The Id and The Odyssey; Episode 46
By December Rich’s apartment took on more of a home appearance. A bookshelf was added and slowly books filled the void.
Sam gave Rich an old Underwood typewriter from the basement of The Beacon.
He handed the typewriter to Rich with a book on how to type. “An early Merry Christmas, learn how to type properly. It’s part of the skills of a writer. It’s like a surgeon knowing how to use a suture or sew a wound properly. Learn to type well and that puts you a year ahead of a lot of the meat balls in this racket.”
Rich purchased a small used writing table and placed the typewriter upon it. The typewriter became the focal point of the apartment. He also decorated the table with a kerosene railroad lantern on one side and a small setting of reference books on the other. Included was a Bible, Dictionary, Roget’s Thesaurus, a world atlas, a book on English Grammar, and Elements of Style. Over the desk hung a copy of Winslow Homer’s painting, Breezing Up.
The room was a refuge for Rich, a fortress; a place to escape in solitude with his imagination, thoughts, dreams, and musings.
His days were filled with visits to the library, walks down by the harbor, and his duties at The Beacon. The only friendships were Sam, Katie, Dennis, and Peggy. And they were more like acquaintances.
He was in dread and suspicious of others finding out the particulars of his being in Maine. The reality that some day he may be reported and returned to Ohio was with him whenever his mind was not occupied. It was like the paper behind the ink.
He was now 16 and as far as he knew, everyone thought he was 19. This important detail about his identity plagued him. Not so much being found out as it was being dishonest. “When is dishonesty justified,” he often thought and quickly dismissed the thought. He hid from the conclusions because he knew where they led. He planned the day that he would tell everyone. It would be then that he would at last be free from this emotional prison. What was most troubling; “Will my friends ever trust me again? Friendships, true friendships, are built on trust.”
Yet there was another side to the issue; “If they know, they might become complicit, harboring a juvenile runaway. Or in order not to be complicit, notify the authorities. Why did I have to choose such good friends or why did they choose me. It would be best if I was a hermit. But these people give me some sort of nourishment. I can feel it; definitely from Sam and Katie. And only in just one encounter from Dennis and Peggy. I have needs that have not been met and will not mature until they are and Sam and Katie and Dennis and Peggy are unwittingly supplying those needs. However, Sam knows something, he has instincts.”
During December and into mid January Rich’s duties continued in the distribution department and as a janitor. He fought the cold, snow, and dampness of the coastal weather. He kept the sidewalk in front of The Beacon clear. In addition, Sam continued to assign small pieces for him to report and write. He covered basketball games, a few of accidents, and a house fire. Sam paid an extra 2.50 dollars for each article.
There were three full-time reporters for The Beacon, Chuck Masters, Butch Hagler and Collin Anderson.
Masters was quiet, aloof, and smug. It was as if The Beacon was beneath his talent. He had no remarkable physical traits. He was about as common as a brown paper bag. However, he was flawless in his work. He seldom spoke to Rich.
Butch had the short sandy hair that looked like a bed of nails. He was stocky. Butch was undisciplined in every area of his life with the exception of reporting and writing. He always appeared unkempt no matter how clean or pressed he and his clothing were. His desk was a collection of papers and notes that he found with ease.
Collin was the opposite of Butch. He always looked as if all he needed was a tux and he’d be ready for a wedding. His blond hair was pasted flat on his head with a small wave in front that never moved. He was tall and thin and wore glasses with thick black rims. There was seldom more than one project on his desk at a time. Anderson had the front desk; he was the head reporter, writer, and assistant editor.
One day in late January cold blistering winds swept snow through the streets of Rockland. Main Street was nearly empty as if evacuated. Schools and many businesses were closed.