Welcome to the Love World of Reason…
“Sorry ma’am my co-worker…” I say as I look at the ground, hoping Louise hasn’t seen my face.
“Ma’am?” Louise says laughing, “How old do you think I am?”
“Oh no, it was just a way….” I stumble on my words. “I was just being polite ma’am…uh mm…miss.”
“Well polite is a very subjective thing wouldn’t you say?” Louise says.
“No, uh yes, yes, of course ma’am…I mean miss.” I say, still looking at the ground. I try to walk away before Louise can recognize me.
“Leaving so soon?” Louise says.
“Yes, I uh have things back to look for and stuff to check stuff and to see things…” I say as I try to rush to the backroom.
“You were always a bad liar.” Louise says.
I stop dead in my tracks. I’m not sure what to do. “Yes, he is a horrible liar, Mrs. Louise. Aren’t you Jerry?” Michelle says.
I look at Michelle and I think this time I really will kill her. “Well, don’t just stand there BJ, come greet your old friend.” Louise says.
“I umm yeah, yeah of course…old friend.” I say as I finally turn around to face Louise.
“You haven’t aged a day Mr. Carr.” Louise says.
I just stand there looking at her. I haven’t seen her up close in so long. She looks different now. Still beautiful, but more…mature, like she’s lived life. “You look beautiful.” Is all I can manage to say.
“Thank you.” Louise says. “So how have you been, I haven’t seen you in twenty something years. It seems like a lifetime ago.”
“Seems like yesterday to me.” I say.
“What do you mean you’re going to the army?” Louise says running after me.
Damn does this girl ever give up, “Goodbye Louise.” I say walking out of the auditorium doors.
“So that’s it.” Louise says walking outside, “You’re just going to the army and I’m never going to see you again, is that it?”
I don’t answer her. I just get in my car and drive away. I can see her in my rear view looking at me with disbelief in her eyes. I hate that I have to do this, but this is what’s best for everyone. She wouldn’t understand if I tried to explain.
I get home and I go in my room to finish packing. I don’t even know why I went to that stupid graduation. Oh right Mrs. Beck forced me to. I love her to death, but sometime she really annoys the crap outta me. Now I have to try to forget the look on Louise’s face as I walked away from her, again.
“Mom!” I call out. “Mom, I’m leaving.” I don’t know why I bother, I know she’s either not here or too drunk to respond. I walk to her room to see her passed out on the floor, half naked. I pick her up and put her in the bed.
“Jerry.” Louise says.
“What are you doing here?” I say. I close the door to my mom’s room.
“I just.” Louise says, “I wanted to say goodbye.”
“We already did that.” I say walking passed her.
Louise follows me, “I know, but…”
I turn to look at her, “But what?” I ask.
“I don’t know.” Louise whispers looking at the ground.
“You’re not going to change my mind.” I say. “I’m leaving for the army tonight.”
“I know.” Louise says looking down.
She doesn’t look angry or sad, she looks…defeated. Oh God what am I doing to the woman I love. “Please leave.” I say, “This is hard enough.”
“It is?” Louise says looking at me puzzled.
“What?” I say, “Of course it’s hard.”
“I thought you didn’t love me anymore.” Louise says.
I walk to her and hold her face in my hands, “I love you. I will always love you. That’s the problem.”
“That doesn’t make any sense.” Louise says, “If you love me then why break up with me? Why leave to go to the army? You hate the army Jerry.”
“It’s better this way.” I say taking a step away from her.
“Better for who?” Louise says, “For you? Certainly not for me.”
“You don’t understand.” I say.
“Finally something we both agree on.” Louise says.
“I have to finish packing.” I say turning around. Louise walks towards me and hugs me from behind. “Lou, please…”
“Ok. I’ll go. Just let me smell you…one last time.” Louise says as she hugs me so tight I can hear her breathing me in.
Oh God. I turn around and stare into her eyes. Now she is crying. Again. How many times has my love cried for me? Because of me? I move my face close to hers, so close our noses touch. I want to stare into her eyes one last time. We stay like that for a while. Finally Louise kisses me. She kisses me like she’s never kissed me before. Like she knows she will never kiss me again. She starts to take off my shirt.
“Lou…” I start to say.
