The Second Time Around

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Dr. Mathis stuffed a few pairs of socks, a toothbrush in a sealed metal case, and his shaving kit into a small leather duffle bag. He pulled two pairs of folded khakis out of the closet along with three button down shirts. An olive green sport coat and two camel hair vests he put on a travel hanger. As an afterthought, he dropped the completely filled out race ticket. At least one of those brackets was correct down to the last horse, that much he knew. He hadn't bothered to wait for the others to run.

Dr. Mathis' wife Rebecca was on west coast time this month as she traveled up and down California, Washington, and Oregon on her book tour. She stopped at practically every major university, sometimes pulling three stops in a day, and it was grueling work. They tried to call each other every day when she at lunch and he ate dinner. She would be in the middle of her second morning event, lecture, or whatever event she had planned.

Dr. Mathis had a ten hour drive ahead of him, though, so he couldn't stand long wishing his wife were there to bid goodbye. With a deep breath, he wrote her a brief note just in case she came home early."

He locked the door on the way out, climbed into his Jeep Wagoneer, and backed out of his driveway. As he turned out of his neighborhood and headed for the interstate, Dr. Mathis put in a CD of Brahms compositions from the Boston Philharmonic. He had a good ten hour drive ahead of him, and he was going to need help concentrating. Brahms was the perfect composer to keep his mind racing. The master of structure, Brahms wrote music that was more like auditory mathematics at its purest form.

Dr. Mathis checked the road atlas one last time at a red light and traced out his initial steps to reach I-81S. That road would take him down the western edge of Maryland and on into western Virginia mountains. He was headed for a little town called Sunrise, Virginia and he had just shy of twelve hours to get there by two in the morning.

That gave him two hours to spare to account for traffic, fuel stops, and food. Dr. Mathis tried not to focus on those kinds of numbers, and instead turned his ears and his spare attention to unraveling the formulaic harmonies and melodies building off each other as the Brahms piece played.

It was going to be a long afternoon and night.

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