Tired of Relationships
I slammed down the receiver on the telephone. I stood there a moment in anger before starting to pace in frustration. What was with guys and not listening to me? I had seen Jerry at the fancy restaurant with the woman. I could tell that the woman had not been any relation of Jerry’s. No one acted like that toward a relation unless they had serious issues.
I wished I had had the courage to confront Jerry at the restaurant. Then I won’t be dealing with his disbelief that the relationship was over. I had told him that fact three times before I started yelling it in his ear.
The phone started to ring again. I didn’t stop pacing the living room of my apartment to answer it. I knew exactly who it was and dealing with him was pointless because he wasn’t going to listen to me.
What was it with me choice in men? It was like I had this self-destructive part of me that didn’t want me to be happy in a relationship. It is true that Jerry was far more charming than the rest of them, but apparently that equalled out to serial dater.
The phone hadn’t stopped ringing. It kept saying, I know you’re home, pick up. I would have picked it up, but I knew the only person who would be calling me was Jerry. My parents were dead and I didn’t have any other close family. I wasn’t important enough at work to warrant evening phone calls. And a telemarketer would have given up by now and moved on. No, it had to be Jerry and his inability to realize that the relationship was over. At least I hadn’t given him more than a dozen dates, I thought.
My frustration turned to tiredness and I collapsed on to the couch. I felt the tears of self-pity well up in my eyes. I blinked them back. They didn’t help in this matter.
The phone stopped ringing. I sighed in relief and hoped for a peaceful evening. The phone started to ring again. I groaned as I pressed my face into a cushion to muffle the scream.
There was someone banging at the door. I lifted her face and listened. I was pretty sure it couldn’t be Jerry, but in case it was I was trying to remember if I had locked the door on my way in.
“Answer the damn phone already,” the voice yelling through the door was that of the older woman who lived in the apartment below my apartment. The woman who was always complaining about something I did and any sound coming from any other apartment was my fault. The manager also believed the woman and I was about two warnings away from being kicked out. I froze as if it would make the world go away. The pounding on the door stopped and I could hear the woman leaving, probably to go tell the manager.
The phone continued to ring, but I didn’t move. I hoped that if I let the phone stop on its own the woman downstairs would think I had gone out.
The ringing seemed to go on forever as I sat there as still as possible and tried not to breathe too loudly. I didn’t want to make any noise that would indict I was home. I was even scared to put the cushion down. Minutes passed like hours. The clock on the wall ticked the seconds away, but since I could not see it the clock was more a mental torment than helpful.
The ringing stopped just as I could hear some shuffling outside my door. The woman from downstairs was back and the building manager was with her.
“I don’t hear any phone,” the manager could be heard muffled through the door.
“It was making a racket just a moment ago,” the woman replied, “Aren’t you going to go anything about it.”
“She obviously isn’t home to pick it up,” the manager said, “I’m sure she would’a picked it up if she was home.”
“She was making a racket not that long ago,” the woman said, “She’s in there.”
“There isn’t any lights on,” the manager said, “And you told me that she didn’t answer you knock. Must’a been someone of either side of you that you heard making noise.”
“It was her,” the woman said, “And that phone is making it hard for me to rest.”
“I can’t do anything about her phone,” the manager said, “If she ain’t home she can’t do anything about her phone. And if the phone is making too much noise, just do what you always do and turn up your game show.”
“I want her out,” the woman’s voice got louder.
“She ain’t done nothing,” the manager said.
“Her phone is not letting me rest,” the woman shouted.
“And you’re disturbing the rest of my tenants with your screams,” the manager shouted back, “If you don’t back off, I’ll have to raise your rent to what everybody else has to pay.”
“You can’t do that,” the woman screamed.
“I can and I will if you don’t leave off,” the manager shouted, “She ain’t making any noise. Her phone is silent and she ain’t home. Now, go back to your flipping apartment so I can have my peace.”
“You can’t talk to me like that,” the woman screamed.
“That ain’t all I can do,” the manager shouted back. There were footsteps of him leaving. The woman stayed where she was for half a second before it sounded like she followed him. She started screaming at him, but the sound moved off.
The sound was just about gone and I was starting to relax when the phone started to ring again. I jumped at the first ring and quickly got to my feet. I searched around the couch and the end table until I found the phone jack. I pulled it out and sat there on the floor in the silence it gave me. I breathed a sigh of relief then the thought of whether I locked the door came to me.
If Jerry couldn’t get me on the phone he might show up on my doorstep. I got to my feet in a hurry and went to the door. I checked the locks and found that they were all unlocked. I locked everything before going back to the living room and sinking down on the couch.
It was starting to get dark and I hadn’t turned any lights on or even finished closing the curtains. I lay down on the couch with my feet tucked in as if I was scared that someone would look into my fourth floor apartment window and see me. I laid my head down on the cushion and hoped the world would just leave me alone for the night. My stomach growled, but there wasn’t anything in my kitchen that didn’t require cooking. I couldn’t cook now. The woman downstairs would be back on her couch soon and would report any sound she heard in my apartment. And then there was the possibility that Jerry might show up. He would keep knocking and begging through the door if he thought I was home.
So, I let my stomach growl and didn’t move. I closed my eyes, but sleep wasn’t coming to me with so many worries in my mind. Jerry was going to be a problem, with his lack of listening skills. The woman downstairs might successfully get me evicted, though I couldn’t think of any reason the woman has a problem with her. I had never done anything to the woman. Fortunately, work was fine. My latest project was going great. If everything continued as it had then I would be finished it a week earlier than projected.
I heard a sound outside the window. I held my breath as I listened. Then I heard it again and again. It was rain hitting the window. I exhaled and started to breath normally again. At first it was just a few raindrops, but it quickly turned into a down pour. I closed my eyes again and let the rain be a lullaby to me.
My father had been a ship captain, whether it was his own boat or other people’s he didn’t care as long as he could feel the water under his feet. My mother had loved the ocean and was more than willing to move aboard a ship. My mother had called my father the gentleman pirate, but I knew my father hadn’t been a pirate. I had spent the first six years of my life on a boat. I had loved it, even the loneliness was easier to deal with when I was on the ocean. If my parents hadn’t gone out on the stormy night to rescue the people who were sending out a distress signal, then they would probably still be alive today. But they had gone out and they had been lost in the storm. The rescue crews found the boat that sent out the distress signal, but no one was still alive. My parent’s boat had been attached to it at some point, but it looked like the rope had broken. The boat was never found, but a few pieces belonging to it did.
