by: Essy Jane
I guess I was lost, mislaid in the wasteland of my own thoughts. I decided that acting wasn’t the thing for me. I didn’t want to disappoint my Auntie so I decided not to tell her. It wasn’t that I wasn’t good at acting. I just couldn’t see myself performing day after day for a crowd that cared for nothing but my character. I wasn’t going to play the Hollywood game where I would have to break myself for what I wanted.
I knew that somewhere there was something out there for me. Something that would only be mine. Auntie Emma was right. I had to find out who I was and where I wanted to be in the near future. I couldn’t just take the easy way out and deliver mail for the rest of my life without exploring other options. Why are our loved ones always right?
At first I didn’t want to do anything about my life. I liked where I was and I really wanted to stay. But as I said, that just wasn’t an option. I felt like I was staying in Oklahoma for all the wrong reasons. Like I was just there because I thought I couldn’t do any better. I didn’t know why but I knew I had to find myself, I just had to.
For a great deal of people, there is a nonstop war in their head that they honestly want to control but can’t seem to. They contemplate relentlessly about their own individuality and where they truly belong or even more so if they fit in at all. I guess I thought I should stay here and continue to find myself. Personally, I didn’t want to be 98 years young and still wondering who I was.
I decided that I was going to go for that boxing scholarship that I had waiting for me. Now I lived pretty close to the school. I only had to take one bus. It wasn’t like it was some sort of chore to go to school although sometimes it felt like it. I didn’t like to be tied down in that one place for so long.
Don’t get me wrong, UCLA was filled with action. Interesting people, one more diverse than the next one, I guess I did like it here. All the people were remarkable. But I can openly say that some things never seemed to change and many differences that I found so interesting seemed to disappear. Boys and their toys showing off even more than Bo and Luke put together. They always were flirting with me and not in the way I liked. When they found out I could kick their butts well, let’s just say they backed off all together.
It seemed like I was without a friend in the world. There wasn’t a person I could truly call and talk to for hours about how I felt. The girls weren’t as welcoming as they were made out to be. They knew I was unusual and not all of them accepted it.
I wasn’t like the majority. You know, trying out make-up and going for any popular guy I could snag. Make-up was an art and I really didn’t think wearing it everyday was good for me. Auntie Emma told me that make-up was for special occasions. I shouldn’t wear it every day. Everyone always said I had a natural beauty about me and to cover it up would be a crime. I wasn’t too sure of that.
As for the so called popular boys, they didn’t look at who I was. They looked at my face. Nora, one of the girls at school, she says I could have anyone I want if I would just let them get close. I couldn’t do it. I knew what they were like. Most of them took advantage of girls. They would rather hear me sing to them than hear my opinion.
I didn’t want that life. I wouldn’t be seen as plaque on someone’s or some sort of other lever. I didn’t want to be hooked onto some guy’s arm if he really didn’t care about how I truly was. I really couldn’t follow the tendencies that everyone else found so comforting. I wanted to be a person. Known for who I am not who I knew.
I was thinking about it too much that day, way more than I thought I should have. I mean in all actuality, if you dwell on the bad long enough, your life becomes sourer than a lemon. Bo said that once to me in a letter and it seems to stick with me. I sure do miss him…and Luke. Well, I miss all of the Dukes. I miss Auntie Emma.
Maybe I should go back to Hazzard—date Bo for a while. It seems so easy. I could settle him down, kind of as a bonus to Jesse. Maybe then he wouldn’t be worried about him as much. Jesse seems to think I can do that. I don’t know, Auntie always tells me my dreams are out there and I have yet to find them.
Soon I was tired, tired of thinking of all the terrible things going on in my world. I wanted some air. I got into my sweats and peered out the door. It was late, some would say too late for a run but I wasn’t really bothered by it. I bolted out of the door, not looking back for one minute. I had my backpack on like I normally did when I ran. As I continued going, I could feel the firm pavement in the park. The fresh wind howled through my carroty red hair. I was for that moment happier than I had ever been.
I could now focus on me. I didn’t have to look strikingly beautiful when I ran. None of the boys bugged me. It was just me and the cool asphalt road. My fine-looking white shoes thumping on the trail. As I was running, some ham-fisted guy knocked into me. I fell to the ground and he fell right on top of me. I couldn’t believe it! I shoved the moron off and growled.
“Can’t you watch where you’re going?” I asked him. He pushed himself up and offered a hand. No way, I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction. If he wasn’t smart enough to watch where he was going, I wasn’t about to let him help me up. His eyes were asking me many questions like, ‘well are you gonna take my hand or not?’ I pulled myself up and slapped his hand away.
“I’m sorry ma’am, I was only trying to be a gentleman,” A tangy accent replied. I hadn’t heard one of those since I left for California. I was wide eyed, staring at him. “Are you alright?” I pulled myself out of the trance and cleared my throat.
