After Sandy was in her running gear they both drank big glasses of water in preparation of their run. At sixty six degrees Fahrenheit the temperature was balmy for early April in Iowa but still deliciously cool for a run in shorts and a tank top. After some quick static stretches they headed down the front stairwell and exited through the doors that looked out on Blairs Ferry Road.
“Ready?” Sandy asked when they had stepped off the two small steps that led off the concrete pad outside his building’s entryway.
“Ready. How fast do you want to go?”
“Not too. Just need to move. Let’s take it easy until we clear the Hy-Vee, okay? Lot of people not paying attention to pedestrians there,” she answered, setting off to the west.
“You’re telling me? Roger that,” Bryan replied.
They ran in easy silence until they crossed Westside Lane and then Smiley’s Cafe. South of Sylvan Court the section of trail that led to Taugeco Fratinoj crossed a single dead end street as it wound under Highway 100 and behind McGrafts Motor Sports and other than a sprained ankle from an odd footfall the only obstacles that they faced was other trail users. South of Westside and European Motoroj they took long, loping strides, using gravity to propel them on the mostly downhill jaunt to the fitness center.
“So,” Sandy said, “Would you like to check out some houses tomorrow? We can look at some of the empty, ready to move into ones right after breakfast if you’d like. You work tomorrow, right?”
“Oh, yeah. Two shifts. The regular nine at night to five in the morning and prior to that a two till six. Brilliant, huh? If we’re going to do anything it’ll have to be fairly early.”
“Well, to be honest that’s probably a good thing. All our time together- wonderful as it’s been! –has left me neglecting other things I need to do. Like work, and sleep and reading. I love to read, don’t you?”
“Ha! Too funny! I was just thinking the same thing earlier. That as much as I love, love, love our time together that I’ve been off schedule, especially for reading! I got in a quick internet search on Turing, Wilde, Keller and Sullivan. Oh! And F. Scott Fitzgerald! I had no idea how many details of his real life are in ‘Gatsby.’”
“For real? I’ll have to look him up! I’ve read This Side of Paradise and Tender is the Night but never a biography. I should do that. Hey! Did you see that ‘Benjamin Button’ movie about a boy who ages backwards? That was loosely based on one of his short stories.”
“I didn’t, but I saw that when I read about him. I guess that part wasn’t autobiographical! The dude was dead at 44. Heart attack.”
“Yeah, I think I knew that. What did you learn about Helen Keller?”
“Oh, wow!” Bryan exclaimed. “Now I get it! I had no idea! First deaf and blind woman to graduate college? And she went to Perkins too, like Annie! She did a hell of a lot but she had a lot of support. I mean Alexander Graham Bell? Mark Twain!? And an advocate for birth control back when that was considered sinful. So much to admire!”
“Yeah, that’s for sure. She was a socialist, too. Something I’m not a fan of. We need to help one another grow, not try to make the world a place where personal motivation is lacking. Surely didn’t keep her from reaching though, did it?”
As they came alongside Thornhaw Suites Sandy jerked her head to the left and said, “Let’s take this over to Center Point and then head south on the sidewalk to Forty Second Street. We can hook back up to the trail just past Parlor City.”
“So what did you do besides read today? Anything?”
“Long bike ride. I headed out Ellis to Covington Road and went up by Duane Arnold nuclear plant and then hooked back into the trail and came home. First long ride of the season. Felt great.”
“Wow. That sounds long! Did you have fun? Hey! How about those gears? Happy to have them?”
“Yes, smother. No, really, I thought that very thing. Thanks for loaning me blue.”
“You’re welcome,” She said. “Oh, and, Bryan? Don’t call me ‘mother,’ okay? Not even as a joke.”
“Sorry, baby cakes. I was just, you know, kidding.”
“I do know. Not a big deal. Cougar is one thing but mother is just a little too much. I hate it when husbands call their wives ‘mother,’ don’t you?”
“Never thought of it,” he answered. “Weird though. Sure you don’t want to stop at Parlor City?” he asked, giving her a little elbow nudge.
“I’m sure, smart ass. We’ll get a treat tonight. Ready to work it up the hill?”
“Yep,” he answered, picking up the pace in response to her question. “Let’s go, sergeant. I think I can take you.”
“You did that this morning, remember? Let’s get a little burn in before we quit, okay?”
What the run back to Bryan’s lacked in conversation it more than made up for in intensity. When they reached Johnny Zio’s Sandy tapped Bryan’s arm and waved her hand indicating that it was time to slow up. “Good,” she panted. “Good. Cool off,” she said as they slowed their pace. “You’re really good at that, aren’t you?”
“Running? Yeah, I like it. Not great, but good. I told you I ran cross country for Fitz, didn’t I?”
“Yep. And now you showed me.”
They used the concrete steps that led into Bryan’s building to do some post run stretches and then headed back to his place. Once inside he refilled their water glasses and they sat on the main room’s floor and stretched some more. The sweat dripped from both of them and puddled under Bryan. “That was good,” he said. “I like running with you.”
“Ditto. Hey! We need to raid your closet some more, don’t you think?”
“Seems like. You want to shower first?”
“No,” Sandy said. “I’m still sweating. I may wait till I get home. Do you have any fun clothes we can bring? Maybe something a little dressy?”
“Not much. Pretty casual guy. Hey! I have my dad’s old suits. Maybe something in there?”
Patrick’s old suits turned out to include sports coats, ties, fitted dress shirts and -wonder of wonders! –a classic black wool tuxedo and point collar shirt. “Oh! My! God!” Sandy exclaimed. “You have treasures here! Do these fit? Have you tried them on?”
“Some do. I wore his black suit to Mom’s and Dad’s funeral. Probably. Dad was my height, just a little heavier.”
“The man obviously loved his clothes! Bring these, would you? I guess you’d better leave something behind in case you need it in a hurry.”
“I haven’t worn any of these in two years so I don’t think I’ll be in a hurry, but okay. What do I leave here?”
“Leave that light colored suit. And these four dress shirts, that way you have a white one and a few pretty ones here. And these ties. He had quite a few didn’t he? You said he was a teacher?”
“Yep. Wore a tie to school almost every day. T-shirts were for special events but if it was too hot to wear a tie he’d wear a polo. He did like clothes. He even liked shopping with Mom.”
“Sounds like my kind of man. Cool, cool, cool! Let’s bring them back to my place, okay? You ready?”
“I’m ready if you are,” he answered.
“Fantastic!” she said, kissing him. “We’re going to have fun tonight!”