Helen went to kitchen to dig them up a couple cups of coffee. As she walked, Keith noted this was the second stone-cold fox he’d recently slept with and all they did was sleep. Not a habit he wanted to get into.
Before long, she called, “Soup’s on!” He went in and she handed him a steaming mug. Then, slid the glass door aside, went on the patio where they sat poolside. Saw the sun come up. Drank good, strong coffee, enjoying each other’s company and conversation.
After a while, caffeine halfway clearing their heads, they decided they were hungry. Found the number for a cab company and went to the closest diner, a kind of upscale ham and egg joint.
While they looked over the menu, Keith said to himself, remembering a riff his dad had run singing in a blues joint, “Here’s a cheerful ditty. Make you want to get out of bed on a grey, drizzly morning and slit your throat.” And serenaded Helen a cappella with the mournful blues, “Death Don’t Have No Mercy.” Halfway through, he stopped as a waitress came for their orders.
Helen sipped from her water glass and said, “Jackson, we’re gonna do good things.”
“If you say so, darlin’. If you say so.”
“I say so.”
The food got there and the whole morning they didn’t do much gabbing. Just dug being together. Real friends don’t need to always be running their mouths at each other. Sometimes you just sit and enjoy yourselves.
At length, it was time to punch the clock. The next gig was a hop, skip and a jump away. Suffolk Community College. All the Long Island shows were, for that matter, within an hour or so traveling distance of one another. Ground they covered in about a week.
Nice, tidy payday. Whole lot of hanging out. He and Helen couldn’t remember having so much fun together. After the last show, they promised to get back together first chance they got.
The tour finished, Keith was nowhere near glad to be home as usual. He found himself getting up mornings, making coffee and marveling at Butch and Sundance. Little furballs could go into an empty room and mayhem would cut loose. He’d watch them in amazed amusement.
Then, the rest of any given day, generally agonize. In a personal hell the likes of which he’d never known. Work didn’t work anymore to put thoughts of Lesli at bay. Other women? May as well be cardboard.
He’d felt this way the last time she’d left him. Didn’t like it now any more than he had then. Less, in fact. After finally getting to where he’d’ve bet his fortune they were going to be happy together.
He struggled to solve a riddle. Lesli loved him. That he knew. But, nobody kidnapped her. She walked out of her own free will. Just after saying she was happy.
Women. Even Einstein, he’d bet, had yet to figure them out.
Next week: The short term and the long
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.