Joni’s head swiveled toward her husband, toward Ashley and then back to John. “John! What is it?” she asked, stepping quickly toward him. “Are you alright?”
John smiled, sniffed and blinked back tears. “Yeah. Sorry. It’s from Buttercup’s family. You know, the folks I mentioned yesterday? When we got home from South Side? I said that I’d met a nice family on the bus and that it had been nice spending time with them and how the mom, Tamika, seemed like she wanted to adopt me even though I think she’s younger than I am?”
Joni looked at her husband, eyes narrowed, and mutely waited for him to continue.
“Doesn’t matter,” he said, holding out the card. “The mums are from them. They’re down in Tennessee; how do you think they found out about Lottie’s funeral?”
Joni took the card, tilted her head diagonally and looked at her husband out of the corner of her eye and asked, “Did you mention that that was why you were coming to Chicago? Because if they had your name and Googled you you would pop up in the obituary and that would tell them where the funeral was and all. And as we both know there aren’t a lot of John Knopicks in the world.”
“Yeah. We sure know that,” he said chewing on his lower left lip. “And yes, that makes sense. We exchanged phone numbers too, so she even has my name spelled right. That was so nice of them; wasn’t it?”
Ashley stood poised at a distance, seemingly unsure if she should go to John and Joni and offer aid or if it was better to not interfere with husband and wife. Joni winked at Ashley to let her know everything was fine, quickly scanned the card and then held it out to John. “Extremely thoughtful. You must have made an impression. You sure she wanted to adopt you?” Joni asked with a quick triple eyebrow raise.
John laughed and shook his head. “Just stop! Happily married woman with three great kids and a husband who looked like he could tear me apart with his bare hands. This is really great,” he added, taking the card back from Joni.
“What’s the quote about casting your loaves upon the water?” she asked. “You’ve always been really good about that.”
“Oh, gosh! I don’t know. It’s long and it’s lovely and it’s bread upon the waters and it’s Ecclesiastes but I don’t have a quote. We could look it up?”
“No need, just thought you might know. You should text her to let her know that we got the flowers. We can write a formal thank you later.”
“Hmm. Not a bad idea except I don’t have my phone with me and I don’t know her address, though there probably aren’t a lot of Tamika Washingtons in Jackson, Tennessee.”
“No phone? John! You should carry that with you!”
“Why? Everybody I want to talk to today is right here and every time I use that phone it costs me money that I don’t have.”
“Money you didn’t have. We’re together now, we’ll be doing much better. You’ve got a lot of bad habits to break concerning communicating with people. Stop, stop, stop!” she said, cutting off his response. “We can ‘discuss’ this in greater detail later. Why don’t you and Dave and Sean get those big potted plants up to the door; okay?”
“Yes, kemo sabe, your wish is my command. Wait. That’s a mixed metaphor, isn’t it? And it makes me Tonto. Rather foolish of me, don’t you think?”
“Just go!” Joni cried, pointing toward the exit and shaking her head at him.