The Id and The Odyssey; Episode 86

Visitor

Rich climbed in the Jeep and drove back to Rockland. He was never so sure of asking someone out and not being turned down. “I’m devastated, she saw right through me,” Rich thought. “If I ask somebody out my own age, people will think there’s something wrong with me. I can’t bring a teenage girl around my friends. That would be so awkward for the girl.”
His thoughts turned to the last girl he really cared about, Jenny Chandler. “She has had the child by now and married.” He thought of her smile. “It was not quite a smile; so unobtrusive, kind, and comforting.” It was as if he could see Jenny Chandler’s smile through the glare of oncoming headlights on his windshield. “I hope she and the child are well. I wish I could tell her that and tell her I think of her in the most pleasant way.”
Rich pulled up in the driveway of the apartment. He entered the apartment again and hung his coat on the peg behind the door. He put on an Errol Garner album. He looked over the books on his shelf and picked out The Third Man.
There was a knock at the door. Rich smiled. “Al and Alice want company,” he mumbled.
Rich opened the door. It was Edna. She held up the white sack with the pie and potato. “You forgot something.”
Rich smiled. “Thanks, Edna. Would you like to step in.”
“Sure,” she said.
“It’s not much, but it’s home,” Rich said.
“It’s perfect,” Edna said.
“How did you find me?” Rich said.
“I left early and followed you,” Edna said. “You drive slow.”
“Let me take your jacket,” Rich said and helped her off with it. “Have a seat at the table.”
Rich filled the tea kettle and set it over the burner on the stove. He lit the burner with a match.
“Don’t say a word,” Rich said. “I don’t get guest and I want to make you feel welcome. I know you drink tea; everybody drinks tea and I just happen to have a piece of banana cream pie.”
Edna bashfully frowned. “We’ll split it.”
“Of course,” Rich smiled. “You didn’t think for a minute I’d let you eat the whole thing; hospitality goes only so far.”
Edna looked over the room. “This is nice. You like jazz?”
“Yeah,” Rich said. “I’ve listened to it sense I was a teenager.” He smiled and Edna smiled.
“Well, someday you can say that,” Edna said.
“Yeah,” Rich said, “I feel foolish.”
“There is no need to,” Edna said. “I think I understand.”
“I’m not in need of pity,” Rich said.
“This is just a friend bringing something you forgot,” Edna said. “I’d do the same for any customer.”
“I was hoping to be a little more special,” Rich said.
“Well,” Edna said, “you are.”
“I knew it all along,” Rich joked.
They chatted for a couple more minutes, the tea pot began to whistle.
He poured the water for the tea, retrieved milk from the refrigerator, pulled a spoon from a cabinet drawer, and slid the sugar bowl in front of Edna.
They sipped tea, ate the pie, and talked. Edna was from Lubec and graduated from Colby College. She traveled to Europe twice. She had a small home near Camden. Romance was not a priority in her life, although she had a boy friend in high school, a couple in college and a Swedish dairy farmer named Sven.
“What about you, Rich,” Edna said. “Who is it that I remind you of? And it better not be your sophomore English teacher, Ole lady Crabtree.”
“It’s a sad story,” Rich said. “Some stories are best left in the mind.”
“Is that why you left?” Edna said.
“Oh, no,” Rich said, “she would have been worth staying for. I left because of my home life. Jenny left because she had to.”
“Jenny,” Edna said. “what was she like?”
“She was like fourteen and pregnant,” Rich said. “Not mine, but someone older that should have known better and I suppose for that face she should have to, but things happen.”
“Break your heart?” Edna said
“Young hearts don’t break,” Rich said, “they sort of bend and flop back in place, but there’s always a crease.”
“Rich,” Edna said, “someday someone will come along and fill your heart and take the crease out.”
“I know that,” Rich said.
“And it won’t be me,” Edna said.
“I know that,” Rich said. “I’m only looking for someone…”
“To fill an emotional gap: take out the crease for awhile.”
“It’s not even that,” Rich said. “It’s a smile, that’s all. Have you ever thought about the impact of a smile. A smile is the best gift you can give a person. It means approval. It means you like something or someone. And it is done with no strings attached.”
Edna smiled. “I’ve never sailed on the bay before.”
“Or taken a drive in a jeep?” Rich said.
“That too,” Edna said.
“Nine o’clock Sunday morning,” Rich said, “It’s named The Odyssey. It’s docked at the marina. I’ll be waiting.”
Edna smiled and stood. Rich got her jacket and helped put it on her.
“See you Sunday, sailor,” Edna said.
“I have questions before you leave,” Rich said.
“Sure,” Edna said.
“Do you remember the Gaffe story,” Rich said, “the mayor and treasurer of Port Clyde and all the shenanigans they were involved in?”
“Yeah,” Edna said, “you and Butch Hagler.”
“I got a letter from Mrs. Gaffe today,” Rich said. “She wants me to visit her.”
“And what’s the problem?” Edna said.
“There seems to be a desperation about the letter,” Rich said.
“And…” Edna said.
“I’m starting to see a side to this business that bothers me,” Rich said. “My actions effect people’s lives. I’m not sure of being up to that sort of responsibility.”
“If you tell the truth and report it what ever happens is out of you hands,” Edna said.
“But why me?” Rich said.
“I think if you don’t see Mrs. Gaffe you will regret not doing it,” Edna said. “Why not ask Sam?”
“Sam is my boss,” Rich said, “I know what he’ll say. I need objectivity.”
“Go and you’ll know what to do after you visit her,” Edna said. “Now sleep well.”
Edna left and Rich dialed Sam.
“Hey, Sam, this is Rich. I’m going to need a couple of hours off tomorrow, is that okay?”
“That’s fine,” Sam said. “Is there anything I can help you with?”
“No,” Rich said, “It’s personal, but I’ll be in early so I won’t fall behind.”
“See you tomorrow, Rich.”

Good night, Sam.”