Tags

,

Greyhound BusJohn didn’t remember falling asleep but the swerving motion of the bus jolted him awake. His head jerked to the left and the book fell from his lap. Shaking his head to clear it he saw the bus driver shaking his own rather furiously. “Damn fool,” John heard him say. “The highway is no place to be sleeping. Use a damn rest stop if you have to.”

John reached down to pick his book up off the floor and Klein lurched up so that he was sitting in his seat rather than slumping out of it. “What happened? We hit a deer?” the teen asked.

“A deer? No. Looks like somebody was falling asleep on the road and the driver had to swerve around him. You okay?”

“Sure. Just woke me up.” Klein looked at his phone. “Almost one. Not too long now.”

“That’s what the Rabi said when he slipped at the bris.”

“What?”

“Nothing. Stupid joke. Why don’t you wear a watch?”

“What?”

“A watch. Youngsters never wear watches anymore. You guys always have to look at your phone to check the time.”

“So?”

“Buttons.”

“What?!”

“Sew buttons. Something my grandma used to say.”

Klein drew his eyebrows together and asked, “You okay?”

“Yeah,” John replied light heartedly. “Just tired of sitting on this bus. I want to be in Chicago.”

“Hm,” Klein said squeezing his eyes open and shut twice. “So why were you in New Orleans? Business?’

“What? No. I live there. Or at least I did. I think I’m moving to Chicago.”

“You think?”

“I am. I just haven’t worked out the details.”

Klein turned to John and asked, “Your wife lives in Chicago?”

“Yep.”

“Hm.”

“Yep,” John repeated. “I haven’t lived with Joni for a while but now we’re going to try again.”

“That cool?”

“Definitely.”

“Then, cool?” Klein said, again facing forward.

“Definitely. I wasn’t kidding when I said that I knew what it’s like to be separated from the girl you love.”

“Sounds like,” Klein responded, twisting his head from side to side to relieve the kink in his neck. “So how do you do it?”

“Do what?”

“You know; stay true. To Joni? Joni, right?”

John pursed his lips and paused before answering. “Yeah, Joni. Well, I am twice your age; probably a little easier at 36 than18.”

“You’re only 35.”

“Oh, shut up,” John replied with a smile and a shake of his head. “You worried about you or her?”

“Well, both. Now. I was just worried about me but this is her senior year and she feels like she’s missing out on a lot.”

“Well, she is, isn’t she?”

“Well so am I!”

“Nobody said you weren’t. What do you want to do?”

“Be with her.”

“Drop out of school?” John asked incredulously.

“No.  Just. Be with her.”

“I don’t see how that’s possible unless one of you drops out. At least, not for another five or so months. Not that long.”

“It is when you’re 19,” Klein answered with a lung deflating sigh.  “Or 18. What do you think I should do?”

“Who, me? Klein, I don’t even know you.”

“I’m just asking.”

“Fine,” John answered. He paused before adding, “Then make it work. Don’t expect her to be any better of a person than you are and if she slips up then you have to ask yourself if you can live with that or not. Difficult proposition.”

“Tell me about it. So stick it out? Even though we’re apart at least until the middle of May?”

“If she’s worth it.”

“She is.”

“Then do it. I told you that I’ve been married for almost fifteen years?”

“Yeah?”

“Well we’ve only lived together maybe five of them. Total. So I may not be the best guy to be talking to but I’ll tell you this. What I did was the easy thing. I ran away from my problems and thought that because I was suffering that I was a good person. Well that’s nonsense. If I’d been a good person I would have worked harder to make Joni happier. And I would have been happier too. Does that make sense?”

“I think so.”

“Good.” John turned to Klein and stuck out his hand. “Five cents, please.”

“What?”

“Five cents? Like in Peanuts? Charlie Brown? Lucy? You know, ‘Advice, five cents’? Surely you know what Peanuts is?”

“Oh, sure. I just missed the reference.”

“Well I don’t blame you.”

“John?”

“Yeah?”

“Thanks.”

“You’re welcome. Worth every penny you paid.”

Advertisements