Light-hearted coming-of-age story about three teenage boys and their one-way love affair with the lovely older girl who lives upstairs.
The last thing I saw before the piano landed on my chest was the curvy outline of Gina D’Amore leaning over the balcony like a mermaid attached to the prow of a ship. It didn’t kill me, or even knock me out. It’s amazing what your body can withstand when there’s a beautiful girl in shorts hovering over you. Sure, I nearly choked to death on my own puke while my rib cage collapsed under the weight of a baby grand. But I survived.
The hardest part was the breathing, or rather, the not breathing, though I doubt that had much to do with the piano sitting on my chest. What took my breath away was the vision of lovely Gina arching her back in that old white tee shirt. I wondered if that’s what it felt like to have a heart attack – to have the world come crashing down on you just when you thought you’d died and gone to heaven. For all I knew I was having a heart attack. It didn’t seem so far fetched. All the signs were there. The pressure on my chest. The nausea. Light-headedness. Racing heart. Not to mention the sweat pouring off me.
Suddenly I was burning up. I felt like that Hansel kid who got shoved in the oven and set to broil. Though it sure didn’t smell like the inside of an oven down there, unless you’re talking about the oven in Stella Mertz’s kitchen. We never smelled anything coming from her place that didn’t remind us of raw sewage. In fact, one of the more common dares back then had to do with sampling something made by Mrs. Mertz.
“Dare you to try one of her meatballs.”
“Are you kidding? I’d rather eat dog shit. Come to think of it, that’s probably what they’re made of.”
“Yeah, okay then, truth. If you could choose one other person to be stranded on a desert island with, who would it be?”
Like we all didn’t know the answer to that one. With her piercing brown eyes and perfect seventeen-year-old body, Gina D’Amore was the sole inspiration for our most guarded teenage fantasies. The fact that she just happened to step onto her balcony only moments after my dive into the dumpster was nothing short of a miracle. I couldn’t have planned it better if I’d tried. And believe me, I’d tried.
Not that I was some sort of dumpster voyeur or anything. I wasn’t that sick. Still I have to admit, I’d stumbled into a pretty sweet set-up for a fourteen-year-old boy, that is, if you don’t count the part about being knee-deep in stinking garbage. And really, it was a small price to pay for a free shot of Gina. Even after all these years, I can still remember the cheap thrill it stirred inside me being able to watch her every move without her knowing about it.
Unfortunately, things got a little complicated when the trash started flying in. It was tricky keeping her in my sights as I dodged the leaking sack of coffee grounds, which missed my head by mere inches. I wasn’t so lucky when the second bag sailed in. It knocked me flat on my ass, landing me between a bucket of Pappy’s Chicken bones and a slice of anchovy pizza. Thank God dinner was still hours away.