I had hoped for years that my parents would turn up, but instead I was sent to live with my aunt, who lived miles from any body of water and refused to learn how to swim. I had learned to accept this fate, but some times during stormy nights she longed for the ocean.
The sound of the rain almost drowned out the knocking at the door, but I still heard it. The knocking stopped as the person on the other side waited for an answer. I didn’t move. The knocking came again.
“Erica,” Jerry’s voice came through the door as he knocked again, “Erica, please open the door. We need to talk. I know you are there, please just open the door so we can talk.”
Jerry kept knocking and talking through the door. I removed the cushion from under my head and rested my ear against the couch. I put the cushion on top of the other ear and pressed down so I couldn’t hear Jerry anymore. His words oozed their usual honey, but I could now hear the lies and the manipulation. I wasn’t going to open the door for a guy who was going to lie to me and manipulate me just so he could go out with multiple girls at once. I knew I deserved better than that. At least that told me why I had agreed to go out with him to start with. With many of the other guys I dated the answer wasn’t so easy to figure out. Maybe I am moving up in the dating world. I am no longer dating the slug trail, I am now up to dating the slug.
A flash of light filled the room. I removed the cushion so I could see more clearly. A boom of thunder rolled overheard. The rain was coming down harder than it had been before. Another flash of lightening filled the room. It lit up the room and showed the chairs, end tables, the coffee table, the bookcase full of books about anything that floats on water, and the picture of my parents that hung on the wall across the room from the couch. The picture looked the same as it always did, but the lightening had lit it up and I thought I had seen something that could not be there. It seemed as if my parents were telling me that I was in a bad position and needed to find a way out.
I got up off the couch and softly padded over to the picture. I gently touched each of my parent’s face.
“I wish I had my own gentleman pirate,” I whispered.
A loud roll of thunder came as the room lit up lightening. I turned to the window. I felt blind and deaf as the thunder and lightning continued. I wondered if this was how my parents felt before they disappeared.
The thunder and lightning ended and the air was silent and still. There wasn’t anyone knocking at the door and there was no blaring televisions. Just the sounds of rain hitting the window. I walked to the window and looked out. The whole neighbourhood was blackness stretching out before me. There was no streetlights, or lights from other buildings, or even from cars going passed on the street below.
I sat down on the couch and closed my eyes. Thunder went over head. Then there was a flash of lightning I could see with my eyes closed. The rain continued as hard as ever. The thunder and lightning were now drifting farther away. I was sure I could smell the sea air and fell the rolling of the waves beneath me. I was sure I was on a boat somewhere at sea and I was happy there.
I woke up to blinding sunlight coming in my window. With the curtain still open, it poured in and lit up the room with its warm and friendly glow. I sat up and pulled the curtain all the way open. The sunlight was bright to my eyes, but I somehow felt better than I had the night before. Perhaps the storm had refreshed me, as it always did. Storms were rare in this part of the world, but when one did come through I felt better afterwards.
I went into the kitchen and opened the curtains in there as well. It filled the kitchen with brightness that bounced of the cream coloured walls to get into all the dark corners. The stove clock and the microwave both flashed a time that didn’t look correct. I didn’t do anything about them at that moment. Instead I went into my bedroom. I left the curtain closed as I striped off her wrinkled clothes from yesterday.
There was a man in the next building who had a telescope on his balcony and I didn’t feel like giving him a show today. I went into the bathroom and stepped into the shower.
When I was finished I toweled off and found some casual clothes. It was Saturday and I wasn’t needed at work today.
I went back to the kitchen. The clocks were still flashing as if to remind me the power had gone out and they needed to be reset. I looked at the stove clock for a minute before deciding I would do something different today and go out for breakfast. I almost never went out alone and found it uncomfortable on those times when I did. But this morning I could not think of any reason not to go out for breakfast.
I went into the living room and picked up my purse off the table near the door. I checked through it to make sure I had everything before slipping on a pair of sandals. I unlocked the door and looked out. Jerry wasn’t there and neither was the woman from the apartment below mine. The manager wasn’t in sight either. I stepped into the hallway and locked the door behind me. I took the stairs and went out the front door without meeting anyone.
I looked around once I was outside the apartment building. Jerry wasn’t waiting for me and I didn’t see his car parked anywhere near the building. I was relieved at that and started down the street toward the family style restaurant at the end of the street.
The restaurant was crowded when I arrived. There were even a few people waiting outside on the sidewalk. Most of them were groups of four or more. They let me passed and into the restaurant. The hostess stood behind a counter and was directing a couple servers who stopped to speak with her. She noticed I coming in passed groups of people sitting on seats waiting to be given a table.
“How many in your group?” the hostess asked.
“Just one,” I answered.
“Okay,” the hostess said. The hostess pointed to something under the counter for the server who stood beside her.
“This way,” the server said as she picked up a menu. I followed her into the restaurant proper. We went passed several tables full of people. We went along an area between two rows of table to a raised area that was open and had several placed around in a circle. Most of the tables up here were for two or four people. The tables that had four chairs were full, but only one of the tables with two chairs had been taken. He had his back to me as I followed the server into the area. The server picked at table at the end of the area. I sat down in the chair that faced the rest of the area and had my back to the wall. The server placed the menu in front of me before pulling out her pad and pencil.
“What can I get for you to drink today?” the server asked.
“Coffee, please,” I answered.
“Okay,” the server said, “I will be back in just a minute.” She left me alone, but she checked on some of the other customers on her way out of the area.
I ignored everyone else as I opened her menu and looked at the choices. There were all the standard options for breakfast like pancakes, waffled, and bacon and eggs. There were also the options like breakfast wraps, fruit salads, and even yogurt and granola. I looked them over and studied the pictures of each meal option. I finally decided on the bacon and eggs. Bacons and eggs were always delicious, but tasted best when made by someone else made them.
I closed her menu as the server came back with a pot of coffee in one hand and a plate of creamers in the other. She set the plate of the creamers in the centre of the table. She turned over the cup that was on the table and poured the coffee into it.
