[Phil was driving half way across the country to our hometown in a hurry in the middle of the night, trying to get there before his dad died. I was talking with him, helping him stay awake. This is the second part of the conversation. I am sitting at my desk in the living room.]
Phil was quiet for a few moments, and I worried that he was falling sleep, so I started asking questions I had been wondering about and bringing up whatever I could to keep him talking.
I asked what happened to his truck? He said it’s sitting at his daughter’s, will stay there until he gets back to the beach in May. He will drive it out to the midwest when it’s warmer.
I asked about how his Christmas went. He said it was rushed, as he was still closing up the house and taking things to storage until about 2:30 pm, then dashed to his daughter’s for presents and dinner. He said he got an iPad but hadn’t taken it out of the box yet. He got more football logo clothes. He said he had dropped something on his toe and broke it! I said he was supposed to mention stuff like that to me when it happens! He said he has done it so many times, he doesn’t think much of it anymore. Nothing to be done about it.
He talked about how he got up at 6 am this morning and was on the elliptical at the gym by the time I messaged him at 6:30 am. He talked about how all the moving boxes had shown up at their place yesterday. How everything arrived intact except a pair of $135 Ugg Boots disappeared out of a box of shoes. He said the packers were awful, padded stuff because they get paid by the box, but didn’t pack right, just tossed in papers on top and how that upped his weight and cost more. But they lucked out because the movers were careful. He said he’d hoped for a break during the day, but they pestered him constantly about where to put what and things didn’t fit where they’d planned and so forth. And then the phone rang about 1 pm telling him his dad was on his last legs. He spent an hour on the phone trying to get a flight, getting more and more frustrated and decided to drive.
We talked about places he could go to church near his new house. I got on google maps and found two possibilities. I checked out their web sites and read him tidbits.
He said he’d likely drive back on Saturday, New Year’s Day. I said he had to be prepared for his father to die, to stay and have a funeral. He said he really had to go back to work by Tuesday, that his brother would have to deal. I asked if his brother could do it, and Philip wasn’t sure. Said he might have to help remotely. I said they should get going on preparations in any case, even if his dad recovered, so the plan would be in place and not have to be thrown together when the end comes.
We talked about funeral homes. I looked up info and emailed him phone numbers of people we knew who are running them. He remembered one, just a few years older than he is. We talked about cemeteries. He said his dad would probably want to be buried with his parents. I told him the funeral home can help deal with them, to trust them to know all that has to be done.
I asked if he’d seen the message about my support envelopes. He said he saw the header but not the details, so I explained what it was and he marveled at how much people would do for me. He wasn’t surprised.
We got talking about restaurants. He mentioned Neba Roast Beef and Mike’s submarines, restaurants in the same building near the airport that closed long ago. He raved about their roast beef with shaved onions, and the Italian cold cut sub. I was astonished he knew about that place, as it was out of the way, but we went there all the time. And that’s exactly what we always ordered to share! I told him about a similar spot out here – Kelly’s Roast Beef on the beach in Revere, and feeding French fries to the seagulls, about how that is my dad’s go-to place whenever he has a choice. He mentioned a little Italian place on State Street in Albany that his nephew had taken him to eat, and I told him about my favorite – Jack’s. We talked about Alteri’s and he reported it burned to the ground last year. I told him about how we rarely went out to eat as children, just HoJo’s on Sundays. Or Century House. We talked about what restaurants there are in our home town (not much). I said I didn’t think I’d ever been to some of them, and he allowed as how it was considered unsafe in our day because of the immigrants and blacks who lived at that end of town. And how stupid that was. I mentioned how my parents had freaked when I brought home a black kid I was dating. So unlike them with their liberal views about most things. When they never freaked about any of the other strange boys I dated. He wondered if something else about the kid upset them. I told him they had liked him, still do. How my mom always points out articles about him in the home town paper they’re still getting in the mail.
He told me about his grandparents. He talked about how his grandmother was mean, like his father, but his grandfather was mellow. He said his father had a stroke awhile back and they put him on some medication and he was so much mellower. But that he should have been on it all along. He would take it for awhile and be calmer, but then decide he didn’t need it and stop and get crazy again. How strong he was. How he got so angry for no reason and hurt them. Knocked out teeth. I told him I remembered him talking about the abuse while I was in D.C. He said when he left for the military, he swore he would never spend another night in their house, and he never has. He said they offer and he always finds a way not to do it, that the ghosts are too much.
I asked what he did in the summer for work during high school. I told him about my summer jobs in offices and he talked about his outside work. I talked about how people can change – how mean my older sister was to me as a child, and how she left for college when I was little. He said he knew about her, but doesn’t remember her. I told him how odd it was that I ended up living with her as an adult for years, how it astonished my parents.
We talked about the church events. He remembers them fondly, especially the dinners. He said the churches in town had such a great dinners. I remembered the spaghetti supper at the Catholic church and how I got into trouble for cutting up my pasta when I went with the boyfriend after him. He remembered him. I told him about that guy going to jail, which he had not heard.
He said he was breaking the law, speeding about 85 mph, but all the traffic was doing that, mostly trucks. That there were a lot of state cops out. I said yeah, end of the month, holiday week etc. We talked about the local police in our home town, how they have all this fancy equipment and how unnecessary it is. About our classmates who became troopers. He said they have pretty good jobs, unlike the city cops. More likely to get run over than shot. I said there was a bad spell of that this fall with troopers getting hit and killed near Boston.
There was a brief pause. I worried again that he was falling asleep. He took a deep breath and started talking about how much he had enjoyed our evening together two weeks ago. He said he’d been telling someone about the baked stuffed lobster, with too many crumbs but amazing lobster meat, shrimp and scallops. He went on about how great dinner was from soup to nuts, that the appetizers were great, the chowder just right, the wine, the scotch, how nice the waitress was and the silly heart on the dessert. I said, “Yeah, we couldn’t even fool the frickin waitress.” He was puzzled and asked me to repeat that. He laughed. I asked him if he paid her to put that heart on his dessert, and he said no but he did give her a big tip. I said there had been another missed opportunity, when I tried to do something with my toes during dinner, but it didn’t quite work out. We agreed we need to find somewhere with seating that makes sense for us to be on the same side of the table so we can torture each other.
He said it was so great to see my spectacular balcony view, and how easy it was to meet my husband. I told him my husband wanted to stay and play with us but I wasn’t ready for that. He said that would’ve been different. That it would have been fine if he watched. Not sure about more. He said it was fun to see my office, but that he missed an opportunity to shove me down on the desk and fuck me. He said he should have done more than talk. He wished we had more time.
I took a deep breath at that, a sign that he was ready to talk sexy. I said that would have been amazing, that I almost took it as a sign when the lights went out and wouldn’t come back, but he seemed distracted by then, tired and ready to go. I said I had some inkling as to what that might have been like, as he’d already tried it on chat that day when my boss was sitting on the edge of my desk. He chuckled about that. I got up and went into my bedroom.