“You’re not from around here are you?”
“No, neither are you.”
“Great observation, mister, I am glad you can recognize a southern gal when you see one.”
“My name is Judd, Judd…”
“My name is Essy-Jane, my friends call me Essy.”
“Nice to meet you Essy, I really mean that.”
“I said my friends call me Essy.”
“Do you look like one of my friends?” When did I get so cruel? I guess I was still angry. I am good at staying angry. When my folks were still alive, I could hold grudges with them for days. “You trip over me and automatically you think you’re my friend Mister…”
“I would prefer if you would call me Judd.”
“Mister Kane, I don’t know you and you certainly don’t know me. How could I possibly call you anything but…?” He put a finger over my mouth. I wondered what was going on.
“What is it?”
“I think what your friend is trying to say is he has a gun to his back and he doesn’t want you to get shot,” A stranger said from behind us.
“Was that it?” I asked. He shrugged.
“Yeah, pretty much,” Judd answered.
“Now, I want you two to turn around slowly,” The man said. We both did as he said, turning to face a masked criminal. “Very good, now give me all of your money.” That tares it! You don’t have to deal with this everyday in Oklahoma or in Georgia! I kicked the gun out of his hand and grabbed it. He tried to make a mad dash but I turned off the safety.
“No, you hold it! No one threatens me and gets away with it,” I hissed. I pointed the gun at his back and looked at Judd for a minute. “Judd, go and call the police.”
“There’s no way I am leaving you here alone with someone like that,” Jud answered.
“Hey, I am a country gal. You think that he’s gonna get the better of me?” Judd stared at me for a second. “Get out of here!” He began to jog pretty fast. It wasn’t long before he was back. He stared at me until the police came and took the crook away.
“You’re crazy you know that?” Judd said after the police cars were far out of our reach. I laughed. He shook his head softly. He seemed so concerned about me and yet he didn’t even know me. All he knew about me was that I came from the south and that I liked to run.
“Oh stop being such a baby,” I muttered.
“Essy-Jane, you could have been shot.” I rolled my eyes. “Really, you could have. I can’t believe you would do that.”
“Look MISTER Kane, if you don’t want to kick guns out of people’s hands I will accept that. But don’t you tell me what to do.”
“Don’t give me that! You could have…”
“Mister Kane, don’t tell me what could have happened. We could have ended up dead. I could have ended up without the money I have in my wallet. Now, if I lost that money, I wouldn’t be eating for the next week. You may think that money comes easy to you but it certainly doesn’t to me.”
“You would risk your life for money?”
“Yeah, in Hazzard if you weren’t brave, you are a dead man.”
“Did you say Hazzard?”
“You—you’re from Hazzard County.”
“Then why did you bring it up?”
“Well Mister Kane…”
“Call me Judd.”
“Okay then, Judd, my Auntie lives down there. I go there on occasion. Why do you ask?” Judd’s eyes widened.
“Are you friends with Bo and Luke Duke…Daisy and Jesse?”
“Umm yeah, isn’t everyone? You know them?” He nodded. “Okay, then you know Bo and Luke then you know if Bo and Luke could do this so could I.”
“Doesn’t mean you should do it, Essy-JANE, Bo and Luke at least play it smart.”
“So do I.”
“It’s because I’m a woman isn’t it?”
“Many people would think every lady is defenseless but I don’t.” Judd shook his head.
“I didn’t say you were defenseless.”
“Then what are you saying?” Judd shook his head and buried it in his hands. “Come on, out with it already. Are you saying that I am dense or are you saying, my mind is not fully fashioned to California living?”
“You Miss Essy-Jane are so far off and you’re so tiring!”
“Tiring? You think that’s tiring you should go and visit UCLA, write 12 letters a day without repeating a thing and boxing on the side. Then you have volunteering and bus rides where men are constantly trying to get you into their circle. Not nice men. You’re calling me tiring?”
“That’s all you picked out of that whole sentence?”
“No, I was just curious about your boxing.”
“Okay, yes, I box. I am in the championship games. Why am I telling you this? Why?”
“In the ring I’m Killer Kane.” I didn’t know what this guy wanted. Did he want to pick me up or impress me that he was a professional boxer?
“What you don’t believe me?”
“I was convinced you were a look alike trying to masquerade as a professional because to me, you don’t seem to fit the part.” I began to walk away when he grabbed my arm and turned me away. “How dare you grab me!”
“Essy-Jane, I’m sorry, we didn’t get off to a very good start.” I rolled my eyes. He grabbed me and now he was trying to apologize. The damage had already been done. “How about you give me your address and I’ll make it up to you?”
“How about you don’t and you leave me alone?” I began to walk away again.