“Have you decided what you want?” the server asked.
“Yes,” I answered, “I will have the bacon and eggs.”
“White or whole wheat toast?” the server asked as she set down the coffee pot and pulled out her pad.
“White,” I asked.
“How would you like the eggs cooked?” the server asked.
“Sunny side up,” I answered.
“Anything else?” the server asked.
“Orange juice,” I answered.
“Okay, anything else?” the server asked.
“No, that is everything, thank you,” I said. The server noted it all on the pad before putting the pad away.
“Okay,” the server smiled as she picked up the coffee pot. I watched her as the server walked away. The server stopped at the man’s table to offer him a refill. He accepted it. The server refilled his cup before moving along.
The man caught my attention. He had black hair that came to his shoulder and hung in clumps of curls. It looked clean, but like it had not been brushed out. His eyes were hazel with thick eyebrows. His nose matched his face in size and shape. His lips were on the thin side, but it may have been the mustache. The mustache and beard were only around his lips and were carefully groomed. The beard did hang down a bit in a way not fashionable by anyone I had met, but it seemed to fit him. He was either olive-skinned be nature or was deeply tanned.
The man was wearing a black rain jacket over a white shirt. I could see the work boots and blue jeans under the table. Even under the clothing, I could tell the man was built as if he had a job where he did a lot of physical labour. The shoulders and arms both looked thick with muscle, but he was not heavy like some bikers look like. The hands that sat on the table looked rough and callasused even from a distance.
The man did not appear to notice I was staring at him. He was busy reading the paper spread out on the table and eating breakfast. He had ordered the bacon and eggs, but he received them before I had sat down. The man projected an energy of confidence even while relaxing over breakfast. That energy drew my eyes back to the man time and time again even though I was trying not to stare. I wanted to go over and introduce myself. I wanted to know his name and find out more about him. However, I just stayed in my seat and tried not to stare at him for fear he would notice and not be happy about it.
A man who looked that good couldn’t be available. He probably had a girlfriend and several women who irritated him by hanging around hoping he would look their direction. I wasn’t a groupie of any guy and I definitely wasn’t into trying to steal other people’s boyfriends. I would just admire from a distance and hope that someday I could find a guy who treated me well. At this moment that didn’t look I was ever going to find that guy.
In fact at that moment I saw Jerry come up the stairs from the lower section of the restaurant. At the top he headed the direction of my table. I wanted to find some way to escape Jerry, but my back was to the wall and any way out would involve going passed Jerry.
Jerry sat down in the chair across from me. I felt his knees brush mine and I pulled my legs back as far as I could from him.
“I knocked on your door last night,” Jerry said, “But you didn’t answer.”
“I went out,” I replied curtly.
“You should have told me while we were on the phone,” Jerry said, “We could have gone out together.”
“Because we are not together,” I said, “I told you that I had no interest in seeing you ever again.”
“That is a little extreme,” Jerry said, “That wasn’t what you were saying two days ago. We can talk about whatever is bothering you and sort this out.”
“I don’t want to sort it out,” I raised the volume of my voice without thinking about where I was, “I want you to go away and leave me alone.”
“This isn’t like you at all,” Jerry said.
“You don’t know what I am like,” I was close to screeching, “I want you to leave me alone.”
“Now, Erica, I’m sure,” Jerry started.
“I believe the lass asked you to leave her alone,” the voice was deep with a thick accent to the words. I looked up to see the man standing behind Jerry’s chair. Jerry stood up and turned to the man.
“This is a private conversation,” Jerry said getting in the man’s face, “And is none of your business.”
I couldn’t tell when the man was sitting, but now I could see he was over six feet and a little wider than Jerry. Jerry looked almost like a child compared to the man, but Jerry didn’t appear to have noticed this fact.
“You are poking you nose where it doesn’t belong,” Jerry said taking another step forward as if he could force the man to back off. The man didn’t move and Jerry found himself just closer to the man than he was comfortable. Jerry didn’t back down. He probably thought it would show weakness and wouldn’t get the man to go away.
“She asked you to leave,” the man answered, “I heard it from where I was sitting. I would be suggesting that you leave now.”
“You can suggest whatever you want I don’t have to listen to you,” Jerry shouted in the man’s face.
I wanted to slide under the table and disappear. I could not get up and leave because the guys were standing in the way. Also, if I tried Jerry would go with me and I would not be able to get rid of him. But everyone in the section was looking at the guys as well as several people who had stood up and were looking over from the other section. Several servers were also standing there. One of them had left to get the manager, probably, but everyone else just stayed and stared. Jerry didn’t seem to care that he was making a scene in the middle of a restaurant. The man appeared to be aware of the crowd and not worrying about them.
“All I say is that you are bothering the lass and should leave,” the man said. He was calm in the face of Jerry’s anger. I realized his accent was Irish.
“And I told you it isn’t any of your business,” Jerry shouted.
“You’re disturbing everyone else,” the man said, “And the lass obvious has no interest in you attentions.”
Jerry lifted his arm, pulled his fist back and let the punch fly. The man caught Jerry’s wrist before the fist connected. The man twisted the arm around so he had it pinned to Jerry’s back and Jerry was facing me. Jerry looked like he was in pain. I didn’t do anything to stop the man and help Jerry. The man twisted Jerry’s arm a little more to get Jerry to move. They turned around and the man directed Jerry toward the stairs. They went down them with everyone’s eyes following them. No one turned to look at me.
I set my hands on the table in an effort to get them to stop shaking. Jerry would probably wait outside the restaurant and way lay me when I left. The fear and uncertainty of yesterday evening was coming back to me as if the storm never happened. My thought of going out to breakfast had been a bad idea. Jerry must have been farther up the street or he was using a different car. There was no other way for him to know where I was. I took a sip of coffee and just about spilled some on myself. I set the cup down and tried to force myself to relax.
The man came back up the stairs and into the section. He walked as if he didn’t have a worry in the world and there was no rush. He sat down at his table and went back to his newspaper. He didn’t appear to notice I staring at him trying to get up the nerve to go over and talk to him. I felt like I was frozen to my seat. I should go over there and thank him, but I wasn’t sure what to say. He had made Jerry look like the slug that he was. He had been a gentleman. And I was being rude by not going over and thanking him for his help.
