Chapter 33 1970 - Isaac and Betty

I was in his last year of High School and had successfully been able to avoid Betty most of the time. Betty was hurt by I’s inattention, but had her group of friends for support. Betty was also dating Isaac Daly, but it wasn’t going so well.

“I like Isaac,” she once told one of her girlfriends. “But he gets moody, and sometimes it’s like he’s not even there at all.”

Isaac’s home life wasn’t too stable either. His mother had a succession of “houseguests” over the years. Sometimes they would stay for as much as three months, sometimes as little as three days. None would he want to call “Dad.”

The one benefit that Isaac saw about his mother’s boyfriends was that it kept him in cigarettes. Between his mother and her friends, there was always a pack lying around, and it was easy enough to get a smoke just about whenever he wanted to. By the time he was sixteen, he’d already become a pack a day smoker.

Betty didn’t like Isaac to smoke, and refused to kiss him unless he chewed some gum at the least. But what Betty didn’t know, and Isaac didn’t share, was that he was also a pothead.

Sandy Daly’s April boyfriend was a dealer, and always had a big stash with him. April was a busy month at the Daly home, there were sometimes more than one “houseguest” over, and cars coming into and out of the neighborhood. Isaac knew what the activity was, and managed to steal himself a bag and some papers. Lighting up, he was at first a little sick, then gradually as his system acclimated to the drug, he found he was getting high every morning.

When “April” left the scene, Isaac was fully engaged in the habit, and sought out some kids at the school who had their own connections. Some of them were handing out other drugs as well, there was no shortage of uppers, downers and acid.

Isaac saw the empty shells these others were becoming and refused to dip further into the scene, but kept up with his habit of smoking both grass and tobacco.

When Betty finally discovered a joint in Isaac’s possession, she was horrified. “What’s this?’ she screamed at him.

“It’s just a little grass,” he said, nonchalantly. “What of it?”

“Don’t you know how illegal that is? What if you got caught?”

“Ah, it’s cool man. It’s just one joint. Nobody’s gonna catch nobody.”

“Beside, I thought you’d be cool, too. I mean, your name is Stone, don’t you want to get stoned?”

“I don’t want anything to do with it!” she cried.

Isaac was recalcitrant in his refusal to acknowledge the dangers of his habit, and Betty gave him a warning. “It’s either that or me, you’ll have to chose.”

“You know I love you, man,” he said. “I’ll be cool.” It wasn’t exactly a commitment, but it sated Betty for the present.

While Isaac was more circumspect in his practices, he certainly did not give it up. What she doesn’t know won’t hurt us, was his private thought.

Betty could not admit to her circle of friends about her boyfriend’s vice, and she finally decided to look to I for some advice. She wasn’t happy that their relationship had become non-existent, and thought that maybe this “crisis” could bring them closer again.

“I,” she began when she caught him the hallway. “Can I speak to you?”

“Oh, hi Betty,” he looked around to see who was watching. He did not want the tongues wagging again.

“Isaac’s your friend, isn’t he?” she asked.

“Not anymore,” I admitted. “Back in elementary school we used to hang out, but everybody went their own way after that. I don’t ever talk to him.”

“Oh,” she said with disappointment. “I wanted you to talk with him about his problem.”

“Oh, that,” I shook his head. “I wondered when you would find out.”

“You knew? And you didn’t say anything?” she accused.

“Everybody knows, and the word around is that you two are Mr. Stoned and Miss Stone. It’s a big joke.”

“People are so cruel sometimes,” she sighed. “I wish my parents had changed my name.”

“Changed your name?” I raised an eyebrow.

“When my mom married my dad, well I guess he’s really my step-dad, she changed her name to Arden, but left me with my real dad’s name, Stone. They didn’t think I wanted to go through life being named Elizabeth Arden. Kids are tough enough. Now Stone is a problem. It’s just not fair.”

I barely heard the full explanation after the word “step-dad.”

“Are you telling me that my Uncle Arthur is not your real dad?” I was astonished.

“No, dummy, I thought you knew that.”

“Then you’re not my cousin after all?” All of I’s tension in being with Betty was starting to disappear.

“Well, I guess not really. But it’s just like we are family. My dad is my dad, even if he’s not really my dad.”

I leaned over and gave Betty a kiss on the cheek. “What was that for?” she asked in surprise.

“Old times,” I said. “Just old times.”