(Memoir Excerpt #5)
After our celebratory dinner of green onion sandwiches, I knew it was about time I called my mother. I had been gone a week and a half and save for my note on the kitchen fridge and two messages I left for her on the voicemail at home when I knew she would be at work, I hadn’t had any contact.
I pulled on my jacket and walked to the payphone in the parking lot. I had to call collect because I didn’t have any money to spare.
She answered, “Where are you?” she sounded cold.
“I’m in Kelowna, do you have a pen? I’ll give you the number to the motel in case of an emergency.”
“Who are you with?”
“I’m with Chuck. Is Matthew there?” She handed him the phone.
“Where are you going?” My brother said.
“I’m not sure. How’s Ky doing?” I needed to know how my cat was.
“I guessed California. She’s fine. The dogs are terrorizing her” He sounded angry.
I gave the phone number to my mother and quickly said I better get going. The call was short and emotionless. It felt like my brother was jealous that I had gotten away.
My mother never did use that number to the motel I gave her.
I took my time walking back to the room. I had a cigarette in the empty parking lot and stared at the mountains as it got dark. It was so quiet I could hear the air whistling in through my nose.
When I got back into the motel room, Chuck was already asleep. He had made a bed for himself on the floor. I didn’t know why he was on the floor. He was probably pissed off at me for being gone so long.
I switched off the light, slipped into the icy bed and cried as quietly as I could. I didn’t want to wake him. Partly because I was scared of what would happen if I did…
It had only been a few months since I had first met Chuck. It was the first week into summer break when he walked into the coffee shop I worked at. All of the girls I worked with whispered to each other about him as he stood in line. He was tall with a chiseled jaw-line, pale white skin, jet-black hair and the most delicate nose. He wore a tight v-neck t-shirt that made his chest muscles bulge out.
“Hi.” He was cocky and intense.
“Hi… Can I help you?”
“Can I have a small black coffee. In a to-go cup.” He said as he locked his eyes into me.
He sat by the window in view of the register where I stood. I saw him take out a notebook and three Pilot Precise pens, light blue, dark green and purple. He lined them up beside his notepad. I watched him between customers. Sometimes he would catch me looking at him and his rosy lips would crack into a big smile.
Three hours later, when my shift was over, he was still there.
“Sit with me” he grabbed my hand as I walked by his table toward the exit.
From that day forward, I was immediately drawn into his world. We would take day-long walks in the park and talk about books, we would sit all day in coffee shops meeting new people and reading poetry, we would spend our nights dancing at underground bars (that he’d have to sneak me into because I was underage).
Some days we discussed everything from Kerouac to evolution, other days we would spend sitting in complete silence facing each other reading or writing in our journals. Every few days he’d show up with a new book for me, Hesse, Ginsburg, Ayn Rand and I would devour it. He was mysterious, and dangerous. He never spoke about himself or his family or his past. I knew nothing about him. And he didn’t want to know about me either.
We had run around the city together for almost two moths, but I hadn’t realized that I barely knew him at all.
When the alarm went off a few hours later I was excited to get to work. Every day felt like a new start. We gobbled up the leftover sandwiches for breakfast and arrived at the apple farm when it was still dark.
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