I wish I could tell you that Angela and I sat and talked that day; but, alas, it was not to be, at least, not that day, anyway.
As soon as the ball game had been played out, we all sat down on blankets we had brought with us, and after the leader, an older man of about 35 led the saying of grace, we ate. It was wonderful. I waited until Angela and her brother had spread their blanket, and then I spread ours close to hers. She turned away slightly and seemed to be intent on taking the food from their basket.
Following the picnic, the leader of the group arose and taking out his Bible, began reading from Matthew. It was from the Sermon on the Mount.
Odie looked over at me in irritated astonishment.
"This is a religious meeting? Why have you brought me to this?"
"Please, Odie, just listen to what Mr. Ruggles has to say. Haven't you had a great time so far? Has anybody been unkind to you?"
"I'm going home! You tricked me! You know I don't go in for this kinda stuff!"
"Just give it a chance, please! Nobody's going to embarrass you. I'm your friend!"
He calmed down and began listening, reluctantly. However, he kept casting hurtful looks my way.
Mr. Ruggles was a powerful speaker, and before Odie realized it, he was drawn into the story. By the time the story was over, Odie's attitude had changed.
It would take some time, but I knew Odie would eventually be won over. He had a good heart after all, and he was listening.
It was beginning to grow dark when we left the riverside. The other guys and gals came up to us and told Odie how glad they were that he had come with me. Mr. Ruggles invited him to come to church the next Sunday.
"We'll see," replied Odie. "Are you going to be there?"
"I'm the youth pastor, and I look forward to seeing you next Sunday. Please come."
We gathered up all our stuff, and left.
"I guess I'm glad you invited me, Zeeb. It was fun. It's been a long time since I've been around a lot of other people like that. In fact, when our parents died, I kind of lost touch with people. My sister is always on my case, fussin' at me."
"Does she care about you?" I asked, knowing the answer if he were truthful.
"I reckon so," he replied, kicking an empty drink can that was in our path.
Our conversation stopped then, and we walked along in companionable silence.
When we reached the corner where we separated, each going our own way, I asked him one more question.
"So, will you go with me next Sunday to church?"
"I guess, maybe. Will that pretty girl that sat on the blanket next to ours be there?"
"You mean Angela? Why?"
"Well, it sure would be nice to get acquainted with her."
I knew I had to be truthful, so I replied in the affirmative.
"Yes, she usually is."
"Okay, I'll go with you, buddy."
In that moment, I felt a little tinge of jealousy. He was smitten with Angela Rae, too.
We would just have to wait and see who she went for: Odie or me.
At the end of the next two weeks, we graduated from the police academy and were then ready to take to the streets with older, seasoned cops. I knew this would be my life's work, serving and protecting the public.
As for Angela and me, well, let's just say it was an interesting time ahead of us.