The Id and The Odyssey; Episode 14
To Be True Episode
Ithaca seemed, even from between the rain drops, a city of promise, one of uncommon beauty and stature. “If I were king, Rich thought, “it would be the state capitol. To Rich the word Ithaca sounds almost like ethical. Lima, it sounded like an Italian asking for some lime for his gin and tonic, “Pleeza a leetol squeece of de lima for my drinka. Gratci.”
Ithaca was a smart town. Smarter than Alfred. It had Cornell. Rich deviated from his intended route and peddled through the Cornell campus. He humored himself in thought about mugging some rich kid, stealing his books and walking in to one of his classes as if he belonged. If a professor asked a question he might reply, “That is so moronic that I shall allow one of my less intelligent or lesser read chums or frat brothers falter and bumble about with the answer. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to display my cleverness and astuteness, but this is hardly the place. Tea this evening at the usual time and place?” Rich smiled while peddling by the university, too intimidated to venture a stop-over or to converse with even a custodian. As he passed students, who barely looked up from their umbrellas, they seemed to hold me with disdain. He thought he must have looked as if a wet dog and smelled like one also. “Cornell,” he muttered. “Sounds like coronation.” I wondered if I could effectively say, “I went to Cornell for a while. I found it rather drab, but I absorbed much (rain) while there.”
He peddled along a large street leaving the campus. An Ithaca police car slowly drove by on the opposite side. The officer inside suspiciously inspected Rich with his eyes. He turned around and drove in front of Rich, stopped, and got out of the car. He was a short flabby man with fair skin. He slipped on a rain coat and approached Rich.
“Where ya headin’?” he asked.
“I’m going to New York,” Rich said.
“This is New York,” he said.
“New York City,” Rich said.
“Where ya from?” he said looking at the camping gear.
“Ohio,” Rich said.
“You got any ID?” he said.
“Yeah,” Rich said. He didn’t want to show it to him. He did not want to lie to an officer. “Do you want to see it.”
He nodded his head and pulled the stolen license from Joe Deacon, his cousin, from his wallet.
“What’s the best way to New York City?” Rich asked as he handed the license to the officer.
“Take 79 out of town and when you get to 11 take it south to Binghamton and get directions from there,” he said.
“Why ya taking a bike?” he asked.
“That’s the way I wanted to do it,” Rich said.
“You know somebody in the city?” he asked.
“Yeah,” Rich said. “An aunt and uncle on 182nd street.”
“Where were you last night?” He asked.
“A little place called Hornby,” Rich said.
“Never heard of it,” he said.
“Me neither until yesterday,” Rich chuckled.
“Do you mind if I look through your things?” He asked.
“No, but I don’t want them wet. So can you take them to your car and do it,” Rich said.
He handed back the license. “Forget it. We got a report on somebody stealing some TV’s and Hi Fi’s. Ya got any of that stuff in there,” he asked pointing at the camping gear.
“No sir. I don’t,” Rich said.
“Have a safe trip and be careful,” the officer said and walked back to his car. Rich peddled away slowly.
He peddled for a mile or so until I was on the outskirts of Ithaca. He was cold and hungry. He began to wonder if the officer might have remembered the information from the license and traced it back to Ohio.
He stopped at a gas station to ask for directions to go south to Binghamton. The attendant showed him from a county map posted on the wall. When the attendant walked outside to pump gas for a customer Rich copied directions on a piece of scrap paper to head due east as best possible. He reasoned that if the police were looking for him and stopped at the gas station to inquire, the attendant could point them south. His stomach almost seemed like it was full of sour foor, “My life was now becoming nothing more than deception. I long for a place where I can be true.”