An Occurrence on Territorial Road

1983, junior year, and I have recently been accepted into the ranks of the pretty-cool-high-school-kid group. Not the top echelon, mind you, but doing okay for myself, thanks to success in sports and a pretty and accomplished 12th-grade girlfriend. I am taking said girlfriend to a surprise party at the home of one of our friends, so we park my car way the hell down at the end of the block and start walking all the way back to the guy’s house.

He lived down near Territorial Road, which at that point was just filling in with houses but still had plenty of farmland. His side of the street was all typical rural Oregon split-level ranch houses, the other side was a cornfield. I walked along holding hands with my girlfriend, watching the way the moonlight played on the cornstalks.


I often wonder about my panic reaction and what it meant. What I did was: a) drop her hand; b) run straight at the guys; c) start yelling at them. Screaming, really, with rage and fear and all the primacy I could muster. Strangely, my voice actually kind of disappeared, but I was yelling nonetheless, ready like Black Bolt to end the world with just one word.

Of course, it turned out to be three of my friends, including the guy throwing the party for our mutual friend. Even when I realized this, I couldn’t stop myself from making little kung fu chop hand motions all over his chest: my hands wanted to hit him, and were moving like they needed to attack, but I was able to use mental power to pull back the blows so they were non-lethal. Haha “power.”

And, of course, the girlfriend was upset that I dropped her hand. I was supposed to stay with her, right? To protect her, right? Well, as I tried to point out, I thought I was protecting her by attacking these guys. I didn’t know who they were, I said, I thought if I could go after them and clear a path, I’d grab you and we’d move together.

Actually, I was making all that shit up, and she knew it. What I did was turn mindless ape, and there was neither rhyme nor reason why I did what I did. I was just scared, man, terrified that it was all going to be over, right there near the cornfield, just a block from where we were supposed to go. I think about that night sometimes, but mostly just because I wonder where she is now, and whether or not that night played any part in her dumping me later for Rich Johnson.