I pushed my chair back and slowly got to my feet. I walked the short distance to the man’s table. I hoped my shaking knees weren’t obvious. He looked up at me once I reached his table. I found his hazel eyes so enchanting I almost forgot what I was going to say.
“I wanted to thank you for your help in dealing with Jerry,” I said.
“Someone needed to deal with the cur,” the man said, “A lady like yourself shouldn’t be stuck with such a problem.”
“He was my boyfriend until last night when I broke up with him,” I said, “He hasn’t seemed to grasp that I’m not interested being with him.”
“Then he most definitely needed the lesson,” the man said.
“Thank you for your help in getting him to leave me alone,” I said. I smiled at the man before starting to turn around to go back to my own table.
“Perhaps ye would be willing to grant me your company,” the man said, “I’ve been in town only a short time and haven’t found anyone to sit and speak with.”
“Certainly, I’ll join you,” I said, “Just let me get my coffee cup.”
“As you wish,” the man said. I went back to my table and picked up my coffee cup. I took it back to the man’s table and set it down on the table before sitting in the chair opposite from him.
“I’m Erica Gardner,” I said.
“Casey Boyd,” the man answered.
“What are you in town for?” I asked.
“I’m here to see a man about a boat,” Casey answered.
“What kind of boat?” I asked. I knew the ocean was only a hour down the road, but I never had the car to get there or the boat when I arrived. I had thought about getting both, but never truly had the money to afford either.
“A sailing ship,” Casey answered, “But the man’s has up and gone missing. I can’t find him anywhere. I’m going to be searching all in hopes he’ll turn up. Only got a couple of days before I’m needed back.”
“It is the weekend and I have time,” I said, “Maybe I can help.”
“Help would be greatly appreciated,” Casey said.
“Where were you supposed to meet him?” I asked.
“His house,” Casey answered, “But I went to the neighbourhood as I had done before and the house be gone. There be a new one in its place, but the woman who answered the door didn’t know the man nor where he be.”
“Likely he moved,” I said, “When did you last speak to him?”
“A year and a bit,” Casey answered.
“Then any changes to his address should be in the phone book,” I said.
The server arrived with my meal. She stopped at Casey’s table and set the plate and glass in front of me before taking Casey’s empty plate.
“Can I get you anything else?” the server asked.
“No, thank you,” I answered.
“And you?” the server looked at Casey, “A refill maybe?”
“I’m fine,” Casey answered.
“Very well,” the server said. She moved off.
“That sounds easy to search for him,” Casey said.
“We’ll have to see if he is in the phone book,” I said, “Some people aren’t necessarily in there, or they have cell phones.”
Casey nodded, but I felt like he hadn’t understood what I had just said. I started to eat my breakfast.
“What is your job?” Casey asked.
“I work as a clerk at an insurance company,” I answered.
“Paper work,” Casey said.
“Yes,” I said.
“Do you find your work interesting?” Casey asked.
“Not really, but it pays well enough for me,” I answered.
“You must have a hobby that interests you,” Casey said.
“I spend a lot of time reading,” I replied.
“On what subject?” Casey asked.
“Sailing,” I answered, “And other things that have to do with the ocean.”
“Dreaming of sailin’?” Casey asked.
“Somewhat,” I answered, “Also my parents used to own a boat and I lived with them on it until I was six. I miss the ocean, so I read books about it.”
“Isn’t far, why not go visit?” Casey asked.
“I don’t know,” I answered, “I’ve thought about it, but just haven’t gotten there.”
“The ocean is better than any books,” Casey said, “The smell of the air, the rocking of the boat, the wildlife, the freedom, the water. All those things that make the sea a great place to be can’t be found in a book.”
“Someday I’ll get back there,” I said.
“You can come visit my ship,” Casey said.
“Thank you for the offer,” I said, “I’ll think about it.”
“Where do ye find a phone book?” Casey asked.
“The restaurant might have one they will let us look through,” I said.
“I will go check,” Casey said. He stood up and went toward the stairs. I ate as I watched him go.
I had introduced myself without embarrassing myself and he had willingly invited me to sit with him. And I was going to help him find the person he was looking for. That likely meant I would not be walking out of the restaurant alone, but with Casey. If I was with Casey then Jerry wasn’t likely to bother me. I would still have to watch out for him apparently, but he wouldn’t bother me this time. This might actually turn into a good day after all.
Casey came back with the phone book in his hand. He sat back down in his chair and set the phone book on the table. He pushed it towards me. I moved my plate over enough that I had room for both the plate as well as the book.
“What is the man’s name?” I asked.
“Black Henry,” Casey answered.
“Are those his first and last name?” I asked looking up at Casey.
“Henry McGlint,”Casey answered.
“Okay,” I said. I flipped through the phone book until I reached the M’s. I went down the rows until I found McGlint. There were three entries under McGlint. One J. McGlint, one Laura McGlint, and one H. R. McGlint.
“What was the address Henry McGlint where living before?” I asked.
“Bering crescent,” Casey answered.
I looked at the entries, none of them were on Bering crescent.
“We can try these entries,” I said, “We can start with the H. R. McGlint.”
“You know where these places are?” Casey asked.
“I think I know where two of them are,” I said, “But I would have to find a map to figure out where the third one is. I have a map back at my apartment that we can use.”
“This sounds like a good start,” Casey said.
I finished the few bites of my breakfast. I wrote the addresses on a napkin before closing the phone book.
The server came passed. She delivered plates to one of the other tables in the section before stopping at the table with Casey and me.
“Anything else that I can get either of you?” the server asked as she picked up my plate.
“The bill,” Casey answered.
“For me as well,” I said.
“Okay, I’ll be right back with those,” the server said. She headed for the stairs.
The server came back a minute later. She gave Casey his bill and me mine.
“You can pay at the front counter,” the server said before leaving us. Casey picked up his bill and looked it over. I dug into my purse and pulled out a tip for the server then I picked up my bill. I didn’t look at it before getting up. Casey got up and led the way out of the section. We went through the next section to the front counter. There was no line up so Casey was immediately helped by the hostess. I waited behind him. When Casey was done paying he stepped out of the way, but didn’t leave. I stepped forward and paid my bill. I was finished as soon as the debit machine printed the receipt. The hostess gave me the receipt with a smile.
