St. Nick's Outlaws
By Jim Colombo
Click here to send comments
Click here if you'd like to exchange critiques
Copyright 2001 Jim Colombo
It was Valentine’s Day, and Jim was impatiently waiting for Lupe at Mission Dolores
High School. She finally arrived and greeted him with a loving hug. She had that special
glow again, the one she had when they started going steady. Lupe gave Jim a special joy,
but lately he had taken her for granted and felt bad. She kissed him, and filled his soul
with love. He held her a little longer than typical. She sensed that something was
different. She began to worry.
“Happy Valentine’s Day, Cookie.”
“Happy Valentine’s Day, Angel. Let’s walk to the park. I have something for you.”
“What is it? I told you not to buy me anything for Valentine’s Day. “
Lupe was confused and it was starting to bother her that she seemed to be on a
different wavelength than Jim. She felt insecure and didn’t know what to say. They
walked one block to Mission Dolores Park while she searched for conversation. The
silence made her tense. They reached the park and waited for the light to turn green.
“I guess it’s kind of disappointing not to be in the Tournament of Champions this
“Yeah. When St. Nick’s lost Mr. Henley, we lost a good coach.”
They crossed the street and sat at their favorite bench by the tall trees.
“Close your eyes, Angel.”
“What is this about?” she demanded.
“I’m sorry. Lately I’ve been busy with everything else, and I’ve spent less time with
you. The football championship, the beach parties, and pursuing a scholarship to Santa
Clara. I assumed that you would always be there and I’m sorry.” He presented Lupe with a
tiny box. “This isn’t for Valentine’s Day. This is for all the other days that you have
enriched my life,” he said with feeling.
“I can’t accept it. I’m sorry.” Her eyes filled with tears and she turned her head.
“Because I don’t want a gift. I want you. No gift can remove the nights that I lay
awake wondering what I did wrong. Wondering if tomorrow will be my last day with you.
You just don’t understand. I don’t have a championship or the Outlaws. All I have is
you.” Lupe turned and faced Jim. She was crying. She hugged him and said, ”I don’t
want to lose you. Sometimes I get so scared that it’s over.” Lupe hid her head in Jim’s
chest while her head bobbed from crying and sniffling.
Jim didn’t realize the torment he had put Lupe through and felt very guilty. The
gift was not appropriate at this time. Jim lifted Lupe’s head so that she looked into his
eyes when he said,” I’m very sorry. I realized last week when I picked you up at work
you were tense. I’ve been too involved with getting information about the scholarship and
spending time with the guys. In four months I may never see most of these guys after
graduation. I want to go to Santa Clara. I think about it all the time. That’s the next level
of competition, Angel.”
“It’s not the end of the world. You can go to State. Four months …..four years from
now I’ll be here with you. Can you say the same for Augie or Duke?”
“You’re right, Angel.” Jim held Lupe and whispered, “I’m very sorry. I love you.”
They held each other for a while. Jim felt bad that he had made Lupe cry on
Valentine’s Day. “Let’s go home. I need to wash my face,” said Lupe.
They walked home, and each time they came to a street corner Jim held Lupe and
kissed the top of her head, saying,” I love you very much.”
When they arrived at Lupe’s apartment she washed her face and changed into
casual clothes to cook dinner. They sat at the kitchen table. Lupe held Jim’s hand and
said, “I understand what you’re going through at school. You don’t want it to end, but it
will. I can’t change who I am. I’m a simple girl. I lost weight because I was so worried
about you in Alaska, but inside I’m still the same shy, chubby, insecure girl that fell in love
with you at the dance.” Lupe paused because she didn’t want to cry again, so she took a
deep breath. They sat in silence for a while, then she continued, “I’m sorry. You really
haven’t done anything to make me doubt your love. I know you’ve been faithful. I know
that you don’t chase other girls. I just get so worried that I’ll lose you. You spoiled me with
your love. I want to be part of your world, but I don’t play sports. I wish I could be one of
the guys like Augie or Duke. I wish I could share those moments with you like they do.
You guys have a special bond that I can never experience.”
Jim interrupted her. “Those are special guys, and we’ve shared some special
moments, and I’ll always treasure them, but as I grow older those memories will fade.
Each morning I say a prayer of thanks that I’m spending another day with you. You and I
have shared an intimate bond that goes beyond what I’ve experienced with the Outlaws.
I’m really sorry that I made you cry on Valentine’s Day.”
“So am I, Cookie. Look what I baked.” She had creased the cupcake paper cups
and had baked little cupcakes shaped like footballs. Most of them were ovals that were
bigger on one side than the other.
Jim laughed. “Angel, you’re amazing. How did you know that I wanted cupcakes
“Really.” Lupe smiled and was comfortable that her fears were unwarranted. She
knew that she had made her point with Jim, and wanted to see if he really meant what he
said. Time would tell.
Jim hadn’t planned on Valentine’s Day being a bust. Lupe was forgiving, but it
concerned him that she didn’t talk to him about her concerns before they blew up into more
than they should have be.
“Angel, the next time something concerns you, we have to talk about it. You should
be able to talk to me about anything,” said Jim.
“Okay. I’m sorry,” said Lupe.
“Angel, don’t ever say sorry. Just say I love you.”
They returned to the living room and sat on the couch holding each other.
Sometimes love implied in silence is more reassuring than love expressed. Both could feel
their love flow through the other. Jim would take better care of her. Each time he saw her
cry it tore a piece of his heart. He hadn’t made love to her as often as before and she felt
insecure. Maybe because Lupe only had Jim her love was total, undivided. Jim’s love
was total, but he was distracted with school, the Outlaws, and college. Jim’s love was not
as constant as Lupe’s. He thought that his world was more dynamic than hers. He would
have to be more considerate of her feelings and needs.
Jim was at a junction in life. It was hard to leave the Outlaws and sports behind, but
the journey dictated it. One of the difficulties in life is accepting change. As Jim’s father
had said, “Life is not a straight line.” In four months a new junction would be reached, and
there would be uncertainty in the beginning. Lupe was comfortable in Jim’s arms and she
lay still against his chest. He didn’t mind that she fell asleep so often because she felt
secure. He held her and kissed the top of her head. Lupe snuggled closer. One thing was
certain, Lupe’s love. People would pass through Jim’s life and events would happen and
fade into the past, but her love was constant. She had influenced Jim and changed his
opinions. She needed a fulltime partner in her relationship with him.
The level of competition at the University of Santa Clara and the unknown challenge
of how demanding the Jesuits were made Jim feel uncomfortable. He would make the
necessary changes in his life, sacrifice, and pay the price like before. Sometimes he
wondered how much of himself he would have to surrender to be successful in life.
More next week...