517 words (3.5 minutes)

I must've been about 12 when Wes, the new guy moved in a few houses down from me.  And for whatever reason, the guy just creeped me out.  Ok, maybe it was the combat boots and the spikes in his hair out to here. (motions)  Believe me, that was way before that kind of thing was in style.  So, being in junior high, I was your typical conformist and went along with the stigma that the kids immediately put on him.  After all he did "burn down half of his old school" and other outrageous stuff.  I know that I didn't honestly believe the rumors. Still, it freaked me out to know that this strange person lived on my street.

Then, I remember a day during the summer when I was reading a magazine out on my front porch.  I'd seen Wes around before in the neighborhood, but today he was walking a brown lab that I hadn't ever seen.  It was usually kind of awkward to see him out in front of my house, so I tried to look very involved in the article I was reading.  But then, there was this huge outburst of barking--and I saw that the dog was going after a squirrel on my front lawn.  That thing was a maniac.  It yanked its leash out of Wes's hands, bowling over the poor guy flat on the sidewalk. He looked up to see his dog running free down the street.  As he got up, he desperately shouted "Chester!  Chester get over here!!"  And I seriously think I saw him crying.  I ran into my house, grabbed some treats, and lured the dog back over to me.  Wes was still trying to catch his breath when I marched the bad Chester over to him.    

     I have never forgotten the tired, and incredibly grateful look he had on his face when he told me "Thank you".  I saw then that he was just a kid, just like me.  You know, the kind who had to do chores, and who got scared and upset sometimes, just like we all did.  Plus, I saw that he was pretty cute, in a way. (Beat)  However, he was mortified, and kept saying quietly "bad dog" as he went back home. So…no, we never did have a romance, where the guy and girl defy social barriers and love each other for who they really are.  In fact, I never even got the chance to talk to him before he moved away the next year.  But a couple years later, after I had changed, I so wished I could have just had a conversation with the guy.  You know, talk to him, and find out what made him want to be different from everybody else.  I mean, I understand the feeling now, but…he would have been a good person for me to know back in junior high.

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