lots of people enjoy comics, and if I enjoy drawing them, then everyone's happy." Caroline snapped.
"I'm sorry Caroline... I didn't mean it how it sounded." Richard apologized.
"It's ok." Caroline accepted. There was a moment of silence, then Caroline broke it... "So, you like choir?" she asked, changing the subject.
"Not really. It's ok, but I would rather take an art class. All they had left was choir and shop. Sure didn't want to take shop, so I settled for choir. You?"
"Yeah. It's fun! We get to do lots of neat stuff... like this competition! Plus, my friends were all in choir." Caroline replied.
"So your pretty popular?"
"No, not really. Just a few good friends."
"You have a boyfriend?" Richard asked shyly. Richard noticed her blush and fought to suppress a smile.
"No. You have a girlfriend?" she asked softly.
"No. I just moved here a few weeks ago."
"Have you ever had a girlfriend?" she asked shyly.
"No. Girls don't like me, they think I'm weird."
"I'm a girl. I like you. I don't think your weird." Caroline said as she sat on a bench near by. Richard sat down beside her and they turned to look at each other.
"What about you? Have you ever had a boyfriend?" Richard asked nervously.
"No. I'm not pretty enough. I'm too plain. Boys don't like plain." Caroline said softly.
"I don't think your plain. I think your very pretty." Richard replied sweetly. He slowly reached for her hand and grasped it gently. They stared at each other for a moment, then Caroline started to lean towards him. Richard met her half way and they kissed softly and innocently.
"Caroline?!" a voice called out that made Caroline and Richard jump. It was Caroline's friend. "Mr. Hill is looking for you. We have to go rehearse." her friend said as she tried to figure out what she had just seen.
"I have to go. I don't want to, but I have to. Will I see you later?" Caroline asked Richard as she stood.
"I hope so." Richard replied softly as he stood. He embraced her gently, as if she was a delicate flower, then pulled back to look at her. They stared at each other for a moment, then Caroline slowly broke away and walked towards her friend.
"Who's that?" her friend asked as Caroline approached her.
"That's Richard." she said softly, then glanced behind her to see him again. He smiled sweetly at her and she returned the smile.
"Where do you know him from?" the friend asked, still trying to understand.
"From here." Caroline said, obviously distracted by thought.
Caroline couldn't concentrate on rehearsing, she was too consumed by her thoughts of Richard. Never before had she felt such a strong connection to someone, such an attraction, she wondered if he felt it too. Richard sat on the bench and read his book, but was having a hard time concentrating on it. His mind was occupied by other things... thoughts of Caroline. It was uncharacteristic of him to have or show emotion, but with Caroline it came naturally. He felt a strong connection to her he couldn't explain, and he wondered if she felt it too. He was deep in thought when a voice broke his trance...
"Hey! You! Let's go! We have to go rehearse now!" the class mate of Richard's said loudly. Richard got up and followed him to the rehearsal room. As he entered the room he saw the last choir was lining up to leave. He didn't pay it much attention, till he heard a noise.
"Psst. Psst." Caroline tried to get his attention. Richard looked up and saw her, his whole face lit up. He smiled sweetly at her and waved discreetly, she returned the smile and waved back. Richard felt his heart skip a beat. His feelings for this girl he had just met confused him. He watched as she walked away and actually started to miss her before she even left the room. Caroline glanced behind her as she left, confused by the feelings she was having. What was it about this guy that had her twitterpated? Was this love? And if it was, what then? He lived in California and she lived in Wisconsin. There was no way a relationship would be possible, but that is exactly what she wanted. A relationship. Did he want one too? Should she ask him? What if he laughed at her?
"Um... Karinsky? Would you care to join us in song?" his teacher asked him. Everyone started laughing as he came out of his dream like state.
"Huh?" was all he could manage to say, not having really heard the question.
"We are rehearsing now... care to join us?" the teacher asked again.
"Oh. Sorry." Richard replied, embarrassed. He halfheartedly participated, but his thoughts were still on Caroline. What was it about her? What was this feeling he felt? Was it love? How could it be? Love at first sight? Was that even possible? Or just something that happens in the movies? His mind and heart raced as he tried to process these thoughts and feelings. What was he to do now? It's not like he could date her. They lived too far from one another. Besides, did she even feel the same way? How could she? They just met! He felt something for her, love at first sight or whatever, but what were the chances she felt the same? He wondered if he should ask her.
