The Saturday after Halloween is the Sadie Hawkins Dance. Its when the girls ask the guys out. It always starts with a big bonfire out at the River Park, and people throw dolls and stuff on it. The fire is just a excuse so nobody has to go pick anybody up for the date. Part of this is because some of us can’t drive yet, and so our moms drive us to the fire, and we meet the girl who asked us to the Sadie Hawkins Dance. Then everybody parades up Main to the dance at the school. Along the way, parents sit on tailgates and lean on the fenders of their cars to watch and tease and drink a beer or two. It’s quite the thing for everybody.
Nobody asked me to the dance, and I am at the fire in my Goat Costume. But not there where anybody can see me. Just there watching everybody from the shadows of the cottonwood trees and willows along the river. Nobody would know me if I stepped out and joined the party; they didn’t on Halloween, anyway. Except they wouldn’t be expecting a goat guy. I’d be more of a outcast than if I stayed in the shadows. Besides, the goat is my secret. I bask in the thought of it being something nobody else knows. I watch the fire from the shadows, listening to the gabble talk, and listening to the river behind me. I think a little bit about Lucy Farnsworth who Valentined me last February. But I think I told you already, they moved to Pocatello, Idaho, last summer.
In the fire light, I see Oliver Drainbought hitting on Sylvia Smith again. She is pretty mad about him dropping her off at West Bench on Halloween yesterday. That was three miles across town from her dad’s ranch. I know about this because she was passing the trailer court just as I was getting home. She was crying because of O.D. and because her two inch heels hurt her feet, and because she says O.D is an asshole. I know asshole is a swear word, and I shouldn’t be writing it, but it is what she called him. So, I write it down. Most of us don’t need to be told that about O.D.
She was really leery of me in the Goat suit, but who can blame her. Even I am leery of me in the Goat suit in the mirror. I calm her down and go get Mom’s shoes for her to wear. Then I walked her home, so I don’t have to explain the missing shoes to Mom.
“Thank you,” she said and handed me Mom’s shoes,” “If you were a man, I’d kiss you.” At first thought she was talking about me being only thirteen. Which got me nervous thinking she figured out who I was, but she was just talking about me being a goat. She grinned at me. Then she kiss me on the goat horn, the other one from where Miss Brudgditter had just two hours before. I could hear the smack.
Halloween sure turned out to be quite the evening with me and older women.
By the bonfire, O.D. is leaning over Sylvia and running his hand up and down her leg. Finally she pushes him off. She hits him and says something and flounces off. He laughs. I don’t know if I have told you, O.D. is not one of the people on my list of good people.
Finally the fire starts to die down, and everybody gets together and starts the “Parade” back up to the school. They make one pass around the fire, and go pretty close by me. I am in the shadows of the willows and the goat is pretty good camouflage. But I can see everybody pretty plain because of the embers of the fire and the moon that’s just coming up behind me. I see Chub not knowing what to do with himself because Mallory Orr has got her hooks in him. She looks pretty happy; and he doesn’t look too miserable, either. I see Miss Brudgditter hand-in-hand with some guy I don’t know with MSU on his sweater. That makes me a little sad, but it’s OK. Like I told you, she’s a bit older than me. O.D. passes with June Praid. He is slapping her butt, and she is making little jumps and squealing and giggling.
Then everybody is gone except Dane Willsol, the school janitor. He has a garden hose from the park hydrant and is putting out the fire.
I turn around and lean against a tree. The moon reflected off the water in jagged wavers across the river. I noticed how lonesome water lapping and bubbling past was. The wind whooshed through the branches of the trees and clacked them together around me. I look up at the moon and wished that I had not put on my Goat suit tonight. I probably should have just come to the bonfire as Jody instead of Goat Guy. I probably should have come and teased Chub about Mally. Like he teased me about Lucy. There was something I liked about being in the Goat and nobody knowing me. But there were some disadvantages.
I was getting up to go home. I thought maybe I would change out of the Goat. I was thinking about going up to the dance, visit with Chub and Mally and some of the other guys. I heard voices then a car door open and slam. It was O.D.’s Pontiac in the River Park parking lot. O.D bounced around the car, lifting himself with one arm and trying to click his heels. He got in and the car started and backed out.
It pulled onto Main without stopping, and picking up speed. It turned away from downtown and I could see it cross the River Bridge. It didn’t go very far. I could see its lights on the other side of the river. It jounced down the fisherman’s jeep track to the campground. Then the lights went out.
It took me fifteen minutes to get across the bridge because I didn’t want to cross when I saw somebody coming. When I found the car it was doing quite the rock and roll.
I didn’t know what I was going to do. But I snuck up on the car. I could hear June squealing and giggling. I knew what was going on. I don’t need to go into details. I was going to peek, but I didn’t. It was pretty gross, what I heard anyway. What I did, I found the valve stem of the tire in the dark and took off the cap. I found a little rock and pushed against the valve until I heard the air hiss. All this time, the rodeo was going on in the car with June getting louder and O.D grunting and yelling.
I let all the air hiss out of the tire.
When I got home, Mom was watching TV, so I snuck in the back door. I took off the Goat in my room and hung it up. I took a shower and went out to watch TV with Mom.
I should have gone to the dance. I should be there teasing Chub and Mally. If I had done that, I wouldn’t know what I do now. I felt empty and lonely. I told myself, I wasn’t going to put on the Goat again. But I don’t think I believed that even then.