Sunday, March 14, 2021

Nineteen

 

2019

On Soldiers Field Road near where a large liquor store named Martignetti’s used to be that occupied enough space to convince an alien that we, denizens of the planet Earth, like to thoroughly numb our consciousness, there is a McDonalds restaurant.  There are several tables in the back of the establishment that are often unoccupied.  I thought this would be a good place to meet Becca. If the weather was nice there is a public park nearby that abuts the river.  But if it was cold or crummy I figured we could sit in McDonalds and talk without much disturbance for as long as we needed to. It was a crummy day.  Looked like any second it might pour which it did within minutes of Becca’s arrival.

“Your type of place.” Becca said to me as soon as she got close enough for me to hear her.  I’d gotten there a few minutes early.  She right on time.  I stood up when I saw her and after she had commented on my culinary choice, we hugged.  The kind of hug that forms sort of a triangle with a floor; careful not to touch from the waist down, and not much of a squeeze on top either.  

Becca had aged as I had.  She had wrinkles around her eyes and her hair was no longer blonde but some combination of gray and blonde.  She’d gained some weight around the waist, and she no longer was going to turn heads because of her body as she once had.  However, she still had the looks.  Still so penetratingly pretty with blue eyes that, when she looked into my face, I felt the attraction that once made me want to unite.

“You lost your hair,” she said.

“I did.”

“I see some gray along those sideburns, Mister.”

“Yes, it’s been years.”

“Still, kind of cute.”

“Thank you.”

“Don’t get any ideas.”

“No ideas it is”

“Good.”

She said she wanted some coffee and left to go the counter. I had already had a paper cup filled.  She returned a few minutes later with the coffee and one of those parfaits they sell at McDonalds. She brought two plastic spoons and handed me one. “Here you go, Alan.  We’ll share. They make just the best desserts here.”

"Very funny."

"Thank you."

I asked her about Richard. She waved me away. “He’s fine. And you?  Linda?  It's Linda right?”

"Yes, Linda."

"How is Linda?"

"Swell."

“Very good. Richard's fine. Linda's swell.  Now let’s talk.”

I told her what I knew and what I guessed.  She asked some more questions indicating that she had done some homework before coming to meet me.  I was surprised at what she recalled.

“I’m not sure that’s the killer.” She said. “It could be those other two you told me about.”

“Which other two?”

She went on to tell me who she was thinking of.  We talked about them. I told her I was nearly certain who was the perp.

“Maybe so. I am not sure. But now what? You know there was a perp. What do you want from me?”

The “now what” was of course the key question. But the second one was reasonable as well. 

“I thought you could help with this.”

“How?”

I explained what I had in mind. She nodded a few times as if what I said was reasonable or that she had anticipated that this was what I might suggest.

“Richard will not be happy about this.”

“Okay.”

“But I don’t care.  We’re not doing any wash Z, let’s be clear about this. I am with Richard and I am going to stay with Richard and I am not going to even discuss with you why. And I do think you are still cute, and must say that I have imagined some of our escapades since you called and they bring up some warm recollections, but there will be no doing any wash.”

“Okay.”

“Got it?”

“I said okay.”

“Yeah, but I know you.”

This riled me a bit. “Well, yeah, I know you too. I was no predator. You liked to dance.”

“I know.  I am saying this as much to get it in my head as yours.”

“Alright. Thank you."

"You're welcome" she said.

There was a pause then. We looked at each other for a few seconds. "You remember that time by the Quabbin reservoir?” I said.

“That has crossed my mind in the last few days, yes.”

“The time we were late to class that afternoon?”

“I remember it all, Buster. But no doing the wash.”

“I agree, Becca.  I do. The memories just waft up."

"I know. They do. They have and they do." She said that with some finality.

"Alright. Never mind. Are you in? You will help with this?”

“You don’t have any choice. And now that I know, I don’t have any choice either.”

“Good." Another pause before I said, "that time in the tiny apartment in Alston, after the automobile accident, when we had the window open…”

"Was that you?'

"Right."

"Of course I remember that time in Alston. That particular tape has surfaced as inspiration frequently."

"That's good to hear."

"I'm sure."

"Should I be getting residuals?"

"It's not a speaking part. " She sighed. “No more talk about steam, Z. It was great. It really was. But no more talk.”  Then she made a face and reached across the table and touched my nose.  “Okay?”

“Right. Deal.”

“Asshole,” she said with her finger still on my nose. Probably the first time I had heard that word used as an endearment.


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