“Come back again,” the hostess said.
“Thank you,” I replied as I took the receipt and put it into my purse. I turned from the front counter and Casey moved to leave. I followed him outside.
When they were outside, I looked around, but couldn’t see Jerry anywhere. I was relieved because none of the vehicles looked familiar either.
“Which way to your apartment?’ Casey asked. He had stopped and turned to me.
“This way,” I said before leading the way back down the street to my apartment building. Casey kept up with me.
“How can you live in such a crammed space as an apartment?” Casey asked, “Especially after living on a boat.”
“I lived in a house nowhere near water for thirteen years between living on the boat and where I am now,” I answered, “So, I got used to smaller spaces. When I moved out from the house the only thing I could afford was an apartment and that is all I’ve been able to pay for since.”
“Then your job doesn’t pay you enough,” Casey said, “An apartment is too small for human souls. It stunts the growth and energy of people. A house is bad enough, but an apartment is horrible.”
“But when money is tight it can be the only option,” I said. Casey shook his head, but didn’t say anything else.
We reached the apartment building and I let us in with my key. I led the way up the stairs to the fourth floor. We went down the hallway. Standing outside my door with the woman from the apartment below and she didn’t look happy.
“Your phone rang all night,” the woman accused me and stared me down.
“I’m sorry about that,” I said, “I was not home to get it.”
“You were making noise,” the woman said, “I could hear you.”
“It must have been someone else you heard,” I said, “I wasn’t home last night. I was home briefly in the evening, but went out.”
“You were home and your phone disturbed my sleep,” the woman said, “If it happens again I will get you evicted.”
“I am sorry your sleep was disturbed,” I said as I took out my key. The woman started to move passed me and found herself in front of Casey.
“Hello,” the woman said, “I don’t believe we have met.” The woman smiled up at Casey and touched her hair to make sure it was in place. The look she was giving Casey made my stomach churn.
“I am Casey,” Casey said, “It is nice to meet you, megere.”
“It is nice to meet you too,” the woman said as her smile got brighter.
“You’ll have to excuse us, megere, we have business to attend to,” Casey said.
“Of course,” the woman said, “If you need any help I’m in 319.” The woman gave Casey a suggestive smile before moving passed him.
I unlocked the door and opened the door to my apartment. Casey followed me inside the apartment.
“See what I mean about apartments and energy?” Casey asked, “People like that are never good.”
“That’s the happiest I have ever seen her,” I said as I went through the stack of papers on the book case.
“I don’t believe we need her help,” Casey said, “Do you have the map? I wish to remove myself from this place as soon as possible.”
“It should be right here,” I said as I continued to go through the stack of papers. Casey looked around the living room and stepped into the kitchen. I heard him move through the kitchen to the bedroom. A moment later he stepped through the door way from the kitchen to the entry way.
“Small,” Casey said, “But not much furniture.”
“Don’t need much,” I answered. I found the map as the second to last piece of paper in the pile.
“Provides a little more space, but still too cramped,” Casey said.
“Here is the map,” I said, “We can go now.”
“Right,” Casey said. He headed for the door and I followed him. We left the apartment. I locked up behind us. We went down the stairs and left the apartment building.
“Which way?” Casey asked.
“That way,” I answered pointing across the street to the left.
“Okay,” Casey said. He took my hand before stepped into the street. I wasn’t sure that this was a good idea, but I was being pulled along by Casey, who was strong enough I could not get free. Casey dodged the traffic as he pulled me with him. We didn’t go straight across, but exactly the direction I had pointed.
When we reached the other side on the street, Casey let go of my hand, but continued on. I took a deep breath and followed him. We went down to the corner and went around it. We went down that street. As we passed other streets off this one, Casey would glance at me to make sure we weren’t supposed to turn off. I shook my head and we would continue.
The street before the t intersection that signaled the end of the street, I nodded that we should turn left. We went along this street until I signaled we should turn right on to another street about half way down this one. This time I didn’t signal until we were at the crosswalk so we didn’t cross in the middle of the street, which was good because this street was busier than the last one. We went across the street and straight down the next one.
We continued this. Casey set the pace at fast and I would indict which way we should when he glanced at me. We took several lefts and several rights until we reached a neighbourhood of individual houses rather than tall office buildings.
“This is better,” Casey commented as he looked around, “You can at least see there is a sky here. How much farther?”
“Two streets over,” I answered as I stopped to catch me breath, “A street called Spruce.”
“Okay,” Casey said. He started again. I hurried to catch up to him. I was wishing I hadn’t stopped my morning runs. I would have had no problem keeping up to Casey if I had kept going, but my schedule had gotten busier and I decided I didn’t have time.
When we reached Spruce Street, Casey slowed down to a more reasonable pace for me.
“Which house is it?” Casey asked.
“1874,” I answered as I scanned the house numbers as we walked. Casey followed me, but didn’t seem to be looking at the house numbers.
We found the house half way down the street. It was painted a dark blue with white trim. The placement of windows indicted there were two storeys and a basement. The front lawn was all grass except for a flower bed beside the path that went from the front door to the edge of the driveway. There were no other trees or shrubs in the front yard. There was no garage, or car port. The driveway just ended at a white fence stretched across the driveway and headed back to encase the back yard. In the driveway was a large silver sedan. It looked to be in good condition.
Casey headed up the driveway and I followed after a small hesitation. There were no signs of life as we went along the path to the door of the house. Casey knocked on the door. We waited several minutes, but no one came to the door. I looked and found the doorbell. I pressed it once and we heard it chime inside the house. A moment later we could hear movement from inside the house. The footsteps came closer until they arrived at the door and it opened. The woman standing there was five six with black hair, chocolate skin and a compassionate face. She was wearing blue nursing scrubs.
“Yes?” the woman asked.
“We are looking for a Henry McGlint,” Casey said, “Is this his address?”
“I am sorry, but the only person living here is Humbert McGlint,” the woman answered, “He doesn’t have any relatives by the name of Henry that I know about.”
“We have the wrong address then,” Casey said, “Sorry to disturb you.”
“Sorry, I can’t help you,” the woman said before closing the door.
Casey and I went down the path to the driveway and down the driveway to the road.
“Where is the next one?” Casey asked.
“The far side of this neighbourhood,” I answered as I took out the map. I flipped through until I found the right page. I studied the map until I found both streets.
