The Id and The Odyssey; Episode 29
“Who the hell are you?” Claude said as if in disbelief. “My bus breaks down and some guy comes along on a bike and … well you know the rest.”
“Frank Jankowski will treat you right,” Rich said. “All a person has to do is his job.”
“He’s coming to get me today. He owns a wrecker and he’s going to pull our bus to Albany. He’s going to put us up at his place and his wife and Jean are going to shop for an apartment for us. I start to work Monday morning and he said I can clear a hundred and eighty a week easy. I was lucky to bring home fifty dollars a week in Bangor. I don’t know how to thank you.”
“You don’t have to,” Rich said. “I just made a phone call.”
“When you get to Maine will you tell us where you’re living?” Claude said.
“Sure,” Rich said.
“By the way where are you going?” Claude ask.
“I been thinking about Rockland, around that area,” Rich said.
“Lot of lobstermen in that area,” Claude said. “They’re a rugged bunch.”
“I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for, but I’ll find something to get me through the winter,” Rich said.
“I don’t mean to discourage you, but that’s tough to do during the winter,” Claude said. “You almost have to know somebody. Who knows you might end up in Albany.”
“That’s true,” Rich said. “A month ago I never thought I would be in Brattleboro, Vermont at a gas station talking to a guy from Bangor Maine.”
“I got to thumb a ride back to the bus and tell the family,” Claude said with some reluctance. He reached for Rich’s hand and shook it. “Good luck Rich and thanks - thanks from my whole family.”
“It was good meeting you and your family,” Rich said. “Between you guys and the Jankowski’s I got nine reasons to come to Albany.”
Rich kicked up the kick stand on his bike, mounted it, and peddled east. H glanced over his shoulder. Claude walked west.
He peddled north out of Brattleboro along the Connecticut River and crossed into New Hampshire. “Live free or die,” the sign said.
Rich mentally quipped, “I didn’t want to go to that extreme, but I understood the sentiments.”
A man raking leaves in his yard just beyond the bridge into New Hampshire said Keene was about fifteen miles away. Keene was doable, but it would be past sundown.
Rich thought about the next day. He planned for a little better than 50 miles which would put him between Keene and Dover. He wondered if it were possible to make it into Maine. That would be a feat only accomplished by a ride. It was near a hundred miles from Keene to Maine. It would be Sunday and that is a good day to travel, because of the light traffic.
He peddled on with the hopes and visions of Maine in his.
Keene was a place where everybody would like to live. It seemed too pure, pristine, and quaint for the likes of Rich, but he would so much want to be a part of it. The smell of burning leaves evoked memories of good times - jumping on piles of leaves and playing a neighborhood football game in someone’s backyard. He saw cheerful children play and teenage steadies walk hand in hand kicking the leaves and laughing. He envied them not in a malicious way, but in such a way he wanted their life, not in exchange for his, but just to be among them. Rich thought, “I suppose I’ll always be the little boy standing outside the candy store window longingly peering in.”
Rich restocked his backpack for the next day at a small grocery in Keene. As the sun dropped so did the temperature. He peddled till there was an isolated area with a woods. He pushed my bike about fifty yards from the road and made a clearing. He erected the tent and built a fire. He ate a can of spaghetti and can of green beans. He brewed some tea and ate two packages of Twinkies. He snuggled into the sleeping bag and listened to radio until I fell asleep.