“It’s Essy-Jane to you mister Kane.” I walked faster. Mister Kane caught up to me. He grabbed me again. This time I thumped him one right in the face—oh man I hit him! How could I be so cruel? He was holding onto his face with both hands. “Oh I’m so sorry.” I bent down to see him. He pulled his hands off of his eye. Now my eyes went wider than saucers. His eye was amazingly swollen. I felt my face become warm. Now Judd was the one who was walking away. “Judd…” He turned around.
“No, don’t hit me again!”
“Men are such babies.” He growled and walked back towards me. I knew he was upset by the comment. I had to play on it, this was a little too rich to leave alone. “One little punch and they’re down for the count.”
“You call that a little punch? Lady, that really hurt.” I laughed pretty hard right then. I couldn’t help it. “What’s so all fired funny?”
“You are, you’re a boxer and you can’t even take a hit?” He shook his head. I smiled at him.
“Okay, first off, I took the punch like a man. Second of all, I didn’t want to be hit again because I didn’t want to be bruised before a match.”
“Uh huh, sure.”
“And that’s why Mister Kane—better known as Killer Kane—is crying.” I began to walk away again. He caught up to me.
“I am not crying.”
“Okay, fine, your eyes are watering.”
“Honestly, I didn’t mean to challenge you. I don’t need another black eye to match this one.”
“Come on Essy-Jane, it’s not like I want to hit you back. I don’t hit gals.”
“Where’s your place?”
“Just a couple of blocks away why, you want to trash it to prove a point?”
“No, I want to…” I pulled his body up straight up and looked him in the eyes. Judd had a big smile on his face. I couldn’t help but smile also. He had such an honest appearance. I don’t know what it was about Judd but I guess I could say I liked him, I liked him a lot. I couldn’t do what I wanted to do. He was a total stranger and it would be so weird. “Put a big steak on your eye.” Judd’s shoulders went down. He looked at me and I laughed. “What did you expect? Did you want me to kiss it all better?”
“Would have been nice, Essy-Jane.” He had a big cheesy smile on his face that made me laugh. I walked him back to his place. He went a little slow of course but I didn’t mind. Unlike most guys who would have made cracks about getting hit in the face, he treated me as if I didn’t even touch him.
Judd kept rambling about his mother and how she always had faith in him. He wanted me to know more about him. When I asked why he said, “So I can call you Essy.” I couldn’t help but laugh at that one. No one ever has done that for me before.
You know, Judd had the highest grade point average in grade two and they skipped him up a grade. His mom nick named him Titian. She always told him that he had a warrior heart. I was completely unsure what Judd’s Mom would have meant by that. A warrior’s heart, I guess I would have to think about that one.
He talked about a lot that night and I didn’t say a word. All I did was listen to him and his tales. Judd’s stories seemed to come to life. Like the story about how he became the boxing champ of UCLA. I couldn’t believe it. Him in UCLA? Unbelievable. Scouts saw that and snatched him up. Now, Judd was a professional. To my surprise he also had a law degree. Imagine being a lawyer and a boxer. It was totally amazing.
“Well, this is my place,” He said as he pointed to a tall building. I walked him up to his door and he let me in. The apartment was huge. Filled with nice couches and other items. I have never seen anything more beautiful in all of my life.
“Place? More like a castle,” I answered him. He laughed.
“So have I earned your friendship or are we still strangers?” I walked over to his icebox and pulled out a frozen bag of peas.
“You have no steaks.” He shook his head and smiled. Judd knew I was playing games with him. “Will peas do?”
“Uh, yeah.” The phone rang and I picked it up like I owned the place.
“Hello?” Judd ran over and grabbed the phone before I could hear who it was.
“Hello? Hey Luke old buddy how’s it going?” There was a sudden silence. “Yeah, that was Essy-Jane but I didn’t know her last name was Tizdale. We hadn’t gotten that far but thanks for the info.”
“THANKS LUKE!” Judd turned to me.
“He said you’re welcome.” He took a deep breath and let it out slow. “She hit me.” Judd began laughing. “Oh come on Luke, it isn’t that bad…no I didn’t cry.”
“Luke that’s not funny!” I sure thought it was. “Anyway, I got to go. Talk to you later…yeah, you’re still the best one I have…bye now.” He hung up the phone. “Did you have to do that?”
“I have to answer to that guy every week.”
“And Jesse Duke?”
“Of course I do. Man, your sentences have suddenly become shorter. What, did someone lock your tongue up?” I put the peas on his eye. He flinched.
“Oh don’t be such a baby.”
“Ah that’s the Essy-Jane I know.”
“That’s Essy to you. Anyway, I got a match tomorrow so see you around.” I began to walk out when he cleared his throat. I turned around and winked at him. I walked out of the apartment and leaned against the wall for a minute. What a guy…I was sure we were going to be great friends, that is if I saw him again.