“I met someone this morning who went to Dickinson,” my husband announced when he returned to our hotel room. “I asked him if he knew Patti Spencer, but he said ‘no’.”
“What year was he?” I asked.
I should know him. 1976 was my year. “What’s his name?”
Elliot Konig, Elliot Konig. Sounds familiar. Oh shit. I know who he is, or at least I think I know.
“Is he tall with curly hair?” I ask Don.
“Yeah, I would say so. You know him?”
“Well, sort of. I hit him with a car while he was riding his bicycle.”
“What? You hit him? You never told me anything about that.” Don was being a bit accusatory, as he always is when hearing about my college escapades.
“Well, I didn’t hurt him. I don’t think.”
“What happened?” Don asked, which I guess was a reasonable question. But I didn’t really want to go back there, to the summer I spent at Dickinson in a single room in KW.
I was there for the summer. My grandparent’s had just bought a new car and they and my mother came to visit me to show off the new wheels. It was a real land yacht – a great big Chevrolet Caprice that was a metallic chartreuse with an ivory vinyl top.
Pap-pap offered to let me drive it. So I was driving, very carefully, heading for the parking lot behind KW when this guy came barreling out of the dorm on his bike – didn’t look – and saw the car too late. He jumped off the bike, it went skittering away and he ended up on the hood. It was Elliot Konig.
He looked up – jumped off – and ran into the dorm – sort of holding himself like he had been hit in a bad place by a baseball when not wearing his cup.
We all got out and waited for him. Pap-pap moved the bike and checked out the car which appeared to be unhurt. The guy didn’t come back. My grandfather went in the dorm and after awhile emerged and said “he’s OK.” I don’t know if he actually saw him or talked to him or what. I was “shook up.”
The next day, or maybe two, I saw Elliot in the cafeteria and asked him if he was OK. He wouldn’t look me in the eye and sort of mumbled “yeah, I’m fine.”
I figure he was either drunk or stoned and didn’t want to be there if we called the police.
The next day, Don says “I saw my friend, Elliot again. I asked him if he was hit by a car while riding a bicycle while he was at Dickinson. And he said ‘Oh yeah, I was.’”
“Well, my wife is the one who hit you.”
“Really? I do remember her now. She was very upset.”
“He said that accident changed his life,” Don informs me.
Great, I think, all I need – an over-dramatized story of redemption. “How did it change his life?’
“Well, first of all he says you ruined his bicycle.”
Considering that the car did not even touch the bicycle, I don’t see how that could be the case. The bike was a junker. I’m sure being thrown down and skidding a few feet was not good for it, but if that ruined it, it was in bad shape to begin with.
Don continues, “He said that after the accident he quit his gardening job. That’s where he was going when you hit him.”
Actually, I’m thinking it was more like when he hit me and jumped on the hood of Pap-pap’s car, but ok, I hit him.
“Then he dropped out of Dickinson.”
“He dropped out of Dickinson because of that accident?” I asked incredulously.
My husband, protesting, says “I’m just telling you what he said.”
“He went home, worked in the family business, met his wife, who had gone to a Chassidish High School, became religious, got married, has a son, and has apparently lived happily ever after.”
Then why am I shrinking from seeing him? Why am I figuring out how to avoid him? Because I don’t want to go back there, even in memory, to the summer of 1973.