Jean stops at the Hampton’s front desk as we pass by. “I’ll check out. Sean,” she adds, “did you leave housekeeping a tip?”
Sean stops, turns toward Jean, raises his left eyebrow and replies, “Yes. Did you?”
“Of course. Oh. Right. Okay. Good. Sorry. Go eat, I’ll be right there,” Jean says nodding before turning to Mechelle at the front desk.
The Hampton’s seating area is mostly empty and we deposit our three suitcases near a larger table before going into the kitchen area. Monday’s breakfast selections are much the same as Sunday’s with a slight variation in the eggs and breakfast meat selection. I make a waffle as Sean grabs slices of bacon and I ask, “Really? Really? That’s what you’re going to eat?”
“Yep,” he says, grabbing an apple and holding it up for me. “Plus this. There, now are you happy?”
I shake my head and Jean enters as I wait for my breakfast to cook. “Hey,” she says, “the woman at the desk warned me about a panhandler who’s using a story about a car crash and his granddaughter. I think we got taken last night.”
“Really? Wow. Chocante,” I reply. “Yeah,” I add. “I already spoke to Mechelle this morning. Sad, but I figured. Ten dollars,” I admonish, shaking my head and smiling. “Since when did you become a light touch?”
“Just shut up,” she replies with a shake of her head. “Go eat. I’ll be right there.”
I grab coffee for Jean and me and the join Loren and Sean, filling them in about Grampa Grifter.
“Not surprised,” Sean replies. “Get it all the time.”
“Yeah, yeah,” I answer, “as I said, I didn’t really believe his story he just did a great job telling it. It was Jean who surprised me,” I add, holding up her coffee as she enters the room and declaring, “I already got you coffee,” across the empty room.
We sit, we eat, we hug all around. “Love you, buddy,” I say to Sean. “Loren? Great seeing you! We’ll see you in three weeks.”
“Looking forward to it,” she responds before adding, “Ready, Sean?”
“Ready. Padre? Madre? You ready?”
“Gonna hit the bathroom,” I reply. “Love you guys! Drive safely.”
“Of course,” Sean says, smiling. “You too.”
Jean and I watch as they leave. “Right back,” I say softly to her.
“I’ll be here,” she responds.
I wave at Mechelle on the way out, she smiles and waves in return and I start the car. “Tell me how to get out of here?” I ask Jean.
“Easy-peasy,” she replies, tapping her phone.
Pulling out of the Hampton’s parking lot we turn left and then wind our way to the I-95 on ramp, traveling through multiple busy intersections. Jean watches the GPS while I watch traffic and pedestrians and at Hendricks Avenue and Nira Street I stop for a red light before turning right. “Hey! Hey!” I shout to Jean whose eyes are on her screen, “Look! No, over there,” I declare, pointing across the street. “Isn’t that our man panhandling?”
Jean looks up as the light turns green, with cars waiting behind I go and she declares, “Sorry. Didn’t see him. Do you think it was?”
“I do,” I reply with a laugh. “I really do.”
I follow Jean’s directions and the signs to I-95 and as I accelerate up the I-95 on ramp declare, “Break out Trent Horn, Mama and lay some Why We Are Catholic on me. You’ve got a couple of hours to bring me back into the fold,” I say loudly before muttering, “Or at least to shear me.”