Her hands felt sticky and she wished she'd brought a sweatshirt.
"You gonna eat that?"
Frankie turned. Sitting on the edge of the boardwalk with his feet in the sand
was a husky, sandy-haired boy, about 17 years old. His small, friendly eyes
squinted against the wind, and his nose was dotted with freckles.
"It's too cold."
"Can I have it?"
Frankie stared at him. "Didn't your mama teach you not to beg?"
The boy laughed. "She tried. But it appears I can't be trained."
"You really want a frozen custard some stranger has licked? That's disgusting."
"So it is," said the boy, reaching out his hand for the cone. "But only a
little." Frankie let him have it. He stuck out his tongue and touched the
custard. Then he squashed the top down into the cone, putting his whole mouth
over it. "See? Now the worst is over and it's just my own spit. And I have a
frozen custard for free."
"You'd be surprised what people will do if you ask them."
"I didn't want it anyhow."
"I know," the boy grinned. "But you might have given it to me even if you did
want it. Just because I asked. Don't you think?"
"That's a lot of chutzpah you've got there. Don't let it weigh you down."
"I hate to see food go to waste. I'm always hungry." The boy raised his
eyebrows, and suddenly Frankie felt that her mother was right about the string
bikini. It was not enough clothing.
She was standing in what was basically her underwear, talking to a strange boy.
What was actually smaller than her underwear.
To a cute boy.
"What grade are you in?" she asked. To talk about something ordinary.
"Going into twelfth. And you?"
"You're an infant!"
"Don't say that."
"All right." He shrugged. "But I thought you were older."
"Well, Im not."
"What school do you go to?"
"It's in northern Massachusetts." Frankie said what Alabaster students always
say, to avoid the ostentation of admitting they go to one of the most expensive,
most academically rigorous private schools in the nation. The way Yale students
inevitably say they go to school in New Haven.
"Where?" the boy asked.
"Why, do you know northern Massachusetts?"
"A little. I go to Landmark in New York City."
"Now you owe me. Where do you go?"
"It's called Alabaster."
"Shocker." A smile crossed the boy's face.
"Come on. Everyone's heard of Alabaster. Exeter, Andover, Alabaster. A
triumvirate of preparatory academies."
"I guess so." Frankie blushed.
"I drove down here just for the afternoon. From the city," said the boy.
The boy shrugged. "Yeah. I had a fight with the menstrual unit."
"My mom. The menstrual unit, the maternal unit, you know."
"You're mad at your mom so you're down here by yourself scrounging custard off
"Something like that."
Frankie's cell buzzed in her bag. "Speaking of. Mothers," she said. She flipped
the phone open. "Mine is on the rampage."
"Where are you?" Ruth demanded. "I'm walking down the boardwalk and I don't see
"I'm by the custard stand. What?"
"Paulie Junior stepped on a jellyfish. We're packing up. What custard stand?
There are at least five custard stands."
A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...