Richard watched Caroline on stage singing with her class. She was so beautiful. He imagined how sweet her voice must be in song, but couldn't hear hers alone through the sea of voices. Caroline's class left the stage after their performance and her thoughts immediately turned to Richard. Panic washed over her as Mr. Hill announced that they would only have 15 minutes to use the restroom and return to the bus for departure. She had to find Richard. Just then she saw his class walk out on the stage. She wanted to get his attention, but her class was asked to leave the side stage. Richard caught a glimpse of her as she walked with her class out the side stage door. He wanted to run after her, but he was stuck on stage. As soon as the class was done performing, Richard ran out the side stage door. He was in a panic as he frantically searched for Caroline. He finally made his way to the bus parking area and that's when he saw her. She was in line with her class getting ready to board the bus.
Caroline was in tears. She had never felt this way about anyone, and now it was over before it had begun. She would never see him again, never even get to say goodbye. Just then a voice shattered her thoughts.
"Caroline!" Richard called out as he ran to her.
"Richard!" Caroline shouted, then started running to meet him. When they got to each other they embraced tenderly. "I thought I would never see you again." Caroline said through her tears. "I thought I wouldn't even get to say goodbye." she added, then gently pulled away from their embrace. Richard wiped the tears from her face and kissed her softly on the lips. Caroline's class mates 'oo-ed' and 'ah-ed' at the open display of affection, but Richard and Caroline were oblivious to it.
"Do you believe in love at first sight?" Richard asked, still fighting to catch his breath.
"Ms. Duffy..." Mr. Hill's voice interrupted... "We need you to board the bus now." he added.
"Yeah. I think I do." Caroline said softly to Richard, ignoring her teacher momentarily. Richard smiled sweetly at her and kissed her tenderly.
"Here's my phone number..." he said, handing Caroline a piece of paper. "Will you call me?" he asked shyly.
"Yes. I will." Caroline replied as she embraced him lovingly. "Bye." she added softly, then slowly pulled away from their embrace.
"Bye." Richard whispered, tears welling in his eyes. He stayed where he was as he watched her board the bus and leave from his life. He wondered if he would ever see her again. Caroline watched out the window as the bus drove away, making him look smaller and smaller. Tears splashed down her face as his image became too small to make out any longer.
--Richard and Caroline continued to stare at each other silently as the memories came back to them. Caroline remembered trying to call Richard, but always got the same message...
"This number is no longer in service. If you feel you have reached this message in error, please hang up and try the number again." She kept hoping that one day she would get a call from him. That one day he would track her down and call her, but as the years passed, she lost hope. She had tried to call the school he had attended during the competition to get any info she could on him, but without a last name, they were uncooperative. Finally, she gave up on the idea that she would ever see him again. Now here he was in front of her. Was it a dream? Was he really there? Her mind and heart started to race as the reality started to sink in.
All the pain of that time hit Richard as he stared at her. He remembered getting home from the competition that day, finally feeling joy and hope in his heart, two things that seemed elusive from his life. He remembered how helpless he felt as his mother and father told him they were moving yet again, their few meager possessions already packed. He spent a year trying to find Caroline. He remembered she lived in Peshtigo, WI. He remembered the name of the school and her first and last name, but every thing he tried turned up a dead end. He finally gave up on the idea of ever seeing her again. Just the memory of that perfect time together was all he had from that day. Now here he was, standing in front of her. She was more beautiful then he had remembered. As reality sank in he felt the need to embrace her and kiss her, but he didn't. He just stood there like a frightened animal. Finally, the silence was broken.
"I can't believe you're standing here." Caroline said softly... "What are you doing here? How did you find me?" she asked, confused.
"I saw the ad in the paper. I need a job." Richard said nervously.
"The ad?" Caroline asked, forgetting the present time momentarily.
"Yeah. For the colorist?"
"Oh! Right! Um... come in." Caroline said as she started to regain her senses a little. Richard entered her apartment and took his coat off. He handed Caroline his portfolio of work and she looked at it, stealing glances as she did. He was over qualified for the job, that much was certain.
"Well, you are more then qualified for this job, if you want it, it's yours." Caroline said, handing his portfolio back to him. She wanted to bring up the past, that she had tried to call. She wanted to ask him what happened, ask him why the phone number he gave her was wrong, but her voice wouldn't let her. Finally Richard crossed the uncomfortable subject...
"I tried to find you. For over a year I tried." Richard said softly.
"I called the number you gave me, the recording said it had been disconnected." Caroline said, tears welling up in her eyes. Richard took a step forward, wanting to comfort her, but he stopped.
"We moved. I came home from the competition that day and everything was packed. We left the next day for Florida." he said softly.
"Just like that?" Caroline asked, surprised.
"Yeah." he said sadly.
