Authors: Deborah Diaz
By: Deborah Diaz
Copyright 2015 by Deborah Diaz
This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental.
Deborah Diaz is a retired insurance adjustor. She is living at Tennessee and enjoys reading mystery novels during her free time.
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Kindle Edition 2016
Manufactured in the United States of America
I stretched and realized I’d been laying down for much too long. Turning on my side, I considered going outside. Maybe a bike ride would do me some good.
I thought, settling more comfortably on the couch. I felt like sleeping, and I couldn’t figure out how that was possible since I had just woken up from a four-hour nap. Blinking away my tiredness, I reached for the remote control and realized it had fallen away from the coffee table.
“Damn it!” I exclaimed, annoyed that now I had to get up.
I rose to a sitting position and planted my hands on the couch beside me. The warm spot I had just left was calling my name, begging me to get back to sleep. I groaned a weak protest, torn between brainwashing myself watching bad TV or falling back into this weird semi-consciousness that had gradually enveloped me during the last couple of years.
I didn’t feel like standing, so I stretched out my foot to pull the remote closer. I misjudged the distance and put too much effort into the move, resulting in my falling onto my ass.
“For fuck’s sake!” I cried out, flipping on all fours, then leaning on my heels. “Look at me!”
I shook my head, feeling the emptiness inside me filling up with anger. Who was I? Who was this woman crawling after the damned remote? It wasn’t me, not the person I knew I was.
I struggled to my feet, frustrated that I couldn’t move faster. I needed to steady myself on the coffee table, and I wasn’t happy about it.
Once standing, I went to get some water and stopped in front of the tall mirror in the hallway. I scrutinized the image, squinting judgmentally. “What a wreck,” I whispered, taking in my slumped posture and seeing how I had shrank down from once above average height. My hair hadn’t seen the inside of a hairdressing salon in months and had grown past my shoulder. The dark circles under my eyes surrounded by more wrinkles than last time I checked, the pursed lips, everything made me look ten years older.
In an uncharacteristic fit of vanity, I looked for signs of whitening hair and was pleased to find none. I had been blessed with a natural strawberry blonde hair, presently looking less as a blessing and more as a messy mop that screamed lack of care from my part.
I couldn’t look anymore. There was nothing I liked in that mirror.
“I hate you,” I murmured and walked away.
The first sip of water made me aware that I was thirsty, and I ended up gulping down two glasses. Somewhat refreshed, I decided I should indeed go for a bike ride. Church Street must be missing me.
I changed into my cycling gear, satisfied with the fact that I still looked fit and slender in those tight leggings, and went to the garage. I was unpleasantly surprised to learn that, judging by the layer of dust on my bike, I hadn’t been out of the house in a considerable while.
With a sigh, I pulled the bike from behind some mysterious cardboard boxes and mounted.
“Here we go,” I encouraged myself, pressing the remote to open the garage door.
The sunlight hit my eyes sharply, and I fended myself like a vampire, hands raised in front of my face, almost falling off my bike.
If I weren’t so angry with myself, I would have laughed. Fueled with determination to right the situation, I started pedaling my way through the quiet cul-de-sac, glad that none of my neighbors were around.
I did have the feeling people were watching me from behind closed curtains, their mouths open in wonder.
I hurried onto North Ave., eager to get away from the oppressive stillness of my neighborhood. I hated the silent nights and the people’s habit of whispering instead of talking in a normal voice, but I had grown accustomed to it. It had been my choice to move here. I had needed the isolation. I had
to be alone. I had hoped that time would help me heal, help me forget, but it did nothing of the sort. I only managed to become more alone, sinking deeper into my depression, wallowing in self-pity and living off old-time memories.
I looked pathetic and I felt pathetic. It must’ve been more than two weeks since I last rode my bike or seen any living creature. Instead of getting back on my feet, I had only gotten worse. I refused to see anyone and eventually no one wanted to see me. Now, looking around me, I saw couples walking hand in hand, young students enjoying each other’s company, busy people hurrying to take care of their business. It all made me feel old.
At fifty years of age, I felt, and suspected I looked, at least ten years older. Not my physical appearance, I was still fit and muscular, and for that I had to thank my time spent in the Navy. The discipline, although deeply ingrained in my mind over the two decades I had been on active duty, had stuck with me into civilian life too, but had started to fade slowly over the last few years. It was nobody’s fault but mine. I had let myself go, only rarely venturing out on my usual jogs in Leddy Park, or cycling to Church Street.
I knew I needed a change, but I wasn't sure I had the strength to do it anymore.
I was lost in my thoughts the entire ride to my destination. I didn’t even notice I had been leisurely pedaling, taking more than an hour to find my way.
A wave of nostalgia washed over me as I took in the many umbrellas sprinkled over the red brick pavement on Church Street. The place was packed. I had lost all hope of finding a free spot to sit when I caught sight of an empty bench. I leaned my bike behind it and sat down.
