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St. Nick's Outlaws

By Jim Colombo


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Copyright 2001 Jim Colombo


 Chapter 56



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. “


            “I didn’t.”


            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.”




            “Angel, please.”


            “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.


            “Why not?”


            “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...