Saturday, April 18, 2009


Chapter 6

I arrived in Chicago feeling that all the adventure had oozed out of me. Clean left me through the soles of my aching feet. But I had Nancy's forwarding address and the location of a dance studio (that I prayed was on the first floor) in downtown Chicago. I called a taxi.

"This is it, old man," grunted the taxi driver. I repeated the phrase to myself as I handed him the bills and eased out of the cab. Her home was a modest brick structure on the edge of pond, surrounded by a black iron gate. I found the buzzer and rang it. I found my sanity and nearly walked away. A young woman's voice interrupted my flight; it came from a small intercom by the buzzer.
"Mrs. Ashton is out for the day, Sir. She's gone looking for an old friend who used to work at the Tribune. No, I'm afraid she didn't say when she would be back."

I was beginning to get used to this feeling. The one where you can't keep your rib cage from plummeting to your knee caps. I worked for the Tribune. Did she know that? I stayed in the city, hoping to find her the next day. And with a growing incredulity I realized that she was looking for me. I was always one step behind her. Yes, an elegant old woman (I winced whenever I heard that) had been at my old office looking for me. Yes, she had visited my old apartment building. They had sent her to my Sun-Times office. The dawning of this knowledge made me restless in my own skin. What would I do when we . . . gulp. . . found each other?

I found the dance studio. I knew the time of our meeting was inevitable. I needed to know that when I saw Nancy again, I would be able to sweep her off her feet. I asked to be taught to waltz. I asked for their slowest song. I could almost feel Nancy getting nearer with every hour. I knew what I needed to do. I stepped. I turned. I breathed. I lifted my head. I bought a ticket home.

I only had to wait 4 days before she came. I knew she would find my home address. I swallowed 60 years of self-doubt and loneliness in the 9 seconds it took me to get to my door. I pulled it open. She held a little piece of paper with a scribbled address in a tiny hand. I saw mirth glinting behind a pair of glasses. She wore red lipstick. I bowed and took he hand. She laughed,

"You remember me, Ezekial Bender?"


carissa said...

sigh. i love it.

lori taylor said...

This was perfect...but way too short. I love his allowing himself to be in love again!

Miriam said...