Bryan toweled off his hair and used his laptop to check the weather. The temperature had already risen ten degrees since he’d left work two and a half hours earlier and the wind had risen as many miles per hour as the temperature had degrees Fahrenheit. The chilly, calm, pre-dawn and sunrise hours were giving way to a cool, blustery, early spring morning. The forecast prognosticated temperatures to rise to a pleasant for-early-April-in-Iowa high of 59, which of course everyone would accept, whether they liked it or not.
He climbed one leg at a time into his boxer briefs mumbling under his breath, “’Whether the weather be cold, or whether the weather be hot, we’ll weather the weather, whatever the weather, whether we like it or not.’ Not that there’s anything to complain about today,” he added grabbing socks from his drawer, a polo shirt and light-weight jeans from his closet and sitting in the wooden rocking chair that his mother had cradled and soothed him in nearly two and a half decades earlier and slipped into his pants and socks. Rising, he punched first his dominant left arm through the sleeve, then his right and then smoothed the clean but wrinkled shirt with his hands.
With nearly thirty minutes to kill before it made sense for him to head out the door he played some music on his computer. Hitting shuffle on his i-tunes program he was treated to songs that spanned five decades. Music by The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, One Republic, Florence and the Machine, The Killers and Moody Blues; some of the various artists Bryan had come to appreciate that were currently enjoying popularity as well as some from eras different than his own. He was even starting to listen to some 50’s crooners but today’s more energetic, beat driven songs were good accompaniments to his quick regimen of strength exercises and stretches that included a 20 minute mixture of old-school calisthenics, static and dynamic stretches, yoga poses, and a therapeutic exercise routine prescribed to keep some lingering knee problems at bay.
Exercises finished and time killed, at a few minutes past eight he was ready to once again head south to meet up with Sandy at the rendezvous point and enjoy her company on their 8:15 breakfast date. He went back into his room and shod his feet with shoes, stole a look at himself in the mirror, and thinking that he wanted to appear older but not too conspicuously so, considered changing out of his jeans and into Dockers but settled on adding a belt to his pants instead. He put on a light sweater and his cracked helmet, put wallet, keys and phone in his bike bag, rolled his old Schwinn out the door, hoisted it to his left shoulder and climbed down the stairs.
It had been quiet as he entered, left, and returned to his apartment building the previous three times that morning but there were now audible sounds coming from down the hallways. The sounds were a mixture of mundane, antagonistic, domestic and childish; sounds, he now realized, that were likely to keep him from getting a good “nights” sleep because, though today was a weekday, there was no school scheduled for the Monday that followed Easter and there were sure to be people about all day, slamming doors and interfering with his established routine. Having worked third shift and grown used to dealing with such things over the last two years he made a mental note to put earplugs in before going to bed at noon and to turn the white noise machine on for good measure. Bryan seldom overslept so the risk of not awakening on time to head out to work later that night because the ear plugs and white noise would prevent him from hearing his alarm clock go off was far outweighed by his need to get good, uninterrupted sleep before reporting back to Cedar Walk Pets at 8:55 that night.
He rode his bike up the narrow sidewalk westward a half block to, and then turned right on, the trail and headed south for the second time in two hours. There were three men standing in a clump at the bus-stop in front of Johnny Zio’s and Bryan slowed and dinged his bell as he approached them. All three men looked up at him, two moved out of the way- one with a half-smile and perfunctory wave of his hand- and the remaining man cocked his head back, shot Bryan a cocky and disgusted look and, refusing to move out of the trail, stared at him. “Thanks, guys!” Bryan called out to the two men on his left who had moved and then hollered over his shoulder to the sullen, immobile youngster who stood in the middle of the trail, “Have a great day!” adding under his breath, “Asshole.”
The confrontational and needless rudeness would likely have disturbed Bryan on Good Friday but beginning Saturday morning his damaged soul had experienced a sort of renaissance. Easter Sunday Bryan had metaphorically and literally fallen off his ass and the ensuing twenty hours had brought about a wonderful epiphany to his life and now on Easter Monday he seemed to have acquired a new lease on life. “Ha!” he said to himself as he stood and pedaled up the small hill in front of European Motoroj, “I think my spirits have been resurrected!” He glanced skyward and then added with a grin, “No offense, Big Guy!” and cycled easily down the arcing curve of trail, under Highway 100 and to the Thornhaw Suites parking lot where he rode across the grass strip that separated the Cedar Run Trail from Czech Lane.
Taugeco Fratinoj was located in a new, small, light colored, stone finished strip-mall that Bryan had never before visited. Sandy’s two-tone, green Outback was parked as far from the building as the little lot allowed and the Subaru sat next to a diminutive, grassy island that spanned the length of two parking spots that she had pulled through so that her car now faced outward and toward the sun. The grassy island that was adjacent to her car was home to twin, small trees that currently held buds, but no true leaves. The trees in eastern Iowa greeted April with caution when deciding when to burst forth from their frozen winter dormancy and both Bryan and the trees knew that while sap was flowing in anticipation of a glorious explosion of greenery, Rapida Cedro might yet be exposed to another hard freeze before true spring arrived. Most of the deciduous trees in the area still stood in reserved, nude modesty, fearful that if they arrived to the dance bedecked in their finery too soon that they might yet feel the wrath of Ymir the frost giant.
“Ymir the frost giant?” Bryan laughed to himself. “I read too many Marvel Comics!” he said as he transferred his wallet, phone and keys from his bike bag to his front jean’s pockets and presumptuously started to rack his bike on Sandy’s Thule car top bicycle carrier. Done racking the bike he pulled his phone back out and texted Sandy, “In lot by car. C U soon,” and then got leeward of her car and turned to face the sun in the eastern sky.
Standing by Sandy’s car Bryan kept an eye on the fitness center’s door and watched as a small parade of mostly middle-aged women filed out singularly and in small groups. His phone piped a double knock from its speaker indicating that he’d received a fresh text and he was about to look at it when Sandy emerged from Fratinoj with a fitness carrying tote slung over her left shoulder and a tall, balding man with great posture in tow. The man was talking animatedly to her and she was nodding her head but didn’t seem as excited by the conversation as was her conversational companion. From across the parking lot Bryan watched as she looked up, spied him in the distance, shot him a huge smile and welcoming wave, held up her index finger to the man who was talking to her and then trotted to Bryan and stopped in front of him. She dropped her bag to the ground, faced him and delivered a warm, sensuous, lingering kiss.