“Which way?” Casey asked.
“That way,” I answered pointing down the street the way they had come. I put away the map. Casey waited until I was ready before going off. I followed him and tried to keep pace with him.
When they reached the end of the street, Casey looked to me for which way we should go. I pointed him in the right direction and we continued. As we went I started dropping behind because Casey’s pace was too fast and I was getting tired. Casey would usually end of waiting for me at the end of the street for me to point out which way to go next. We continued this way until we reached the street we wanted.
“This is the correct street,” I said with a little bit of gasping.
“Which house is it?” Casey asked as he slowed down.
“2583,” I answered as I followed him down the street. I looked at the house numbers and noticed this time so did Casey.
We were just about to the end of the street when I saw the correct house.
“There it is,” I said pointing to the house.
This house was two storeys, but the second storey looked to have one window under a peaked roof. There were no basement windows and no other obvious signs that there was a basement. The house was painted white with red trim. There was a garage back in the yard and was included in the fence. The driveway was gravel and the front path went straight from the curb. There were five large conifers in the front yard and each had a base empty of grass. The rest of the yard had grass that looked to be in need of cutting. There were two windows on either side of the door. One was a living room window based on its size and the other was a kitchen window based on the curtains that could be seen. Under each window was a box of pink and white flowers.
Casey headed up the path to the house and I followed. We went up the three steps to the door. Casey found the doorbell and rang it. Nothing could be heard from inside. Casey and I waited.
Casey was just about to ring the doorbell again when the door opened. The woman who opened it was probably in her sixties. Her hair was not yet completely white, but it was headed that direction. She was thin without being skinny. She was wearing a purple blouse and black pants with black shoes.
“Can I help you with something?” the woman asked. Her voice was sounded younger than she looked.
“We are looking for a Henry McGlint,” Casey answered, “We were wondering if he lived here.”
“I’m Laura McGlint,” the woman said, “But I don’t know of any Henry McGlint. My husband was Walter McGlint, but he’s been dead for several years. No one else lives here.”
“Thank you for your time,” Casey said, “We are sorry we disturbed you.”
“It’s all right,” Laura said, “I hope you find the man you are looking for.”
“Thank you,” Casey said. Laura closed the door as Casey and I headed back down the path.
“That is two of the three,” Casey said, “Where is the third one?”
“I need to look,” I said as I took out the map. I flipped through until I found the correct page, where I studied it looking for the street. Finally I found it.
“Where is it?” Casey asked.
“Across town,” I answered, “We need to catch a bus to get there. The bus stop was a couple streets back.” I glanced at me watch. “And we should be there about the time that next bus arrives.”
“Very well,” Casey said. I put the map away before Casey started back the way we had come. I hurried to keep up with him.
We went back to the street where I had seen the bus stop. I directed Casey to the bus stop, where I sat down on the bench and Casey stayed standing.
“I’m sorry about going so fast,” Casey said, “But I’m in a might hurry to get this done.”
“I know you said you only had a couple days,” I said, “It is okay, I can handle a little bit of speed. I should exercise more, but I can’t seem to find the time. I might get out of breath, but I will keep up.”
“If I start to push too fast tell me and I’ll slow down for you,” Casey said.
“I’ll be okay,” I said.
“What do we do if this last house isn’t the one?” Casey asked.
“Then we can look on the internet and see if we can find him that way,” I answered.
“I’ve been too long at sea,” Casey said, “What’s the internet?”
“It connects pretty much all computers together and you can go on a look up information on it that others have put up,” I answered, “All of it exists in cyber space.”
“That is confusing,” Casey said, “What is cyber space?”
“I’m not very good at explaining it,” I answered, “But it is all digital and does not exist in physical space. All the information is stored on computer servers at various points all over the world. It is hard to describe it.”
“Perhaps I will understand better when you show me,” Casey said.
“Perhaps,” I said.
The bus came around the corner and headed for the bus stop. I dug into my purse for the bus fare. By the time the bus stopped in front of us I had it in my hand and had closed my purse. The door of the bus opened as I stood up. Two people got off before Casey and I got on. I put the fare into the box before moving to the closest seats on the bus. Casey sat down beside me. Once we were both seated the driver closed the door and got the bus moving.
The bus was about half full of people with older people towards the front and young towards the back. Casey and I were the only ones in their age range. There were about three conversations going. Two older ladies near the front, a young couple at the back and the loudest being a teenager on his cellphone complaining about the ridiculous rules his parents set for him, like coming home every night.
Casey watched all the people on the bus with interest and didn’t speak to me. I watched out the window so I could tell when our stop was coming.
The bus stopped several times to let people off and more people to get back on. The same structure remained as far as age and places to sit were concerned. There still weren’t any passengers of Casey and my age. The conversations switch, but there always seemed to be two older ladies, a young couple in the back and someone on their cell phone; although it wasn’t the same person from when Casey and I came on.
The bus went through the neighbourhood of houses to the city centre to another neighbourhood of houses to outlet malls to another neighbourhood where they had more space for parks and yards and green space. The bus stopped in front of a park with a metal fence near the curb and a playground just beyond that. I stood up once the bus stopped and Casey did the same. The driver opened the doors and I went down the stairs and off the bus with Casey following me. There was a group of people waiting at the stop and they got on once Casey and I were clear of the door. I waited until the bus had closed the door and moved on before looking around for the street I was looking for. Casey waited for me somewhat impatiently. The street went along one side of the road with all the houses facing the street. Several other streets went off this one at perpendicular to it.
“There,” I pointed at the one across the street and to the right of where we were. Casey took my hand before starting across. I matched his pace this time because I could see cars coming from both directions and wanted to be out of the street before they arrived. We reached the other side of the street safely and walked along the sidewalk to the street we wanted.
We went down this one at Casey’s pace while I checked the house numbers for the one they wanted. We reached a four way intersection and stopped briefly as Casey made sure there weren’t any vehicles to hit us when we crossed. We continued along the street with Casey setting the pace and me looking at house numbers. We reached other four way intersection and went straight through to continue down the street.
Half way between that intersection and the next one, I stopped. Casey stopped as well and looked at the house.
“Is this the next place?” Casey asked.
“Yes,” I answered.
