Chapter 1: Where it started
Jane remembered a particular time in which she asked Calogero to tell her the story of how they met as teens when they were 20-somethings, still young and in love. The two had argued about the details of what really went down, but she really just loved to hear him speak. They’d gone out for an evening picnic and soon afterward found themselves cuddled up together, lying under the stars. Calogero had his arm wrapped around her shoulders and Jane laid her head on his chest.
So tell me, what made you decide to come speak to me that day? Jane recalls asking him. Jane remembered how Calogero lifted his head and looked at her with disbelief.
I gotta tell you again? How many times I gotta tell ya? He asks incredulously.
Jane looked back at him with the same expression. As many times as you need to until you get it right! The story keeps changing.
No, the story doesn’t change, you said you didn’t like my hat!
I didn’t say I didn’t like your hat, I fixed it for you. And it looked better after I did, didn’t it.
Calogero smirked and looked up at the sky. “ I would’ve worn an alligator on top of my head if you wanted me to, I was so crazy about you. I still am, but back then, boy I tell ya, I was whipped!”
Jane laughed and nodded her head, taking his answer as confirmation. Jane always found Calogero’s animated reactions hilarious.
Alright, I’ll tell you one more time, but you gotta promise me this’ll be the last.”
“You gotta promise me you’ll get it right,” Jane challenged, playfully punching his shoulder.
“ You’re a tough cookie, aren’t you? Well, make sure you’re listening carefully this time…”
Quick update. Next chapter will be posted at the end of the week!
Chapter 2: Prologue
Jane Williams thought having to pack up her life and move to the Bronx was difficult when her father got a new job in the middle of her junior year of high school, but she’d come to realize that it was that much harder the longer you stay in one place. She had spent her entire adult life in the Bronx, and had created so many memories here that no amount of boxes could contain. Unfortunately, for Jane, she knew she’d have to leave some of her life in the streets of the city that she’d known as home for so long.
“Ma, you almost finished in there? I’m getting ready to head to take another trip to goodwill to donate the rest of this stuff,” Jane’s daughter Heather calls from the door.
“Not yet, sweetheart, I’m still going through some things in here. I’ll be done when you get back.”
“Alright. Call me on my cell if you need me”, Heather says unenthusiastically and slips out the door of Jane’s brownstone with only a click of the door.
Jane Williams had spent the entire day rummaging through the house, taking meticulous care in ensuring that all of the items had been carefully reviewed before deciding on whether or not to throw them out. Jane’s children were there to help her too, as she’d decided to find a nice apartment in Seneca, New York to finally get away from the hustle and bustle of the Bronx.
Jane was nearly finished going through all of the boxes filled with random, miscellaneous objects that she hadn’t used in decades. Suddenly, she came across a small, poorly maintained, battered cardboard box labeled “Cee and Jane”. Jane gasped as a rush of memories suddenly flooded her mind. When she opened up the box, the first picture she saw was a large, dusty picture. On the back of the picture, the picture was dated as “May 1969”. In the picture, she and Calogero were standing at the entrance of the Bronx Zoo that was taken only a year into their relationship, right before high school graduation. Jane was wearing a fitted, floral dress with platform wedge heels, and Calogero was wearing his signature coat and hat.
Jane remembered the way their relationship blossomed and flourished into passionate, exciting young love. She thought of the first time they’d spoken, outside of school on a chilly February afternoon.
Chapter 3: Calogero's Story
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.
“Me? I’m Calogero.”
“You ended up thinking my name was weird”, he recalled.
“Yeah, because I’d never heard anything like it!”
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.
“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.