The Id and The Odyssey; Episode 27
“If this happened in Colorado or something I’d say lets do in it, but who’s to say that this transmission won’t take us any other place than back to Bangor,” Claude said. “We allowed a hundred dollars for repairs and we aren’t even one day on the road and at least sixty is gone.”
“Look Claude, we can go back to Bangor that’s fine with me,” Jean said.
“We have nothing left in Bangor,” Claude said. “My job is gone. Our house is gone. What are we going to do, live out of the bus until the money runs out?”
“Look, take us back to Bangor. I’ll get on welfare. You take a bus to California and send for us when you get settled in,” Jean said.
“I can’t leave my family,” Claude said with anguish.
“I don’t want you to go,” Jean said. “But what else can we do?”
Rich walked back to his bike and pulled his rolled-up money from the handlebars and counted out a hundred dollars. He approached Claude and Jean. Rich cleared his throat. “Excuse me. I overheard.” He handed the money to Claude. He looked at it strangely. “I have a little extra. In fact, I have a whole lot extra. If you think you need more it’s no problem.”
Claude looked at the money and then at Rich. “It’s honest money isn’t it?”
“Yeah,” Rich said.
“I don’t care,” Claude said. “I just can’t take it.”
“No, we can’t take it,” Jean said.
“I won’t sleep if you don’t take it,” Rich said. “I’ll worry. If I have the means to help someone and don’t, that will haunt me.”
“If they refuse then you don’t have to worry,” Claude said. “I got us into this mess and I’ll get us out.”
“The way out may be this money,” Rich said.
“I’d be indebted to you,” Claude said.
“This money was a gift to me,” Rich said. “It was neither stolen nor earned. It was unexpected. My life will not be changed one bit by you accepting it.”
Claude paused and thought. He smiled, “No, can’t do it.”
“I got an idea,” Rich said. “Are you folks dead set on California?”
“Yeah,” Claude said. “I got a cousin who has a job waiting for me out there. He has a construction company and he needs help.”
“If you had the work here would you stay?” Rich said.
“Depends,” Claude said. “Job security, the money, a decent company.”
“What kind of work do you do?” Rich asked.
“I worked at a woolen mills - worked as a shipping and receiving clerk, loaded and unloaded semis.”
“Perfect!” Rich said. “What if I could get you a job in Albany with all the things you want? Would you take it?”
“Sure,” Claude said looking at Jean.
“Do you know of something?” Jean said.
“Yeah,” Rich said, “I do. Jankowski Trucking, he needs workers and I know he would hire you. He‘s a good friend.”
“My god,” said Jean nearly tearful, “I can’t believe this is happening.”
Claude looked at me suspiciously. “What’s the catch?”
“Nothing,” Rich said. “I’m going to take off and peddle to Brattleboro. You hitchhike and we meet at the first gas station that has a pay phone. I make a phone call to Frank Jankowski and introduce you two and the rest is up to you. How does that sound?”
“Can we talk it over for a few minutes?” Claude said.
“Sure, let me redeposit my money,” Rich said holding the rolled up bills. He walked back to the bike, put the money into the handle bars and leaned against the bike.
Claude and Jean walked toward Rich hand in hand. Claude said, “Get to peddlin’ and I’ll see if I can beatcha there. It’s only three miles ahead.”
Jean shook Rich’s hand and thanked him. Rich stuck his head in the door of the bus and said goodbye to the children and started for Brattleboro. Claude passed him on the way in a ‘55 Ford convertible. He spotted the first gas station and Claude was waiting outside. Rich rolled across the gravel parking lot.
“I got a handful of quarters for the phone, “ Claude said.
Rich called information and got Frank’s home phone number and placed the call.