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Jane's Tale

Chapter Text

 

Calogero’s recollection of the day  him and Jane met went a little something like this:

 

Calogero had been eyeing Jane from the staircase inside the school building for the past few minutes. After the bell rang, he and his friends made their usual beeline to the staircase to smoke and wait out until the afterschool crowd died down. This time though, Calogero had been too preoccupied to give his buddies the time of day.  He’d had his eyes glued on her since he saw her in the hallway that day, and he knew that if he wanted to talk to her, he’d have to suck it up and go for it. 

 

Eventually, he came up with a believable excuse. He loved his friends, but he knew how sticky the situation was. They weren’t necessarily fond of black people, and the idea of one of their friends liking a colored girl wasn’t gonna fly.

 

“I gotta go fellas, I gotta meet my father at his bus stop at a quarter to 4.” 

 

Everyone besides Mario were too engrossed in their conversation to notice Calogero’s announcement. 

 

Mario clapped him on the shoulder and waved him off.

 

 “Ok C. We'll see ya on the bus tomorrow morning.” 

 

For a while, he stood anxiously at the top of the steps leading to the gate where Jane stood. He’d told her he had to “shake the nerves” out and pretend she was one of his buddies before he could build the courage to walk to her. 

 

She’s just a girl, C, you’ve talked to girls before, he told himself.

 

He decided to make his approach as casual as possible. 

 

“Hey, do you go to this school?” Calogero asked.

 

The girl turns towards Calogero and dodges the question. Calogero just assumed that she knew he just wanted to make small talk. “I’m Jane.”

 

Calogero was surprised when he realized the girl he’d been daydreaming about for the past week’s name was just as plain as names could get. 

 

“I was sure your name would be something unique, like Monique or Danielle” Calogero recalled that summer night.

 

Jane burst with laughter at Calogero’s commentary. “Danielle? That’s just as common as Jane! You’re the one with a unique name.”

 

“Yeah, I guess so, but I didn’t look at it like that. All’s I was used to was Italian names you know, so to me ‘Calogero’ is as common as sliced bread.”

 

Jane chuckled again, amused at his response. 

 

Alright sliced bread, get on with the story.”

 

Calogero nodded his head and continued: So then, I said:

 

“Jane? That’s it? That’s your name?”

 

“Yeah, what’s wrong with that?”

 

Calogero flings his hand up in the air, almost as if he were standing in front of a jury, desperately trying to protect his innocence.

 

“Oh, no, no! Nothing at all. I love that name. It’s a great name!”

 

“I just moved here .” Jane says.

 

“Yeah, because I seen you on the bus the other day.” 

 

Yes, I remembered seeing you on your father’s bus. You couldn’t seem to keep your eyes off me. But I  didn’t mind though, I was doing the same thing. But there was no need to share that with him . She just nodded in confirmation. 

 

“And you’re?” 

 

“Me? I’m Calogero.”

 

“You ended up thinking my name was weird”, he recalled.

“Yeah, because I’d never heard anything like it!”

 

“Ca-who?!?” 



Calogero leaned in and spoke louder, trying to enunciate. “Calogero.”

 

“What kind of name is that?”

 

“It’s Italian, but it’s actually Sicilian. You see, my family’s from Sicily.”

 

Jane shook her head again in another whirl of confusion. Jane was an avid reader and spent a good chunk of her spare time skimming through dictionaries and encyclopedias and studying different parts of the world, but Sicily was completely beyond her schema. 

 

“Sicily?”

 

“Yeah. Do you know where Italy is? It’s got a boot that comes and the little island that looks like it’s getting kicked? Well, that’s Sicily .”

 

Jane nodded again, recalling studying various countries in her family’s dictionary. the shape of Italy and the small piece of land that extended off the country. 

 

Jane lifted the corners of her lips, her face forming only the slightest of a smile. She didn’t want to seem too flattered or excited by the boys’ presence; that wasn’t really her style anyway. but she did want to make sure that he got the hint that she’d been wanting to talk to him as well.

 

“I like Italians ”, Jane replies.

 

Ironically, Calogero tried his best to stick to his own “wise guy” approach that he'd picked up from Sonny and his gang. 

 

 “You do ?” 

 

Jane nodded once again. As vocal as she usually is, Jane managed to shock herself with how many times she’d substituted a witty remark for a meek, timid, nod. 

 

Calogero continues to keep his cool, so far doing a decent job of maintaining a smug, nonchalant facade. Then he suddenly remembered that Jane had been standing at the gate for the past several minutes. 

 

“Are you waiting for someone? ” He asks suddenly. Of course she’s waiting for someone, bird brain,  he said to himself

 

Jane finally musters some confidence again to verbally respond this time. “ Yes, I am.” 

 

Calogero’s voice softens, a hint of defeat sounding in his voice. 

 

“Alright, well, I’m gonna go.” 

 

“You know, I never understood why you gave up so quickly,” Jane chided him.

 

“I thought maybe you was seeing someone,” Calogero explained. “I liked you a lot, but I ain’t no homewrecker.”

 

Jane thinks for a moment. “I bet you were glad that I wasn’t then?”

 

“Was I?” Calogero scoffed.

 

Wait !” She shouts, and Calogero turns around and stops in his tracks.

 

I was just  waiting for my brother; sometimes we walk home together .”

 

“If it’s no problem, I can walk you home .”

 

“Ok. I live on Webster Avenue .”

 

“Yeah, that’s no problem.”

 

The two teenagers turned towards the street and began walking. Calogero tried to find an excuse to talk to her, but he was running out of things to say. 

 

“Where did you get that hat from?”

 

“Why, you don’t like this hat?” 

 

She offers up a disapproving frown. 

 

“It’s kind of funny looking. I think it’ll look better this way. Hold this,” she shoves her books into his hands without question and instantly gets to work on Calogero’s hat.

 

She lifted the brim of his hat, and he felt as if his eyes were instantly magnetized to hers. 

 

In that moment, he thought of the song the boys at his school sung throughout the hallways just half an hour earlier.

 

I only have eyes for you….

 

Jane tends to the edges once more, and nods her head in approval.

 

“I remember feeling so proud of myself for fixing your hat,” Jane giggles. 

I barely even noticed you were. Because all I could think about was the next thing you said to me-”

 

“-You have beautiful eyes,” Jane blurted out and she put her finishing touches on Calogero’s hat.

 

“That’s all I heard,” Calogero admitted. 

 

Thanks, so do you,” he responded, still staring intensely into her eyes.

 

I don’t even think I blinked that whole time you were fixing my hat,” Calogero shook his head at how enamored he was by Jane. He still was back then. 

 

“And then you asked me on a date to the movies, and I was a nervous wreck,”

 

“I remember that! We were setting up a time and you said something real funny. We set up a date and you said you’d be waiting there until 7pm.”

 

“Yes, I remember. And do you remember how red my face was?”

 

Jane shook her head. “Not really. I was too busy laughing!”

 

“That’s alright. You’re always laughing at me, Jane,” Calogero questioned.

 

“That’s not a bad thing, you know,” Jane responded, reaching to play the buttons on his jacket. 

 

Calogero pulls her in closer. “Oh really?” 

 

“Yeah, really.” Jane pulls Calogero in by his jacket for a kiss. 

 

Once they pull away, Calogero finishes his story.

 

So that’s the story of you and me. Did I get it right?” 

 

Jane nods her head and reaches up to comb her hands through his soft curls.

 

 “Tenth time’s the charm,” Jane answers, but this time it's Calogero that pulls her in for another kiss.