“Shh. I know.” Louise says as she kisses me again. She takes off my shirt first. Then my pants. She leads me to the bed and climbs on top of me. She kisses my neck then my chest. Then she takes off her dress. She kisses me again. I turn her around so that I am on top of her. I stare at her for a long time before I kiss her. We kiss for what seems like forever then we finally make love. Tears are falling from both of our eyes. But neither of us say anything. We just lay there naked in each other’s arms. As Louise is laying on my chest I can tell she is listening to my heartbeat. A heartbeat that matches her own.
“I know you want me to leave.” Louise says after a while. “And I will, in a moment.”
I say nothing. At this point I’m not sure what to say. I don’t know what I’m doing anymore.
After a few minutes Louise gets up and gets dressed. “I love you.” Louise says as she walks out of my room.
“Hey Jerry, why don’t you just go talk to Louise. I can handle the morning rush.” Michelle says.
“There’s like no one here.” I say.
“Exactly.” Michelle says, “Don’t worry about meanager, go catch up with your old girlfriend.”
“Lovely.” Louise says, “What do you say Jerry, catch up with your old girlfriend?”
I look at Michelle and try to give her the-I’m-really-going-to-kill-you-this-time look, but she is already gone. “Sure.”
“So what have you been up to Jerry?” Louise says once we sit down in the table at the corner of the café.
“Nothing.” I say.
“Nothing?” Louise says laughing, “I haven’t seen you in twenty years and ‘nothing’ is the best you can do? What happened in the army? How was that?”
“I never went.” I say looking at the salt on the table. Why do we have salt on the table? We mostly sell pastries and coffee.
“What do you mean you never went?” Louise says looking at me strangely. “Where did you go after graduation?”
“Did you get to walk?” I ask.
“What?” Louise asks.
“At graduation.” I say, “You came to my house, but I just realized they most likely didn’t call your name yet so you probably didn’t have a chance to walk.”
“No, I didn’t.” Louise says.
“Wow, I’m sorry.” I say, “I know how much that meant to you. Walking I mean.”
Louise just looks at me. I know what she’s thinking. Even after all these years I can read her like a book. “So do you have any kids?” Louise asks changing the subject.
“No, no kids.” I say, “Do you?”
“I’m a writer.” Louise says. “But I’m sure Michelle has told you that.”
“Yeah, you’re really good.” I say.
“I bet you were surprised.” Louise says laughing, “I only passed my English classes in high school because you wrote half my papers.”
“I forgot about that.” I say laughing, “You were a really bad writer Lou.”
“That’s the first time I’ve seen you smile since I’ve been in here.” Louise says.
“What? This isn’t the first time you’ve seen me in here?” I asks.
“Oh please Jerry.” Louise says, “You really think I didn’t see you hiding behind every wall and chair?”
“Wow.” I say, shaking my head. “So why didn’t you say anything?”
“Obviously you weren’t ready to see me.” Louise says. “But Michelle says you would be eventually. She said to give you some time.”
“Michelle?” I say looking angrily in the direction of the backroom.
“Don’t be mad at her.” Louise says, “She loves you. At first I thought you guys were together, because of the way she talked about you I mean. But she clarified that you were like a grandfather to her.”
“Grandfather?” I say laughing, “I’m not that old.”
“I know.” Louise says laughing, “She’s really funny Jerry. Why aren’t you guys together?”
“It’s never been like that with us.” I say.
“I know, I’m asking why?” Louise asks.
“I don’t know.” I say, “When we met we just clicked, in a different way and it always stayed that way. Besides sometimes I think she doesn’t like men or something.”
“She’s not a lesbian Jerry.” Louise says shaking her head.
“How would you know?” I ask smiling.
“Because, I’m a woman and I know.” Louise says.
“Well I think you’re wrong.” I say still smiling.
“Oh Jerry, don’t you know, boyfriends are supposed to let their girlfriends win sometimes.” Louise says smiling.
I stop smiling. Those words. I know she only meant to be funny, but I don’t know. It takes me back to when she first said them…when we were six. “I probably should get back to work.” I say. “It was really nice seeing you Louise.”
I get up and walk to the backroom. I hear Louise trying to say something, but it’s too late, I’m already gone.
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