Ive seen you across the street before,
Becky said. Every other time, I slipped out the back so it wouldnt
come to this.
We were seated at a new Panera Bread on the other side
of the Interstate. Women dressed in tennis clothes flitted about like hummingbirds
That doesnt seem like the kind of thing a
well-balanced person, much less a psychotherapist, would do, I told
She was widowed with a grown daughter in California. She
wore just enough makeup, and her fingernails were manicured and polished
a pale pink.
Marriage counselors arent any saner than their
patients. We just know how to manage our insanity better.
In the time since wed last talked, shed been
to California twice and become a grandmother. Shed redecorated her
house and vacationed at the beach earlier in the summer. She was looking
for new office space away from the uptown construction.
Our buzzer went off, and I returned to the counter to
collect her salad and my sandwich. When I sat down, she asked how I was
Ive started a business, handyman and landscaping.
Ive got a crew. There it was, that word again, a generous description
of Harley and Pablo. Business is good. I bought a mobile home. Its
all I can afford for now, but I aim to own a house again someday.
Have you seen Aven?
I see her now and then.
How are your boys?
Theyre fine. Wilsons in Iraq.
She winced. Thats tough
Hes a heart breaker and life taker.
Just like his dad.
You know better than that.
My sandwich was a fancy California chicken something-or-other.
I removed the slice of green stuff. It might have been avocado. I finally
asked what I really wanted to know. Are you seeing anyone?
No. Are you?
Becky gave me her concerned-therapist look. This
probably wont work out, Jimmy. Thats not to say I dont
like you. Its just that
We move in different circles? Youre better
educated, a professional woman, and Im just a handyman?
I dont care about that.
I didnt think you did, otherwise I wouldnt
be here. Besides, Ive been to college. Two years. They didnt
ask me to leave. I left because I wanted to.
You told me that when I was meeting with you and
See, thats just it. Ive got all the
basics out of the way with you. I dont have to start from scratch.
Have you been with another woman since you and Aven
Women are thick as flies on me, I lied. I
cant decide which one to go for first.
She smiled, setting off fireworks in those blue eyes.
Look, maybe we could just be friends.
Oh no, not friends. I got so many friends I dont
know what to do with them. Lord knows, I dont need any more friends.
You dont take no for an answer very easily,
You already knew that about me. Look, Im not
asking you to marry me. Im just saying we could go out now and then.
You know, a movie, a concert.
Isnt that being friends?
Yeah, but lets not call it that. Maybe itll
blossom into something bigger and better.
And maybe it wont.
Why are you so risk adverse? Come on, tell me what
you like to do. Just dont say its NASCAR, because I hate NASCAR.
You think I dont know words like that?
She dabbed at her mouth with a napkin, folded it, and
placed it on the table. Okay. Ill tell you what. You pick me
up at my place 6:30 Saturday morning. Come with a full tank of gas and
a pocket full of cash.
I gave up on that chicken sandwich. Were not
going fishing, are we?
She wrote out her home address and phone number on a napkin
and slid it across the table. Honey, were not going fishing.
Thats what friends are for.