The Id and The Odyssey; Episode 60

No Cats

The meal, as always, was pleasant. The conversation was cheerful. After dinner Rich, Dennis, and Peggy walked through a thicket of small bushes across the road from the house and to a small stony beach. Peggy perched herself on a rock with the sun to her back. Dennis and Rich continued their walk on the beach and jumped onto large rocks that extended into the bay.
“Do you plan on making your life here or are you someday going back to Ohio?” Dennis asked as they stopped and looked out at Penobscot Bay.
“I don’t know if I’m going to stay here or not,” Rich said, “but was it not Thomas Wolfe who said you can never go home again.”
“That’s crap,” Dennis said. “People do it all the time. Just because some neurotic and social outcast failed to do it and wrote a book about it doesn’t mean it can’t happen. When are people ever going to realize it is a story. Stories must have conflict. If there is none, make it up. I do it all the time. Fiction writers are liars. They bend the truth and misrepresent the facts so things come out in way they can sell their nasty little words.”
“You sound angry,” Rich quipped. “You must have writer’s block.”
“Seriously,” Dennis said. “You know us. Tell us someday about you. I really want to know your story. We all care about you and would never betray what you say. Who you were will only make us like you that much more. You know the White’s almost look on you as a son?”
“No, I didn’t know that,” Rich said. “Ya know in the last year I’ve met two families that feel that way, but why not my own family?”
“I could say that you’re all wrong. That your family really loves you. But something drove you away. Something did and deep in my heart I don’t think it’s you. Something was wrong in Ohio.” Dennis paused. “And that’s enough for me.”
“It was my nature not to take it any more. I don‘t fight. I move on.” Rich said. “It wasn’t anything that could not be endured. I just decided not to. I had a bed, a bedroom, meals, and played baseball. I wasn’t chained in the basement or beaten. I was just… I don’t know. I remember a kid challenging me to fight him. I was sure I could beat him. What would it prove? I just walked away. He called me chicken and a coward and few other names. I wasn‘t any of the things he called me. I wasn‘t going to be controlled. My dad would argue with me over nothing. He‘d try to convince me the moon was made out of cheese. Maybe it is, I‘d say. He would try to force me into an argument and I‘d never bite. He said I was pathetic cause I don‘t stand for anything.”
“I was from sort of the opposite side of things,” Dennis said. “My dad just never talked. He had absolutely no passion for anything. He was quiet and cold. It was in my senior year of high school I found out he wasn’t my dad.”
“That must have been devastating,” Rich said.
“Not really,” Dennis said. “I was relieved. I was always expecting something from him, suddenly I expected nothing. The man carried a lot of pain. He became ill and was dying; it was my first year out of college and I went home to visit him. He was sitting in a chair, barely alive. He told me even though you are not my son, you are the best friend I ever had. That made up for all the bad. That helped me see everything a little differently. It took time to sort out, but that was the beginning. Suddenly I realized our relationship was like a couple of friends; not particularly close, but reliable nonetheless. That‘s far more than a lot of people have.”
“That’s beautiful,” Rich said.
“Learn something from what I’m telling you, Rich,” Dennis said. “Go back someday before it’s too late and find that moment that changes everything.”
Rich jumped from a rock onto the pebbled beach. He picked up a stone and skipped it across the calm waters of the bay.
“It’s something that can’t done right now,” Rich said.
“I understand that,” Dennis said. “It may not work for you the way it did for me, but to do otherwise you may live your life with regret. We all live with regrets; the secret to a good life is to minimize the quality and quantity of those regrets.”
Dennis stepped from the rocks and onto the pebbled beach. He picked up a stone and skipped it across the calm waters of the bay. “You can’t skip a stone across a raging sea.”
The walked a short way.
“If it’s some sort of legal thing, we can help,” Dennis said. “Sam has a friend who lives in Brazil. He’s suspected of espionage. The government can’t prove that he is and he can’t prove he isn’t; guess who wins? Between Sam and I we have enough contacts that we can get you to Brazil or Bora Bora before the ink dries on an arrest warrant.”
“I see Sam knowing somebody in Brazil,” Rich said, “but can’t see Sam breaking the law to send someone to Brazil.”
“He wouldn’t break the law,” Dennis smiled, “he would be protecting a source.”
“Dennis,” Rich smiled, “there is nothing in my past that the remedy would be a trip to Brazil or Bora Bora.”
“But there is something,” Dennis said.
“Yeah,” Rich said, “there is something.”
“Trees and plants go to where they can grow and thrive,” Dennis said. “It was natural for you. Something instinctively told you to go where you can grow and thrive.”
“Let’s close the subject for now, but thanks,” Rich said. “You’re a good friend.”
“I’m glad to be,” Dennis said.
“I have to pick my own time and place,” Rich said. “I got to make sure when I tell my story, it’s true.”
“No cats?” Dennis said.
“No cats,” Rich said.
“I got to head back,” Rich said.
“I’m going to walk further,” Dennis said. “I’ll give you a call the next time I’m in town and we’ll have a coffee.”
“That will be great,” Rich said. “I’ll go say good bye to Peggy.”
Rich waved and walked back the rock where Peggy was still seated.
“Dennis said he was going to walk a little further. I’m heading back to Rockland and wanted to say goodbye before I took off,” Rich said.
“Drive safely, Rich,” Peggy said.
“Thanks for the meal,” Rich said.
“Anytime,” Peggy said
“Are you looking at the island in the painting?” Rich said.
“Yes,” she smiled and a warm breeze blew strands of hair across her face.
“Have you named the painting?” Rich said.
“Moonlight Eyes,” Peggy said turning her head so the breeze blew the hair from her face.
“That’s a good name,”

She turned to look toward the island and Rich walked away.