This house was larger than the other two. The white fence went all the way around the front lawn and the house to go around the back yard. The driveway was to one side of it all and led to a garage that wasn’t attached to the house or even the fence. Half of the house was painted a faded blue and the other half was painted a brighter green with an obvious place where someone took a break from painting. The ladder was set up still and there was a can of paint sitting on the front step. The trim was taped to avoid being painted by accident. Scattered around the grass, that needed cutting, were kids toys. The door was open and even from the street the sound of children’s voices could be heard.
“This is not Henry’s house,” Casey said, “He doesn’t have children and he has no family with children.”
Before I could say anything a dog came racing around the house to the fence and started barking at them. The dog was a black and brown German shepherd. Casey and I backed away from the fence a few feet. A man appeared in the doorway of the house and came outside.
“Rock, sit,” the man called. The German Shepherd sat down and was silent.
“I’m sorry he is bothering you,” the man said as he walked over to the fence. He looked to be in his thirties and his clothes were jeans and tee shirt stained with green paint. Both had other stains on them as well as a few holes.
“It is okay,” Casey said.
“Is there something I can help you with?” the man asked.
“We are looking for a Henry McGlint,” Casey said.
“Never heard of him,” the man said, “Me and my family have lived here for ten years and I haven’t heard of anyone by that name. We are McGlints, but don’t have any family members by that name.”
“We thought we would try,” Casey said, “We will have to try some other way to find him. We are sorry we disturbed you.”
“Good luck on your search,” the man said. He went back toward the house, but the German Shepherd stayed and watched them though the fence. Casey and i headed back the way we had come.
We reached the street with the bus stop, but I didn’t cross the street to go back to it.
“Should we not cross?” Casey asked.
“If we are picked up there it will take us farther out and not back to the city centre which is where we need to go,” I answered, “So, we need to go down this side of the street until we find another bus stop.”
“Okay,” Casey said. He didn’t say anything for a while as we walked. We crossed several streets before he spoke again.
“I am sorry if I am taking up your day,” Casey said, “You probably had other plans.”
“I didn’t have any other plans,” I said, “I hadn’t really thought about what I would do today before I offered to help you.”
“No one else to meet with and talk to?” Casey asked.
“Not really,” I answered, “Aside from a very bad choice in boyfriend, I don’t talk to many people outside of work.”
“How did you meet your bad choice in boyfriend?” Casey asked.
“A co-worker introduced us at a work function,” I answered.
“Perhaps you need to find boyfriends outside of work related events,” Casey said.
“I know I should go out and meet people,” I answered, “But either I’m too tired or the people I meet don’t share my interests. When your main interest is the sea, very few people in the city have an interest in it as well, and those people have no experience on a real boat. It has cut many a conversation short to be brought up. And I am not really interested in much else.”
“You need a boat,” Casey said, “Get away from the bad energy of the city.”
“I can’t really afford that right now,” I said.
“Come with me on mine,” Casey said.
“I will have to think about it,” I said.
“It is a beautiful sailing ship,” Casey enticed, “We travel all over the world and visit amazing places full of things you would never believe if you don’t see them with your own eyes. You can stand on deck and feel the air blow passed you. You can feel the waves move the ship. And the freedom of standing on deck without being able to see anything but the horizon. The blue water reflecting back the light as you look down and see dolphins.”
I was just about to the point of closing my eyes to visualize it all in my head when I saw the bus stop.
“There is the bus stop,” I said pointing to the bench ahead of them.
“All you have to do is say yes and then you can come and sail for a while,” Casey said.
“It is very tempting,” I said, “But I still need to think about it.”
“Okay,” Casey said.
We reached the bus stop and I sat down on the bench while Casey continued to stand.
“Me and my crew stop in at the port regularly,” Casey said, “But only when we need supplies we can’t get anywhere else. That is why I have to find Black Henry. He has something I can’t get anywhere else. He was part of my crew for several years. If he hadn’t fallen in love with that lassie then he might still be sailing with me and my crew. He only stays because she won’t leave. I’ve seen the longing in his eyes when we start talking about the sea. The wistfulness in his tone when he talks about the ship and being aboard are always there for long moments when I visit. But he promised the woman that he loved her and she came before the sea. She accepted it and he has been wishing to be back at sea ever since. I swore a long time ago that any woman I fell for would have to love the sea and be willing to live aboard the ship. Not that it matters much at the moment since there hasn’t been a woman in my life in a long while.”
Before I could say anything the bus turned the corner and came towards us. I dug into my purse for more change. I had just enough for the fare back into the city centre. The bus pulled up to the curb and stopped. I stood up and Casey followed me on to the bus. I put the money in the box and we went to sit down. The closest seats were taken so we moved to the next row. Once we were seated the driver closed the doors and got the bus moving.
This bus had older people to the front and younger people to the back, but there was also a few who looked like university students who were sitting in between the two groups. This bus was quiet with only one conversation going and that was a group of young people at the back.
The bus took tus all through the neighbourhood to the outlet malls, through another residential area and then to the city centre. The bus stopped frequently along all that. More people came on the bus than got off until they reached the city centre where more people started to get off at the stops than were getting on.
The bus stopped on a street of independent shops and I got up. Casey got up and followed me off the bus. We got off the bus and I started off the street. Casey followed me.
“Where we be headed?” Casey asked.
“A computer café,” I answered, “It is just around the corner.”
“Okay,” Casey said, but let Erica lead the way.
They went down the street and around the corner. I went into the third building on this street. This building was much shorter than the rest of them at only two storeys and only one business. There were several windows and a door on the first level. The frequency of windows was cut in half for the second storey. What could be seen of the brick exterior was painted a purplish grey and there were a dozen different stickers and signs on the glass in the door.
I opened the door and stepped inside. Inside there was a low level hum, but no loud conversations. The interior was dim compared to the sunlight outside and it was much colder with the air conditioner blowing full blast. There were tables and desks anywhere that one could be crammed in and all of them had a desktop computer on them. Some of the computers were in use. Near the back of the shop was a computer free counter and a man standing behind it. I went to the counter.
“How long?” the man asked when I reached the counter.
“Fifteen minutes,” I answered.