The bench was facing an Italian Cafe. People were enjoying themselves, laughing at each other’s stories, parents keeping a vigilant eye on their small children, young lovebirds professing their love.
I sighed, starting to feel better already. I used to love people-watching. It had been my favorite pastime to figure out what people thought, where they came from, and where they were going. I used to look for signs that revealed their worlds, about their deepest fears, and secrets.
I looked around for a target. Not too far from where I was sitting, leaning on the door frame of another cafe, a good looking middle-aged man was busying himself with his phone. He looked deep in thought, fully engaged in whatever he was reading. He wasn’t the best target, but I still wanted to know what made his face light up like that.
He frowned and typed something, a thoughtful expression on his face while he searched for what to write next. “Oh, so it’s interactive,” I assessed with a nod.
I translated his gesture of stroking his clean-shaven chin as a sign of concern, of wavering faith in what he had written to whomever he was conversing with. He was waiting for a reply and, judging by the smirk that flourished on his lips when he got it, I understood he had to have gotten what he wanted.
I had a hunch about what was going on, but I decided to wait a few more minutes with my conclusion. “There it is!” I blurted out when he thrust his pelvis forward, a split second of pure victory before he typed his own reply.
The man had just received confirmation he would get laid soon. I smiled, proud that I still had it. “Good for you! But take care not to be discovered by your wife, dear,” I said to myself, and relaxed a little bit more.
I was taking a sip of water when I thought I heard my name. I turned around, searching for the source and grinned.
“Well, if it’s not Dick Smith in the flesh!” I exclaimed, standing up.
The man approached, smiling broadly, and went straight for a hug.
“Robin! I thought it had to be you,” he greeted me.
“Who else would look so dashing, right?”
“Indeed. How have you been, old friend?”
I shrugged. I didn’t have a lot to say for myself and never liked sharing my personal life before.
“I’m alright. How about you? How are the kids?”
“Fine, thank you. I’m doing well, in fact. I have my own PI firm now.”
I raised my eyebrows, surprised. “I thought you never wanted to branch off. What happened to Kyle & Reed?”
“It’s defunct now. Not long after you left, in fact.”
A moment of silence fell between us and he looked down. I assumed because he felt uncomfortable bringing up the past like that.
“Well, good for you,” I said, deciding to dispel the awkwardness. “How’s Amanda and the kids?”
“She’s well. She’s finally decided to sell her paintings on Etsy.”
“That sounds good. I remember her being very talented.”
I sat and gestured to the seat next to me.
“Yeah, so they say. I don’t know that much about art. You know me.”
I nodded, thoughtfully, which prompted him to laugh. “My eldest, Chris, he takes after her.”
“Yeah, he’s studying Liberal Arts in New York. Michelle, she’s still in highschool.”
“In New York? That’s a bit far from Burlington.”
“It is,” he nodded, watching the people walking around us. “Sunny day today, eh?”
“Indeed. I gather Amanda cried for weeks after he left.”
“Who, Chris? Actually, she was the one to get me on board with everything.
was the one embarrassing Chris.”
“You better believe it! I only agreed to the whole New York business if I could go and inspect the campus. I think he still gets teased by his friends for that.”
We shared a laugh and fell silent again. I was starting to think that we didn’t have much to talk about, even with our common past as PIs, and it saddened me. It spoke of a lost friendship, of something defunct, just like my old employer.
“Would you like to go for a coffee?” I asked, quite uncharacteristically.
The circumstances must’ve been dire for me to suggest something like that, and Smith looked as surprised as me.
He checked his watch and shook his head, regret painted all over his face.
“I’m sorry, I can’t. I have to pick Amanda from a marketing seminar she’s attending. You know, for her Etsy business.”
“So she’s that serious about it, then?”
“Yes. I was shocked myself!”
I looked him up and down, catching all the signs of age he was starting to show. He was as old as I was, but his hair was almost completely white. Ironically, it didn’t make him look old. The contrast between his young features and his hair gave him a certain air of distinction.
“Do I look that old?” he joked, catching my eyes.
“Not at all,
“I knew that would come back and bite me in the ass eventually!” he laughed and stood up.
I followed suit, suppressing the need to stretch my back like an old lady.
“It was good to see you, Rob,” he said, patting my arm.
We shook hands, and he left just as his phone rang. I decided I should leave too. Seeing him looking so good, exulting that air of certainty that only successful people had, made me feel bad about myself. I didn’t want to fall back into depression just yet, and I knew taking my bike for a fast ride would get my endorphins going.
I was already on my bike when I heard Smith call to me again.
I turned and saw him wave.
“I’ll call you, Rob,” he promised and nodded a salute. I waved back, puzzled by his tone. What did he mean? I spent my ride mulling the question over and trying to think of all the possibilities that his words meant.