Welcome to the Love World of Reason…
“Do you mind sleeping here tonight Jerry, I don’t want to be alone.” Michelle says.
I smile at Michelle. She can tell I don’t want to be alone so she’s pretending to need company, “Sure thing.” I say.
“Thanks.” Michelle says. “I’ll bring you some pillows and blankets.”
I pull out the sofa bed in the meantime. “Hey Michelle.” I say out loud so she can hear me, “Do you think meanager will make a big deal if I call out tomorrow?”
“I’ll cover for you.” Michelle says bringing out the blankets.
“You sure?” I say.
“Positive.” Michelle says, “Goodnight, holler if you need anything.”
“Night.” I say. I lay down and stare at the ceiling fan. I know it will be awhile before I can sleep, so I think about Louise, although I probably shouldn’t. I wonder if she is just visiting or if she has moved here. She’s probably visiting; I can’t see Louise living in a small town like Blanca. Louise was always a city girl. If she is visiting I hope she leaves soon. I don’t think I bear to see her again. But If she does come back to the café, I’ll have Michelle find out what her story is. If she is living here, I’ll just move. Yeah, I’ll move. I’ve been in Colorado for five years now, but I can find another small town to settle down in, no big deal. What I know for sure is, I cannot be living in the same town as Louise. I finally feel myself drifting away…finally.
“Jerry, I’m off to work.” Michelle says.
“What? What time is it?” I say.
“Almost noon.” Michelle says.
“Noon. Why didn’t you wake me?” I say.
“For what?” Michelle says looking at me funny.
“I don’t know.” I say. “Hey if you see her again, can you find out what she’s doing here?”
“Sure thing.” Michelle says.
“But don’t make it obvious okay.” I say.
“Make what obvious Jerry?” Michelle says, “Don’t make it obvious that her boyfriend from 40 years ago is asking about her?”
“Actually it’s only been 20 years…” I say under my breath.
“Goodbye lover boy.” Michelle says.
I try to sleep some more, but I can’t. I let myself out and go next door to my apartment. I take a shower and get dressed. I’m not sure where I am going but I get in the car and just drive. Back in the day when I would need to clear my head I would go for a drive. I haven’t felt like that in years, till now. When I get to a red light I text Michelle and ask if Louise is there.
“Hello.” I say.
“I will let you know if she is here Jerry, do not text me every hour asking.” Michelle says.
“What are you talking about, I only texted you once.” I say.
“And I want to make sure that is the first and last text.” Michelle says.
“Why didn’t you just text me that?” I ask.
“I wanted you to hear the seriousness in my voice.” Michelle says.
“Michelle there is never anything serious about your tone of voice.” I joke.
“What are you doing?” Michelle asks.
I can hear her smiling through the phone, “I’m driving around.”
“Where are you?” Michelle asks.
“I have no idea.” I say.
“Look around.” Michelle says.
I look around and see a sign, “Cedar Lake Apartments.”
“You’re two hours from home Jerry.” Michelle says.
I didn’t realize I was driving that long, “Well get back to work M, just let me know ummm well you know.”
“My grandmother lives near where you are. Go say hi to her for me.” Michelle says.
“What? Of course not.” I say.
“It wasn’t really a request Jerry.” Michelle says. “I scratch your back, you scratch mine. That is how it works…right?”
“Who are you and where is my sweet Michelle?” I ask.
“I’ll text you her address.” Michelle says, “I’ll call her now and tell her you’re coming or else she won’t open the door. She’s not used to strange white man knocking on her door.”
“Excuse me? I’m not strange?” I say.
“No but you are a white man.” Michelle says.
“And what is that supposed to mean miss?” I say.
“Well an old black lady living alone isn’t going to readily open the door for you, that’s all.” Michelle says.
“I suppose that makes sense.” I say. “So if she was an old white lady living alone would she “readily” open the door?”
“You’d have to tell me that, Jerry.” Michelle says, “Gotta go bye.”
Michelle texts me the address to her grandmother. I really don’t want to be around anyone right now, but apparently I have no choice. The address she sends is five minutes from my current location. I arrive at the address to see a huge three story house. If Michelle’s grandmother lives here, why is working at a café shop making minimum wage. I knock on the door, “Hello this is Jeremy, Michelle sent me.” I say. I cannot believe I am doing this.
“Jeremy Carr?” A lady says from behind the door.
“Get in front of the peep hole, let me get a look at you.” The lady says.
“Yes ma’am.” I say moving directly in front of the peep hole. I smile and hope I don’t look like a strange white man. I am going to kill Michelle. She never talks about any of her family members. She may have mentioned a grandmother once, and now she sends me to ‘go say hi for her’.
“Hello Jeremy, come on in.” The lady says.
“Hi, are you Mrs. McDowe?” I ask.
“Yes, I am, call me grandma.” Mrs. McDowe says.
“Umm okay sure.” I say.
“Would you like something to drink or to eat?” Mrs. McDowe asks.
“No.” I say without thinking and I instantly hear my stomach growl. I just realize I haven’t eaten all day.
“I’ll take that as a yes.” Mrs. McDowe says pointing to my stomach, “Come on in the kitchen I’ll fix you something. Would you like breakfast or a sandwich?”
“Oh Mrs…grandma it’s okay, really.” I say.
“A sandwich it is.” Mrs. McDowe says.
This is definitely Michelle’s grandmother, no doubt about it. “Okay ma’am that sounds great.”
Mrs. McDowe starts to make what looks like the biggest sandwich I have ever eaten, “So baby tell me about your troubles.”
“I’m sorry?” I say, “Troubles?”
“No need to be coy.” Mrs. McDowe says.
“I’m not sure what Michelle told you, but I don’t have any troubles, I’m okay.” I say.
“Michelle didn’t tell me anything, but a friend was coming over to say hi.” Mrs. McDowe says.
“So why do you think I have troubles?” I asks.
“Your eyes say it all.” Mrs. McDowe says, “Also, by the way your stomach growled when I mentioned food. You haven’t eaten and it seems like you didn’t even realize it until I mentioned it.”
Wow she’s good, “Okay, so maybe everything isn’t perfect, but that’s life.” I say.
“That’s fine, baby, you don’t have to talk. Why don’t you have a set at the table, your sandwich is almost ready.” Mrs. McDowe says.
I sit at the table in the kitchen. This huge kitchen, in this huge house. “Ma’am, if you don’t mind me asking, why does Michelle work at the café, if she has this beautiful place?” I ask.
“You want to know my secrets but you dont want to share yours.” Mrs. McDowe says smiling, “Is that how it works these days?”
I laugh, “Good point.” I say. Mrs. McDowe brings me the sandwich with a glass of ice tea, and I eat with such voracity I am embarrassed.
“Not hungry huh,” Mrs. McDowe says.
I laugh then say, “I’m sorry, I usually have more manners than this. I guess I was more hungry that than I realized.”
“No worries, kid. My sandwiches will do that to you.” Mrs. McDowe says smiling.
“It is pretty good. And this ice tea is amazing.” I say.
“Thank you.” Mrs. McDowe says.
I finish eating and I am so full I cannot move, “So you live in this big house alone.” I say.
“My husband lives here with me.” Mrs. McDowe says.
“Oh where is he? I should say hi.” I say.
“No need. He’s in a coma.” Mrs. McDowe says plainly.
“Oh no, I’m so sorry.” I say.
“No need, I put him there.” Mrs. McDowe says.