“Four dollars,” the man said. I dug into my purse and pulled out a five dollar bill. I gave it to the man and his gave me a dollar back. I went to one of the computers along the wall and sat down in the chair in front of it. Casey moved the chair from the next computer to be next to mine and sat down it. I turned the computer on and waited for it to start up. It took a minute before everything came up and I could start using it. I clinked on the internet icon and the internet came up in a window. I went to a search engine and typed in Henry McGlint. The list of results came up.
“Here is a website for a Black Henry McGlint’s shop,” I said, “The shop sells parts for sailing ships.”
“That’ll be him,” Casey said. I clicked on the link.
“Where he be?” Casey asked.
“It says here he lives on a boat at the port,” I said, “It gives the pier number and the name of the boat.” I wrote down the information.
“So, I came all the way to the city and now have to go back to the port,” Casey said.
“Well, I’m sorry about that,” I said.
“Nothing you can do,” Casey said, “But perhaps you have an interest in lunch before I go as a thank you for helping me.”
“Sure, lunch sounds good,” I said as I closed down the window and shut down the computer.
We left the computer café and went down the street to a pizza place. The restaurant looked similar to all the other buildings around it. It had multiple storeys and a staircase to one side of the building going up to the second floor. There were more windows on the first level and a sign over the door identifying it. The interior was simply tables and chairs equal distance apart in an open area with a counter in front of an area that looked to be the kitchen. There were several things to prevent customers from actually seeing into the kitchen itself. The restaurant was about a quarter full. The sign inside the door asked us to seat ourselves, so we went to a table in the middle of the open area. As soon as we were seated the server came over with the menus and a pitcher of water. She gave each of us a menu.
“Today’s special is two for one on medium sized pizzas,” the server said as she filled the two water glasses on the table, “Anything I can get you to start with?”
“Water is fine for now,” Casey answered.
“Okay,” the server said, “I’ll be back to check on you in a few minutes.” The server moved on, while Casey and I opened their menus.
We studied the menus for several minutes as we thought about what we wanted to eat.
“What looks good to you?” Casey asked once I had some time to think.
“The vegetarian pizza looks good,” I said.
“I thought the sea food one looked good,” Casey said, “A small of each?”
“Okay,” I said as I closed her menu. Casey set his menu down on the table in front of him.
Before he could say anything the server came back to their table.
“What can I get for you today?” the server asked as she took out her pad and pencil.
“Two small pizzas,” Casey answered, “One sea food pizza and one vegetarian pizza.”
“Okay,” the server said, “Anything else?”
“No, that is it,” Casey answered.
“Okay,” the server took the menus and went off to take the order to the kitchen.
“I am surprised to find out Henry is living on a boat,” Casey said, “His wife was always set against the sea and boats.”
“Since it sounds like he has a shop on a house boat,” I said, “Perhaps they came to a compromise.”
“I am sure he appreciates the compromise,” Casey said, “He has been homesick for the sea. I offered him a chance to come aboard ship for a little bit, and he had to think about a long time before he turned me down. He wanted to, but he also didn’t want to leave his wife alone for that length of time.”
“He must really love her,” I said.
“It was a dark day on my ship the day they met,” Casey said, “I don’t begrudge her, but sometimes it would be nice to have him aboard. Then I wouldn’t have to keep coming back here.”
“Well, I appreciate you were here this time,” I said, “Otherwise Jerry would still be bothering me.”
“If you come with me on my ship then you’ll be too far away for him to bother you again,” Casey said.
“I will think about it,” I said.
“There is a limited time for you to think about,” Casey said, “After lunch I have to get back to the port. Once I am gone so will the offer be.”
“I know,” I said.
“You want to be near the sea,” Casey said, “I can see that in your eyes. You miss the water and the feeling of being on a boat. What could be better than going aboard my ship? You don’t have to stay on aboard permanently, you could leave the next time we are at port. The other option you seem to have given yourself is a boring job, a questionable social life, and an ex-boyfriend who doesn’t want to leave you alone.”
“I will give you my answer after lunch is over,” I said.
“Okay,” Casey said. He backed off on that subject and instead asked me about one of the articles in the paper he had read this morning. I willing talked about the subject, even though I only knew about it through what other people had told me.
Ten minutes later the serve brought our pizzas out. We continued to talk as we ate.
I found myself laughing about a story that had come to Casey’s mind whenwe talked about other news pieces. He continued to tell funny stories about his crew throughout the meal. I relaxed and enjoyed them because he was telling them to try and encourage me to sail with him. I told him a few stories about work, but they weren’t as funny because he didn’t understand the mind set of an office worker. Somehow him not knowing anything about cubicles made me want to spend time with him. I did find a story from when my parents were still alive to tell and that one went over a lot better. Casey found it funny because he could understand it.
When we had finished eating, the server arrived and took our plates. She came back with the bill. Casey paid the bill before he and I left the restaurant. We were still talking and laughing as we walked out.
we walked back toward the street my apartment building was on. I was paying more attention to Casey as we walked than my surroundings, so when we reached my apartment building I hadn’t looked around for Jerry and was surprised to find him standing outside the building waiting for me. Jerry didn’t appear to be worried about Casey at all as he stood there with his arms crossed his chest.
“Where have you been?” Jerry demanded.
“I told you yesterday and I told you this morning, our relationship is over,” Isaid, “That means I don’t want to see you again and you should go away.”
“I told you this morning you should leave her alone,” Casey said.
“I don’t have to listen to you,” Jerry told Casey, “But you’ll listen to me.” Jerry pulled out a hunting knife and gestured for Casey and me to go into the alley way between the apartment building and next building. Casey and I moved into the alley way ahead of Jerry without any comment or opposition. We had gone only a few steps out of the street when Casey turned around and disarmed Jerry in a speed faster than Jerry could react. While Jerry was still in shock from losing his weapon Casey slammed him against the building. Jerry banged his head causing him to lose consciousness before collapsing to the concrete. I had turned around when I heard the scuffle to find Casey standing over Jerry.
“Let’s go,” Casey said as he took my arm.
“Is he dead?” I asked as I let Casey pull me along. We were headed to the opposite end of the alley way.
“No,” Casey answered, “But he is not going to be happy when he wakes up.”
I didn’t say anything as we reached the other end of the alley way. We exited out on to the street. No one paid any attention to us as we walked down the street. Casey seemed to know where he was going so I let him lead the way.