"I tried to find you too, but I didn't even know your last name. I called the school, but they wouldn't give it to me." Caroline said as tears rolled down her cheeks.
"Huh?" Caroline asked, confused.
"My last name. Karinsky." Richard replied. They just stood in silence for a moment, then Richard approached her and embraced her. "I never stopped thinking about you." he said sweetly.
"I never forgot you either." Caroline choked out. Richard wiped the tears from her face and kissed her softly. Just then Annie walked in. Richard jumped at the surprise, and Caroline turned around quickly to look at her.
"Annie!" Caroline said, acting as if everything was fine.
"Hello. what's this?" Annie asked suspiciously.
"Um... Richard, this is Annie. Annie, this is Richard." Caroline introduced them.
"Look, Richard... let me show you what we will be working on..." Caroline said as she went to her desk and pulled out some Caroline drawings. She handed the panels to Richard and excused herself... "Be right back." she said as she walked towards Annie. She gestured for Annie to join her in the hall and they both walked out the door.
"What's going on Caroline? Who's Richard? And why were you kissing him?" Annie asked, confused.
"Annie... oh my gosh Annie. You remember when I told you about that guy I met at the choir competition? That's him!"
"How did he find you?" Annie asked.
"He found me by accident!" Caroline replied.
"He was the call from earlier that you took! He is here about the job!" Caroline said excitedly.
"You're not going to hire him are you?" Annie asked with concern.
"Well, yeah. Why?" Caroline asked.
"Um... cause... well, do you really think you'll get any work done?" Annie said, implying that there would be more sex then work.
"Annie!" Caroline said as she blushed... "Of course we will get work done! He is the most qualified person that I have interviewed. I need an assistant, he needs a job." she added seriously.
"Well, I hope you know what your doing..." Annie said with a doubting tone. "Oh! I came over to ask if I could borrow your earings too." Annie added, suddenly remembering why she had gone over to Caroline's.
"Sure." Caroline said cheerfully. They went back into Caroline's apartment and Caroline excused herself to go get Annie the earrings.
"So... Richie..." Annie said, walking towards him.
"Richard." Richard corrected her.
"Yeah, whatever... so, your Caroline's first kiss." she added, arms folded, checking him out.
"What?" he asked, surprised by her comment.
"You know, you and Caroline kissed, like 13 years ago?" Annie explained.
"Yeah, I know, but... I was... her first?" he asked, blushing slightly.
"Yeah. You didn't know that?" Annie asked, shocked.
"No." Richard replied softly, his mind racing.
"Ok, Annie. Here you go." Caroline said as she descended the stairs.
"Thanks. Bye." Annie said, making a hasty retreat.
"So, what do you think of the strip?" Caroline asked nervously, trying to change the subject.
"It's great." Richard said, his mind still on what Annie said.
"So, basically you will be coloring them, and helping where needed, but mostly coloring them." Caroline said as she cleaned up the desk area.
"Caroline?" Richard said, trying to get her attention.
"Yeah?" Caroline replied quietly.
"I was your first kiss?" he asked nervously. Caroline froze in place... her mind racing. She looked up at him and felt anxiety wash over her.
"Um... well... yeah." Caroline answered apprehensively. Richard crossed the room and cupped her face in his hand.
"You were my first kiss too." he said shyly, then leaned in and kissed her passionately.
"So..." Richard said after he broke away from their kiss.
"So..." Caroline replied.
"Where do we go from here?" he asked softly.
"Um... well... from where we left off?" Caroline suggested. Richard smiled and kissed her softly...
"Sounds good to me." Richard said affectionately, then held her close.
"We have a lot of catching up to do." Caroline said tenderly.
"Yeah. We do." Richard smiled.
Richard and Caroline ran to the limo, trying to avoid getting hit by flying rice. The limo pulled away from the curb and Richard and Caroline snuggled into each other's arms.
"Can you believe it?" Caroline asked... "We're married!" she added excitedly.
"I know!" Richard shot back enthusiastically. He pulled her into his arms and kissed her passionately.
"Did you ever imagine this happy ending when we first met on that day back in 1982?" Caroline asked softly.
"Well, in my dreams I did, but realistically I thought it was an unachievable dream." Richard said softly. Caroline kissed him softly...
"I love you, Richard." she said as she pulled away slightly and gently stroked his cheek.
"I love you too Caroline Karinsky." Richard said, desire dancing in his eyes. Caroline recognized the look in his eyes and leaned in and kissed him passionately. They made love in the back of the limo, unable to wait any longer, craving to feel what can only be achieved by that kind of closeness. They cuddled closely, delighting in the sensations of their love.