The bus to Chicago filled up fast and John was glad he got on early enough to get his favorite seat; the one on the aisle, four rows back on the driver’s side. In the late nineties he’d taken a class on transportation safety where he’d learned that statistically car passengers who sat directly behind the driver occupied the safest spot during most collisions and even though he knew that generalizing data from passenger cars to bus travel without studying NTSB reports was unscientific he always felt safest in that location. Besides, sitting close to the front meant that he could exit more quickly when they came to a stop than he could if he sat farther back as he’d done for the last eight or so hours.
The nearly perpetual funk that he’d felt for the last decade and a half had lifted dramatically in the last 330 minutes. First his confrontational conversation with Loki concerning the downward spiral he’d allowed his life to slide into plus the same theme but with a far more matronly beat with Tamika had been a great one-two punch to his ego and he was feeling more awake after the TKO than he had since 9-11.
John laughed to himself as he thought of Tamika mothering him. He was pretty sure she couldn’t be much more than thirty and while he wasn’t that much older than she was he still found it ironic that he now had himself a bona fide southern mammy to keep him on his toes. John saw the teen-aged, ear budded, ball cap wearing boy who sat next to him look up from the game he was playing and glance John’s way when he’d snorted out his little laugh but he didn’t say anything to him. John had intended to do nothing but read and sleep on his twenty-and-a-half-hour sojourn up the Mississippi but Loki and Tamika and company had sabotaged those plans. He was glad they had, but he was ready for some alone time to process his thoughts and make some tentative plans for the future. It looked like, as the old Billie Holiday classic went, “There’ll be some changes made.”
John wanted to concentrate on the positive aspects of his envisioned future but his mind slipped to trivial minutia. If he was going to stay with Joni in Chicago did he even have to return to New Orleans? His tiny one room apartment didn’t hold much and little of what was in there had value; a few personal mementos, maybe some of his books, but most of the things could be sold, given or thrown away. He wondered if he could get his landlord Mickey to ship him a few things in return for most of the apartments contents. He’d miss his rusty trusty but shipping the bike would cost more than it was worth. “I wonder if I can get Mickey to send me my security deposit back?” he asked himself.
The kid with the earbuds looked up from his game but his eyes immediately returned to the tiny screen in his hands. Details, details, details. Mostly about money, the thing that had controlled and restricted him for so long that he had to remind himself that together with Joni he wouldn’t need to provide everything for himself in every way. They would be a team, a couple, married partners. He smiled broadly at the thought and relaxed a little. He was borrowing trouble, worrying about details that were likely inconsequential and over which he had little if any control.
“Enough,” he thought to himself, rifling through his black bag and retrieving Some Luck from within. “let’s see how the Langdons are doing.”